Looking for "new" AM/FM tuner....best options? - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-15, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Looking for "new" AM/FM tuner....best options?

I'm considering getting something with a good AM/FM tuner for home use, and am curious what my best options might be. Right now, my main radio is just my Onkyo home theatre system, but the tuner in it is fairly crappy (as is often the case in modern receivers, where the tuner section is simply an afterthought).

While an ideal setup would be to track down a Sony XDR-F1HD, the price for a used one on eBay really isn't worth it for me. As such, I've been tossing around a few ideas:

- Tracking down an older HiFi receiver/tuner and hoping it still works well (I'm not good with resoldering caps and such.

- Seeing if there's any current modern AVR with a good/excellent tuner section.

- Finding an old car stereo with good AM/FM reception and hooking up speakers and a PSU/battery to it. I know car units tend to have excellent reception.

Obviously the second one would mean I would simply upgrade my home theatre system (which is in the cards at some point as my current setup only accepts a passive subwoofer), but the other ideas could work if I listened to the radio in a different room (as they would be separate from my main system).

Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-16, 09:44 AM
 
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I found most receivers are pretty decent these days - I have lower end Sony Bookshelf systems all over my house.

What I find does an excellent job is having a good antenna setup - I would suggest researching what antenna options you would be able to use and setup in your home, and go from there. An external antenna with about 3-5' of cable will change reception significantly, even on low end receivers.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-18, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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Guess I could try a different FM antenna outside of the wire that came with the Onkyo. Crazy that I can't always get clear reception even on local stations.

As for AM, not sure what I'll do about that


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-18, 11:07 PM
 
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@BGY11

This may be of no use to you, but I have recently gone through a major effort to get FM radio reception in the kitchen for my wife. She only wanted the one station - CBC One. It should have been simple, because there is a CBC radio app. I bought a bluetooth speaker and tried it with my tablet and with her cell phone. Both would drop the signal - either the bluetooth would drop or the app would lose the connection. We tried multiple bluetooth speakers, including 2 with FM radio built in.

The main problem is that our house has plaster and lathe walls, so all the walls and ceilings have wire mesh embedded in them. On top of that, all our windows are low-e, which reduces the signal strength of hdtv by indoor antenna, and radio. It also makes it difficult to run ethernet cable or speaker wire through the walls to hide it, which is my wife's requirement.

The solution turned out to be the Phillips Original Radio ORD7100C/37. Reception is solid, with no interference. The sound is good enough since CBC One is mostly talk radio. The radio is FM only, and the Apple interface is the old 30-pin connector, but we don't use it. It has a sound input jack, but no output for external speakers. It also looks clunky because it is a retro design circa 1955 when I was 3 years old, but my wife is thrilled with it and would like to get a second one for use in the basement when she is working down there.

There is an outlet store here in Mississauga that sells the radio for $29. The amazon.ca price is a ridiculous $81 compared to $39 on amazon.com. If you can find the $30-40 price in Calgary, it might be as easy to wire speakers to it as it is an car stereo.

As I mentioned, it misses many of your requirements, but it did solve our one very specific problem.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-19, 12:58 AM
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I use Logitech Squeezebox Radio (now sold as the UE Radio.) It's WiFi only but all local stations are available as well as thousands more. It also streams Spotify and several other streaming services. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts about 6 hours so it's quite portable. The sound is very good for a radio its size. There are some issues (mostly support related) and does not have AM/FM tuners so there are probably better options. The Grace Digital Mondo is almost identical to the Squeezebox.

I also use a smartphone to stream radio and music with a portable Bluetooth speaker as well as a TV soundbar.

The issue with FM is not so much that FM tuners are worse than they used to be as the reception environment has changed. Noise levels are way up and the number of FM stations has increased dramatically. 40-45 years ago I could pick up stations 100 miles away clearly and easily, even low powered stations. Under average conditions, that's impossible now. They have been wiped out by digital noise and interference from other stations. I gave up on AM/FM years ago and choose to stream instead, even for local stations. Some FM station streams don't sound as good as FM but that is slowly improving. A big bonus are the ad free station streams that are available. Spotify at 320kbps sounds great as does my music collection ripped to FLAC format on disk. Most modern AV receivers support AM/FM and streaming.

If AM/FM is really desired, the Sangean WR-11 and WR-2 AM/FM radios look very good and are on a couple of "best radios" lists. There a few radios around that have an AM/FM tuner as well as Bluetooth or WiFi.

Best Tabletop Radios of 2017
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-19, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
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Looking for "new" AM/FM tuner....best options?

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I may end up going with something that allows streaming (Airplay would be a requirement now that I'm using iOS).

I knew AM reception was getting harder because of all our noise sources but didn't realize FM was also being impacted somewhat.

Also, I can't trust that site when they screw up some basic things such as what AM stands for (among several other errors). Also, none of their comments talk about reception at all, which you'd think would be important for a tabletop radio review.

Last edited by BGY11; 2017-01-19 at 02:29 AM.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-19, 07:56 PM
 
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I just want to mention that Sonos speakers come with access to lots of radio... Am, Fm, and internet. I took a look at what was available to Calgary and there is a wealth of "local" Fm stations.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-20, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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One of the drawbacks with streaming though is the fact it's not technically "Live.". That makes entering contests where you have to call in impossible.

I'd also hope their streaming bitrates have improved


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-20, 10:40 AM
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Live radio content, such as sports, is not a good experience on an HD Radio tuner.

My experience is that the HD feed follows the AM signal by about 45-55 seconds behind.
Taking an HD portable to a sports game will give excellent audio, but delayed programming.

Great way to look out of place cheering a score almost a minute late....

Cameron

DAB listener 12/2003-11/2011 (DAB Off-Air since 11/2011)
HD radio Listener since 06/2010
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 2017-01-20, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, for portable use I'll stick with my G8 Traveller II.


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