The AIG FM Tuner Project: Marantz ST-400 AM/FM Tuner

      Date posted: October 1, 2007

Read the AIG FM Tuner Project Introduction

A Neat Little Marantz Analog Tuner w/ Digital Readout & Gyro-Touch Tuning

ST-400, meters

I liked this tuner a lot right away, with its nice champagne face, and smooth Gyro-Touch flywheel tuning, to which is added an Auto Servo lock system that is disabled when you touch the thumbwheel tuning knob. And there’s that digital readout underneath the long, well-calibrated dial, and just about the smoothest tuning action this side of an expensive Kenwood. Meters are provided for signal strength and centre tuning, both very easy to read.

On the back panel come attached output cables, which can be a benefit or liability, depending on how you view it: they can attach directly to an amp, but could be too short in some systems, and they’re not exactly audiophile grade; nor is the pressboard bottom panel. But from the front where it counts, the ST-400 is a real beauty, and functionally elegant, too.

As can be seen at rear, AM and FM connections are via screwtap terminals, a little flimsy, but they work fine, and there’s an AC outlet at left, intended for low-power components, not amplifiers. Frankly, I’m not sure why this was included in this built-to-a-price tuner.

ST-400, rear closeup

In our tests, the Marantz brought in 38 stations on our 75 ohm yagi directional antenna on the tower, but proved more sensitive and selective on the Lindsay double dipole bowtie, with 45 signals, and better stereo quieting, as well as less multipath and other spurious noises or reflections. I liked the accurate analog dial with its digital confirmation (though here something of a gimmick), and the sure locking in of stations, with good ability to separate those close together.

Though far from the hottest tuner we’ve reviewed, ST-400 is an excellent sounding one, a little bright, perhaps, and prone to emphasize stereo noise on weaker signals, with good ones pouring in, it has a very lively and engaging sound quality. Marantz has produced some real clunkers in its tuner lineups over the years, some of them rather bimbo-like, lovely on the outside, but with very little inside, but this one may look a little cheap when you lift its skirts, but overall it’s quite a fine performer, and looks the part on the component shelf. Our Marantz ST-400 found a happy home in Scandinavia, like the McIntosh, becoming a European traveler.

Andrew Marshall

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