Digital FM Tuners?
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  1. #1
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    Digital FM Tuners?

    Anyone know of any quality tuners (component...preferably tube) for home stereo? I'm looking to pick up some of the classical stations, some of which are apparently on sub-stations in my area (DC-Balt). I'm getting them now via the internet with my TuneIn account on my Bluesound device, but I'm looking to move to an uncompressed signal.

  2. #2
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    Lot of ppl seem to like NAD, but they ainít tube.

    For tube at a reasonable price, youíre probably looking at vintage used... and some research.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SystemShock View Post
    Lot of ppl seem to like NAD, but they ainít tube.

    For tube at a reasonable price, youíre probably looking at vintage used... and some research.
    .
    Yeah, they have NAD, Yamaha, etc, at my local dealer, but none of them support the sub-stations (e.g. - 90.1-1, -2, etc), nor the older analog gear. I'll forgo tube, just want a decent component piece for this new fangled "HD FM". Only one I've seen is the Sangean piece on amazon.

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    I would go over to the Audio Hardware forum on Steve Hoffmanís site and post your question/needs.

    Lots of knowledgeable ppl there, best audio equipment forum Iíve seen.
    Monkhouse: I want to go like my Dad did Ė peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

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    I think you mean HD radio.

    Sangean's HDT-20 is the only component FM tuner I know of, and it's not tube driven. I too, want to buy an HD component tuner but would prefer more choices. It's beyond me why there are more mobile radio offerings than home stereo offerings. Sangean also offers the HDT-1. Crutchfield used to sell it, so it can't be that bad.

    There are some youtube videos on the Sangeans so they may be worth checking out.

    I do see Sony makes an HD component tuner but it's not in the standard stereo component format (shape). It's the XDR-F1HD.

    You could try Day Sequerra, but they're brutally expensive, and the website is currently down for a refresh.

    I have read some suggestions to purchase an HD car stereo unit and 12V power supply and cobble the two together to look attractive, and send the radio's output to your stereo. I'd sooner buy the Sangean.
    Last edited by Peter P.; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:25 PM.

  6. #6
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    If you want something high end, look for a used McIntosh MR88 or something from Magnum Dynalab or Day Sequerra.

  7. #7
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    Do a search to Jack Berg Sales. They are a company out of Texas that has a large inventory of vintage stereo components. Many items are never used and in original packaging.

  8. #8
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    I would recommend not using 'tubes', those are going to be hard to find.
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    Thanks all for the suggestions...I'll follow up. The only problem with the vintage equipment, I believe, is that they won't pick up the sub-stations/additional broadcasts, from the same station. I'm really surprised that there aren't any/many audiophile level tuners that support the new format (yes, "HD Radio").

    I'm not above cobbling a car setup, for functionality, but for my main system, I'm more interested in the "over the air" sound quality, with "better components/internals", from the likes of Magnum, et al...even if it doesn't have a tubed stage. I may just scoop up that Sangean while I continue to search.

    Tubes are easy to find. I just re-tubed my amp and pre-amp last year (C-J MV-55, and PV-10) with tubes from Music Direct. Though I did have to get one from Guitar Center. C-J also sells tubes. Also, "not using tubes" = Blasphemy!

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    OK, you are way over my level.
    .... when listening to AC/DC at 11 on the amp, I can't tell the difference between tubes and IC's, but that I guess is just ME!
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  11. #11
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    An alternative to HD radio is a subscription to Qobuz streamed through your Bluesound. It's CD or hi-res quality up to 24/192. Add an external DAC connected with coax for even better sound. Qobuz offers a free trial month and then charges $14.99/month. A high end tuner will cost about as much as subscribing for 5+ years. Plus you can control what you listen to.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    I think you mean HD radio...It's beyond me why there are more mobile radio offerings than home stereo offerings.
    It's because someone thinks no one listens to radio in the home, just driving to and from work. I also would welcome more options but appreciated hearing about the Sangean.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by colnagoG60 View Post
    Anyone know of any quality tuners (component...preferably tube) for home stereo? I'm looking to pick up some of the classical stations, some of which are apparently on sub-stations in my area (DC-Balt). I'm getting them now via the internet with my TuneIn account on my Bluesound device, but I'm looking to move to an uncompressed signal.

    If that is what you want, digital radio AKA "HD Radio" (in the USA) is not it. "HD Radio" as a moniker is almost as much of a lie as ATT's "5Ge" branding. The best summary is the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio

    The TL;DR version is:



    FM
    The FM hybrid digital/analog mode offers four options which can carry approximately 100, 112, 125, or 150 kbit/s of data carrying (lossy) compressed digital audio depending upon the station manager's power budget and desired range of signal. The HD Radio also provides several pure digital modes with up to 300 kbit/s bitrate, and enabling extra features like surround sound. Like AM, pure digital FM provides a "fallback" condition where it reverts to a more robust 25 kbit/s signal.
    Which gets further muddied due to the codec used by "HD Radio" which is a lossy codec based on the MP4 standard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Definition_Coding. IOW, "HD Radio" still isn't even CD-quality which today is a comparatively low bar in fidelity; although how much it actually matters based on listener training, the music being played, and knowledge, and hearing ability is rather up for debate.


    IMHO buying tube amps for it is simply $$$-wasting lunacy. Of course, most armchair "audiophiles" are not much above lunacy to start with; they just love to spend money on placebo effect. Also, IME, HDRadio signals get corrupted and unlistenable at much shorter ranges-from-transmitter than Ye Olde analog....so you may spend a ton of money to not even get a signal.
    Last edited by Marc; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:49 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    If that is what you want, digital radio AKA "HD Radio" (in the USA) is not it. "HD Radio" as a moniker is almost as much of a lie as ATT's "5Ge" branding. The best summary is the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio

    The TL;DR version is:





    Which gets further muddied due to the codec used by "HD Radio" which is a lossy codec based on the MP4 standard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Definition_Coding. IOW, "HD Radio" still isn't even CD-quality which today is a comparatively low bar in fidelity; although how much it actually matters based on listener training, the music being played, and knowledge, and hearing ability is rather up for debate.


    IMHO buying tube amps for it is simply $$$-wasting lunacy. Of course, most armchair "audiophiles" are not much above lunacy to start with; they just love to spend money on placebo effect. Also, IME, HDRadio signals get corrupted and unlistenable at much shorter ranges-from-transmitter than Ye Olde analog....so you may spend a ton of money to not even get a signal.
    Fair enough. Thanks for the info. If it's a compressed broadcast to begin with, I'd just assume stick with getting the stations at upwards of 300kbps through my free "TuneIn" account...which also aggregates 50,000+ other free internet/FM/AM stations, if anyone wasn't aware. I'll pay for equipment, since I'm picky, but won't pay for services if the same music is available for free, or purchase.

    Being in the line of sight of 2 major cities, I get good reception from both. Interesting to see the image quality difference between OTA and my Sat service, want to do the same for radio.

    As far as tube equipment, after spending at least a decade demo-ing various components at home, our in store, including taking my pieces to the stores, the few C-J pieces, and McCormack amp I ended up with were the only ones that weren't too bright, or muffled sounding... and that was both less, and significantly more expensive digital and analog amps. Some physically affected my ears after only 15 minutes. Thought it was cool that C-J and McCormack merged years later.

    I've had the tube amps for almost (20) years which were still running with the original tubes. Though admittedly they were dormant for a few years during that time. I only did the total refresh (at a cost of about $400) to chase down what I thought was a noisy tube. Turned out the Bluesound Node 1 units are noisy because the power supply are too close to the RCA jacks, and all types of craziness is transmitted...sounds like dialup internet mixed with a Tranformer on boot up "more than meets the eye". Node 2s fix the issue.
    Last edited by colnagoG60; 4 Weeks Ago at 01:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KWL View Post
    It's because someone thinks no one listens to radio in the home, just driving to and from work. I also would welcome more options but appreciated hearing about the Sangean.
    It's been debated that car stereo tuners are actually BETTER than component tuners because they have to deal with a constantly changing signal strength (quality) due to the moving vehicle.

    Finally, in colnagoG60's further search for better FM, I would recommend placing more effort with antenna selection, if colnagoG60 hasn't already done so. It's my opinion the antenna can provide more signal improvement than tuner selection.
    Last edited by Peter P.; 4 Weeks Ago at 02:18 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    ...Finally, in colnagoG60's further search for better FM, I would recommend placing more effort with antenna selection, if colnagoG60 hasn't already done so. It's my opinion the antenna can provide more signal improvement than tuner selection.
    "Quality reception" isn't too much of a concern...I get full signal for all stations in both cities with most basic antennae. Better Op amps/output sections is driving the desire for higher end brands. Again, HD Radio would allow the access to the alternate broadcasts from the same station where analog tuners don't receive them at all. For instance, 90.9 may play classical on primary station, but on 90.9-2, they have "all opera", and 90.9-3 may have news etc., all under the WETA call letters.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by colnagoG60 View Post
    Fair enough. Thanks for the info. If it's a compressed broadcast to begin with, I'd just assume stick with getting the stations at upwards of 300kbps through my free "TuneIn" account...which also aggregates 50,000+ other free internet/FM/AM stations, if anyone wasn't aware. I'll pay for equipment, since I'm picky, but won't pay for services if the same music is available for free, or purchase.

    Being in the line of sight of 2 major cities, I get good reception from both. Interesting to see the image quality difference between OTA and my Sat service, want to do the same for radio.

    As far as tube equipment, after spending at least a decade demo-ing various components at home, our in store, including taking my pieces to the stores, the few C-J pieces, and McCormack amp I ended up with were the only ones that weren't too bright, or muffled sounding... and that was both less, and significantly more expensive digital and analog amps. Some physically affected my ears after only 15 minutes. Thought it was cool that C-J and McCormack merged years later.

    I've had the tube amps for almost (20) years which were still running with the original tubes. Though admittedly they were dormant for a few years during that time. I only did the total refresh (at a cost of about $400) to chase down what I thought was a noisy tube. Turned out the Bluesound Node 1 units are noisy because the power supply are too close to the RCA jacks, and all types of craziness is transmitted...sounds like dialup internet mixed with a Tranformer on boot up "more than meets the eye". Node 2s fix the issue.
    What is needed to make something sound "right" depends on what you're listening to...you're not just fighting the air, but also the room, and then trying to get it to sound how you want; which in many many cases is not how it sounds in real life sitting in a chair in the hall and live, especially when dealing with electro-acoustic sources, but also many acoustic ones as well.


    Most rock, and "country" (IMHO basically rock now TBH), and rap etc shows just plain are so loud that they sound about the same amplitude and quality as a 747 on take-off, not even joking. To put them on CD you have to dynamic compress the hell out of a signal to even get it on CD (96dB of dynamic range). Basically anything you do in your home to reproduce it, will not reproduce the experience IRL of what it sounds like IRL....and if it did your neighbors would call the cops on you. Seriously, most of these acts hit 120dB SPL minimum in the hall measured at the FOH desk 50m away. The threshold for physical pain is commonly quoted at 125dB, nevermind permanent hearing damage from exposure starting in about a minute. Kiss and Manowar, for reference, hit ~140dB on the road which is not just f'ing stupid, but dangerous to ears and can physically damage the building; and they are far from being unique.

    Brass instruments are a funny one...because pro brass players often want the mic basically shoved down the bell of the horn where no one on Earth wants to put their ear, and even if they could no one would not want to. Same for the drum-kit. The electric-bass/guitar plays into a tube amp that then has a large-condenser-mic parked in front of it and then cranked louder (often on solid state amps).


    At work we host a show-choir competition in our hall every year....we groan and laugh (privately, on clearcom) at the teens who clearly come from the rich schools, who come with tube-amps, that their well-to-do mommy and daddy bought, in their pit-band.....sorry kids, the reason you don't sound that good is not because of tube versus solid-state.


    In short...speakers are a problem, far more than headphones.
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  18. #18
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    I hear you...my McCormack is solid state. "To me", the amps I chose sounded better when compared to other Brystons, VTL, Levinsons, Proceeds, etc, tube and digital, when swapped out using the same source and speakers, at the same store, or at home. Nothing was ever demo-ed on it's own, with unfamiliar equipment. Long journey I wish was over...now looking for another set of speakers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KWL View Post
    It's because someone thinks no one listens to radio in the home, just driving to and from work. I also would welcome more options but appreciated hearing about the Sangean.
    FYI...looks like you can get them through Home Depot as well:


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by colnagoG60 View Post
    "Quality reception" isn't too much of a concern...
    You're lucky; I checked the HDradio.com web site for which stations in my area are transmitting an HD program. I listen to non-commercial FM (88-92MHz) and the only station in that range is the local NPR affiliate, no doubt broadcasting the same programming. I guess it would be pointless for me to bother with buying an HD tuner.

    As an aside, my Yamaha FM tuner crapped out in 2010. I put out a request on another bike forum to see if anyone had a tuner for sale knowing there were some audiophiles here, and a forum member sold me a 1982 vintage Yamaha digital tuner at a very reasonable price. I still use it every day!
    Last edited by Peter P.; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:38 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    You're lucky; I checked the HDradio.com web site for which stations in my area are transmitting an HD program. I listen to non-commercial FM (88-92MHz) and the only station in that range is the local NPR affiliate, no doubt broadcasting the same programming. I guess it would be pointless for me to bother with buying an HD tuner.
    Would one of these antennas help? I think there are a few companies selling the same one, but I really did start picking up "TV" stations 100-150 miles away. I had to put it as high as my roof line, for the notte distant stations, but I was getting stations that I didn't even know existed. I wonder if it would work for FM as well?




    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    ...I put out a request on this forum to see if anyone had a tuner for sale knowing there were some audiophiles here..
    I also posted here looking for the resident "gear heads".

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by colnagoG60 View Post
    Would one of these antennas help?...
    I'm not a fan of those "fancy" antennas, particularly actively amplified ones. You really don't need anything exotic to improve reception. Just installing an omnidirectional OUTSIDE vs. an inside dipole antenna is a significant improvement. Get the antenna as high up on the roof as you can and most people will be happy.

    Interestingly, I can't find any direct from the manufacturer info on that antenna above. Looks like it's only available from Amazon, which makes me question its quality. The official Amazon site lists the antenna as good for "VHF-40300MHz". First of all, VHF ends at 300MHz, and that's not you specify 403.000MHz, leading me to question the intelligence of Amazon, the "Vansky" company, whoever they are, and the ad copywriters. I can't trust any of them.

    Need better, or longer range reception-get a directional antenna and a rotor if your stations are in divergent directions. Channel Master's Masterpiece antennas work within the FM broadcast radio band.

    Unfortunately, I live in a condo so running cables outside or mounting outside antennas are verboten. However, I plan on installing an antenna in the attic and running cable just prior to when they put vinyl siding on my unit.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by colnagoG60 View Post
    Would one of these antennas help? I think there are a few companies selling the same one, but I really did start picking up "TV" stations 100-150 miles away. I had to put it as high as my roof line, for the notte distant stations, but I was getting stations that I didn't even know existed. I wonder if it would work for FM as well?






    I also posted here looking for the resident "gear heads".
    The problem with digital signals....is when they work, they work great. If they don't, and you start losing bits or getting flipped-bits--it becomes unusable almost immediately.

    Classic IRL example....HDMI. Digital connector for audio/video common in all home theaters now. Has been around about 20 years. It wasn't until HDMI v1.4 that it really worked well. Because HDMI didn't have error correction built-in , until then....what would happen is that over a cabled-distance of more than 2 meters, snowflakes (flipped/lost bits) and then picture-loss would occur. It got unusable very fast, which is stupid for a digital connection over such a short distance.

    Something like an amplified antenna for FM....I'd be skeptical of. You either get the whole signal, or you get a ton of noise, with digital signals....as opposed to analog AM/FM signals which gradually fallout to unusability.
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  24. #24
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    I use a Mytek DAC to siphon classical internet radio and streaming services Qobuz & Tidal through my hi-fi tube gear and I gotta say that internet radio can't hold a candle to the streaming services when it comes to audio quality. Qobuz, especially, delivers a signal that is absolutely outstanding. Better than my vinyl.

    Then again, I've always had a true affection for NAD componentry. Those guys know tone.
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