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  #31  
Old 03-14-2019, 11:46 AM
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Formerly YB-2 Formerly YB-2 is offline
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Sounds like a plan (a good one). If you want to try a refurbished Yamaha T-85 at the same time, I'll make the same deal.
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  #32  
Old 03-14-2019, 12:05 PM
cleeds cleeds is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly YB-2 View Post
... If you want to try a refurbished Yamaha T-85 at the same time, I'll make the same deal.
What an offer! Ya' gotta love AA!
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  #33  
Old 03-14-2019, 12:32 PM
Clark2 Clark2 is offline
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Originally Posted by cleeds View Post
I'll be interested in your results! Will you also please share some of the other details, such as the antenna you're using, how it's mounted, and your distance from the station transmitters?
cleeds -- These details were previously posted at https://www.audioaficionado.org/show...t=45191&page=3 (Post #26). A bit more information from fmfool: The "ft AGL LOS" is 217.0. I suppose that is telling me I would need a mast 217 ft high to get LOS!?

I have been playing with the MD205. It does help some with the ancient Yamaha tuner. I can tune it to WBJC and then increase the gain to get more quieting. There's a sweet spot; if I increase the gain too much, the noise level increases again, not surprisingly.

More observations on this station with this tuner, in case you can interpret them:
1) The signal level (as reported by the un-calibrated meter on the Yamaha) increases significantly at night (and the sound gets quieter).
2) I can occasionally hear fading (flutter?), perhaps as airplanes produce multi-path at my site. (The Washington, DC, metro area has four major airports -- five if you count Baltimore -- and everywhere is under a landing pattern some of the time.)
3) The background noise is sometimes just varying hiss, but sometimes it sounds like low "static." From the cryptic descriptions of multi-path distortion that I've found, I gather that static is one of its manifestations. Since I'm in a residential area with no metal structures and no large buildings in sight, however, it seems unlikely that any multi-path is coming from a local source.
4) The station engineer tells me that they do have a single HD channel -- I'm looking forward to comparing that to their analog -- but that it's currently turned off. So I think the noise I'm hearing is not HD self-noise, though it might be coming from a stronger alternate-channel HD signal... -- Clark2
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  #34  
Old 03-14-2019, 06:26 PM
Clark2 Clark2 is offline
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Originally Posted by Formerly YB-2 View Post
Sounds like a plan (a good one). If you want to try a refurbished Yamaha T-85 at the same time, I'll make the same deal.
That's certainly a tempting offer -- sounds like a wonderful tuner! -- but before I take you up on it, I should play with the demo a while and see if there's any point in such a comparison in my situation. -- Clark2
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  #35  
Old 04-03-2019, 04:30 PM
Clark2 Clark2 is offline
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Originally Posted by cleeds View Post
I'll be interested in your results!...
OK, you asked for it. Here follows a semi formal comparison between the Yamaha T-85 and the DaySequerra M4.2Si. -- Clark2


Motivated by "Weirdcuba"'s "Can I have it all?" [Tuners thread 29983], I searched for a tuner in current production that might provide both great analog FM sound and FM-HD (when available) and came up with the DaySequerra M4.2Si. This sleek little rack-mount is a fully digital tuner that costs about $1100 and offers both DSP decoding of the analog channel and proprietary decoding any HD channels available on either AM or FM broadcasts. It has an Ethernet connector (and expects to be on a LAN, although this is not absolutely neccessary) and both analog and digital outputs. It's most conveniently controlled through its Web page with a smart phone or other computer connected to the same LAN, although manual control is possible from a three-button panel interface. Since no audiophile reviews were available -- it's mainly intended as a station monitor for broadcast engineers -- DaySequerra was kind enough to lend me a demo unit to audition, and I ran Ethernet and RG6 cables through the walls to feed it from my LAN and an in-attic 4-element yagi.

I really wanted to like this tuner. My main goal is good analog reception in the presence of HD sidebands (no problem for an HD tuner, right?), but I also wanted to try out FM-HD itself, since both classical stations in my area have HD, one using the full ~120 kbps for a single channel -- maybe worth listening to. To make my audition more meaningful, "Formerly YB-2" kindly offered to loan me his refurbished Yamaha T-85 for a direct comparison.

Conditions for Comparison:

I fed the RG6 from the antenna through a Magnum Dynalab MD 205 antenna tuner/amplifier/attenuator (both to make up for the splitter insertion loss and to give the M4.2Si enough signal to switch to stereo on both stations) to a splitter and thence to the two tuners. Their analog outputs (plus the coax digital output from the M4.2Si) were fed to separate inputs of my Yamaha A-S501 integrated amplifier and on to either a Stax SR-5 electrostatic "earspeaker," driven from the speaker outputs of the amp via a Stax SRD.6 adapter, or a pair of Beogram M 70 main speakers. I have no convenient way of equalizing the levels between the two tuners, which therefore required minor volume adjustments on switching between them. (In practice the differences were obvious enough that I don't believe this caused a major confusion, as you will see below.)

Caveat: I'm nearly 72 years old, and the highs in one ear are nearly gone above about 4000 Hz. (The other ear is at least as good as most people's my age.) I can also no longer be considered the discriminating listener that I once was. (I've been ignoring hi-fi for quite a few years.) It's primarily the failure and ongoing replacement of several ancient components that's brought back my interest recently.

Listening Impressions (Short and Not So Sweet):

The T-85 provides MUCH more high-frequency range than the DS M4.2Si (forced to analog). It also produces a more open lower mid-range/upper base. The overall effect is a cleaner, more realistic sound, noted on both stations.

Based on the above observations I wondered if DS had skimped on their D:A and audio outputs, so I compared the audio out with the digital out through the A-S501. If there are any differences, they are not obvious, so the lack of highs and muddly lower mid-range seem to originate in the DSP, not the audio section. It's not a matter of choosing the wrong de-emphasis setting either. The M4.2Si comes with a 75 microsecond default (which I verified). Changing that to 50 microseconds increases the highs somewhat, but not nearly enough to equal to the T-85. (Conversely, a possible European setting on the T-85 could not fully explain its much "hotter" high end -- see below.)

On my main speakers the T-85 sound seems rather "hot" at the high end, but this can be adjusted down successfully with the amp's treble control. (Have others had the same reaction to this tuner?) For some reason I did not have this reaction to the T-85 on the "earspeaker" -- I hope the Stax isn't the next component to fail! The M4.2Si still seems rather dull in the highs and generally lacking in "presence" on the mains. Unfortunately I have no "absolute" standard with which to compare each tuner.

Functional Impressions:

The T-85 seems to require the "very narrow" IF bandwidth setting and the "direct" RF mode setting on both stations -- probably a result of those HD side-bands and/or weak signal strength and/or multi-path -- but there's no audible trace of HD self-noise -- perhaps a result of the true analog multiplier in the stereo decoder? Not surprisingly the M4.2Si has no self-noise, but as mentioned above, it isn't sensitive enough on its own to get full stereo on the weaker station without gain from the MD 205. As set up, both tuners suffer about the same degree of noise on the weaker station, which I assume from the sound is due to multi-path -- it's 1Edge, not LOS -- rather than insufficient signal.

One other comment may be significant to many (like me with my apparent multi-path problem): The M4.2Si offers no convenient means of displaying signal strength for antenna adjustments, etc. (Yes, it gives a "CdNO" -- carrier over noise -- value in dB, but this is only valid on HD stations since it's apparently the HD carrier that they are referring to. Numerous other data are available on a separate Web page but not explained. (In fact there's been a major software (?) upgrade and the manual hasn't caught up yet.) Most or all of these data may come from some internal iBiquity chip and in any case do not seem useful for analog broadcasts.

Yes, I really wanted to like the M4.2Si, but in the end the T-85 proved much better both sonically and functionally. -- Clark2

Last edited by Clark2; 04-03-2019 at 10:15 PM. Reason: Correct Typos
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  #36  
Old 04-04-2019, 09:37 PM
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Default Pulling Good Analog Sound out of Severe HD "Self Noise"?

The T-85 is an excellent tuner. It has a good post detection filter and a dynamic variable blend circuit that will help reduce hd self noise on weak stations. If you found this tuner to be to your liking then a number of vintage high end tuners should work well for you.
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  #37  
Old 04-07-2019, 10:33 AM
cleeds cleeds is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark2 View Post
... I really wanted to like the M4.2Si, but in the end the T-85 proved much better both sonically and functionally. -- Clark2
Thanks for posting this review! I am disappointed with your results using the DaySequerra, but not really surprised. Making a first class FM tuner has always been a pricey undertaking. I know that some tuners rely on DSP for processing, which should reduce complexity and cost, but there doesn't yet seem to be any shortcut to getting top performance from FM.
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