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Any experience/info re: Harman/Kardon Citation 18 tuner?


Mike Zuccaro
 

In a message dated 4/5/02 5:51:05 PM Pacific Standard Time,
blundry@mediaone.net writes:

<< al, as I'm a little
confused about a few of the controls. I'd also like to hear about any
firsthand experiences with this tuner, and how people think it
compares sonically to its competitors from Kenwood, Sansui, Marantz,
MacIntosh, Accuphase, etc. Look forward to hearing from you guys...
>>
Nameless guy:
If you like it, that's what counts. Nice tuner, I've worked on a few of
them. You will find it should fill you every need, and the money you spent on
the fix was well spent. It would cost far more than that to make that tuner
today. Always assume whatever you buy used, on ebay or garage sales or
swapmeets, or whatever, will need some (or a lot!) of repiar unless you've
checked it out first, or it's sold with a guarantee.

Got a name,or did you mother name you Blundry?
best,
Mike Zuccaro


blundry <blundry@...>
 

Hello group:

I'm not an FM tuner expert by any means, but have been following many
of the threads here on FMtuners for several months, particularly to
learn more about the performance of analogue tuners of the 1975 to
1982 vintage. I am more interested in an audiophile tuner than in the
ultimate DX machine, but believe that a well executed design should
satisfy both groups of tuner enthusiasts.

On a bit of a lark I bought a Harman/Kardon Citation 18 tuner on eBay
for only $20. It was untested, and I figured if it were working, it
would a terrific bargain. I've always been a Harman/Kardon fan, and
have an H/K tapedeck and VCR in my system. At the time, I didn't know
much about this particular tuner, which is a solid state design that
dates from about 1977 or so and apparently retailed for $595. The
Citation products were H/K's flagship designs, often incorporating new
ideas and technologies, though I'm not clear how the Citation 18
differs from earlier H/K tuners. It is card based, much like a modern
PC, with a different plug-in board for the power supply,
monitor(headphone)amplifier(two of them!), meter/mute, MPX, output
amplifier, and FM/IF. Other than ease of repair, I'm not sure of any
advantage to this type of set-up, unless the idea was that different
boards would upgradeable at a later date. That idea would have been
pretty progressive in 1977, but I'm not sure if this was indeed the
theory behind the modular construction. It looks pretty impressive
when the cover is removed, though.

Anyhow, the tuner I purchased initially lit up when powered on, but
just a few minutes later it was DOA. I decided to bite the bullet and
have it repaired. Well, $177 later, I have a working tuner. There is
a lesson there somewhere about buying untested tuners on eBay, but
since the purchase price was so low, I didn't feel ripped off in any
way. What was annoying was that in addition to blown fuses and a
faulty diode, there were some transistors supposedly missing from the
tuner - perhaps it had been long ago cannibalized for parts? Hard to
know the history of a 25 year old piece of equipment. I didn't
perform the work myself (no skills) - I had it done by a fairly
reputable repair facility called the Audio-Video Shoppe in Culver
City, California. They seemed competent and relatively straight with
me, and included a plastic baggie with all the blown components they
supposedly replaced when I picked up the tuner. They warranty their
work for 90 days.

So I just got it back, and I have to say that I am VERY impressed with
how this tuner sounds. Granted I don't have a tremendous basis for
comparison - for many years I used the tuner section of a
Carver 900 receiver, which I think was quite sensitive - very good at
pulling in weak stations, but seemed to roll off the high frequencies
a bit. Recently I bought the much acclaimed Onkyo Integra T-9090-II
based on its stellar specs. I thought it sounded a little fuller than
the Carver (I couldn't actually A-B them for a direct comparison) but
I couldn't stand all the tiny lights and buttons (a very late eighties
digital design cosmetically, and therefore not to my taste at all).
So I sold the Onkyo after only a few days - I hardly listened to it at
all because I didn't enjoy using it or looking at it (a bit silly, I
know).

Well, this Harman/Kardon doesn't have great specs by 2002 standards,
but it is the best sounding tuner I've ever had in my listening room.
A much more detailed and forward soundstage than the digital tuners I
have heard, and a very 'lively' sound, particularly on piano notes,
which have a nice bounce and jump to them - a pleasant surprise. Bass
is nicely defined without being too up front, and highs are sharp and
clear. Vocals sound great, with maybe just a faint trace of sibilance
in the highs, but not much a problem to my ear. Overall a very clean
and inviting sound.

The Citation 18 seems sensitive enough to pull in weak signals cleanly
and in stereo. A few of the weaker stereo stations in my area came in
a little bit hissy, though there is a noise filter activated by a
button on the front panel that cuts this hiss quite dramatically.
This definitely doesn't seem to be needed on stronger stations, as
this tuner sounds very quiet to me on those. Can't really speak to
its selectivity, as I haven't experimented with that much, and it
isn't much of an issue in my area.

Construction is extremely robust, with thick aluminum faceplate, and a
hefty weight of 23 lbs or so. It is easy to tune, and to my eye has a
nice appearance, although the horizontal wheel used to tune in
stations seems definitely to have been 'borrowed' from the good folks
at Marantz. The tuning meter takes a little getting used to, as it is
backwards from what I'm used to - as the needle goes further to the
right it signifies a weaker signal, not a stronger one. It is easy
enough to use once you get acclimated to it, though.

On the whole my initial impressions of this tuner are quite favorable,
and I feel as though I'll probably hang on to it for a while. I'd be
curious if anyone has a copy of the owner's manual, as I'm a little
confused about a few of the controls. I'd also like to hear about any
firsthand experiences with this tuner, and how people think it
compares sonically to its competitors from Kenwood, Sansui, Marantz,
MacIntosh, Accuphase, etc. Look forward to hearing from you guys...


blundry <blundry@...>
 

--- In FMtuners@y..., mjzuccaro@a... wrote:
In a message dated 4/5/02 5:51:05 PM Pacific Standard Time,
blundry@m... writes:
>>
Nameless guy:
If you like it, that's what counts. Nice tuner, I've worked on a
few of
them. You will find it should fill you every need, and the money you
spent on
the fix was well spent. It would cost far more than that to make
that tuner
today. Always assume whatever you buy used, on ebay or garage sales
or
swapmeets, or whatever, will need some (or a lot!) of repiar unless
you've
checked it out first, or it's sold with a guarantee.

Got a name,or did you mother name you Blundry?
best,
Mike Zuccaro
Thanks Mike,

I have been quite happy with it, but since I haven't had the
opportunity to compare it directly to any of its competitors, I
wondered how other listeners rated it. There seems to be a relative
scarcity of information and comment about this tuner, particularly in
comparison to Kenwood and Sansui products of the same era.

One caveat - mine seemed dead quiet for the first couple of days of
listening, but now is making a barely audible yet annoying hiss on the
left channel. It produces this noise even when totally muted, but it
can be detected during quieter passages of music played at moderate to
high volume, and also when an announcer or DJ is speaking. So I think
I'll have to bring it back to AVS for a diagnosis. The dial pointer
is also off a bit more than I would like.

You mentioned that you've worked on the Citation 18. Do you find them
finicky from a service standpoint? The design seems clever to me, but
perhaps packed with a bit more hardware than really necessary. The
decision to equip it with two different headphone jacks, each driven
by their own 2 watt amplifier board seems totally excessive, but then
I rarely listen to any source through headphones. Maybe this was a
big selling point at the time. A Citation 18 and two pairs of
headphones - the recipe for a dream date back in 1977?

Anyway, I'll keep the group posted (about the tuner, not my dating).

Nobody has a copy of the owners manual for this thing?

Regards,

Paul Zerner


Mike Zuccaro
 

In a message dated 4/8/02 12:08:21 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
blundry@mediaone.net writes:

<<
One caveat - mine seemed dead quiet for the first couple of days of
listening, but now is making a barely audible yet annoying hiss on the
left channel. It produces this noise even when totally muted, but it
can be detected during quieter p >>
Paul:
Probably a noisy xistor on the left channel output, they should be able to
find this easily. The plug in boards are similar to the system used on
Accuphase, Heath, and a few others. Nice tuner, I think you'll be happy with
it and you'll probably not need to upgrade it.
Best
Mike Z.


tootnflooty
 

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, "blundry" <blundry@m...> wrote:
--- In FMtuners@y..., mjzuccaro@a... wrote:
In a message dated 4/5/02 5:51:05 PM Pacific Standard Time,
blundry@m... writes:
>>
Nameless guy:
If you like it, that's what counts. Nice tuner, I've worked on a
few of
them. You will find it should fill you every need, and the money
you
spent on
the fix was well spent. It would cost far more than that to make
that tuner
today. Always assume whatever you buy used, on ebay or garage
sales
or
swapmeets, or whatever, will need some (or a lot!) of repiar
unless
you've
checked it out first, or it's sold with a guarantee.

Got a name,or did you mother name you Blundry?
best,
Mike Zuccaro
Thanks Mike,

I have been quite happy with it, but since I haven't had the
opportunity to compare it directly to any of its competitors, I
wondered how other listeners rated it. There seems to be a
relative
scarcity of information and comment about this tuner, particularly
in
comparison to Kenwood and Sansui products of the same era.

One caveat - mine seemed dead quiet for the first couple of days of
listening, but now is making a barely audible yet annoying hiss on
the
left channel. It produces this noise even when totally muted, but
it
can be detected during quieter passages of music played at moderate
to
high volume, and also when an announcer or DJ is speaking. So I
think
I'll have to bring it back to AVS for a diagnosis. The dial
pointer
is also off a bit more than I would like.

You mentioned that you've worked on the Citation 18. Do you find
them
finicky from a service standpoint? The design seems clever to me,
but
perhaps packed with a bit more hardware than really necessary. The
decision to equip it with two different headphone jacks, each
driven
by their own 2 watt amplifier board seems totally excessive, but
then
I rarely listen to any source through headphones. Maybe this was a
big selling point at the time. A Citation 18 and two pairs of
headphones - the recipe for a dream date back in 1977?

Anyway, I'll keep the group posted (about the tuner, not my dating).

Nobody has a copy of the owners manual for this thing?

Regards,

Paul Zerner I can send you a copy of the owner's
manual if you still need one. Please e-mail me.


m3_tom <m3_tom@...>
 

--- In FMtuners@yahoogroups.com, mjzuccaro@a... wrote:
In a message dated 4/8/02 12:08:21 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
blundry@m... writes:

<<
One caveat - mine seemed dead quiet for the first couple of days
of
listening, but now is making a barely audible yet annoying hiss
on the
left channel. It produces this noise even when totally muted,
but it
can be detected during quieter p >>
Paul:
Probably a noisy xistor on the left channel output, they should be
able to
find this easily. The plug in boards are similar to the system
used on
Accuphase, Heath, and a few others. Nice tuner, I think you'll be
happy with
it and you'll probably not need to upgrade it.
Best
Mike Z.
I have had one of these since new. During a move or cleaning, HK
found a load of Citation 18 tuners and Citation 17 preamps in their
warehouse, about 2 years after production had stopped, and offered
their dealers a blowout deal at $50 bucks a piece. Everyone at the
hifi shop where I worked was given either a tuner or preamp for
Christmas!

I find the sound quality excellent, and it is a great DX'r as well.
I had a KT-8300 new also, and found the Citation better sounding.

Mine recently developed a problem that renders it unusable. After a
few seconds of operation, it loses stereo reception, and sounds
distorted unless tuned off center. Output is also reduced. I do have
the service manual, but am unsure where to start. Any tips, Mike?
Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Tom G.


jeanguymoreau@...
 

Reviving this old post!!

Finally I went for the Harman Kardon Citation 18.  I had the chance to listen to it locally before purchase (with my headphones) and I was fairly impressed therefore I bought it….That’s also one of the reasons I favoured it over the Sansui TU-717 (2W Headphone amp which can drive my HD-600 easily)…Also sounds good with my Beyerdynamics Cans.

 

I’m not too sure about how good its tuning capabilities are (especially on selectivity if I compare it with my Cambridge Receiver)… But on strong stations it is very quiet, it does sound good and transparent with everything in its place.  Good bass (for a tuner) and silky treble ,  definitely more on the warm side but doesn't seem slow. Sibiliance? Not sure yet....

(Just a note that I don't use the Cambridge receiver for 2 channel listening!...) I have my Moon for that...


I haven’t had a chance to do an A/B with my Exasound DAC which would be kinda hard but I do have a fairly large selection of lossless stuff so it’s feasible…That should be interesting…


It's definitely hard at times to know you’re listening to a tuner so that’s good!!!

I loaned a KT-815 from a friend and it's day and night...You really know you're listening to a tuner with the Kenwood.  It does look nice though but it's flat and boring to listen to.  The Cambridge Receiver Tuner sound (Azur 640r) is also nothing in comparison...No soundstage, bright  with thin bass..But it seems to do as well in terms of selectivity and sensitivity... Not sure though...Might be how I adjust the muting thresholds and Stereo thresholds, which are very nice to have...

The Eighteen may have benefitted from a Narrow/Wide selector also...


So despite its external condition (which was not the best but my listening room is dark so…) I’m happy!

I may also need an alignment as it is a tiny bit off.  And I also heard some unwanted noise in the 6-10 KHz range with my headphones especially in voice in the left channel while tweaking  the FM Antenna on my garage...It was about 5 deg. Celsius so maybe it doesn't like the cold...  I'll need to check this closely....

 


Peter Wieck
 

I also keep an 18, it goes nicely with the rest of the herd, the 17 pre-amp and 19 power-amp. That it also has an ST7 and an HK 2000 (Luddites R Us) with it makes it a very nice little system. 

As to selectivity/sensitivity issues - I am pretty much on top of the stations I prefer, so a damp piece of yarn would be a sufficient antenna most of the time. This tuner does happen to be a stellar performer. 

I had to replace a few components inside to make the headphone amp perform without discernible noise, and a few resistors to get a balanced output  - but as previously noted, nothing serious for something of this vintage. 

My best tuner is a Revox A720, my warmest tuner is a Dynaco FM3 (tube). But the 18 is a fine tuner such that I would prefer it to all others but the Revox for daily use. The rest of the herd includes Dyanco FM5 & AF6, vintage AR tuner, Hafler, Soundcraftsmen and a couple of seldom-used HD no-name tuners for that particular need. 

Peter Wieck
Melrose Park, PA 


jeanguy moreau <jeanguymoreau@...>
 

Thanks for the info Peter that's good to hear.

I just need to play a little more with it. Honestly what counts for me is sound quality. I'm in an urban area too close to the stations so I padded the input with a 6 dB attenuator. DXing is not really an option for me. Besides, no matter how good the tuner is, there is so much intermod/noise in my area that I will just focus on the few local stations I like.


Jeff Harrison
 

I had an 18 (which I sold to another of our group), and after typical replacement of caps, I liked it very much.


sedond
 

this is a tuna that is definitely worth the investment in full refurb and mods.  imo, of course.  :>)  while all the later hk tuna (14/15/18) sound superb even stock, mods are way worthwhile.  (i have never heard a 14 or 15 modded, so i can't be positive they would respond the same as the 18, but i would bet they would.)  i have found mine to be sonically competitive w/the best tuna at any price.  (even after mods.)  and receptionwise, even tho it's only a single-bander, it's been bested by only two, in my experience - the refurb'd modded rotel rht10 and the sony xdr-f1hd.  when my hk18 was modded and refurb'd, the tech (stephen sank) said he measured 4wpc on the completely re-done amps, and for the past two years, the 18 has been my standby "receiver" in my kitchen, adequately powering a pair of 85db efficient speakers connected to speaker jacks in the back - the push-pin antenna connectors are now speaker outs.  ;~)  and the hk's "hi blend" feature is easily the best hi blend i've heard on any tuna, adequately quieting, w/o degrading the sonics.  just a slightly smaller soundstage.

enjoy!

doug s.
---In FMtuners@..., <jeanguymoreau@...> wrote :

Thanks for the info Peter that's good to hear.

I just need to play a little more with it. Honestly what counts for me is sound quality. I'm in an urban area too close to the stations so I padded the input with a 6 dB attenuator. DXing is not really an option for me. Besides, no matter how good the tuner is, there is so much intermod/noise in my area that I will just focus on the few local stations I like.