The AIG FM Tuner Project: Kenwood KT-900 - A New Style for the 80s

      Date posted: April 9, 2008

Read the AIG FM Tuner Project Introduction

Kenwood KT-900, front1

“Part of Kenwood’s “Audio Purist” series, this little brother of the KT-1000 uses their pulse count detector circuitry also found in the 600T and KT-615/815/917 series. The KT-900 has analog tuning but has a digital LED frequency readout in addition to the analog dial. It has 4 gangs (although we have an Audio Purist brochure that erroneously claims 5 gangs!) and 4 filters and, when modified, is similar in DX performance to a modified KT-615 or 815.”

So says about the KT-900, introduced in 1981 during the unfortunate changeover from analog to digital tuners, which, in my view, set back tuner design by at least a decade for most manufacturers. It has an analog front end, which is a good start, with a digital-style opposing arrow tuning indicator which works well, though some may miss the meters. This allows a very slim vertical profile. It also has Muting, dual IF selection, and mono/stereo buttons, and a Record Cal one as well. The dial pointer is lit, and the black tuning knob is at right. The rear panel is quite simple, with screw-tap antenna terminals at left with right and left audio outputs on the same insulating barrier strip. There is a toggle for de-emphasis near centre, and, for whatever reason, an AM IF output RCA at extreme right. The AM antenna is missing on our sample, as can be seen in the photo.
KT-900, rear
In our tests on a rather poor reception Winter day, the KT-900 managed 36 FM stations on our tower 75-0hm yagi, but improved to 55 from the 300-ohm double-dipole bowtie omni, as marked a preference as we have experienced so far. Perhaps it was an abrupt change in reception conditions, something that can happen this time of year. But stereo performance was better with the omni antenna, too, as was selectivity. The end result is that the KT-900 is quite a hot tuner under the right conditions, and the Narrow IF really helps separate close-together stations.

It’s also a pretty good sounding tuner, too, if not quite built to the standards of the 7000 series models, being after the oil crisis and the rise in steel prices. I quite like its techno looks and slim profile. Our sample has definitely been stacked, with quite a few scratches on the top, and little nicks in a panel join on the top. A little spray paint will help in the former case, but I’d prefer to cover the whole top and sides in leatherette or even black or gray vinyl. This Kenwood Audio Purist Series KT-900 is a fine tuner with good DX potential, and excellent sound and stereo performance, that could be a fun project.

Andrew Marshall

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3 Responses to “The AIG FM Tuner Project: Kenwood KT-900 - A New Style for the 80s”

  1. Dave T c-unknown Says:

    “and, for whatever reason, an AM IF output RCA at extreme right.”

    well the reason is/was: AM-stereo. The kt-900 was supposed to have a companion AM stereo decoder box. Presumably they were waiting for the arguments over competing stereo formats to be settled, but for whatever reason, it (the decoder) never materialised.

    The AM-IF out socket was only present on USA models, not on general export models.

    By the way, the electrolytic caps in the audio stages of this tuner can do with an upgrade (not due only to age, but just due to bad choice in original manufacture)

  2. Andrew Marshall c-unknown Says:

    Ah, yes, I remember the AM stereo kerfluffle, in which terrified AM broadcasters thought stereo would save their stations from the scourge of FM. But it didn’t happen for obvious reasons, simply that stereo did not save AM, and the so-called “marketplace decision” made a winner impossible and the manufacture of competitive radios too expensive, with all those different decoder chips required. Sony tried and failed, and serious tuner manufacturers, simply turned up their noses and ignored the whole thing.

    Is this a lesson for HD Radio? I wonder.

    Andrew Marshall

  3. merlin c-au Says:

    guys, i have a problem with my tuner kt-900 there is no FM station only AM, is there any of you have a copy of service manual of this type of tuner, please let me know….

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