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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 are many Yamaha 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.
Thanks to our late contributor PZ for this history of Yamaha tuners (additions and corrections, like Ryan's below, are welcome): "The T-1 and T-2 debuted in 1978 when Yamaha started to sell separate pre and power amps. They were concurrent with the CT series that were styled to match the integrated amps. The T-1 and T-2 caught my attention then because they were very slim and other tuners in that era were 'shoe boxes.' The T-7 came out in 1980, probably as a replacement for the T-1. Then came the T-70 in 1982, the T-80 in 1985 and the T-85 in 1986. (The T-60 from 1991 was a low-end model.) These were all priced in the $400-500 range.
The CT series was replaced by the T-460/560/760/960/1060 in 1981 (with the low-end T-550 also available in 1980-81), then the digital T-300/500/700/1000 in 1982, then the T-320/420/520/720/1020 in 1986. In the x60 series, the lower-end models were analog but the T-760, T-960 and T-1060 (which looks exactly the same as the T-70 except it's silver and the T-70 is black) were digital. From then on, the two and three-digit series merged into the TX series in 1987 with the TX-400/500/900. The later TX-1000/930/950 replaced the TX-900 as Yamaha's flagship model. It's also interesting to note that these later models have the same basic layout as the TX-900, but they used a large tuning knob instead of the tuning bars. I was astonished at how much the layout of the TX-900 looks like the T-85: 10 presets on the left, a large and busy display in the middle, small buttons below it, tuning/fine tuning buttons on the right. [See our contributor Ryan's comments below. - Editor] The TX-1000 and TX-2000 came out a year later, in 1988, at higher prices, so the TX-900 didn't get much attention. My guess is that the TX-1000 and TX-2000 were really new products and the TX-930 and TX-950 were their cheaper descendants, as Yamaha started to get out of making tuners and focused on DSP and A/V receivers ever since. The TX-1000/2000 were clearly their last great tuners.
"Concurrent with the TX-930 were the TX-330 and TX-530 in 1989, updated to TX-340 and TX-540 in 1990. In 1991, the series was again updated to TX-350/450/550/950. The last three tuners made after that were all basic models intended to pair with Yamaha's home theater amps: TX-470 in 1993, TX-480 in 1995 and TX-492 in 1998.
"The 'signal quality' meters on Yamaha tuners have always been a small mystery to me, but checking the manuals cleared it up. On the T-1 and T-2, the meter indicates signal strength in the normal position. When the 'multipath' button is engaged, the wavering of the needle is a measure of the multipath. One is supposed to orient the antenna to achieve a steady reading. I think what happens is that the button, when pressed, changes the response time of the meter by switching to a different low-pass filter. On the T-7, which has a 20-segment light bar, the light dims and continues to indicate the signal strength in the multipath position. The level of multipath is indicated by the brightening of some of the segments, starting from the left, so the goal is to orient the antenna such that there are no bright segments. The same design was used in 1981 in the T-x60 series. On the later digital models such as the TX-1000, there is no multipath button and no explanation in the manual. I have noticed that on some stations the light bar dances a lot and on others it's perfectly steady. Taking a lesson from the T-1 and T-2, I would guess that the multipath is indicated by the wavering of the light bar. [Our contributor Kelley responds: "The owner's manual and my own experience with the TX-1000 indicate that the signal strength LED array decreases in indicated signal strength when multipath is detected. Therefore, antenna orientation is optimized at the point of maximum indicated signal."]
"It's also interesting to note that pressing the multipath button on T-1, T-2 and T-7 defeats both the muting and the optimum tuning system (OTS). The OTS is an auto-tuning circuit that makes adjustment when there is no manual tuning action. If a station is slightly detuned, you can take your hand off and watch the tuning meter needle drift back towards the center in a couple of seconds until the audio comes out of muting. The moving dial bar also brightens up. Touching the tuning knob would turn off the OTS and send the station back into mute. DXers will of course want this feature off when trying to get weak stations."
Our contributor Ryan offers a few additions and corrections: "Although the TX-900 might look the same as the T-85 and T-80, it is not nearly the same tuner internally. Rather, the TX-900 was the predecessor to the TX-930/950, but packaged in a box more similar to Yamaha's earlier tuners. Like the TX-930 and 950, the TX-900 uses an LA3450 multiplex chip, but has three IF bandwidth taps. While I haven't analyzed it personally, it clearly is not like a T-85. Furthermore, while the TX-1000 and TX-2000 may look like the later series of tuners with the rotary tuning knobs, they are not. In fact, the circuit design of those tuners is almost exactly the same as that of the T-85. The designs of the power supply circuit, detector, multiplex, and general IF concept are all the same in the T-85, TX-1000, and TX-2000. The latter two also have an identical layout and construction. The only major difference in the audio stage is a switch to an active output filter in the TX-1000/2000, a nice addition. The front end is also shielded in the TX-1000/2000, and the transformer is now a very nice potted unit. The only other difference is in the IF strip: The TX-1000 dropped one ceramic filter, two IF selector taps, and added additional amplitude adjustments. There is also a separate separation for narrow mode, and the mixer design of the TX-1000 is altered, and appears to be similar to that in the TX-930/950. The multiplex design in the T-85 and TX-1000/2000 is arguably the best that Yamaha or most anyone else ever did, and the T-85 arguably the best overall tuner they ever did, and one of the best 'mod' platforms ever, given the extra versatility over the TX-1000. However, the construction enhancements and IF additions suggest that the TX-1000 may have a slight edge for audiophile use, particularly in narrow mode. Board layout changes may also play a role. All three, however, use a true analog multiplier design which extracts the stereo signal by multiplying the stereo composite with a pure 38 kHz sinewave. In fact, Rotel later used an almost identical circuit in their much-revered RHT10 after Yamaha had abandoned it for the LA3450 in the TX900/930/950."
Yamaha CT-400 search eBay
Yamaha CT-410 (owner's manual) search eBay
The CT-400 and CT-410 are low-end tuners for which we wouldn't pay more than $10 or so, because the CT-410II and other Yamahas usually sell so cheaply on eBay. Unfortunately, someone who didn't read TIC paid $70 for a CT-400 in 5/08. The CT-410 looks to be even more basic than the CT-400.
Yamaha CT-410II (1978, $185, photo) search eBay
The CT-410II is a surprisingly decent budget tuner. It has 3 gangs and 3 filters and is fairly sensitive and selective in stock form. Not many frills, but it does have a recording calibration tone for setting tape levels. For those who care, the CT-410II also has a surprisingly powerful AM section. The CT-410II usually sells for $10-40 on eBay.
Yamaha CT-510 (photo) search eBay
The CT-510 is a very rare tuner that's also an example of how "rare" doesn't mean "good." Despite our curiosity, we wouldn't pay more than $30 or so for one on eBay.
Yamaha CT-600 (photo, owner's manual) search eBay
Our contributor Ray D. says, "Time to out another sleeper. I had been tempted a couple of times to pick up a CT-600 after I found out that unlike the 3-gang CT-610 I had owned, this one is a 4-gang tuner with the same tuning head as the well-regarded CT-800. The great thing about these is that because people just assume it is an older CT-610, and there are plenty of 'empty box' photos of the CT-610 going around the net, they sell for next to nothing. I don't want to knock the 610 too much as I found it was a very pleasant-sounding tuner and worth considering at the small prices they command. However the 600 seems to be quite a bit better. Feature-wise, it only gives up the variable muting to the CT-800. This means the 600 has both fixed and variable outputs unlike the 610/810/1010 series. I would rather not go through an extra pot if it can be avoided. There are also Horiz and Vert multipath outs as well as an IF out. One of the touches I like about all of these older Yamahas: a REAL 75-ohm connection is standard, no need for surgery or putting up with stripping cables! The case is veneered in real wood even though I have read comments about some 800s having vinyl wrap. [But see Fred's comment below. -Editor] The tuning action is smooth, though the flywheel feels smaller than the one on the 1010. The nicely effective Yamaha High Blend is present on this unit.
"Rather than bothering to open it up and take photos I will provide a link that compare the 600 and 800. It seems like they have the same transformer but the 800 has a better power supply and also a separate AM board, while the 600 puts the AM and FM on the one board in the same space that is entirely devoted to FM on the 800: CT-600 vs. CT-800. Tuning is still almost spot-on the right frequency. A good cleaning of the contacts is in order as it is noisy between stations even with the muting on, and there are some 'whooshing' sounds as stations are tuned in. Despite this the sound is very, very good. The midrange is beautifully natural and relaxed. The highs do not seem to have the magic of the 1010, being a bit more rolled-off, but I would venture to say the bass on the 600 is better (or at least bigger) than on either of my 1010s. I like the 1010 quite a bit and there are some who say the 800 sounds even better and is more sensitive (the former is impressive, the latter not very hard to pull off). Given that the 600 is somewhat similar to the 800 I guess it should come as no surprise that it is a good-sounding tuner. Considering what they sell for, I would recommend giving one a try."
Our contributor Fred comments on Ray's statement about the CT-600's veneer: "When I sanded what I too thought was veneer in order to refinish the case, I was surprised to find out that the exterior of the case is very high quality plastic laminate, not to be confused with the vinyl wrap used on other models. My case has the darker 'wood' finish shown on fmtunerinfo. I don't know if the lighter 'blond' cases are plastic, vinyl wrap or the real thing. I love the lighter color with the silver face and was hoping for that effect after refinishing mine." The CT-600 usually sells for $20-50 on eBay, but one went for just $10 in 8/08.
Yamaha CT-610 (photo, owner's manual) search eBay
The CT-610, predecessor to the CT-610II, usually sells for $20-50 on eBay.
Yamaha CT-610II (1978, $225, photo) search eBay
The CT-610II usually sells for $30-50 on eBay, with a low of $16 in 4/07, but occasionally much higher when newbies get into a bidding war. The record high was $135 in 3/11.
Yamaha CT-800 (1974, $370, front, back) search eBay
Our contributor John M. offers this report: "I have a Yamaha CT-800 in stock condition, mine since new. It's only been in partial service for the last 17 years, since I ousted it for a Pioneer F-90. For a while, I was using the CT-800 as the main off-air receiver in an FM radio station. The frequency response and distortion compares very favourably with a precision receiver (I checked it against an Innovonics demodulator). But all is not perfecto, and I've noticed a few downsides which may be typical to the model or just restricted to my unit (your mileage may vary, etc., etc.):
"1. In a medium signal environment, with uncrowded band, it performs well... not necessarily the cleanest where the signal is weak, but it will pick something useful out of the mud. The tuning meters are helpful in that respect, and being able to bypass hi-blend is a bonus.
2. It seems to have difficulty locking on a station, almost like you tune it to the top of a peak and then it automatically falls off the peak into the trough on either side. This is the opposite of how its AFC is supposed to work.
3. On my unit, the feature that unlocks the AFC when you touch the knob works sometimes and not others. When it works, the tuning meter obligingly moves back towards the center position.
4. In a very concentrated and high-level signal area (we're 200 watts, about a kilometer from the transmitter, there are six stations within two kilometers ranging from 60 kW to 150 kW, and our frequency is hit with four major third-order intermods from the big boys. Don't ask why that would be allowed to happen... it's another story) - anyway, the CT-800 sounds good when it's on frequency, but gets pulled off way too easily.
5. Lamp replacement is fiddly, but not impossible.
6. I wish more tuners still came with horizontal/vertical outputs."
John concludes, "I continue to think that the CT-800 sounds really nice under ideal circumstances. When bought, it was the best choice behind a CT-7000. I now regret that I couldn't find the extra cash, but I was quite young at the time." The CT-800, which appears to be somewhat similar to the CT-1010, usually sells for $50-100 on eBay and should be a major bargain at the low end of that range. The low was $10 in 4/08 and the high was $129 in 8/11, and a CT-800 with a recent alignment by Stereo Surgeons went for $207 in 11/05.
Yamaha CT-810 (1975, $285, photo) search eBay
The CT-810, the older and lesser sibling of the CT-1010, is apparently not as good a tuner as the CT-800. Our contributor Marc reports that the CT-810 is less sensitive than his top tuners but is easy to modify for better sound quality: "Stock, the sound is not bad, but it is not high definition. I bypassed the volume control, replaced the power supply diodes with Schottkys and changed the 'lytic caps at the output with polypropylenes. These simple mods gave surprising results. The sound quality blows away a lot of tuners. The front-end first stage is made with a FET. The output stage is made with transistors, which is probably why the CT-810 has a relaxed, natural sound." Our contributor John H. says his CT-810 has "fairly nice and warm bass and good overall range. After removing the 300-ohm balun and replacing the third filter with a narrower (110 kHz) filter, the sensitivity comes much closer to my T-85 and the selectivity is also improved. The stock filters were Taiyos, and when I replaced them with newer ones I got a jump in signal strength, so they must have had pretty high insertion loss or were out of spec."
Here are some excerpts from the CT-810's owner's manual, courtesy of our contributor John P.:
"SPECIAL FEATURES of the CT-810 TUNER:
1. Stable and Sensitive Front End--MOS FET, four-gang wide air-gap frequency linear variable capacitor, and special transistor local oscillator give great station-getting ability, free from drift.
2. Direct Assessment of Differential Gain--This sophisticated technique, with the six low-loss, low-spurious content ceramic filters used, and a special impedance-matching phase compensation circuit, gives the CT-810 a combination of low distortion and high selectivity hitherto impossible.
3. NFB PLL MPX Section with Pilot Cancellation--Pioneered by Yamaha, this unique MPX circuit gives the full advantages of stability (from phase-locked PLL circuitry) with ultra low distortion (from full application of NFB-negative feedback), and wide flat frequency response (by completely cancelling out the 19 kHz pilot signal).
4. Optimum Tuning System (OTS)--The OTS system will take over from you the fine-tuning needed to maintain minimum distortion and maximum stereo separation, so that all FM stereo programs are heard at their best.
5. Twin-Meter FM Tuning with Signal Quality Reading--Both signal strength and center-zero FM tuning meters are provided on the CT-810, with the signal strength meter doubling as a signal quality meter on FM.
6. Standard 333 Hz Signal for Level Setting--The REC CAL setting provides a signal ideal for recording-level calibration. Like the normal tuner output, it is fully variable.
7. Twin-Level Muting--Inter-station noise and distant stations can be silenced at either of two levels of sensitivity.
8. High Blend and Provision for Dolby Adaptor--The Noise Reduction switch has a high blend position to reduce hiss noise on stereo FM stations, and a Dolby adaptor can be fitted for use with stations broadcasting Dolby-ised programs.
9. High Performance AM Section--Untuned RF stage, differential mixer, and peak detector assure the best possible reception of the crowded AM band."
Despite all these features, the CT-810 usually sells for just $40-90 on eBay, and one even went for $15 in 7/05. The high was $162 in 5/10 when two guys ran it up from $52.
Yamaha CT-1010 (1977, $385, photo, schematic, alignment guide, circuit board, circuit description, schematic addenda) search eBay
The CT-1010 has 5 FM gangs and 3 AM gangs and is reportedly a fine tuner for both bands. It's a big, solid-looking tuner like the CT-7000. The CT-1010 has 3 strange green ceramic filters which should be easy to replace with narrower standard 3-pin filters for improved selectivity. However, our contributor Don W. cautions, "I couldn't have a CT-1010 as my only tuner because it does not have a Wide/Narrow IF bandwidth control."
Our contributors Tim and Ann "upgraded the [Marantz] 125 to a Yamaha CT-1010 and this was a mistake: We learned to hate the auto-tune-lock feature of the Yamaha and our particular unit was a lemon and was constantly being repaired under warranty by the dealer. We did think it sounded a bit better than the 125, but owning it left us with a negative impression of Yamaha quality control. We finally found a used 125, bought it and dumped the Yamaha." But our contributor Glenn replies, "The CT-1010 is a great-sounding analog tuner for the $$. It could easily be 1/3 the size, but that does not affect its good performance. Makes a terrific sound pair with either the CA-1010 integrated or its big brother, the CA-2010. Recap everything for the ultimate fun. As I switch back and forth between my stock CT-1010 and Denon TU-750S, I can't help but notice the difference in soundstage depth and better bass with the CT-1010. Over the past 12 months I've done the same with a Sony ST-S730ES and Denon TU-1500RD. I wanted the ability to have a remote so was hoping that the Denon was better. It wasn't and is gone. Same with the Sony, although it was better than the TU-1500RD. So I got a Luxman T-117 and tried the same thing. After a month of comparing the Luxman is gone. While the CT-1010 review in the TIC isn't that glowing, that has certainly not been my listening experience. And mine has never given me a single hiccup. I am not a DXer and am only interested in the quality of the sound. So far, the CT-1010 is tops."
Our contributor Eli thinks the CT-1010 is "one of the most consistently underpriced tuners out there. This was Yamaha's top of the line tuner after they stopped making the CT-7000 and until the T-2 came along. It's not in the same class as either the CT-7000 or the T-2, but it has 5 gangs and 3 filters and a few nice features thrown in. I think the only thing that keeps the price down is the negative review by Tim and Ann. Those comments are the *only* negative comments I've ever heard on this tuner." Our contributor Bruce says, "My CT-1010 (with alignment, new filter set and audio upgrades) is about as good a tuner as I recall hearing. Bearing in mind that I've not heard as many really great tuners as I'd like, I'd have to say that the CT-1010 is excellent in every way that's relevant to my situation. The tuning lock system works easily and flawlessly in my experience." Bruce also called the CT-1010 "best tuner for the price": "I saw a nice one go for $33 on eBay awhile back and that's just silly money for such a unit. They sound excellent and while I wouldn't say they're exactly a DXer, mine is pretty good after a filter change. For me it's about the sound quality, though, and the only tuner I've owned that's better in that sense is a Scott 333B that's had the works thrown at it."
Our contributor Hank A. adds, "It's big, seems empty inside compared to its far more expensive 'big brother,' the CT-7000, but IMHO sounded just as good, although it's not as pretty." And count our contributor Ray D. as another fan of the CT-1010. In the early days of TIC, the CT-1010 generally sold for $100-225 on eBay, but during the period 11/03 to 11/04 the typical sale price plummeted to $45-80 -- possibly due in part to the one negative comment from Tim and Ann. Since that time, we've given up trying to find any trend in CT-1010 sale prices, and almost anything is possible. For example, in the first half of 2009, two sold for $33 and $35, two mint ones went for $220 and $232, and there were all sorts of sale prices in between. Recent sale prices have ranged from $61 to $150.
Yamaha CT-7000 (1974, $1,200 in silver [photo1, photo2] and 1976, $1,250 for the all-black CT-7000B [photo], schematic left, schematic right, block diagram, circuit description, entire schematic (same as left and right halves), detailed specs) search eBay
The CT-7000 is a beautiful, solidly built (29 pounds) analog FM-only tuner with the best sound our panelist Eric recalls ever hearing in his system, surpassing (among others) the top Kenwoods and Sansuis. The CT-7000 is particularly impressive at the low end. It is a pure audiophile tuner in stock form, with poor adjacent channel selectivity even in the Narrow IF mode. The CT-7000's features include a headphone output jack with level control, switchable muting with an adjustable threshold, and a signal meter that doubles as a multipath meter. The rear panel has fixed and variable audio outputs and multipath output jacks for an oscilloscope.
Our panelist David "A" reports: "The CT-7000 has a 7-gang tuning capacitor (two gangs in front of the first MOSFET RF amp, two in front of the second MOSFET RF amp, two in front of the MOSFET mixer and one for the bipolar local oscillator). It uses 7 IF filters, a mix of ceramic and LC types. The IF would be relatively easy to modify for increased selectivity, but I would wonder why anyone would want to since the CT-7000 is oriented toward sound quality and the IF choices were made in that vein. Further, one of the major reasons for the sound is the characteristics of the wide IF (the only 18 dB alternate channel selectivity makes this perhaps the widest Wide mode ever in a quality tuner). The CT-7000 uses a discrete MPX decoder. The tuner design seeks fidelity (and to a lesser degree RF performance) but in my opinion, after owning most of the top tuners, it's not in the top 5 for RF or audio quality. The quieting curve is very steep (although not as steep as the Kenwood 600T and 650T or Pioneer TX-9100), but the absolute signal-to-noise ratio plus distortion is well behind the best. I also find that the stereo separation and distortion are very good (especially for the age of the tuner) but again not up with the very best (high-frequency distortion and pilot leakage are more of a problem than the separation). The CT-7000 owes part of its sound quality to its flat and extended frequency response, but mostly to the ultra-wide IF and limiter choices which were made based on signal fidelity. Given the tuner's current age, a stock unit will be badly in need of replacing all of the electrolytic capacitors and a good alignment.
"The CT-7000 is not the best choice for DXers because of the lack of front end/overall selectivity, less than ideal RFIM characteristics and the presence of AFC. Overall, I prefer a Yamaha T-2 (with all polar and electrolytic coupling caps replaced and aligned perfectly) for sound quality (although not in the bass), or a Yamaha T-85 for DXing if one is predisposed to Yamaha tuners. What you do get with the CT-7000 is perhaps the best construction quality ever offered in a consumer tuner as well as a unique aesthetic look that some people love. For the money, the top Kenwoods are much better tuners (and better buys) from an RF perspective, especially when modified. And for sound, tuners like the Accuphase T-106 eat the CT-7000 alive! [By no means a universally held view. - Editor] Also, I don't like how Yamaha implemented the AFC in the front end of the CT-7000, or the fact that it has AFC at all. I found no overall problems that are likely to make the CT-7000 unreliable over time, but it is a pain to replace all of the electrolytics and realign it for best performance (if you own or buy one make sure that whoever aligns it will take the time to go through it carefully for best performance)." David added that the CT-7000's performance "can be all over the map depending on alignment, old caps replaced and differences in IF/Detector and MPLX performance variability. It is clear that if you get a perfect one, it is one hell of a tuner."
On whether to replace the CT-7000's filters, our panelist Bob says it "depends on whether the original filters are defective, or you really need the extra selectivity. I also would not touch it, unless you had a tech that fully understood that IF section. Yamaha acknowledged the variability and shortcomings of ceramic filters, by adding adjustments to the circuit around the ceramic filters to equalize them for optimal response. This is fully realized in the CT-7000, and all the adjustments are there. Any filter replacement would require complete readjustment of this stage, as the past settings would be optimized for the old filters."
Our contributor Goran says, "The MPX unit of the CT-7000 is one of the very best ever made. Distortion around 0.01%, separation better than 45 dB at 15 kHz, 65 dB at 1 kHz and very low noise levels. It must be stressed that the CT-7000 was an all-out assault by Yamaha back in the '70s to make the best FM sound reproduction possible, and what they came up with was state of the art and hard to beat unless you design something even closer to perfection than what is there already." But Goran observes that after 30 years, "many 'lytics can be exchanged for plastic types which makes for an improvement. Not to mention much longer life since 'lytics will always, slowly, get worse over time and plastic capacitors, polyester, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene will not change at all over time." Our contributor Tom calls the CT-7000 "a great-sounding tuner, especially in Wide on a strong signal. One caveat is that it is susceptible to IBOC, which noticeably affects the sound. I've always felt the tuner was much more sensitive than it was credited for but could be more selective."
Our contributor Warren M. adds, "I use the fixed outputs rather than the variable ones, which definitely introduce some degradation. The difference between WIDE and NORMAL is very subtle and is what it says (i.e., Wide vs. Normal as distinct from Wide/Normal vs. Narrow) - this is NOT a DXing tuner and would NOT be suitable (without modification) for crowded airwaves. I have terrible multipath on one of our two classical stations in Sydney, using our rooftop TV antenna. On good days, with the CT-7000, you cannot tell that multipath is affecting the sound, but on bad days it can be close to unlistenable (but still better than any of my other several tuners). The better the reception, the better the performance, but quieting comes on very fast and it is fairly sensitive on a clear signal without multipath issues, showing much better performance in this regard than my modified Sansui TU-317. The headphone amp is outstanding. It blows away the headphone facility in my Arcam Alpha 9 amplifier and is as good as (but very different from) my dedicated solid state Chinese headphone amp. The Chinese one is much quieter but has a clinical edge which the CT-7000's headphone amp does not have. The inside of the CT-7000 is laid out like engineer's heaven - undoubtedly the best presented electronics of any piece of hi-fi I have ever seen. But it has a design fault in that the power supply cannot dissipate its heat effectively enough, resulting eventually (after some years) in damaged power supply electrolytics." Our contributor Maciej adds, "The CT-7000's headphone output is awesome. It can drive headphones real hard. I increased the coupling caps on it and it goes very low in frequency response now."
CT-7000s in good condition used to sell for $700-1,000 on eBay, with lows around $500 if in poorer shape and as high as around $1,200 for mint ones. Recently, however, the most common range seems to be $440-600. A CT-7000 with the original box sold for $1,100 in 12/09, and another went for $904 in 6/11. See how one CT-7000 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and read more of David "A"'s analysis on the Ricochets page. There's also a page on the CT-7000 at The Vintage Knob, and our contributor Herb discusses mods to the CT-7000 in our FMtuners group. See detailed specs and measurements for the CT-7000 compared to those of 17 other top tuners in David "A"'s tuner comparison spreadsheet.
Yamaha T-07 search eBay
We'll let our contributor Gary B. handle this one: "I got a Yamaha T-07 and finally got around to listening to it. This is a really cheap tuner, not to be mistaken for the T-7, and has almost nothing inside. It looks like the entire thing is only two chips and two ceramic filters. Sensitivity is only so-so, with a lot of stations I normally receive full quieting in stereo coming in with some noise in stereo. But the surprising thing about it is that its selectivity is really good, at least in mono. Makes me think it might be worth some effort to tweak it further. Perhaps an Ammons board to get more gain in the IF and an output buffer would make it sing, or maybe it just needs alignment to get the stereo noise down." The T-07 usually sells for $20-30 on eBay.
Yamaha T-1 (1978, $365, front, closeup, back) search eBay
The T-1 is a 4-gang, black analog tuner that is larger than the T-2 (here is a photo showing both for comparison) but not as good a tuner. The T-1 can't match the T-2's great front end and we thought it has only one IF bandwidth, but the T-1's "RX Mode" button, with Local/Auto-DX settings, appears to be the same as Wide/Narrow on other tuners and not an RF sensitivity setting like the Onkyo T-9090 and T-9090II have. Our contributor PZ commented, "What is perhaps a bit odd is that choice of DX cannot be manually forced. There is some built-in lag in the auto switching to DX so that a borderline station would not go back and forth."
After reviewing an old sales brochure for the T-1, PZ adds, "This is definitely a sleeper tuner. Despite the fact that the front end has only 4 gangs, the T-1's specs beat a lot of 5-gangers. I think they look pretty comparable to the best later digitals such as the T-85. The spurious/IF response ratio is 100 dB, image ratio 90 dB, sensitivity 9.8 dBf IHF and 50 dB quieting 36 dBf in stereo. Capture ratio is 1.0 dB, AM suppression 65 dB, and selectivity is 55/92 dB in Local/DX mode (Wide/Narrow). The local mode has two LCR block filters and the DX mode adds a '4-resonator low-spurious ceramic filter' [but see Ken's comment below - Editor]. It may be possible to replace that one to make it more selective if one wants to. Distortion in local/stereo was rated at 0.05% @100 and 1k Hz and 0.08% at 6 kHz, and about 10x higher in DX. S/N ratios were 86/84 dB (mono/stereo) @85 dBf. While these numbers are not as strong as the T-2's, the T-1 has the advantage of a good 3-gang AM tuner at half the price of the T-2. When the AM signal is strong enough, a built-in attenuator automatically expands the frequency range. Switching the IF to Local expands it further. The 'OTS' is just a type of AFC, just locks the oscillator, not like the CLL of Luxman that locks the whole front end. At about $350 new, the T-1 was a very good value when new and at current prices on eBay, usually below $100, it's a very attractive buy (relative to the popular analogs from Sansui, Pioneer, etc.). Most T-1s will need some dial lights replaced, but it's no big deal. I found lamps at Radio Shack. The green rubber hood does require some care to remove, because there's no replacement if they're ripped and not having that green color for the dial will be a shame."
Our contributor Ken found that instead of the two LCR block filters and "4-resonator low-spurious ceramic filter," his T-1 "actually has 5 three-pin filters on the FM side (CF 201-204 and CF-206), and a can style for AM (CF-205). The main circuit board is marked N07012 and the serial number is 18488, U.S.-only version. My service manual shows the old circuitry, so I'm looking for the 'other' one." Like the T-7, the T-1 has variable outputs whose volume is controlled by a thumbwheel on the bottom of the unit (front center). See PZ's introductory paragraphs at the top of this page for more info on the T-1. Sale prices for the T-1 on eBay can fluctuate, with lows in the $40-70 range (one even went for $20 in 8/10) and occasional highs of $140-150 (with an all-time high of $201 in 9/04 as a bunch of newbies got carried away), or anywhere in between. The lesson here is not to overpay for a common tuner like the T-1 when the bidding exceeds its historical price range - you'll almost always have another chance to buy one at a more reasonable price. PZ adds one final comment: "I really like the T-1's tuning indicator. The marker bar has a lamp that goes bright and dim when passing through a station, so you don't have to look at the tuning meters at all and can just keep your eyes on the scale. When the bar brightens up, you stop and then you'll hear the station. Only then do you need to look at the meters to apply a little touch-up. Please note that this lamp is burned out in most units sold on eBay."
Yamaha T-2 (1978, $750, black, silver, closeup, schematic, owner's manual, detailed specs) search eBay
The T-2 is a usually black (but occasionally silver) FM-only analog tuner with a 7-gang front end. Our panelist David "A." tells us that the T-2's tuning capacitor has one gang in front of the first MOSFET RF amp, three in front of the second MOSFET RF amp, two in front of the MOSFET mixer and one for the bipolar local oscillator. (However, our contributor Georges says there are two gangs, not three, before the second RF amp and three gangs, not two, after it.) The T-2 sounds excellent and one contributor says he prefers it to the CT-7000. The T-2 has four 3-pin ceramic filters, 2 for the wide IF bandwidth setting and 2 more for narrow mode, and should be suitable for modification with narrower filters. Our contributor John V. says: "The T-2 is one of the best-sounding tuners solid-state tuners I have owned. It is incredible how open it is in the mids and top, and still has bass, almost as smooth as tubes. Easy to use." Our panelist Ray chimes in, "I found the T-2 to be a great urban DXer. I also put it in my main sound system to square off sonically with my recently modded SAE Two T3U. The T-2 came off a bit thin and mechanical sounding in the mids by comparison... I did say a bit."
Our contributor Paul Bigelow reviewed the T-2 in our FMtuners group:
"The Yamaha T-2 was manufactured in the late 70s and is available in several versions. It is a high-quality FM-only tuner with a heavy aluminum case and digital readout. The tuner is analog. No presets. Scope outputs are available. The tuner does have a defeatable auto-tune circuit. A silver-faced unit was produced for Japan. Other markets had multiple voltages, and an additional digit for FM.
The circuit has two RF amps 3sk45 -- a good dual gate MOSFET with a respectable noise figure (there are better). The mixer is a 3sk45 as well. The tuning capacitor is 7 gangs: 1 for the antenna, 2 for the first RF amp, 3 for the second RF amp. The oscillator gets one section. The 10.7 IF then goes though an adjustable IF transformer then on to the 'IF strip.' My version of the T-2 utilizes 5 3-pin ceramic filters. Each is accompanied by an IF transformer. The filters all appear to be identical: green with a white dot. Three are used for wide, an additional two are added in for narrow. There are no 'separate' IF paths. It must be stated that the service manual and its schematic differ from my tuner. The schematic and picture show 4 'blocks' of 3-pin filter and IFT as a unit. These may be difficult to modify. The 5-ceramic filter unit should be relatively easy to modify after the heavy case is removed. The IF amps are a combination of Toshiba 7060P and UPC577H IC IF amps. The signal then reaches the discriminator/ratio detector. The detected signal is then demodulated into stereo by the Sanyo LA3350. This IC is supposedly known for high SCA rejection. The separated signal is then sent to the discrete AF stage. This stage makes good use of film caps and differential amps. Output is either fixed or variable. All tuner voltages (except for the lamps) are regulated.
Using the tuner can be a bit tricky. There is a Hi Sensitivity / Hi Selectivity Switch and there is an Auto DX/Local switch. As best I can tell from the schematic, the Hi Sensitivity / Hi Selectivity switch only affects the gain of the RF amps. I do not think it switches the IF filters. That job apparently is left to the Auto DX/Local switch. I think for DX use the best combination is Hi Sensitivity ON and Auto DX ON. The Auto DX will 'automatically' switch filters as needed. The additional filters get switched out with strong signals. I think this arrangement is a bit awkward, but it seems to work out OK.
Performance Impressions (as compared to my tuners):
Sensitivity: Good sensitivity. I think the SAE MKVI is more sensitive, as are the Kenwood KT-7001 and Marantz 10B.
Selectivity: Very selective (in DX mode). Only the 10B is better [of Paul's tuners - Editor].
Noise: Very quiet. The Sumo Charlie has better quieting sensitivity. The T-2 is about on par with the 10B.
Stereo separation: Very, very wide. Almost as good as the Charlie.
IP3 [third-order intermod rejection - Editor]: About as good as the 10B. The Charlie is better -- go figure!
Tuning Knob 'feel': Little backlash, just a hint of wobble. The 10B is superb -- no backlash, play, or wobble."
Our contributor Radu compared the T-2 to a Sony ST-S444ESX, which has an annoying combined Muting/Stereo control, and other tuners: "I have been rolling a whole bunch of tuners these days from the too many I have around here - just now, Kenwood KT-7500, Harman/Kardon Citation 14, Sony ST-5000FW, Sansui TU-S9, Yamaha T-2, Pioneer F-9, possibly two or three others - and the T-2 nails it all down effortlessly. It quiets marginal signals in stereo like they'd be on the same block I live in, while the ST-S444ESX would simply turn those off. No listening whatsoever - kind of a big deal. The T-2? Always at the call, always there, delivering. I don't necessarily think the ST-S444ESX wouldn't do a great job, it's just that the controls disable it, period. In my book (pending more time with it), as great as it is as an exceptional 'all-around' tuner, the T-2 fails at the absolute best reproduction in ideal conditions - where a Citation 14 (which is recapped, film caps in the right spots) or Sony ST-5000FW (similar treatment) would shine - but maybe alignment or other treatments would address that. I have not touched it at all yet."
Our contributor Brian M. adds, "The T-2 has many useful features that the Fanfare FT-1A lacks. I think reception is pretty close, the T-2 being a little better, but the T-2 allows me to do some fine tuning to receive things the Fanfare can't. And the Fanfare doesn't have the life and definitely not the highs of the T-2." Our contributor JR tells us that the T-2 has a "blend" toggle switch "which includes AUTO, which dynamically changes the blend according to the quality of the signal (internal processing), and OFF, which allows full stereo when available (and when Mode isn't set to Mono)." See our contributor PZ's introductory paragraphs at the top of this page for more info on the T-2. See how one T-2 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and read our panelist David "A"'s Ricochet for another perspective. See detailed specs and measurements for the T-2 compared to those of 17 other top tuners in David "A"'s tuner comparison spreadsheet. On eBay, the T-2 can sell for anywhere from $160-200 (with a low of $122 in 10/08) to $425 or more for mint ones, with an all-time high of $500 in 8/06.
Yamaha T-7 (1980, $410, photo, closeup, schematic, IC data, owner's manual) search eBay
Don't confuse this tuner with the T-07, a cheap digital model listed above. The T-7 is a 4-gang, black analog tuner with motorized presets. Our contributor PZ reports: "The T-7's front panel layout is almost identical to the T-1's. They both have the same 5 push buttons on the left below the dial and meters on the right. The buttons are Calibration Tone, Hi-Blend, Muting/OTS (off/multipath), RX Mode (auto-DX/local), Function (AM/FM). There is no option for mono. Both tuners have a fixed level output and a variable output on the back panel. The attenuator of the variable output is a thumbwheel located on the bottom of the unit (front center). This is very nice for A/B comparison against another tuner because the level can be matched easily. The T-7 incorporated some 'digital features' at the end of the analog age. The tuning meter found on the T-1 is omitted, and in its place is a pair of horizontal green lines flanking the red vertical marker. The brightness of the green lines change as the red marker sweeps through a station. Equal brightness of the two lines indicates centering. The frequency scale is just white letters marked on the black finish below these indicators, very small and hard to read. The problem is lessened by having 5 small lighted presets buttons so that there is less manual tuning. A motor moves the tuning knob to get to the preset station. I have only seen this gimmick in one other analog tuner, the Nakamichi 430. It does work, gets to the right place every time. The analog signal strength meter on the T-1 is also replaced by a 24-segment 'signal quality' meter on the T-7. Pushing down the Muting/Multipath button softens the brightness of this meter and I think it becomes just a multipath indicator. The space made available by eliminating the tuning meter is filled by the Local/DX lights and the stereo light. As far as audio quality goes, I couldn't hear any significant difference between the T-7 and the T-1, and also no difference from the digital TX-1000U." See PZ's introductory paragraphs at the top of this page for more info on the T-7.
Our panelist Bob adds: "I just put a T-7 into working order with a total realignment. WOW is all I can say for the sound. Very low measured distortion, and very nice bass. A bit of a pain to tune, as the dial is small and not lit, but worth it. It has a crystal lock that works well. The T-7 is similar to the T-1 cosmetically, but I'm not sure about the circuitry. There appear to be some fancy circuits in the T-7 that have not been noted before, but I have no manual so can't say. Perhaps it is a pulse count detector or...? The T-7 reminds me of an econo Tandberg with linear dial and presets. It has a wide/narrow IF bandwidth switch (but they call it 'distant/local'), and decent specs."
Our contributor Brian Beezley did some work on his T-7: "The Yamaha T-7 is an interesting analog tuner with sophisticated circuitry and an intriguing motorized station memory system. It also has an unusual balun arrangement. The T-7 has a center-tapped antenna coil in its front-end module. In the usual arrangement the whole winding provides a 300-ohm balanced input, while one side of the winding with respect to the grounded center tap provides 75 ohms. However, this scheme works well only if the leads to the rear-panel terminals are short - a couple inches at most. Even if the balanced winding is connected to the rear panel with 300-ohm ribbon cable, the impedance of one side with respect to ground isn't likely to be anywhere near 75 ohms. I encountered this problem in a Technics ST-S16 tuner, whose 75-ohm input was essentially unusable due to the awful return loss (terrible impedance match).
"The T-7's front end is far from the rear panel. Yamaha solved the connection problem by providing a second transformer near the antenna terminals. This transformer connects to the front end using a balanced wire pair. (Actually three wires are used, with the center wire not connected at either end. Presumably this arrangement provides an impedance closer to 300 ohms for the spaced outer wires.) The rear transformer is resonated by capacitors on the primary and secondary windings. In my tuner this transformer was not well resonated in the FM band. In fact, bypassing this 'balun' improved the 50 dB quieting sensitivity by 1 dB at 98 MHz and 2 dB at the band edges. This is the largest improvement I've yet seen from a balun bypass. To bypass the rear transformer, unsolder the wire pair at the front-end terminals. You can leave the wires connected at the rear and secure the pair by wrapping them through nearby holes in the side panel. Next, snip the lead from the coaxial input socket to the board. Solder a short piece of RG-59 to the coax connector, grounding the shield directly at the connector. Run the coax around the board to the bottom side. Solder the center conductor to the rear antenna terminal, marked ANT1 on the top of the board. Scrape the green solder mask from the nearby groundplane and solder the shield there. It's important to run the coax to ANT1, not the other side of the input coil marked ANT2. The two sides of the input winding do not present the same impedance to ground, presumably because the coupling to the other winding differs. I have seen this effect in other tuners. In the T-7, sensitivity is better using ANT1." The T-7 usually sells for $50-105 on eBay, with lows of $20 in 8/08 and $27 in 7/09, and highs of $155 in 1/08 and $130 in 10/10.
Yamaha T-60 (1991, $180, owner's manual) search eBay
The T-60 is a cheapie FM-AM quartz-locked digital tuner with 16 presets that can be found with a silver or black face. It's not related to the T-70 or T-80 and we wouldn't bother with it since those other tuners are common and can be had so inexpensively. The T-60 sells for $20 or less on eBay.
Yamaha T-70 (1982, $370, photo, closeup, block diagram, specs and alignment guide) search eBay
This similar predecessor to the T-80 might be worth a try as a decent cheaper alternative. The T-70, a black digital tuner with good sensitivity and the electronic equivalent of 4 gangs, was Yamaha's first tuner to have their "CSL" (Computer Servo Lock) circuitry as described in the T-85 listing below. The T-70 appears to have been identical to the T-1060 except for the latter's silver face. Our panelist Bob points out that the T-70 was Yamaha's top tuner when introduced, "but to them at the time it meant making everything automatic." Bob played with one and reported: "The T-70 has wide and narrow filters in AM, and an outboard CMOS switched MPX decoder circuit. The actual MPX chip does the 19 kHz PLL, 38 kHz drive and pilot cancel, and has onboard op-amps that are used as buffers after the outboard decoder circuit. These could easily be replaced with quality op-amps. It is a very clean audio path in the MPX circuit, possibly one contributor to why it sounds good. There's a nice L and R separation adjustment capability, and 19 kHz tracking pure sine wave cancel circuit. There are some cool circuits that are not obvious from the sparse front panel controls, like a stereo blend control. This tuner was NOT cheap when it was sold new, but can be had pretty cheap now. The T-70 will mute on weak signals and has no 'mono' button, so it is difficult to use stock for weak signal reception. If it works for you stock (or maybe you add some gain in front of it), the T-70 is an incredible sounding tuner." Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit is in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here.
Our contributor PZ found his T-70's audio quality to be lower than that of his other Yamaha tuners - "missing some bass, not as full or rich-sounding. I wasn't sure if I just had a not-so-good sample (I wouldn't say that it was bad, just not as good as the others) or if Yamaha just didn't have a great first effort in making a digital tuner." The T-70's 75-ohm coax jack requires a male PAL to female F adapter, such as Radio Shack catalog #2780261. Our panelist David "A" reviews the T-70 on our Ricochets page. Sale prices for the T-70 on eBay can be erratic. Usually, it's one of the best bargains in Tunerdom at only $20-35.
Yamaha T-80 (1984, $395, photo, closeup, owner's manual, partial service manual, schematic) search eBay
This black digital tuner, the lesser predecessor of the T-85, has the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs. Our contributor PZ notes that the T-80 has an "RX mode" button like the T-1: "We had some question whether the DX position means narrow IF filter or increased RF sensitivity, but according to a review of the T-80 in the 1/85 issue of High Fidelity, it is the IF filter. It's also interesting that the filter button on the T-80 introduces some 'high blend' and a mild 'high cut' at the same time." The T-80's excellent sensitivity and selectivity and ability to fine-tune in .01 MHz (10 kHz) steps make it a good DX rig, if one doesn't mind the "CSL" problem described in the T-85 writeup below. See our panelist Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here. The T-80's 75-ohm coax jack requires a male PAL to female F adapter, such as Radio Shack catalog #2780261.
Here's Dan Banquer's great writeup of technical tips and mods for the T-80. Our panelist Bob tested Dan's tuner and said, "Overall, in listening tests, Dan's modified tuner easily surpassed the stock T-80 in all areas, with a better weight and articulation in the bass, more articulation in the midrange, and a slightly cleaner presentation in the highs. With strong input signals, the averaged noise floor is also clearly better, from 4-9 dB better depending on the frequency. In general, it was one of the best-sounding tuners that I have the pleasure of listening to in my system." Bob adds, "The T-80 is certainly overshadowed by the T-85, just like the Onkyo T-9090 is always viewed in less light than the T-9090II. But both of them are excellent tuners by any standard, and if the later units were never introduced, would be stars on their own. Both really good values now."
Our contributor Michael reports that the T-80 is one of the few tuners that has narrow and wide filters for both FM and AM, and our contributor Dan O. says, "I like the AM sound and sensitivity of my T-80 quite a bit." Our contributor Don S. says, "We lived in a fringe reception area so I always chose tuners with very good sensitivity as well as great sound. My T-80 is one of the best on weak stations, along with the Onkyo T-4700 and Pioneer F-91." However, a few of our contributors are less than complimentary of the T-80's sound, like our contributor Ray D.: "The T-80 was one of the least pleasant tuners I have tried, though I liked the TX-950 despite its brightness and really liked the T-85, one of the finest digitals." Like the T-70, the T-80 is recommended as a "best buy" in its usual price range of just $45-60 on eBay.
Yamaha T-85 (1986, $500/orig $449, photo, closeup, owner's manual, ad, service manual: schematic 1, schematic 2, front-end schematic, adjustments, circuit boards 1, circuit boards 2, remote and CSL, wiring and ICs) search eBay
The T-85 is a black-faced digital tuner with good sensitivity and, some say, better audio quality than its main competitors as digital "DX machines," the Onkyo T-9090 and T-9090II. The T-85 has the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs and 4 IF bandwidth settings (Super Wide-Wide-Narrow-Super Narrow), and tunes in .1 MHz increments or fine-tunes in .01 MHz (10 kHz) increments. The ability to detune from strong local stations, together with the T-85's excellent overload rejection, leads some urban DXers to prefer it to the Onkyo T-9090 or T-9090II once the T-85's stock ceramic filters are replaced with narrower ones. The problem for DXers, or others who change stations frequently, is that the T-85's "CSL" (Computer Servo Lock) function requires one to hit the fine-tuning button every time a weak station is manually tuned (whether or not you actually want to fine-tune), in order to defeat the CSL's muting of weak signals. This means that it takes two button-pushes, rather than one, to tune a weak signal, except for those frequencies that have been entered as presets. See our panelist Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here.
Our contributor Bill Ammons offers this technical analysis: "The T-85's RF front end/IF converter is on its own PCB. The RF section has two tuning gangs before the 3SK107 FET. The IF converter is a balanced mixer using two 2SK107 FETs. In the Super Wide mode, the IF consists of two tuned 10.7 stages plus two amplitude adjustments and two 280 kHz ceramic filters. The Wide mode adds one additional 10.7 tuned stage, another amplitude adjustment, and one more ceramic filter. The Narrow mode adds one additional 230 kHz filter to the preceding IF. And in the Super Narrow position, a second 230 kHz filter is added for a total of 5 ceramic filters in the Super Narrow IF chain. This unit is easy to service or modify, but the CSL circuit is even more tricky here than in the TX-900 when it comes to grabbing stations 200 kHz apart."
Some complain about the T-85's ergonomics, but our contributor Ryan notes that it is an underrated audiophile tuner: "Yamaha used a true analog multiplier in the multiplex. The technical description of the multiplex is complex, but suffice to say this is one of the very best ways to decode a stereo signal, but because it costs more than using just one simple chip, it wasn't done frequently. Even in stock form, the T-85 is very good, and I suspect that with carefully matched filters and a few component changes almost nothing could touch it. But of course, it is filter and alignment dependent on what you end up with, as with any tuner. Overall, however, Yamaha made very few mistakes with this tuner, and it's certainly one of the best overall designs ever, in my opinion." Our contributor Charles found one or two mistakes: "One thing I don't like about the T-85's 'auto-mode' IF band selection is that it always seems to go to a narrower bandwidth than I would select. Also, once it goes down to a narrower bandwidth (say, if there's some temporary interference), it never bothers to go back up again, so there's an annoying 'downward ratcheting' effect. On my favorite presets, I defeat the auto-bandwidth."
Our contributor Eli says, "Although it has a reputation as a great DX tuner, there are quite a few tuners with greater selectivity than the T-85 [in stock form]. The T-85's alternate channel selectivity is 90 dB, which is decent, but (in my experience) not quite enough to reliably separate stations that are adjacent (200 kHz away) to stronger local stations. It's sufficient in many cases, but not in all cases. Many of the digital Onkyos will beat it, as will the MR 78, MR 80, a couple of Accuphase models, and some of the top Kenwoods. And the Sony HD tuner will make mincemeat out of it for selectivity. The T-85 needs narrower filters installed in order to compete with the best on selectivity. Its stock filters are a mix of 280 kHz and 230 kHz. In comparison, the Onkyo T-9090II has *5* 150 kHz filters in its Super Narrow mode. All that being said, the T-85 is one of my favorite tuners, maybe even my all-around #1, all things considered. But I just don't want people to go out and buy one expecting super selectivity in stock form." Eli also praises the T-85's AM performance on the AM Tuners page.
Our contributor Mark modded his T-85 and says, "Performance-wise, the T-85 is amazing. I just finished aligning it and I'm getting over 60 dB of separation at 1 kHz in Super Wide (@.05% distortion) and 50 dB in Wide (@.08% distortion). There are actually separate separation adjustments for L-only and R-only modes in both Super Wide and Wide. Plus the T-85 plays my weak-signal stereo test station (in Super Narrow with the 2 180 kHz GDT filters) BETTER than the RSPdx DSP receiver! That is a first. I wish it had a nice, weighted tuning knob."
Our contributor János compares a T-85 to a Kenwood KT-6040 in our writeup for the latter. János wondered whether the T-85 is bass-shy, to which our panelist JohnC responds: "The T-85's bass can be improved with the replacement of C279 and C280 with 10 µF bipolar capacitors, something like a Nichicon Muse ES series. You can even push it up to 22 µF if you feel comfortable with that." JohnC's full mod recipe for the T-85 can be found on our DIY Mods page
Our contributor Tim comments on the above writeup and compares a modded T-85 to a couple of other top modded tuners on our Shootouts 2.0 page. Our contributor Ken K. compares a T-85 to an Onkyo T-4711 in our writeup for the latter, and our contributor Bill C. compares a T-85 to a JVC FX-1100BK in our writeup for the JVC. The T-85's 75-ohm coax jack requires a push-on F-connector, such as Radio Shack catalog #2780291. T-85 sale prices on eBay can be highly variable: anything from $150 to $350 is usually possible, with lows of $100 in 6/09 and $101 in 7/11. All-time highs were $430 and $440 for mint ones in 1-3/06. The clear lesson (as with the T-1) is not to overpay: The T-85 is extremely common and if the price of one gets too high, another one will be along shortly.
The T-85 is worthy of some extra space, so here is some additional detailed information from Yamaha:
"The T-85 Natural Sound AM/FM Stereo Tuner incorporates the most advanced Yamaha tuner technology, making it the uncompromising choice for truly discriminating audio enthusiasts. The T-85 combines a number of proven Yamaha technologies and original features with sophisticated innovations that make it a reference standard in terms of sound quality, reception accuracy and operating ease.
CSL Achieves Exceptional Linearity and Low Noise Throughout Entire Band
The new Computer Servo Lock Tuning (CSL) system achieves stunning levels of performance in the T-85. First and foremost, it provides ideal reception performance under virtually any signal conditions. Also, the design of this system ensures that the tuning voltage itself is completely unaffected by noise from the PLL stage, so the signal-to-noise ratio of the local oscillator depends only on the inherent noise characteristics of the parts making up the local oscillator circuitry. These, of course, have been painstakingly selected to ensure an absolute minimum of noise. The overall result is a remarkably high signal-to-noise ratio across the entire 87.5 to 108.0 MHz band (98 dB mono, 90 dB stereo), with unprecedented linearity throughout the same range.
Four Different Tuning Modes
The T-85 offers auto-search and manual tuning in addition to the preset and fine tuning functions. In the Auto Search mode, the tuner scans the band in the specified Up or Down direction until a strong station is found. In the Manual mode, single-step tuning makes it possible to tune to a station's exact frequency for easy tuning of even weak broadcasts.
20-Station Random Access Preset Tuning
Up to 20 different station frequencies can be stored in memory for instant, accurate tuning at the touch of a button. Any combination of AM and FM stations can be programmed. To tune in a preset station, simply touch the appropriate button and the station will be precisely tuned immediately, for real operating ease and convenience. Station frequency indicator cards are supplied, so you can label your presets for faster, easier station selection.
Station Status Memory
When you enter a particular station into the T-85's preset memory, a few more factors than just the station's frequency are memorized. The tuner remembers whether the Auto Stereo or Mono mode was set, whether the Dynamic Auto Blend function was on or off, whether the Direct or Normal RF mode was selected, whether any manual fine tuning was employed, and which of the four possible IF modes was selected. That way, all necessary parameters for optimum station reception are recalled simultaneously with the station's frequency whenever the preset memory is used.
Last Channel Memory
This handy feature eliminates the need to retune your favorite station each time you turn the power on. When power to the T-85 is switched on, the last station tuned in before the power was turned off is automatically re-selected.
12-Segment Signal Quality Meter
This easy-to-read meter provides an accurate reading of overall signal quality, making it easy to achieve the best possible reception with the manual and digital fine tuning functions. This metering system provides a truly meaningful indication of not just signal strength, but actual signal quality, so that the highest display reading shows the optimum blend of signal strength and signal purity. This is especially helpful when tuning manually with the digital fine tuning control, since it gives a visual indication of the desired tuning point in addition to confirmation by ear.
Dynamic Auto Blend Circuit
When signal quality is low, stereo programs tend to lose quality and suffer increased distortion and noise more than monaural programs do. This special circuit compensates for this by automatically blending the left and right channels of a stereo program when signal quality drops below the limit of acceptable sound quality. The result is greatly reduced noise and distortion with enhanced intelligibility on programs that would otherwise be unlistenable. This circuit is 'dynamic,' too, automatically providing the optimum degree of blend for the prevailing signal conditions."
Yamaha T-550 (1980, $190) search eBay
The T-550 was a low-end, slim-line silver tuner with good sensitivity but mediocre specs otherwise. Our contributor Pascal tells us that it had 3 gangs and 3 IF filters, and "decent audio quality." The T-550 (not to be confused with the later and far better TX-550) sells for under $30 on eBay.
Yamaha T-700 (1983, $280) search eBay
Our contributor David H. provides this information about the T-700, a 3-gang digital tuner that was available in black or silver: "The face has red lighting for the 10 presets. The presets are not LED displays themselves, but instead are small tabs that have the frequency punched out and you install them in a small frame that slides in from the side and is lit from behind. The signal-strength light is a simple high/low display with a green bar glowing under either High or Low, or both when the signal is strong. The ergonomics are so-so. Small buttons and fairly light-colored printing make it tough to see what you're doing in low light. No knob for manual tuning, instead it has a tuning bar. The 'feel' of the buttons themselves isn't great, just a click.
"Sensitivity is nothing special. My main station is Classical 91.1 KWAX here in Eugene/Springfield. I get this well with both signal lights glowing. Other stations come in fairly well, but I have to move the indoor dipole antenna around a bit. A Kenwood KT-7500 I had for two months prior was about the same. The Mitsubishi DA-F20 runs rings around them both for picking up distant stations and playing without hiss in stereo mode even with a weak signal indicated. The T-700's sound, however, is surprisingly good with a strong signal. The bloom of double bass passages is natural and tuneful while bass drums are satisfyingly punchy. Both are way better than the KT-7500 I had for a bit, but not as detailed or punchy as the DA-F20. Mids and treble are solid as well. Stereo separation isn't pinpoint but it ain't bad!
"Overall, not a great-looking tuner with only so-so ergonomics, but it sounds much better than it looks. It would be a viable long-term unit if needed, and is a great value to boot." The T-700 usually sells for $20-40 on eBay, but $10 or less is possible. Our contributor Don points out, however, that the next highest tuner in the T-700's series, the T-1000 (reviewed below), "is also usually available for 'sparrow feed' prices on eBay. While the T-700 has 3 FM gangs and one IF bandwidth, the T-1000 has 4 gangs and has Wide/Narrow IF bandwidths."
Yamaha T-720 (1986, $300) search eBay
The relatively scarce T-720 is another worthy digital tuner that can be had for a very reasonable price on eBay, certainly $30 or less.
Yamaha T-760 (1981, $285) search eBay
The T-760 is a silver-faced digital tuner with 3 gangs and 4 ceramic filters. Our contributor Pascal reports: "Either 2 or 4 filters are in the signal path, depending on which Rx mode is activated. The Rx mode works as follows: if the signal is strong, the tuner switches into 'local' mode, with 2 filters in the IF section. If the signal is not strong enough, the tuner stays in 'DX' mode, with 4 filters. However, it is possible to force the local mode if desired. On weak signals, there is much less audible noise in 'DX' mode, but the stereo separation is worse." The T-760 sells for under $40 on eBay and sometimes for $10 or less, not a bad bargain.
Yamaha T-960 (1981) search eBay
Yamaha T-960II (1982, $320) search eBay
We don't have any information on the T-960 and T-960II, which apparently came and went very quickly in Yamaha's lineup. Like their big brother the T-1060 (a/k/a T-70), they seem like decent buys for $20-30 on eBay.
Yamaha T-1000 (1983, $320, photo, closeup) search eBay
The T-1000 is a solidly built black or silver digital tuner that was second in Yamaha's line behind first the T-70, and then the T-80. Its specs are similar to those of its big brothers, so the T-1000 seems like a great buy in its usual $15-40 eBay sale price range (although the T-70 is also often available in that range and the T-80 for just a few dollars more). The high for a T-1000 was $102 in 12/10. Its front-panel buttons include Multipath (multipath or signal quality with red multipath and green five-segment signal quality indicators), RX Mode (green LED for DX or Local or red LED for Auto), Rec Cal (on/off with red LED) and Tuning Mode (manual/mono or auto/stereo with red LED), and it has 10 presets. As with many other Yamahas, presets can be labeled with paper tabs. Along with the usual antenna jacks and RCA outputs, the rear panel has slide switches for Voltage Selector (110/220) and Frequency Step (10 kHz or 9 kHz for AM and 100 kHz or 50 kHz for FM). The T-1000 uses Yamaha's "CSL" (Computer Servo Lock) circuitry that they put into all their better tuners beginning with the T-70. See our panelist Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here
Yamaha T-1020 (1986, $359, photo, closeup) search eBay
The very common T-1020 is a black digital tuner that was second in Yamaha's line behind the superb T-85. It has the electronic equivalent of 4 gangs. Although some of the T-1020's specs are similar to the T-85's, it lacks the T-85's four IF bandwidths and some other features. The T-1020 tunes in .1 MHz increments and fine-tunes in .01 MHz (10 kHz) increments, like the T-85 and other top Yamahas. It has Yamaha's "CSL" (Computer Servo Lock) circuit, a 10-LED signal quality display, and 20 presets. See our panelist Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here.
Our contributor Jay reports, "There are signs of very high quality like loads of 1% resistors, a little copper fence protecting what is probably the IF stages, and copper screws used to ground the circuit boards to the chassis. The appearance is similar to the T-1000, but much better built, with a larger power transformer with some shielding around it. The T-1020 has two modes, DX and Local, which can be set manually or automatically. According to an advertising slick I bought on the Internet, this tuner also has RF servo gain control which automatically applies precise amounts of RF gain and an FM noise filter that is automatically activated to eliminate high-frequency noise." Yamaha claims that maximum RF gain is applied to weak or distant stations in the absence of adjacent interference signal for maximum sensitivity, but when a weak or distant station is near a stronger station, "an optimally determined amount of RF gain is applied to provide the highest sensitivity without saturating the RF stage."
Our contributor Brian Beezley gave his T-1020 a thorough analysis and also offers some useful DIY tips: "The PCB has great markings, both for the functional sections and the adjustments. Even the mono and stereo distortion adjustments are labeled as such. The IF comes with two blue 250 kHz GDT filters (SFE10.7MX) and two 180s in narrow. Even after I aligned it the filter performance was not very good. Stations I can receive easily on my other tuners in narrow just weren't there. I wound up installing a 230 for one of the 250s and two 150s in narrow. For some reason I couldn't use two 230s without excessive distortion in wide (I use four in my Marantz 2265B receiver with no problem). The final (for now) filter setup yields about .05% THD in wide and mostly 0.1% in narrow, sometimes 0.2%. Distortion was unusually constant with input signal level, something I really appreciate. Neither of the two power supply pass transistors on the PCB had heat sinks. One was completely loose - its leads had come unsoldered. I wiggled it with the power on and was amazed that the tuner didn't go crazy. The other transistor was partially loose. Those were the first things I fixed once I got the board out. I put some small heat sinks made of metal PCB standoffs on each transistor. These transistors don't get nearly as hot as the ones in the Pioneer F-90, and small heat sinks help. The pass transistors in any T-1020 definitely should be checked for soldering. There is a wide green capacitor near the two micros. Looking closely, you can see the marking .047F, a twentieth of a Farad. Evidently this is the memory backup. The tuner has a tiny power transformer that gets rather hot, even though it is heat-sinked to the rear panel.
"You must remove the board to work on the T-1020. It is hard-cabled to the front-panel boards, but enough of the other cabling is on connectors that you can partially remove the board and get to the solder side. I installed a trimmer cap in place of the fixed 45-pF (measured) cap to ground between the cascaded narrow filters. Adjusting this trimmer made a lot of difference in the narrow distortion. The source resistance for the first wide filter is adjustable to minimize stereo distortion. The CSL (computer servo lock) is pretty nifty. I don't know what it does exactly, but by probing with the scope and watching the dial, you can tell that it is sophisticated (which is not the same as effective, in general, but seems to be in this case). When auto-tuning, it will go past a station and come back. The search speed seems to vary. In the auto-bandwidth setting, it will try wide and then switch to narrow if it has to. You can force narrow or wide, which is great. If the signal is strong but really noisy for some reason and you've forced wide, the tuner will drop into mono. It seems to try hard to obtain a listenable signal. You can fine-tune in 10 kHz steps. I found this handy for some weak stations next to strong, but not as much as I had expected. AM will tune in 1 kHz steps, which is neat. I aligned the AM IF and it sounds good except that the audio is rolled off. The IF is wide enough for good-quality sound. There's probably a capacitor on the audio output that could be lowered to improve the AM response. I wish I had a circuit diagram so I could locate it. There is a spot in the AM section marked AMS, which I presume means AM stereo. No parts were installed there. The tuner does auto-tune on AM. In addition to the yellow IF ceramic filter, there is a little blue filter that I think is used as a discriminator on AM for auto-tuning.
"My favorite adjustment is labeled IF offset. This is a trimpot that the microprocessor reads on power-up. The micro adjusts the offset in 10 kHz steps based on what it finds on this pot. The stock filters had orange dots (25 or 30 kHz higher than 10.7 MHz) but with this trimpot you can use any set of filters you happen to have laying around. I set the offset not for minimum distortion but for symmetrical filter shoulders in narrow mode. This maximizes adjacent-channel rejection (or rather it equalizes it on both sides of center). It is really fun to watch the control signals when you auto-tune. I found a place where I could see the raw discriminator DC output as fed to the intelligence. Wild waveforms appear here as the CSL operates. It does not at all do a simple search.
"The front end is not OEMed. Yamaha put it on a separate board with a shield around the mixer and oscillator. The RF tracking was way off, the first time I've ever seen that. I installed an F-connector in place of the funny Euro thing. (This time when I drilled out the hole I didn't go too far and obliterate the RF coil as I did in a Technics ST-8044.) The RF input circuit uses a center-tapped antenna coil to provide both 75-ohm and 300-ohm inputs. There is no balun, no balun loss, and no need to make a trade-off between higher sensitivity by removing the balun and the convenience of leaving it in place. I had aligned the T-1020 using its 300-ohm inputs and had to retweak the input stage a bit when I went to 75 ohms. It looks as if it may have a balanced mixer, but I'm not sure because I don't have the circuit diagram. I saw no evidence of RF overload here in my RF-rich environment where many tuners stumble. The audio output level is fixed and is noticeably lower than that of my other tuners, which is only a problem when A/B testing. The display is a pleasing all-red, except for the green signal-strength meter. There are ten steps illuminated in pairs - in other words, it's a simple five-level meter gussied up to appear as ten. I don't care for this sort of thing. The tuner has nice ergonomics and is very easy to use. Unlike some tuners, everything is stored in memory for a station, including any fine-tuning offset. This is very convenient."
Brian later added: "Last week I added a low-pass filter between the FM detector and stereo decoder in my T-1020 to reduce noise in wide-IF mode due to adjacent-channel stations and IBOC (HD Radio) sidebands. The filter was very effective, but the tuner's automatic reception system didn't realize that the tuner now performed better than stock. It kept switching to the narrow filter or to mono on stations that I wanted to receive with the wide filter in stereo. With my antenna pointed at L.A. where I get lots of adjacent-channel signals, nearly every station was downshifted to narrow mode. I could force wide, but this was inconvenient, and in a couple of cases the tuner switched to mono, from which there was no escape. All but a couple of the signals were quite listenable in wide. The tuner consistently switched to narrow for one IBOC station even though the residual noise level was now so low it seemed to be dominated by vinyl surface noise, not reception artifacts. I removed the tuner PCB and looked at the traces underneath. The op-amp that fed the stereo decoder, where I had spliced in the filter, also fed two other circuits. They were labeled something like DC Detect and FM Squelch. The latter surely generated the signals that the microprocessor used for its signal-quality decision. I cut a trace and fed the output of the post-detection filter to the two circuits as well as to the stereo decoder. Since the filter passes DC and has unity gain, the net effect should be to present the correct supersonic noise levels to the decision circuits.
"The trick worked and now the tuner behaves as if it knows what it's doing. It is much more convenient to use now that automatic bandwidth selection works properly. The tuner promptly switches over to narrow mode for stations that really do need it. The only remaining anomaly I've noticed is that the tuner does not mute when there's no signal. But it still auto-tunes properly, even on weak signals with no antenna connected. Apparently the tuner uses different criteria for muting and for signal detection when auto-tuning. This is a problem only when a memorized station has faded out. With the addition of the post-detection filter, I think the T-1020 is an excellent tuner. It is more resistant to RF overload than any I have tested. The automatic tuning is also the best I've come across. The 10-kHz fine tuning comes in handy. But without the post-detection filter, it has too much adjacent-channel noise, much more than other tuners. I would have dumped it." T-1020 sale prices on eBay are all over the place: although many sales are in the $75-105 range, prices under $30 are not uncommon, making it a terrific buy. The all-time low and high are $10.50 in 8/06 and $125 in 2/08.
Yamaha T-1060 (1981, $350, front, back) search eBay
The silver-faced T-1060 appears to have been virtually identical to the T-70, and they shared the same service manual, but there were minor variations between the two tuners in Yamaha's published specs. All of the information in the T-70 writeup should apply as well to the T-70. The T-1060 usually sells for $25-60 on eBay.
Yamaha TX-350 (1991, $200) search eBay
Our panelist Bob reports: "The TX-350 is a nice-looking tuner that has many modern features, including an infrared remote control standard. This tuner has great sensitivity and selectivity and sounds very good after a precision alignment. It uses a single IF bandwidth and has 3 gangs in the RF front end. The stereo MPX chip is the Sanyo LA3401 (also used in the top-rated Accuphase T-109), which uses a ceramic resonator for low distortion and stable, adjustment-free stereo operation. This is a great tuner for anyone looking for a modern, trouble-free digital tuner with great reception capability. It has LOTS of station storage - you can hop around and listen to your favorite radio stations without leaving your chair. The TX-350 will store 8 stations per bank and has 5 banks (A-E), for a total storage of 40 stations. Controls include mono/stereo-auto tuning: strong stations can be selected automatically as the tuner scans the dial, or weak stations can be selected in mono." The TX-350 usually sells for $20-30 on eBay.
Yamaha TX-500 (1987, $319) search eBay
The basic black TX-500 (a/k/a TX-500U) may be a sleeper, with wide and narrow IF bandwidth settings, hi-blend, and 20 presets which can store the settings for each station (wide/narrow, stereo/mono, and hi-blend on or off). Our contributor Stephen "indirectly" compares a TX-500 to a Yamaha TX-492 and Onkyo T-4150: "I recently owned a Yamaha TX-500 and a TX-492, although I didn't directly compare them to the T-4150. However, both Yamahas spent time alongside the Kenwood KT-8300 and Rotal RT-870, so I have a reference point to make my comparisons. I'd say the Onkyo is better than the two Yamahas, overall, and I prefer it cosmetically. The dual-IF TX-500 is comparable in build and features. The Onkyo is more selective, and better sounding than the TX-500. I found the TX-500 lacking in the highs, and a little stale in comparison, but with fuller sound and bass, so your opinion may vary. The TX-492 is another story. It's a single-IF tuner, so the Onkyo offers more in that regard, but the TX-492 has better sound across the range, and is more dynamic. Selling prices for these three are similar. If a better front end isn't needed, I'd opt for the Yamaha TX-492, but if a better all-around tuner is needed, I'd go with the Onkyo." The TX-500 usually sells for $30-40 on eBay.
Yamaha TX-540 (1990, $300) search eBay
Yamaha TX-550 (1991, $350, front, back, inside) search eBay
If the TX-350 may be considered a low-budget sleeper, so may the TX-540 and TX-550, two digital tuners with wide and narrow IF bandwidth settings. Both tuners should be easily found for $50 or less on eBay. Both are infrared remote control-capable, and we believe that the remote came standard with both tuners. Our contributor Stephen tells us that any Yamaha remote with tuner controls will operate the TX-540 and TX-550. Stephen reports, "Like the TX-930 and TX-950, the TX-540 is basically the same tuner as the TX-550 except the 540 has no 75-ohm F-connector, and it has 24 presets vs. up to 40 presets for the 550. The TX-550 has the same 24 or 40 preset option as the TX-950. The back panel has a switch that allows for 24 presets WITH the station display feature, or 40 presets if the station display feature is not selected. Like the TX-930, the TX-540 has 24 presets with station display only. The multi-voltage versions of the TX-540 and TX-550 have another unusual feature: The tuning increments can be changed from 100 kHz to 50 kHz for FM, and from 10 kHz to 9 kHz for AM. Unlike the TX-1000 and TX-1000U, there is no "U" variation to denote the single-voltage USA version of the TX-540/550. Only by looking at the back panel will you be able to determine which version it is. The multi-voltage versions of the 540/550 offer this feature, but the single-voltage versions sold in the U.S. do not."
Our contributor Don W. says, "The TX-550 is a 3-gang tuner with 2 filters in wide, with 2 more added in narrow IF mode. At first mine did not appear to work, but it turns out one of the backlight bulbs for the LCD display was burned out (there are two, but they are in series). The original 8-volt, 150 mA, 4 mm grain-of-wheat bulbs turned out to be a little hard to find. Instead, I got some 12-volt, 100 mA bulbs and ran them in parallel. I also changed the current limiting resistor from 39 ohms to around 51 ohms, which gave me about 60 mA in each bulb. You want to run the bulbs well below rated current for long life." Don adds, "The TX-550 has a high-blend control, and I can change presets with a cheap universal remote from Walmart."
Yamaha TX-900 (a/k/a TX-900U) (1987, $399, front, left, right, back, owner's manual, schematic, alignment instructions, different country versions) search eBay
The TX-900 is a black-faced, remote control-capable digital tuner with decent sensitivity and good sound. It has the electronic equivalent of 4 gangs, 4 filters and 3 IF bandwidth settings (Wide-Narrow-Super Narrow), and like the T-85 tunes in .1 MHz increments and fine-tunes in .01 MHz (10 kHz) increments. Our contributor Bill Ammons reports: "In Wide mode there are two ceramic filters, plus 3 tuned 10.7 IF cans. In Narrow mode there is one additional 230 kHz filter inserted into the IF chain. In the Super Narrow position, a fourth 230 kHz filter is switched in. [But see Don's and Sam's differing observations below - Editor] This tuner has very good RF performance in high RF conditions - it is very selective in stock form. The CSL [Computer Servo Lock] circuit is a bit tricky if you want to narrow this one up."
Our panelist Bob says, "The TX-900 has [the electronic equivalent of] 4 gangs, but in some cases where overload of the front end is not that important, you may notice more sensitivity with fewer gangs. The TX-900 has a little less technology inside than the T-80, T-85, TX-1000 or JVC FX-1100, but it has a reputation (with me) for working and sounding very good, especially for the price. It may have the usual pitfalls of wide-narrow filter mismatch, but at least you have a fine-tuning capability as a work around. It's one of the better 'does it all' digital tuners usually found at reasonable prices. A great tuner to use with a dipole as the flexibility with IF filters and stereo blend, etc. helps you get the most out of the available signal." See Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here.
Our contributor Don W. adds, "I appreciate the fine-tuning also, as I need it to receive an adjacent station cleanly. I especially like the fact that you can store the fine-tuning offset on presets, and also the CSL off on weak stations. The CSL can be annoying on weak stations, as it likes to switch to manual tuning and back to CSL on fades, temporarily muting the audio. As far as ugly, I'll just say the display is very informative and leave it at that. Gotta love that wide/narrow/super narrow IF graphic display. Both the 'U' version (TX-900U) and the 'R' version (the only version with the line voltage selector on the rear) have 75 µS de-emphasis. Other versions have 50 µS de-emphasis." Don also commented on the TX-900U's filters after we asked him to confirm what Bill said above: "I double-checked my TX-900U (120V-only version) and it has 180 kHz filters in the two narrow modes. They are marked E10.7S with a red dot on the right. It's possible that not all versions of the TX-900 are the same, or they could have changed the type of filters used during the production run." Our contributor Sam's TX-900U has the 180s as well.
Our contributor Sam says, "Note that the TX-900's LCD main display is back-lit by two 8V bulbs in series. If one goes, the whole display is black." The TX-900's 75-ohm coax jack requires a push-on F-connector, such as Radio Shack catalog #2780291. One of the best bargains around, the TX-900 usually sells for just $25-50 on eBay, with a low of $18 in 2/09 and highs around $80.
Yamaha TX-930 (1990, $399, front, back, inside, schematic, owner's manual) search eBay
Yamaha TX-950 (1991, $430, front, left, right, back, inside, owner's manual) search eBay
The fairly common TX-930 and TX-950 are both black-faced digital tuners with the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs and 4 ceramic filters; great specs, particularly sensitivity; and lots of bells and whistles including fine-tuning in .01 MHz (10 kHz) increments. They both have a rotary fine-tuning knob and Yamaha's "CSL" (Computer Servo Lock) circuit. See our panelist Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here. Overall, we believe the TX-930 and TX-950 are virtually identical, but none of us has compared them side-by-side. Our contributor Jay points out that the TX-930 has 24 station presets while the TX-950 has 40 (but see Stephen's comment below), and that the TX-950 was manufactured until sometime in 1999 - an unusually long run.
Our panelist Ray says, "I have a TX-930 and can attest that that series of tuners from Yamaha were fine performers. The MPX IC is the regarded LA3450. I added a detector out jack to mine so as to use Bob's LM4500MPX adapter. That made the good sound great." Our contributor Bill C. agrees: "My TX-930 is a fine FM performer with absolutely no mods and it's never had an alignment. It has better-than-average sensitivity and selectivity with selectable wide/narrow IF settings. Is it as selective as my MR 78, MR 74 or Yamaha T-85, no. Is it better than my Fisher FM-100B, MR 67, Nikko Gamma I or Akai AT-V04 and several others, yes. It also sounds pretty good."
Our contributor Bob G. found the TX-950's sound to be "sterile," compared to his Kenwood KT-8300 and Sansui TU-717, although the TX-950 pulled in stations well. But our contributor Dave O. says, "I have two TX-950s and like them a lot. The IF (even in narrow) is still fairly wide, so narrower IF filters in the narrow position would make it much better for DX use. I haven't done any mods to the audio stages of mine. Some here say they sound "sterile," but I would say they just sound accurate." A few contributors to our FMtuners group have had Yamaha tuners with a minor but annoying problem, as our panelist Bob describes: "Basically, you turn it on, and it tunes to the wrong frequency, off by maybe .5 MHz. You turn it off, then quickly turn it back on, and it tunes correctly." Our contributor Michael says, "I've had a few. Off by a slight amount when turned on, but then perfectly fine when turned off and then on again. I've lost count already, but all have been TX-930 and TX-950 units. One suggestion in the group was to replace the crystal, though there is the chance that even a new crystal might not resolve the tuning issue."
Our never-bashful contributor Ryan says that, compared to the well-built TX-1000, the TX-950 "is a tin can with a supply transformer stolen from Radio Shack's reject bin, to be generous." But our contributor Bob V. says, "I have a TX-950 that is a very fine performer. Its sensitivity is excellent and I love the accurate S-meter. Selectivity is not a big requirement where I live, but I do have two 'test' stations and it acquits itself very well there. Sonically, it is right up there with my other favorite tuners. Even when the signal is down to the very low two-bar area, it remains very listenable. In Auto Stereo mode, it knows to switch to the narrow IF when it encounters an HD station, and there is no flipping back and forth as I have seen on other high-quality tuners. I did tune up the alignment, but it was very close to begin with. I also added a felt washer behind the tuning knob to add some damping feel to it. However it still doesn't feel as good as my NAD 4300. Very much a keeper."
Our contributor Stephen reports, "While the TX-950 does have the 'option' of 40 presets, it only has 40 if you don't use the call letter storage feature (i.e., KLOS, KNAC, etc.) When you do use this feature, the TX-950 only allows 24 presets, same as the TX-930 which has 24 presets no matter how stations are stored. Also, the TX-930 has a multi-color display, instead of the monotone display found on the TX-950. Both are wireless remote-controllable tuners. Any Yamaha remote with tuner controls will operate the TX-540/550/900/930/950/1000/2000. All of these are remote-capable, dual-IF tuners. Earlier remote-capable multi-IF tuners such as the T-85 and TX-500/530 required the use of a Yamaha control center with the multi-pin remote cable. One of the main reasons I sold my T-85 and purchased a TX-1000 was for the convenience of the remote functions without having to have an earlier Yamaha control center with remote cables."
Like several other Yamahas, the TX-950 and TX-930 are fine tuners (notwithstanding some of the above comments) that have seen downward sale price trends on eBay: the recent TX-930 range is just $40-75, with a record low of $22 in 6/09 and a high of $128 in 8/10 (vs. the former typical range of $120-215), while TX-950s that used to sell for $140-280 now often fetch just $50-110 (with a record low of $32 in 4/09 and a high of $152 for a "new in box" one). A rare titanium-faced TX-930 went for just $75 in 8/10.
Yamaha TX-1000 (a/k/a TX-1000U) (1988, $550, photo, inside top, inside closeup, inside bottom, owner's manual, service manual 1, service manual 2) search eBay
The TX-1000 is a black-faced, remote control-capable digital tuner with the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs and great sensitivity. It has a similar MPX circuit to that of the T-85, but has a different front end and lacks the balanced mixer that the T-80 and T-85 have. The TX-1000 also has a different IF, with only two bandwidth choices vs. 4 for the T-85, and 4 ceramic filters in Narrow mode vs. the T-85's 5 in Super Narrow. Like the T-80 and T-85, and the TX-900/930/950, the TX-1000 can fine-tune in .01 MHz (10 kHz) increments. The TX-1000 is apparently identical to the TX-2000 except for the faceplate.
Our contributor Eli says, "Ergonomically, the TX-1000 is the worst tuner I have ever used, I think, although it's the best in every other respect." Here's his full review: "The TX-1000 will pick up stations that I can't get on the Technics ST-9030. The ergonomics of the secondary controls on the TX-1000 are not ideal, but the large tuning knob is nice. The preset buttons have no indicators to tell you which one is engaged; you have to check the monolithic display, which I don't find convenient. The lettering on the labels is also very small and low-contrast. The secondary controls (which can be hidden under a flip-up panel) are all indistinguishable small buttons with small labels that are not easy to read, at least in dim light. There is even a misspelling on one of them ('Display Sift' should be 'Display Shift'). It's stuff like this that makes me prefer the ergonomic design of the old analogs.
"Aside from the performance and the large tuning knob, the features I like most about the TX-1000 are the two antenna inputs (which I have already put to good use in comparing homemade antennas) and the fine-tuning increment (.01 MHz), which is a real benefit. I have at least one station that would be unlistenable without it due to a strong adjacent. I don't think any of my other tuners will even pick up this station. The 24-segment tuning meter is also very nice, more useful than any other tuning meter I've used. One other nice feature: you can enter a 4-digit station name into memory along with the other tuning settings (IF bandwidth, off-tuned frequency, etc.) for each preset station. I was also extremely happy to discover that the AM section is excellent! Even when the rheostat-controlled halogen and chandelier lamps are on in my living room and fluorescents are on in my kitchen, I get good clean AM reception with very nice fidelity. This is impossible with any other radio I have. The low readings I'm getting on AM make me want to try a much better AM antenna to see how good it can get."
Our panelist Bob bought a TX-1000 and said, "I like these Yamahas more and more. My new TX-1000 sounds pretty darn good with zero work or alignment." And then he bought another! "I just picked up a second Yamaha TX-1000, which is already one of my favorite tuners. It is possibly the best affordable digital that has a remote. (The unaffordable one is the Rotel RHT-10.) Many TX-1000s are sold without the remote, and Yamaha will tell you they no longer sell a TX-1000 remote. Ah, but we know the TX-2000 is the same tuner, and that remote is still sold. I bought the TX-2000 remote and it works fine with the 1000. The TX-1000 has a form of auto tune and saves all the settings into memory. That makes it nice using a remote to switch stations with all the settings intact." Bob added, "Inexpensive Philips universal remotes typically also have a code for Yamaha receivers, and I've found it also works for the Yamaha infrared remote capable tuners like the TX-1000." Bob compared the TX-1000 to a Sony ST-S730ES and says, "They are both pretty good stock. I tend to like the TX-1000 better as it has more capability for difficult station reception, which I need." See Bob's definitive writeup on the operation of the CSL (Computer Servo Lock) circuit in the series of posts beginning here, and there's more on the CSL in the string of posts here.
Our contributor PZ noted, "The TX-1000 has no separate switches for CSL or muting. Muting is on when the tuning mode is in AUTO, and off in MANUAL. The CSL is on by default, and goes off only when FINE TUNING is turned on. I press the button on some weak, hissy stations and they don't get muted, but there is no improvement either." And PZ added, "For people interested in a remote control for the TX-1000 who couldn't find one for cheap, I recommend trying a Yamaha amp/receiver remote instead. I have a DSP-A1 amp from 1998 and its remote can scan through the presets with 3 buttons. That's really all the original remote does with its 9 buttons."
Our contributor Dave notes that the TX-1000 is well-shielded, with "little copper fences" on the circuit board. Our contributor Miklos compared the TX-1000 to the T-85: "It is not much of a difference. The sensitivity is better on the T-85, the ultimate selectivity is the same, and I found the T-85's sound slightly more pleasant. There is more body to its midrange. Two views, two results, so they must be very close." [See the TX-2000 writeup below for the opposing view. - Editor] And our contributor doug s. calls the TX-1000 "a mighty fine-sounding and sensitive tuna, but not quite up to the level of the Rotel RHT10 and RT-990BX."
The TX-1000's 75-ohm coax jack requires a push-on F-connector, such as Radio Shack catalog #2780291. TX-1000 sale prices on eBay have been all over the place, with record lows of $132 and $133 in 8-9/09 and $125 in 8/10 and a bizarre all-time high of $760 in 1/05, but $175-350 is the typical range. The letter "U" in the model number denotes the U.S. version, as opposed to the international version with switchable voltage.
Yamaha TX-2000 (a/k/a TX-2000ti) (1988, $750, photo, owner's manual, service manual 1, service manual 2) search eBay
The very rare remote control-capable TX-2000 was at the top of the Yamaha line, more expensive than the TX-1000 but apparently identical inside. Our contributor PZ confirms that every number on the TX-2000's spec sheet and all the buttons and features on its front panel are the same as those on the TX-1000, and the tuners share the same service manual. The letters "ti" appear to refer to the "titanium finish" faceplate. See the TX-1000 writeup for information that applies as well to the TX-2000.
Our contributor Thrassyvoulos prefers the sound of his TX-2000 to that of his two T-85s: "From an audiophile point of view the difference was not subtle. If you have a well resolving system there is no doubt in my mind that you would agree that in almost every sonically relevant respect, the TX-2000 betters the T-85. In my opinion, the TX-2000 had audibly more body, as well as a slightly richer tonal balance. It was less lean and more lifelike. Of course, the T-85 has exceptional, stellar selectivity, while the TX-2000 performs 'just' very good in this respect." Our contributor Miklos has a different opinion, set forth in the TX-1000 writeup above. The TX-2000's 75-ohm coax jack requires a push-on F-connector, such as Radio Shack catalog #2780291. The TX-2000 usually sells for $300-400 on eBay, with a low of $166 in 9/09 and a surprising high of $650 in 10/07.