Denon TU-1500AE

Denon TU-1500AEThe problem for Denon’s TU-1500AE was that it was the long-awaited replacement to one of the best and most long running budget tuners in history. True, there were a couple of super rivals from the likes of NAD and Creek, but the Denon TU-260L sold strongly for a great many years because it sounded rich and smooth in a way that was totally unexpected from a £130 radio, and also held stations well and worked reasonably convincingly from a piece of wet string. In other words, if you just wanted a nice sounding, affordable and reliable radio, there was nothing better. All of this meant the TU-1500AE had a job on its hands…

After fifteen years of the TU-260 soldiering on and on, the new Denon ‘1500AE arrived in 2006 to a world that still took FM seriously. DAB was still in its infancy, at least as far as the consumer was concerned, so the new tuner’s mission was to provide the best possible FM experience. It looked a good deal more modern, despite being very similar in its dimensions. The new two-line, alphanumeric white-on-black fluorescent display was a vast improvement over the 260’s dim digits, with the top line showing station name and the bottom showing scrolling radio text if required. There were LED tuning indicators, which worked in conjunction with the tapered tuning knob to make station selection a breeze. The TU-1500AE could store one hundred preset stations, which was more than any British user could wish for.

Sonically, the new Denon was a surprise; it was even richer than its already rather warm predecessor, and had a softer, more recessed treble. It came over as a little less energetic than the TU-260, but was still a fine sounding product that was way more refined than it had a right to be. While the sonic improvement it brought may have been debatable, it was certainly more sensitive and more usable in a world of increasingly crowded airwaves. Nowadays, you can pick up either the TU-260 or the TU-1500AE for similar money – which in both cases is not very much. Around £30 should buy you a good example, which is nothing for the sort of quality you’re getting – especially compared to the very so-so sound from the generation of FM/DAB hybrids that followed on from the ‘1500AE soon after…

2 comments

  1. Nick

    If you want a Denon, then I’d go for the TU-800L from the late 80s. It’s arguably the best tuner that Denon ever made and it’s probably the best combination of top sound and RF performance that I’ve yet seen in a digital synthesised tuner.

    Apparently the earlier TU-1500RD (from around 1996) was a good one as well and from what I’ve read better then the AE version above.

  2. Ramanuj Sinha

    I own the whole Denon 1500 AE set from amp to CD to the tuner TU1500AE in question here. In my opinion its the best Tuner out there and the very best made by Denon. Give it proper interconnects (Chord Crimson Plus) and a Proper outdoor antenna ( coax) and then sit back and be omg wowed. No NAD Technics Sony or Arcam sounds as warm rich and DETAILED ad this Denon does. Its beautifully musical timed and around at the top just as it should before being harsh or coarse. Amazing is the word,get it. Andvbuild quality is to die for.

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