Home Theater Review

 

Tuners "(AM/FM)"

McIntosh-MR88-Reviewed.gifWhile terrestrial radio has lost a lot of its luster in the United States since the 1996 deregulation of the media, AM and FM tuners are still common components and/or features found even in today's most affordable receivers. In many ways, the term "receiver" can be attributed to the idea that there is an internal radio tuner built inside.

Radio programming in the U.S. has suffered badly from the penny pinchers and bean counters at the likes of Clear Channel, Viacom and most other terrestrial radio companies. While these companies enjoyed dotcom-like boom times in the late 1990s, they also cut every penny they could, making managers of one station cover three or four. Most importantly, the suits responsible for running radio tried to make the media more national when its power was always its local or provincial reach. It's not uncommon for a radio group to put the same content on their country or classic rock stations in over 100 markets without any human DJs or anything to make the station unique to the specific market.

Terrestrial radio suffers from long (sometimes up to 14 minutes per stop set) commercial breaks and can't effectively compete with subscription-based satellite radio that can niche program over 100 stations, most of them without commercial interruptions. Millions of people have switched from terrestrial radio to satellite radio.

In Europe, where radio is far more regulated, AM and FM tuners as audiophile components are far more common. There is more specific programming on terrestrial radio that appeals to the music fan, including symphonic performances, live concerts, in-studio broadcasts and much more.

One of the ways radio stations are trying to combat against satellite radio is with HD Radio. HD Radio is a digital broadcast of 1 or more channels within the assigned frequency of the station. Only special HD Radio tuners can pick up this signal, but it is free otherwise.

Some companies that still make tuners include Sony, NAD, and McIntosh.

Read reviews of the McIntosh MR88 AM/FM/XM/HD Tuner and the Sequerra Model 1 FM Tuner.