Looking For a Multichannel Integrated Amp Sans Tuner

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Q I own an AV receiver but don’t ever listen to broadcast radio. In the future, I’d like to just buy a multichannel integrated amp with no AM/FM tuner, but if those exist they are few and far between. Do people still really use the radio on their systems? —Dave Black, via email

A You’re right — multichannel integrated amplifiers with no AM/FM tuner are few and far between. The only one I know of is the Rotel RAP-1580 Surround Amplified Processor Sound & Vision reviewed in 2017.

While a receiver technically has to include a tuner to be called a receiver, we’ve noted that some new AV receivers omit HD Radio tuning from the feature list — a possible indication of flagging consumer interest in broadcast radio. Either way, internet radio streaming continues to grow in popularity and is supported by many new receivers. That’s the only way I now listen to radio at home.

mround's picture

In practice, I *do* use the radio, if mainly for background music, and am a bit disturbed that Yamaha, who made my receiver and also an older tuner in a system in another room, seems to have cheaped out with the radio in my receiver also. However, that might not be so bad a thing, except that the old tuner is far more sensitive. Anyway, I've listened to the streaming versions of good local FM stations (NPR affiliates) and, frankly, plain olde FM from a decent antenna sounds better. The streams are shrill, though of course, minus the hiss that's below everything on FM, but the biggest issue is that the streams are compressed, horribly so. Yes, the FM is compressed too, because the program needs to be above the hissy noise floor, but the compressor (on the classical/jazz station) is much better-behaved, less obnoxious about its actions. Why does a stream (or HD, for that matter, being digital) even need a compressor?

Essentially, modern equipment provides a tuner because it's necessary to call itself a receiver. I get the impression that nobody really cares about making the tuner work well any more (much like with the OTA side of TVs). Overall, it's something that can easily be ignored if you don't need it, and there are a lot more receivers out there than "bare" multichannel integrateds.

Tommy Lee's picture

What possible benefit is there in dropping AM/FM from your product search?
There would be no cost savings worth mentioning, and your choices become virtually endless when you don't restrict yourself in this silly fashion.
After all, nobody will force you to listen to the radio!

barfle's picture

No, it’s not what I mostly use my system for, but I find that several of the broadcast stations are good to listen to, often as much as my other media sources. Many stations are talk format, including politics, religion and sports, but there’s still good music to be had through a good antenna.

Charles A Sharshin's picture

There's still a valid need for over the air radio and better tuners are included in higher end AV receivers. Too many people don't consider the big picture and even more take much for granted. There are millions of people in rural areas that still have unreliable or low quality Internet connectivity. Streamed radio can be quite good but only if and when your internet connection is decent. And lets not forget power outages. A generator or battery backup can only do so much.

There's still a need for an analog tuner section in AV Receivers and I hope it stays that way for a while. As mentioned previously there wouldn't be much cost savings if they removed the tuner. In fact there would probably be a cost increase as it would require new R&D and retooling at the manufacturing facility.
If you don't need it, or don't want it, just don't use it.
And personally I also find FM to be better quality than most streamed versions of the same station.

When the manufacturer determines there's a cost savings to be had by removing the tuner, it will happen. Just like removing headphone jacks.

johnnydeagle's picture

Smartphones removed headphone jacks to improve water resistance, and create more usable space within for larger batteries and other possibilities.

dblack@usi.edu's picture

My initial question likely suggested a too critical attitude toward radio. I listen to radio, just not on my main system, and think for many receivers are very relevant.

If cost is a factor for not having multichannel amps sans tuners, why do manufacturers make two-channel integrated amps at all? It seems the practice would be the same for someone with a multichannel amp, if they decided later they wanted radio, they could add a tuner.