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 Post subject: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Mon 20, 2020 11:08 pm 
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I have an EICO HFT-90 Wired FM tuner bought in the early 1960s. I haven't listened to it in decades. How does it compare with new tuners being sold these days in terms of reception and audio quality? In other words, why is it worth keeping and listening to? Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 2:56 am 
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That is a mono tuner and I would also say that just about any better Japanese tuner from the 70s or later will eat it's lunch. You do not indicate if you are in the market for a tuner and how much you would theoretically spend for one. There are high end tuners around that promise superb or highest possible performance, like McIntosh tuners. Or other high end audio brands. Otherwise I suppose you will be shopping the used market. I would not buy one AS IS not guaranteed working, unless so cheap it is worth the roll of the dice. I have purchased several used tuners that turned out to be duds or malfunctioning, and not worth the cost of service data if available. IF you spot something likely on ebay, you might look at this website to compare or get info: https://www.fmtunerinfo.com/index.html
Also a site named HIFIENGINE.COM has free tech data or manuals downloads for many models if you sign up for the site. I have an HFT 90 that I got for five bucks with the manual. I messed with it till I got some sound out of it but have no plans to do anything with it. The tuning pointer glow indicator feature is pretty cool though.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 3:31 am 
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I had one in the early 80's , it would be a garage radio to me .My Fisher 200B is one tube tuner that can compete with the best solid state units .

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 4:17 am 
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As for the Sherwood S 2300,(ref. email) I cannot comment on that one. Presumably all solid state. Probably does better than the Eico if it has held alignment and working correctly. Tuner tech advanced alot in the 70s or 80s and it may be not expensive to get a better used tuner if you have problems getting stations clearly.

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Last edited by wazz on Jan Tue 21, 2020 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 5:57 am 
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Jeff10530 wrote:
I have an EICO HFT-90 Wired FM tuner bought in the early 1960s. I haven't listened to it in decades. How does it compare with new tuners being sold these days in terms of reception and audio quality? In other words, why is it worth keeping and listening to? Thanks.


The Eico is very sensitive for its era, but nothing compared to modern tuners. As noted above, it is mono, but it has a IF output so you could use an outboard stereo decoder if you wanted. Tube FM equipment is generally very marginal, it just barely works on stereo if everything is perfect. IF you just want to listen to FM, I think you will have a lot more luck with a modern transistor PLL or digital tuner.

Brett


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 6:36 am 
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What do you plan to listen to? There have been a number of threads here about the poor quality of radio programing, both AM and FM. This includes both program material and audio quality. Before you go off the deep end, it would be a good idea to get any FM radio and explore the band in your area to find out if there is anything you want to hear.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 2:30 pm 
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In this age of a fully packed FM band (in most areas), you may need a tuner with high selectivity as well as high sensitivity. Many high-end FM tuners from brands like Sansui, Kenwood, Technics, etc. include switchable dual selectivities.

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Tue 21, 2020 3:10 pm 
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I shopped for vintage multiplex adapters that would work with the Eico I have, but the prices were discouraging. Especially for practical purposes when you can get a used solid state stereo tuner so cheap, that would blow it away. The Eico tuner would be fun to have for a vintage mono system, with an old tube amp and one of those big 50s or 60s speakers but that is about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Wed 22, 2020 6:02 am 
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Thanks. Well, since you mentions speakers, I have AR3 speakers and a Scott Stereomaster 260 amplifier to drive them. How do they compare with modern speakers and amplifiers? Worth keeping, or should I junk them? (Incidentally, I mostly listen to classical music and some jazz, and I'm after fidelity.)


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Wed 22, 2020 2:37 pm 
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Recapping the crossovers in you speakers should make the sound much better , the same with the Scott if you all ready haven't done that yet .

As far as new speakers goes , newer ones depending on how much you want to spend will determine if they will sound any better .

I use Klipsch Cornwall's in the living Room , and KEF Corelli's on my desk , both are over 25 years old and sound as good as most modern speakers ,
better than most . Speakers are mostly a mater of taste and the likely the most subjective part of an audio system .

The Scott is well worth restoring and holding on too !

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/ ... 3-speakers

https://www.ebay.com/itm/ACOUSTIC-RESEA ... SwFcxdZeZ3

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Last edited by battradio@ on Jan Wed 22, 2020 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Wed 22, 2020 2:58 pm 
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I recently restored a 1961 Stromberg Carlson SR-440 AM-FM mono tuner. I then connected a multiplex decoder board (based on the 1197C stereo decoder IC) to the detector output. I now have great multiplex stereo out of my 60 year old mono tuner. It worked perfectly. No adjustments (other than an IF alignment) needed.


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Wed 22, 2020 6:05 pm 
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Jeff10530 wrote:
Thanks. Well, since you mentions speakers, I have AR3 speakers and a Scott Stereomaster 260 amplifier to drive them. How do they compare with modern speakers and amplifiers? Worth keeping, or should I junk them? (Incidentally, I mostly listen to classical music and some jazz, and I'm after fidelity.)


Certainly do not junk the speakers or amplifier.

On the topic of the AR-3s, the primary concern is the state of the woofer surround. It is critical that it be both extremely flexible and air-tight, and they are notorious for degeneration over this period of time. There are many kits with which to replace the surround if necessary. They are not state-of-the-art as of 2020, but were among the best available when they were produced, *far* better than most at the time and still competent today. And the cost to you is ideal - $20-30 at most to replace the surround, and maybe replace two capacitors in the crossover. You are unlikely to be able to buy anything new and better for under $1000/pair. The two primary weaknesses are the "box coloration" and the poor dispersion. You can do something about the coloration with modeling clay.

I don't know much about the amplifier, but as long as it is reliable, recap it, clean all the pots and switches, and see. I have never seen one in person, but I also haven't heard any of the usual early transistor amp horror stories about them. That means there are so few around that nobody knows, or, they are acceptably reliable. You should be aware, however, that going unstable and melting down was a common occurrence with early transistor amplifiers, and that the self-protection (and speaker protection...) circuits were generally ineffective or weren't used. If it was me, I would hook it up to some big 4 ohm power resistors and feed it square waves for a few hours, and watch for instability and DC on a scope. And don't do it around anything too flammable. FOR SURE, rig it up with 2 amp fast-blow fuses in the speaker circuit, if it doesn't already have them.

I may be overly cautious but I have seen a lot of things go sideways from early transistor amps. But it would also be a shame to burn up your really nice, and unobtainable, tweeters. It's not like an old tube amp; at least, it's pretty hard for a conventional tube amp to destroy anything but themselves.

BTW, I have a large array of old tube tuners and a few new ones, and if I was ever going to try to make a go of it with a multiplex adapter, I would certainly use the EICO HFT-90 as the front end. A sensibly-modified Dynaco FM-3 in perfect adjustment sounds much better in ideal conditions, but has something like 1/4 the sensitivity, which usually results in too much noise in stereo. However, nothing comes close to the little Sony XDR-F1HD rigged to stay on analog.

Brett


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Wed 22, 2020 6:20 pm 
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Some of the best: Crown FM-1, FM-2. Also at that time Sherwood but I can't remember the model. Obviously others too. Chip failure can mean the end for many.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Wed 22, 2020 8:16 pm 
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Tube type Sherwood tuners were considered the best available in their time, at least for FM. Unlike any other tuners of the era that I am aware of, Sherwood employed epoxy dipped silver mica capacitors in their IF cans. As such there is no deterioration of performance due to silver evaporation and migration problems in the IF transformers.

Norman

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Thu 23, 2020 11:46 pm 
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Jeff10530 wrote:
I have an EICO HFT-90 Wired FM tuner bought in the early 1960s. I haven't listened to it in decades. How does it compare with new tuners being sold these days in terms of reception and audio quality? In other words, why is it worth keeping and listening to? Thanks.
I have one and like it, particularly the eye-tube pointer! It is less sensitive than any of my present or previous S/S AM/FM stereo receivers (Sansui, Sony, Pioneer, etc.), as are the other tube FM tuners in my herd. I use it, and others, with the best antenna I can throw up (typically a folded dipole made of 300 flat twin cable) Why? Well, it's a classic and I rotate all sorts of old gear around just for fun! FWIW, I use the EICO HFT-90 with a refurbished EICO HF-12 amplifier just because the pair look good!
Cheers,
Roger
PS. It would not be difficult take the FM detector output before the de-emphasis filter for use by an external stereo demodulator. I've not done this, but I have done it with a Heathkit FM-4... then you do need a better antenna!

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Fri 24, 2020 6:35 pm 
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engineer wrote:
PS. It would not be difficult take the FM detector output before the de-emphasis filter for use by an external stereo demodulator. I've not done this, but I have done it with a Heathkit FM-4... then you do need a better antenna!


It already has this output, and as noted above, I have done it.

It's not as sensitive (or selective, which is at least as important now) as current solid-state tuners, but its much better than most of them from the tube era. I want to say it's spec'ed to something like 2-4x as sensitive as a Dynaco FM-3, and whether that is true or not, it's clearly much better. It's unfortunate because on sufficiently strong signals, a properly aligned FM-3 sounds a lot better, but the EICO will hang in there much better on weak signals.

None of them solve multipath problems which seems to the most limiting effect. From a practical standpoint, this is more-or-less insoluble with analog tuners of any type, you need front-end signal processing.

Brett

p.s. EICO HFT-90 claimed sensitivity = 1.5 microvolts at 20 db , Dynaco FM-3 = 4 microvolts. Note that this is claimed - they are both kits and at least the EICO kit suggests that *alignment is unnecessary*, so the quality of the construction and alignment is probably a larger determining factor.


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Sat 25, 2020 2:02 am 
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Brett_Buck wrote:
engineer wrote:
PS. It would not be difficult take the FM detector output before the de-emphasis filter for use by an external stereo demodulator. I've not done this, but I have done it with a Heathkit FM-4... then you do need a better antenna!
... It already has this output, and as noted above, I have done it... Brett.
Brett, you're right... I did not check! I had actually marked that RCA socket "MPX" a while back. So, will try it with my Heathkit AC-11 stereo demodulator.
Cheers.
Roger

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Sat 25, 2020 4:01 am 
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engineer wrote:
Brett_Buck wrote:
engineer wrote:
PS. It would not be difficult take the FM detector output before the de-emphasis filter for use by an external stereo demodulator. I've not done this, but I have done it with a Heathkit FM-4... then you do need a better antenna!
... It already has this output, and as noted above, I have done it... Brett.
Brett, you're right... I did not check! I had actually marked that RCA socket "MPX" a while back. So, will try it with my Heathkit AC-11 stereo demodulator.
Cheers.
Roger


Depending on which multiplexer you use, it works mostly OK, the MPX out signal is fairly robust compared to a lot of others tuners of that era.

The EICO multiplexer (I forget the model number) is kind of a disaster area, with many spots where there are electroytic capacitors passing tiny AC signals with no bias, so it definitely back-biases them at whatever frequency they are passing, with abundant distortion. This is one of the few examples where you want to find low-voltage non-polar caps, low-voltage because they are physically small (and thus low-inductance) and non-polar for obvious reasons.

All the old tube MPX units I have worked on were in dire shape, either poorly-constructed, poorly-designed (as above), and universally out of alignment. The EICO kit directions said that "alignment is unnecessary" if you follow the directions. Doubtful at best, and certainly not true of any of them I worked on.

Brett


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Jan Sun 26, 2020 8:17 pm 
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Like many stated modern tuners are much more sensitive. Tube type are not as sensitive as newer MOS-FET RF front-ends. One vintage tuner that can compete with many modern tuners is the Scott LT-112B. It used a new at the time MOS-FET from end. The LT-112B having no op-amps, using my ears it compares to the great sound quality of many tube tuners. I never heard any newer SS tuners that sounds as good as tube type on a high quality FM station. A few high quality FM stations still exists.


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage vs modern hi-fi tuner--which is better?
PostPosted: Feb Sat 01, 2020 5:34 am 
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After listening to a number of tube tuners, stand alone and part of a receiver, I'd take a SS or IC driven tuner any day. Specs can be helpful to sort out better from worse, but nothing beats a listening test in your environment.

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