Going Retro

Okay, as someone who owns an NDX2, a unit that can source and play literally thousands of diverse stations, this may seem a strange purchase, but…

I’ve bought an old school tuner, a Sansui tu 33L, that can possibly receive about 20 stations, all of which can be sourced on the NDX2 anyway.

And I’m listening to it. A lot.


A couple of reasons. Firstly, I remember fondly the 70’s and 80’s hi fi. Always Japanese, always chock full of eye candy - switches, knobs, dials, vu meters (gasp!), stereo beacons, signal strength meters. Almost the exact opposite of my rather bare Naim equipment. I couldn’t afford much at the time, but looking was free!

Secondly, I remember clearly the gorgeous fm clarity at the time. Everything sounded so crystalline compared to the old MW. I want to relive that sound.

I know that fm broadcasts are compressed, but that gives them a totally different sound to the streamed version. Bass is not so pronounced, trebles less distinctive, yet overall a very pleasing experience.

Am I the only person on here who has this weakness? Someone who spends thousands on a high end streamer, yet uses a £30 tuner instead?

Maybe I need therapy…


No, you need an NAT-01!


Try this if your car has both FM and DAB, R3 on DAB, then FM. Game over!


There are so many choices……i can listen to a good old pub jukebox, a transistor radio…….its the music. I happen to be fortunate to be able to have my system which i love. But i still like a good old jukebox etc playin the tunes.


Your hifi experience evidently was very different from mine! Back in the 70s Japanese “hifi” was something to avoid, all chrome and bristling with knobs, but absent was focus on sound quality. British hifi was real hifi - or so everything I read suggested, and certainly suited me, despite being understated in appearance as well as “features”.

I think this perception was widespread but was also a case or apples and oranges. Often the comparison was more expensive British hifi versus cheaper mass produced Japanese gear.

And this was still very much the mantra into the 90s too. It was “proper” Arcam at the dealer versus some “rubbish” JVC stack system for half the price in Dixons.

Silver with knobs is a valid observation though. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And Luxman gear today looks pretty much as it did 50 years ago. Silver with a lot of knobs.


Yes, I preferred apples… (or perhaps blackberries and blackcurrants!)

Back to the retro gear topic though, often, the circuit designs are good but cable dressing and quality of components has improved drastically in the passing years. There is still mileage to be had from refurbishing older gear with better parts.

As an example, Arcam have a great service manual for the A60 that even indicates upgrades you can do that were not possible at the time of manufacture like recommended changes to variable resistors on the main PCB.

One of the great things abouting digging out old gear like the OPs tuner is they can be given new life and possibly made to perform at a level similar/better than some modern equivalents.

I have grand plans for converting a non working A60 with a battered case into a “Super A60” with a custom artwork case.


I’m with ya! Totally different sound. Ethereal and fun! Enjoy :radio:

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Your on the right track.

The new streaming internet radio gives more options but less musicality.
Streaming in generel don’t interest me much.
Old tuners and turntables are what deliver, I fondly remember my Nat101 tuner, amazing.
Thankfully they haven’t ditched FM yet, lots of direct FM broadcast, its stunning quality even on my my lowly Nat05.

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I’m in the opposite situation, in that my trusty Creek CAS3140 tuner, after 35+ years of faultless service, appears to be at its life’s end. There is sound coming out, but it’s so quiet that I have to turn my preamp dial to the 12 o’clock position to get the same level I previously got at 7 o’clock.

Since that happened, about a week ago, I’ve been using TuneIn on my Bluesound NODE, and trying to look on the bright side:

  • Sound quality should be at least comparable, especially if I add a Chord Qutest to the NODE, as I plan to do later in the year.

  • My 552 might end up happier with a vacant shelf below it instead of a tuner, although I doubt that the Creek emits much in the way of electromagnetic interference: there’s no transformer, and the innards are puny compared with a typical Naim box.

I’m still coming to grips with the negatives:

  • Getting up in the morning and getting some background music going used to take seconds: turn the tuner on, adjust the volume control, done. Now I have to grab my phone, launch the BluOS app, maybe wait a few seconds, then very gingerly adjust the volume (the gain is way higher than with the Creek). Sometimes I get spurious “no Wi-Fi connection available” errors and have to close and reopen one or two apps to get it working. A bit of a faff, by comparison.

  • I’m not big on streaming generally – I use it primarily for trying new things out – and I don’t know if I will take to as well as I did to the Creek, or to FM generally. The Creek was pretty basic, but I found its presentation just right for what it was – very natural, musical, engaging. My only real beef was its tendency to drift, a known problem with that model.

It’s early days, but I need to decide whether I want to repair (for all I know, it might be a simple component replacement situation), replace (later Creek models get good reviews, may sound better, may not have the drifting problem, etc.), or stick with the NODE solution for a few months and see if I can live with it.

Specifics aside, this thread is reminding me that I’m quite attached to my humble but over-performing tuner, and I appreciate the tactile (and, yes, nostalgic) appeal that FM has. Decisions, decisions.

Can you not get it serviced and recapped?

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I think the number of hearts :heart: you have received show you have hit a chord

There are ticks? I’ve never seen a tick.

I have amended

Set the Node to variable output and turn it down a bit. Assuming yours is the 2I the optional remote allows one button push of a preset station. The latest Node has preset buttons on the box itself.

This is my method of listening to the ‘radio’ through my NAC72 etc.


The Creek tuners were rather good, IIRC. I recall @Adam.Meredith had one with his Naim system and, short of a NAT01, was very happy with it.

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Fond memories of the red lights flickering up and down on my champagne gold Marantz PM310.


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Nothing wrong with retro (or cheap), here’s my £20 tuner - even has a remote


Thank you, Graham, every day’s a school day!

I had never heard of a NAT 01 before your post - and on checking with my good, if naughty, chum Google, discovered it was the Holy Grail of Naim products. Gosh, it sounds good from what I read!

Being in the realm of (very expensive) hens teeth, its unlikely I will ever come across one in the flesh. Yet the 02 seems a bit more available - was it in the same league as the 01?

By the way, thanks everyone for your replies - maybe I can defer that date with the couch…