Quad FM-3 Tuners

FM-3

User Reviews (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7  
DSJR   AudioPhile [Oct 21, 2007]
Strength:

Good basic engineering in the original design makes this a supremely honest and truthful sounding tuner (even better with updated capacitors fitted in the important supply and "audio" stages). Dinky vintage looks are cute too, especially now that vintage gear is being sought after and the used prices are still very reasonable, although mint examples with box, leads and instructions are fetching rather more now with collectors.

Servicing is easy and Quad UK will service anything they've made as long as parts are still available. Mains plugs/leads and rather better quality DIN terminated connecting leads (most with phono's on the amp end) are readily available, both on eBay and, at much higher price, from higher end audio dealers.

Weakness:

Case parts are unavailable new (apart from the feet).

The sensitivity and selectivity (the ability to discriminate between two adjacent ststions) aren't that great, meaning a decent, multi element aerial is essential.

Quad suggest a minimum amp input impedance of 50K Ohms which may rule out many solid state amps (which have more like 10K Ohms input impedance instead). The addition of a Line Buffer like the Musical Fidelity X10-D would be very beneficial here, but the cost of one of these may be higher than the tuner...!

I started working in the audio industry in 1974 so came into things half way through this tuner's production life. By 1975, Quad were just starting to look "old hat" with the introduction to a very small number of dealers of some rather good American and Japanese equipment with rather high price tags. The sound of the standard FM3 was always honest and neutral in tone, as is the nature of Quad, but I found its delivery a touch "dead" (perhaps that's a more correct presentation, but see below). The "sixties" styling I still love, but everything back then in the seventies was for big and flashy, the Quad gear sitting politely on the shelf being often unfairly passed over.

By comparison with the top Yamaha, Technics, Pioneer and Accuphase tuners becoming available, the dear old FM3 appeared to be outclassed on all fronts. Its small size, lack of front panel knobs, limited sensitivity (when paper specifications were everything) andwith increasingly non-standard mains and audio connections all tried to consign it to history, along with its partnering 33/303 amplification. Looked at today though, the situation is very different, at least in the UK. 33/FM3/303 sets are very common, popular on the used market and easily serviced and tweaked to a fantastic level of honest, "basic" performance i.e. the tuner excels at what it can do and doesn't try to do what it can't, whereas the legendary Japanese tuners are as rare as hens teeth with huge used price tags to match and don't always sound that good, despite their wonderful technical performance (the Technics TU 3500 I owned springs to mind here and I'm not sure the Yamaha CT7000 sounds hugely wonderful today, although I'll admit it's some years since I last heard one)...

I've owned two FM3's over the years (as well as an FM1 + decoder and currently an FM2 as well). Like many, my current sample (bought recently for £40) had a blown display bulb (14V, 0.7W located between the glass and tuning knob on an outrigger) and had seen a non-audio service department at some point, where any old electrolytic supply capacitor could be fitted as long as the voltage rating was ok and it physically fitted the limited space. I'd discovered on the internet a recommendation for five of the power and audio capacitors to be replaced with modern, higher value ones and this I did, with a "before and after" listen to check I hadn't ruined the performance. (New values - C113/114 > 3300uF 25V axial. C121 2200uF 16V. C100/104 4.7uF 25V. - DON'T attempt to do this unless you are good at soldering and use respectable makes of caps like Vishay for example)

The sensitivity isn't that great, to be honest and weak stations are very noisy in my location, hence the mono signal output on pin 1 of the din socket. Used with a fully wired DIN lead and a Quad pre-amp it was easy to switch to a mono signal . I found that once set, the variable muting control on the back stays where it is thereafter. With the new caps fitted, I found a beneficial improvement in the subtle aspects of audio performance that can be difficult to measure. Bass registers of bowed and plucked instruments seem to be better defined and much more "musical" - one can follow what these instruments are actually playing much more clearly - and the sense of atmosphere and ambience in a decent acoustic setting was better too - something a modern top end tuner reproduces with ease. I even found it coped rather better with the miriad of severely compressed "pop" stations we here in the UK are lumbered with, which it didn't much favour before (the dear old FM2 smudges up badly/terminally on such stations). So basically good is the audio performance, I even found myself enjoying the excellent backing musicianship on "Staying Alive" by the BeeGees, a track often played by BBC local radio and one I've loathed for years because I find it difficult to go beyond the falsetto vocals.

If you want a good cheap vintage tuner, PLEASE consider one of these while the FM analogue system is with us (should be ok in the UK for many more years, as DAB has become the new Medium Wave in quality due to too many stations and rather low data streaming rates). Like all Quad of this era, it's easily updated by new supply and audio (coupling?) caps and a qualified engineer should be able to re-set the front end up with ease if necessary. Quad themselves still have excellent service facilities for the UK and Europe and there's a firm "down under" who do refurbishments and tuner setups, as well as new circuit boards for the 303 and, I think, the 405 too. The only thing to watch is the casework and tuning knob, which may need re-spraying on tatty examples. Plastic trim on the rear (and the muting knob) isn't available either, although the muting potentiometer is available from Quad as of Autumn 2007.

I don't think, to be honest, that the low budget audio manufacturers need to worry too much about how good the re-furbished Quads of the seventies era can sound, but I personally love the FM3, together with its partnering 33/303 amplification (the 405 can be substantially breathed on too, if not completely rebuilt, making it a VERY much better all-round animal than it was when launched). Servicing is easy and, if you don't get the manual and service details when you buy them, they're easily available to view and download (do a bit of Googling).

Customer Service

Quad can repair and service anything they've made as long as spare parts are obtainable, although I don't think they entertain the full "tweaky" upgrades, which are now possible. (The wonderful old ESL 57 speakers can once again now be fully re-built to a superb standard by a third party I understand).

There are any number of upgrade stages for the 33/303 and the FM3 is beneficially improved by a relatively small, very inexpensive upgrade too.

All these tuners are very old now and quite plentiful so try for one with good casework, instruction book, mains and interconnect leads and a "Quad" box and packing if possible, even if you have to pay £20 or so more for it.

Similar Products Used: Arcam Delta 80, Quad FM2 (all original as manufactured).

I also compared different new and used FM3's with the following examples over the years - Naim NAT 01, Yamaha and Accuphase models from the seventies, Luxman TU 88V (very muffled by todays standards), Technics ST 3500 (bright and thin sounding), Revox A76 (a superb, rare tuner), Pioneer 9500 (superb) and numerous models of Arcam and Denon tuners, as well as Quads later and more up to date offerings.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Tom Alaerts   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 24, 2002]
Strength:

- beautifully simple design (only a tuning knob), and I love the colour ORANGE for the scale! - very musical, effortless sound. YOu will have to pay a lot more to improve on this one!

Weakness:

- tiny, unassuming looks will not impress the friends, if that''s important for you

This is another understated gem from Quad. It is an extremely simple to use tuner (only a tuning knob on the front), but it has a sophisticated circuit, hence while 25 years old, it still beats many new tuners... I rarely listen to radio at home, so the FM3 is largely good enough for me.

Similar Products Used: - compared to a NAD 402 - a decent tuner in itself, but the FM3 was a lot more musical
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Werner   an Audio Enthusiast [Aug 28, 1997]

The FM-3 was a small FM-only tuner from the seventies.It can be had used for $150 or more, and reliability
is extremely high. Apart from a tuning knob there are
no features ;-)

This is an excellent tuner for people wanting good FM
sound and nothing more. Or should I say very good
sound? In an AB comparison, the FM-3 sounded more
natural than the NAD 402, itself no slouch...

If you find it cheap, 5 stars. Otherwise, still 4 stars.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Werner   an Audio Enthusiast [Aug 28, 1997]

The FM-3 was a small FM-only tuner from the seventies.It can be had used for $150 or more, and reliability
is extremely high. Apart from a tuning knob there are
no features ;-)

This is an excellent tuner for people wanting good FM
sound and nothing more. Or should I say very good
sound? In an AB comparison, the FM-3 sounded more
natural than the NAD 402, itself no slouch...

If you find it cheap, 5 stars. Otherwise, still 4 stars.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Martin Carrier   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 19, 2001]
Strength:

Built, natural and clean sound, no hiss, soundstage.

Weakness:

noise when passing from station to station.

A very musical component, (more musical than NAD) like the rest of Quad`s line. I still prefer the sound of the 40 years old (tubes) Fm 2 by Quad, for soft music and classical. They are both musical for All kind of music...

You will have to pay a lot more for a Classé or a Magnum Dynalab etc, to hear more details, without loosing the soundstage sound of these Quad`s tuners.

You should use one, as a reference, when buying an expensive one. But if you decide to keep it, you won`t
regret it!

martin

Similar Products Used: Quad Fm 2 (tubes)
Nad tuner
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Keith S   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 07, 2002]
Strength:

Style, simplicity, quality of sound

Weakness:

few - slightly dated technology but then it is 30 years old!

What can you say? Rarely bettered, especially at the price you can buy one today. Plug in, sit back and enjoy!

Similar Products Used: Quad 33/303 + Rega Planar 3 + Linn arm + Ortofon + Eltax LS6.5s + Rotel CD + Trio (now Kenwood) tape
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-7 of 7  

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