Triode Tube FM Tuner
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Triode Tube Output Stage
Magnum Dynalab’s MD-90 pulled in rave reviews from the audiophile press. “Compared to the Magnum, many other tuners somehow sound flat and mechnical,” marvels Alvin Gold in the January 2003 issue of Hi-Fi News. “Palpably superior to most conventional digitally-tuned tuners.” Now, the audio quality of the MD-90 gets a boost with back-to-the-future triode tube amplification and is reborn as the MD-90T. With the MD-90T, the speed and accuracy of digital components meet the warmth and incredible depth of real triode tube amplification. The result is a next generation high-performance FM tuner with the smooth sound and rock solid feel of a traditional hi-fi component.
True Triode Tube Amplification
Since the earliest days of the radio hobby, the purist form of amplification has been the triode tube design. Nothing else comes close in terms of reproducing a highly musical sound. Utilizing the talents of a foremost tube designer, Zdenko Zivkovic, Magnum Dynalab developed its new Triode Series of serious but fun-to-listen-to FM tuners.
Three Key Areas of Design
The MD-90 is distinguished by three key areas of design. To start with, Magnum Dynalab paid special attention to the ground plane, ensuring that the main signal is not infected by any stray ground path signals. That means the ‘micro information’ of musical passages is maintained, giving you a fuller listening experience with more of the hallmarks of a live musical performance than lesser radio designs.
Next, the company utilized a zero feedback design that carefully maintains the integrity of the original waveform. It’s like moving a giant step closer to standing right in the broadcast studio. Finally, Zivkovic and Magnum Dynalab collaborated on an overbuilt power supply designed to minimize the ripple effect. The result is a clean and stable power signal that contributes to the nuances and full scope of the musical content.
Classicism Meets Innovation
Like its revered predecessor, the Magnum Dynalab FT101A, the MD-90T combines the very latest in discrete, analog technology. Even the most fragile signal is strengthened and further defined by using highly effective “group delay” filtering. The result is a sonically correct audio signal that contains all the inherent richness and brilliance of the broadcast source. The MD-90T offers enhanced selectivity in order to deal with urban signal congestion. The automatic variable blend is keyed to signal strength, maintaining a quiet stereo output under low signal conditions. In the “off” position, separation is held at maximum regardless of signal input level.
The Lure of Analog
There’s a good reason why Magnum Dynalab relies on analog tuning instead of the digital method found in the majority of FM tuners on the market. In contrast to the frequency synthesis method of tuning, analog is not dependent on a digital microprocessor chip to establish the tuner’s receive frequency. With analog, tuning is accomplished using specially-selected, discrete components in the tuner’s critical “front end.” These components are selected and matched so that a unique balance of sensitivity, selectivity, and sound are constant for outstanding performance.
But the most significant advantage in analog is the degree of control it places in the hands of the user. With the MD-90T, infinite analog tuning establishes maximum stereo separation, while detuning slightly can minimize on-frequency noise. With frequency synthesis tuners, this capability is offered usually in fixed, 50 kHz steps. While FM stations themselves rarely transmit outside the plus-or-minus 2 kHz standard, FM station signals rebroadcast over cable may not be so precise.
The actual tuning mechanism consists of an ultra smooth, large front-panel control knob that is a pleasure to operate. Visual output is via the digital frequency display. This independent frequency counter derives its input from the tuner’s local oscillator section and displays it in soft amber 0.5″ LED numerals. Function switching is provided through tactilely pleasing toggle switches with oversize replaceable paddles.
The dual, keyed automatic gain control monitors and maintains program signal level and clarity, along with providing a dramatic reduction in interference from strong local stations. A wide/narrow IF bandwidth control effectively controls annoying sideband interference. Three large, easy-to-read panel meters provide continuous monitoring of RF input level, multipath interference level, and center-tune condition. A noise-activated incorporates a manual defeat switch, while the stereo / mono mode is user-switchable for added flexibility.