Our contributor Paul Baptista compiled a list of "vintage receivers with decent tuners inside," and we've been gradually adding to it. Here's Paul:
"Why a receiver? Because it is only one unit instead of a two-, three- or four-box solution. [A two-box solution is an integrated amp and standalone tuner, a three-box solution is a preamp (or source selector with volume) with amplifier and stand-alone tuner, and a four-box solution is using two mono amps.] There are no interconnect cables with their associated cost and signal degradation; signal paths are shorter; there is only one AC plug, another cost saving; and finally, a receiver takes up less space on furniture or shelves. The reality is that a receiver has plenty of compromises and rarely includes a good amp AND a good preamp AND a good tuner, but there are some exceptions. Some receivers have decent tuners inside, and they are the focus of this list. Some receivers listed here even have better tuners than many stand-alone tuners. There are several manufacturers that probably have good tuner sections in their receivers but are not listed here only because I didn't have any information on them.
In determining the criteria to use to identify whether a given receiver had a good tuner inside, I decided on the following list, in no particular order. Of course, these criteria are all questionable as true indications of a good tuner, but they should be a good starting point.
1) Four or more FM gangs
2) Three or more ceramic filters (4 or more is better)
3) Good FM-related specs if I could find them (let's assume that the manufacturer didn't fudge the numbers)
4) Decent FM chipset
5) Wide/Narrow IF bandwidth selection (DX mode)
So here is a list that will grow with factual input from others. Please post your suggested additions to this list in the FMtuners group. If anyone knows which tube receivers have good tuners inside, please let us know."
Thanks Paul. We've made some additions to your original list and welcome other additions.
Harman/Kardon 930 (1972, review) search eBay
Our contributor Tim once worked for an audio dealer that sold Harman/Kardon, Kenwood, Kyocera, Marantz, Setton, Sony, Tandberg and Technics receivers. Tim reports, "We had two favorites: The H/K 930 and one of three Tandberg receivers (the 2045, or the 2060, or the 2075). The Tandbergs were drop-dead gorgeous with their rosewood cases but, as others have noted, they can be expensive to service, and many of them used DIN connectors for both their source inputs as well as their speaker outputs. But they had really good tuners in them and their amps sounded wonderful as well. However, the H/K 930 receiver is no slouch, either, and if you can find the optional original wooden case that was sold with it, it will look pretty good. It also has a really good tuner and great-sounding electronics in it as well. We'd probably lean towards the H/K 930 as service manuals for it are easily available online and you will be able to find more techs with experience working on H/Ks. Don't forget that a receiver this old will be in dire need of a tuner alignment if you are to get optimal performance from it, and it may need some caps and resistors replaced as well."
Kenwood KR-9600 search eBay
This receiver has 5 FM gangs, which is commendable in a standalone tuner and rather exceptional for a receiver. Some of its quoted specs, particularly for sensitivity, surpass Kenwood's specs for stand-alone tuners like the KT-7500.
Kenwood KR-6050 search eBay
Kenwood KR-7050 search eBay
Kenwood KR-8050 search eBay
All of these models have wide/narrow IF selection. The KR-7050 has 5 ceramic filters, two of which have a 180 kHz bandwidth and are used in Narrow mode.
Kenwood KR-6160 search eBay
Paul was told that this model has 4 FM gangs.
Luxman R-115 search eBay
Luxman R-117 search eBay
According to a contributor, these remote-controlled receivers have identical 4-gang tuners, with tuning specs generally within 5% of the same-generation T-117 tuner. Built in the mid-1980s, the R-115 and R-117 feature wide/narrow bandwidth settings and switchable .025 MHz fine-tuning (their normal tuning increment is .1 MHz).
Luxman R-1050 (1977) search eBay
A knowledgable source reports that the rosewood-veneered R-1050 was the most popular of the 1000 series receivers. It is essentially an amalgamation of the L-80 amplifier and a simplified version of their Reference series 5T10 tuner. It has a 4-gang variable capacitor for FM and 3 gangs for AM, followed by careful IF processing using a combination of ceramic and regular passive LC filters. A Dolby-FM upgrade module was also available. There is a built-in ferrite rod antenna for AM, plus an extra AM antenna input, as well as 75 ohm and 300 ohm FM antenna inputs. There are separate controls for stereo/mono switching and muting, and signal strength and center-tuning meters. There is also an internal control for 75 µS/50 µS FM de-emphasis.
Our source adds: "The amp section, rated at 50 WPC into 8 ohms, includes a then very novel feature: an LED peak meter, calibrated in dB, with two ranges. The receiver includes a well-appointed preamp section with 5 inputs: phono 1 and 2, aux and tape 1 and 2. The standard bass and treble controls are included, as well as a high and low cut filter, loudness and mono mode switch (which is also used for the tuner mode). Tape monitoring and dubbing are handled by separate controls. The balance control is hiding in the top row of buttons. The R-1050 inherits a huge transformer and 20000 µF worth of filter caps from the L-80, as well as 95% of the power amp circuit, including the massive inboard heatsink. The amp features full overcurrent, DC and temperature protection, as well as a delayed speaker turn-on, with a front panel indicator next to the power button, that flashes during the delay and goes on permanently if there is a fault condition. The preamp is somewhat simplified compared to the L-80, but still very well appointed. The phono preamp is situated right on the input terminals, for best noise rejection."
Luxman R-1070 search eBay
This model has wide and narrow IF bandwidth settings.
Luxman R-1120 search eBay
This model was Luxman's top-of-the-line receiver from 1976 to 1979 and retailed for $995. It has discrete power transistors, unlike the R-1120A. Power output is 120 watts RMS per channel with very low distortion. We're looking for more information on it.
Marantz 18 search eBay
Marantz 19 search eBay
Read our contributor Al's comments on the 18 and 19 in the Model Twenty writeup on our Marantz page.
Marantz 2265B search eBay
Our contributor Brian Beezley says: "I kept wondering why my Marantz 2265B with four 230 kHz filters works so well. In many situations it acts as if it had at least two 150s in the IF strip. I can receive stations wihtout noise or interference that I have to switch to narrow to receive well with some other tuners. I think I now know why. I remember seeing an outboard LC filter module on a little board underneath. The black module looks just like the pair in the audio path of the Kenwood KT-7500. It is cabled to the main tuner board, clearly an afterthought. I'll bet this filter is between the detector and the stereo decoder and that it accounts for the excellent, low-spurious-noise IF performance."
Marantz 2275 search eBay
The 2275, believed to be very similar to the 2325, has a 5-gang tuner similar to that in Marantz's 120 tuner.
Marantz 2285B search eBay
The specs for this receiver are published here. The claim is 35 µV for 50 dB quieting in stereo.
Marantz 2325 search eBay
The 2325 has a 5-gang tuner similar to that in Marantz's 120 tuner. The service manual for this receiver includes the following statement: "The IF amplifier unit consists of seven IF amplifier stages and one AGC amplifier stage. Eight pieces of ceramic filter are also used to obtain high selectivity, and four symmetrical diode limiter stages are also employed for the best limiting characteristics, improved capture ratio and good AM suppression." More details here: http://www.classic-audio.com/marantz/2325.html. Our contributor Tim, who worked for an audio dealer, says: "The other receiver brands generally had better-performing FM sections, out-of-the-box. But once our tech had spent 1/2 hour or so with a Marantz that was really poor out-of-the-box, the aligned Marantz receiver's FM section would almost always eat any other receiver's FM section for lunch. We just could not afford to do this for every Marantz receiver we sold. We are certain that every unit Marantz sent out for review by audio magazines during this time was carefully gone through before it was shipped. So we think their products were, for the most part, extremely well engineered, but manufactured much too quickly. We chose not to stock the legendary Marantz 2325 uber-receiver after our tech manager popped the hood on one and declared its design a 'dog's breakfast' and that it would be a servicing nightmare. His words were prophetic: The dial lights would melt the inside plastic bezel that was supposed to contain them. And there was no workaround, other than to fashion a bezel out of metal, or just discard it. We got to see several of these units as we were a Marantz warranty repair facility and we were REALLY glad we chose not to stock this unit. When customers came in inquiring about the Marantz 2325, we showed them the Mitsubishi DA-C20 tuner/preamp coupled to either the Mitsubishi 70 wpc or 100 wpc amp. These two units would actually 'dock' together and it was a much better performing and sounding unit than the 2325. And we never had any come back for service."
Marantz 2330 search eBay
The specs for this receiver are published here. The claim is 35 µV for 50 dB quieting in stereo.
Marantz 4300 search eBay
A contributor tells us it has 5 gangs and 8 filters.
Marantz 4400 (top, front, inside, back)
We don't know much about this receiver except that it appears to have 5 gangs and sure looks sweet.
Mitsubishi DA-R20 (service manual) search eBay
Here's our panelist Ray: "A 1980 offering, the DA-R20 was rated at 60 watts per channel and featured a tuner section with their radial analog dial accompanied by a digital readout. It also featured wide and narrow FM IF bandwidths. The FM front end had 4 gangs and the IF section had three 250 kHz blue GDT filters in wide mode. Narrow mode added a 180 kHz ceramic filter, CF104, to the end of that string. FM specs: 9.3 dBf usable sensitivity, 50 dB quieting sensitivity in stereo at 36.8 dBf, capture ratio 1.5 dB, alternate channel selectivity 60 dB wide and 75 dB narrow. Other useful features included MM / MC phono inputs and pre-main jumpers. It benched to 70 wpc both driven across the band and had frequency response at +0 to -3 dB from less than 10 Hz to 90 kHz through the line and power amp sections combined. The KB4437 MPX chip was quite common in that 1980 era (it's also in my Pioneer TX-9800). The power amp is a hockey-puck I.C. (very Mitsubishi-like). Overall, the specs are pretty good and the all-discrete pre-stages look nice. With its nicely illuminated front panel and rack handles, it's a handsome receiver indeed, but it ain't no DA-F20."
Our contributor Bill W. says, "I currently have a 7175PE receiver that has a very nice-sounding tuner inside it. The tuner is on a separate full-size board, complete with a separate power supply. I think the tuner inside the 7175 is supposed to be identical to the 4155 stand-alone tuner. According to the brochure, it is a 5-gang tuner. The only thing I don't like about the design is the limited preset memory locations (only 5 available for FM and AM)." There's a nice review of the 7175PE on Don Lindich's Sound Advice Blog. The 7175PE's less powerful sibling, the 7155, is also said to be worthy, although its tuner's specs are not exceptional. Bill adds, "I like NAD. Not necessarily the best-quality construction, but the sound is quite nice. I always expect them to have a few issues though, like cold solder joints, bad caps, etc."
Onkyo TX-8500 MkII search eBay
Our contributor Pete nominates these receivers for our list. Pete says they have exceptional tuner sections, but we're looking for some factual information to confirm his opinion.
Here's our contributor Don: "I have long suspected that the claim about several Pioneer receivers having 'the same or a similar tuner circuit as the TX-9100' was untrue. It turns out I was right. The TX-9100, of course, has 5 gangs and 4 filters, and most of the units listed do not. I found the service manuals for many Pioneer receivers on the Hifi Engine site. You must register, but it's free. Here is what I found out, from the schematic or block diagram, about the FM tuner sections of many Pioneer receivers.
"It seems they scaled down the tuner sections in the later series receivers. The SX-626 is 20 watts per channel with 4 gangs. The SX-880 is 60 watts per channel and it's only 3 gangs." Our contributor Dave N. confirmed that the SX-1010 is an excellent performer on FM.
Pioneer SX-990 search eBay
Pioneer SX-1500TD search eBay
These models, which share the same front end according to Dave Compton, have 4 FM gangs.
Pioneer SX-1980 (1978, $1,295) search eBay
This model has 5 FM gangs. The specs are 1.5 µV RF sensitivity and 34 µV 50 dB quieting in stereo. http://www.classic-audio.com/pioneer/sx1980.html
Here's an excerpt from the owner's manual: "The adoption of a single-stage differential amplifier with low-noise dual transistors, a current mirror load and a 3-stage Darlington triple SEPP circuit provides a bumper power output of 270 watts + 270 watts (20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz with no more than 0.03% THD) which is extremely stable. The power amplifier is configured as a DC power amplifier with the capacitors removed from the NFB circuit for a flat gain response. The large-sized toroidal transformers with their superb regulation employ 22,000 µF large-capacity electrolytic capacitors (two per each channel). There are independent dual power supply circuits with separate power transformer windings to provide power for the left and right channels. The FM front end incorporates a two-stage RF circuit that employs a 5-gang tuning capacitor and three dual gate MOS FETs for high gain and low noise. This configuration excels in ridding the sound of undesirable interference. The FM IF amplifier combines five dual-element ceramic filters…for high selectivity (80dB) and low distortion… The local oscillator includes Pioneer’s very own quartz sampling locked APC (Automatic Phase Control). This output of this extremely precise quartz oscillator is divided into frequencies of 100 kHz and so reception frequencies which are a multiple of 100 kHz are locked at every 100 kHz."
Pioneer SX-3900 search eBay
Our contributor Ryan reports, "The SX-3900 has an analog dial and a digital readout. The dial is just like that on a vintage Pioneer, but a few inches longer. It also has a quartz lock, but Pioneer grew a brain since the TX-9800, and you can disable it on the front panel. The tuner has a 4-gang analog cap, and a single gang varactor for the oscillator, so the thing has a 5-gang tuner stuffed inside it. Nice. Stereo sensitivity is great at 36 dBf. The S/N ratio is 78 dB in stereo, which is pretty impressive in any vintage beast from 1980 or so, especially in a receiver. The only pitfall is the single IF bandwidth, which uses 3 GDT filters and two HA1201 IF amps. Even so, distortion is only .2% at 6 kHz and you get 80 dB alternate channel selectivity to go with it. Anyhow, the spurious responce is 100dB, which is pretty decent. The rest of the package is rounded out by a nice toroidal transformer, two 15000 µF caps, and a good 120 WPC output. THD is .005%, but the damping factor is surprisingly only 60 from 20 to 20, which suggests that there might not be all that much negative feedback to pull off the low THD, but good design instead. A 115 dB A-weighted hum and noise suggest pretty good design. Pioneer also developed some updated tuner ICs which are in this thing instead of the old PA1002, etc. which were in their older tuners and receivers. As a transition product (from analog to digital), this thing was probably at the leading edge of analog Pioneer receiver technology."
Pioneer SX-5590 search eBay
This $1,250 receiver is reputed to have a good tuner section, but we're trying to confirm this.
We asked Ed Hanlon, perhaps the world's foremost authority on Radio Shack tuners and receivers, to tell us about all the 4-gang Realistic receivers, and he counts them down for us in reverse chronological order. No one should assume that all of Realistic's receivers are better than everyone else's just because we're giving them so much space (we'd love to get this kind of input from fans of other manufacturers), but anyone considering a Shack receiver would be wise to heed Ed's recommendations.
Realistic STA-2380 search eBay
This "New for '89" one-year wonder followed the vaunted STA-2280. It has a 4-gang front end and 3 filters, with a 100 watt per channel amplifier. The tuner is pretty good, though not as sensitive as the 2280. Responds well to alignment and mods, like adding a second bandwidth.
Realistic STA-2700 search eBay Basically the STA-2380 with a remote.
Realistic STA-2600 search eBay
"New for '87," boasting 100 watts per channel RMS. The most sensitive FM tuner of any Radio Shack receiver ever sold, typically 1 µV after alignment. Four-gang front end with three 280 kHz ceramic filters; not very selective. Adding a second bandwidth and some 150 kHz ceramic filters makes this a DXing machine. WARNING: These receivers are notorious for having several bad/intermittent solder connections, so get that soldering pencil warmed up, you could be resoldering these connections for a while.
Realistic STA-2280 search eBay
Same as above, with a 60 watt per channel amplifier. For some reason, the 2280 often commands more $ than the 2600.
Realistic STA-116 search eBay
Same fine front end as the two receivers above, with just two ceramic filters. Can be just as sensitive as its bigger brothers after alignment. 30 watt per channel RMS amplifier. Is smaller in size than the 2600/2280.
Realistic STA-2500 search eBay
Very similar to the STA-2600, and is also 100 watts per channel. Four-gang front end, 3 ceramic filters.
Realistic STA-2270 search eBay
Very similar to the STA-2280: 4-gang front end and 3 ceramic filters.
Realistic STA-114 search eBay
Nice slim-line receiver, rated at 30 watts per channel RMS. Supposedly has a nice tuning section. The ones I've seen haven't been as good as the larger receivers.
Realistic STA-112 search eBay
Nice slim-line receiver that is 35 watts per channel RMS. Has a decent tuner; I don't have much experience with this one.
Realistic STA-2290 search eBay
Well-built, large and powerful (100 watts per channel RMS) receiver. Has a 4-gang front end and three 280 kHz ceramic filters. A good performer, but not as sensitive as the digital receivers that followed it.
Realistic STA-2300 search eBay
The very last of the 120 watt per channel analog receivers sold by Radio Shack. The analog meters were replaced by LEDs, a sure sign we're in the early 1980s. Utilizes a 4-gang front end and 3 280 kHz ceramic filters. Not very selective stock, but can be aligned to get a sensitivity spec of at least 2 µV. Has that tubby sound many Realistic receivers were known for.
Realistic STA-2080 search eBay
This 80 watt per channel analog receiver has 4 large analog meters running across the top, and just flat-out looks fabulous. It also performs well. The tuner has 4 gangs and 3 ceramic filters. Used as a standalone tuner via its line-out jacks, it sounds surprisingly good, better than many standalone tuners. This is probably due to the MOSFETs used in the preamp section. It mods very well, and is more than respectable after adding a second bandwidth. Not as tubby-sounding as earlier Realistic analog receivers. Despite its protection circuitry, it is prone to some channel failure.
Realistic STA-2250 search eBay
This problematic receiver garners a lot of praise; I'm not sure why. It is NOT similar to the STA-2280. It does have a 4-gang front end and 3 ceramic filters, and responds well to alignment and even mods. Sensitivity won't approach the STA-2280/2600, but it's okay. Warning: This model sometimes has an issue with the microprocessor. Unless you're very handy, don't buy this receiver unless it WORKS.
Realistic STA-2100D search eBay
The STA-2300 with analog meters.
Realistic STA-2200 search eBay
The "first ever digital receiver," this one is a beauty in every regard. Sounds gorgeous with its MOSFET output transistors; this may be the best-sounding receiver Radio Shack has ever sold. In stock form the tuner is, well, bad. However, after an alignment it really comes to life. Could it be that they didn't know how to properly align a digital receiver on the assembly line back then? Even the atrocious AM comes to life after alignment. 60 watts per channel RMS with a 4-gang front end and three 280 kHz ceramic filters. Poor selectivity in stock form is remedied with mods.
Realistic STA-240 search eBay
Similar to the STA-2200 in build quality and parts, though it doesn't use MOSFET output transitors. Rated at 60 watts per channel RMS with a 4-gang front end and 3 ceramic filters. Has "Auto-Magic" tuning, a sort of AFC that can be switched off. The 240 has an analog dial AND digital frequency readout. The analog dial is different in that it reads 88-89-90-91 etc., whereas most analog dials only display the even numbers (88-90-92-94 etc.). This receiver can be modified into a killer. It was a one-year wonder, and there don't seem to be that many out there.
Realistic STA-2000D search eBay
Replaced in 1981 by the superior STA-2080, the 2000D is rated at 75 watts per channel RMS and has a 4-gang front end with three 280 kHz ceramic filters. Poor selectivity in stock form. Very round and tubby sound - and that's before engaging the loudness button! Extremely well built. Responds well to basic mods and alignment, as well as adding a second bandwidth.
Realistic STA-235B search eBay
55 watts per channel RMS, 4 gangs with 3 filters. Sensitivity is poor, though a little better than the STA-235 because of the removal of a ceramic filter in the RF path. Great AM section. Sound is rather obtuse. No reason to buy this thing.
Realistic STA-2100 search eBay
Perhaps the most sought-after analog Realistic receiver due to its use of a toriodal power transformer. Radio Shack ran into a patent problem with Pioneer and removed this transformer from the STA-2100D. The STA-2100 was manufactured by Foster Electronics and was very well built. 120 watts per channel RMS with a 4 gang/3 filters FM tuner. If you must have one of the 120 watts per channel Realistic receivers, this is the one to grab. But while it can be made very selective by swapping out the ceramic filters and perhaps inserting a filter adder board, sensitivity will never be much to brag about: 2-3 µV. If you use the 2100 as a stand-alone tuner via the tape output jacks, you'll avoid some of the boominess built into these receivers.
Realistic STA-235 search eBay
Replacement for the STA-225. 55 watts per channel RMS, 4 gangs. Dull sounding and very poor FM tuner sensitivity. Avoid this piece of crap.
Realistic STA-2000 search eBay
The first top-quality high-powered receiver ever sold by Radio Shack. Very tubby sound; hook this up to a pair of Mach Ones and be swallowed in the mire. Four-gang FM tuner with 3 ceramic filters. Needs an alignment to perform at its best, responds well to mods, though don't expect sensitivity much better than 1.5-2 µV. Better than the STA-2000D that replaced it.
Realistic STA-225 search eBay
The flagship receiver from 1975 and 1976, this is a really nice-sounding receiver rated at 50 watts per channel RMS. Loaded with features, including (defeatable) Auto-Magic tuning. Has a 4-gang front end with 3 ceramic filters. Can be modified into a very nice FM receiving machine. Not as tubby-sounding as the STA-2000.
Sansui 7 (1974) search eBay
This model has 4 FM gangs and 6 filters, a dual-gate RF FET and 3 AM gangs. Our contributor Ray says, "Its lack of wide/narrow bandwidth selection should mean it's a compromise, but its 6 ceramic filters do give it good performance. It certainly outperforms my Kenwood KR-5600 and Marantz 24 in all respects. With 4 gangs, 6 filters and three stages of IF amplification, it ain't bad for 1974 technology." But Ray adds that it tends to overload easily with strong signals.
Sansui 8 and 8 Deluxe search eBay
Both of these have 4 gangs and 6 filters, plus 3 AM gangs.
Sansui 4000 search eBay
This model has 4 FM gangs and 3 filters.
Sansui 7000 search eBay
This model has 4 FM gangs, 6 filters and 3 AM gangs in a separate tuning capacitor.
Sansui G-8000 search eBay
Our contributor Jovit reports that the G-8000 has a 4-gang FM front end and uses 4 280 kHz low loss+GDT IF filters.
Sansui 8080DB search eBay
Our panelist Bob has two of these and says they have the same tuner as the 9090DB. There is a minor power supply voltage difference that gives the 9090 more power, and the 8080 has a vinyl case versus the 9090's wood veneer. Bob adds, "The knobs are thick solid machined aluminum and clean up well. The vinyl-covered case can make it look bad over time. With a heat gun, I peeled off the vinyl to reveal a nice blemish-free luan wood veneer underneath. After some more cleaning, sanding, staining and finish coating, it looks great." The 8080DB/9090DB has 4 FM gangs (and 2 AM gangs), 3 filters (two old-style 4-pin filters and one 3-pin filter), and 3 limiter stages. It does not use a "chip" limiter. The detector is a ratio detector, as in the TU-717. The MPX decoder is the HA1196, same as in the TU-717, and the audio is taken directly from the MPX chip's built-in op-amps. The TU-717 has 4 gangs and 4 filters total, with additional wide/narrow filter paths, and also has additional complexities in the detector/limiter audio stages, so the 8080DB/9090DB is not an exact copy but overall is somewhat similar. The 8080 usually sells for around $100 or less on eBay and Bob calls it a steal at that price, compared to the 9090 which goes for $200-350 or more.
Sansui G-9000 search eBay
Sansui guru Dave Compton tells us that this receiver contains a "wicked 5-gang tuner."
Sansui 9090DB (left, right, back) search eBay
Our panelist Bob says that the 9090DB includes the same tuner section as his 8080DB (see above). Our contributor Mike W. reports, "I've always been impressed with the FM reception on this unit. Reception with a simple dipole is competitive with my Yamaha CT 810 hooked to an external MD antenna." The 9090 has usable sensitivity of 9.8 dBf (1.7 µV), 50 dB quieting sensitivity of 35 dBf in stereo, THD of 0.3% in stereo, mono S/N ratio of 70 dB and decent image rejection.
Paul found this ad in Audio magazine for the Scott 477. search eBay
Based on the receivers they're comparing themselves to, Scott apparently aspired for the 477 to be recognized as a top receiver. We don't know anyone who has tried one, so please post in our FMtuners group if you know anything about it.
Our contributor Glenn sums it up: "The vintage Sony receivers STR-6060/6120/6200/6045-6065/7045-7065/V-5-7 (listed in chronological order) all have excellent tuners. The 6060/6120 were fully shielded and the 6200 was almost as well shielded. Advances in design/components and cost reductions reduced shielding a bit in the later units, especially the last three V7/6/5 models. Even so, these were all 5-gang tuners. For an excellent sparrow feed tuner with preamp/power amp built in, find yourself one of these receivers and give the pots/switches a good DeOxit cleaning. The 6045/6055/7045/7055 models have a quite compact chassis size, and the STR-V7/6/5 have a large chassis size in order to hold the 150 WPC/120 WPC/85 WPC amps. My STR-6200F is probably my single favorite piece of gear." Glenn adds, "While I believe that the best stand-alone tuners are definitely better, the STR-6200F is a terrific receiver with many of the best attributes of the ST-5000FW tuner inside. Pretty decent write-up and pics on the Vintage Knob website, though it has some errors in stating that it and the also very good STR-6120 are quite similar. Very different/better power section in the STR-6200F."
Our contributor Al adds, "I also have a 6200F as well as a 6120. From what I remember the last time I laid them side-by-side, the tuning gangs are identical, except that the 6120's is in front and the 6200's is on the side of the chassis. Everything else is similar. The IF strips are spot-on identical except that the 6200's has one of the lines coming in connected through a resistor hanging off the board. The biggest difference I can see (only have the schematic for the 6120) is in the power amps where the 6200 has much better heat sinking. Speaking of IFs, did you notice that the 6200 seems to snap in and out of stations? I at first thought it must have AFC. I found that its IF filter slopes are the steepest I've tested (30% steeper than the ST-5000F). This IF strip is similar to the ST-5000F, except with a fourth filter module. The 6120 schematic shows these modules to contain 2 ceramic filters each. I believe these are the same as the Murata-labeled modules in the 5000F despite the 5000F manual calling them 4-element modules (noted by Mike Zuccaro)."
Sony STR-6060FW search eBay
According to our contributor Brian L., this was the first Sony solid-state receiver sold in the U.S. It had a 5-gang front end and "8 IF stages using 6 piezoelectric filters." The service manual states: "The selectivity of this (IF amps) section is determined by four solid-state filters in the interstage coupling paths. These filters each have four-section solid-state filters that operate in "trapped-energy" modes and have sharp skirt selectivity and flat response inside the band pass." Brian adds, "The unit is all discrete components, no ICs, and a production work of art."
Sony STR-7045 search eBay
Our contributor Chris reports that this 1974 receiver has good selectivity. It has 4 gangs and 6 filters, and "there is a switch on the chassis near the IF board where you can choose the level of selectivity."
Sony STR-7065 search eBay
Our contributor Dave N. says that this receiver, which is presumably similar to the STR-7045, was "the biggest surprise" of the many receivers he had owned.
Tandberg 1020 (1972, $430) search eBay
We don't know much about it, but the specs are pretty good according to this 1972 ad from Audio magazine.
Tandberg 2045 search eBay Tandberg 2060 search eBay Tandberg 2075 search eBay For all these Tandbergs, see our contributor Tim's comments under the Harman/Kardon 930 listing above.
Yamaha CR-450 search eBay
According to our contributor Chris, the CR-450, a lower-end receiver, "has surprising tuner performance (observed, not measured). It's especially good on adjacent channel reception (pulls a weak signal from between two stronger adjacents). Sensitivity is not bad." This bodes well for the performance of Yamaha's higher-end receivers.
Yamaha CR-600 search eBay
According to our contributor Jovit, "the CR-600 has 4 FM gangs with MOS-FET RF amp (3SK45) and mixer (3SK40) and BJT oscillator stage. Has 3 ceramic IF filters (green with 'T' marking and requires 470 ohm termination). Has RF AGC. Uses ratio detector and Sanyo LA3310 MPX decoder with tuning coils. I'm currently
rebuilding this unit so more information to follow."
Yamaha CR-620 search eBay
According to our contributor Jovit, "the CR-620 has 4 FM gangs and 3 ceramic IF filters. FET RF amp with a BJT mixer and oscillator stage. No RF AGC. Uses ratio detector and Sanyo LA3350 PLL MPX. I haven't seen this unit and this information is based solely on available schematics from the web."
Yamaha CR-820 search eBay
According to our contributor Jovit, "the CR-820 has 4 FM gangs (1 RF amp + 2 IF amp + 1 LO) and 3 ceramic filters (2 filter + IF amp + 1 filter + IF amp). This is a good indication that the FM section is probably decent. The receiver has 10.3 dBf (0.9 µV @ 75 ohms) usable sensitivity but the alternate channel selectivity is only 75 dB."
Yamaha CR-840 search eBay
Yamaha R-1000 search eBay
Yamaha R-2000 search eBay
Yamaha R-700 search eBay
Yamaha R-900 search eBay
All of these models have 5 filters and a DX mode. Our contributor Jovit says that the CR-840 has 4 FM gangs, uses 3 filters in Wide mode and 5 in Narrow, and claims 9.3 dBf usable sensitivity. Our contributor JC says that the CR-840 is "VERY good actually for a receiver, after a quickie half-assed alignment. I think the tuner section on all the upper x40's (840-1040-etc) is similar or identical, but haven't confirmed. The only thing I don't like is that it seems to go into Stereo Blend very quickly in the Auto/DX/Wide mode and you have to force Local/Narrow to get that off, in which case you're then on the Narrow filters whether you need them or not."
Yamaha CR-1020 search eBay
According to our contributor Jovit, "the CR-1020 has 4 FM gangs. MOS-FET RF amp with a BJT mixer and oscillator stage. Has 3 ceramic IF filters (green with 'T' marking and requires 470 ohm termination). No RF AGC. To reduce FM distortion, the CR-1020 has a trimmer resistor right before the first ceramic IF filter and a group delay equalizer before the 3rd ceramic IF filter. Uses ratio detector and Sanyo LA3350 PLL MPX decoder. Decent sensitivity and selectivity. The tone control section kills the sound for this receiver.
"Some tips for the CR-1020: Has an annoying noisy volume control. Fix is to replace the electrolytic coupling capacitor (10 µF) just after the volume control with a film capacitor and re-orient the volume control wiper to the unused section. Also needs a lot of electrolytic capacitors in the power supply section to be replaced and joints resoldered due to the high heat in the area."
Yamaha CR-2040 search eBay
Another receiver with 4 FM gangs. Our contributor Ray D. says, "I am very impressed with the RF performance of mine. I did some looking around to see what Yamaha separate tuner was similar and the winner was: the T-7, looks like the same tuning gangs. At first the CR-2040 looks odd but after a short while the appearance actually makes sense and stands the test of time. The 'missing glass' look is much more of a issue in photos than in person."
Yamaha RX-1130 search eBay
Our contributor Ray D. says this receiver has a nice tuner section. Here's Ray: "The vintage and numbering would suggest that the big separate tuner at the time was the TX-930. I was sort of hoping to find one of those inside, but I do not think it is the case. Looking around at interior shots of various tuners, it looks like the RX-1130 has the same tuning cap as the TX-540. Unlike the X30 and X40 series tuners, the RX-1130 does not have an analog tuning knob. It does not use the LA3450 MPX chip that the TX-930 and TX-950 use. Enough bad news, here's the good stuff: The RX-1130 has .01 MHz fine tuning, pretty rare in a digital receiver as are the Wide/Narrow settings. It uses Yamaha's CSL circuitry like the big tuners and the same signal display that also shows multipath. The MPX chip is the LA3401 which certainly seems to do the job in the Kenwood KT-3050 and KT-5020. Besides the LA3401 there is a big Yamaha AVR CSL IC, a Sanyo LC7210 and a LA1266 in the AM section. I spotted three filters, two blue and one brown.
"Tuning performance is quite decent. It seems set up for quieting over sound. Unless the signal is very strong, it defaults to Narrow even when switching to the much better sounding Wide shows little increase in noise. My guess is the Narrow is combined with some High Blend action as noise drops dramatically in Narrow mode. Very good performance. Sonically it sounds like other Yamaha tuners such as the T-80 or TX-930 that favor a clean and clear signal over a full and warm sound. In summary, this early AV receiver seems to have an above-average tuner section. Probably no surprise given the large amount of real estate given over to the tuner section and the good quality parts used."
Our contributor Jovit adds, "The front end was made by ALPS. Three FM gangs and a front end similar to that used on other tuners from that era, such as the older Yamaha TX-500. The varactors are hidden underneath the single-sided board so it is not going to be obvious. ALPS used a mix of through hole and surface mount components for this front end. Another alternative in counting FM gangs aside from the varactor method is to count the number of transformers (and the LO inductor) excluding the IF transformer. For the RX-1130, there is an air core transformer prior to the RF amp on the right, one before the mixer in the middle, and another one covered with wax inside the LO (local oscillator) area on the far left of the RF module. The one with the adjustable core is the IF transformer which doesn't count in the gang count. The FM detector is the ubiquitous Yamaha ratio detector."