2015 Recommended Components FM Tuners & Antennas

FM Tuners

A

47 Laboratory Model 4730 Midnight Blue: $1500 $$$
From Japan's reliably unconventional 47 Laboratory comes the Model 4730 Midnight Blue stereo FM tuner, surely the only tuner in current production that allows the user to dial in stations with an actual dial. Its modest size (4.8" W by 3.75" H by 8" D) and attractive dark-blue casework set it apart, as does its use of an old-style rotary variable capacitor—made in a small batch to designer Junji Kimura's order—instead of a crappy digital receiver circuit. According to AD, "Decent-quality broadcasts sounded better through the 47 Laboratory Midnight Blue than MP3-quality Internet radio does through any USB digital-to-analog converter of my experience. The 4730 was clear and believably crisp without undue brightness, and while it didn't have the sweetness of, say, a McIntosh MR-65, it performed admirably with weak signals, ultimately pulling usably clean sound from a greater number of stations than the Tivoli Model One I normally use. And the 4730 looks a lot better, and was more fun to use." (Vol.37 No.9 WWW)

DaySequerra FM Reference Signature Modification: $3200 (+ cost of tuner) ✩
David Day's Signature Mod effectively addresses this ultimate FM tuner's cathode-ray tube's tendency to burn out. Switching circuitry has been added to allow the CRT to turn off when not needed. The Signature Mod also replaces the tuner's incandescent bulbs with longer-lasting LEDs, and uses hand-matched, low-group-delay filters for lower distortion and better channel separation. LG noted punchy, quick bass response, a deeper soundstage, and a more transparent midrange. "The new CRT's greater range of brightness and longer life expectancy makes the Signature Modification essential for owners of the DaySequerra FM tuner." The FMR25 upgrade replaces older models' cathode-ray tube display circuitry with a much brighter and more reliable thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display, and adds a post-FM demodulation filter to remove noise at 99kHz and above. "A run-don't-walk upgrade for owners of FM References," decided LG. Price is for upgrade only; does not include cost of tuner. (Vol.12 No.6, Vol.14 No.12, Vol.21 No.6, FM Reference; Vol.29 No.9, Signature Modification; Vol.36 No.11 25th Anniversary Edition WWW)

C

Outlaw RR2150: $699 $$$ ✩
One of the few low-cost, high-performance, two-channel receivers still available. See "Integrated Amplifiers." (Vol.29 No.3, Vol.31 No.1 WWW)

D

Tivoli Audio Model One table radio: $149.99 ✩
The Tivoli Model One is a radio stripped to its essentials: no stereo, no station memories, no remote control, no tone controls," said ST. This design from the late Henry Kloss didn't like being played very loud, ST discovered, but was "plenty loud for a typical office, and, ultimately, loud enough for me." He heard "a richness, a warmth, a generosity of tone, and a clarity that made for enjoyable listening. I was never fatigued." "A bit boomy," says JA, "but pleasantly so." AD connected the Model One's record-out jack to his preamp inputs, then muted its speaker. Matching the Tivoli with a RadioShack 15-2163 FM antenna, he found that "the combination has been nothing short of wonderful in my system: a flexible, great-sounding monophonic source for a combined price of only $124." (Vol.24 No.3, Vol.27 No.7 WWW)

No Class Distinction

C. Crane FM Reflect Antenna: $34.95
The CCrane FM Reflect Antenna is a thick T-run of twin copper wires terminated by a 75 ohm connector. ST arranged it discreetly behind a closed window curtain, and used it to pull in all of his favorite HD Radio stations, including those his Sony XDR-F1HD tuner couldn't otherwise retrieve. "This is, by far, the best indoor FM antenna I have used, with or without HD Radio, and I am buying two more," he said. (Vol.32 No.4)

Deletions

AudioPrism 7500 & 9500 FM antennae no longer available. 

COMMENTS
dalethorn's picture

Interesting that Digital Processors and Signal Processors are separate categories, given that I encounter the term 'DSP' (Digital Signal Processor) so often. Maybe it's a hardware-software thing.

corrective_unconscious's picture

The digital processors are DACs or things to route digital sound somewhere. There is some overlap if there's a CD player with inputs to its DAC, and some overlap with preamp/DACs, some of which of those might have some additional, secondary digital EQ functions.

The signal processors are mostly about varieties of digital EQ, with again a few hybrid products having some secondary functions.

The separation seems clear enough to me. It is the whole universe of modern audio which seems complex, i.e., the products themselves.

John Atkinson's picture
dalethorn wrote:
Interesting that Digital Processors and Signal Processors are separate categories, given that I encounter the term 'DSP' (Digital Signal Processor) so often.

The Digital Processors category is almost exclusively digital/analog converters. The Signal Processors category is reserved for things that do something to the signal and includes analog-domain processors, such as the BSG Q0L.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dalethorn's picture

I'm going to profess a bit of ignorance here, so .... one of the places where DSP or some variant shows up in my world is related to music players such as built into the Pono device, or in computer software such as Foobar2000 etc. The great thing about EQ included in these players (or as plug-in software) is that the digital data gets EQ'd before it hits the DAC, so that whatever DAC or amp is used, the EQ remains constant in playback. Ignoring any negative impact on the EQ due to which peripherals are used, I've always assumed that EQ pre-applied to the digital data as described will reduce the resolution of the playback. If that's true, are there common analog EQ solutions that would provide better sound?

tdixon's picture

Does this mean there are no plans for an app being released like there were in previous years?

John Atkinson's picture
tdixon wrote:
Does this mean there are no plans for an app being released like there were in previous years?

Unfortunately, that's correct. No plans. However, this website reprint replaces the standalone free app.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Dushyant's picture

From your comments prefacing the Recommended Loudspeakers 2015, I understand that category A (Full Range) has LF extension down to 20Hz. What about B (Full Range) and C (Full Range)? Do they also need to have LF extension down to 20Hz? If not, what is the LF extension for inclusion? For the restricted LF I assume that LF extension is to 40Hz for all categories. Clarification will be helpful and appreciated.

Thanks
Dushyant

leesure's picture

Despite there being 25 Class A preamps, there are only 2 Class B preamplifiers (both from the same company) and NO class C Preamps? There are 18 Class A Power Amps and Zero Class C or D Power Amps? I thought, "Perhaps there are just no products that fit those categories any more. No more Adcom's. No more B&K's." But then I looked around and found that there ARE musically satisfying budget electronics.

So I am left to wonder...do they no longer submit their products for review or is Stereophile no longer interested in reviewing them?

I began reading Stereophile in my 20's when there was no way I could even consider a $10,000 amplifier. I aspired to a system like that, but also loved reading about gear that I could stretch to afford. I loved building a musically satisfying SYSTEM for well under $10,000. Had I only been able to read about the gear that was so far out of reach, I would likely have dropped the hobby altogether. Without the bridge, I would never have been able to get across to the ultimate destination. That bridge is being taken away from the next generation of Audiophiles.

I think that's a real shame.

Christopher Mankiewicz's picture

Kal, Please let me know. Thanks, Chris