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Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

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dfa2124's picture
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Has anyone else ever come across one of these tuners before? I picked one up at the beginning of the year via that well-known auction site. I have tried several tuners over the last few years and this Denon is, so far, the best digital-synthesised tuner I have ever used for its combination of sound quality and RF performance. To give you an idea, the sound quality is up there with my Yamaha T-85, and, if anything, possibly a touch better. The sound quality on a good broadcast is superb with space, clarity, depth and dynamics. In fact, I was particularly impressed with the audio on an episode of Mark Radcliffe's show a while back via this tuner. I seem to remember reading an old Gramophone review on the Net where this Denon came close to the audio quality of their reference tuner which was an Audiolab 8000T.

It also has 3 IF bandwidths. The 3rd Super Narrow setting is excellent for picking up very weak signals near to strong ones, and is IMO probably one of the best tuners you can get if you are into DXing but still want top notch sound quality. It seems that it is the TU-260 that has got the lion's share of the attention in the British hi-fi press (and there are always lots of them on eBay), so this model seems to slip under the radar. But this tuner will probably eat the TU-260 alive!

So if you want to pick up a sleeper then look out for one of these tuners. I got mine for just £22, an absolutely astonishing bargain for the performance! I'd be interested to know if anyone else here has ever had one.

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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

I have noticed a few pre-owned bargains on the bay

I used to ave the Denon TU-260 but rarely used it. 

eBay is also a good method to sell unwanted kit and have often recovered 100% of original price (once sold a unwanted passive Mission sub for £50 more tha original purchase price paid 10 years earlier in a Richer Sounds sale)

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dfa2124's picture
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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

Thanks. I knew this tuner had got good reviews but I was still surprised at just how good it is.

I have tried a Denon TU-260 MkII but it was in someone else's system. It did sound nice but the reception capabilities were not a patch on the TU-800L. I notice there's one on eBay now quoting my review from this thread!

chebby's picture
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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

This is another excellent tuner and £38 is a bargain...

clicky

(Sony ST-S505ES)

Of course the dog's doodads was the ST-S707ES...

(One on Gumtree for £300 right now.)

Mmmm... Sony ES and wooden bits. (One of the only 'seperates' ranges that looked good* IMO.)

*In a retro... 'lights up like a christmas tree' sorta way. No good without all the bits lit up.

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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

dfa2124 wrote:

Thanks. I knew this tuner had got good reviews but I was still surprised at just how good it is.

I have tried a Denon TU-260 MkII but it was in someone else's system. It did sound nice but the reception capabilities were not a patch on the TU-800L. I notice there's one on eBay now quoting my review from this thread!

For the money the 260L is very hard to beat. I don't have reception issues - and where I live is a pig for signals.

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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

My 260L-II is on top of the wardrobe...

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dfa2124's picture
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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

chebby wrote:

This is another excellent tuner and £38 is a bargain...

clicky

(Sony ST-S505ES)

Of course the dog's doodads was the ST-S707ES...

(One on Gumtree for £300 right now.)

Mmmm... Sony ES and wooden bits. (One of the only 'seperates' ranges that looked good* IMO.)

*In a retro... 'lights up like a christmas tree' sorta way. No good without all the bits lit up.

 

I've got a Sony ST-S770ES (presumably similar to the 707?) and the Denon beats it. Sound wise it is very close; it just sounds a touch 'thinner' than the Denon. The RF performance is good but not up to the heights of the TU-800L.

 

However, the Sony is more ruggedly built, looks more attractive with the rotary tuning knob and does have very good ergonomics. And yes, it certainly does light up like a Christmas tree!

 

Edit: I've looked at some pics of the 707ES and it looks identical to the 770ES to me. If there are differences they must be internal.

plastic penguin's picture
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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

John Duncan wrote:

My 260L-II is on top of the wardrobe...

Do you mean I spent £14.00 on a mint condition with original box for nothing? Smile

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dfa2124's picture
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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

Now this was an interesting comparison. I picked up a Hitachi FT-MD5500 recently, which is the UK iteration of the FT-007. The TIC review suggests that due to shorter and better runs on the audio section, the FT-007 might sound slightly better than the FT-5500 MkII. So, of course, I had to do a comparison with the Denon TU-800L.

 First impressions are that ithe Hitachi doesn't have the extended frequency response of the Denon TU-800L, and consequently has a 'darker' sound. So it does not have that superb sense of clarity, air and space that the Denon has. It does make the slight hiss I get on some stations a bit less noticeable though.

Reception-wise, the narrow mode is considerably wider than the super narrow mode of the Denon too, and so selectivity is adequate for normal use but not good enough for proper DXing. The sensitivity seems a tad down on the TU-800L for the very weak signals that I use for tuner torture tests too. It is smaller than the Denon and has a compact footprint though and looks a bit more attractive with the faux wood side panels. It was also slightly cheaper than the Denon. However, the Denon comprehensively beats it, and so remains my best tuner deal so far. I think the Denon is probably an exceptional digital tuner tbh.

Of course, as always YMMV.

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RE: Denon TU-800L - possibly the best Denon tuner ever?

My favourite tuner was a Naim NAT05 I had for two years (with the Nait 5i amp).  I bought it s/h for £450 and sold it two years ago for £450 :-)  Sounded excellent.

Another fave was a 'Rega Radio' (the original 'clamshell' version) that I had for 11 years from 1996 - 2007 partnered with a Rega Brio of the same vintage.

Neither machine was supposed to be particularly sensitive, but I have never needed them to be.  We live over the water from the Rowridge transmitter and could see it (on a clear day with binoculars) from our roof.  The BBC signals are therefore extremely good - especially with a roof aerial - and I have very little interest in commercial FM radio anyway. (A decent portable is more than good enough for most commercial output.)

Our first ever FM tuner (bought very second hand at the time) was the old Sony ST-88 with wooden case and circular tuning scale. We used that for a few years until I got a QED system in the late 1980s (QED A240SA amp & QED T260 tuner).

Now, I am spoilt for choice. BBC iPlayer Radio, FM, DAB, radio on Freeview etc. and this place for loads of CDs and good quality downloads of BBC radio dramas, comedies, history, documentaries etc. 

I still make time - most days - for some good quality FM listening though.

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