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FS: Highly Recommended Pioneer F-9 Tuner

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Old December 2nd 04, 01:38 AM
Ken Drescher
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Default FS: Highly Recommended Pioneer F-9 Tuner

Pioneer F-9 Tuner, $149

Image: http://members.aol.com/KDresch/f-9.html

Here is a nice example of a great sounding, high quality Pioneer tuner. It was
one of the best tuners Pioneer offered at the time. It is only about 2" tall
and has a simple design. A fold down door hides extra controls to select
wide/narrow IF filters etc. 6 presets, Record check, Mono/mute, auto manual
tuning modes. The review below gives some good details about it.

Nice cosmetics and fully functionally. This tuner has been cleaned and will
arrive looking and sounding great! Cabinet shows a little normal use wear.
Fully bench tested.

You can read the review by tuner experts to understand why this tuner is
consided one of the better desings of the period. For the price it is a
bargain. This piece listed for $425 from 1981-83. Only $149 plus shipping
(11lbs net, 15lbs gross).

The following is from THE TUNER INFORMATION CENTER, the best site I've found on
vintage FM tuners. Click the link to visit their great site:


Pioneer F-9 (1981, $425, closed, open, back, detector/MPX stage, RF front end,
schematic) - The F-9 is a digital synthesizer tuner that is fairly similar to
the later F-90 and F-99X in construction. One difference noted by our
contributor Ryan is that the output filter in the F-9 is passive, unlike the
active filter in the later two that he feels works very well. But our panelist
Bob has spent considerable time tweaking, measuring and modding his F-9, and
had this report: “The F-9 was the top of the line follow-on to the TX-9800
tuner, and somewhat similar to the F-90/F-99X in operation, but the cosmetics
are totally different. It is like a 'Frank Lloyd Wright' design tuner, with
very minimal design exterior, and ultra-thin 1.75" tall case. Most controls are
hidden behind a swing-down door, except for power, station selector, and large
AM/FM metal buttons. The case finish is Champagne in color. The AM section
appears to have been given special attention, with an AM wide/narrow selector
and AM stereo out jack on the rear panel. Controls for FM include wide/narrow
IF filter, auto mute stereo/mono selector, and tuning mode auto/manual. There
are 6 presets and a 5-segment signal meter. Inside, we find 4 gangs, but a
novel dual MOSFET RF amp, likely run in parallel to reduce noise. There are 3
IF 3-pin filters, two of which are blue MX GDT type. All the IC chips are
Pioneer custom made, with the pulse counter type detector used, again similar
to the F-90/F-99X. There are two transformers in the power supply, to keep
digital noise from analog circuits. Sound impressions are very good, with clear
midrange and highs. The unit under review had two oversize Black Gate caps in
the output, and with these bass response was fairly solid and deep. Although
some may not like the looks, I find it very attractive and unique. With some
work, the F-9 is really a bona fide hot tuner in every respect. It's a very
nice sleeper tuner if you can live with the gold 'pizza box' looks.?

Bob followed up with more technical detail: “The F-9 has an RF stage that,
despite being only 4 gangs, is quite uncommon. It has a balanced push-pull RF
gain stage, and a balanced mixer, which is missing in other most other tuners
one can buy for under $50 [maybe not anymore - Editor]. Astute fans of RF front
ends will notice some cool things in the F-9's design. The T2 transformer,
which has a center-tapped secondary, drives two dual-gate MOSFETS, which then
feed a center-tapped primary on T3. This would appear to lower the noise floor
and likely increase dyamic range. Then T4 feeds a differential amp, driving a
FET, which drives a typical IF output transformer. This is a nice front end,
and it happens to work pretty well. I was impressed by the measurements of my
F-9. The dynamic range on a strong 1000 uV into 75 Ohms RF signal tested my
16-bit FFT - it was 95 dB (less distortion components). Mono distortion
measured .007%, stereo .01%, at 1 kHz full modulation. The F-9 also happens to
sound very nice, with a clean top end and solid bass. It has two power
transformers inside, likely to keep analog and digital separate. The one I
measured has two Black Gate caps at the audio out, so it's not totally stock,
but the F-9 seems to be pretty consistent from model to model, which you don't
always see. It has selectable wide-narrow AM filters, and an AM section that is
not an afterthought. It seems like this feature went away on later Pioneer
models. You can hear a big tone difference even on male voice when making the
switch between wide and narrow on this model. The lack of any noise, like
low-volume hiss, at loud volume on local classical stations does make this one
special among tuners of any vintage. Note that the F-9 has the same board
inside as the Phase Linear 5200. The 5200 uses different buttons, and has a
single power t-x instead of two as in the F-9.?

Our contributor Bill Ammons reports: “The 4-gang Pioneer F-9 uses a balanced
D-MOS FET amp for the RF section, followed by a balanced bipolar mixer. In the
Wide IF mode there is tuned 10.7 LC can and one ceramic filter in the signal
path. In the Narrow IF mode, two additional ceramic filters are switched into
the IF signal path before the Wide mode ceramic filter. The IF signal then goes
to a PA3007 limiter IC. This IC then feeds a second mixer that downconverts the
IF signal to 1.26 MHz. The IF signal is run through a RF low-pass filter into a
PA5002 IC that is a pulse detector. The demodulated signal then goes through a
composite low-pass filter to the PA4006 IC. This IC is the stereo decoder and
audio output IC. There are a total of three electrolytic capacitors in the
audio path and none in the composite (stereo) signal path. One limitation of
the F-9 is a single separation adjustment control. This will only let you
optimize the separation in the Wide IF mode. The F-9's specifications list 55
dB of separation, and 0.05% THD at 1 kHz in Wide stereo mode.? Our
contributor Gary is another fan of the F-9: “I picked up an F-9 dirt cheap on
eBay and it appears to be a very nice digital tuner. It handles the weak
adjacent channel signals from NYC just as well or perhaps slightly better than
the TX-9500II. The sound is not nearly as transparent as my modified TX-9500II,
but its sins are errors of omission. The F-9 has a slightly dark sound that is
quite listenable, if not the most exciting in the world. I think a bit of
tweaking in this unit would go a long way.? And then Gary tweaked it: “All
I can say is that my aligned and modified F-9 is a great tuner and a remarkable
bargain. The stock tuner takes the audio output directly from the MPX chip. I
added some BUF04 output buffers along with a small transformer and
LT1085/LT1033 regulated supply, which really opened up the sound. Stock it just
sounds OK, but with the added buffering, the sound enters a whole new
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Old January 25th 12, 05:53 PM
Tony Maher Tony Maher is offline
Junior Member
First recorded activity by AudioBanter: Jan 2012
Posts: 1

Hi Ken

Do you know where I can get Pioneer F-9 Tuner's Alignment Procedure?
Thanks a lot.


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