Antique Collector Installment 2
By Steven Stone
Scotts' first FM tuner, the 310A was introduced in December 1954. It was boxy, 4 1/2 " by 13" by 10 1/4" housed in a metal case. Its 11 tubes all pointed downward. This tuner predates the "Scott Look" (Circular Vernier tuning dial, backlight, and small centrally
located tuning meter, beveled edges with rounded corners, and the golden - bronze color) devised by Marketing head Victor Pomper and Sales Manager Marvin Grossman.
The 310 series were Scotts' top-of-the-line tuner models. The last 310, the 310E was made in the last half of 1963, and was the only 310 with built-in multiplex circuitry. All previous 310 models required an outboard multiplex adapter for stereo operation. The fabled 4310 was really a 310 in spirit. The 4310 was made for only one year, 1963, and is the most sought after Scott tuner, with used prices in the $1000 to $1500 range. When you consider it was listed for $480 in 1963, which in 1987 dollars is about $1475, it has just about held its value. It was outrageously expensive in 1963, and in 1987 is still exorbitant.
Scotts' numbering methodology had almost no logic whatsoever. While 310s were more expensive than 311s, and 350s were better than 370s, 350s were also better than 314s and 312s. Only a set of price lists, or a chart of when each unit was made, and its' list price can clarify Scotts' numerical and alphabetical avalanche of models. While the following chart may seem a bit complicated, it does give a clear idea of what was released when, and is far easier than pouring over the individual yearly price lists from which it was compiled.
Rather than go through each individual model, one by one, I'm going to pick representative products from each series for more in depth review. While a 310C is different than a 310D, they are similar enough that both need not be discussed in detail. In some cases such as the 330C and 330D, the differences are primarily in the front panels and AM circuits, the FM tube complement and arrangement are identical.
The 310C was made from October 1959 to September 1960. It was the first of the 310 series to have a multiplex output jack, so with the addition of a Scott 335 multiplex adapter you can have stereo sound. The front panel sports the Scott trademark circular backlit tuning dial, an on-off switch, a distant-local switch, and an output level knob, and a Dynaural noise suppression knob. Its measured IHFM sensitivity is 2.1 uv. It has no AFC circuit because Scott tuners don't need one. A 1957 ad for the 310B tuner, quotes a satisfied owner "I tuned my 310 to WXHR, Boston, left it there for several weeks, simply turning it on and off each day. The 310 didn't drift off station once." My own experience with the model 310C confirms that Scott owners' testimonial.
The sound of the 310C is on the warm side. It makes commercial rock stations sound better than most transistor tuners I've heard. The top end is very good, unlike many tuners of the l959, some of which had as much as 6 db top end roll-off at 15KHZ. Cymbals retain their sizzle, and flutes still have their air over the 310C. Bass response is rounder and fuller than neutral, with a slight mid-bass hump. The midrange is the 310s glory. Disco, Heavy Metal, New wave; it all sounds wonderful through the 310. Yes, it's euphonic as the blazes, but when you stop to consider how many stations the 310C makes listenable, it's worth having around even if you already own a state-of-the-art transistor tuner.
The soundstage of the 310C with the outboard MPX adapter is remarkable. It equals the width of the Magnum Dynalab FT 101 tuner, and is wider than the Scott 350. The focus is also excellent, noticeably better than the 350. On Friday afternoon and Saturday evening live broadcasts from Boston’s' Symphony Hall, the 310 retains all the spatial information, and depth of the broadcast.
The question has come up "How do you judge FM tuner quality since there is no standard reference source, like a favorite record that you can slap on for comparison?" My favorite reference source for harmonic balance is the human voice, and what voice is more repeatable than that of a disk jockey? My favorite reference voice is that of Robert J. Lurtsema, from NPR member station WGBH. I've been using his voice for years for fine-tuning subwoofer and bi-amp setups. It is just low enough that excess midbass becomes painfully obvious. At 7:00 AM, when he first comes on, he uses about five minutes of bird sounds from Tanglewood to open his program. What better way to check high-end response than the sound of small feathered creatures in heat? I have a subscription to the Boston Symphony, and very often I tape, and listen, to the Friday broadcasts of concerts I attended Thursday evening. Sometimes it is amazing just how close to the actual live sound the broadcast sound can get. Dynamics are compressed by the radio station to avoid blowing up their transmitter, but soundstage information, and
overall harmonic balance are retained very nicely.