Myryad MT 100 FM stereo tuner Page 2

Eight of the stations received were very strong, had no multipath, and provided complete tuner quieting: classical, WQXR (96.3) and WNYC (93.9); jazz, WBGO (88.3) and WCWP (88.1); classic rock, WXRX (92.3); standard rock, WNEW (102.7); multiethnic/reggae, WNWK (105.9) and WFUV (90.7); and easy listening, WCTO (94.3). I also tuned in Michael Fremer's favorite East Orange, New Jersey station, WFMU (91.1).

The MT 100 provided easy, intuitive tuning. I simply tapped on the remote's Preset button after I'd loaded the frequencies of my favorite stations into the MT 100's memory. While the MT 100's remote was easier and more convenient to use for tuning than the MD 108's huge rotary control, I preferred the more expensive tuner's dual-meter/cat's-eye center-tune display, which showed the presence of multipath interference.

RF Performance
The MT 100 was convenient to tune and pulled in a clear signal, but its automation features could be triggered intermittently by very faint signals. This was revealed when I swept the FM band with the MT 100 and the MD 108. The Myryad muted automatically on weak signals or between stations.

Weak signals afflicted with multipath—stations that no FM tuner can completely master, no matter how expensive—triggered the MT 100's automatic blend circuits, causing the signal to splatter, distort, and cut in and out. This occurred on only 5 of the 15 weakest stations received. The manufacturer commented that "although there is hysteresis on the Mono/Mute threshold, it sometimes can be exceeded in multipath situations. Switching the tuner to Mono will lock the muting off and prevent this problem." Indeed, switching the MT 100 to Mono completely eliminated this problem. (The more expensive MD-108 had none of these problems.)

As I stepped the Myryad from station to station, its digital readout yielded signal-strength numbers identical to those on the MD 108's meter when signals were center-tuned. The MD 108 pulled in 69 stations with the antenna pointing southwest (ie, toward the Empire State Building). I didn't log the full 200 stations Don Scott had pulled in from his home in Connecticut, for two reasons: I didn't rotate my antenna, and I didn't have that superb outdoor antenna from Antenna Performance Specialties.

The Myryad was only able to tune in 51 of the 69 stations picked up by the MD 108 despite claiming 20µV stereo sensitivity—just like the MD-108—for 50dB quieting. The weakest signals picked up by the Myryad—those producing an "S1" reading on its display—gave a 25dBf reading on the MD 108's signal-strength meter. A stronger signal ("S3" on the MT 100, 55dBf on the MD 108) was needed to switch the Myryad into stereo mode.

The MD 108's narrow IF bandwidth setting grabbed the remaining 18 stations, enabling it to pull in stations at almost every adjacent FM channel, particularly in the lower section of the band. It also tuned out the interfering sidebands from very strong stations. This the single-bandwidth MT 100 could not do, particularly if the station was weak and the sideband strong. On other weak stations, the MT 100's automatic circuits cleaned up signals and suppressed hash, resulting in quieter reception than heard with the MD 108.

All in all, the Myryad MT 100 showed average sensitivity and selectivity, although its automated blend and mono switching circuits were confused by the multipath and congestion in the lower part of the FM band. The Magnum Dynalab MD 108 was more sensitive and uncovered more differences between signals, revealing boosted bass, reverb, and overmodulation.

Audio Quality
Evaluation of the MT 100's audio took lengthy listening sessions. I switched back and forth between the Mark Levinson No.334 and Bryston 9B-ST power amplifiers, and between the ProAc Response 3.8 and Revel Salon loudspeakers. Even so, it was not altogether a fair comparison, the reference Magnum Dynalab MD 108, costing more than six times as much as the Myryad, was designed as a cost-no-limit tuner; it's no surprise that I sometimes preferred its vocal timbres, soundstage width and depth, and how involved I was with music through it. Yet when the signal was strong, the MT 100 sounded very similar to the MD 108.

While the sliding high-blend was satisfactory on the MT 100, cleaning up some very noisy signals, I favored the same function on the MD 108, which preserved the signal's stereo separation. In addition, the MD 108's blend was defeatable, so that I could listen to faint signals in stereo. But because this could be at the cost of noisy reception, most listeners would prefer the MT 100's automated approach.

The MT 100's soundstaging was wide, with good localization. In a taped interview on WQXR, musician Hillary Hahn's voice sounded startlingly real, as if she were in the room. Switching to the more expensive MD 108, I noticed subtle improvements—vertical imaging accuracy and the three-dimensionality of movement and space. These subtle advantages of the more expensive tuner were evident whether I was listening to opera, orchestral music, or to round-table discussions. However, the MD 108's three-dimensionality and precise instrumental placement were best heard in balanced mode—not an option for the MT 100.

Both tuners showed a good balance of bass, midrange, and treble, with no undue colorations, and both were free of SCA birdies.

The Myryad MT 100 provided convenient remote-control tuning, sorted out the stronger stations, and, using its automated circuitry, could pull in borderline-quality signals when not too much multipath was present. If you live in an urban area with a large number of FM stations available, the MT 100 can sort out the good stations and provide access to fine music, provided a good antenna is used.

If you live in an area of medium to marginal FM reception, you will need the features found in more expensive tuners. These include the ability to select IF bandwidths, the inclusion of hand-picked ceramic filters, and improved signal indicators such as the Magnum Dynalab MD 108's green magic eye or the Day Sequerra FM Reference's oscilloscope. Furthermore, balanced outputs—not available on the MT 100—provide the optimal sonics for the finest FM stations, yielding the deep, wide imaging and soundstaging that audiophiles demand. But such features are costly—the least expensive FM stereo tuner with balanced outputs and multipath-sensitive meters is the new $2675 Magnum Dynalab MD 102.

But for less than $900, the MT 100 provides elegant styling, convenient tuning, and the opportunity to enjoy the myriad opportunities of the FM world. For this, the MT 100 is definitely recommended.

Myryad Systems, Ltd.