Saturday, April 14, 2012

KPAC back to stereo; Pioneer F-26 beats Marantz 2130

Early Saturday AM I came home from work and turned on the Marantz.  I then tuned it from KSYM which I had been jamming to on Saturday AM to KPAC for background music.  After a couple minutes I realized I had forgotten to engage the Mono switch.  Went back to stereo.  No hiss!  Took a look at Marantz scope.  Rather than a tiny trace below the centerline, KPAC was now visible as a full width trace well above the centerline.  KPAC is back to full power after 6 months and I can get quiet stereo again!

The Marantz sounded very quiet, pleasant, and musical on KPAC in stereo.  But it was time for the shootout with my big dog, the Pioneer F-26.

Both are very pleasant, musical, quiet, spacious, wide stereo separation.  The difference is very slight.  The Pioneer is a tad lighter sounding, less midbass, possibly a tad more high frequency noise.  I suspect the greater apparent HF noise results from a slightly less rolled off deemphasis.  The Pioneer is more transparent, 3 dimensional.

An audiophile can get very worked up by things like this, give the losing tuner a bad name.  It should be emphasized that the sonic difference here is very slight.  I sometimes thought I was listening to the Pioneer when I was listening to the Marantz.  I could be happy with either one in my main system.  Sometimes the Marantz actually sounds more pleasant than the Pioneer.  Both of these tuners have a tone that seems every so slightly soft compared with reality, and somewhat more soft than most Kenwood tuners I've heard.

But I bought Marantz for my kitchen radio shack,' a role that it is perfect for.  It's slightly more softened sound is just the ticket for my very transparent Revell M20 speakers that are almost close enough to be near field, and for exploring the FM dial with all the convenient front panel controls and scope.  The F-26 works great with my living room planar system, where I mainly just keep it tuned to KPAC, which I can listen to all over the house.

The old KPAC 10Khz buzz is gone!!!  Hurray!!!   After 15 years and complaints to the station engineer, they finally fixed it during a transmitter rebuild.  Early saturday AM, however, there was low frequency hum, especially noticable during announcements, receding but not going entirely away on music.  Well that should be obvious to more people and get fixed soon I hope.

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