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  The AIG FM Tuner Project: Kenwood KT-815

      Date posted: October 9, 2007

Read the AIG FM Tuner Project Introduction

A Pulse Code Detector Kenwood
Kenwood KT-815, front
One of the first Pulse Count Detector models from Kenwood, the KT-815 received favorable if slightly conflicting opinions from the www.fmtunerinfo.com web site: “In our panelist Eric’s side-by-side test, a modified 815 was the equal of the McIntosh MR 78 and MR 80 for sensitivity and selectivity, though the Macs sounded a bit better. The KT-815 seems a bit better for DXing than the KT-7500…” Another commentator there notes, “The soundstage is large (not compressed) and spatial characteristics are excellent (even moreso than the KT-917). I could easily discern individual instruments and their placement in the soundstage. The stereo separation is an incredible 55 dB and signal-to-noise ratio is an extremely quiet 80 dB in stereo. This tuner really does live up to these specs. I at no time felt any listening fatigue…”

In our own Audio Ideas Guide tests, this KT-815 pulled in 54 stations on our high-tower yagi, and 55 on our lower Lindsay double-dipole (bowtie) omni antenna. It proved highly selective, as well as sensitive, with very clean sound and little multipath distortion. I liked its uncoloured and un-enriched sound compared to other tuners, such as many McIntosh models, especially such tuner/preamp models as the MX-113 we tested and sold in the Spring (which, of course, has its own felicities, and is now happily operating in France), and some other highly touted models from other makers. Neutrality is a good start in a tuner you want to listen to seriously and perhaps record from, as I do.

I hope that helps characterize this excellent classic. It has been fully aligned and cleaned, refurbished in fact, with new glass, and fine tuning, so to speak, that results in absolutely gliding flywheel tuning action, and very smooth operation of pushbuttons and the front panel level control. It has very useful Wide and Narrow IF paths, as well as defeatable Servo Lock/Muting and Multiplex Filter selectors. Rear panel accoutrements include coaxial and screwtap 75-0hm inputs, screwtap 300-ohm also, plus AM, with an additional ferrite bar antenna. There are both Variable and Fixed stereo outputs, as well as additional RCAs for outboard multipath scope use. A 25/75 microsecond de-emphasis switch is also provided. A bound Service Manual is included, with an Owner’s Manual available on CD or via download.

This KT-815 is one of the better Kenwood models we have auditioned and tested, and there are some pretty heavy hitters to come, including an 8007, a 7300, 3 7500s, and an 8300, the latter one of the best FM tuners ever designed KT-815,rearand manufactured. The KT-815 comes surprisingly close to it in overall performance, and this sample is in pretty good cosmetic shape, with a very clean and unmarked front panel, with a few small spots on the inside dial area, and the usual bit of wear and scratching on the metal case. The on/off toggle has been replaced, but tastefully, and I must say I did want to keep this tuner because it is both very good and handsome.

Andrew Marshall

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One Response to “The AIG FM Tuner Project: Kenwood KT-815”

  1. Clint Flournoy c-us Says:

    I have this tuner, which i purchased at a flea market in 1997. Everything you’ve said is pinpoint accurate and i’ve turned away many tuners that were stated as being better. Mines had a broken on/off switched, replaced by a very thin toggle which i find better than the original! Personally, i think it stepped on the Sansui TU9900 and the TU717 i had. I also have a Technics ST8080 i’m fond of. The KT815 is like “sweetwater” to me and i see no reason to get rid of it!

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