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Meduci PRO1K AM Stereo Tuner Review



Rating: One and a half star rating

What Is AM Stereo Broadcasting?

Some of you who come to read this review will already be familiar with AM stereo broadcasting and require no further explanation. If this is you, feel free to skip down to the rest of the review.

Now, for the rest of you who are sitting there scratching your heads (and you didn't think I could see that--hah!) and wondering what's going on or if I really meant to say FM stereo broadcasting, let me explain.

There actually is such a thing as an AM stereo radio broadcast. Like its FM counterpart, broadcasting in stereo over AM was a retrofit to existing technology. A number of standards were proposed, with entries from Magnavox, Hazeltine, Motorola and others. At first, it is said that the Magnavox system was selected as the national standard in the US. Later, the FCC revisited this and subsequently selected the Motorola system, known as C-Quam, to be the nationally utilized standard in the US. Many AM stereo capable receivers were sold in the 1980s, with models produced for each type of system. Some would support multiple standards, allowing the user to choose the method of AM stereo broadcasting and assure proper decoding of the broadcast.

It's hard to say why AM stereo never took off. Maybe it was the fact that the programs most likely to benefit from the stereo reproduction (music) were already on FM and had been for years. Perhaps the number of standards put off consumers (for reasons of complexity) and manufacturers (for reasons of cost). It could have been that the technical limitations and perceptions of an AM radio station's audio quality made potential listeners feel as though it wasn't worth the bother trying to hear AM stereo.

It certainly wasn't for lack of receivers. Many major names in radio produced AM stereo capable receivers. RadioShack even offered a unit for sale. Some were quite aggressively promoted.

From the 1990s and onward, AM stereo broadcasting has kind of "flown under the radar". A few AM radio stations still broadcast in stereo (pretty much exclusively in C-QUAM, at least in the US) and receivers are still available. Sometimes AM stereo broadcast decoding capability is included in a modern radio--a few currently-produced or not-very-old car radios have the needed technology. It's rumored that Sony was producing an AM stereo capable portable radio up until a few years ago and may still be selling it in Japan. Despite the mass market ignoring AM stereo (not to be confused with a rock band having the same name) broadcasting, it has a rather devoted fan (very large font alert!) base. (I think I know the guy who runs that last one.)

My first taste of AM Stereo came when I bought an old Sherwood shaft-style in-dash AM/FM/cassette radio. It's this one, right here. (Picture snaked from here.) I was looking to put it into an old tractor radio cabinet and mount said cabinet to a lawn tractor. (Quit looking at me like that.) Had I not also received the manual, I probably would have remained unaware of AM stereo broadcasting. Yet the manual discussed the set's capabilities at great length and offered reasons why AM stereo broadcasting was sure to be the next big thing. In particular, the manual cited the "fupp, fupp, fupp noise" (yes, it's a direct quote) produced when too far away from an FM station and stated that AM stereo would not suffer this problem.  At the time, many stations would trigger the AM Stereo reception indicator, but I couldn't hear anything in stereo as I only had one speaker hooked up.

I never actually put the radio on the lawn tractor, due to a lot of technical difficulty and subsequent failure of the tape player in the radio. I think it got pitched or recycled at some point.



What if you want a truly new receiver, without having to buy a car, build a kit, design a circuit yourself?

That's where the subject of this review comes in. A company by the name of Meduci, LLC has produced two AM stereo tuners. The first is their AMX2000 tuner, which is now discontinued (and which I have also never seen). The second and currently produced tuner is the PRO1K. This tuner is a one-trick pony, tuning only the standard AM broadcast band  in 1 kHz steps. Yet it does more than just play AM radio--not only does it decode C-QUAM stereo broadcasting when tuned to a station using it, but it also boasts a high audio frequency response (20Hz-15kHz) and wide-band reception. Whether or not it can meet those specifications in any practical use is a matter of some debate. The NRSC standards as seemingly mandated by the FCC prohibit AM stations to broadcast audio content at frequencies above 10 kHz. In a study, many listeners seemed to prefer broadcasts where the high frequencies were rolled off around 7.5 kHz.

Most modern AM receiver circuits are afterthoughts, tacked on by manufacturers so that consumers can tune in a news broadcast or listen to a sportscast. Fidelity is typically low, high audio frequencies are usually rolled off (as a crude means of filtering out high frequency noise and hash) and music reproduction is poor. You can forget any special features--modern AM radios most likely won't decode C-QUAM or do anything else that is interesting. There are a few more interesting AM radios out there, such as the venerable GE/RCA Superadio and the C. Crane radio. These offer better performance, yet they do not play in stereo when receiving AM broadcasts. Some other companies who specialize in high quality radios, such as the Sangean company, are selling AM stereo capable radio receivers. There are even rumored to be a few iPod docks and mini-stereo systems with the capability to decode and receive AM stereo broadcasting.

The Meduci tuners aim to address all of these problems. This review aims to answer the question of just how well their PRO1K tuner did on what is hopefully a practical evaluation. I bought one of these tuners with my own money (all $185 worth, including shipping!). I was not sure if it would be a good buy, and there were no reviews of the unit that I could find. What little I did find suggested no more than the existence of these tuners and that some people did in fact have them. Those who had heard one generally said good things about it.

It's now safe to say that this review is complete. The movies of the Meduci tuner in action, along with the pictures of the Sony radio to which it was compared are now uploaded. Thank you for your patience.

This effort also solves the problem of no reviews. Now there is at least one review.

It takes a few weeks to get your own Meduci tuner. Each one is supposedly hand built in the US from domestic and imported parts. I believe that the Meduci business consists of only one person, a man by the name of Jeff Deck. I placed my order around the second week of November and got my tuner on the last weekend in November. It was delivered via insured Priority Mail, with a signature required.

Opening the box revealed the PRO1K tuner, serial number 7. Assuming the serial numbers are sequential, this would explain the paucity of reviews out there, as only five or six other people can possibly have one of these tuners as of the date that mine was assembled.

Here's the front of the unit:

PRO1K Tuner, tuned to Chicago's 890WLS and indicating C-QUAM lock...

And here's the back:

Meduci PRO1K S/N 7 rear panel

The Meduci tuner does indeed have a "homebrew" look to it. Let's not judge it too closely just yet, as looks aren't everything. Curiously, the openings for the row of connectors and power switch have been "nibbled" out. I don't know why they simply couldn't have been drilled. It would have looked a lot better and taken about the same amount of time by my estimation.

The bottom is covered with torn up or cut adhesive paper labels that seemingly serve to conceal the points where the circuit board retaining bolts protrude through the case. There are four stick-on rubber feet on the bottom of the unit. Users are cautioned to place the unit on a stable surface, so as to avoid upsetting the relatively low frequency of an internal oscillator crystal.

Those who are paying extra careful attention have no doubt noticed the empty screw holes in the back. Which brings me to what's inside.

No User Serviceable Parts Inside

Oops. I guess this means I don't have a warranty any more! (More on that later.)

PRO1K Tuner Internal Circuit Board Layout

The major functional parts visible here are the variable capacitor, two voltage regulators and a few ICs. Both voltage regulators are simple types, one is a 7809 regulator and the other's type information is obscured by the heatsink. It's probably much the same thing. Meduci states that the dual voltage regulators provide additional isolation between the signal circuits and frequency counter display that is exclusive to the PRO1K. (The previous generation AMAX2000 tuner has no display.) This is an analog tuner, not a digital one. All told, the internal construction of the PRO1K tuner is a lot more professional than the outside.

All of the ICs visible here are from Sanyo. The smaller of the two is an LA1245 AM electronic tuner, while the large IC is Sanyo's LC7265 "received frequency display for radio receivers". In other words, it is a single chip frequency counter supporting AM, FM, and LW frequency indications. Interestingly, the previous generation AMX2000 tuner used an LA1247 in place of the LA1245. The only obvious difference between the two parts is that the LA1247 was made for use in AM stereo receiver designs and offers somewhat better signal to noise ratio performance as a result. Realistically, I'm not sure how much it matters, as the two parts are functionally equivalent. Sanyo's datasheets don't highlight any obvious performance differences and the pinout is identical for the LA1245 and LA1247. Given that the LA1245 is socketed, you could replace it with an LA1247 and see. Maybe I will, if one such chip drops into my lap without undue efforts.

As for the front panel display, it is a Lite-On LTC-5848G. This is a four character green LED display, containing colons and a few decimal points. Only three digits, part of the fourth and the "upper" decimal point are used by the PRO1K tuner. The remaining segments will never light.

As for the variable capacitor, it is a single gang, 365 pF (picofarad) air variable capacitor of the type used in many crystal radio projects. The only notable difference is the inclusion of an 8-to-1 reduction drive. I believe it is this exact part. Let me promise you now that more will be said about this piece later. Oh yes, I will have a lot to say about it...

The AM stereo decoder along with a clock crystal and some "other stuff" will be found on the bottom of the board. Yes, it is a double-sided board and the C-QUAM decoder IC (an MC13028 containing six hundred and seventy-nine ACTIVE TRANSISTORS as repeatedly touted by the Meduci site) is surface soldered on the back.

I'd have to say that the assembly quality of the internals is top notch. You can tell it's been hand-assembled, but not by much. Nearly all of the soldering is incredibly neat and precise. The printboard has a somewhat homemade look to it, but it's well made. Contrast this to the rather rough exterior construction quality.

Antenna Requirements

Meduci states that the PRO1K tuner works best and was aligned with a tuned loop antenna, such as the TERK/Audiovox AM Advantage or the good old Select-A-Tenna. Since they recommend the TERK by name, it's the one I bought. While I waited for it to arrive, I piddled with some other antennas and connected them to the PRO1K tuner. These other antennas were a generic AM loop connected with jumper wires to the PRO1K and a Technics stereo receiver's AM loop antenna with an RCA plug on it. Neither one produced great performance. In fact, the sensitivity of the PRO1K tuner was pretty low with either of these antennas attached.

Connecting the AM Advantage antenna made a huge difference. Meduci includes a cable suitable for making a direct connection to your tunable antenna, so be sure to use it and keep it handy. You will need it.

The only real drawback to the tunable antenna is that you have to keep adjusting it as you tune the Meduci set. This makes scanning the AM band more tedious than normal. Still, when you see the difference that the tuned loop makes once you have it lined up to a station's frequency...it's not really such a pain after all.

So How Does It Sound?

Before I can talk about that, I need to tell you about my test setup. Bear with me here.

If you have spent any time viewing other pages on this web site at all, you'll notice that I have a lot of stuff going on. And I also have a lot of physical stuff to support my activities. Some less visionary people may refer to this sort of behavior as hoarding. These people are easy to identify, as their reaction may simply be judged while I discuss (e.g.) the merits of having a small cutout section of railroad track by demonstrating how its superior weight can be used to keep boards against areas where animals are sneaking into a yard house or how it may also be used to hold doors open or closed with great certainty, even in gale-force winds.

Yes, it's funny how the word hoarding never comes up in a discussion when they need that piece of railroad track to hold their basement door shut while they hide from the whirling tornado that is bearing down on their home.

One of the things I have is another AM stereo receiver in the form of Sony's XR-A33 car radio. This features the ability to decode C-QUAM AM stereo broadcasts alongside an FM stereo radio and cassette player. That's about all I can tell you about it specification wise, as I do not have a manual and was unable to find one on the web. I've been sitting on this thing for a while, waiting for the perfect reason to use it and now I'd found it. So I pulled it out of storage, still complete with the previous owner's inept attempt at wiring it into his or her car dangling off the factory wiring pigtail. At least that part was still there. Unfortunately, there was no wiring map. I suspect that I picked this thing up from a pile of otherwise unwanted items at a garage sale.

I had to take some careful guesses and after a few false starts, I had enough of the pinout correct that the set would power up and drive two speakers. I verified that I had a left and right channel, and not some stupid combination of two left or two right channels. Since my regulated power supply was on the fritz, I tried the wall wart for a Linksys router. While this was good enough for a go/no go test, it was introducing a lot of noise into the Sony AM tuner. I finally powered the Sony radio from a lawn tractor battery, which solved any problem of power line interference.

Just as I suspected, publishing this article flushed my memory card reader out of hiding in a day or two. So, without further ado, here are the pictures of the Sony radio "contraption".

Sony XR-A33 AM Stereo Car Radio Setup

Here's a closer look:

Sony XR-A33 Closeup

With all of that done, I hooked up a car radio antenna that I had lying around and tested the set out. Both of the AM and FM tuners were happily functional. Although it could have been a case of the unit not liking the Kentucky Headhunters cassette that I tried to play, I think it is safer to assume that the tape player was broken. It started to play at a very uneven rate of speed, followed by tape spooling out of the front of the unit. For this demonstration, it does not matter.

While I did try the tunable loop antenna with the Sony set, it neither improved or detracted from the performance. I would imagine that its tuner is focused on dealing with the constant moving target of radio reception in a mobile environment amidst hostile interference sources like an ignition system and alternator, and therefore won't need any help with reception in a nice, quiet environment. I think this page might offer an explanation as to why I saw the behavior I did--as it states that only less sensitive receivers will see a benefit from the tunable loop.

Meduci touts the audio fidelity and frequency range of the PRO1K as one of its selling points. Therefore, it is only fair to compare it with a similar receiver. I think the Sony XR-A33 is fair competition. Sony included selectable wide, narrow and forced monophonic reception switches on the XR-A33. When set to the monophonic mode, the Sony set also rolls off the high end audio from all AM stations, just like more common receivers. Although they are indicated as being used with stereo reception of an AM radio program only, choosing the "narrow" or "wide" bandwidth settings improved the audio quality of all AM stations. It's nothing short of impressive how Sony crammed all of this configurability into a shaft-style car radio, where space to put controls is at a premium.

It's also been suggested that the Sony XR-A33 radio is capable of decoding all the major AM stereo systems that were in use. I don't know how true this is, but I do know that Sony made an "all-in-one" decoder chip for this purpose and that the XR-A33 will clearly decode and play C-QUAM stereo, as indicated by its display:

Sony XR-A33 display indicating AM stereo reception

I listened to the Sony and PRO1K for several hours each. Several stations that I can receive are broadcasting in C-QUAM, and one of these plays classic country music. The others are both news/talk formats.

To sum it up, the PRO1K tuner and Sony XR-A33 radio were very competitive when locked on to a C-QUAM AM stereo broadcast. Audio quality from both (with the Sony set to the wide audio bandwidth option) was basically identical between the units. I thought that the PRO1K might have a little more stereo separation at times, but it was  a close run thing and almost indistinguishable when A/B testing them. Of course, the Sony has its own audio amplifier built in, while the PRO1K must be played into an amplifier. I used a JC Penney MCS 2230 stereo to amplify the PRO1K's output.

Frankly, the audio clarity and fidelity of the PRO1K, when it's tuned to a station that is outputting clean audio, is startling. You might know that you are listening to AM from the little clicks and pops or other noise, but you might not believe it. In my adventures, most stations seemed to be outputting high quality audio with good tone. Only one station had a very rolled off signal that cut most of the treble right out of the picture before I could ever receive it with any tuner.

I happened to catch a station from Ontario, Canada that was benefitting from "skip" or similar propagation behavior. Played through the PRO1K, this station sounded sharp and clear, like it was right next door. I didn't have the Sony radio set up at the same time, and the AM tuner in the Penney's stereo receiver was basically deaf to the broadcast. For the time that clear reception lasted, that station in Ontario sounded like it was next door.

I also learned that my wireless router puts out a shedload of hashlike interference when it is operating. So much for all the shielding inside it, I guess.

Sound Samples

The following files consist of recorded audio from the Meduci PRO1K AM stereo tuner. All of them contain the same demonstration, carried out across several stations on the AM dial. The only difference is the quality level and resulting file size. Choose the file type that best matches your connection speed, but be aware that the lower bitrate files have lower apparent audio quality.

Your choices are: MP3 with a data rate of 96, 128, 192, 256 or 320 kilobits per second, an Ogg Vorbis file (if you are unwilling or unable to decode MP3 files on your system) and the original uncompressed 44kHz 16-bit PCM wave file. Please don't download the PCM wave file unless you must, as it will take a fair amount of time for this to complete. I strongly recommend that you right-click (or control+click on most Macintosh systems) so you may choose to download the file and listen to it later, rather than trying to let your browser or media player software "stream" the audio.

For those interested in the equipment used to capture these broadcasts, here's a detailed rundown. I played the Meduci PRO1K tuner into a JC Penney MCS 2230 all-in-one stereo system through the second AUX input. From there, the output was recorded to a brand new TDK D90 normal bias cassette tape using the built in recorder on the MCS 2230. I thought about recording it directly into a computer to avoid any quality loss from the cassette tape recording process, but I felt that could cause a lot of distortion to be introduced from RF noise radiating from the computer. No noise reduction processes were used. Playback was from a Pioneer CT-W208R tape deck into a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card's line input. From there, the signal was captured by Audacity software and saved to the PCM wave format. A TERK AM Advantage tunable loop antenna was directly connected to the Meduci tuner.

The following stations are featured on the recording, which is approximately six minutes long.

Station
Type Of Broadcast
WILL-AM 580
Monophonic
WGN-AM 720
Monophonic
Unknown 750 kHz
Monophonic (first music example)
WBBM-AM 780
Monophonic
WLS-AM 890
C-Quam Stereo
WJBC-AM 1230
Monophonic
(with notably rolled off high end
and HD simulcast)
WIRL-AM 1290
C-Quam Stereo
(good stereo separation,
with some "flickering" to mono)
WDWS-AM 1400
C-Quam Stereo

The closest (WILL-AM and WJBC AM) of these stations are approximately 30 miles away. The rest are 50 or more miles away. I don't know where the unknown station is located, as it never gave any identification.

Tab Patterson did a recording of an AM stereo station from approximately 7 miles out using the PRO1K. This can presently be heard
here.

There is a noticeable pitch shift toward the end of the recording I made, while the Statler Brothers are performing Hello Mary Lou. I don't know what happened there, as all of the cassette decks involved have newly installed drive belts. There is also a rather awkward cutting in of the WIRL signal once again to capture their station ID.

Perhaps the best example of the stereo separation present in an AM stereo broadcast happens around the point after WIRL-AM does their station ID and the Ronnie Milsap song starts to play.

Despite what the ID3V2 tags indicate, the MP3 files all have different bit rates.

Thus Concludes the Good News Portion of Our Broadcast

Okay, so the Meduci tuner sounds pretty good. It has decent stereo separation. Heck, it is one of a few modern tuners to decode AM stereo. What's not to like? A few things, actually.

Sadly, some of these come close to being deal breakers. Let me tell you about each one.

First and foremost...there is no means by which the end user can adjust the audio bandwidth or force monophonic reception of an AM signal. Meduci claims that this is not necessary, as the Motorola decoder blends AM audio to monaural under "adverse reception conditions". It's not clear when this would happen, or how smooth the transition would be. Short of modifying the circuit, you can't do a thing about it. I'm not sure the automatic blending can be disabled anyway, since it is handled in the Motorola decoder IC. Meduci also does not follow the NRSC guidelines for audio de-emphasis upon reception of the signal, which may "skew" the audio due to no proper "de-emphasis" on the receiving end.

iBiquity's HD Radio is used a by a few AM stations and its method of implementation infringes on the techniques used to produce AM stereo. As such, a station broadcasting an HD Radio stream cannot also broadcast in AM stereo. Well...I've heard HD Radio on AM stations and it's nothing to get excited about. The audio is harsh, warbly and way too bright. Reception is also hit and miss. This much is pointed out on the Meduci web site, in an article that discusses why nobody cares about HD Radio.

HD Radio carriers on an AM station may cause false triggering of the C-QUAM decoder. Meduci claims this is not likely to happen on the PRO1K. Guess what? It does. I left it tuned to an AM station broadcasting HD Radio content alongside their analog broadcast and periodically the PRO1K would switch its stereo indicator light on. There was also a marked change in the audio. Despite the Sony radio's age, it never once false triggered on the same station, or on a random sampling of others that were also broadcasting with HD Radio.

When the Meduci tuner is locked onto a good, strong C-QUAM station, it seems to do very well. When it's not locked reliably or can't maintain a clear lock, I never noticed a gradual blend to mono. The stereo separation (and usually the stereo reception indicator) both dropped like a stone. Every time it happened while I was in the room, I noticed. It was annoying, because it grabbed my attention. I am guilty of being particularly attuned to things like this. It might bother other (dare I say "more normal") people a lot less. I'm one of these people who notices the blip in the background music playing at a restaurant.

The other thing I noticed in this vein was a tendency for the stereo broadcasts to have odd phase-shifting effects. Sitting there in front of the thing, paying attention and listening to it, I wasn't as bothered by this behavior. Yet when I was doing other things in the room, these sudden shifts in the relationship between each channel were disconcerting in a way and caught me every time they happened.

All of these things are tolerable or could be fixed. I'd even buy that some of these are the way things are on the AM band, no matter the quality of tuner you have. Even so, I never noticed the phase shift problem on the Sony radio, and if the stereo lock was not reliable, I could kill the stereo reception entirely (at the expense of audio bandwidth).

Yet there's the one really serious problem...let me tell you all about

That Blasted Variable Capacitor

Remember what I said above, that I would have more to say about the variable capacitor used in the PRO1K tuner? Here it is.

There were times when I noticed that the readout on the frequency counter was not moving in a nice, even progression up or down. Sometimes it would jump a hundred or more kHz down while being tuned. The other charming quirk that I noticed was extreme "condensation" of the upper part of the AM band relative to the turning of the variable capacitor.

Here's a series of video demonstrations, showing the tuning taking place at a reasonable rate on the low end of the dial, becoming condensed at the higher end of the dial and "jumping". (For the best results, right or control-click these links and save the files, as opposed to trying to "stream" them from this server. These are MPEG movies, so you'll need an appropriate decoder on your system.)


Meduci puts it simply by stating that the 8-to-1 reduction drive on the tuner makes it possible to tune the "center" frequency of an AM station without being a "safe crack". Were this true, I don't think you'd be seeing the behavior in the videos above.

I put it simply by stating that while I do not know what they are smoking, I want some.

Up to about 1,000 kHz or so on the dial, everything's fine. After that, the spacing of frequencies becomes so close that you can barely turn the tuning knob without sending the thing flying up or down the AM band! Tens of kHz disappear before you know it. If you haven't, please go ahead and watch the videos above.

Pair this with the "jumpy" behavior noted earlier and you have a problem that makes this tuner no fun to use at all. It's difficult to center a station toward the higher end of the band when the smallest touch will send you flying several kilohertz the other way from what you wanted. It's impossible when the one station you want to tune seems to be in an area where the variable capacitor is "fidgety" and wants to introduce a jump of a few hundred kHz from where you are now. My unit did both, and did more of the latter when my hand was resting on the case while turning the tuning knob. Behavior of the variable capacitor is very jittery at each end of the dial...making tuning the few stations at the extreme ends of the dial a little annoying.

I wrote to Meduci with my concerns. Surely there is no way a product billed as a premium quality radio tuner can really behave in this manner? I felt there was a problem. My concerns were not valid according to Jeff Deck of Meduci, who wrote to say the following:

"Since the PRO1k is a manually-tuned AM receiver, rotating the tuning knob becomes logarithmic, and not linear.  As you tune your AM receiver to higher frequencies, there is less physical distance between AM stations, as the tuning knob is rotated clockwise.  If you look at virtually any manually-tuned AM radio with an analog dial scale, you will notice that the actual space on the dial between upper frequencies becomes “tighter” (say from 1,200kHz to 1,600kHz versus 600kHz to 1,000kHz).  Even though we are talking about a difference of 400kHz, those numbers above approximately 1,000kHz are spaced closer together on the dial.  This is a characteristic of analog capacitor/inductor tuned circuits.  This is why there is a scale bar on most tuning dials.

   Your meduci PRO1k is correctly operating as designed, as the tuning shaft is directly connected to an analog air dielectric variable tuning capacitor with 8:1 reduction drive shaft mechanism.  This feature makes tuning higher frequencies easier, and requires less effort on your part.  This is an improvement over the now discontinued AMX2000 tuner.  PRO1k repair will not be necessary for this tuning characteristic.  Thank you for the question."

I wrote him back, stating that I felt the tuning operation was unnecessarily difficult, expecting that he would be a little more receptive to maybe having a second look. At that time, I also inquired about a refund if I were to return the tuner. That's when things started to go south. I was told again that my tuner was certainly functioning correctly based on my description, that an add-on for further reduction drive was available if I wanted to pursue that route and that the return of finished Meduci tuners will not be allowed. Credit is given for unbuilt tuners and that's it. (All information accurate as of this writing in December 2010.)

To his credit, Mr. Deck was willing to make an exception whereby he'd allow me to return the tuner. Unfortunately, this offer was saddled with terms that made it unrealistic and unattractive. I was also asked not to disclose any of this to an online forum or make a public comment, behavior that I must admit to finding slightly sleazy. Such tactics never work, and as a product reviewer, I am compelled if not bound to tell the truth about a product and my experiences with its maker. Even so, I'll meet him halfway and won't disclose the full terms of the return offer. It bothers me that the Meduci business is unwilling to step up to the plate and simply address my concerns, choosing instead to say their product is unquestionably working as designed. Uhm...whatever happened to "the customer is always right"? My hope is that they would at least have been willing to look at it. I'd even pay shipping both ways!

I was also told that the Meduci tuner is a rare item that will someday be collectible. Not that it matters if it doesn't actually work.

I responded in turn, stating that I was interested in knowing about the add-on reduction drive unit and that I expected better from a company selling a premium product. Yep, that's me. Little Mr. Personality. I was polite the entire time, but I've never heard back from Mr. Deck or anyone else representing Meduci. I don't expect that I will. The add-on drive for further reduction appears to be here, although I can't be sure of that. I can be sure that the tuner will look rather ugly with that optional drive bolted on to the front.

While I suspect that opening a dispute with PayPal over the operability of the tuner would get his attention, I'm not sure that I want to escalate this into what may only turn into a very negative experience. Besides, I think they'd make me return the tuner as a condition of any settlement that was reached. I'm not sure I want to do that. Perhaps I will investigate fixing it myself by replacing the variable capacitor or examining the circuit to see and attempt to resolve any shortcomings in the design that may be causing these problems. There are certainly some options (look for the 410pF variable capacitor). Or maybe I'll just design my own tuner and be done with it. I've never designed a complex electronic circuit before, but I'll bet I could if I put my mind to it and did my homework.

Let me make one thing clear: I don't want anyone to engage in an act of "vigilante justice" toward Mr. Deck or the Meduci business. I don't want anyone harassing them, attacking their web site or doing anything else that might cause trouble. So, you know, please don't do that. Take this part of the review as a warning only, because that's how it is meant. Think carefully before you buy your own Meduci tuner and be aware that once it's been delivered, it is basically yours.

(By the way, anyone from Meduci, LLC that is reading this with the thought of making trouble or engaging in legal sabre-rattling can just stuff it. The tuner that I purchased is mine and that means I can do whatever I please with it. I can take it apart. I can shim a rattly table with it. I can listen to it. I can jump up and down on it, and I can write a review about it. Every part of this review is as accurate as I can make it and all of it is based in fact.)

Final Thoughts

The audio quality of the Meduci PRO1K tuner is very good. Build quality is so-so on the exterior and pretty good internally. For the price of the unit, I'd really expect better external build quality and a more professional finished look.

Meduci's customer service and willingness to stand behind their product are lousy. On this basis alone, I'd strongly suggest not doing business with them. If you're not happy, I think it fair to say that they aren't going to take much interest in making it right. I'd be delighted to be proved wrong. I'd hope this review might prod them into doing a better job.

If you have a good, strong AM stereo station broadcasting in your part of the world, the Meduci tuner might be for you. At a price of $175 and shipping, though, I think it's a tough sell. Especially since there are some good used AM stereo tuners out there, along with new units produced by other companies.

Final rating: 30 %


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Copyright 2010 William R. Walsh. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce this material or to use any part of it in other creations, so long as the following terms are met: attribution to this page and its author must be supplied, no part of this page may be displayed along advertising content of any sort, no fee may be assessed to provide access to this information (except as reasonably necessary to cover connection time or printing supply expenses) and no part of this material may be used in creations that are illegal, dangerous or derogatory. Created November 11th, 2010--edited, updated and posted around mid December 2010.