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Mitsubishi DA F30 tuner
 

 

 

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The digital successor to the famous DA-F20, which has been called by experts the best sounding stock tuner you can find. Like the 20 it has Wide/Narrow but at last offers the Hi Blend the 20 so badly needs. In addition, there are of course station pre-sets.

This is truly one of the most analog sounding digital tuners I have heard. Some combat the digital nasties by just sounding soft. Not this one. When listening to it I really think it sounds like a good analog, with body and great harmonic structure as well as a very open soundstage. Now if I do pull out one of the TOP analogs to compare, I then hear the difference, but it is still a mighty impresive feat to be this close. So I would not rank it equal to the (now much more expensive) 20 but I would rate it much better than the DA-F10, a nice one of which will fetch at least $100.

By the way, the great sound is no accident and no surprise. The DA-F30 uses the same MPX chip (PA1001-1) as the very highly sought after Pioneer TX-9500II and TX-9800. The now crazy expensive SX-1280 uses it also.

One of the coolest things about this machine is the display. It lights up one colour when there is no signal, another when in Mono and yet another when it locks in Stereo. The effect is very subdued and classy, not at all tacky or garish. Quite unique.

 

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Mitsubishi DA-F30 (1981, $400, photo) search eBay
Thanks to Bill Ammons for this technical analysis of the FM-only DA-F30: "The DA-F30 uses a small voltage-tuned RF front-end assembly. It looks to have a FET RF amp and bipolar mixer stage. The IF strip consists of a 280 kHz ceramic filter, followed by one-half of a LA1222 IF Amp IC driving a second 280 kHz ceramic filter and the second half of the LA1222. The LA1222 then feeds a third 280 kHz ceramic filter. In the WIDE IF mode the signal is routed to a HA11225 quad detector IC. In the NARROW IF mode, the signal is routed to one additional 280 kHz filter, plus an additional IF filter stage, which then feeds the HA11225 IC. The HA11225 detector then feeds a KB4437 stereo decoder IC. The stereo decoder IC then feeds the audio low-pass filter driver IC, which is a uPc4558. The de-emphasis pole is in the feedback network of the IC stage. The IC then drives an LC audio low-pass filter block. The filter block then drives the left and right output audio output stages which are emitter followers. Stereo separation is adjusted by cross coupling channels at the audio driver IC. The controller IC for the unit is a uPcD1704 IC. Suggested upgrades: Replace the uPc4558 with a bi-fet IC, TLO-72 or better; increase C125 and C126 to 33 F; increase C160 to 33 F; increase C172, C173, and C180-183 to 10 F; replace CF101-103 with swept matched SFELA10M7FA0G 280 kHz ceramic filters; and replace CF-104 with a 230 kHz SFELA10M7GA0G filter."

Our contributor Jovit tells us that the DA-F30 "has 5 FM gangs with the following arrangement: 2 gang + 3SK45B RF AMP + 2 gang + 2SC535 Mixer + 1 gang for the unbuffered LO (local oscillator). Each gang uses a single varactor as opposed to the back-to-back arrangement found in better front ends. When I say unbuffered, it's the buffering between the LO output being fed to the mixer. Some front end designs have a buffer between the oscillator and the IF mixer, like in the Sansui TU-D99X/AMX/S77X front end." And our contributor Ray D. adds, "The filters used are three blue/red stripe SFE 10.7MX CMD and one brown/red dot E10.7S CMD. Features: 8 presets, tunes in .2 MHz increments, up/down tuning buttons, separate auto/manual tuning and stereo/mono, recording calibration tone, signal-strength or multipath 5 LED meter, muting on/off, wide/narrow IF and high blend. The last two functions are not fully automatic. The choices are Wide or Auto for the IF and Auto or Off for the high blend, so you can force Wide or turn off the high blend but you can't chose Narrow or switch on the blend as desired. The display has one party trick up its sleeve: The lighting is orange when there is no signal, white when receiving in mono and green for stereo."

Our contributor George T. says, "The DA-F30's chassis is about as flimsy as I have ever seen, but it received real well with a folded dipole. But the real surprise is the sonics. It has a discrete output stage - kind of a novel circuit at that. The frequency extremes were there, but the mids were a little off and the top seemed too hot. I did a direct comparison to a modded and aligned Pioneer TX-9100 and preferred the smooth mellow sound from the TX-9100. But then I rebuilt the DA-F30's power supply and output stage with fresh high-quality parts. Now the sonics are a killer! The audio is close to my disc player and phono. The Pioneers had put the Kenwood in the closet. Now the DA-F30 is putting the Pioneers in a stack in the closet." The DA-F30 usually sells for $35-65 on eBay, but over $100 is possible.

 

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