Magnum Dynalab DT-5 AM/FM Tuner

Magnum Dynalab DT-5 AM/FM Tuner

Why Not Have It All?


October 2005


Old Reference

For years I’ve used the Magnum Dynalab FT101A FM analog tuner as an integral part of my reference system. The reason for this is that I am a huge fan of National Public Radio (NPR) and particularly its Chicago affiliate, WBEZ-91.5 FM, and all of the great jazz programming that they provide. Sunday mornings in particular are gratifying as I religiously hunker down for the four hour block from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, to listen to Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” program followed by “Jazz with Dick Buckley.” I’ve routinely used these programs to evaluate a review component’s capabilities. The FT101A was always a good reference tool for this but the fact that it was an “FM only” device meant that I had to walk around with my Sony Walkman headphones on in order to listen to any AM broadcasts.

Thankfully, Magnum Dynalab introduced the DT-5 AM/FM digital tuner to its legendary line of high-quality broadcast units. Priced at only $995.00, it, along with the MD-90 FM analog tuner, is the least expensive of the Magnum line. The DT-5 is a departure for Magnum Dynalab as it is their first tuner to offer AM broadcast capability. Now most “audiophiles” do not care much for AM broadcasts because of their overall lack of musicality, and I’m not about to tell you that I use the AM section of the DT-5 to evaluate gear. But I will say that for all of you folks out there who, like me, enjoy listening to FM but still want to be able to tune-in the occasional bit of news or sports talk without having to give up much in the way of sonics from the FM, that your ship may have just come in.

Looks Aren’t Everything


The DT-5 is a rather simple looking black box like most of the Magnum designs and even does away with the retro-cool looking illuminated meter windows. Good looks are not what this puppy is about. It has a standard-width black brushed aluminum faceplate with a row of five push buttons on the left side, a small LED display near the center, and a large round tuning knob on the right. Pretty simple looking stuff actually. But then you take a look at the rear panel and blam! The DT-5 offers more features than a Cineplex: Single-ended (RCA) and balanced (XLR) outputs, RS232 interface, and coaxial cable antenna connection. Additional features are: Radio Data System (RDS) capability, direct frequency access, thirty station presets for AM and FM (sixty total), and a discrete remote control. On top of all this is that fact that you still get Magnum Dynalab’s unparalleled FM performance, all for under a grand!

Sound Is Everything

Make no mistake; the DT-5 is a serious audiophile product. I connected my unit to an external coaxial cable line and immediately enjoyed strong reception of all of my favorite FM stations and most of the AM stations save for my local ESPN affiliate WMVP AM-1000. With the way the White Sox have been playing lately, that may have been a blessing. Where the DT-5 really showed its pedigree was during a live performance of Moby during the “Taste of Chicago” festival in Chicago’s Grant Park which was broadcast live on local rock station WXRT 93.1 FM. The performance was full of nuanced special effects and odd vocalizations that came through brilliantly with the DT-5. At one point you could even hear the footsteps of a technician running across the stage to adjust Moby’s microphone. Even the local “smooth jazz” station, WNUA 95.5 FM, provides some fairly decent classic jazz programming on a morning drive show (hosted by Chicago’s own Ramsey Lewis) which benefits from the DT-5’s strengths: quite background, realistic image scale and fine inner detail reproduction. Only when I listened to a live outdoor performance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra did I notice only a slight compression of the soundstage. Even on my trusty old FT101A did the stage sound more immense.

I did most of my listening through the DT-5’s balanced outputs but I can’t really say that I noticed a tremendous difference from the single-ended outputs. One minor quibble I did have was with the delay that comes when you press one of the preset buttons. I often would press the button a second time thinking that the unit did not respond when I first pushed the button. Also, if you’re going to have the ability for thirty presets for each band, you should make the station numbers large enough to be read from further than ten feet. Otherwise, that’s just way too much squinting.

But aside from those minor squawks, this is a wonderful unit that bridges the gap between purist source component and a fully functional, well-integrated music provider. 


The best thing about the DT-5 is that it is a Magnum Dynalab tuner. That means it is well built, thoughtfully designed, and a fabulous FM broadcaster. Add AM capability, remote control, and an affordable price tag and you get a world beater of a high-end tuner, and I get a new reference component.

Dave Thomas


Tuning Range: 87.5 MHz to 108 MHz
30 dB Quieting – Mono: 2 uV
30 dB Quieting – Stereo: 4 uV
AM Suppression Input: 1mV AM30%: 50dB
Output Level 2K2 Load: 600 mV
50 dB Quieting Sensitivity – Mono: 4mV
50 dB Quieting Sensitivity – Stereo: 55mV
Distortion Input: 1mV 1 KHz: 0.3%
Frequency Response: 10-15 K
Separation 100Hz: 40 dB
Tuning Range 10KHz Step: 530 - 1720 KHz
Intermediate Frequency: 450 KHz
Quieting Sensitivity at S/N 20 dB 603 KHz: 600 uV/M
Quieting Sensitivity at S/N 20 dB 1404KHz: 450 uV/m
Signal to noise 999KHz: 40dB
Distortion: 0.8%
Output Level 2K2 Load at 5 mV/M input: 180

Dimensions: Faceplate width-19", height-3.5", depth-11.5"
Face Plate Options: 19" with removable rackmount installed (17" otherwise)
Price: $995.00 US Funds

Magnum Dynalab
8 Strathearn, #9
Brampton,ONT Canada
L6T 4L9
Telephone: 1-800-551-4130
Fax: 1-905-791-5583

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