Back in April 2005 we wrote an article on high-end audio equipment entitled “Audio Advisor“. We wistfully mentioned an FM tuner we had our eye on:
At that time, we wrote:
We only listen to a couple of FM stations regularly – classical, and an oldies Big Band station. Unfortunately, both stations transmit out of a shoe box; reception right here in the SF Bay Area is pretty bad. We bought a half-wave indoor-outdoor FM whip antenna, and then a modest FM preamplifier, and this helps. We might get the Magnum/Dynalab MD-90 Analog FM tuner for Christmas (replacing the mostly adequate FM front end in our Denon).
We finally bought it about six months ago. We didn’t buy it from Audio Advisor, because their price had gone up. We found an excellent little shop in Texas, Galen Carol Audio, and have been completely happy with our order. This posting is just to let you know that we really like it, and appreciate a huge improvement in sound quality.
Listening to low-power SF/Bay Area FM stations in our reception-poor area in Castro Valley, California is hardly worth the bother and irritation with a conventional all-purpose stereo receiver or “home entertainment center”. I can’t find licensed transmission power published for classical FM station KDFC, but I do see they have added a digital commercial-free sister station and I wish I hadn’t seen that.
For conventional FM signals. my Magnum/Dynalab gives me great signal to noise ratio (no hiss or static), great stereo separation, and a really clean sound. It makes listening to FM a pleasure again. And I really appreciate the analog tuning with two meters (one for signal centering anf one for signal strength), which makes it possible to accurately fine-tune from a good signal to a great signal.
The third meter, on the left, is multipath distortion. Less is better. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with my classical station and quarter-wave indoor whip antenna.
If you like one of those megawatt popular stations that reach hundreds of miles down into the Central Valley, then a state of the art FM tuner is probably a waste of money for you. For my musical tastes, listening to FM boils down to listening to the one classical station in our area, or nothing at all.
FM reception in metropolitan Phoenix does not suffer from the same issues, and their classical station produces a superior signal. When my audio gear finally migrates there, for my retirement years, I’m hoping the Magnum/Dynalab will still produce an improved signal whose difference I can hear and appreciate.
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