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Onkyo Tuners

Tuners are listed in alphabetical and numerical sequence by model number. In parentheses after the model number are the year of introduction and most recent list price, and/or the original list price if indicated by "orig" (special thanks to David Rich of The Audio Critic for copies of historical material from his reference library). We have posted updated eBay sale price data on this page through June, 2009; data for "as is" or damaged tuners, or otherwise unrepresentative auctions, may be excluded.

There are many Onkyo tuners in our On-Deck Circle that we'd like to consider listing here if we can get some basic information on them (types of controls and features, and any personal anecdotes or comparisons to other tuners). Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about any of them.

Onkyo Grand Integra T-G10 (1988, $850, photo, owner's manual (corrupted), service manual (corrupted)) search eBay
The most expensive tuner in the Integra line is identical, cosmetically, to the T-9090II, except for the high-gloss side panels. We haven't undertaken a complete comparison of the T-G10 to the T-9090II, inside, but they use the identical ceramic filter arrangement for Wide, Narrow and Super Narrow modes -- 9 filters in total. The two tuners' specs are identical as well. Check The Vintage Knob for more information and photos of the T-G10. None of our panelists has ever seen a T-G10 in the flesh, and they show up only about once a year on eBay (most recently, $638 in 5/06, $456 in 9/07, $689 in 2/08 and $494 in 4/09).

Onkyo T-407 (1991, $350, owner's manual) search eBay
The T-407 is a black digital tuner that we're in the process of reviewing. It has the varactor equivalent of 5 gangs, wide/narrow IF bandwidth settings, and the typical Onkyo front-panel light show. The European equivalent of the T-407 is the T-4850. The T-407 is very common on eBay and can sell for as little as $10-30, with a recent high of $76 in 1/08 and an all-time high of $125 in 5/05.

Onkyo T-450RDS (1993, $355, owner's manual) search eBay
The T-450RDS is a black digital tuner with RDS capability (see the T-4310R writeup below for more on RDS). DXer Mike Bugaj has a good review of the tuner on his website, as well as a comparison of the T-450RDS to the Denon TU-1500RD. In our view, many people would find the absence of a signal meter in the T-450RDS to be a major annoyance. The T-450RDS is scarce on eBay and usually sells for $30-60, with an all-time high of $163 in 5/06. The Euro version of the T-450RDS, the T-4051RDS, appears to be identical except for voltage and tuning increments.

Onkyo T-488F (1993) search eBay
We don't have any first-hand information on the extremely rare T-488F, a digital tuner with Onkyo's APR system (described in the T-9090 writeup below), dual antenna inputs and RDS capability (see the T-4310R writeup below for more on RDS). In addition to Wide, Narrow and Super Narrow IF bandwidth modes, the T-488F had a circuit called DYNAS which our contributor Nick describes as "a unique filtering system that automatically tracks the bandwidth according to conditions, right down to 20 kHz." Engaging DYNAS can reportedly make audible a signal that would otherwise be swamped by a strong local 100 kHz away. Nick uses the T-4970, believed to have been sold only in Germany, which we believe was identical to the T-488F except for voltage and tuning increments. See the T-4970 review for some cautionary words on the DYNAS circuit.

Here's a further description of the DYNAS circuit, apparently quoted from Onkyo's own sales materials:
"The U42922B is a bipolar integrated FM-IF circuit, which is controlled by software. It performs all the functions of the DYNAS system. The device is designed for car radio and home receiver applications. DYNAS is a completely new system of FM-IF processing. It uses bandpass filters with a bandwidth down to about 20 kHz compared to 160 kHz for a conventional bandpass filter, and tracks the resonant frequency to the actual frequency. Implementation of the DYNAS system drastically enhances both of the basic, classic characteristics of radio reception: selectivity and reception sensitivity. DYNAS ensures enhancement up to levels which until now were not considered physically feasible. A complete system description can be found in "DYNAS system & its application in car radios" (Jan. 1992).

Features
In comparison to conventional FM-IF systems:
More than 26 dB better selectivity in case of directly (100 kHz) adjacent transmitters"

Onkyo T-909 (1978, $950, photo) search eBay
A very rare FM-only tuner, the T-909 was one of the early digitals, coming out the year after the Luxman 5T50 and Sherwood Micro/CPU 100 made their debuts. Although the T-909 is an attractive tuner, sounds very nice and is powerful - the rich bass and feeling of "reserve power" remind our panelist of a Yamaha CT-7000 or Kenwood L-0TII - the high list price was largely due to the new technology. The T-909 has only one IF bandwidth, but adjacent channel selectivity is not bad (unlike the CT-7000's which is non-existent). Tuning is in .2 kHz steps, by scanning with up/down pushbuttons, or with 7 presets. The T-909 has a unique system of presets in which each station frequency is represented by a specific configuration of LEDs, and to program a frequency into memory one must slide little switches to the right to match the combination of LEDs that are lit under each preset button. On the back panel are horizontal and vertical outputs for an oscilloscope, RCA outputs for a Dolby adaptor and a variable output level knob. On the front, behind a pop-out panel that also houses the preset system, are Dolby on/off, noise filter, stereo/mono and muting on/off. The T-909 has the electronic equivalent of 5 gangs and a complicated filter scheme involving LC filters, one 4-pin ceramic and two 3-pin ceramics. T-909 sale pricing on eBay is erratic: a few have sold for $150-250, two with minor cosmetic issues sold for just $15 in 1/04 and $68 in 6/04, and one with a preset problem went for $27 in 6/07. [EF]

Onkyo T-4015 search eBay
Somewhat similar to the T-4017, according to our contributor Tom B., the T-4015 usually sells for $25-40 on eBay, with a low of $10 in 6/07 and a high of $85 in 7/08. We have more information on it in the electronic to-do pile that we'll add when time permits.

Onkyo T-4017 ($350, photo, service manual) search eBay
The T-4017 is a nice digital tuner with wide and narrow IF bandwidth settings and 4 ceramic filters. The first two in the circuit, X101 and X102, have a 230 kHz or 280 kHz bandwidth and are used for wide mode, and all 4 filters are used for narrow. The third and fourth filters, X103 and X104, have a fairly narrow 180 kHz bandwidth. Our contributor Tom B. offers this comparison: "Lifting the hood on the T-4087 and T-4017 shows a similar layout and configuration of the circuit board, etc. On the outside both models also have the same output level control knob on the back. The T-4017 has better sensitivity, but I would say the T-4087 is easily more selective. Their U.S. models both tune in 0.1 MHz increments. The T-4087 has more controls for fine tuning the RF, blend, etc. The T-4017 only has mute on/off, local/distant and mono/stereo. Soundwise, they both have similar clarity of the mids and high frequencies. The T-4087 has more and deeper bass, so with a strong signal it is more satisfying for the audiophile." Read Paul C.'s detailed instructions on how to do a filter mod on the T-4017 on Audiokarma. The T-4017 might be a good choice for someone on a budget, usually selling for $20-50 on eBay, with a recent low of $10 in 9/08 and a high of $91 in 2/04.

Onkyo T-4038 (1986, $160) search eBay
The T-4038 is a low-end tuner that we do not recommend, but might be a fun project for a modder. Our contributor John S. reports: "A $5.00 T-4038 is about as gutless a gutless wonder as you'll find. I thought I'd try a couple of narrow filters in its two slots and noticed that there were circuit board markings for a third filter and another IF amp transistor and components. One transistor scavenged from a dead VCR board, five resistors, one disc cap, three sockets, a 110 kHz and two 150 kHz filters later and it's still not much, but it's sure a whole lot better than it was when I started. It's amazing how much less disgusting a low-end tuner can be, with very little effort and a well-stocked junk box." The T-4038 sells for $20 or less on eBay.

Onkyo T-4040 search eBay
Our contributor Radu reviewed the silver-faced analog T-4040, a low-end sibling of the T-4090. For some unknown reason, Onkyo also produced a black digital T-4040, apparently no relation to this one except for the model number. Here's Radu:

"I could never find a schematic, and will do my best to describe it electronically, but it seems to have two RF amplification stages (likely based on FETs) - or maybe one and a mixer aside from the local oscillator, while the FM IF strip is managed through a Hitachi HA1137W. The PLL MPX is a Sanyo LA3350, while I think the AM is handled by an LA1240. The box is worryingly empty, suggestive of what is basically a budget tuner. The FM RF signal is brought to the board by a twisted wire as opposed to either a short connection straight onto the board from the rear 300-ohm taps or a true 300- or 75-ohm cable.

"In terms of reception, it sits towards the bottom of my current pool of tuners. It receives my DX test as well as my best tuners, but when it comes to a closer station with a very strong adjacent, my McIntosh MR 1700 and Sony ST-5100 beat it hands down. Soundwise, things are a bit better, though again not outstanding. The sound is lacking the soundstage that my MR 65 has, and is on the bright side; not much bass to speak of. My Mac 1700 goes much, much lower. By and large, it is the sound to be expected from involving ICs as a cheap solution to replace a discrete implementation, in my opinion.

"The front panel has some pretty neat indicators of dead-on reception and of which way to tune, etc. Pretty good-looking overall, though the quality of materials is unimpressive. Light to the touch and light to pick up. In conclusion, not recommended. It's cheap and doesn't really shine at anything in particular. Pretty handsome, but that's about it." The T-4040 generally sells for around $20 on eBay.

Onkyo T-4055 (1974, photo) search eBay
The T-4055 is an older tuner that has some fans. Our contributor Walt says, "I know the T-4055 very well. In '76 or '77, The Absolute Sound (probably Issue 5 or 6) had a tuner shootout which included such items as a Marantz 10B, the first Sequerra tuner, and the T-4055. The T-4055 was rated as #2 overall, and #1 in terms of bang for the buck and ease of listening. In retrospect it was somewhat overrated at the time, but considering I was able to buy them for $141 at the time, it was a stone bargain. I probably bought and sold at least two dozen over a 2-1/2 year period. The T-4055 has a switch for an audio output of the multipath. Other than that and a warmish sound, it's pretty basic. The bass is lacking dynamics, and the treble in the 6-7K range might also be slightly shelved down. Overall, it's a pleasant-sounding unit. It's no DX rig stock, and the AM section is miserable. It has a lot of room to work on the boards. There are quite a few cheap coupling caps on the boards which have probably started to leak in the past few years, and they should all be replaced."

Bill Ammons says, "The front panel has an output level control, muting, and noise filter control, plus the AM/FM/auto selector and tuning knob. There is a switch in the back to make the multipath audible, and a wideband detector output for hooking into SCA and quad adapters. I did pop the top - it is a 4-gang FM, 3-gang AM design with three green 280 kHz ceramic filters (single bandwidth), with the IF stages having a 10.7 MHz ceramic resonator from emitter to ground on each of the IF gain stages. The T-4055 has for its price range a very good RF front end. The RF amp and mixer are MOSFET and it has some well-spaced higher Q coils. It performs well in strong signal areas." Our contributor Alan has compared the T-4055 to tuners like a Magnum Dynalab FT-101A Etude and says the T-4055 is "one fine tuner, both from a DX perspective and especially sonically." Our contributor Greg F. says, "I have two Sherwood S-3000Vs and next to them the Onkyo sounds grainy, but it picks up many more stations. Also, it has performed flawlessly for 25 years." The back panel has fixed and variable outputs and jacks for an oscilloscope. Apparently early units, but not all T-4055s, had a 400 Hz calibration tone with an on/off switch on the back. The T-4055 usually sells for $45-75 on eBay, but almost anything is possible, from $11 in 5/06 to $150 in 8/05.

Onkyo T-4057 search eBay
Our contributor Tom B. has owned a couple of T-4057s and tells us: "The T-4057 looks like the T-4087 in appearance, but the comparison stops there. It does not have all the tuning features, just the basics, and no variable output. The circuit board, etc. has less to it, and overall it weighs less, partially because it does not have the wood side panels. The T-4057's sensitivity seems to be very similar to the T-4087's, but I don't know about its selectivity. The T-4057 sounds decent, but not as good as the T-4087. The T-4057's highs are not as clear/extended as the T-4087's (and the T-4017's), and the 4057 does not have the bass quality of the 4087." Our contributor Stephan is also unimpressed: "Had a look at the schematic of the thing, and found the US/Worldwide versions to be shockingly simple RF/IF-wise (compared to the T-4087) - a mere 3-gang front end and two ordinary 280 kHz filters, that's portable level. The 220V version (also sold as T-4250 over here [Germany - Editor]) features another (presumably better, maybe 4-gang) front end and three 230 kHz GDT filters (SFE10.7MM), at least. Demod and MPX are HA11225 and HA1196. Not exactly good value I'd say." The T-4057 usually sells for $20-60 on eBay, occasional lows around $10 and surprising highs of $103 in 11/05 and again in 7/06 (as two guys ran it up from $26).

Onkyo T-4087 (1986, $420/orig $349, photo) search eBay
The T-4087, a digital tuner with the equivalent of 5 gangs, is like the baby brother of the T-9090II. It looks just like a thinner T-9090II, with a black cabinet, fake rosewood side panels, and dial lights reminiscent of an arcade game. The T-4087 has good sensitivity, decent sound quality, and superb selectivity in stock form -- comparable to the T-9090 and T-9090II -- because 2 of its 4 stock ceramic filters (which are switched into the circuit for the narrow IF mode) have a narrow 150 kHz bandwidth. The wide filters are first and last in the circuit (X101 with a 230 kHz bandwidth and X104 with a 250 kHz bandwidth), while the two narrow filters, with a 150 kHz bandwidth, are in the middle (X102 and X103). The T-4087 has a combined stereo/mono and muting on/off switch that prevents one from choosing to listen to weak signals in stereo (muting can be defeated only by switching to mono). Also, the T-9090II tunes in .025 MHz increments, but the U.S. version of the T-4087 only tunes in 0.1s, so detuning away from a strong adjacent-channel local station is not possible. The T-4087 is fairly common on eBay and usually sells for anywhere from $35-100, with no discernible pattern (and a recent low of $20 in 10/08, a nice bargain!). For $80 or less, it's a good value for a DXer who doesn't mind the muting circuit; however, people occasionally overpay at $150 or higher, and we question the sanity of the eBay bidders who paid $227 in 6/06, $231 in 5/07 and $218 in 4/08. See the T-4017 listing above for our contributor Tom B.'s comparison of the T-4087 and T-4017, and scroll down on this Audiokarma page for Paul C.'s discussion of the T-4087's filters. The Euro version of the T-4087, the T-4270, appears to be identical to the T-4087 except for voltage and tuning increments. [EF]

Onkyo T-4120 (1987, $210) search eBay
Our contributor Brian Beezley reports: "The T-4120 is a wonderful little basic tuner that I found at a garage sale for $1. The tuner has standard features with 20 presets. The antenna terminals are thumbscrews; there is no F-connector. Remote control is by wire with the Onkyo R1 system. AM was sensitive, sounded good, and tuned to 1620 kHz. The fluorescent display is an attractive light green. The cabinet is black and so is the front panel, with white lettering in an elegant, understated font. None of the flashy, cheesy, look-at-me looks of many cheap tuners. Also unlike many cheap tuners, the cabinet is all metal, with no plastic or fiberboard anywhere. The T-4120 has but three ICs on the main board, plus a microprocessor on the display board, and a dozen or so transistors. The PCB occupies a very small portion of the cabinet, which is otherwise empty. There are just two tuned circuits before the mixer, but I didn't notice any intermod in my high-RF location. There are two 280 kHz IF filters. The detector is double-tuned, which is unusual in a basic design. Also unusual are the two complex LC output filters that knock down the 19 kHz stereo pilot and 38 kHz L-R modulation. I know the filters are complex because I had to repair a tiny broken wire inside one. Under the shield and adjustable ferrite cap, I found two tapped inductors and two capacitors, everything tiny as can be. The elliptic-function filter response drops nulls at 19 and 38 kHz, which is just what you want. An amazing amount of functionality in a tiny can.

"I always replace the IF filters in these basic tuners. Not only does this improve selectivity, it greatly reduces HD Radio self-noise (the background noise most home tuners produce when receiving HD Radio stations with digital sidebands, now proliferating across the dial). I put a pair of 180 kHz filters in this tuner. The 1 kHz stereo distortion was something like 0.2% for the original 280s, but it dropped below 0.1% with carefully selected 180s. The distortion spectrum was nearly identical in mono, something I've never seen before. Better still, distortion didn't increase as the signal level dropped, a problem I find in many expensive tuners. It did increase as the signal got very strong, but I forgave it. Separation was about 45 dB and not adjustable. There is a muting adjustment, one for the 19 kHz VCO, and several AM adjustments. After repairing and aligning the tuner, I hooked it to an outside antenna and took a listen. It sounded so good that I got caught up in a beautiful chamber music concert and forgot all about tuner evaluation. This is the nicest basic tuner I've yet come across." The T-4120 usually sells for $20-50 on eBay.

Onkyo T-4150 (1987, $325) search eBay
A moment of silence, please, for perhaps the worst eBay tuner purchase we've ever seen. Two lunatics took an inexplicable liking to a T-4150 and bid it up from $26 to $300 in 5/03. This rather basic black digital tuner has 4 gangs, 20 presets, wide and narrow bandwidth settings, switchable high-blend and antenna attenuation, signal strength indicator, and Onkyo's proprietary "APR" system, so it's not bad, but the normal price range on eBay is $25-60 (with a more recent high of $112 in 2/07 and a low of $18 in 11/06). With so many decent Onkyos available inexpensively, it's hard to imagine why anyone would fight over this one (if you're patient, you can even get a T-9090 for a lot less than $300!). The Euro version of the T-4150, the T-4450, appears to be identical to the T-4150 except for voltage and tuning increments.

Onkyo T-4310R (1995, $280, photo) search eBay
A little lightweight black digital synthesizer tuner with surprisingly decent sound and excellent sensitivity and selectivity. The T-4310R has 4 ceramic filters, two of which have a narrow 150 kHz bandwidth that should satisfy all but hardcore FM DXers. It tunes in .025 MHz increments, allowing for detuning to escape interference from a strong adjacent channel station. As the R in its model number indicates, the T-4310R has RDS (Radio Data System) capability as well. FM stations that broadcast an encoded RDS signal give DXers the ability to identify them without having to wait for the call letters to be announced. Here's Mike Hawk's explanation of how RDS works. The T-4310R was a recommended component in Stereophile despite (or perhaps partly due to) its modest price. The T-4310R has sold on eBay for as low as $30 in 8/09 and as high as $203 in 3/08 for a "new" one, but usually $50-100 when the seller explains that the tuner has RDS and what that means. See how one T-4310R sounded compared to many top tuners on our Shootouts page. [EF]

Onkyo T-4500 (1989, $320, photo, inside, T-4650 schematic) search eBay
The T-4500, a black digital FM-AM tuner, is the little brother of the T-4700. The two tuners are quite different inside despite their similar exteriors. The T-4500 has the equivalent of 5 gangs and 4 ceramic filters, 2 of which are used in Wide mode and all 4 of which are used in Narrow mode. Our contributor Stephan notes that the T-4500 and the T-4650, a European model that appears to be identical to the T-4500 except for voltage and tuning increments, use the Sanyo LA3401 MPX chip, and the Sanyo LA1266 IF limiter/mute/metering IC for the quadrature detector function. Our panelist Jim did a Shootout and offers this general information about the T-4500: "You like buttons? We've got buttons! This tuner is a button pusher's dream. I counted 41 and that's without considering that the 20 presets become 40 with the shift button. One button I used a lot during my DX tests was the cable/mute button, which also changes the tuning steps from .5 to .25 MHz. Functions are defeatable but when you change stations, the mute can activate. There is an 'APR' (automatic precision reception) button that chooses the best reception parameters. It, too, can be defeated per the operator's needs. The T-4500 has wide and narrow bandwidths and a local/DX RF mode. Also included is a manually selectable high blend and manual/auto tuning switch. This model takes a slide-on (quick-connect) 75-ohm connection - a screw-on F-connector won't fit."

The T-4500's "Classified Memory Scan System" allows one to group preset stations into six "classes." Like many Onkyos, the T-4500 has excellent selectivity even in stock form, largely because two of its four ceramic filters have a narrow 150 kHz bandwidth. The wide filters, with a 230 kHz bandwidth, are first and last in the circuit (X101 and X104), while the two narrow filters, with a 150 kHz bandwidth, are in the middle (X102 and X103). The T-4500 would be a good tuner for a DXer or anyone in an urban area with strong signals. Our contributor Stephan compared his T-4500 to a Kenwood KT-880D: "For tougher (more crowded) receiving conditions, I'd prefer the T-4500, since it features one more gang, one more IF filter and a nifty channel separation correction circuit for narrow IF mode (simple but effective; look out for Q202)." Stephan also speculated, "On strong signals, the Kenwood with its nominally lower distortion LA1235 (instead of the LA1266 as used in the T-4500) may sound better, though that's probably more a matter of alignment."

Stephan points out a problem affecting some T-4500s: "A significant number of T-4650s (and thus also T-4500s) appear to be affected by more or less serious amnesia. This has been traced to the microprocessor not going to sleep quickly enough when the tuner is turned off. (That would be triggered by pulling the /HLD line low.) Instead it continues running for a while, discharging the goldcap. You may not notice this as long as the goldcap is still in good shape, but as it grows older and its resistance increases (aided by nice warm temps near the display), the voltage may drop too much for the µP which promptly forgets all of its memories. My own T-4650 shows semi-serious symptoms, it wants to be warmed up properly in order to save its memories, but then it'll keep them for weeks without problems. It appears the goldcap is being charged veeery slowly. Maybe more is involved here. The cause for the problem appears to be cost-cutting during the main PCB design. The more expensive T-4700/T-4670 (same µP board, but different main PCB) features an additional transistor for pulling /HLD low and seems to be much less frequently affected. The successor T-407/T-4850 adds a 100-ohm resistor in series with the goldcap and another 1k resistor to avoid shock discharging of a 1µ/50V electrolytic involved.

"What about a fix, you ask? For a naive and untested approach, connect a matching NPN transistor (Onkyo used DTC114YS on the T-4700 and TC144ES on the T-4850) with the base and emitter in parallel to R906, emitter to ground, while the base (and that is where untested comes into play) should go to the anode of either R813 or R814 (the Q806-side end of R825 would also work; these three spots are all connected). I heard that another approach would also work, but have yet to receive details. My T-4650 had two mods done on the µP board, one with a diode affecting the /DSP line (maybe from the factory) and another, more amateurish-looking one that essentially pulls up /HLD via 2.4 K ohm (and down when +5.6 V is without juice). Apparently the latter was an earlier attempt to fix the problem, with only moderate success." Typical sale prices for the T-4500 on eBay have dropped from the $200 area in 2004 and early 2005 to just $50-85, a great bargain, but up to $115 (in 6/09) is possible and still not a bad buy. The all-time low and high are $22 in 9/08 and $255 in 1/07. [EF][JR]

Onkyo T-4555 (2007, $600, photo, owner's manual)
Onkyo's promotional materials say:
"Bringing the Radio Revolution to Your Home Entertainment System
The T-4555 multi-platform tuner gives you some tasty options, particularly if you're looking for the stunning quality of HD Radio or the eclectic programming of XM® Satellite Radio and SIRIUS™ Satellite Radio. On any high-quality tuner, you want to protect the signal all the way from reception to output. That's why the T-4555 is housed in a robustly built chassis (with brushed aluminum finish) and graced with gold-plated audio outputs. Further accentuating sound quality, the T-4555 uses a high-quality transformer to promote signal purity. And thanks to its 12V triggers, RS232 port and IR inputs/outputs, the T-4555 can be integrated into the very best home entertainment systems."

But our contributor Chris offers something less than a rave review: "I bought the Onkyo T-4555 tuner (new) about nine months ago. I have Googled for reviews on the tuner, but haven't found a genuine breakdown and performance review of the tuner. I looked for reviews before and after my purchase and I still search weekly for new reviews. I think it is very odd that there are very few reviews about the T-4555 for use in the North American market with the HDRadio receiver card. There seem to be a few reviews of the European model with DAB receiver card. I bought the tuner based on the quality of past Onkyo tuners. What attracted me to this tuner was the built in HDRadio decoder. I live in a market where 80% of the stations broadcast HDRadio. The stations that have IBOC HDRadio tune in with very few problems. The analog stations tune very poorly. The first action I took was installing an antenna with rotor on the roof of my house, but this didn't correct the problems I'm experiencing with analog reception.

"Analog stereo reception is poor. From once an hour to several times a minute an analog station will go silent for 50 to 100 milliseconds. If switched to mono an analog station will go silent for 500 to 3000 milliseconds every few hours. If I have the tuner on for a long time (more than 12 hours) tuned to the same station, when I tune to another station there is no sound. To correct this I have to shut the power off and turn the tuner back on, and then tuning to other stations works again. Once in a while if I listen to an HDRadio station for a long time (more than 12 hours), when I tune to an analog-only station the tuner will display the analog station as an HDRadio station. To correct this problem I have to disconnect the AC main from the receiver for ten seconds and plug it back in, or I can manually reset the tuner to factory default which erases all the stations I have set in memory.

"Now I imagine you're thinking why do I still have this tuner and why didn't I try to have it repaired. I did. Onkyo replaced the tuner with a new one (brand new, not refurbished) That's good service. However, the tuner they sent me was from the same build lot. Build date the same, serial number had couple of different digits. I buy my AV equipment from a family friend who is in the high-end audio business. My friend called around to other Onkyo dealers who sell, own and use the T-4555 and no one has had any problems with the tuner nor have they had customers return the tuner because of the problems I am experiencing. My friend tested both tuners and verified that there is a problem with the tuners. He contacted his Onkyo rep, told the rep about the problems I'm having, and that I had a professionally installed antenna system that cost more than the tuner. (I paid $500 CDN for the tuner which is $100 less than the CDN MSRP.) What really upset me was that Onkyo treated me like a complaining customer. They gave me a new tuner, but didn't even take the time to test the tuner I returned even when my friend verified that there was a real problem. They didn't believe him because no Canadian customer has returned a T-4555 tuner to Onkyo with the problem I have stated.

"I've heard the problem. My friend who sold me the tuner heard the problem and feels bad that he sold me the tuner. The engineer who installed the antenna heard the problem, and determined that multipath wasn't an issue. The signal is not overloading the front end. He was surprised because this is the first Onkyo tuner he has heard with this problem. His final opinion was that the front end was crap and can't isolate the station I want tuned from adjacent stations. His recommendation was 'buy an analog tuner because digital tuners are garbage.'" Well, the engineer lost many of us with that comment, and most TIC contributors who have wanted to hear HD Radio have had good things to say about the Sony XDR-F1HD, which can be found for a fraction of the price of the T-4555.

Onkyo T-4650 and
Onkyo T-4670
The T-4650 and T-4670, the European model numbers for the T-4500 and T-4700, respectively, were believed to be identical to their U.S. counterparts except for voltage and tuning increments.

Onkyo T-4700 (1990, $450, photo, inside, T-4670 schematic1, T-4670 schematic2, Audio review, owner's manual) search eBay
The T-4700, a black digital FM-AM tuner and the scarcer big brother of the T-4500, is another typically superb DXing tuner from Onkyo. It has a very complicated front end, as our panelist Bob explains: "From the schematic, you can see there are two gangs before the metal can, which are switched in or out of the circuit with diodes, controlled by a local/DX switch. The 'local' setting would add the two gangs. Then, there are another two gangs, an RF amp, another two gangs, then a mixer. There is one gang used in the oscillator. This totals 5 gangs in DX mode, 7 in Local mode. Recall that an RF gang, besides being a bandpass filter, has loss. The extra two gangs would be like inserting a tuned attenuator in front of a normal 5-gang tuner. The 4 tuned gangs before the RF amp would seem to be a really decent design to prevent front end overload in areas with big local transmitters. I've never seen that design before (normally there are one or two gangs before the RF amp), but it makes sense."

The T-4700 has 6 ceramic filters, two of which have a narrow 150 kHz bandwidth for the Narrow IF bandwidth mode. The T-4700 tunes in either .5 MHz or .25 MHz steps, and has a remote control. Jim's description of the T-4500's features applies as well to the T-4700, which also has a front-panel output level knob, dual antenna jacks, adjustable muting level, and the ability to input names for stations - in fact, Jim would be pleased to count 44 buttons and one knob on the T-4700's front panel. Despite their similar exteriors, the T-4700 is quite different from the T-4500 inside, with a much larger and more sophisticated circuit board. With a couple of matched 110 kHz filters installed, the T-4700 would probably be a world-beater for DXing, on par with a T-9090 or T-9090II. The T-4700 and T-4500 are more intelligently designed than the T-9090s, however, with their 40 presets and related buttons grouped together to allow the 'APR' function buttons to be laid out more logically. The T-4670 is a European model that appears to be identical to the T-4700 except for voltage and tuning increments. The T-4700 is rarely seen on eBay, where it usually sells for $150-200 (with a recent low of $90 in 1/08 and an all-time high of $270 in 9/05). A scratched one went for just $57 in 12/06, a great deal. [EF]

Onkyo T-4711 (1996, $600, black, gold, owner's manual 1, 2) search eBay
A digital tuner with excellent sensitivity and selectivity, the T-4711 has 6 ceramic filters and is a great tuner for DXing, especially when modified. It was available in a typical black cabinet or in a "50th anniversary limited edition" gold cabinet. The T-4711 has switchable wide and narrow IF bandwidth settings, a hi-blend switch, fine tuning in 25 kHz steps, a timer and a remote control. It also has RDS (Radio Data System), described in the T-4310R writeup above. Here is an old website with some suggested mods for the T-4711, but don't try filters this narrow if you care at all about sound quality.

Our contributor Ken K. found his T-4711 to be more sensitive and selective than five excellent Yamaha tuners: "In order of FM selectivity, I rate the Onkyo the best, then the T-85 (then the TX-1000, TX-950, T-7, and T-1). Of the two contendahs, the T-85 just doesn't quite match the ability of the Onkyo to hold a weak adjacent station without splatter next to a strong local. Often the Onkyo would have a station clean, on frequency, when the Yamaha required some off-tuning. If the Onkyo couldn't pull a clean signal at all, neither could the T-85. In order of sensitivity, the T-4711 and T-85 were more or less equal, then the T-7, TX-1000 (that had recently been aligned), TX-950, and T-1. Both tuners showed about the same level of hiss on distant stations. Both have stereo blend buttons that mitigate some of that. The Yamaha could grab and hold a cleaner stereo signal at a bit lower signal strength. On closer or local stations, both are strong and clear, though the Onkyo is a little more sensitive to multipath in general. AM reception was typically (of digital tuners) hyper-sensitive on both. There's so much signal from my outside long-wire antenna that I have to use attenuators to prevent overloading. The Yamaha has some advantage over the Onkyo with the ability to fine-tune in 1 kHz steps, but it only tunes to 1620 kHz. The T-85 has slightly stronger mid and lower bass levels. The T-4711 sounds a bit thin in comparison. Otherwise, the mids and highs are quite similar and, overall, both sound very good (though my wife claims I can't hear the annoying dog-whistle note somewhere above 15 kHz emanating from one of our old TVs). So, the winner thus far is the T-4711. But that might be a subjective thing, because the T-85 is so close in all areas, and a little better in a couple."

Our contributor Stephan adds, "This slightly leaner sound seems to be a common issue with 'newer' Onkyos (this goes back to the T-4500/4700 at least), and I have no clue why, since from the schematic they're doing a lot of things right - big buffering and coupling caps, the T-4711 even employs Nichicon MUSE caps, and there's a 5532 in the output stage. With old models like the T-9, it was just the opposite: these beasts sounded good but one would never guess from the messy layout inside. (Alignment stability apparently wasn't extremely good though.) Filter-wise, the most narrow setting of the T-4711 employs two SFE10.7MJK-A (150 kHz 20 kHz tol.), two SFE10.7MZ2K-A (150 kHz GDT - keep in mind these have much less steep filter skirts - 20 kHz tol.), and one SFE10.7MX-A (250 kHz GDT). The -A might stand for what is now an "A10", a filter with lower loss. With this kind of lineup, it's hardly surprising that it makes a good DXer. The T-85 uses SFA... filters [230 kHz bandwidth - Editor] in the most narrow position." The T-4711 usually sells for $250-375 on eBay, with occasional lows of $160-170 (and all-time lows of $102 in 10/08 for a dirty one and $114 in 1/09 for a decent-looking one) and an all-time high of $425 in 6/03. A gold T-4711 went for $380 in 8/08.

Onkyo T-4970
Believed to have been sold only in Germany, the T-4970 is thought to be identical to the T-488F except for voltage and tuning increments. Here's our contributor Lukas's great review: "I bought mine a few years ago on eBay Germany for less than 180 Euros, it was the silver version of that tuner and I was interested in it because of the DYNAS (=dynamic selectivity) feature it has. In a 1992 issue of the German hifi magazine Stereoplay was a detailed report about this tuner which explained this gadget. I hope I can translate the essence of this article although I am not an electrical engineer. The Dynas ciruit was developed by Telefunken as far as I know for use in car stereo equipment and provides a very narrow but variable IF filter: In a mixing stage the IF is set from original 10.7 MHz to 0.7 MHz. The very narrow variable bandwidths of the filters of the DYNAS IC are controlled by the audio signal. The louder the signal, the wider the filters. This works best in mono mode, so the most narrow filters are used only when the tuner works in mono mode. The Dynas option comes in addition to the conventional Wide/Narrow/Supernarrow settings known from the top of the line model T-9090/T-9990. But the Supernarrow is wider than with the 9090. According to Petsuya Toyama, tuner designer at Onkyo, the T-4970 is basically a cost-reduced T-9090 with a simplified IF section but added DYNAS and RDS capabilities. The Stereoplay report rated the 4970 in the same highest class as the 9090. You have to know that the tuner ratings in this magazine were based more or less solely on the DXing capabilities of the tuners. So the point was how many stations a tuner was able to pull in in the Stuttgart region, Germany. This of course is a very specialized situation and living in a different region would make you happier myabe with a different tuner because RF interference is not a problem and the audio quality might be more of an issue to you.

So what can be said about my sample? Well, it has a problem with the DYNAS circuit, bad news. Good news: I do not need it, there is no one single station where it could prove useful since the RF band is not really crowded here in Vienna, Austria (the problem should also be fixed easily, there is either a bad capacitor (styroflex type) or a bad PB connection with this capacitor, I will figure this out soon). When compared to my newly adjusted Yamaha T-2 it is a bit more sensitive. On some very weak stations it produces less noise, but the difference is very small and I have to say that a station that the T-2 can't pull in won't give you much of a listening pleasure with the T-4970, either. Sonically I can't complain, I have the impression of a smooth and warm-sounding tuner. However, I use it in my secondary system with homemade speakers which lack a bit of resolution in the mids and highs, and a rating under these conditions does not make much sense. So when you look for a tuner which should be able to seperate adjacent stations, go for it but have a look that the DYNAS circuit really works."

Lukas adds, "There are 6 filters in the IF section but I am unable to figure out how many of them are active in the different IF modes. The most straightforward guess is a 2+2+2 configuration for Wide-Narrow-Supernarrow. This is also one of the major differences to the T-9090, which employs a separate IF stage for each IF mode (as I was told). Although the service manual describes the procedure of aligning the DYNAS circuit, it is, at least for me, not very clear what to do. But maybe this is also a result of the defective curcuit, as the alignment procedure does not result in the demanded values."

Our contributor Nick adds, "I also have a silver-fronted Onkyo T-4970, bought via German eBay in December 2006. It was the second T-4970 I bought - the first one I bought in October of that year also had problems with the DYNAS circuit. Most of the time it would produce unintelligible audio at very low levels and with no stereo. Thankfully, DYNAS works fine on this one, although I find the response to be asymmetric, with better selectivity below a strong signal than above (the latter causes the audio to cut in and out as the DYNAS can't lock onto the weak signal). Perhaps this is just a matter of alignment. I find the audio to be very good, with a relaxed, smooth and natural sound, although my system isn't high-end. I preferred the sound to my previous tuner, a Sony ST-SA3ES. The Onkyo is a superb DXer, with great sensitivity and selectivity, although my Sony XDR-F1HD is the king of the DXers here."

Onkyo T-9060 (1981, $490, photo) search eBay
The very rare T-9060 has seven presets and buttons for IF bandwidth, auto hi-blend, muting/mode, de-emphasis, signal strength/deviation meter and auto tuning. Our contributor Paul S. reports: "Although it has only seven presets, it's built like a tank (at least 50% heavier than my Onkyo T-4087) and is much more sensitive than the T-4087. Very nice sound." Our contributor Stephan tells us that the T-9060 uses "ordinary SFE10.7M 280 kHz ceramics, two in wide mode and another three for a total of five in normal. Tuned RF circuits: 1x pre RF amp, 3x pre mixer, 1x LO. The T-9060 is essentially a somewhat more sophisticated version of the T-4017." The T-9060 usually sells for $50-100 on eBay, with a low of $16 in 10/08 and a high of $200 in 2/04.

Onkyo T-9090 (1984, $700/orig $600, photo, service manual, Audio review) search eBay
and
Onkyo T-9090II (1988, $790/orig $750, photo, brochure cover, brochure page1, page2, specs, owner's manual, service manual part 1, part 2, Audio review) search eBay

With the exception of the very rare Grand Integra T-G10, the T-9090 and T-9090II were the best tuners ever made by Onkyo. The T-9090 is "almost" the equal of its successor for sensitivity and selectivity, and both have the digital equivalent of 6 gangs. However, the T-9090II has 9 ceramic filters to the T-9090's 7, and the T-9090II tunes in .025 MHz steps (which can be useful for detuning away from a strong local station) rather than in .2 steps like the T-9090 does (which allows one to tune up and down the dial more quickly). In addition, the T-9090II has a remote control, two antenna inputs that can be A/B'd, and a few other minor features that the T-9090 lacks. Both tuners have 20 presets and digital signal strength readouts, among other bells and whistles.

The most significant feature of the T-9090 and T-9090II (which can also be found in other tuners in Onkyo's Integra line) is the "APR" (automatic precision reception) system which automatically selects the optimal IF bandwidth, RF mode, stereo or mono, and whether or not to use the hi-blend filter, based upon the characteristics of the tuned signal. The T-9090II's APR system also chooses between Antenna A or B for best reception. Both Onkyos are superb DX machines, and as digital tuners are surpassed for adjacent channel reception only by the Sony XDR-F1HD and possibly a modified Yamaha T-85 (due to the T-85's .01 MHz fine-tuning capability). The Onkyos are really selective enough without modification - especially the T-9090II, which uses five 150 kHz filters in its Super Narrow IF mode. Although this spec does not appear in Onkyo's U.S. product manuals, Australian DXer Todd Emslie reports that the T-9090II's adjacent channel selectivity is 45 dB.

The T-9090 and T-9090II are both very quiet on weak signals and their stereo separation, while not "world class," is not bad even in Super Narrow mode. Our panelist Bob observes, "In general, most tuners' stock blend circuits stink. I have gotten pretty sensitive to any noise, and usually have to go right to mono. The T-9090II has a good stock blend circuit, better than most tuners have." Some people dislike the Onkyos' ergonomics - both have tiny buttons that are not all grouped logically - but they're very solidly built tuners and not at all "plasticky."

Our panelist Eric recently unearthed the description of a 1988 shootout between his T-9090 and Paul M.'s T-9090II: "We hooked the T-9090 and T-9090II to the same antenna, with the same connections, and later reversed them to make sure things were equal. The T-9090II was very slightly more selective. There were only a couple of cases where it mattered at all, because I have one 105-120 dB local and no others over 60 dB when peaked. So there was no great improvement in reception of adjacent channels. But, surprise: the T-9090 was very noticeably quieter. Not by much, but consistently, up and down the dial, for any weak station. So a weak (i.e., less than 15-20 dB) station next to a strong local would be heard with less 'slop' and 'crash,' but with more 'fuzz,' stereo or not, on the T-9090II. Our conclusion: Anyone who has a choice should choose a T-9090 if they're not troubled by very strong locals (over 60 or so dB). Anyone in close proximity to locals might welcome the T-9090II as a small but noticeable improvement in adjacent-channel selectivity.

"One more thing to consider: I found the T-9090 much more user-friendly, with larger buttons and a more attractive layout. The T-9090II has a remote control and some improved features, like different LEDs for frequency readout, tuning level and digital dB readout -- although one still has to hit a button to get these to appear. The II's analog-scale LED dB readout is not really much help. One quirk we noted was that the T-9090II's dB levels 'ran higher,' by about 5-10 dB over much of the band compared to the T-9090's. The signals appeared to be identical in strength and sound quality, but the numbers were different. There was virtually no difference at over 50 dB signal strength, though. As to specs, the T-9090II manual quotes 80 dB adjacent channel selectivity, but this is for +/- 300 kHz, not +/- 200 kHz. I'd estimate the T-9090II's adjacent channel selectivity at 200 kHz to be less than 5 dB higher than the T-9090's -- maybe 43 dB for the II vs. 38 for the original, or something like that."

The European equivalent of the T-9090 was the T-9900, while the Euro version of the T-9090II was the T-9990. Read how one T-9090II sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. Todd Emslie's website has a very thorough review of the T-9090II. The T-9090 usually sells for $180-300 on eBay, with a low of $102 in 6/09 and a recent high of $400 in 4/08 for a mint one. The normal eBay sale price range for a T-9090II is $350-500, with a low of $232 in 5/09 for one with a rack tray, no wood sides and no remote, but mint ones have sometimes sold for up to $650-700. Three total lunatics ran up the price of a nice one to a baffling $910 in 8/04, and a "new-in-box" T-9090II sold for an identical $910 in 2/08. We see no reason for anyone ever to pay more than $450-500 for a T-9090II on eBay. A T-9090II with a filter mod, superfluous for all but hardcore DXers, sold for $455 in 7/03. [BF][EF][JR]

Onkyo T-9900 and
Onkyo T-9990
The T-9900 and T-9990, the European model numbers for the T-9090 and T-9090II, respectively, were believed to be identical to their U.S. counterparts except for voltage and tuning increments.

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