Budget Tuner for NYC Dweller?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Lovegasoline

NYC

Post Number: 29
Registered: Jul-05
I'm going to buy my first AM/FM tuner shortly. In keeping with my budget system, the tuner will be purhased used, I'll shop until I get a good deal, and the total price will be $75 including an antenna, if necessary.Ebay or the local classified will most likely be the source.

I've read through several posts in the archives and I still have a few question regarding specs and what to look for to meet my needs.
I live in Brooklyn, NY and even on my cheap boombox I get a large variety of local stations with very clean reception. I know the WTC was topped by transmitters which went down with the towers....and I lost several radio stations in the aftermath. I'm ignorant of what eventually took their place and what current radio transmission is like in the NY/metro area, but all the local stations I receive very clear.
However, the is one station that is PRIMARY to me, the justification for the tuner in the first place: WFMU [http://www.wfmu.org/], which broadcasts from NJ & is received on 91.1 FM in the New York City area. The variety of musical genres and range of recordings played on WFMU makes its reception imperative. My boombox is sketchy in its reception of this station...sometimes good, sometimes fair, sometimes I cannot receive it at all.
I live in a 6 floor apartment building on the 4th floor. If I get an antenna, it'll be an inexpensive (or used) indoor antenna...unless it's something that'll exist inconspicuously on my windowsill (I'm not aware of local ordinances for antennas so I'm avoiding complication...I know a friend in thr Bronx who was ordered by his LL to remove a satellite TV dish that was installed outside). However, if external antenna is important (and an be done cheaply) maybe I can swing it.

Equipment:
I'd appreciate some basic guidance on what to look for in a tuner design for this application. Is multipath distortion and selectivity going to be my biggest enemies (remember receiving WFMU clearly is my main quest).
Digital station tuning vs. analogue? Is there a preference here? If I go with digital, are there some within my price range that offer finer adjustment increments, and is this desirable?
The next is sound quality, though do not know what I can expect at this price range.
What about antennas?

-------
I've read many positive things about NAD, I don't have first hand knowledge, but Ebay certainly unloads numerous NAD tuners each week and many within my budget. I see these NAD models often:

4300
4120
4150
4225
C440

Any recommendations and anything I should know about these models that might make one or the other better for my needs?
Or any other suggestions?

Thanks a bunch!
Neal

 

Silver Member
Username: Diablo

Fylde Coast, England

Post Number: 219
Registered: Dec-04
Are there non aerials(antennas) on the roof which you can link into?
That is the norm in the UK.

The FM tuner in my NAD T753 is absolutely brilliant, bringing me clear, interference-free reception which my Pioneer tuner couldn't manage nearly as well. Can't help with the models which you have mentioned though.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Lovegasoline

NYC

Post Number: 36
Registered: Jul-05
What is a non-aerial?
You mean like a pile of old bricks?

;-)
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5352
Registered: May-04


In your location, selectivity and multipath rejection are your most important concerns. Multipath is primarily handled through the use of a very directional antenna. Selectivity is a function of the tuning circuit. I would suggest you look here first:

http://www.tivoliaudio.com/home.php


This is one of the finest tuners sold today and can be used as a source through a regular audio system. Slightly higher priced than your stated budget, but less likely to require any sort of auxillary antenna; so you save on that.

 

Bronze Member
Username: Lovegasoline

NYC

Post Number: 41
Registered: Jul-05
Jan, maybe too much $$ for my current tuner allocation.
Are the Tivoli line that much better in tuning selectivity then one of the plethora of used/budget NADs on Ebay (not including the latter's Monitor series which are more highly priced)?
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5374
Registered: May-04


I think so. The Tivolis are made for your sort of location. Most tuners will trade sensitivity for selectivity. You mostly need the latter. A unidirectional antenna can sometimes make up for the shortcomings of a tuner; but that's moer money spent. A dipole antenna isn't going to be of much use if you are trying to pull a station out of the buildings' multipath and adjacent channels.

The problem people run into in the N.E. U.S. is an antenna can actually swamp a tuner designed for sensitivity with too much signal when you are simply trying to keep the adjacent signals from getting to the tuner's front end. If the front end is overloaded from the antenna's gain, you end up with more distortion along with the signal.

I would "borrow" a Tivoli from a dealer to try for a weekend. Tivoli sells at retail, so everyone will have the same price. Give it a try and see what you think. Then go "borrow" a tuner from a NAD dealer and try it. It really is impossible to give absolutes with tuners because the final result is dependent on the antenna and the location. If there is an audio shop in your area that sells Tivoli, they might give the best advice if they are interested in actually selling separate tuners.

If you decide to go the used tuner route, I would suggest you look into a 1970's Japanese tuner. Go analog and not digital tuning. The Kenwoods, Pioneer and Sansui of that time were very good for the money. The high end Yamahas were excellent but sell for more tham you want to spend. The NAD's are good but not terrific for your application.





 

Bronze Member
Username: Lovegasoline

NYC

Post Number: 43
Registered: Jul-05
Jan thanks for that info.
In fact, there's an audio dealer (Stereo Exchange) here in NYC that I pass by every week at night when they're closed...one side of their window display is given over to a massively impressive rack of MacIntosh components with lush & somber sizzling blue readouts floating in the night. The other side has an array of the Tivoli audio products brightly colorful like fresh fruit. I would gaze at them but never understood exactly what their point was, they seemed like deluxe transistor radios or fringe specialty items for the iPod generation.
In any case, I'll look into them and if they work as claimed maybe I can find a used unit within the scope of this first budget system.
I see they have several models with the Model One looking like the basic standard tuner unit. I see they all include a mono speaker, some designed for greater portability: regardless of the form factor and packaging, do they all feature the same tuner hardware, and more importantly, can they all hook up to my Yamaha amp in stereo?
I'll also keep my eyes peeled for the older Japanese tuners.
Neal
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 5377
Registered: May-04


Tivoli has introduced a few new models in the past year; but I believe they all have the same basic tuning circuit. The Model one is mono for the simple reason a mono tuner eliminates the stereo multiplexing circuits which are the cause of substantial amounts of noise and distortion when the signals are marginal. Even with a stereo tuner, it is advised you switch to mono mode for the quietest, cleanest signal. As far as I know the mono Model One can only output mono to an amplifier. Listen to both the mono and stereo versions in your location, if possible. New York can be a tough location for FM and you might find the mono unit the most acceptable.


 

Bronze Member
Username: Lovegasoline

NYC

Post Number: 45
Registered: Jul-05
I'll check them out. I have a list of speakers also to audition so I've got my work cut out for me when I can arrange the time to commit to the listening.
Thanks again.

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