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VHF/FM radio ...

Discussion in 'audio' started by George J, May 2, 2019.

  1. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    There was a time when VHF radio was regarded as the best home replay source, many years ago I suppose.

    What has surprised me is that it still is competitive with competent digital sources such as the MDAC. I was never an enthusiast of the LP as a medium. The main issue for me was pitch stability. This not only concerned the turntable, but also the way records were cut. Not always bang on pitch, not always perfectly centred on the platter, because of off-centre hole punching ...

    My early adoption of CD cured that problem, and I did not find the less warm sound of most CDs in the late 1980s was a problem.

    I think CDs [of classical music] have improved quite a lot in terms of natural warmth over the intervening years. I really think CDs were developed to a nice state as early as 1993. The tuning point in my experience was the issue in 1993 and 1994 on CD of Edward Elgar's HMV electrical 78 recording from 1926 to 1933. Somehow the transfers and mastering for CD really did catch the originals superbly, and amazingly with very little vestige of 78 surface noise as well. Mostly the transfers were done from fresh vinyl pressings from the original masters, rather than from un-worn original shellac discs, so in many cases only the most minimal noise suppression was applied.

    But what has surprised me with my freshly restored Leak Troughline is that it has at least the equal of any quality replay I have listened to. And somehow it has an almost mesmeric quality that draws me into the music so that it is easy to listen to a whole evening live relay without once considering the method of replay.

    I know that technically CD quality measures a wider band audible frequency response, and reel to reel is probably finer as well, but there is something very right about good VHF broadcasting.

    Just a ramble really, but let us hope VHF goes for a good while yet.

    Best wishes from George
    Jono_13 likes this.
  2. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    A ramble, perhaps, but an interesting one...
    My main ‘consumption’ of VHF/FM is Radio Four, and plays in particular.
    Using a Quad FM4 ( through Spendor BC1s ) the quality of the voices and music/effects is superb.
    I always look forward to an afternoon play.
    The broadcasts sound good via streaming through a SONOS Connect box, but definitely nor as good
    as FM.
    Some might say the BC1s contribute a lot.
    All I can say is, get yourself a pair !
  3. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Dear. Matyn,

    I have just the one ESL. It does quite well, and seems to thrive on VHF!

    I haven't tried a Radio Four play yet on this set. I remember being poorly as a youngster for about six weeks in the summer time. In the afternoon I would be put on a camp bed under a parasol on the front lawn and left with a radio. That was a good forty years ago, and I listened to many Radio Four afternoon plays at that time.

    Best wishes from George
  4. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Radio 3 can really rattle the bones on some live/studio broadcasts but is it on a par with my record player and CDP? Nope ! However, I've always gone for stereo, being overjoyed when the first R2 transmissions began in the very late sixties (?). The Troughline was okay when it transmogrified to the Stereofetic, as the decoders weren't much cop on the early ones. I had both plus Revox plus Pioneer in the early seventies; all good, but the Nat 01 I've had for two decades pips the post.

    I had a T de P decoded Troughline in my system a year back and even though it may not have been in top trim, was lovely, if a bit on the lush side (and unfortunately with excessive hum).
  5. mercalia

    mercalia pfm Member

    I find BBC radio on DAB or FM mostly dull and lacking in vibrancy compared to some other stations. Not my tuner either - is an Audiolab 8200T.
  6. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Dear Mike,

    My Troughline is the original purely mono issue made between 1955 and 1959 without the multiplex output for a stereo decoder.

    I chose this unfashionable variant deliberately, as I dislike stereo, and find it brings nothing but problems.

    I have had the privilege of listening to music on two different NAT 01s in well set-up high model Naim systems, both stereo of course, and running from the famous Galaxy type aerials.

    Neither were better than my [1957] mono Troughline! As good perhaps, but not better, unless you think stereo is a positive rather than at best a small negative. I could just as well have gone for a later tuner if I had wanted stereo; it probably would not have cost a lot more to buy, and the servicing would have been the same ball-park price either way.

    I have one ESL, one Quad valve amp, and one mono Leak Troughline, probably the best mono radio set in daily use in the UK!

    Best wishes from George

    PS: Just noticed you comment on hum and lushness. This old tuner, which was not modified in the process of restoration, is as quiet as to hiss as any modern digital component when on station. There is no hum, and the quality is certainly not on the lush side. It is a rather modern sounding thing, perhaps without the etched quality that passes for quality on some modern replay. An inviting, and involving quality that presents no obvious vices. After ten minutes there is no further drift once tuned precisely.
    Jono_13 likes this.
  7. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Apart from Radios Two, Three and Four, I am wondering what else is broadcast in high quality on UK VHF? I have no interest in running my radio on anything but Radio Three! For anything else, then my portable kitchen radio is functionally just as useful for what it needs to do. Just be clear and intelligible.

    ATB from George
  8. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    Speaking of tuners, two Sony models I owned were particularly good.
    The first was a ST80F and later a ST3950F.
    I bought the ‘3950F just to fit in with the rest of the kit I had.
    Both tuners were very good indeed, but I feel the ‘80F had the edge.
  9. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    Sound per £ FM must take top honours. I have a Rega Radio and a Kenwood KT-5020L each of which was under £50 and give very good quality sound.
  10. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    There is something that I cannot define that is so right about my 62 year old Troughline. It is not simply a question of having no obvious vices, as something about the actual timbre that is so inviting that it is hard to tear yourself away from music.

    I am still being surprised by this old school tuner. It has a quality that cannot be thought of as being old fashioned - fuzzy, plummy, valve-like, whatever - but rather as timelessly right. Some digital components have this rightness, some LP players [though records themselves can have insurmountable problems concerning pitch], and I have never used a high quality R2R tape machine, but I have to believe that there is the potential for something of this quality.

    I am left regretting not getting an example of this veteran radio done as it is now, but years ago!

    Best wishes from George
    GML likes this.
  11. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    I'm a convert to streaming for radio.... BBC Sounds from PC via a choice of DACs does seem to beat FM. I do hope VHF FM keeps going for many years though and preferably forever!
    The value of Troughlines seems to keep going down (how many were made FFS? [rhetorical] must have been loads!) and I can see me eventually scrapping them (I've got about a dozen) for the mains transformers and valve sockets...
  12. Copperjacket

    Copperjacket pfm Member

    Are you streaming from iplayer or via a radio streaming service please?
  13. hp1

    hp1 pfm Member

    I have found the sound quality of the bbc fm stations has improved alot since the announcement they are not going to switch them off.

    I think they were compressing it to push folk over to dab or internet radio ,now it sounds very good again coming from sutton coldfield.
  14. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Straight from BBC Sounds...
    Copperjacket likes this.
  15. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    I have, at last count I think, 11 tuners in various states of repair. While top quality FM is still a joy, there is less and less of it in CH. I moved a while back to internet radio, the diversity makes up for the lack of quality against a well broadcast FM station.
  16. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Interesting... I also suspected it was getting worse and for the same reasons!

    I have sometimes suspected some bass boost going on with the digital version of radio though...
    The total lack of background hiss and (even more importantly) lack of multipath distortion is a revelation after a lifetime of FM... although I do feel at times that "it's not radio" as it hasn't arrived over the ether via radio waves:)
  17. booja30

    booja30 pfm Member

    Does WiFi count? :)
  18. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

  19. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    Oh bravo, just like the original ad. I like this idea, a lot.

    Robert and booja30 like this.
  20. booja30

    booja30 pfm Member

    It took me a while to see the speaker
    Martyn Miles likes this.

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