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  The AIG FM Tuner Project: Pioneer TX-9500

      Date posted: December 13, 2007

Read the AIG FM Tuner Project Introduction

A Silver Beauty With Amber Lighting

TX-9500, lights

The elegant TX-9500 led to the TX-9500 II and TX-9800 and was bettered by them in sensitivity and selectivity, as well in as a few other features. Some say the 9500 sounds better than its immediate successor, and I used this one for months to listen to and record off air from frequently. My listening notes say, “rich mids, good deep bass, and clear treble”, and “a very pretty tuner with its amber Power and Stereo lights”. I hope my attempt at showing these latter is visible in the 2nd picture.

The front panel is nicely uncluttered, with a Output Level control near center, with vertical toggles to the right for MPX Filter and Muting (2 stages, Off), then the large Tuning knob, with exceptionally smooth flywheel action. The AM/FM/Stereo/Mono knob is at far right, and also offers a 400 Hz level-set tone. With the easy-access Level control, this feature makes the TX-9500 a terrific recording tuner, and the superb sound does help, too. The dial lights beautifully and is well calibrated, very accurate from 88 to 108. Such a nice tuning feel…

TX-9500-rear

The rear panel has a 25/75 microsecond switch at top right (secured to 75 as it should be), AM and FM inputs, finger-turn screw types, with a locking 75-ohm coaxial as well . Near centre is the ball-mounted AM antenna, which on our sample came broken, which I have fixed with aluminum tape; it can be adjusted for reception, and then again secured, but this was not a concern for me. Scope outputs are just to the right, with next the separate RCA outputs for adjustable and fixed levels. At far right is an AC outlet.

fmtunerinfo.com has this to say about the TX-9500:

“The TX-9500 has 5 gangs and 4 filters and is roughly equivalent in performance to a Kenwood KT-7500, but is built even more solidly and we think it sounds great (although two contributors thought it was “bright”). The TX-9500 has exactly the same RF front end as the TX-9100 and 9800, with differences only in the IF and audio circuit areas. Our contributor David Rich describes what’s inside: ‘In the IF we have 4 ceramic filter followed by 5 stages of bandpass limiting. The detector is based on a M5109PR chip. I do not have any details on this device, but it sure looks to be balanced. I have only the schematic of the full tuner. Maybe the full service manual or the data sheet gives more details. A HA1156 IC does all the MPX decoding. A HA1137 single chip IF amp and discriminator is used for the signal-strength meter. It is connected before all the limiters so that the meter does not saturate too quickly’.” “The TX-9500 uses discrete transistors in its output stage, rather than op-amps.”
Pioneer TX-9500, front
This TX-9500 is in excellent cosmetic condition, with some small nicks in the top front panel edge, which could be sanded away, I think. All dial lights and indicators work perfectly. The metal case is unscratched, and has a few small age spots (Don’t we all?). The tuner comes with a better-than-mint Owner’s Manual, plastic bound with clear well reproduced graphics.

This Pioneer pioneer (it spawned a series, after all) is in very good alignment, as our tests show: On both the high yagi and lower (on our tower) double dipole omni, the 9500 brought in 56 stations, but more were listenable in better stereo on the Lindsay omni, indicating excellent selectivity and capture ratio. In these better-than-average conditions, WNED, 94.5 from Buffalo, 85 miles away, came in with only slightly noisy stereo. The servo lock works well, but avoids that AFC-style strong-arming found on many other tuners. WNED is near the very strong CBC Radio 2 at 94.1, and a slightly less powerful “Smooth Jazz” (clearly an oxymoron) station closer at 94.7. With the TX-9500 this feature works just right, in my opinion, any stations pulled away from to a stronger probably simply not listenable, anyway.

It’s a very fine and attractive tuner that deserved and found a good home at a price somewhat lower than did the others in the series, and should be viewed as a potential high performance bargain by those seeking an analog FM tuner.

Andrew Marshall

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