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Tuner Reviews S-Z

Tuners are listed alphabetically by manufacturer and in alphabetical and numerical sequence by model number. In parentheses after the model number are the year of introduction and most recent list price, and/or the original list price if indicated by "orig" (special thanks to David Rich of The Audio Critic for copies of historical material from his reference library). Please see the On-Deck Circle for tuners that we know very little about or that we're not sure merit a writeup.

SAE: There are a couple of SAE (Scientific Audio Electronics) tuners in our On-Deck Circle that we'd like to consider listing here if we can get some basic information on them. Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about any of them.

SAE 8000 (1976, $800, front, back, inside 1, 2, ad, press release) search eBay
The 8000 is apparently the same tuner as the Mark VIII, with a different nameplate. See the Mark VIII writeup below. See how one 8000 sounded compared to many top tuners on our Shootouts page.

SAE Mark Six (1971, $1,050, photo) search eBay
SAE Mark VIB (1974, $1,250, photo1, photo2) search eBay
The Mark VIB (or "MK 6B" as it says on the back) is similar to the original version of the SAE Mark VIII, but the VIB has an oscilloscope as does the Mark Six (which is also widely known as the Mark VI). The Mark VIB was sold in at least three versions: black face plain, black face rack-mount style, and silver ("champagne") face. (We haven't seen a rack-mount version of the silver-face variety.) The Mark Six and VIB are both FM-only tuners with analog tuning knobs and mechanical tuning capacitors, but digital frequency readouts with Nixie tubes. The Mark Six has a Tape Out jack on the front panel, and fixed and variable outputs and a "4 channel MPX out" jack on the back.

One of our many contributors named John says, "The schematic does not show the actual circuit - it only indicates a 2-FET, 4-gang tuner. Evidently SAE purchased the front end as a complete unit from Görler, a German manufacturer." (Our contributor Peter W. adds, "Görler made excellent, stable and very long-lasting front ends for Acoustic Research, Scott and Fisher as well.") The Mark VIB is rare on eBay and usually sells for $650-900, but one with a nice cabinet fetched a stunning $1,537 in 10/03 when two guys ran it up from $815, and another went for $1,301 in 4/05. The low was $471 in 6/08. The Mark Six usually sells for $600-700, with a low of $487 in 10/09 and a record high of $1,295 in 4/11. See how one Mark Six sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and read our panelist David "A"'s Ricochet.

Here's our contributor Paul Bigelow's great review of the Mark VI: "The SAE Mark VI is an Ed Miller design and in the grouping of one of the most expensive tuners ever made. What did that kind of money buy? Scope tuning, Nixie digital readout, touch sensitive tuning/audio scope display, and a fine-sounding, sensitive tuner to boot. Physical description: The cabinet is all-aluminum construction. While this makes for a light cabinet and good RF shielding, it makes for poor magnetic shielding. The front panel is a light brass color, not unlike the '60s Fisher units. The finish is nice and the cabinet corners are rounded -- unusual, but easy to carry. Screw terminals for the antenna are on back and there are RCA outputs for fixed and variable level as well as RCA scope inputs for audio. The interior is nicely laid out. The top half of the tuner interior contains the scope, the IF/detector board, the multiplex and audio output board, the digital readout board, and the front end/first IF assembly. The bottom half of the interior contains the scope board, the power supply circuit board, the touch tuning sensitive relay board, and the front-panel switch assemblies. The construction is neat and laid out well but due to the orientation of the boards, access to the bottom of the boards for repairs is time-consuming. Only the multiplex/AF board has easy access.

"Special note must be made of the RF/front end assembly; it is totally encased in a brushed metal box - quite impressive. The tuning knob weight is a gorgeous brass-colored cylinder and is nicely machined. The digital tuning board in encased with a cover. I have seen pictures of the Mark VI's interior without this cover. I do not know if the cover was added later or eliminated early, or if the example seen was tampered with. The tuning mechanism is well made and simple: a small belt from the tuning shaft to the capacitor pulley. The circuit boards appear to be of glass epoxy. The Nixies are Amperex ZM1000. The scope display is D7-200GH and is made by Brimar. The scope tube has a square display. The phosphorous is green in color. Both the scope display and Nixie tube readout are behind a dark brown plastic cover, invisible when turned off.

"Circuit discription: The signal passes through a balun and directly into the front end. I do not have schematics of the front end but it is noted to be four gangs with two FETs. The front end was sourced outside of SAE. The signal is then routed to the first IF amp, a socketed CA3053 IC. Next is one of the various unique parts of the Mark VI: the 10.7 IF signal passes through the first IF filter, not just any filter but a metal-encased, potted, 9-pole toroid filter assembly from Filtec. I would think this filter is 'unalterable' and could not be repaired. This filter is attached to the RF front end box. I would leave it alone. Technically, it is 3-pin with an in, an out, and a ground. This filter assembly was a source of great debate at SAE as quality could vary wildly as supplied from Filtec. Many were rejected at the SAE factory. Next is the second IF, another CA3053 IC. This is followed by another 5-pole Filtec 10.7 IF toroid filter. It looks just like the 9-pole only smaller. Next come two IF amps and limiters MC1355PQ IC. The detector stage is next. In parallel to this circuitry are the scope display amp, and muting and stereo threshold adjustments. The multiplex section follows and it is totally discrete. It has SCA filtering. The audio section is next and that contains the 19 kc filter and muting attenuators. High frequency blend is switchable. The output is either fixed or variable through a discrete switching arrangement. The power supply is regulated. My schematic contains the Mark VI for the RF circuits and the Mark VIB for the power supply and scope circuit. Based upon comparison of the schematics, info from James Bongiorno, and my own unit. I would say the Mark VI and VIB are very similar but not identical.

"Differences between Mark VI and VIB:
1. Scope circuitry is somewhat different
2. Changes made to the side-muting function for VIB
3. VIB has pushbutton front-panel switches, VI has levers
4. VIB has two level settings for external input, VI has three

"Impressions: The Nixie tube readout is bright, clear, and unusual. It is also accurate. The scope is bright and sharp. The tuning knob feel is outstanding - extremely smooth and fluid with only a bit of backlash (this is due to the rubber belt between the tuning shaft and the capacitor pulley). The switching between the FM display and audio is very nice and automatic: Touch the knob, FM, release the knob a couple of seconds later and it's back to audio. A front-panel control can set the display for FM-only, if desired. This tuner is very sensitive, better than the Kenwood KT-7001 and maybe better than the Yamaha T-2. Selectivity, while not the best, is very adequate, not as good as the Marantz 10B or Yamaha T-2 but better than the KT-7001. Like other tuners, the Mark VI does suffer from IP3/mixing products but it probably meets its selectivity spec (100 dB, I believe). The external muting control works well and can be adjusted precisely. The sound of the SAE sets it apart from the pack. The stereo image is wide, detailed, and fairly quiet. Bass is tuneful but not overpowering. Distortion is no problem. This tuner sounds great. Conclusion: The SAE Mark VI is a fun, easy-to-use tuner with good DX capabilities and great sound. With the addition of its almost unique functions of Nixie readout and scope display, it makes for a real eye-catcher."

SAE Mark VIII (1976, $650, black, silver, Audio review) search eBay
Also known as the MK8, the Mark VIII was an FM-only tuner from Scientific Audio Electronics with an analog tuning knob, mechanical tuning capacitor and large red digital frequency display. The original version of the Mark VIII had a gold anodized faceplate, but a later version had a black anodized rack-mount faceplate. This black version was later sold as the SAE 8000, and all of our contributors believe that the tuners sold under the two model numbers were identical, inside and out. The Mark VIII/MK8/8000 has 5 gangs and 5 filters, is solidly built, and is very sensitive and quiet. It is also very selective, even in stock form, and SAE claimed a remarkable 120 dB alternate channel rejection in its 8000 literature. The Mark VIII/8000 does not have a wide/narrow IF bandwidth selector, but our contributor Tuck found its selectivity to be an "excellent compromise" and its adjacent channel rejection to be "far above average." Our contributor Steve reports that it's quiet and well built, and is "very easy to work on with lots of room inside."

The Mark VIII used less-expensive parts than the Mark VIB and LEDs for the readout instead of Nixie tubes. Mike Zuccaro says that the Mark VIII/8000 "are completely redesigned, "cost down" tuners (though still fine units) that have nothing at all in common with the MK6 tuners, either in circuitry or construction. The MK8/8000 is prone to display problems, but reliable otherwise." Mike points out that SAE put out a service bulletin to change the resistors feeding the LEDs to prevent them from burning out. Yet another contributor found the Mark VIII/8000 more sensitive and selective than a Kenwood KT-7500 in a side-by-side test. An unusual feature of the Mark VIII/8000 is a 1/4" phone plug output on the front panel, for taping or high-impedance headphones. The Mark VIII and 8000 usually sell for $265-380 on eBay, or $125-200 when (as is common) the display does not completely work. The highest price we've seen was $510 in 1/05. See the SAE 8000 writeup above for photos.

SAE T102 search eBay
Here's the definitive T102 review from our contributor Rick D.: "SAE made its name building Morris Kessler's amplifier designs in the '70s, but set a high standard and developed quite a following. As it moved into the '80s, Kessler lost the lease on his manufacturing facility in Los Angeles and, rather than trying to retool somewhere else, decided to contract out manufacturing for later products. The 01 and 02 series were therefore built first in Los Angeles but soon after were constructed in Japan or Korea. The 02 series was made from something like 1981 until SAE was acquired in 1988, at which time remaining stock was blown out and the company name faded. (It re-emerged after Kessler reacquired the brand and now makes high-end amplifiers, true to its roots). SAE led the charge to create cool-looking rack systems, before rack systems were commoditized into cheapie home stereos. The T102 was from the final 02 series which included the P102 preamplifier, the A202 and A502 amplifiers, the E102 graphic equalizer (though the previous E101 parametric equalizer is more interesting), the C102 cassette deck, the D102 CD player, and so on. All of it was designed in Los Angeles and made in Asia. The 02 series was a bit downmarket from the 01 series, which was itself a bit downmarket from previous SAE lines. T102s are common and cheap on eBay. But are they any good? They aren't bad, but they aren't high-end, either.

"I have not been able to find a service manual or schematic, and my skills for reverse engineering a PCB are even worse than interpreting a schematic, and those are bad enough. But here's what I see. The FM section looks to have 3 tuning gangs plus an additional gang, which may be switched in the Narrow mode. There are four RLC tuned circuits with varicaps, trimmer caps, inductors, trimmer inductors, and fixed resistors. This is in additional to what could be a local oscillator. The IF, at 10.7 MHz, has two TA7060AP IF amplifiers, each coupled to Murata SFE10.7ML-A 280 kHz ceramic filters, apparently one for Wide and the other for Narrow. The IF controller is a Hitachi HA12412, which controls the signal meter, muting, quadrature detection, audio amplification, AFC, and several other things. The AM section looks to be a two-gang tuner plus a local oscillator -- sort of the usual afterthought implementation. I lack an adequate AM antenna and my house is filled with RF noise, so I won't review the AM section. It has one. All tuning is synthesized using a Toshiba TC9147BP, providing control of the varicaps, the display, tuning memories, and just about everything else.

"Front-panel user controls are all pushbuttons, feeding an array of integrated-circuit logic controllers (all discrete logic -- no microprocessor -- despite the name "Computer Direct-Line Digital Tuner"). Buttons are often a bit flaky, requiring two pushes, or perhaps an extra push to reverse from a double toggle, now that we are over 30 years from manufacture. Signal strength is shown on a 5-LED bar graph. Other LEDs indicate stereo and quartz lock, plus LEDs on each pushbutton switch to show current operational state. The frequency display is four characters. There is no on-off button, and the unit is always on at some level. A Standby button cuts AC to the audio section, and that can be remote-controlled by wire from a P102 preamplifier. Tuner memories stay alive for some period of time after being unplugged (several days, at least for me, but not weeks). I could not find a battery, so apparently they are using a charged capacitor to hold the memories in the Toshiba tuning controller.

"Tuning is automatic, scanning to the next station that breaks muting. There is also a manual tuning control. The Mute button defeats the muting circuit when the indicator is lit. A blend circuit is provided to reduce noise from scratchy reception without resorting to mono. An IF button switches additional narrow tuning and filtration. There are also rocker buttons for stereo or mono, and for FM or AM. Tuning is in 0.1 MHz increments in FM, and 10 kHz increments in AM. Eight memories are provided for each band, but only frequency is stored in memory. Unlike the preamp and the 01 components, I didn't see any relays, thank goodness!

"The styling of the T102 matches the SAE 01 and 02 aesthetic designs, including black cases with ultramodern (read: '70s more than '80s) white lettering. There are no fluorescent displays in this box -- all indications use LEDs, again more '70s than '80s. Like all SAE products of that era, the tuner is rack-mounted. This ain't black plastic crap -- the front panel is 1/8" aluminum and the case is heavy formed steel covers screwed to each other and to steel rails that connect the front and back panels. Both top and bottom covers can be removed, but the sides must be removed first. Removing just the top cover will leave you with 15 screws to keep track of, plus another six if you have the fake wood side panels. Accessibility, despite the number of screws, is superb. The power fuse is accessible by removing only the left side panel.

"I compared the T102 to the Carter TX-11a in a separate shootout. The Carver, which is one of the better affordable tuners one might run across these days, is better than the SAE in every dimension. But that doesn't mean the SAE is bad, it just means it lacks the special attributes of the Carver. I would class the T102 as competent, and worth the money it costs these days, which really isn't much. Many SAE collectors are looking for that uniform rack full of cool-looking stuff, and for them, this tuner will do, if they don't live in a difficult area. As a DX machine, the T102 has only the narrow filter going for it. I did not find it to be especially sensitive or nearly as selective as the Carver, and in the Jim Rivers shootouts, the Carver sounded good and performed decently. So, the Carver is a middle-of-the-best-stuff-pack tuner, while the SAE is just a middle-of-the-middle-of-the-pack tuner." The T102 is VERY common on eBay, usually selling for $50-100, but $180-200 for a mint one and as low as $20-40 are both possible.

SAE Two T3U (1976, $275) search eBay
The SAE Two T3U was SAE's only analog tuner. According to Jim's SAE Site, the T3U was designed and manufactured for SAE by Marubeni. Our panelist Ray reviewed one: "Pop the hood and you'll find a nice varicap with 5 FM and 2 AM gangs, but hold on! One of the FM gangs is a 'floater,' not at all electrically connected. The schematic is clear, though: it's a 4-gang tuner. It has a very basic, no-frills circuit and the board seems well laid out. There are only 2 ceramic filters in the IF string and per the schematic it's one 280 kHz filter followed by a 230, but it was built with the 230 followed by the 280. Does it matter? With only two in there RFM thinks, 'not much.' There is an LA-1231 IF amp and an LA-3350 MPX IC. That's followed by dual slugged lowpass filters, passive de-emphasis (YEA!) and discrete transistor outputs. The audio response from MPX in to output jacks has rather weak bass response measuring -2.25 dB @ 40 Hz and -7.9 dB @ 20 Hz. De-emphasis time constant measured 69.5 µS. The claimed specs are: IHF mono sens. 10.3 dBf, 50 dB quieting in stereo 37.3 dBf, S/N in mono 74 dB, THD in stereo 0.2%, selectivity - only given for adjacent channels - is >15 dB, capture ratio 1.5 dB, and stereo separation 45 dB. So, in a nutshell, it ain't much stock but ol' RFM's gonna mod it as it's easy to work on. Power supply cap and audio cap upgrades, corrected de-emphasis and some Ammons filter adders." Our panelist Bob adds, "That tuner sounds like it was set up for good sonics with nice GDT filters, but then they blew it with the tiny output cap." The T3U usually sells for $10-30 on eBay but one went for $81 in 8/06 for no good reason.

Mark Wilson of Absolute Sound Labs issues this warning: "Recently, I have noted that both the domestic and export versions of the SAE Two T3U have not been manufactured as the schematic indicated, and could present a hazard to their owners. According to the original blueprints, there is supposed to be a fuse in the AC mains primary circuit, located between the high side of the line cord and the power switch. The schematic in the published Service Manual does not show any fuse in the circuit. The three units I've received have had the connections to the fuse, on the power supply circuit board, jumpered with a piece of #22 wire. The fuse clips and associated fuse have been removed. This change does appear as it would from the factory and as such presents a significant safety issue. Non-protection of the equipment could result in a possible fire."

SAE Two T6 (1980) search eBay
We don't know much about the SAE Two T6, which was apparently the little brother of the underrated T14. The T6 usually sells for $30-75 on eBay, with a low of $10 in 8/05 and a high of $100 in 8/08.

SAE Two T7 (1976, $430) search eBay
For a tuner with an original $430 list price, the SAE Two T7 gets very little respect 30+ years after its manufacture. The T7 usually sells for $50-100 on eBay, with a low of $28 in 8/07, but one mint T7 went for $127 in 1/09 and one poor misguided eBayer paid $177 for a T7 with original box in 6/05 ($75-100 extra for a box?).

SAE Two T14 (1979, $599, owner's manual, schematic) search eBay
The SAE Two T14 is an attractive black digital synthesizer tuner with wood end caps and a very large blue fluorescent display. It has 5 FM and 5 AM presets and blue fluorescent signal-strength and multipath indicators. It has a variable muting control on the back panel and its most unusual feature is a clock that displays the time whenever the tuner is off or with the press of a button when on. Our contributor Bill Ammons informs us that the T14's "front end assembly looks (almost or exactly) like my Carver TX-11a. The T14 has 5 tuned RF stages with a single dual gate FET, and 4 low-GDT type Murata filters. It has great 400 kHz selectivity and fairly good 200 kHz selectivity. From a modification/service point of view, the layout makes it hard to work on." The T14 has wide and narrow IF bandwidth settings and is also very sensitive and has good quieting on weak signals. The T14 can sell for anywhere from $35-50 to $150-185 on eBay, with a bizarre high of $432 in 1/08 as two apparently possessed bidders ran it up from $69.

Sansui Tuners can be found on a separate page.

Sanyo Plus T35 (1979, see writeup regarding list price, photo, left closeup, right closeup) search eBay
Sanyo is not known for its tuners, but this one and its big brother, the T55, were definitely sleepers until we outed them. The T35 has 4 gangs and 4 filters and an eBay seller listed the following features: adjustable output level with defeat circuit; three levels of muting; Wide/Narrow IF band selection; pushbutton for manual lock (to override quartz circuitry?); 5-band signal-strength LED indicator; "traveling" frequency display ("LED numbers travel across the dial with the needle," whatever that means); and LED indicators for fine tuning. Read what our panelist Jim thought about the sound of one T35 in this Shootout. Our information sources indicate that the Plus T35 had a list price of $299.95 in 1979, which may have briefly increased to $349.95 in 1980. By 1981, however, Sanyo had dropped the list price to $199.95, presumably to unload unsold stock, and the company was out of the high-end tuner business forever by 1982. The T35 usually sells for $55-105 on eBay, with a low of $24 in 10/09 and a high of $142 in 1/08.

Sanyo Plus T55 (1979, see writeup regarding list price, photo, closeup) search eBay
This big brother of the T35, a low-profile rack-mount style digital tuner, used to be a relatively unknown sleeper but has become very common in the secondary market. The vast majority of T55s are black but we have also seen it with a silver face. It is narrower than the T35, with a 1-3/4 inch front panel, but very heavy for its size. Some front-panel features are an output level knob, two levels of muting (which is also defeatable), a Wide/Narrow IF switch, and 6 memory presets. An unusual analog-style tuning knob that clicks in .1 MHz increments gives the feel of an analog tuner for spinning up and down the dial, rather than the "tuning up" and "tuning down" buttons found in most digitals. The "international" version of the T55 tunes in .05 MHz increments. Our contributor Howard lists the details: "All metal case with glass window. Excellent construction. Four-gang FM front end, 3-gang AM (varicaps), 4 ceramic filters FM IF with two switched out electronically for the Wide setting. Two ceramic filters for AM. Digital system fully shielded with a separate power supply for it. Analog system on its own board with a separate power supply. Shielded front end section. I am retired from the electronics industry and know good equipment when I see it."

Our contributor Ed B. says the T55 is "an interesting machine... Big sound!" Our contributor Tom B. compared the T55 to his Pioneer TX-9100 and found them similar, with the T55 "perhaps a little smoother in the midrange." And our panelist Eric found the T55 to be a little powerhouse, similar to the Nikko Gamma V or Technics ST-9038, with great bass and a smooth, non-fatiguing sound overall. Sensitivity is excellent and selectivity, while not up to Onkyo-Yamaha levels, is more than sufficient for non-DXers (a filter mod might be a worthwhile endeavor for a DXer). Our contributor Bobby says: "I think this tuner demands to be heard. I bought this tuner and Sanyo P-55 amplifier and P-55 preamp, also outstanding, on the recommendation in a back issue of The Sensible Sound magazine. They thought it outperformed the Mac MR-78, which is heady company. All I can say is this is one tuner on which I can really hear the differences in broadcasting stations. Also, this tuner's imaging, soundstaging, depth of soundfield and outstanding deep bass extension have to be heard to be believed! It also has excellent FM quieting, imaging rejection and capture ratio, etc. I know Sanyo is not a name that comes to mind for fine audio equipment, but their Plus Series of components are something special and are overachievers."

Our contributor Bill C. notes that the T55 uses the fine Hitachi MPX chip and adds, "The T55 uses the JRC 4558d op-amp which also was used in the Nikko Gamma V. This is easily the slimmest tuner I have. Very compact footprint (1.75 inch height), but still very solid build and weight for dimensions, 11 lbs. Inside appears to have pretty good shielding with metal fence around what looks like the RF section. Also, off the digital display there is a sealed metal box roughly 4" X 4", I presume to also shield digital display components from rest of tuner. Tuner uses rotary knob that actually has a tactile click when tuning in 50 kHz increments for FM. TIC writeup states it has a separate PS for digital system -- I did not see this separate PS, though it may be within the 4X4 box. Initial impression on quick listen was good overall sound, though on quiet passages I could hear some noise. Also, tuner has a 3-section tuning indicator where center section indicates spot-on tuning. With this sample, though, the center indicator only lights when off tuning by +50 kHz. For example my public station 89.5 must be tuned to 89.55. I'm guessing this is something that would be fixed by a proper realignment." Our information sources indicate that the Plus T55 had a list price of $349.95 in 1979, which may have briefly increased to $399.95 in 1980. By 1981, however, Sanyo had dropped the list price to $249.95, presumably to unload unsold stock, and the company was out of the high-end tuner business forever by 1982. The T55 usually sells for $75-170 on eBay, with a low of $67 in 8/09 and a high of $223 in 12/07. A silver-faced T55 went for just $33 in 5/09, possibly because no one realized what it was.

Scott - See the Tube Tuners page for info on several Scott tube tuners.

Scott LT-112B (1967, $199, photo, closeup) search eBay
The LT-112B Broadcast Monitor Tuner was made for several years but is still somewhat rare. It replaced the LT-112 and was sold as a kit until Scott changed its lineup and introduced the 433 digital tuner in 1970. Our contributor Tuck tells us that the LT-112B has "no MOSFETs (JFETs), no ICs and no ceramic IF filters, and has only a 3-gang front end. In spite of these 'shortcomings,' it is a remarkable performer which is as quiet or quieter than my supertuners, especially in the stereo mode, where good signal-to-noise ratios are really difficult to achieve. All its many functions are MANUALLY selected, much to my preference; it is stable without need of AFC; it delivers superb audio quality (in those increasingly rare instances where the stations broadcast it) - and all this from a kit! The only thing it lacks is high selectivity, though it is at least adequate in this respect. This could probably be addressed with realignment of the IF strip. I think this tuner represents what superior engineering can do with limited resources, as it puts most more recent designs to shame."

Our panelist Bob agrees: "I bought one of these and, after an alignment, really like it. The LT-112B uses FETs instead of the Nuvistor tubes that the LT-112 had in the RF front end, and has more features than the LT-112. The 112B has the look inside of a tube tuner but with solid state devices, with an IF stage using double-tuned IF transformers that look very much the same as the ones used in Scott tube tuners. The MPX and audio output stages are all discrete, and seem to be a bit more complex than the tube tuner versions of the same, with more filtering. All in all, the 112B gives up very little in the way of reception sensitivity and selectivity to much later more modern units, a testament to the Scott design team. The sound is very good, totally stock. I was able to coax the detector, a ratio detector type, into perfect alignment and came away with a reading of .07% distortion at 1 kHz, which I don't think you'll ever see in the data sheet specs for this unit. The stereo light was burned out as purchased, and it appeared to need 2.5v, so I used two green LEDs in series to replace it and it now works perfectly. This unit has a lot of nice features - muting, mono/stereo switching, stereo blend, and low-pass noise filter. One high-quality meter display is multitasked via a switch for signal strength, multipath, center tune, and 'align' (remember it was a kit). I have to admit the LT-112B is really a surprise, but these units are really the most neglected part of the tuner market it would seem." The LT-112B usually sells for $45-65 on eBay, but up to $100-125 is possible for a nice one.

Scott 590T (1979) search eBay
The 590T is an FM-AM tuner with a good 3-gang AM section and a 5-gang FM front end. Its claimed sensitivity is an excellent 9.3 dBf, and it performed well in the 1989 field test that the Sumo Charlie (see below) failed.

Sequerra search eBay
No one on our panel has ever owned any Sequerra tuner and we don't plan on spending thousands of dollars on a tuner that is not better, for most purposes, than a top (for example) Sansui, Kenwood or Accuphase. Sequerras are probably best considered as works of art for audiophiles and collectors. Note regarding dates and prices: Between 1972 and 1981, Sequerra sold several different tuners that were all called the Model 1. (Here's an early ad from Audio magazine.) The various incarnations had different specs and different list prices (ranging from $1,600 in 1972 to $3,750 in 1981), and were available with or without oscilloscopes and sometimes even in kit form. We're not sure which one Jim or Jay had. The original Model 1's single wide (280 kHz) IF bandwidth would make it a poor choice for anyone who must deal with interference from strong alternate or adjacent channel stations. There was also a Model II circa 1976-77. In 1983-84, the Model One Broadcast Analyzer, apparently a different tuner, was sold at a list price of about $5,000. In subsequent years, a confusing series of other tuners, including the FM Broadcast Monitor (review), FM Reference, FM Reference Classic, FM Studio, FM Studio 2, and maybe others, were sold under the Day-Sequerra name for prices ranging from $3,000-5,500 (or $9,800-12,800 with "Panalyzer" panoramic display). Here's the FM Studio model: front, back.

We discovered that the original FM Reference (1991, $4,800 stripped, $12,800 with Panalyzer) has three different IF bandwidths, Wide (280 kHz), Normal (180 kHz) and Narrow (130 kHz), making it a better option than the older single-IF Sequerras for the congested modern FM band. Here's an excellent review of the FM Reference (but don't click on it if you have a slow web connection). Day-Sequerra is still offering upgrades for the FM Reference on their website.

Sale prices for all Sequerras on eBay can vary widely and we're rarely sure which is which, and it's just not worth the time and effort for us to try to figure it all out. Those who have to ask how much a particular Sequerra is worth probably need not apply, anyway. An original Model 1 that had just had a $2,000 tuneup from Sequerra Associates sold for $5,600 on eBay in 10/03, while other Model 1s' sale prices have ranged from $2,550 to $4,750 (with oscilloscope and Panalyzer). The most common Sequerra model appears to be the FM Reference, which usually sells for "only" $2,225-3,500 (low $1,825 in 3/09; record high $4,100 in 3/04). The highest sale prices we've seen were $6,200 in 7/05 for a "Model 1 FM Broadcast Monitor" with scope, and a bizarre $7,856 in 1/09 for another Model 1 as two lunatics ran it up from $5,000.

Sequerra Model No. 1 Broadcast Monitor (photo1, photo2, closeup, magazine cover, ad) search eBay
Our panelist Jim tested the FM-only Model 1 and says: "I had the privilege and pleasure of being loaned this tuner by a serious audiophile in town. He has quite a collection of dream tuners, including a Mac MR 67, two Mac MR 71s, a Marantz 10B and more. The Sequerra is a beautiful piece of workmanship and I liked having it on my shelf. The tuner has a deep and rich bass and non-irritating highs. I enjoyed listening for several hours, then switched to my reference modified Kenwood KT-7500. At first, I thought the 7500 sounded bright, but there was no irritation and as I listened, I realized that the seductive sound of the Sequerra was the result of deep rich bass, more so than any stock transistor tuner I've listened to before, and rolled off high frequencies. It can be quite soothing and is definitely easier to listen to than most thin-sounding Kenwoods and Pioneers of the '70s. To sum up, it is a very nice-sounding tuner, definitely more listenable than most stock tuners of its day. However, it can be possibly be bested by mods to Kenwoods, Sansuis and Pioneers of that era. I, like most tuner fans, can't afford this Cadillac, especially when you realize you can hot rod a Chevy and have a better car." See how one Model 1 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. Our contributor Mike Barney has a great page on the Model 1, with lots of photos, reviews, etc.

We thought that all Sequerra tuners use mechanical tuning capacitors but have digital LED frequency displays, but our contributor Jay reports: "The original Sequerra Model 1 Broadcast Monitor (NOT the newer Day-Sequerra tuner) does NOT use mechanical tuning capacitors; instead it uses Hi-Q varactor diodes biased with an adjustable low-noise voltage source. If there ever was a mechanical tuning capacitor version, then this is new news to me. The IF stage of this tuner is highly unusual, consisting of an 18-pole filter (presumably lumped element)! It is unique as it has the phase shift/frequency response flatness properties of a Butterworth approximation, but has a faster rolloff rate, similar to a 0.1 dB Chebyshev. This type of filter needs to be aligned on a network analyzer since the goal is minimal phase shift while retaining bandpass flatness. Proper filter alignment is mandatory and contributes to the tuner's ultra-low distortion and wide dynamic range. Other FM tuners, some older, have mistuned or component value drifting due to aging (or some guy who tries to align his IF stage by ear) which can cause IF stages to have nasty phase shifts within their passband (I do not claim that this is necessarily always audible, but it is measurable on the bench). The Sequerra's IF stage has very steep skirts resulting in superb adjacent channel rejection, while maximizing bandwidth for low distortion. This is one area that makes the Sequerra's performance really stand out."

Jay continues, "I was able to purchase a very rare, one of only four, Sequerra Model 1 Tuner. These four units were modified for special purpose, high-performance measurement capability (I was told that the FCC owns one of these, and the other two are at radio stations in the US). They look just like the standard model, however they contain three additional switches on the front panel and a switch with BNC connector on the rear. This rear panel switch is for performing very low distortion baseband measurements via the BNC connector (this signal is tapped right off the broadcast signal) by use of a special broadband (2 MHz wide) IF stage. The additional switches on the front panel allow for disabling the signal de-emphasis (again, when performing low-distortion measurements), another for activating a single frequency high-Q (low phase noise) quartz crystal local-oscillator (thus disabling the tuning knob and VFLO). The third switch disables the power to front panel display digital circuitry, which lowers the noise floor by several more dBs. Dick Sequerra had updated it to his current standards before I purchased this from him several years ago. I have recently installed a brand-new CRT and recalibrated the display. This tuner is an excellent piece of test equipment as well. The spectrum analyzer has over 100 dB of useful dynamic range and the multipath display is very helpful. I had the opportunity to do a comparison with a Yamaha CT-7000 tuner. On weak signals, what was immediately noticeable was that the Sequerra had an approximate 3 dB noise level advantage at the low end of the band, and about 6.5 dB at the high end. It's quite audible to the listener. Is the Sequerra the 'best' tuner? I am not sure, but it measures well and has outperformed anything else to date."

Our contributor Stan offers a bit of history: "Way back in 1971, the UK company Cambridge Audio exhibited a fully working digital FM tuner complete with a frequency synthesizer. However, at the time, I could only create the circuit using a board load of TTL chips which drew a lot of current and got hot, yet had to be housed in a shielding can to keep switching transients away from the RF circuits. When we costed the product we didn't believe anyone would pay a high price for a tuner, so that was that. A couple of years later the Sequerra Model 1 came along and proved us wrong."

Setton TUS600 search eBay
The very rare TUS600 is a large, beautifully designed FM-AM tuner. According to our contributor Henry, it has 4 gangs and gets excellent reception. Henry adds, "The TUS600 may be the most beautiful piece of equipment I have ever owned. It has ovoid shapes apparent in all the knobs, buttons, switches, lights, and rack handles. It has two glass panels: The main one, for the tuning scale, and a secondary, smaller lower glass panel, where the meters and the stereo, mono, and mute indicators are. Behind the rose-tinted glass is a warm yellow background. It has an MPX filter and variable output and muting, and an input for a Dolby adaptor." The TUS600 is only seen once a year or so on eBay and usually sells for $160-310.

Sherwood search eBay - See the Tube Tuners page for info on several Sherwood tube tuners.

Sherwood Micro/CPU 100 (1977, $2,000, photo1, photo2, closeup, brochure 1, 2, 3, 4, Operation Manual, review 1, 2, 3) search eBay
The FM-only Micro/CPU 100 was designed by Larry Schotz of noise-reduction circuit fame and manufactured for Sherwood by Draco Laboratories, which also sold it for awhile under their own name after a dispute with Sherwood. Under either name, "the world's first computer controlled tuner" is a unique, powerful 30-pound beast with excellent sensitivity and very good quieting on weak stereo signals. The Micro/CPU 100 has the varactor equivalent of 6 gangs with an analog-style tuning knob and digital LED frequency readout, similar to the McIntosh MR 80, and 4 station presets. Hidden behind a front-panel door are switches for de-emphasis and the two IF bandwidth settings, among other things, and variable muting and output level knobs. The Micro/CPU 100 is programmable to automatically display station call letters in an alphanumeric readout for each frequency. The circuit board has slots for 5 ceramic filters, but in our panelist Eric's unit one of the slots was empty (and soldered closed) and appeared to have never contained a filter. Because this unit was previously "repaired" in a questionable manner, however, we can't be sure whether its performance is typical of all Micro/CPUs. Alternate channel selectivity is good, and the overall sound of the tuner is well above average, but adjacent channel selectivity is poor (perhaps that omitted filter would have come in handy).

Our contributor Bill says, "I completely rebuilt the power supply on a Micro/CPU 100. I modded the battery backup by eliminating the outdated and defective charging circuitry and simply installed a 3-cell battery box on the rear panel. I replaced all the electrolytics and several tantalum capacitors. After all that, it played and then the digital readout went intermittent. After 24 hours of labor, I gave up. That said, the rest of the unit works great and it remains one of the best, clearest, most sensitive tuners I've ever heard. The varactor-based tuning works like gangbusters, but circuitry-wise they are fragile." Bill also notes that the outdated digital tuning circuitry and "prototype-like board layout" make the tuner difficult to work on.

Stereo Review's breathless review of the tuner may have been the source of Sherwood's claim that this behemoth was "routinely viewed as the world's finest FM tuner." Brent Hilpert's website has an incredibly detailed page on the Micro/CPU 100, with a ton of good-quality photos, and plenty more interesting stuff on early digital electronics. The Micro/CPU 100 is very rare and only shows up on eBay a couple of times a year. It can sell for $450-625 in good condition, or as low as $250-300 in lesser condition or with an operating problem.

Our contributor Jay offers this background info: "Sherwood and Draco never published manuals, but there are some board diagrams in circulation which were the originals from Sherwood or Draco. You can try Rick at Allegro Sounds and there is another guy in Chicago - can't think of his name right now, but he's a Sherwood authorized repair center. Both claim to have them. At one point I thought I had convinced the Chicago guy to allow a preferred audio repair guy to get copies of boards as needed, but then he balked. The following was reported to me by a former Draco tech, John Friese (sp?), who maintained a repair shop in the Santa Barbara, California area, and was an authorized Sherwood/Draco repair facility. John has since retired and could never locate his copies of the board diagrams after he sold the business. John always claimed that the better versions of this unit were the best-sounding units he ever heard, even preferring them to his Marantz 10B and 20B. Sherwood and Draco had business issues and, as part of the settlement, Draco got the tuners and technology. John and a partner (Dick Glydewell (sp?)) bought out the leftover stock of parts, supplies and units, after Draco sold off what they wanted (having dropped the price from $2,000 to $1,000) and these guys were the licensed repair facility for Draco.

"There were three iterations of the design. The first iteration of the units had the name 'Sherwood' on it. The two later iterations were Draco and you can almost see where the 'Sherwood' name was simply brushed out. Per John, the Sherwood version was problematic, particularly with some of the boards. He certainly knew from memory where everything was on the inside of these units. At one time I had three of these and he could tell me pretty much the location and color of most of the bigger 'cans' and boards, etc. Later versions were superior (though I have seen and heard threads where others differ on this) and less problematic. I have found that to be true. The two later versions, per John, were similar in quality and sound, and certainly more problem-free except for battery leakage issues."

Sherwood S-3300 search eBay
Our contributor Ed V. reports, "The S-3300 has a rack-mount front panel but is nothing to write about, just a simple 3-gang microcircuit/FET tuner that features muting and noise reduction. There is a volume function, but it is internal and may be adjusted by removing a front-panel tonged plug. It's rated for 115-125 VAC, 8 W, and there is a muting (hush) adjustment on the rear panel. Front-panel switches include power, noise, muting and mono/stereo. Oh, and a center-tuning meter, small but viewable. In its current state, it is not particularly sensitive, but the stereo separation is very good. I have had this tuner for quite some time now and pulled it off the shelf yesterday. I suspect that I did a recap when I first received it. The tuner consists of an RF module, a PCB IF strip with ferrite tuned transformers, another PCB for the multiplex assembly, and power supply components terminal-strip mounted under the chassis. Axial-lead filter caps, no less. And no IC in the multiplex circuit. A very fundamental little tuner that sounds fine on local stations but a bit noisy on the more distant stations."

Sony Tuners can be found on a separate page.

Soundcraftsmen ST6001 (1980, $470, photo) search eBay
The ST6001 is an unusual-looking FM-AM digital rack-mount style tuner. It has the electronic equivalent of 4 gangs and a typical array of front-panel controls, including 14 presets (7 for FM and 7 for AM), stereo/mono, high blend, muting, and preset scan tuning, and there are a couple of nice features: a button to switch the signal-strength display to a multipath display, and an output level knob on the back panel. The stereo/mono and muting buttons are separate, allowing one to choose to listen to weak stereo if desired. The AM section is above average, with a good ferrite rod antenna that swings out from the back. The front-panel design, however, will not please everyone, with white-on-black block lettering and the Soundcraftsmen name in script in the center. The ST6001 usually sells for $85-170 on eBay, with a low of $57 in 4/08. A mint ST6001 with wood side panels sold for an astounding $430 on eBay in 9/04.

Soundstream T1 ($795/orig $595?) search eBay
The T1 was a Stereophile-recommended FM-only black digital tuner with good specs, particularly sensitivity. Our contributor Pete G. reports: "Sensitivity and selectivity on both AM and FM are very good. Sound is also very good. I haven't made any measurements yet, but I did peek under the hood. Glass epoxy boards are used. There are what appear to be 3 Murata flat GDT ceramic filters in the IF strip. A Sanyo LA3401 MPX decoder chip is used. Since this chip uses a Murata 456 kHz ceramic resonator that is divided down to 19 kHz to set the free-run VCO frequency, long-term drift shouldn't be an issue since this resonator is implemented in a variation of a VCXO (voltage-controlled crystal oscillator) circuit. The enclosure is made of either 090 or 100 gauge aluminum (I think it is aluminum). Internal construction is similar to some of the high-end equipment made by Proceed. An optical encoder is used for tuning, so no worries about having to periodically replace a mechanical contact shaft encoder that can sometimes become noisy. I would describe this tuner as very airy-sounding, like a more pleasant-sounding version of a Magnum Dynalab tuner. Construction, in my opinion, is better than both the Magnum Dynalab FT-101 and the MD-102 that I had in the past. The Dynalabs were ok, but I think there are better tuners on the used market for much less than the prices that the Dynalabs sell for." It seems odd that a tuner that had a list price of $795 often sells for just $35-55 on eBay, with a low of $25 in 8/07 and occasional highs of $100-130. A slew of "new old stock" T1s hit the market beginning in 2006-07, usually selling for $165-210.

Studer A176 (front, open, back) search eBay
Studer, the manufacturer behind the fine Revox brand name, sold "professional" versions of some Revox products under the Studer name. The A176 appears to be identical, externally, to the Revox B760 except for the different output jacks. We don't know whether there were parts differences inside as well.

Sumo Aurora (1987, $750, photo) search eBay
Beats us. The Charlie is the Sumo tuner that all the James Bongiorno groupies raved about, but one of our audiophile contributors liked the Aurora better. The Aurora only shows up a few times a year on eBay and usually sells for $130-200, with a low of $72 in 7/06 and highs of $280 in 1/06 and $250 in 4/07.

Sumo Charlie (1982, $500, gold, black, closeup, schematic, owner's manual) search eBay
The Sumo Charlie ("Charlie the Tuna," get it? har, har) was a black or gold, digital, FM-only tuner that was also known as the Sumo Model 700. Some audiophiles praise the Charlie's sound, and its designer, James Bongiorno, proclaimed its eminence above all other tuners except the Marantz 10B (but see our writeup) and Sequerra Model 1. While any 20+ year old tuner is likely to require alignment in order to perform up to its capabilities, the Charlies with rack handles (3,500 of the total 5,000 made) were personally aligned by Bongiorno before he left Sumo and may be better bets than the handle-less ones if you must buy a Charlie. We at TIC tested two Charlies with handles and found it to be an extremely quiet tuner on strong signals, and the electronic equivalent of 6 gangs gives it good overload rejection. However, the sensitivity of these two samples was remarkably poor; the Charlie uses lots of filters, yet the adjacent channel selectivity of these two samples was way below average (a narrower ceramic filter or two would probably have helped); its ergonomics are perplexing; and its build quality is somewhere between Kenwood's bottom-of-the-line KT-5300 and a typical NAD tuner.

Our Ricochets panelist David "A" faults the Charlie's "Mitsumi front-end, lack of correct alignment and poor standard of construction." Former Stereophile reviewer Don Scott was not impressed with its weak-signal pulling ability: in 1989, he "did a test of 9 tuners at WFME's [94.7-NJ] site on South Mountain in the Oranges trying to receive sister-station WKDN (106.9), Camden, NJ. By far, the Charlie had the worst IF and RF rejection of the group." Our contributor David Rich notes that the Charlie has a double-tuned filter at the antenna and is double-tuned after the RF amp. Click here for more photos and a whole page of reviews of the Charlie, pro and con, and here to see how one Charlie sounded compared to many top tuners. For comic relief, the debate over the existence of the Great American Sound (GAS) "Charlie" can be found here. When three Charlies sold for over $500 on eBay in 1-2/02 (one for $610), four of our panelists agreed that the Charlie was a contender for the title of "Worst Value in a Used Tuner." In recent years, however, they've often sold for just $90-120, with a low of $79 in 11/10. Sale prices as high as $250-300 are also possible, with a strange high of $445 in 1/07.

TAG McLaren search eBay
TAG McLaren Audio was formed in 1997 when the company acquired Cambridge Systems Technology, the designer and manufacturer of the superb Audiolab 8000T tuner. The February 1999 issue of Stereoplay magazine said: "the TAG McLaren Audio tuner has . . . written itself into the list of all-time greats like Sequerra, Wieschoff [sic], [Klein + Hummel] FM 2002 and Wega Lab Zero," but that's about all we know about it. Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about it.

Tandberg 3001A (1983, $2,200, photo, 1983 Audio review, 1988 Audio review, detailed specs) search eBay
Some audiophiles think the all-black (or black with silver knobs), 8-gang, FM-only 3001A, sometimes called the TPT 3001A, is one of the best-sounding vintage tuners. It also has world-class specs for sensitivity, selectivity (40 dB in narrow IF mode, stock), spurious signal rejection, etc. Our contributor Brian H. raves about his: "I received my 3001A the other day and have not been able to tear myself away from it. It is absolutely fantastic sounding. Even bettering the 600T by a little bit, and that's saying something, isn't it? I think the 3001A even has more body than the 600T, more solid sounding. Very useful and adjustable IF bandwidth settings. The alignment must be dead on the money as it is very sensitive and pulls in stations right on the dial marks throughout the whole scale from 88.1 to 107.9. The build quality is absolutely superb in all areas. An incredible amount of precision went into building this tuner, and you can see with a peek inside why it carried its $2,200 price tag."

Our contributor Ryan reports that the 3001A "is one of the quietest tuners I've ever measured (the quietest, in fact, if I recall correctly), with the highest channel separation too: over 70 dB midband." Our panelist David "A" thinks the 3001A is, along with the Accuphase T-107, "the high-water mark for varactor-based tuners." See detailed specs and measurements for the 3001A compared to those of 17 other top tuners in David's tuner comparison spreadsheet.

Our panelist Bob feels that the 3001A deserves an unusually detailed report: "A very good tuner - incredible, actually, and once the presets are replaced (they all eventually go) it seems to be reliable. There are currently two service centers recommended to work on these - SoundSmith, which does a complete rebuild (only) for a pricey $625 [probably more now - Editor], and Approved Audio Service, which will work with a customer to do repairs as needed. The 3001A has wide/normal/narrow IF bandwidths, servo lock, noise filter, stereo/mono, muting with front panel analog setting, all the right stuff a tuner fan wants. The 3001A is very quiet once tuned to a strong signal. The controls are very *sweet* - let's go over them:

"Tuning, Muting, Servo, ANC, Mono
The 3001A can be tuned by presets or manually via the tuning knob. The feel of the knob is smooth and silky, with tuning precision provided by internal mechanical string/pulley ratios. When the knob is touched, the servo is deactivated, and if it was tuned using a preset, it defaults back to the station tuned via the linear dial. The muting switch is on/off, and when on, is set by an external analog continuously adjustable knob - a nice touch rarely seen on other tuners. The servo lock switch lets you turn the servo off. It is not an aggressive lock, as some later Sansuis have, but rather gives one complete control - another nice touch. ANC (automatic noise canceling circuit) is the MPX blend circuit, which works well for weak-signal stereo reception to reduce noise levels significantly while maintaining separation. The mono/stereo switch is independent of any other settings.

"The wide and normal IF bandwidth settings are implemented via LC filters, and the number of LC poles here (20) exceeds the number we normally see in other tuners. The wide filter is in the RF gang section with 6 poles, followed by the normal section with 14 poles, spread over 3 LC filters (6/4/4). Narrow mode uses two dual element 3-pin ceramics. All the filter sections are in series when in narrow, for 24 poles of selectivity. The RF front end is 8 gangs, with two RF amps, both BF900 dual-gate MOSFETs. There are 6 gangs used for the RF signal path, and 2 gangs used in the local oscillator. The mixer is also a BF900 dual-gate MOSFET. There are 8 presets that are displayed on single-digit LEDs. The 3001A has fixed and variable output jacks, and the variable output level is controlled by a front-panel knob under the preset buttons. For scope fans, there are horizontal and vertical scope outputs. Sensitivity is very good. In normal, I have no problem separating 94.3 and 94.5, the two stations here that always give lesser tuner headaches. The sound is very good, with extremely low noise levels and deep, solid bass. Highs are extended and natural, without a trace of harshness or sibilance. It is a very polite sound, which many like - I know I do, and it suits those interested in jazz and classical FM music programming. I would rate this tuner as one of the best tuners I have ever listened to, without any qualms, provided it is functioning properly."

Our contributor doug s. offers a slightly dissenting view: "I know the Tandberg 3001/3001A has lots of supporters out there, both from users and from the audio press, and it has great specs. My opinions are just that - my own - based on the fact that I have listened to about 100 different tuners over the past 10 years, all in my system. I owned two 3001As (one completely refurbished, with upsized power supply caps installed), and at least 20 other tuners had better sonics, and reception at least equal. A few were in the same price range, two were more expensive, and the rest were a *lot* cheaper. In a couple cases I found tunas <$100 that, while not better than the Tandberg, were its equal. Don't get me wrong, I think the 3001A is a fine tuna, but you can do better. Especially when you consider that the 3001/3001A will definitely need an expensive service, if it hasn't already had one." And our contributor Eli observes that based on many comments in our FMtuners group (search the message archive for "Tandberg 3001A"), the 3001A is "one of the most unreliable supertuners. It is also probably the most expensive tuner to have aligned and serviced by a qualified shop. I think I've seen quotes of $700 (but please check the archive). I used to work in a shop that sold Tandberg during the time the 3001A was a current model. Their equipment came back to our shop much more frequently than anything else we sold."

The cost and difficulty of repairs to a 3001A is because, as our contributor Victor observed, "It is a madness inside." But our contributor Mark T. sees both sides: "Yeah, the reliability reputation of the Tandberg tuners is... not so good. But, other than the memory presets not working, this 3001A sounds glorious. The sensitivity and selectivity are a revelation, but the best part is the sound, which really is tops! Of course, the battery for the memory preset function is dead and the preset buttons do nothing at this point. I opened it up and looked at the battery installation. It's easy to see when the bottom plate is removed. Bought a new battery, but when I opened it up to replace... the battery circuit board has another board mounted on top of it. Need to access the top of the battery board to replace the battery. How crazy to solder the battery directly onto a circuit board, but that's how they did in Norway back in the day!" The 3001A usually sells for $900-1,250 on eBay, with a stunning high of $1,563 in 12/07. The gray, 8-gang, FM-only 3001, or TPT 3001 (1980, $1,095, photo, search eBay), the 3001A's similar predecessor, is scarcer and usually sells for $750-1,050 on eBay, with lows of $435 in 5/08 and $616 in 4/11, and all-time highs of $1,275 in 1/06 and $1,400 in 3/06. For a detailed comparison of the 3001 and 3001A (the 3001 apparently gradually evolved into the 3001A, rather than being clearly replaced), plus lots more information, read the discussion in our FMtuners group beginning here.

Tandberg 3011A (1982, $695, photo) search eBay
The 3011A, sometimes called the TPT 3011A, is the little brother of the superb 3001/3001A. The 3011A is a 5-gang FM-only tuner that most report sounds great. At one time, we were told that it used all LC filters, but one contributor corrected us: "The 3011 A in front of me uses 4 red ceramic IF filters labeled CF201 thru CF204. Maybe there was a change in production runs and some did use LC IF filters, but not this one with a serial number of 04533." The 3011A usually sells for $150-235 on eBay, with a high of $450 in 6/05. See how one 3011A sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. The 3011, or TPT 3011 (1981, $695, search eBay; usually $200-375 on eBay) was the 3011A's similar predecessor.

TEAC TX-500 (1979, $350, photo) search eBay
Our panelist Ray found this extremely rare analog tuner "hiding beneath a rock and took it home for $18.50 + $28.85 shipping -- sparrow feed for sure. Technical highlights: 4 FM gangs and 2 AM gangs. Dual IF paths, each with its own discrete buffer from the mixer. Wide has two 250 kHz GDT ceramic filters and narrow 3 250 kHz GDTs. The tuner has the better ICs of the time with the HA11225 IF/quad detector feeding the HA11223 MPX. Twixt them is an interesting 200 kHz notch/LP filter and discrete buffer. Audio stages from the MPX consist of discrete buffers (lots of those in this tuner) to pilot notch filters to a 4559 output IC. Some claimed specs: IHF sensitivity 13 dBf; 50 dB quieting 41 dBf in stereo; S/N 65 dB; THD 0.12%; and separation 50 dB, all in stereo. Measured frequency response was -1.4 dB at 20 Hz and then -0.20 dB to +0.35 dB, 40 to 15 kHz. De-emphasis time constant was 70.5 µS. Subjectively RFM found the TX-500 to be pretty hot (sensitive), giving his TX-9800 a good run and the sound, stock, was typical of the late 1970's -- pretty good. It was also easy to mod."

Technics Tuners can be found on a separate page.

Telefunken search eBay
Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about any Telefunken tuner. The company's best-known model, the EBU 3137/3, usually sells for $600-850 on eBay, with a high of $1,078 in 1/07.

Toshiba ST-420 (1977, $230/orig $220, front, back, inside, lights, with amp, with amp-back, schematic) search eBay
We'll turn this one over to our panelist JohnC: "The ST-420 is a well-built, made in Japan, analog, phase locked loop, FM/AM tuner. It has an FET-based front end composed of 4 FM gangs and 2 AM gangs. The IF strip includes 3 three-legged ceramic filters, 1 SFE10.7MA and 2 SFA10.7MCs, feeding discrete components into a ratio detector. MPX services are provided through a Sanyo LA3350 (one of the few ICs) and then once again into a discrete audio stage with buffer. The front panel houses a power button, signal and tuning meters, and controls for output level, recording level, FM mute and band selection, with the muting switch separate from the FM Stereo/Mono switch. The tuning knob is big, weighted and silky smooth. The dial scale stretches across the full width of the tuner with the band and stereo indicators located at the high end of the scale. The back panel has the usual antenna attaching points, fixed, variable, and MPX/scope RCA outputs, a 25/50/75µs de-emphasis switch and an AC outlet. Inside, the tuner is well laid out with the tuning cap isolated from the main system board. A fully removable bottom panel makes access to the boards fast and easy. This is a very quiet, good-sounding unit with lots of potential for mods. It handles the HD nasties very nicely, a plus nowadays. Although it's already a pretty good sounder in stock form, after removal of the two ceramic caps directly in the audio signal path things get immediately and immensely better."

Toshiba ST-910 (1977, $1,800, photo) search eBay
The ST-910 is a unique, powerful and extremely rare digital synthesizer FM-only tuner, marketed under the Aurex name outside the U.S. We believe the hefty (20-pound) ST-910 was the first digital display/touch control stereo tuner. It uses capacitor touch areas embedded in the glass front panel for selecting functions and tuning stations (one can tune up or down by either 1 MHz or 0.1 MHz increments, or using 7 presets), and station frequencies are displayed in large red LED numbers. It also has 3 levels of muting. The ST-910 has audiophile-grade sound and its bass is exceptional, almost leading our panelist Bob to wonder if it has a built-in "boost" circuit. Bob adds, "It is built to a standard that is far beyond the common mid- and even high-priced mass-produced audio gear. It uses vertical plug-in card construction similar to that used in commercial test and military gear, and the sound quality follows as well. This tuner has one of the best sonic presentations I have heard, with a wide, natural sound stage, deep solid bass, and smooth highs." Also, "The build of the power supply is the most substantial I have ever seen in a tuner, with 2 large TO-3 type pass transistors mounted on massive heat sinks in the voltage regulator section" (photo). The ST-910 has a well-built 6-gang front end and is very sensitive, but it's more appropriate for an audiophile or someone looking for a great-sounding collector's piece than a DXer. Because the ST-910 uses linear phase LC IF filters that are encased in metal enclosures, similar to those in a Sansui TU-9900, a filter mod to improve its selectivity would not be practical. Despite its extreme rarity, the ST-910 was listed in our reference materials for four years, 1976 through 1979; oddly, the 1979 book shows the retail price reduced to $1,300. We've only seen a few ST-910s on eBay: a $550 "Buy-it-Now" in 2/02, a non-working one that sold for $338 in 2/08, and another non-working one that was another $550 "Buy-it-Now" -- with the previous owner's name carved on the faceplate! Another ST-910 sold for $500 on Audiogon in 7/03. The Vintage Knob has a writeup and specs for the ST-910.

Trio: Most Kenwood tuners were sold in Japan under the Trio brand name. Listed below are some Trio tuners for which we do not know the Kenwood equivalent, or for which there may not be one. If you know anything about any of these tuners, please tell us about it in our FMtuners group.

Trio KT-8000 (photo) search eBay
There are photos of this mysterious tuner on Japanese websites. It appears to have an 8-gang variable capacitor, but one site states that it has 7 gangs - perhaps two of the gangs are tied together and used for a local oscillator, as in the 600T? The KT-8000 tunes the Japanese FM band, 76 MHz to 90 MHz, and is said to have phase linear-type ceramic filters and a pulse-count detector. There are a few nice high-resolution photos of the KT-8000, inside and out, on the great Amp Repair Studio website.

Trio KT-9700 (front, inside) search eBay
Apparently sold only in Japan, the KT-9700 tunes the Japanese FM band, 76 MHz to 90 MHz. It looks similar to the Trio KT-9900 on the outside and has a 9-gang tuning capacitor. The KT-9700's block diagram is printed on the tuner's top cover. There are dozens of high-resolution photos of the inside and outside of the KT-9700, before and after mods, on the Amp Repair Studio website.

Trio KT-9900 (front, inside) search eBay
The Trio KT-9900, not to be confused with the Kenwood KT-9900 (the gun-metal colored European equivalent of the KT-8300), tunes the Japanese FM band, 76 MHz to 90 MHz. Its front panel looks like a Kenwood KT-917 but, although it has 9 gangs like a KT-917, its circuitry is slightly different. There are some nice high-resolution photos of the inside and outside of the KT-9900, before and after mods, on the Amp Repair Studio website.

Wega Lab Zero (1978, front 1, front 2, back, left closeup, right closeup, specs) search eBay
The Wega Lab Zero is an extremely rare German tuner that our contributor Thrassyvoulos says had ten gangs. According to our contributor Wilm, only 200 pieces were built. Our contributor Norbert tells us, "This tuner was developed by the chief engineer of Wega, Manfred Schwarz, and his Japanese colleague Hideo Nakamura. The price was 3,900 German marks (against 3,500 marks for the Klein + Hummel FM 2002). It was developed against the FM 2002 - K+H and Wega were neighbors in the Stuttgart area, so it's a matter of competing Swabian engineering. In final the Wega could not really beat the FM 2002, according to tests in German hi-fi magazines. In a comparison test, the Wega reproduced 18 stations clearly, and the FM 2002 16 stations clearly and 2 with minimal noise. Probably the modifications for the FM 2002 that Wieschhoff made later put the FM 2002 in front again." The February 1999 issue of Stereoplay magazine said: "the TAG McLaren Audio tuner has . . . written itself into the list of all-time greats like Sequerra, Wieschoff [sic], [Klein + Hummel] FM 2002 and Wega Lab Zero."

Wieschhoff search eBay
We asked for information on this German tuner designer and members of our FMtuners group responded (a big thanks to all). See the series of posts beginning here for lots of info about Wieschhoff and its predecessor, Klein + Hummel. Our contributor Norbert adds: "Reinhard Wieschhoff-van Rijn is an audio engineer called the 'Pope of tuners' in Germany. He worked with Klein + Hummel until 1981 when they stopped their 'consumer' audio line because of the hard competition with Japanese and the upcoming Korean industries. Mr. Wieschhoff moved to Blaupunkt-Bosch, well-known for their car hi-fi line. In the early '90s he designed the FM 3003 on a kind of freelance basis with Restek - this tuner has the name Wieschhoff and his logo on it. His 'handwriting' is also on the other Restek tuners. On the Restek site you should go to 'Archiv' then to 'Menue' and then to 'Tuners' to find all the tuners they built."

Yamaha Tuners can be found on a separate page.

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