Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thoughts about modern vs vintage tuners

I posted this to FMTuners:

Substitute "Kenwood L-02T" or "Sansui TU-X1" for 10B, then you have interesting

Answer: Accuphase continues to march on making superb tuners for analog FM
broadcasting, other old names have either thrown in the towel altogether or
aren't spending enough money on it anymore. There is little chance that the
circumstances that led to the great tuner race of the late 1970's to early
1980's will occur again. There are a few recent fairly serious tuner makers now
like Magnum Dynalab, and a whole cottage industry of tuner restorers, modifiers,
and tweakers. And there is a huge glut of old units that have been cast off,
just waiting to be modified, restored, etc. And most of them can be made to
sound as good or better than 10B

HD digital subcarrier broadcasting squeezes your actual bandwidth/bitrate down
to practically nothing. The information in a full analog broadcast is
potentially greater than CD. It relies on psychoacoustic masking like most
lossy compression systems. Such masking isn't perfect, the ill effects can
easily be heard. But those who just want low noise can be fooled.

I've never hard a 10B, but my current opinion is that the 20B was Dick
Sequerra's best tuner because it gets key details right. A single RF amp, air
capacitor tuning, and very wideband IF and detector. This SS tuner dates from
mid 1960's early SS but is still a classic that other designers should know
about. OTOH, 10B uses two RF amps and is prone to IM, in fact the IM is always
there, has a relatively narrow "compromise" IF, and a vestigal MPX decoder that
throws away half of the stereo subcarrier to reduce noise, not a good place to
start IMO. But there are a limited number of 10B's, it has a legend and a cult,
and it's cool looking and I've bid on them too.

There is a lot of potential wrt digital RF sampling and processing, but other
than Accuphase, nobody is pushing the technological envelope for receiving
analog broadcasts in greater true fidelity. Digital Tuners are generally made
for car radios and generally focus on eliminating noise through dynamic noise
suppression and other trickery that doesn't make for the highest fidelity. In
general, there is no substitute for linearity and wide bandwidth, but someone is
always trying to sell one.

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