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Tuners are listed 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.
There's a bunch of Technics tuners in our On-Deck Circle that we'd like to consider listing here if our readers will provide some basic information on them (types of controls and features, and any personal anecdotes or comparisons to other tuners). Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about any of them.
Technics ST-8077 (1979, $300, front, back) search eBay
The ST-8077 is an FM/AM tuner with 4 gangs and 3 filters, an "Active Servo Lock" circuit that supposedly prevents frequency drift, two FM muting thresholds plus a defeat position, and a recording level check switch. Here's a review and some DIY ideas from our panelist Jim: "I have always found this thinline style tuner attractive and like the function of two green LED pointers on each side of the red LED station pointer. The green LEDs indicate the direction for fine tuning, then disappear when you are center tuned. Of the 3 ceramic filters, CF101 is a rectangular metal SAW (surface acoustic wave) filter while CF102 and 103 are the common 3-pin ceramic type. The audio stage looks to be a dual op-amp (an MC4558) followed by a discrete transistor for each stage (muting transistors). The sound is better than a lot of stock tuners and has good bass control and a pleasant midrange. Whether it was bad luck or a design problem, I've seen three of these tuners and two had problems. The first just quit working and had odd voltages, and the second lost some volume on one channel compared to the other. The third one works fine. There is no fuse. The transformer is always energized and the on/off switch powers the 16 or so volts to the board. If I keep the tuner, I will fuse it on the high-voltage side of the transformer and add a metal oxide varistor for good measure. I've modified several of these now and the best results were as follows: Remove the old 4558 op-amp, install an 8-pin socket, solder in place and plug in an OPA2604, OPA2134 or OPA2132 op-amp. I've tried others, too, but one of these three would be my sonic choice. I replaced the .47 µF electrolytics (C501/502) before the op-amp with 1 µF Black Gates, and the 3.3 µF electrolytics (C505/506) after the op-amp were replaced with 10 µF or larger Black Gates (pay attention to the + and -) on all. This made the bottom end fuller and sweetened the midrange. There isn't much room in this thinline for much more in the audiophile exotic department." See how one ST-8077 sounded compared to many top tuners on our Shootouts page. The ST-8077 usually sells for $15-30 on eBay, with occasional highs of $60-100 or more.
Technics ST-8080 (photo, inside1, inside2, back) search eBay
Although the 4-gang ST-8080 looks terrific from the outside, it's nothing special inside and certainly no competition for an ST-9030, ST-9038 or ST-G7 from a circuitry standpoint. In stock form, its two pairs of ceramic filters have a wide 280 kHz bandwidth, but replacing at least one pair with narrower matched filters should dramatically improve selectivity. The ST-8080 can probably be counted on to provide good sound for the money, as Jim found when he compared one ST-8080 to many top tuners on our Shootouts page. There's a nice page on the ST-8080 on the Stereonomono website, with what sounds like excerpts from Technics' own ST-8080 materials. The ST-8080 usually sells for $35-60 on eBay, with a low of $8.50 in 6/06 and highs of $130 and $177 in 9-10/09.
Technics ST-8600 (front, closeup, back) search eBay
Technics ST-9600 (1974, photo1, photo2, inside, gangs, back) search eBay
Believed to be identical, these tuners both had 5 FM gangs and 4 ceramic filters, and 3 AM gangs. The ST-9600 seems to have been the Euro version of the ST-8600. Our contributor Daniel informs us that the ST-9600 has some unusual capabilities: its front-panel functions include "Servo Tuning," Rec/Playback (amp/source/tape/FM low-noise), a pink-noise generator, output level and MPX hi-blend; on the rear panel, in addition to the usual antenna jacks, are tape deck rec out/playback, amp/tuner line in/line out, and multipath output jacks for an oscilloscope. Here's an excerpt from Technics' own literature for the ST-8600: "Low-noise direct FM-to-tape deck system sends pre-emphasized signal to deck for recording, with de-emphasis in playback. Built-in pink noise generator for accurate level settings of tape deck. Unique pilot signal canceler permits virtually flat response to 18 kHz, without interference. Four 'Flat Group Delay' ceramic filters and 6-stage IF amp realize accurate 'wave form transmission' for superb clarity and inaudible distortion. Separate control and IF circuitry, with dual-level FM muting ('normal' and 'deep'). Switchable auto or manual MPX hi-blend circuit reduces noise on weak stereo broadcasts. 5-gang FM variable tuning capacitor. 4-pole MOS FET front end. Buffered MOS FET RF linear mixer. FM/AM linear dial scale. Output level control. 2 tuning meters. FM multipath output, 4-ch MPX output for discrete FM broadcasts." The ST-8600 usually sells for $65-150 on eBay, with lows of $17 and $50 in 5/07 and highs of $320 in 9/03 and $244 in 12/05. The ST-9600 is rarely seen on eBay and usually sells for $200-360, but two absolute lunatics ran up the price of one UK ST-9600 from $114 to $1,170 in 11/12. The ST-9600 is more common on eBay-Germany and may be found there for generally less than on eBay-US.
Here's our contributor Paul Bigelow's great review of the ST-8600: "The ST-8600 (along with its companion SU-8600 amplifier) was Technics' bid for the upper end of the consumer market. A large silver-faced FM/AM tuner, the internal circuitry is quite surprising for a company known for pocket transistor radios and inexpensive tape recorders. Physical description: The dimensions (H/W/D) are 19-9/32" x 7-3/32" x 13-29/32" with a weight of 22.1 pounds. The faceplate is heavy and thick with four large Allen wrench-type cap screws holding it in place. The front panel is easily removed. The case is wood but is covered with a vinyl woodgrain covering, kind of cheap for what's 'under the hood' but more about that later. The internal chassis is painted black, not exposed metal. The tuner scale is covered by *real* glass. Two sheets of it: the external one (just for decoration) and the internal one that actually covers the scale. The scale is edge-lit from behind. In readability it reminds me of the Sansui TU-x17 models. Access to the circuit boards is easy. There are two tuning meters, a level output control, a stereo indicator and a two-step muting control as well as a switching arrangement to assist with recording and a high-blend switch. Internally there are two main sections, the RF/IF/detector board and the power supply/MPX/audio board.
"Circuit description: The tuning capacitor has 5 gangs for FM, 4 for RF and one for OSC. The AM has 3 gangs. There is a single RF amp 3sk40 followed by a balanced mixer consisting of two 3sk40. This is followed by the first IF transformer. Next are two 3-pin ceramic filters. A uPC555 IC dual IF amp follows. Two more 3-pin ceramic filters are next, followed by the third through fifth IF amps (uPC577). A sixth IF amp is next, then the ratio detector. The decoder is the SN76115N IC. This followed by the uPC1016C audio IC. This is the basic circuit. What makes this tuner interesting is that there are two IF paths. This is not a two-bandwidth tuner - the second IF path is for muting! This tuner has two levels of muting. There are two paths of audio as well: output from the audio IC as well as another path that promotes low-noise recording. The principle is sort of like Dolby with an emphasis that can be switched out. The AM section is discrete with separate RF amp, mixer, and IF transformers. There are no AM ceramic filters.
"Using: The FM markings are spot-on and the AM is virtually spot-on. Only the uppermost AM markings are slightly off. This tuner is sensitive, resistant to IP3 [mixing products - Editor] and has nice selectivity (85 dB specified). In many ways its performance reminds me of a Sansui TU-717 in narrow bandwidth mode. The sound of the ST-8600 reminds me of the TU-717 as well. RF-wise, my only real complaint is the high stereo switching level. It's significantly higher than a Marantz 10B or an SAE Mark VI. I can always switch to mono if the noise bothers me. The AM section is superior. It is selective, sensitive, and very resistant to IF images. The AM tuning capacitor is frequency linear and the FM markings match up with the AM scale so only one scale is needed - very, very nice. The tuning knob feel (once properly adjusted and with damping grease used) is very smooth with little play. Conclusion: The ST-8600 is a sleeper, in my opinion. It is well built, very, very attractive, easy to service, and sounds pleasant enough (nowhere near my favorites, the Sumo Charlie and the Marantz 10B). I think the ST-8600 usually goes for less than $100. If someone were looking for an FM stereo tuner with a superior AM section, this tuner really fits the bill. No doubt, RF-wise, the ST-8600 will outperform tuners currently in production today."
Technics ST-9030 (1978, $460/orig $400, front, inside, gangs, top, back, service manual (sorry for the terrible copy), block diagram, schematic 1, schematic 2, schematic 3, alignment guide 1, alignment guide 2, alignment guide 3, review, detailed specs) search eBay
Part of Technics' "Professional Series," the FM-only ST-9030's rack mount styling is unlike typical Technics tuners, and it weighs a ton for its size. The ST-9030 is an exceptionally quiet tuner, with wonderful stereo separation. It has 8 gangs which, combined with its balanced mixer, give it overload and spurious rejection second to none. It has a linear phase LC filter block in the Wide IF mode and 4 ceramic filters (230 kHz bandwidth) in the Narrow IF mode. The ST-9030 is also one of the few tuners to provide a separate detector for both the Wide and Narrow bandwidths. In stock (unmodified) form, it has above-average selectivity, but its selectivity only improves slightly with narrow filters. Although the ST-9030 was apparently designed more for sonics than for extreme sensitivity, it surprised our panelist Eric by giving his modified Kenwood 600T a run for its money in a side-by-side shootout. (The 600T also has an 8-gang front end and excellent overload rejection, and the 600T is slightly more sensitive. Also, the 600T's array of filters gives it better selectivity, when properly modified, than Eric's ST-9030 which was modified with narrow filters.) The ST-9030's circuitry automatically selects the Wide or Narrow IF mode based on reception conditions, and it usually makes the right choice. In addition to the normal RCA outputs, the ST-9030 has tape output jacks that switch in a 19 kHz filter.
Our contributor Brian Beezley reports: "The ST-9030 is my favorite analog tuner. It is not the most sensitive nor the most selective tuner I've come across, but it has excellent overall performance in a no-nonsense, heavy-duty, rack-mount enclosure. It looks more like a piece of commercial equipment than a consumer item. In fact, my ST-9030 was once used as the receiver in an FM translator system. The ST-9030 has two MOSFET RF amplifier stages and a dual-MOSFET balanced mixer with a total of 8 tuning-capacitor gangs. The front end does not use AGC and is essentially bulletproof. I noticed only a little RF intermod when I pointed my outdoor antenna directly at a 14.5 kW station 2.3 miles away, a situation that yields a signal level of 0.355 volts at the antenna terminals (122 dBf).
"The IF strip has separate filter paths and ratio detectors for Wide and Narrow. Automatic frequency control can be disabled for fully manual tuning. Wide uses a single phase-linear LC filter block with just 23 dB of alternate channel selectivity. Narrow uses four 230 kHz filters, which I replaced with a pair of 110s and a single 150. The stereo decoder is an AN363, with an external pilot-canceling circuit. The audio output has adjustable level, but only the recorder outputs pass through an LC supersonic filter block. The tuner has multipath scope outputs and a 75-ohm coaxial antenna connector. The RF adjustments near the tuning capacitor are under a metal shield that has no holes and must be removed during alignment. Replacing the shield shifted the oscillator frequency slightly but did not seem to affect anything else. I had originally intended to drill adjustment holes in the cover, but after seeing its minimal effect, I did not even bother to compensate for the slight frequency shift when I replaced it after alignment.
"The ST-9030 has automatic circuits to select IF bandwidth and to engage hi-blend in stereo, and no mono/stereo switch. With today's crowded FM spectrum and the increasing number of difficult HD Radio signals, I did not want to rely on the automatic circuits. I converted the Hi-Blend switch to Mono/Stereo and the Auto-IF switch to a hard selection of Wide/Narrow. I installed a post-detection filter to kill HD Radio self-noise, which I found very annoying without it. I also removed the remnants of the hi-blend circuit, which was applied in a curiously unbalanced way to the output channels, necessitating unequal de-emphasis capacitor values, which I then equalized.
"The tuning meter has an intentional dead band at its center, perhaps to hide slight AFC misalignment. Shorting a pair of diodes disabled the dead band and allowed better accuracy when manually tuning. The tuner has a nifty adjustment to match audio levels for Wide and Narrow IF modes, something I've not seen in other tuners. This is handy when retrofitting very narrow filters, which may drop the audio level as much as 2 dB. After modification and alignment, I measured the following: mono sensitivity of 17.5 dBf in Wide and 19 dBf in Narrow, stereo sensitivity of 40.6 dBf in Wide and 41.3 dBf in Narrow. Adjacent channel selectivity was 46.5 dB in Narrow. 1-kHz THD was 0.07% in Wide and 0.37% in Narrow." Brian has a more detailed look at the ST-9030 on his website.
Our panelist David "A" says he has "a love/hate with the ST-9030 because it is pretty decent overall but ultimately disappointed me because of the layout, shielding, cabling and MPLX. This could have been a really great tuner if those areas were better, but hey, it was a $449 tuner, not a $999 tuner!" David adds, "I still think that the ST-9030 is one of the most 'moddable' tuners around. You basically get a very fine front end and a decent IF and detector for cheap. It is hard to split the circuitry because it is all on one board, but using the detector out into a modern MPLX makes it a contender." See detailed specs and measurements for the ST-9030 compared to those of 17 other top tuners in David's tuner comparison spreadsheet.
Our contributor Ryan says, "It is no wonder that this tuner has often been criticized for sounding harsh on the high end. There is an inherent design flaw in the shielding over the front end. It has no adjustment holes, so the shield must be removed to adjust the front end. When you put it back, it changes the capacitance and throws off the adjustment significantly. Ideally, you would have it realigned taking this into account, but if you don't want to do that, just remove the top lid and the front end shield and place a piece of plexiglass or even cardboard over the top. The sound should improve substantially." [But see Brian's slightly different view of this problem, above.] See how one ST-9030 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and read more from David on our Ricochets page. The ST-9030 usually sells for $120-250 on eBay, with a low of $81 in 10/12 and highs of $405 in 7/15 and $385 in 2/16.
Technics ST-9038 (1979, $600, front, closeup, back, operating manual, brochure 1, 2, Circuit Explanation Manual 1, 2, 3 (schematic), ad) search eBay
A very rare FM-only tuner, the ST-9038 was part of Technics' "Professional Series." Our panelist Eric, not an audiophile, nonetheless exclaimed "wow, this thing really sounds great" - especially compared to the little Sony XDR-F1HD sitting beside it at the time (we know, that wasn't a fair fight). The 9038 also compared very favorably to the Sony for sensitivity, but selectivity, of course, was not a fair fight going in the other direction. After our panelist Ray found the same unit on his doorstep, he reported:
"The ST-9038 was clearly designed primarily for optimum audio performance. That was made very clear in their operating manual linked above (highly recommended reading). My ST-9038 came to me absolutely stock and in very good condition considering its 37 year age. It appears to be a true precursor of the much later Marantz ST-17, i.e., all about audio performance and ease of use, and NO signal-strength indication. However, I found the ST-9038 to be quite good at pulling signals and then outputting them with superb quieting. In fact I found it hard to believe it was actually a first-generation digital tuner sporting early ICs like an AN363 MPX and 4558 output buffer. In Ray's room it compared VERY well to a Hitachi FT-5500 MKII mated with an LM4500 MPX/buffer and a few other modded tuners that are much newer.
"Here are a few facts gleaned from the schematic and manuals. The front end sports 5-gang tuning via variable capacitance diodes in a double-tuned, dual-gate FET RF amp, double-tuned arrangement followed by the mixer. It has only one IF bandwidth, having been designed for audio, again like the Marantz, but I experienced no interference problems. The IF stages contain 5 stages of differential amplification with filtering via 2 ceramic filters plus a surface acoustic wave filter. You can read more in the operating manual. MPXing is done with an AN363 IC which feeds an output buffer through a passive de-emphasis network. I measured the de-emph audio response to be +/- 0.30 dB from 20 Hz to 15 kHz with 10 Hz response down only 1.2 dB... STOCK! (Stuff done right, IMHO.) Very good considering a 1979 intro.
"On the bench the passive de-emphasis was very accurate with a measured TC of 72.2 µS and response of +/- 0.3 dB from 20 Hz to 15 kHz. Very few stock tuners I've tested have done that well. This is one fine tuner for one who wishes optimum audio performance with all 'tweaking and fiddling' left to the tuner's automation. Unfortunately the ST-9038 seems very rare, probably due to its 1979 $600 list price."
Ray supplemented his report with a few bits of technical data:
"(1) Audio output level is controlled via a rear-panel pot. With a 100% deviation 100 Hz signal the level is adjustable from 0 to 1.29V RMS.
(2) The audio output phase is inverted from that received. The flip appears to be done by the AN353 MPX IC.
(3) A pink noise output, instead of the usual single tone, can be selected. I ran that output into my pink noise filtered octave band analyzer and got a nice flat result above the 125 Hz band. Below that it dropped at ~ 6 dB/octave. I was impressed as in order to achieve that the on-board pink noise generator had to be pre-emphasized since it has to pass through the tuner's FM de-emphasis filtering.
(4) The de-emphasis filter is a passive RC network placed between the MPX IC's output and the 4558's input. Thus this is the ONLY Technics tuner I've measured or studied that has its de-emphasis time constant not affected by the connected amp's input Z. All of those other tuners were produced after the venerable ST-9038.
"You may all be correctly assuming that I kind of like this FM-only tuner, and I'm amazed at how technically advanced it was for 1979. Apparently it couldn't penetrate the market when lower-cost competition offered on-board memories and signal meter LEDs, but its audio performance was waaay out there. I believe the ST-9038 was Technics' first serious 'digital tuner' and they were quite proud of their accomplishment and also needed to get all of their dealers' service departments up to speed, so they created the 'Synthesizer Tuner Circuit Explanation Manual' linked above. It's a full 56 pages of digital circuit tutorial, most of which is lost on me. It does have full fold-out schematics, but no parts lists. The bottom side of the PC board identifies the components and the schematic, their values."
Our panelist Jim was also quite impressed by the sound of a (different) ST-9038 compared to many other top tuners, as can be seen on our Shootouts page. When sold together with its separate programmable "Micom" (microcomputer) timer unit, the SH-9038 ($600 list by itself, owner's manual, brochure page), the combo has gone for $195-320 on eBay. ST-9038s offered by themselves, without the timer unit, usually sell for $130-250, with a low of $89 in 7/14 and a high of $331 in 8/07. Strangely, an SH-9038 (that's right, just the timer unit) sold for $306 in 8/07.
Technics ST-9300 (1979, photo) search eBay
The FM-only ST-9300 is an intriguing-looking tuner that resembles an ST-9030 on steroids. We believe it was sold only in Japan, like the ST-9700. Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about either of them.
Technics ST-9600 (1974, photo1, photo2, inside, gangs, back) search eBay
See the ST-8600 writeup above for info on the ST-9600.
Technics ST-9700 (1979, front, inside, gangs, detailed specs) search eBay
The 9-gang ST-9700 was sold only in Japan. Our panelist David "A" says it is one of the best tuners ever made, but modifying it to tune the U.S. FM band, rather than the Japanese band (76-90 MHz), is "no small engineering exercise. The ST-9700 is really phenomenal if you take the detector out and run it into an HA11223 or a LA3450! It holds its own in stock form and is clearly a formidable tuner (top 10), but doesn't quite match the standard overall of the [Sansui] TU-X1, [Kenwood] L-02T or [Pioneer] F-26." Here's a more detailed review from David:
"The ST-9700 was never made for Europe or the U.S., so the price of admission is very, very high. You have to buy one in Japan, where they tend to be rare, expensive or both, then one has to convert the frequency range, make a new dial, change the de-emphasis, and change the AC power supply to really use it. It is in a totally different class than the ST-9030, ST-9600 or ST-9300! I can't overstate this. The ST-9700 is built with better parts, a much better layout and phenomenal shielding. It is a better performer from an RF standpoint, and a lot better performer in sonic terms. I haven't finished a circuit analysis yet (I have no manual so the circuit analysis takes a little longer when one is flipping printed wiring boards back and forth).
"I am not absolutely sure where I would rate this tuner, but it is clearly in the top group with tuners like the TU-X1, F-26, L-02T, etc. Like the L-02T, it is not an affordable unit, especially when one considers the expertise needed to get it working in the U.S. It uses a narrow gap linear 9-gang tuning capacitor with individual shields between stages in the RF front end, and even uses separate PCBs for each stage. The shielding is phenomenal, with separate shields for each stage, each IF, even the detector and transformer. The layout is superbly clean and shows good RF, AF and cabling practices. It is relatively easy to work on because it is so well laid out and open internally. It has RF sections above the chassis pan and AF sections below. It uses a mix of filters in the IF, including some impressive SAWs that are not the typical SAWs that I have seen in Kenwood, Marantz, Pioneer and Sansui tuners. The MPLX is a pilot canceling PLL and the audio stage has a much lower cutoff than the ST-9030's (one of its issues in stock form). I also find the ST-9700 very aesthetically pleasing (although beauty is in the eye...). Its only significant weaknesses (based on very early results) are in the MPLX section where it is does not have the separation, 19/38 kHz or SCA rejection of the best.
"Overall, I am happy that I have decided to undertake the project. However, it is not clear that it will change my opinion that the TU-X1 is the best stock production tuner I have seen." See detailed specs and measurements for the ST-9700 compared to those of 17 other top tuners in David's tuner comparison spreadsheet.
Technics ST-G5 (1984, $220, front, back) search eBay
The ST-G5 is a very small and narrow, black, FM/AM digital tuner. Our contributor Brian Beezley provides this review: "The ST-G5 has a very low profile (only 2" high, including feet). It has 16 memories, 4 gangs and 4 filters, all of which are blue, low-GDT Muratas. Only the coils in the front end are adjustable, but the tracking was good. The wide IF filter is a 230 kHz MM followed by a 280 kHz ML, with a pair of 150 kHz MZ2s added in Narrow mode. The tuner automatically selects IF bandwidth, but you can override its choice. The tuner has both 75-ohm and 300-ohm wire antenna terminals and there is no balun. A rear-panel switch selects 9/50 or 10/200-kHz FM/AM tuning steps. I didn't check whether the switch also changed FM de-emphasis. The main board looks difficult to remove. The ICs had NEC numbers that I didn't recognize.
"I measured 50-dB mono quieting sensitivity as 19 dBf and adjacent-channel selectivity as 23 dB. 1-kHz stereo distortion was under 0.05% in Wide, and several tenths of a percent in Narrow. The tuner will display signal strength in dB, but not accurately. I adjusted a trimmer to place the saturated reading at 100 dB. A no-signal reading then was somewhere below 20 dB. It displays even numbers so this yielded about 40 discrete signal levels, many more than the usual bar graph. 1-kHz separation was more than 50 dB in Wide and somewhere in the high 20s in Narrow. The de-emphasis was quite flat, showing only +/- 0.25 dB variation to 10 kHz and -1.25 dB at 15 kHz. The tuner has a pilot canceler. I thought the tuner sounded unusually crisp and clean, but a direct A/B comparison with my usual tuner revealed no audible differences. The ST-G5 has no post-detection filter. You must use the narrow filter for HD Radio stations or you'll hear a lot of HD Radio self-noise. The AM section sounded unusually good." The ST-G5 usually sells for $20-50 on eBay.
Technics ST-G6T (1985, $330, photo) search eBay
The scarce ST-G6T is a nice black FM/AM digital tuner. Here's another review from our contributor Brian Beezley: "The ST-G6T has a built-in timer that will turn on the tuner and anything plugged into the rear AC outlet (5A max) at a preset time, either once or once per day. The time is displayed when the tuner is in standby (it can't be turned completely off). Since it's always powered, I wasn't surprised to find the 9.6 volt, 270 mA LCD illuminator bulb burned out. I replaced the odd bulb with a common 6.3 volt pilot lamp and series resistor, and scotch-taped two spare lamps inside the cabinet. The tuner has 39 memories, 4 gangs and 4 filters. Only the front-end coils were adjustable, but the tracking was good. The main board uses surface-mount ICs and tiny through-hole resistors. The filters in my unit, all blue low-GDT Muratas, were a 280 kHz ML followed by a 250 kHz MX in Wide IF mode, with a pair of 150 kHz MZ2s added in Narrow.
"The tuner has a cute graphical IF bandwidth display. It does a little dance whenever you select a new frequency, apparently sampling the adjacent channels in deciding which bandwidth to use. You can override its choice. It tunes in 50 kHz steps and you can offset it by 25 kHz to help reduce adjacent-channel interference. Adjacent-channel selectivity was 21.5 dB in Narrow. The tuner has a binding post and shield clamp for bare 75-ohm coax. It has the same numeric signal-strength indicator as the ST-G5. The ST-G6T lets you select one of three preset dB thresholds for automatic signal scan. 50 dB monophonic quieting sensitivity measured 19.5 dBf in Wide and 18.5 dBf in Narrow. 1-kHz separation was 50 dB in Wide and 22 dB in Narrow. The de-emphasis was unusually flat: +/-0.25 dB to 15 kHz. Output filtering was relaxed: 38 kHz sidebands were each 26 dB down and the pilot was 46 dB down from a single-channel tone. The tuner has no post-detection filter. The narrow IF filter is needed for HD Radio stations to eliminate very audible HD Radio self-noise. The tuner will run on 110, 127, 220, or 240 volts. You can select 9- or 10-kHz AM steps, but I didn't see any way to change the de-emphasis from 75 µS." The ST-G6T usually sells for just $20-50 on eBay.
Technics ST-G7 (1984, $525, black, catalog, silver, back, schematic, block diagram) search eBay
The ST-G7, a black quartz synthesizer digital FM/AM tuner, was the last great tuner made by Technics. (The silver version in our photo, taken from k-nisi's website, was sold only in Japan.) It has the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs and 4 ceramic filters. Most prominent on the front panel are a nice yellow-on-blue LCD display, AM and FM band selection buttons and 8 buttons for 16 preset stations. Behind a fold-down glass door are some useful features, including pushbuttons for Normal or Super Narrow IF bandwidth, signal-strength readout in dB, and a recording calibration tone, plus the typical muting, stereo/mono, scan level, tuning up/down, etc. The tuner's computer automatically selects the optimal reception mode, including the proper bandwidth setting and whether the station is strong enough to be in stereo, but these choices can be manually overridden. On the back panel are the usual antenna jacks (both screw terminal and loop antenna jack for AM), a jack for a wired remote control, and a jack labeled "Computer I/O Terminal." We haven't tested this feature, but the following text appears in the lower middle of the front panel: "Computer System - This equipment includes the I/O terminals on the rear panel to connect with a computer system."
With a Terk "AM Advantage" antenna connected to its loop antenna jack, the ST-G7 showed off a sensitive and terrific-sounding AM section. Our sample was an international model with a Euro power plug. If you hold down the FM or AM bandwidth selection button, the tuning increments change from .2 to .05 MHz for FM and from 10 kHz to the European 9 kHz spacing for AM, but hold the buttons again and the tuning changes back. The .05 MHz tuning increments might be useful in off-tuning away from a strong local station in order to hear a weaker adjacent. The ST-G7 got a rave review from Don Scott in Stereophile, primarily for its excellent stock selectivity on FM, and it might be an excellent DXing tuner with a couple of narrower filters installed. See how one ST-G7 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. The ST-G7 is scarce and only shows up a few times a year on eBay, where it usually sells for $130-215 (with a low of $39 in 3/06 and a high of $250 in 8/04).
Technics ST-G70 (1988, $375, photo) search eBay
The ST-G70 is a very rare 5-gang digital tuner. The few we've seen on eBay have sold for between $50 and $125.
Technics ST-G90 (photo, front end schematic) search eBay
Even rarer than the ST-G70 and probably sold only in Europe, the ST-G90 is a 6-gang digital tuner. We've never seen one for sale on eBay-U.S. but it might be possible to find one on eBay-Germany.
Technics ST-S4 search eBay
The ST-S4 is a low-profile, quartz-locked digital tuner with Normal and Super Narrow IF bandwidth settings, a digital signal-strength meter with readouts in dB, and 16 station presets. An ST-S6 sold for just $13 on eBay in 3/07.
Technics ST-S6 (1982, $380) search eBay
The ST-S6 is a low-profile digital tuner that our panelist Bob says sounds good. It has the electronic equivalent of 4 gangs and its features include Wide and Narrow IF bandwidth settings and a digital signal-strength meter with readouts in dB. The ST-S6 generally sells for $20-50 on eBay, with a low of $16 in 8/14 and a high of $70 in 10/11.
Technics ST-S7 (1981, $350, black, silver) search eBay
Another in a series of good-quality but overlooked Technics quartz synthesizer digitals, the ST-S7 has the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs and 4 ceramic filters. Its front-panel controls are pretty basic (band selector, tuning up/down, recording-level check, FM/AM muting and FM mode on the same button, and 8 presets), apart from the unusual 24-hour programmable timer that allows one to program the tuner to go on and off twice a day and to automatically tune to different preset stations for recording purposes. Timer functions are controlled by a built-in "micro-computer" that reminded our panelist Eric of an ST-9038 with a scaled-down version of the separate programmable SH-9038 timer unit crammed into it. Both the ST-S7 and SH-9038 have "program mode" selector knobs with "manual-auto-read-write-cancel" choices. (Did the technology really advance that quickly between 1979 and 1981?) The ST-S7 (even, apparently, the U.S. version) has a bottom-panel FM/AM allocation selector that allows one to choose to tune the FM band in 200 kHz or 50 kHz steps and the AM band in 10 kHz steps for the U.S. or 9 kHz steps for Europe. The ST-S7 usually sells for just $20-50 on eBay (with lows of $10 in 3/07 and 9/10).
Technics ST-S8 (1983, $500, photo) search eBay
The ST-S8 is a somewhat scarce digital tuner with the electronic equivalent of 7 gangs. Our panelist Ray conducted "a simple weak signal test. One station with power of 21 KW, clear of close interference, at a distance of 149 miles, with a blocking terrain in-between slightly higher than both transmitting and receiving antennas. The contestants were a Pioneer TX-9800, a Denon TU-800, a Kenwood KT-8300 and a Technics ST-S8. The ST-S8 was new to my flock, while the other three had battled before. In the previous contests the TX-9800 was always the clear winner, but I expected that perhaps the 7-gang, 2-stage RF amp of the Technics would finally push the Pioneer off its lofty perch.
It did not! Results:
1) TX-9800 in mono, narrow pulled fairly clear audio.
2) and 3) were a tie. ST-S8 and KT-8300 in mono and narrow pulled noisy but understandable audio. The ST-S8 read the signal strength at 10 dB.
4) TU-800 in mono and super narrow was deaf."
The ST-S8 usually sells for $70-110 on eBay, with lows of $40 in 8/14 and 11/15 and a high of $150 in 9/13.
Technics ST-S505 (1984, $220, black, silver) search eBay
The ST-S505, the little brother of the sleeper ST-S707, is a very compact, low-profile digital tuner with 4 varactors (the electronic equivalent of gangs) for FM and 2 for AM. The IF section has 4 ceramic filters, 2 of which (CF101 and 104) are used for the Wide IF mode and all 4 of which are used in Super Narrow mode. Our panelist Ray says that the ST-S505 "has surprisingly good selectivity in the Super Narrow IF position, good enough to rate this tuner a budget DXer. In side-by-side comparisons with a stock Pioneer TX-9800 and a stock Kenwood KT-815, the little ST-S505 was able to pull tough signals with effectively equal ability." The ST-S505's specs quote 25 dB adjacent channel selectivity, not up to McIntosh or Onkyo caliber but quite good. The specs for IF and spurious rejection are also pretty good, but image rejection is just fair.
Ray continues, "Audio performance is adequate with full frequency range projected but with little depth to the image. The output stage is rather unusual, with no buffer amp but passive de-emphasis after the uPC1161C3 MPX chip. This means the load impedance will affect frequency response. That load should be at least 33 K ohm. This tuner is not a modifier's delight, as the power supply is quite wimpy and there is just no room in its little box, but it may be a good candidate for one of Bill Ammons' Filter Adder Boards. One notable surprise, the external AM loop antenna plugs into a phono jack. Not having the stock antenna (everyone seems to lose these), I plugged in a Radio Shack small tunable AM loop. WOW! AM like the olden days. Recently the ST-S505 has been going for less than $50 on eBay - a bargain for an overachieving tuner."
Ray adds two caveats: First, "My review [above] enticed another of our FMtuners group members to buy an ST-S505, and thus began a long arduous project to make it right. Technics apparently made several versions with no model number change. The differences are in the tuning modes and de-emphasis, 75 µS or 50 µS. Mine was a straight North American version with 75 µS and 120V only, though it did have a rear selector for 25 kHz/100 kHz tuning increments for FM and 9/10 kHz tuning increments for AM. The unit our fellow member bought did not have that rear selector but did have a front button for 25 kHz offset on FM. It also turned out to have 50 µS de-emphasis." Ray also opines that the ST-S505 "cries out for an output mod, a la what I did to the Hitachi FT-5500MKII, along with the addition of a pilot stop filter." The 25 kHz offset button mentioned above, found on European versions of the ST-S505, shifts the frequency up by 25 kHz when selected. The display changes to show an increase of 2 in the last digit.
Speaking of shifts: The ST-S505, like some other digital Technics, has a common problem in which the tuning reads .025 high. Our panelist Bob has the cure: "Looks like the zero is done by measuring across TP101 and TP102 with a DC voltmeter. These are bare wire jumpers on the board, identified as test points with a bold white circle on one end of the through hole, then adjusted with T101. Use plastic tools only. If this does not do it, go to the oscillator cap CT1 in the RF front end. Find a weak station around 106, tune it 'right on,' and adjust *carefully* CT1 until you are centered on the station (by listening). Do this in mono with muting OFF, but in Narrow bandwidth mode. A tiny little tweak will move a great amount on the dial, so do it very slightly. Check the zero adjustment again after adjusting CT1, then check the accuracy at the low end of the dial. If OK, you're done. If not OK, you'll need to adjust the oscillator coil, and then go back and forth and do CT1 again until it is OK for both. If this is too confusing or doesn't make sense, check back with questions." Our FMtuners group member Chris tried it and reported, "A little tweak to T101 was all it took, and the tuner is right on the money. Scans and locks right on frequency, and the lock even works with weak signals now."
For those who come across an ST-S505 without a manual and can't figure out how to set the presets, Ray offers this tutorial:
"1. Manually tune in the station you wish in memory.
2. Depress the memory button.
3. Momentarily depress any button, 1 through 8, where you wish to retain it. If you hold the button down for longer than a second or so the station will be retained as 9 through 16. The display will inform which number is put in memory.
4. Afterward, to recall your set station, all you need do is momentarily depress 1 through 8 or hold longer for 9 through 16. The display will tell you which will come on.
"Do a little practice to build your confidence, then it will seem easy. Good luck. But . . . always the "but": If the internal 3.3F memory cap has failed due to age, it will have to be replaced." The typical eBay sale price for an ST-S505 is about $20-40, but $10 or less is possible (now THAT is a bargain).
Technics ST-S707 (1984, $270, photo, schematic, block diagram) search eBay
The ST-S707 is a small, surprisingly good digital tuner. Our panelist Bob says, "This was my $20 tuner of the week. It is small and thin, but full-featured. It has 5 gangs and 4 filters, including Wide and Narrow IF bandwidth settings. There is also an 'RF narrow' selection, which is interesting - I think it kicks in the fifth gang, at the expense of sensitivity. There are 8 buttons and 16 presets, with the second preset engaged by holding the button down for a half-second longer when storing or recalling. The signal level readout is in dB, very nice! It can be run in automated mode or manual on all functions, including Wide/Narrow, Mono/Stereo, and RF Narrow. No MPX filter is included. The sound is good so far, but it was a quick listen. This is a cool tuner, well worth checking out for cheap $. I'll do audio mods and see what happens." The ST-S707 usually sells for $30-60 on eBay, with an inexplicable all-time high of $176 in 7/05.