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    FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

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    Peter W.

    Posts : 530
    Join date : 2016-08-07
    Location : Melrose Park, PA

    FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by Peter W. on Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:07 pm

    Has anyone used boards or parts from this outfit? I have an FM3 that is an excellent performer that appears to have mods similar to what is offered - and I have a factory FM3 that is as warm and well sounding, but nowhere near as good a performer otherwise. But for $50, or so (I have already done the filters), it might be a good investment for a second tube tuner.

    Thanks in advance!
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    Dynalover

    Posts : 18
    Join date : 2010-09-08
    Location : Home

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by Dynalover on Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:31 pm

    Peter, the parts offered are excellent. I installed the upgrade kit along with the usual restoration practices, good alignment and the result was amazing. On a quality FM broadcast the fidelity is excellent. I use a rooftop antenna, selectivity is actually pretty reasonable, and can get usable stereo broadcast 50 to 60 miles away and farther. As you know these kits need lots of TLC after all these years to perform their best. But, a remarkable piece of engineering.

    I think you should buy the board, and walk us through it. Lots of pics, pliz.

    GP49

    Posts : 783
    Join date : 2009-04-30
    Location : East of the sun and west of the moon

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by GP49 on Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:05 am

    I installed one for a customer who had ordered the FM-3 Zone kit, but decided he wasn't up to the installation (which is nothing to be ashamed of; better than jumping in and breaking stuff). I thought the parts quality was good and the instructions, which were provided on a CD-R, clear and unambiguous.

    The kit as shown in the current website seems to differ a bit. The item I was most impressed with was a ceramic resonator, installed solderlessly between front end and IF strip (a jumper wire was cut and its two ends then inserted in screw connectors). I don't see it in the photo on the current website, but I could be missing something. The rest of the kit was pretty straightforward and indeed one could assemble it from separately acquired parts: an LED dial light (I like the looks of the original #47 bulb better but that is personal preference), revised de-emphasis (documented in the 1970s in The Audio Amateur magazine), improved audio capacitors, a power supply capacitor board to replace the multi-section electrolytic, and replacement of two resistors which were of marginal wattage rating in the original FM-3. But it cannot be argued that having them all from one supplier is a lot easier than searching them out and buying them individually. I only hope that the ceramic resonator is still in the kit.

    When I lived in San Francisco, I was perfectly content with the FM-3. Its audio performance was very good, and its RF performance was acceptable in an area of high signal strength. In later years, in various locations, I found the FM-3 sensitivity to be wanting in fringe areas, leading to my acquiring an FM-5 and later an AF-6. Not all tube tuners have sensitivity issues, though; Sherwood tube tuners were excellent. Your satisfaction with an FM-3, modified or not, will depend on which stations you listen to and the reception at your location.
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    Dynalover

    Posts : 18
    Join date : 2010-09-08
    Location : Home

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by Dynalover on Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:40 am

    I don't consider myself an "audiophile", but once spent a couple days (straight) listening to the FM3 in amazement, the 3D realism was remarkable, and kind of downright spooky actually. There was absolutely no hiss and the speakers sounded like they were being run by mechanical steam or something like that, if that makes sense, and certain instruments like violins had an "etched" realism (this is pure ear candy) horns and bells, piano, were very lifelike, and I could place the instruments in their location. The soundstage was huge, sometimes instruments would appear *behind* me.

    So then I thought, maybe I could improve it even further. Remember this tuner had just about everything replaced by this point, but for some reason decided a certain couple ceramic discs had to go, C24 and C25 iirc. "Everybody" sez disc ceramics are no good for audio, right? Well I soldered in some nice silver mica and ..

    The Magic Was Gone.

    No!! Needs realignment, I figured. Went through that carefully. Dammit.. That didn't do it either.

    So finally in desperation, re-installed the two disc ceramics, and realigned yet again. It still sounds AMAZING, but has never quite equalled the performance of those couple days. I had no idea FM radio was capable of that level of realism, and out of a 50 year old design.

    GP49

    Posts : 783
    Join date : 2009-04-30
    Location : East of the sun and west of the moon

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by GP49 on Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:29 am

    The problem is that you did not use umpteen-zeros audiophile solder ($19,261/gram, available from The More It Costs The Better Audio Accessories).  

    Too late, now. lol!
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    Peter W.

    Posts : 530
    Join date : 2016-08-07
    Location : Melrose Park, PA

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by Peter W. on Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:16 am

    Dynalover wrote:Peter, the parts offered are excellent. I installed the upgrade kit along with the usual restoration practices, good alignment and the result was amazing. On a quality FM broadcast the fidelity is excellent. I use a rooftop antenna, selectivity is actually pretty reasonable, and can get usable stereo broadcast 50 to 60 miles away and farther. As you know these kits need lots of TLC after all these years to perform their best. But, a remarkable piece of engineering.

    I think you should buy the board, and walk us through it. Lots of pics, pliz.

    I think I will do just that. I will order the kit probably today - but installation will be delayed until after Christmas, as a little bird told me that there might be a couple of ST70 update boards in my stocking. Believe it or not, the kids figure these things out - even though they are unguided. Just like I get the grandkids Steiff every year, I get something hobby related each year.

    I did note that I have already done the filter caps, so I would do the reduced kit.

    I promise not to use RoHS-compliant solder, and to stick with my Kester 37/63.

    This coming weekend will be dedicated to cleaning up the radio room. I developed an entire small trashcan of *stuff* from just the workbench in an hour last weekend - mostly dead capacitors and a couple of burnt boards. Things that are within my budget tend to be pretty spavined, the pleasure being in their resurrection into productive members of society rather than landfill.
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    daveshel

    Posts : 152
    Join date : 2011-11-06
    Location : Tucson AZ USA

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by daveshel on Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:18 pm

    I used a power PAS supply from his other site, Dynaco Designs. It does the job. It isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, and it required much back-and-forth to get it deployed, but in the end I was glad I used it - it was more flexible than others available.
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    Dynalover

    Posts : 18
    Join date : 2010-09-08
    Location : Home

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by Dynalover on Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:55 pm

    GP49 wrote:The problem is that you did not use umpteen-zeros audiophile solder

    LOL, yes I'm sure that's what it was. I will compensate with some $3k jumper cables aligned with magnetic (not grid!) north, supported by wood blocks.
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    Peter W.

    Posts : 530
    Join date : 2016-08-07
    Location : Melrose Park, PA

    Re: FM3 Zone (www.fm3zone.com)

    Post by Peter W. on Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:59 pm

    LOL, yes I'm sure that's what it was. I will compensate with some $3k jumper cables aligned with magnetic (not grid!) north, supported by wood blocks.[/quote]

    Price goes up if you call them "Catenaries".

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