The Accuphase T-100 was designed and produced by “Kensonic Laboratory, a company started by former Kenwood engineers to compete with the llikes of McIntosh. It has a 5-gang front end…[with] linear phase LC IF filters”, according to www.fmtunerinfo.com, who also note, “It has above average sensitivity for high end units and above average build quality in the discrete output stage, which results in great sound.” They also note that “it has excellent selectivity in stock form.”
“The T-100 has quite a sophisticated AM section, with a flat-topped IF filter…”, and 2-stage IF selection to provide both local and DX reception. All secondary tuner functions are under a flip-down door at front panel bottom. These include, left to right (as seen in the pics), Multipath meter, a button which illuminates it when you press it or the panel to open it, AM and FM level trimmer controls, 2-stage FM Muting, Multiplex Filter, and Dial Light intensity at 2 levels. Above on the right front panel’s brushed aluminum surface are AM Distant/Local and FM Mono/Auto buttons, with their LED indicators at center, and the main Signal Strength and Tuning meters to their left. The dial above is broad, well marked and calibrated, as well as clearly lit. The front panel look exudes a combination of simplicity and sophistication, unlike some other expensive tuners’ typical Japanese obsession with gewgaws and technoglitter. I have to say, it looks rather more European, but without the shortwave dial. A flip-down panel (seen open at top of the review) hides the Multipath meter, the AM and FM level controls, as well as IF and Muting selection switches.
Our Accuphase T-100 sample comes from my oldest friend, who has treasured it since the 70s, but not used it in recent years, so I had it cleaned up and aligned by All-In-One Electronics in Toronto. Thereafter, in our standard Audio Ideas tests in good reception conditions, it pulled in 56 stations on our Lindsay double dipole omni 300-ohm antenna, which is lower on our tower than the 75-ohm-connected yagi that brought in 48 signals. The better omni/300-ohm performance was accompanied by more good stereo signals, generally lower noise, and much less observable multipath. It appears that the Lindsay aerial allows the native selectivity of the T-100 to shine, but I’m sure a rotor based super antenna would provide spectacular DX results that were even better (our big tower-top rotor yagi is devoted these days to getting HDTV from about 80 miles away).
The sound quality of this tuner is really what puts this Accuphase into the top echelons. As a broadcaster for much of my life, I know what “in-the-studio” sound is all about, and the T-100 definitely has it! The midrange is lucid and liquid, the bass bottomless, with a silky, sparkling top end, and the sense of liveness from a good CBC Radio 2 concert, or a Cleveland or Chicago orchestral broadcast, is palpable with good antenna and reception. As a veteran announcer, I can almost identify the voice microphones used in many cases. But it’s the music that matters, and that’s what Accuphase tuners are all about.
Now, my friend’s T-100 shows its age a bit, with some top front panel damage from stacking components, which I have carefully documented. But from the front in a shelf this will be virtually invisible. All controls and lights work perfectly, and the option of taming the dial illumination is a life-extending bonus for the bulbs. Dial calibration is spot on, so you’ll know the frequency of every station just by looking at it. The rear panel provides fixed and level “Controlled” outputs, Multipath scope outs, and detector out as well. Antenna inputs are at left rear, with quality screw-tap AM and 300-ohm, and 75-ohm coax. A removable-cable 2-prong power input (at right) may allow audiophile cables to be used, though it would have to be adapted to the older 2-prong wide-flange AC input, as shown.
This is a great tuner, and one which ranks in our group with one other Accuphase, one or two Kenwoods and Sonys, and maybe an early Luxman or two, but not much else. I have to say that some of the trendiest and most expensive supertuners have already been priced out of my acquisition range for this project, but my experience with a few of them is that sound quality is inevitably sacrificed for reception capability. The Accuphase T-100 is a happy exception to this rule, with a perfect balance of the two criteria. It is indeed a classic FM tuner!
Table of contents for The AIG FM Tuner Project
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Audio Ideas: Some Year End Thoughts from Andrew Marshall
The AIG FM Tuner Project: McIntosh MX-113 AM/FM Tuner Preamplifier
The AIG FM Tuner Project: Hitachi FT-4000
The AIG FM Tuner Project: Pioneer TX-7800
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