Looking for a tuner - need options

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Andrew Pezzo, Jun 21, 2004.

  1. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    I recently upgraded my components to Rotel serperates and now need to find a tuner. Since these were always part of the recievers I owned in the past I dont know whats out there. Rotel makes one I like (cosmetically) but the price tag is a little high. In searchng the net I found ones from Denon and Sony. What kind of things should I look for in a tuner? Do they provide better reception than ones incorporated in recievers? I would like to keep it around $200 - $300 max but if the reception is still going to terrible (like my former Denon receivers) than I cant see spending the money on one.
     
  2. Andrew Pezzo

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    I recently upgraded my components to Rotel serperates and now need to find a tuner. Since these were always part of the recievers I owned in the past I dont know whats out there. Rotel makes one I like (cosmetically) but the price tag is a little high. In searchng the net I found ones from Denon and Sony. What kind of things should I look for in a tuner? Do they provide better reception than ones incorporated in recievers? I would like to keep it around $200 - $300 max but if the reception is still going to terrible (like my former Denon receivers) than I cant see spending the money on one.
     
  3. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I'd cruise the local pawn shops and see if I got lucky...
     
  4. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I'd cruise the local pawn shops and see if I got lucky...
     
  5. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    Thats a good idea, however I have never seen a pawn shop in my area. Maybe I just need to look harder.
     
  6. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    Thats a good idea, however I have never seen a pawn shop in my area. Maybe I just need to look harder.
     
  7. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Andrew,

    A separate tuner should perform better than one in a receiver, especially if you live in a problematic area such as rural or mid-city.

    Most reception problems, however, are simply a matter of using a poor antenna. Most people wouldn’t think of using those cheapie dipole antennas for the televisions, but they’ll use them for FM, no questions asked. I have an antenna in my attic for FM (even though I seldom listen to radio).

    That said, good tuners are getting tough to find, but the Japanese companies made some dandy ones back in the 80s and early 90s. I personally have a top-of-the-line Yamaha TX-950, the company’s last high-end model that was retired a few years ago, that some people have told me offered near CD-quality sound (have to take their word for it – again, I don’t do much radio). It offered such trick features as dual antenna inputs, an excellent feature if you happen to live between two cities. You could aim an antenna for each city and program a particular station to work from the appropriate antenna. It also had a really cool analog-styled fine tuning function, to move the station incrementally off of their center frequency to see if that got better reception. It also had a computerized function that would automatically set up all the optimal tuning parameters for a particular station, of you could opt to set them up manually.

    Onkyo also made some first-class tuners in the 80s; I think the TX-9090 was the number of their flagship. If I recall it offered true diversity tuning – similar to the Yamaha, but the antenna selection was automatic. Got a rave review in [I[Audio[/i] magazine.

    Naturally there are some esoteric tuners out there from brands like FM Acoustics, Tandberg, etc. if you’re into that.

    But again, unless you live in a problematic area, most any tuner will get excellent performance with a good antenna. Look on eBay for the usual brands – Yamaha, Onkyo, NAD, Denon, Pioner, Sony, Kenwood, etc. It’s not hard to find them cheap, although the premium models like the TX-950 and TX-9090 still command pretty good prices.

    The better tuners will have more buttons on them. That may sound simplistic, but more buttons (with labels you’re probably not familiar with, like “Wide/Narrow,” “Att(enuate),” “Blend”) means more features – which translates to a tuner from higher up in the model line.

    Speaking of unfamiliar switches, if you get a high-quality used tuner make sure it comes with a manual, so you can know how to properly use those controls. It may be hard getting a manual from the manufacturer at this late date.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Andrew,

    A separate tuner should perform better than one in a receiver, especially if you live in a problematic area such as rural or mid-city.

    Most reception problems, however, are simply a matter of using a poor antenna. Most people wouldn’t think of using those cheapie dipole antennas for the televisions, but they’ll use them for FM, no questions asked. I have an antenna in my attic for FM (even though I seldom listen to radio).

    That said, good tuners are getting tough to find, but the Japanese companies made some dandy ones back in the 80s and early 90s. I personally have a top-of-the-line Yamaha TX-950, the company’s last high-end model that was retired a few years ago, that some people have told me offered near CD-quality sound (have to take their word for it – again, I don’t do much radio). It offered such trick features as dual antenna inputs, an excellent feature if you happen to live between two cities. You could aim an antenna for each city and program a particular station to work from the appropriate antenna. It also had a really cool analog-styled fine tuning function, to move the station incrementally off of their center frequency to see if that got better reception. It also had a computerized function that would automatically set up all the optimal tuning parameters for a particular station, of you could opt to set them up manually.

    Onkyo also made some first-class tuners in the 80s; I think the TX-9090 was the number of their flagship. If I recall it offered true diversity tuning – similar to the Yamaha, but the antenna selection was automatic. Got a rave review in [I[Audio[/i] magazine.

    Naturally there are some esoteric tuners out there from brands like FM Acoustics, Tandberg, etc. if you’re into that.

    But again, unless you live in a problematic area, most any tuner will get excellent performance with a good antenna. Look on eBay for the usual brands – Yamaha, Onkyo, NAD, Denon, Pioner, Sony, Kenwood, etc. It’s not hard to find them cheap, although the premium models like the TX-950 and TX-9090 still command pretty good prices.

    The better tuners will have more buttons on them. That may sound simplistic, but more buttons (with labels you’re probably not familiar with, like “Wide/Narrow,” “Att(enuate),” “Blend”) means more features – which translates to a tuner from higher up in the model line.

    Speaking of unfamiliar switches, if you get a high-quality used tuner make sure it comes with a manual, so you can know how to properly use those controls. It may be hard getting a manual from the manufacturer at this late date.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  9. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Andrew - There are plenty of well known companies that make affordable tuner separates; Rotel, Sony, Rega, and Parasound among them. There are plenty of recent models available as well as the vintage analog variety. I would *highly* recommend checking out a pre-owned unit at AudiogoN. You can get much more for your money if you buy used. Here are a few suggestions for you:

    Rega Radio
    Yamaha TX 930
    JVC T-X3
    Kenwood KT-3300D
    Hitachi FT-8000
    Harmon Kardon Citation 23

    There are many more posted on AudiogoN that fit your budget. Also, as Wayne correctly pointed out, an attic or roof mounted antenna will do wonders for FM reception and the quality of your tuners sound. The el-cheapo dipole ribbons that come standard with most receivers/tuners really are merely adequate at best. More buttons, however, doesn't necessarily translate into higher quality. If you do some research you'll easily find which models/manufacturers offer quality units in your price range.
     
  10. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Andrew - There are plenty of well known companies that make affordable tuner separates; Rotel, Sony, Rega, and Parasound among them. There are plenty of recent models available as well as the vintage analog variety. I would *highly* recommend checking out a pre-owned unit at AudiogoN. You can get much more for your money if you buy used. Here are a few suggestions for you:

    Rega Radio
    Yamaha TX 930
    JVC T-X3
    Kenwood KT-3300D
    Hitachi FT-8000
    Harmon Kardon Citation 23

    There are many more posted on AudiogoN that fit your budget. Also, as Wayne correctly pointed out, an attic or roof mounted antenna will do wonders for FM reception and the quality of your tuners sound. The el-cheapo dipole ribbons that come standard with most receivers/tuners really are merely adequate at best. More buttons, however, doesn't necessarily translate into higher quality. If you do some research you'll easily find which models/manufacturers offer quality units in your price range.
     
  11. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    Thanks so much, this will help greatly. My biggest concern is the fact that my cheapo $20 Radio Shack radio running on batteries gets great reception whereas my former Denon 3803 would only pick up one FM station not very well. FWIW I live in a condo with no possibilty of connecting a roof top antenna. As long as I get reception on it I will be happy.
     
  12. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    Thanks so much, this will help greatly. My biggest concern is the fact that my cheapo $20 Radio Shack radio running on batteries gets great reception whereas my former Denon 3803 would only pick up one FM station not very well. FWIW I live in a condo with no possibilty of connecting a roof top antenna. As long as I get reception on it I will be happy.
     
  13. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Maybe you should start taking suggestions for the best indoor FM antenna Andrew? In your situation, the antenna is proably more important than the tuner...? When I lived in apartments I got by with a Terk powered antenna and stille do. It cost me abour 50 or 60 bucks. Those about 6 foot pole antennas that Terk makes are supposed to be good, but I've never used one. The best tuner I've had was an Elite F-91. Few fancy features but pretty decent performance.

    Have they no pawnshops there? Check the yellow pages. How far can Hartford or New Haven be? I've driven through CT before, didn't take long... I'd give 'em a run or two or calls. Stand alone tuners can easily end up in pawn shops. Get a reciever, pawn what's left of the seperates.

    Come to think of it, I had a really decent Rotel tuner for about 5 years that I got in a pawn shop for $40. It weighed over 20 lb's I'm sure and was a s big as a big reciever of it's day. It was silver , my 2nd favourite signiture colour for components next to chaum-payne-ee. An old friend from high school was by and said I used to have one like that. I pawned it at XXX pawn shop.

    I laughed and looked at him and said that's where I got it. It was his former tuner. He said he regretted selling it and said he'd love to buy it back sometime. I sold it back to him for $50 about a year later.

    I've had good luck in pawn shops about finding tuners but I got the 91 on E-bay. Good luck![​IMG]
     
  14. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Maybe you should start taking suggestions for the best indoor FM antenna Andrew? In your situation, the antenna is proably more important than the tuner...? When I lived in apartments I got by with a Terk powered antenna and stille do. It cost me abour 50 or 60 bucks. Those about 6 foot pole antennas that Terk makes are supposed to be good, but I've never used one. The best tuner I've had was an Elite F-91. Few fancy features but pretty decent performance.

    Have they no pawnshops there? Check the yellow pages. How far can Hartford or New Haven be? I've driven through CT before, didn't take long... I'd give 'em a run or two or calls. Stand alone tuners can easily end up in pawn shops. Get a reciever, pawn what's left of the seperates.

    Come to think of it, I had a really decent Rotel tuner for about 5 years that I got in a pawn shop for $40. It weighed over 20 lb's I'm sure and was a s big as a big reciever of it's day. It was silver , my 2nd favourite signiture colour for components next to chaum-payne-ee. An old friend from high school was by and said I used to have one like that. I pawned it at XXX pawn shop.

    I laughed and looked at him and said that's where I got it. It was his former tuner. He said he regretted selling it and said he'd love to buy it back sometime. I sold it back to him for $50 about a year later.

    I've had good luck in pawn shops about finding tuners but I got the 91 on E-bay. Good luck![​IMG]
     
  15. Sathyan

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    Antennas are perhaps more important but in your price range I would go for Cambridge Audio, NAD or Parasound tuners. Not Sony based on a recent audition.

    This would be my choice: http://audioadvisor.com/store/produc...0AM/FM%20Tuner

    Pair it with a Fanfare antenna and you'll be set
     
  16. Sathyan

    Sathyan Second Unit

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    Antennas are perhaps more important but in your price range I would go for Cambridge Audio, NAD or Parasound tuners. Not Sony based on a recent audition.

    This would be my choice: http://audioadvisor.com/store/produc...0AM/FM%20Tuner

    Pair it with a Fanfare antenna and you'll be set
     
  17. PaulKoss

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    Andrew you should have a look at the Tuner Information Center[​IMG]. This is a site maintained by a tuner fanatic who has reviewed and ranked close to a hundred different tuners. He even provides ballpark ebay prices for used ones.

    Tuner Information Center
     
  18. PaulKoss

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    Andrew you should have a look at the Tuner Information Center[​IMG]. This is a site maintained by a tuner fanatic who has reviewed and ranked close to a hundred different tuners. He even provides ballpark ebay prices for used ones.

    Tuner Information Center
     
  19. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions.

    I checked the yellow pages and did find one pawn shop down the road from where I live (I have only lived in CT a short time so I dont know where a lot of things are yet). Also found a few pawn shops near where I work. I know what I am doing this weekend.

    I was going to save the antenna discussion for when I actually got the tuner but since its been brought up I am glad to know I have some options for a decent working one.

    RIght now I am leaning towards the Yamaha TX930, the NAD, and the Cambridge Audio one. I really want the Rotel since it would match the rest of my gear but I cant justify spending $500 for something I wont use that often.
     
  20. Andrew Pezzo

    Andrew Pezzo Second Unit

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    Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions.

    I checked the yellow pages and did find one pawn shop down the road from where I live (I have only lived in CT a short time so I dont know where a lot of things are yet). Also found a few pawn shops near where I work. I know what I am doing this weekend.

    I was going to save the antenna discussion for when I actually got the tuner but since its been brought up I am glad to know I have some options for a decent working one.

    RIght now I am leaning towards the Yamaha TX930, the NAD, and the Cambridge Audio one. I really want the Rotel since it would match the rest of my gear but I cant justify spending $500 for something I wont use that often.
     

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