If you love fm, you need a PAL!
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Mike Walker

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I'm a radio lover. I collect radios like others collect, er, headphones (ok, I collect them too!)

After 30 years behind the microphone, I KNOW that fm radio has far more fidelity potential than the average audiophile gives it credit for. In fact, before the adoption of the noisy Zenith system for fm stereo, fm radio was probably the highest fidelity medium available to American music lovers...with 20khz frequency response, vanishingly low distortion, and a potential signal to noise ratio well into the range of today's digital sources.

FM stereo made things noisier, of course...especially "in the fringes" (areas distant from the tower, where signal levels and multipath interference degrade quality). But the distance vs. noise level equation isn't an absolute (thank God!). That's a lesson the best designers of fm products have taught us through the years. Better fm tuners can be extremely noise-free in areas where most lesser designs "hiss away". But with the advent of home theater, multimedia pcs, and the internet, top design engineers who once-upon-a-time would have focused their talents on improving fm, now mostly concentrate them elsewhere.

But there are exceptions! Occasionally a remarkably good fm tuner makes it to market, even today. One such product has just been introduced. And remarkably enough, it's both cheap, and PORTABLE! The device of which I speak is the Tivoli Audio PAL (which stands for 'Portable Audio Laboratory'), the last great design by the late Henry Kloss.

I just purchased a 'PAL' (129.95...available in a rainbow of colors!) last week from J&R Music World, and I've got to say "wow". When I first got the battery charged (which will take a while! Don't get impatient, and don't worry that the battery-charge light doesn't begin blinking for a LONG time. This is NORMAL. It's also normal for the battery to be so completely discharged when you receive the unit that it is completely silent when turned on sans ac power.)

Once plugged into the ac, I began scanning the fm dial. WOW! Even in my rural area, the fm band was FULL of noise-free signals from one end of the dial to the other. And the sound, through the singal 2 1/2" speaker (laugh if you will...you won't once you've heard it!) was surprisingly "full", thanks to the special speaker eq that Kloss designed into the unit. "What, a single speaker?" you ask. "Is this thing MONO?" NO IT ISN'T! Well, of course it is when listened to through the speaker. But so what! It's time to admit that placing two speakers a couple of inches apart on a portable audio device and calling it "stereo" is SILLY! You're not getting ANY separation! The PAL is stereo where it counts, THROUGH THE HEADPHONE JACK!

And is it ever stereo! Using the built-in whip antenna this thing pulls in stations with rich, full sound quality and shockingly low noise...even on distant stations, BETTER than my Pioneer receiver connected to a roof antenna with rotor! And the Pioneer has a better fm than most receivers these days (not saying much! It's certainly no match for the "super-tuners" of the 70s and 80s, although the PAL IS in many ways!) That's right, the PAL ON IT"S OWN (without a roof antenna) matches the subjective performance of many super tuners of the past. Hell, I don't blame you if you don't believe that. I wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't heard the thing!

This thing is truly a radio lover's radio. It plays for up to 16 hours on the built-in Nimh rechargable (and replacable) battery (charges completely in about 3 hours). It's small enough to carry in one hand (think small brick), rugged, weather resistant (a splash at the pool, or a sudden rain shower won't hurt it...just don't leave it out in the rain!), has an almost world-class fm section, a surprisingly good headphone amp! (how 'bout that, guys!), and even a pleasant sounding (though certainly not overly sensitive) am section! It's a fantastic portable radio when you listen through the built-in speaker, and a true audiophile super-tuner through headphones. Can you tell I like it?

A couple of things bother me a bit. The geared analog tuning knob is a tiny bit "loose"...i.e. there's a tiny bit of "play". But that's something I can live with at this price. Oh, and the tuning dial is not a model of accurate calibration, although it's alot better than many in this respect. That's it. Those are my only complaints!

BUY THIS DAMN THING!
 
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RickG

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Mike, I've had a red PAL for a few months now and I really love it. As a matter of fact, I bought another in yellow to give my sis for Christmas!

 
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andrzejpw

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Ugh, I've really wanted a model one for a few months now. . . just so many other things to buy. . .
 
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Jeff Guidry

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The Model Two may well become my choice for a small room stereo to hookup my Directv reciever. I think a Model Two with subwoofer and a TIVO would be a better Christmas present to myself than the new Philips upsampling redbook/SACD player that Tuberoller has been raving about, especially since I really love to listen to NPR and have no good way of catching the station from my home.

Decisions, decisions.
 
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Mike Walker

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Internet or no, the best source of free, LEGAL music is still radio. Especially the "non-commercial" end of the fm dial (in the US from 88.1-91.1fm). Unfortunately in too many communities these frequencies have gone to religious organizations! But there are still PLENTY of full power "public" radio stations owned by universities and other non-profit organizations, offering a mixture of their own unique music and talk programs along with the highest quality shows from NPR and PRI (Public Radio International).

As bad as commercial fm stations have become, sounding exactly the same from community to community, there is TONS of wonderful, eclectic music on America's "public" radio stations. Even in my VERY rural area (the foothills of Northwest North Carolina), I can get a mixture of bluegrass, folk, and alternative music on WNCW in Spindale NC (88.7), classical music on WDAV in Davidson NC (89.9), classical, jazz, and bluegrass on WFDD in Winston Salem NC (88.5), alternative rock on WSIF in Wilkesboro North Carolina (94.7fm), talk on WFAE in Charlotte NC, and thanks to my "PAL" now many others from NC, Virginia, SC, and West Virginia!

On the am dial there is classic country (WKSK West Jefferson NC, WCOK Sparta NC, WKBC-AM North Wilkesboro NC, WKGX Lenoir NC, and WIRC Hickory NC), bluegrass (WKGX Lenoir NC and WPAQ Mount Airy NC), big band (WATA Boone, NC), and of course the usual assortment of talk from stations in Hickory, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Blowing Rock, Raleigh, and (with a good antenna) Richmond Va.

And get this satellite radio subscribers...it's all FREE!

Long live radio!
 
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CRESCENDOPOWER

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"It's even video-shielded, so you can place it beside a TV or computer monitor worry-free!"

Guess I found my super tuner for my desktop rig; even comes in black.
 
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archosman

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I'm gonna try and pick up one of these bad boys tomorrow!
 
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archosman

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Got mine yesterday! Only bad thing is it's black. Love it though...
 
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MacDEF

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Mike, I agree. RickG and I have been pushing this thing like a drug for months
As a radio collector, I can't believe you don't own one of the other Tivoli radios (the Model One or the Model Two)!
 
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Mike Walker

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MacDef Writes "As a radio collector, I can't believe you don't own one of the other Tivoli radios (the Model One or the Model Two)!"

Actually I own another Henry Kloss radio, the Cambridge Soundworks Model 88. You're right, however...the PAL is my first Tivoli. It won't be my last, however! In fact, I'll take as many as you'd like to buy for me!

Where should I send the shipping information?
 
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john_jcb

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Does anyone have the Sony ICF-2010 and the PAL? I would like to hear your opinions on how the AM and FM sections compare. Also interested in the GE Superradio comparisons.

I listen to the Sony primarily for the SW stations and it does a great job. I have only had the GE to compare it against and wonder how others stack up.

Here is a article from MSNBC on Henry Kloss and his radios among other things:

http://www.msnbc.com/news/801401.asp
 
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Mike Walker

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John_JCB, the comparison between the PAL, and the other radios you mention, particularly the Sony 2010, is certainly comparing "apples to oranges".

Both radios you mention are designed to be "dx machines" on mediumwave am. The PAL certainly is not. As I reported above, it is not designed for dxing the am broadcast band. There is NO agc (automatic gain control) in the radio. AGC can aid in increasing sensitivity, especially subjective sensitivity on am. But it can also compromise fidelity. So the PAL has none. It can do a reasonable job of pulling in distant stations when used with an external loop, such as the ones from Terk, Radio Shack, or Select-A-Tenna. But these WILL NOT turn it into an am "dx machine".

It IS, however a "dx machine" on FM! There it easily bests the 2010, AND GE Superradio...and is STEREO (through headphones), unlike either of those radios. So it's "horses for courses". What are your priorities? Hint....I often connect my portable shortwave radio, and more dx-centric am radios to the aux input on the PAL. Then I get the best of both worlds...the warm, pleasant "tone" of the PAL's speaker, plus the dx performance of the other radios. I particularly enjoy "toting" my Grunding E-Traveller VII along with the PAL. The E-Traveller VII, particularly when used with a roll-up wire antenna, can do a surprisingly good job of pulling in shorwave signals. But, being shirt-pocket sized, the audio from it's build-in speaker is, charitably, mediocre. Plug it into the PAL, and you'll get shortwave sound quality that's easily superior to most any of the larger shortwave portables. Using an external loop with the little Grundig gives it the mediumwave (am broadcast) "pulling power" which the PAL lacks. Therefore I feel that the PAL and Grundig radios (along with my Archos mp3 player for playback of prerecorded music) make excellent traveling companions, and a portable audio system of great flexibility and surprising quality (for the size)!

So, buy the PAL for what it does so well....pulling in TONS of fm stations with clarity you'll have to hear to believe, offering surprising sound quality through it's tiny built-in speaker, truly high end (by fm standards) stereo sound through headphones, and functioning as an integrated amp and speaker for a tabletop (or portable) "hi-fi". But keep your other radios for specialized chores such as am dx!
 
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finnman

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I own a yellow PAL that is pretty decent on AM with the Radio Shack loop and downright good with a Quantum Pro loop. However, if you want an equally small and impressive AM DX-machine, check out the Palstar R30. An amazing radio but depending on the filter options, it'll cost you $500-$650.
 
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archosman

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Quote:

Originally posted by finnman
I own a yellow PAL that is pretty decent on AM with the Radio Shack loop and downright good with a Quantum Pro loop. However, if you want an equally small and impressive AM DX-machine, check out the Palstar R30. An amazing radio but depending on the filter options, it'll cost you $500-$650.


What's the Quantum Pro loop?
 
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