How Many TAS Readers Listen to FM?

Robert Harley -- Fri, 08/29/2008 - 11:42

I received this letter from a reader, and frankly, didn't know how important a source FM is to TAS readers. I'd love to hear from you about how much you listen to FM, and whether you'd like to see more tuner coverage in TAS. —Robert Harley

Mr. Harley-
Pardon me for asking such a random question - as in not related to any recent article or equipment review in TAS. I have been curious for some time now as to why analog radio itself appears to be a forgotten musical medium and analog radio tuners are all but forgotten equipment in audiophile magazines today, including TAS?

I have a Magnum Dynalab MD 102 analog FM tuner, with the Musical Fidelity X-10 V3 tube buffer in between my tuner and pre-amp. The musical results are fantastic, assuming my FM signal is good. And to help me in that regard as a clear signal can be a challenge in Boston, is the Magnum Signal Sleuth model 250 which really brings in the signal and cleans it up pretty well. No question that signal strength can be an issue, and may be the answer to my inquiry. But in most instances, I can get a very good quality signal.

I question whether I am missing something that everyone else has figured out, or if I am some sort of "fringe" audiophile that still listens to analog FM as a great source of music (and by the way, it's free!). I definitely listen more to my disc and vinyl collections at home and the iPod hookup in my car, but the radio is a great solution for a music source when you want variety, you want to hear the new artists developing and you want to hear what the new trends in popular and alternative music are. Also, in Boston I'm blessed some great Sunday morning jazz broadcasts which I look forward to and have picked up many new (and old) artists as a result.

When some of my friends listen to my tuner setup, they are blown away with the purity of sound that you can get via a good analog signal and corresponding receiving equipment. Is there any possibility of an article in the future regarding this topic? Maybe the article is part retro-review of the classic tuners from the 70's and also an analysis of todays leading edge audiophile equipment focused on this medium?

-Jeffrey Mead

llad -- Fri, 08/29/2008 - 13:57

I listen to FM only on Sundays. The rest of the time, when I do have time, I listen to vinyl, CDs, or SACDs. There are certain shows that are only on Sunday that I enjoy.

dougy -- Sat, 08/30/2008 - 22:09

I listen to the local NPR station (KRPS -Pittsburgh, KS) quite a bit. Especially since I got a new Onkyo tuner with HD. The complete absence of background noise is eery!

Unfortunately, other than that, there just isn't much to listen to. There are a couple of good oldies stations and a classic country station that I like, but that's about it. Too many stations share the same music format, it seems.

And the sound quality is uniformly poor once you stray from NPR. Most stations compress the life right out of their signal. It's a shame, because I remember when the FM dial was nearly empty, commercials were practically non-existant, and the sound quality was superb.

My tuner (Onkyo T-4555) also has Sirius and XM capability so I may try one of those services. You can't have too many choices!

jtshaw -- Mon, 09/01/2008 - 09:36

My local NPR station garners about 90% of my FM listening, with the remaining time spent with a university-based classical station. Several months ago I felt adventurous and purchased a Sangean HD Radio tuner
(http://www.sangean.com/product.php?model=HDT-1&prod_id=19), thinking that one of the commercial stations might do something interesting with their second HD channel. The proponents of HD radio have argued that the capacity for second and even third channels would promote greater variety in programming. No such luck in my city, at least thus far. The HD second channels are all modest variations on usual FM formats.

I am playing the Sangean through the AV input of an Arcam Solo, so I have had some fun comparing the sound of the two FM tuners. I do not notice much difference with NPR's news programing, but the Arcam sounds a touch warmer with classical programming. We have one AM station broadcasting in HD, and it definitely sounds better through the Sangean.

For my tastes, other than NPR, terrestrial radio is largely ignorable. While traveling this summer my rental car had a Sirius tuner, and I discovered that I really liked the programming and the sound of their channel 72 , which is devoted to jazz. The next vehicle I purchase will have satellite radio, and I may purchase a component satellite tuner for home.

Steven Stone -- Mon, 09/01/2008 - 09:54

I do all my FM listening through the Internet.

I can get every station I used to listen to on FM easier with a cleaner signal.

The Internet also offers numerous Web-only stations such as Kitchen Radio - www.kitchenradio.ca - that rival the best FM stations in terms of quality and diversity.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Robert Harley -- Mon, 09/01/2008 - 11:19

Is the sound quality from Internet radio as good as FM (or better)?

wayne325 -- Sat, 07/31/2010 - 14:42

I don't have an answer to the question being asked, but peripherally.... I listen to the Linn stations (MP3 at 320 kbps) through my Transporter and it's pretty good - I'd say it's approaching CD quality.

RanaKabir -- Thu, 08/05/2010 - 19:43

NO. The aggressive bitrate compression used by 99% of the stations to conserve server bandwidth (read money) dries up the sound. This may be acceptable to the MP3 crowd but if you have a good tuner such as the Magnum Dynalab you will get a better sound. (One component that is good for the money is the SONY XDR-F1HD HD RADIO TUNER. I prefer the sound of this unit over most Internet streams.) However the potential is there. Its simply a matter of streaming higher quality data. I can imagine a future when LossLess streams are used that rival SACDs.

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies
 

vignaujdan@aol.com -- Mon, 08/16/2010 - 21:33

Internet radio: good FM:: Juke Box: A great Moving coil cartridge.

Steven Stone -- Mon, 09/01/2008 - 11:33

Internet radio comes in many sound quality levels.

I look for at least 64 kbps through-put rates.

Kitchen radio has 128 kbps and sounds very good.

Of course you are trading one kind of distortion for another.

FM has multipath, Intermodulation distortion, birdies, high frequency roll-off, and noise.

Internet has compression artifacts which can manifest as phasiness and midrange suck-out.

Both can suffer from too much compression and processing.

A high bit-rate doesn't guarantee good Internet radio sound as some stations keep their compressors and processors on their Internet feed even though they aren't necessary.

A high bit-rate Internet radio feed will, with all other aspects (processing) being equal, give you a cleaner and more convincing signal than FM.

Also I dare you to get a listenable signal from an FM radio station located in Boston if you live in Denver except through Internet radio...

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

vignaujdan@aol.com -- Thu, 12/15/2011 - 10:22

I can't help but wonder: Does a thousand dollar (1979 money) FM tuner designed for high end audio applications have better sound than a very cheap chip designed to power teeny-tiny computer speakers?

Hmmmm.

Syd -- Sun, 09/14/2008 - 00:04

I must say Robert, that the letter you posted could have just as easily been written by me. FM is my primary music source and to that end I invested in a Magnum Dynalab MD109 tuner and haven't looked back. I have many good quality FM stations in my area and the sound quality that I am experiencing is beyond belief. I love it.

allmeads -- Sun, 10/19/2008 - 08:01

I was the one who originally wrote to Mr. Harley about listening to FM. Reading the comments, my sense is a minority use an analog FM tuner as a music source. Living in Boston, I have many choices of music stations, so the opportunity for variety is there for me. I have to say, as the most recent post suggests, the FM source can be a GREAT source of high-quality music, especially with some of the high-end analog tuners out there. I usually listen to FM in the mornings before going to the office, Sunday mornings for jazz and days where I want to hear what is new in rock, alternative, etc. It is not like I listen to FM primarily - Exclusive to my car which tends to be a mix of iPod, CD and radio, I'd say that the majority of my at home listening is a toss up between CD and vinyl, with vinyl creeping past the digital listening.
I have found internet radio to be OK, but not great in terms of fidelity. I hear a difference between an analog signal and a digital signal; I just think the dynamic range is greater. But internet listening sure makes sense from a cost of equipment perspective.
The biggest challenge is the signal - stating the obvious, that makes or breaks the listening experience. I'd agree with Syd's posting, his experience is exactly like mine.
I would be interested in an article in TAS about analog FM radio, along with a review of equipment that is out there in the market today. The best thing about FM broadcasts, that expect for the initial equipment investment, the music is free and represents no storage issues whatsoever!

-Jeff

Robert Harley -- Sun, 10/19/2008 - 17:18

Quote:The best thing about FM broadcasts, that expect for the initial equipment investment, the music is free and represents no storage issues whatsoever!

That's true. It's like having a giant music server that streams music to your home---without the cost or hassle.

mecolwell -- Wed, 12/17/2008 - 09:37

I listen to a lot of FM, and here in Portland, Or, we have a few great sounding stations, a lot of crappy sounding ones.
The great ones, on my fully refurbished and modded 60's vintage Dyna FM-3, sound very good, indeed, no noise, multipath, or other anomolies.
Our "Adult Album" station, KINK, plays most of their music from a server, which sounds quite good, with CD's, even an occasional vinyl.
They have been on the air from 1968, starting as a "Progressive FM Station", and are about as close as we can expect in 2008.
I have "DX"ed FM for decades, and will continue.
Mike 
 

VinylGuy

financespeciali... -- Fri, 07/30/2010 - 11:14

A question was asked about the lack of analog FM tuners on teh market. The reason is cost to build. A tuner would have to be truly exceptioonal to warrant a price that would be at least $1000 in todays dollars. People would have to be paid to assemble expensive parts (quantity and quality) to justify the price. Since so many great tuners from the 70s and early 80s are available, there would be no marlet. A digital tuner is made by a robot from a chip or two and a box. DanV

Unwifefriendly

twardini -- Mon, 10/20/2008 - 14:27

I've got an old M-D FT101A tuner, a Signal Sleuth amplifier, and a rooftop antenna that I use to pull in WBGO, a jazz/blues NPR station 50 miles away in Newark, NJ. If you become a subscriber, they send you a monthly program guide that details special concerts, etc. I enhance my CD and vinyl collection by capturing "live" concerts, not commercially available, onto a TEAC reel to reel deck. The sound quality is wonderful, and the recording process is a pleasurable way to spend time collecting otherwise unobtainable performances.

Vade Forrester (not verified) -- Tue, 12/16/2008 - 19:16

I listen to FM radio quite a bit, but in my city, we have a 24-hour classical music station that produces most of their own programs and takes care to broadcast good sound. I don't have a fancy tuner - just a Denon TU-1500RD sourced from eBay. It still sounds great, and lets me audition lots of music I would never otherwise hear.
I'd welcome TAS coverage of radio gear, including Sirius XM.

cerrot -- Fri, 12/26/2008 - 11:00

I enjoy FM as well.  McIntosh modded MR78, Signal Sleuth and outdoor antenna and it's an awesome source, though limited by availability of programs.  I like the convenience of Internet Radio but the quality just isn't as good as a good, clean FM signal.  I have recorded numerous hours of jazz off of FM onto my Alesis Masterlink and made some nice compilation CD's of music I would not have come across.  When I find something I like, I do hunt for thr LP or CD, and have built up my library nicely from this. 

mecolwell -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:59

Has anyone heard or had experience with "HD Radio"??
I guess it's a digital signal over the top of the analog broadcast, from my understanding of it.
Iffy about how well that would work in a moving vehicle, or how it would sound at home.
Anyone????
Mike

VinylGuy

financespeciali... -- Sat, 02/27/2010 - 17:41

HD radio is to NPR FM as IPOD is to Direct to Disc recordings. If you are reading this, you are not likely willing to suffer from HD or IPOD compression. Unfortunately, now most FM stations use humongous amounts of compression. Let's be grateful for College and NPR stations, as well as a few jazz and classical stations.

It does not seem too terrible when compared to over modulated commercial stations in a car.

Unwifefriendly

RanaKabir -- Thu, 08/05/2010 - 19:29

Yes and it does sound pretty good. The $100 SONY XDR-F1HD is exceptional in this regard. I found myself listening to broadcast radio again after acquiring this unit.

Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies
 

williamsims -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 17:58

I listen mostly to classical music via a Magnum-Dynalab Etude tuner.  Over the past 20 years my FM-listening has diminished radically, owing to the dumbing down of classical music programming in both New York and Philadelphia (I live in central New Jersey).  Except for the occasional live Met or Bayreuth concert, I hardly listen at all.  Having said that, I'd welcome a bit more coverage, given that other TAS music lovers are undoubtedly better served by the medium than I am.

sanokistoka -- Wed, 01/14/2009 - 17:22

I use an Etude as well to listen to and record on reel-to-reel the BSO live every Saturday night and not much else.

Bob Bubeck -- Sat, 06/06/2009 - 16:26

I continue to listen to FM via a 'cherry' Tandberg 3001A tuner and a KLH Model 21-II table radio. There are two public radio stations (WKAR - Lansing, MI and WCMU - Mt. Pleasant, MI) that I can receive that have classical and jazz programming.  I can receive many other stations, but the ones worthwhile for me are the two I mentioned. FM does still open one's listening to a variety of music that one might othewise miss out on. Both of my sources -- I am the original owner for both -- continue to give great service despite their advancing age. The Tandberg is seductively musical when the material permits. Good vintage analogue FM tuners are the comfort food of audio equipment -- a bit like visiting times past. Twirl that knob!
 
I also listen in my automobile and over the internet. WKAR has excellent "reach" in my area of Michigan (flat terrain) so one can easily drive for 2 hours and keep listening. An internet favorite for me is WRTI in Philly.
 
Bob Bubeck

Johlke (not verified) -- Tue, 06/30/2009 - 13:47

To quote an old Journey song, I was "raised on radio."  While I love vinyl and disc, I am one of the (relatively) lucky few whose area is served by several really good FM stations (classical, jazz and blues, classic rock, modern rock, classic country), so most of my day is spent accompanied by FM radio broadcasts.  I know that we DXers are a dying breed, but I love the variety, that I always get to hear new music, and the surprise of not knowing what's coming up next.  Now, if radio would only go back to the "free form" format whereby disc jockeys got to choose and play their own music, then I'd be in pure musical heaven.

roadrunner (not verified) -- Thu, 07/02/2009 - 11:03

Living in Mansfield, Ohio I must say there is nothing on the fm dial here. I listern to XM, no commercials more variety, I have a Delphi Skyfi for the car and a Polk for the house. Having said this I miss the NPR station I used to listen to when I lived in Columbus. I don't think I could go back to listening to music on commercial radio, way to many commercials, not enough variety.

Romy (not verified) -- Sun, 10/25/2009 - 23:28

*** I received this letter from a reader, and frankly, didn't know how important a source FM is to TAS readers. I'd love to hear from you about how much you listen to FM, and whether you'd like to see more tuner coverage in TAS.
I am not the “TAS reader” but the nature of your question indicates TAS absurd stupidity on the subject. Do you think TAS need to explore another domain of audio where TAS is I incredibly incompetent and inept but trying to erect itself in a position of some kind of stupid authority? Stick to whatever you badly but what has well-oiled.
 
Romy the Cat

Romy (not verified) -- Sun, 10/25/2009 - 23:29

*** I received this letter from a reader, and frankly, didn't know how important a source FM is to TAS readers. I'd love to hear from you about how much you listen to FM, and whether you'd like to see more tuner coverage in TAS.
I am not the “TAS reader” but the nature of your question indicates TAS absurd stupidity on the subject. Do you think TAS need to explore another domain of audio where TAS is I incredibly incompetent and inept but trying to erect itself in a position of some kind of stupid authority? Stick to whatever you badly but what has well-oiled.
 
Romy the Cat

mecolwell -- Mon, 10/26/2009 - 08:18

Good morning.
An update to an earlier post. I recently upgraded my Controller to an Onkyo Pro, which has HD radio. If the station has an HD component, I have it prioritized to the digital signal, and I prefer that one over the analog, on all the stations I have compared. Also, some "HD-2" channels are now present, with one being a Blues channel, and one a Jazz channel..both commercial free!
I would like some coverage, in the reviews, about this, another viable music source to add to the stable, along with my vinyl, CD, and SACD sources.
Mike 
 

VinylGuy

jack d ii -- Tue, 01/05/2010 - 11:48

I used my Magnum Dynalab Elite tuner a good deal in Oklahoma City.  Since moving to Clemson, SC, it's a waste of time.  OKC had a couple of university stations, an independent, plus the usual.  The university stations were good quality as was the independent.  Hard to listen for very long to the rock, pop, country stations.

 Jack D II

Michael -- Fri, 01/08/2010 - 21:42

I too suffer from a lack of content in my area.  Only in the last 6 months has a decent station emerged (my opinion).  This stand-alone station does not warrant re-establishing an FM capability in my system in my calculus.  This relegates FM to traffic reports in my commute.  I had high hopes for XM/Sirius and HD radio; but, in my experience, they are nie on unlistenable.  For now my listening consists of SACD and CD files from a server via outboard DAC.  Internet radio is only a factor at my basement bar or table radios. 

Chuck (not verified) -- Sat, 01/09/2010 - 07:06

I listen to FM. I have two tuners. A Sunday morning tradition is to read the paper, surf the web, and listen to classical music on the tuner.
 

bobboyer -- Sun, 01/10/2010 - 10:30

Lack of content is what keeps me from llistening more as I love the "server-ness" of a tuner without the cost of the server.
However, with only two decent signals in town - both college-based public radio stations - one which plays classical, some of which is locally programmed, and the other which plays anything (mostly NPR news) that sells - there's not a lot out there. I enjoy the synidacated jazz show late nights on the NPR affiliate and the classical station is a good way to hear interesting stuff, but over on the commercail side it's a wasteland.
Too bad; I got through college working 6-midnight at a truly magical progressive FM station in town that has long since disappeared.

SLLAVG -- Sun, 01/10/2010 - 10:57

 I do listen to FM at home, here in the Washington, DC area, but at work I listen on the internet. We're fortunate to be within reach of Baltimrore's WBJC, a superb classical radio station, soon to be back on the internet they say, and DC's WETA, a good classical station.

hynek001 -- Sun, 02/21/2010 - 17:22

I would add a few thoughts to Jeffrey's: -

1. Listening to a well restored top of the line FM receiver from the 70's can easily make one believe that FM receivers reached a pinnacle at that time.

2. Live analog FM broadcasts can be an exceptionally high quality format.

3. There are some fantastic internet sites that deal exclusively with FM equipment. See http://www.fmtunerinfo.com/

4. The above site maintains detailed reports of shootouts between FM receivers that sets a benchmark for equipment reviews.

5. It is thought provoking to consider how good a live FM broadcast can sound given its limited frequency range.

financespeciali... -- Sat, 02/27/2010 - 17:57

fmtunerinfo.com is a tremendous site, but don't get the idea that tuners not tested by them are necessarily inferior to some others. They can't test everything. Yahoo groups: Vintage FM tuners is also excellent. I recently upgraded my bought new 30 year old Kenwood KT-615 and recently acquired KT-815, SAE, Mitsubishi DA-F20, and Sansui TU-717 tuners for the one I wanted 30 years ago while paying for grad school expenses: a more than pristine KT-917, all based on the info in these sites. Just remember, when listening with an FM tuner, don't base your opinion on the equivalent to a 30 dollar stereo cartridge or CD player. There are indeed Koetsus out there in tuner land, and yes, most of them 20-30 years old.

Unwifefriendly

Bob Bubeck -- Sun, 02/28/2010 - 15:13

fmtunerinfo.com and the Yahoo group on vintage FM tuners are great resources and a lot of fun. Permit me, however, to offer a few cautions:

1. In all fairness, the stewards of the site, in essence, caution that the 'shoot outs' are for fun and not to be taken too literally. Many comparisons were done in series one against another over time and not simultaneously. It might have been more useful to group the range of tuners commented upon into, say, three catagories such as "Superior", "Average, and "Below Average" to get away from a hard Consumer Reports ranking syndrome. But, everybody likes a horse race.

2. There are a few frequenters of the Yahoo group who tend to make claims about the sonic superiority of one tuner over another and have only a limited basis for the claims made. There is a heavy reliance on 'audio memory'. So when you read a comment such as, "This is a good tuner but I've heard 20 others that are better sounding.",  it is best to keep in mind that all 21 were not on hand at the same time. Judgements about the relative worth of different tuners are sometimes offered comparing a heavily modified version of one vintage tuner vs. an unmodified version of yet another, which adds to the listening variables.

Other than that, have fun!

Bob Bubeck
 

vignaujdan@aol.com -- Wed, 12/14/2011 - 16:05

I really do not care for the sound of internet radio. At the same time, I practically could not live without XM in my car and workshop. Despite the fact that both have a lot of programming, the purity of sound is just not there. Also, I am in East Central Florida where reception is terrible, and like blues, classical, hard rock, and jazz; whereas, we only have part time NPR, Ghetto, Idiot, Latin and Top 40 Of Classic Rock down here. And preacher stations: Lots of preacher stations.

Concerning fmtunerinfo.com, they are right on the mark on their evaluation of the tuners I have owned. My B&K TS 108 (It became a Fanfare) is the best sounding, with the Kenwood KT-917, Mitsubishi -F20, and Sansui TU717 very close behind. The Sansui can be a little better sounding than the other two, but is comparitively cheaply built , with controls going scratchy and tuning strings breaking, both in my experience and in the blogs.

Fmtunerinfo.com is certainly right about the need for an audio upgrade for the KT-815 (the same as the 615 sonically), but I kept them for bedroom and workshop systems because they will not even sell for the cost of shipping and have excellent sensitivity. I use them on NPR in my workshop and bedroom because their main weakness is bass; classical and folk are fine on them ( for secondary systems); and, they are pretty!

The B&K is a pain to set up, but worth the effort once you get the presets programmed. It is, however, butt ugly! Hey, for $300 new in the 90's vs. $1000 for the KT-917 in the 70's, sacrifices were made.

But remember, they only tested a small sample of tuners available to them. When the KT-815 finished as "One of the top 100 tuners in the world!" (Ebay ad), it was only on the list because they tested it. There are many Yamaha, Sony, Denon, etc. tuners that sound better, but did not get in the comparison.

DanV

Gone are my Sansui, KT917 (CRT fir me) and Mitsu tuners. I was afraid that the FCC would Get rid of anolog audio and sold them. Now I have the KT615 I bought new in grad school, A Kt815 and a really decent sounding B&K TS-108 that was recommended on fmtunerinfo.com. As pretty and fun as the KT917 is, I could not justify having such a valuable piece that was no longer used due to the suoerior sound of the B&K, which apparently became a Fanfare tuner in a later incarnation.

Hal Owen -- Thu, 03/11/2010 - 22:53

 Regarding FM listening habits, I enjoy NPR, (adult radio to former broadcasters,) both at work and in the car and little else.  Here in Los Angeles, KCRW broadcasts news and information from around mid day to about 7:30 most weekday/nights and for me, that's it.  I don't have an FM tuner in my listening room and haven't bothered to activate the FM section of my first or second receiver in my video room since retiring from radio some thirteen years ago.  As much as I love the sound of vinyl, I can't resist the convenience of CD/SACDs.  Best regards, Hal Owen       

Mr Plus -- Fri, 03/12/2010 - 07:34

 Consider yourselves lucky, guys.
 
In the UK, we still have a fine set of public-service broadcasts from the BBC. BBC Radio Three (Classical) and Radio Four (Current affairs, news, radio plays, etc) and even some occasional interesting programming on BBC Radio Two (blues, folk, indie music). These are still broadcast on FM. We also have DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast, or Digital Radio); the UK was a pioneer in making digital terrestrial radio broadcasting, but this also means some of the technology is behind the curve. The sound quality of DAB is considered by many to be inferior to FM and DAB stations routinely report low listener figures, but despite these things, the FM service has been scheduled for closure this decade.
 
From a buyer's perspective, this creates something of a dilemma. Do you go for a high-quality and expensive FM tuner, despite the fact it might be rendered useless in five years time, or choose a DAB tuner and suck up the so-so sound of tomorrow (the best I've tested thus far was a NAD Masters Series model, which makes the best of a bad job, but the performance of DAB itself is compromised)?
 
So far, it seems most audiophiles have taken the former route, buying good quality Linn, Magnum Dynalabs and Naim tuners, or buying products like the NAD, which is also a very good FM tuner as well. But with the proposed (and seemingly unattainable at this time) cut-off date as early as 2015, that cannot prove to be sustainable. 
 
Internet radio is a fine alternative to DAB, but fails to get anything like the coverage it deserves to in the UK. This might have something to do with the two rival broadcasters having interests elsewhere (BBC being heavily involved with DAB and Sky having its own satellite radio through TV service). Recently, the BBC has been promoting its online Listen Again and iPlayer services, but more as adjuncts to its digital radio and TV stations, not as internet radio or TV in its own right. We face an uphill battle to give internet radio the credibility it deserves in the UK.
 
The concern is the key result to all this is apathy. Faced with the inevitability of FM coming to an end and relatively mediocre sound from DAB as it currently stands, listeners are retreating to playing radio through portable mono devices. We've definitely seen this appearing in surveys, as radio went from being one of the key interests of audiophiles to almost a non-issue in the space of a couple of years. Hopefully this will sort itself out, but in the meantime, I'm having to play down tuners for now.

Alan Sircom
Editor, Hi-Fi Plus Magazine
London, England
editor [at] hifiplus [dot] com

prepress -- Fri, 03/12/2010 - 10:36

I have a Denon TU-800 tuner, a former class B recommended component in Stereophile (1989!) which sounds quite good still. I have begun recently to listen to FM again, and even thought of getting a Magnum Dynalab (the model that does AM as well), but need to wait for my financial situation to become clear. My listening now is mainly on weekends, but as I become better organized and am able to listen more to my system in general, FM should get its share of time.

mecolwell -- Fri, 03/12/2010 - 15:50

I recently upgraded my HT/Music system controller to an Onkyo Pro PRC-885 (Integra 9.8), and sold my old, restored Vintage Dyna tube tuner on Audiogon.
The Onkyo sounds really good, but the old restored Dyna was better. An unexpected bit of enjoyment has been the Onkyo's "HD Radio" tuner, which I feel, surprisingly, the digital side of the local broadcasts slightly edges out the analog side, with the benefit of some new "sideband" (HD-2) channels of Blues, jazz, etc.
So, with that, I probably listen to more FM, now, than before.
We are fortunate here in Portland, Or, to have 3 excellent sounding FM stations, classical and jazz (public), and one Adult Album oriented station (KINK--playing music from the 60's to the current bands like Kings Of Leon, etc)), which is locally owned and sounds great, as well.
Enjoy.
Mike

VinylGuy

Cabiner -- Mon, 08/16/2010 - 19:48

Upon retiring up in the mountains north of Montreal, I sold my Magnum Dynalab 106T and, although I listen to most of my usual stations thru satelite service (digital out to new Magnum integrated with DAC), I miss the wonderful sound that the MD 106T provided.
Even thinking of installing an antena on new home or may wait for high speed internet to get radio signal there.  Regardless, it won't have that great analog sound.
 
Bob

JA FANT -- Fri, 10/15/2010 - 20:03

I listen to my local NPR station several times per week.

Michael James -- Mon, 11/08/2010 - 00:00

 I still listen to FM analog radio on my old Magnum Dynalab Etude.

There are some internet radio stations that "broadcast" at a higher bit rate and sound much better than others... but for my taste, the medium still has a "cold", shallow sound to it that leaves it falling short of being completely musical to me (even for  background music). 

 
 
 

Do you want to better or do you want to be good?
 

daniel88 -- Wed, 12/14/2011 - 11:53

 I listen  to Fm all the time, I think AM not  working in my country.

DuglasS -- Thu, 12/15/2011 - 07:45

As for me, I like listening to FM while working. It helps me concentrate on something important. I can't do anything in silence. It gets on my nerves, frankly speaking. In fact, I like music, but it is annoying to listen to the same songs in my playlist, so I prefer to listen to the radio instead. Besides, music helps to relax and I have even recently boughr a special CD disc with relaxing music. I have spent a sufficient ampount of money to buy it, but I don't regret, because it is really great. It is better to spend some cash and listen to quality music and sound rather than buy cheap discs of bad quality.

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Amandela77 -- Sat, 12/17/2011 - 17:20

I think Mr.Mead poses the wrong question.

To my way of thinking, the question isn't whether we TAS readers listen to FM broadcasts, but rather, how many decent FM stations remain that deserve our time?

Having lived in Chicago for many years, I can count on one hand the number of decent FM stations in the greater Chicago area worth listening to. First and foremost is the great WFMT, one of the few remaining classical stations that broadcasts an uncompressed signal. Add a smattering of NPR affiliates, one or two jazz stations (not all full-time) and thats it.

If I was rich, I would purchase a nice Magnum Dynalab Tuner to listen to WFMT, but not otherwise.
 

Amandela77

NickinWA -- Fri, 12/30/2011 - 12:05

Been a minimal lurker here for couple of years; and, for selfish reasons, will start finally participating.
I listen to FM broadcasts in my car. I don't have a tuner at home. I listen to local jazz, public radio, and, if I can get it, a local classical station. The antenna amplifier on my VW is toast, so I am limited in what I can pull in. BUT I still totally enjoy listening to the limited FM stations that I can get. The few times I have needed to rent a car and end up listening to the satellite radio, I get really annoyed at the clear, but TOTALLY uninvolving sound I get from that signal. I often just end up turning it off because it just gets on my nerves. I guess I should, in those instances, see if I can use the rental car radio for FM.
Since I miss having a radio at my home ~15 miles north of Seattle (Edmonds, WA), I am considering getting some type of FM Tuner for myself as a Christmas gift. I just have to figure out what is the best form to get a FM signal, radio with home antenna, internet, or what. Any of the readers have any experience out here in the Seattle area?
Nick

gcsakakini@yahoo.com -- Fri, 12/30/2011 - 16:11

I listen to NPR probably as much or even more than  I listen to other sources. I have a  Magnum Dyanlab antenna mounted in my attic and use the tuner section in my processor (Marantz AV 8300). I have always been curious if upgrading to a Magnum Dynalab tuner or using their Super Slueth would make that much of a difference in sound quality. I live in a fringe area (Beaufort, SC and sometimes the signal isn't the best since the closest classical stations are in Charleston SC and Savannah, GA. I would like to see TAS  write on the subject.

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