When You Find a Pristine Piece of Audio History

Every now and then something really special comes along. Like finding a 50-year-old piece of audio history, never used and sitting in its original sealed box, complete with the original packing, owner’s manual, and shipping label.

Wow.

New Jersey-based vintage audio specialist SkyFi Audio recently came into possession of a 1966 Marantz 10B Stereo FM tuner, one of the top tuners of that era.

Owner Fernando Zorrilla calls 10B “new old stock,” or NOS, a moniker reserved for new products that are no longer in production and have never been used. In this case, the box is open but, as Zorrilla explains, “we had to open it to make sure it was real” (see the video below). “It’s like buying it new in 1966!”

A deceptively simple device, the Marantz 10B is tube-based and features an built-in oscilloscope that shows when you’re locked onto the station you’re tuning in (see the second video below) and a handful of front-panel controls: a big centrally located volume dial, a dial for setting the oscilloscope to output or external mode; a tuning selector that toggles between Hi-Blend, Normal, and Mono; a knob that lets you turn off or dim front panel lighting; and a dial for turning muting on and off. Two small dials on either side of the tuning window let you adjust the oscilloscope’s vertical and horizontal alignment.

The story gets even better: SkyFi also has the original optional wood cabinet — new in its sealed box and available for purchase separately.

To give a little context to this story, the top radio hits in 1966 included “Good Vibrations” and “Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys and a slew of now-classic Beatles tunes: “Paperback Writer,” “Michelle,” “We Can Work it Out,” “Yellow Submarine,” and “Eleanor Rigby.” Frank and Nancy Sinatra also had dueling hits that year: “Strangers in the Night” and “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” respectively Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” and “Monday, Monday” by the Mamas & The Papas also filled the airwaves in 1966.

I’ll give you a moment to take your best guess at what this audio treasure is going for? Got your number?

The amazing tuner and super rare find can be yours for a cool ten grand.

For more information on the Marantz 10B and other vintage and used gear obtained through SkyFi’s alliance with Stereo Exchange, visit skyfiaudio.com.

SkyFi’s Fernando Zorrilla unboxes a classic and peels off protective plastic that’s been on its faceplate for more than 50 years:

Fernando gives a tour of the venerable Marantz 10B:

COMMENTS
brenro's picture

But who listens to FM radio any more?

mround's picture

Well, perhaps, not really *listen* in the audiophile sense, but FM still works great in a car and when I don't want to have to pick and play specific things - let somebody else "stream" it. After all, the model for a lot of internet streaming - "internet radio" - is FM. A nice tuner helps: I have an old Yamaha tuner in the bedroom system that works very well. A good antenna helps, too. None of the extra gear is really expensive. You just have to be ready to kill stereo - go to mono - when things get too noisy (I wish modern tuners had the high-blend option of the Marantz, which cuts the noise without losing all stereo information). And for some reason the compressors used for classical music FM seem to be less intrusive than those used in internet streams and HD radio.

gfrancis0's picture

Would a collector seriously pay $10K for this? Egads. I wouldn't take it for free except to resell it. FM HD sounds 100 times better than this ever could.

jnemesh's picture

HD Radio can be very good, but a GOOD analog tuner will sound better. Trust me, if you have ever heard a good tuner, you would know.

gfrancis0's picture

The broadcast quality of the compressed signal with higher and lower frequencies cut off old FM standard just does not contain nearly as much quality as HD Radio, sorry. You could spend a million dollars on a tuner and it is not going to be able to replace the parts of the music that was never broadcast in the first place. But feel free to spend your money anyway you like.

jeffhenning's picture

All you are really buying this for is that it's a collectable item. Taking the original price and adjusting it for inflation, $10K would be about right.

I recall reading two things:

• As noted, that this was the product that caused Saul Marantz to sell his eponymous company to Superscope. Marantz was not a huge company and, given the expense to do the R&D and production of this tuner, they were drastically undercapitalized and had to sell.

• Dick Sequerra was actually the engineer for this design. So, Saul and Dick, wanting to make the best FM tuner ever, tanked the company. Dick then went on to have his own company where he made an updated version of this design and did that for 2 decades or so. I remember the FM-1 being around $3K 40 years ago.

I haven't listened to radio of any sort in over a decade and I bagged on FM around 2000. I'd heard enough commercials and vapid, verbose DJ's by then to last me the rest of my life.

Chris Teeh's picture

Pretty sophisticated tuner. I could care less about the product, but I was more intrigued by seeing an old time high end piece from 1966 brand new in box, just to see how they did it. That is a good time capsule/collectible - if you have that money to burn...

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