The AIG FM Tuner Project: Sony ST-5000FW - A True Classic!

      Date posted: March 28, 2008

Read the AIG FM Tuner Project Introduction

Sony ST-5000 FM Tuner
I’ve looked for one of these for over a year in this tuner quest, and until recently, couldn’t persuade one of my oldest friends to part with, or even get aligned, his ST-5000FW. Well, I recently succeeded on both counts, and the one up for sale here also has the gorgeous custom Sony Oiled Walnut sleeve to cradle its sonic and signal-pulling excellence. These tuners are rare enough, and even moreso in Walnut. This is a true Classic, cradled in its best wood formal wear. My friend now has his again, newly restored, as is this one. Here’s some of what had to say about the Sony ST-5000FW:

“Intended to compete with the Marantz 10B, the Sony ST-5000 was the first audio component widely distributed by Sony in the U.S. [It was] built like a tank, more like military gear (or McIntosh tuners) than later Japanese electronics…

“Our contributor Charles says that his ST-5000FW has a beautiful sound, and that “in the next room, it really seems like you have musicians in your house.” He also finds it “almost as good as my KT-7500 [for DXing]… in situations that try the adjacent channel selectivity of any tuner. That’s amazing performance for a 30-year-old unit with all LC filters and only one IF bandwidth.”

“The ST-5000 was Sony’s first tuner, aimed at a heavyweight (the Marantz 10B), and like McIntosh’s MR-55, Sony spared no expense. Later tuners may have had equal or better specs, but were certainly ‘made to a price’ whereas the 5000/5000F seem to have been built with more care.” Our contributor Glenn says that his recapped and aligned ST-5000FW “has the best sensitivity of any tuner I’ve owned and is a wonderful, smooth and sweet-sounding tuner.” And our contributor Al adds, “The ST-5000F is the best shielded tuner I have and one of the most attractive inside that I’ve seen.”

ST-5000, rear

In our own tests, both realigned ST-5000s showed similar sensitivity and selectivity, with my friend’s bringing in 47 stations in generally good stereo on our tower 75-ohm yagi, and 51 on the double-dipole bowtie 300-ohm omni antenna. The one for sale here was a little better on the same winter afternoon, with 49 on the yagi, and 52 on the omni. Both preferred the 300-ohm antenna, and multipath was lower and separation greater, the resulting sound cleaner in most cases.

Because this is a true classic tuner and many readers will know it, I haven’t described its front and rear panel features, but briefly, the front panel has the black plastic Power vertical toggle at extreme left, the variable Muting control next right, with an off position counter-clockwise, and muting varied with clockwise rotation. The center horizontal 3-position toggle selects Mono, Auto, and Stereo only, left-to-right, and the knob to the right is quite a clever 3-position variable high-blend filter, which allows preservation of upper frequency response tailored to the signal quality; The very smooth flywheel tuning knob is at far right.
ST-5000, walnut top
Sonically, this tuner is superb, even as it approaches 40 (debuted in 1968), but the build quality is such that, just looking at it, one sort of expects this. Like a Rolls, its durability is legendary, and its performance is, as Rolls-Royce power was described by its dealers, “adequate”. A finicky collector might want to disassemble it like a classic car to polish every part, but in listening I found it rather more than adequate. The bass is rock solid, the midrange lucid and arresting, and the top end sweet and musical.

In sum, I love these Sony tuners, so well built, and superb performers that they are. The stations just pop in because of the automatic RF narrowing (also seen in the successor ST-5130 as one scans up and down the long dial. The ST-5000FW is a tuner that my longtime friend swears by for listening to the Met broadcasts on Saturdays, and he’ll be doing it again this weekend.

Andrew Marshall

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2 Responses to “The AIG FM Tuner Project: Sony ST-5000FW - A True Classic!”

  1. Andrew Marshall c-ca Says:

    Vlad writes,

    I Just acquired this unit and read your reviews on it in your AIG project. It’s in fantastic cosmetic condition – all original everything and has been in storage for 20+ years. I don’t believe it’s ever been opened up or taken out of the wooden enclosure for that matter. It powers up and emits a deep green glow, and all the switches and knobs are functional. However, when connected to a speaker, it does not produce any sound, but then again, I may not be doing something correctly. In any case, I’m interested in selling it. If you or anyone you know is interested, please reply to
    Thanks, and best regards, Vlad.

    Hi Vlad,

    I’m sure you realize that it is a tuner and not a receiver, and therefore needs to be used with a preamp and/or integrated amplifier. The screw taps on the rear are for antenna hookup.

    I would suggest selling the unit on eBay in Consumer Electronics/Home Audio/Tuners, or Vintage Audio/Tuners.It could fetch several hundred dollars, especially with the wooden case.

    Good luck with it!

    cheers, AM

  2. Mick c-ca Says:

    I am in search for a shaft that the tuner knob mounts to as mine is bent. Any tips on finding one? Thanks

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