I had great fun rolling tuners on the weekend of April 15th. Ended up with 2130 installed in Kitchen, as planned, and loving it. Here's one email to a friend on Monday:
I had a wonderful weekend playing with 3 tuners, F-26, Marantz 2130, and MR 78.
I like what the Marantz does, it's very sweet and is better than any tuner at rejecting bad sounds in its wide mode which is, just like the 20B, very wide. It just as quiet or quieter than Pioneer under real reception conditions. I strongly believe it's quieter than KT-8300 especially in the mid range of signal strength from 30-60dBf, though this is from memory. It's narrow is quite narrow, but the MR78 still has narrower super narrow, which might be nice for that function. The Pioneer is ultimately more transparent and 3D and more neutral frequency balance. But my F-26 is playing with hands tied behind it's back. The auto function refuses to go into wide on KPAC or any of the stations I listen to. I wonder if it is making this choice correctly. The 2130 sounds best it its wide mode on these channels with no apparent interference. I think I want to defeat the Pioneer auto-narrow somehow, then the F-26 could be EVEN BETTER. IMO, the F-26 would work fine for me as a wide-only tuner, like the Marantz 20B. Then, when I want to do DX'ing, I can use the narrow on the Marantz 2130, which I could get in narrow mode only (it has separate IF's). I don't need to do DX'ing on my living room system. The Marantz has earned it's place in my Kitchen system, based on Revel M20 speakers, for reflexively spinning the dial, always sounding good, and DX'ing, and is better for that than I had imagined. The more transparent Pioneer stays in the living room where its virtues can be appreciated.
The MR78 has that cool needle-like super-narrow (which actually uses a crystal filter imperfectly, it's not Modafferi's RIMO filters doing that) and, in it's "wide" (compromise) mode sounds clear, very clear, when everything is quiet. But the least bit of multipath or something sets it off with a kind of crinkling sound, which sounds especially bad on the MR78. The Pioneer actually has the same problem. The Marantz just rejects that noise, whatever it is.
My current theory: the crinkling sound is loss of capture. The super-wide everything on the Marantz gets the capture ratio down to 0.8, and it really holds on. And possibly some other way they handled the IF, makes it capture beautifully. Imagine tuning from 88.3 to 88.7 with nothing much in between. As you get to around 88.4 the marantz is still sounding undistorted, no crackling sounds, though stereo carrier is lost (by that time, the MR78 in wide has lost the signal in a downpour of aggressive noise). You don't start getting crackling sounds until you are approaching 88.5. Then, they don't last long, the capture effect quickly captures 88.7. This is not AFC (or at least I don't think it is, you get something like AFC with the quartz lock, and that is best left off), it's the result of wide band IF with good capture ratio.
FWIW the 2130 specs, even the RF specs, are better than 8300. It's RF specs are the equal of the L-02T. I'm not sure if I believe that. But it is good, at least as good as 8300 in RF, it seems to me so far, and way better overall. The front end must be better than it looks, and the IF may be better here than just about anywhere else. I think it's probably the IF that is the main magic in the 2130. The MPX is similar to Kenwood's late 1970's models, HA11223 chip with external transistor switching, and pilot canceller like 917. Nothing obviously special otherwise. FWIW Marantz claims very flat frequency response, so you might think they don't get their nice midbass warmth by frequency boost. I think the power supply, which does use large and nice looking caps, may not be as tightly regulated, another thing I want to look at. The case which has slightly damped top panels is completely undamped at the bottom. In fact, the bottom is just a thin sheet of sheet metal secured around the perimeter with screws. When you set it down, the thin sheet metal "gives" just enough so that all 4 feet are making contact. That seems a bit tweaky but it works in at least one way.
I think models using LA3450 get pilot cancelling for free.
Also heard great rendition of Vivaldi with a marvelous soprano at the Symphony on Saturday Night. I felt it was magical how she could play the room.