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    FM-3 or FM-5?

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    jrethorst

    Posts : 21
    Join date : 2009-02-01

    FM-3 or FM-5?

    Post by jrethorst on Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:03 pm

    I'm in need of a new old tuner, and have settled on one of these two. I much prefer tubes, as my PAS-3x and twin Mk III amps will attest, but since mostly all if not all radio stations these days have digital signal paths, I wonder whether there's an advantage to a tube tuner. I also have the impression that they need alignment more than SS tuners do. Any thoughts welcome.

    John R.

    Dogstar

    Posts : 275
    Join date : 2014-06-23

    Re: FM-3 or FM-5?

    Post by Dogstar on Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:39 pm

    As much as it might be cool to have a tube tuner in order to not put digital in the path I think in order to take advantage of everything possible these days to enjoy music broadcasts anything to help lock in on the signal helps.

    jrethorst

    Posts : 21
    Join date : 2009-02-01

    Re: FM-3 or FM-5?

    Post by jrethorst on Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:11 pm

    Dogstar wrote:As much as it might be cool to have a tube tuner in order to not put digital in the path I think in order to take advantage of everything possible these days to enjoy music broadcasts anything to help lock in on the signal helps.

    I wasn't thinking of a tube tuner so that the entire path wouldn't be digital, but was thinking there wouldn't be an advantage to a tube tuner since the signal is already essentially digital. So the best reception and sound is what I'm looking for. Would the FM-5 be much better in that respect?
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    Peter W.

    Posts : 502
    Join date : 2016-08-07
    Location : Melrose Park, PA

    Re: FM-3 or FM-5?

    Post by Peter W. on Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:17 pm

    jrethorst wrote:I'm in need of a new old tuner, and have settled on one of these two. I much prefer tubes, as my PAS-3x and twin Mk III amps will attest, but since mostly all if not all radio stations these days have digital signal paths, I wonder whether there's an advantage to a tube tuner. I also have the impression that they need alignment more than SS tuners do. Any thoughts welcome.

    John R.

    OK - let's put down a few myths before going any further, with specific reference to the FM3.

    a) A careful alignment using fresh signal tubes (nothing to do with the audio sections) will last many thousands of hours all other things being equal.

    b) What you hear is analog, what your tuner receives is analog. What is 'digital' within modern tuners is the system that sets internal frequencies and holds them, and filters for station holding. Again, not so much to do with anything you are hearing - other than being a bit better at station-keeping and noise rejection. And there are definite advantages to digital tuners under difficult conditions.

    Now, cutting to the chase - and whether you want an FM3, 5, or AF6 (I keep all three):

    FM3 - if your target stations also happen to be torches, and some small distance apart in frequency, you will very much enjoy the FM3. By 'torches' I mean that they are in good line-of-sight, within 50 miles and around 5,000-or-more watts. It is not as if the FM3 is deaf, it is NOT that. But it has no mute, and it likes a strong signal for the least noise. And if ever there were a tuner that wants a decent antenna, it is this one. But it has very mellifluous sound. This tuner was largely worthless at our summer house, with our (single) target station being about 65 miles and 2 valleys away.

    FM5 - a better tuner for more difficult situations and where you are dealing with tougher hearing conditions. Properly aligned, they can be very nice indeed. The sound is solid-state, but nothing to cry about. This tuner did fine in mono at our summer house, and drifted in and out in stereo.

    AF6 - as above, but with AM. And, as it happens, the AM section is not half-bad. Not as good as my Grundig Satellit 700 for DXing, but good enough for a daily driver.

    Note that the FM3, like most vintage Dynaco tube products has been subject to many tweaks and improvements over the years. And whereas the factory-built defects are well known and understood, the Full Stock version is no slouch at all. I have done most of the tweaks to mine, what they do is tighten the edges more than make quantum improvements. For all that, they are cheap enough and simple enough to do that I found that tightening worthwhile.

    As an aside, the incumbent at the summer house is a Hafler DH330 - and there are no flies on that beast, at all. Clean stereo from the target station day or night and whether we are running the LED lamps or not.
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    Stevedel

    Posts : 22
    Join date : 2012-02-15

    Re: FM-3 or FM-5?

    Post by Stevedel on Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:26 pm

    I have several FM3s and one FM5. The FM3s will be undergoing a refresh and for one, a total FM3 Zone treatment, including black faceplate. In it's stock form the FM-3 sounds surprisingly good. Well beyond it's pay-grade.

    The FM5 is mighty fine. Better than most of my other tuners, and I have a few. There are several on E-bay, at the moment, dirt cheap. At the very least, as it has a volume control, you can add a small power amp and speakers and stick it in the garage/workshop.

    I can't see a downside to having both.

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