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How to make my Tivoli (1) get better FM, (2) hook up with my iPhone 5?
May 5, 2014 7:40 PM   Subscribe

This must be straightforward, but somehow I can't seem to figure this out as someone who's just not very familiar with audio equipment of any sort. (Sorry!)

(1) I have a new Tivoli Model One (very good sound quality, in case anyone else is in the market), but I find that a lot of the FM stations I get are somewhat fuzzy. I think I need an external antenna, and there seems to be a jack in the back. What kind should I buy? Are cheap ones and expensive ones the same? I don't need to get stations in Russia; I just want all Bay Area stations to be pretty clear. There are no exceptional barriers to noise, but I do live within half a mile of Sutro Tower, if that means anything at all. Do all antennas connect to the Model One?

(2) How do I hook my iPhone 5 up to this thing as well? There is no USB jack in the back!

http://www.tivoliaudio.com/tivoli-audio-model-one-am-fm-radio.html
posted by flyingfork to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
How do I hook my iPhone 5 up to this thing as well? There is no USB jack in the back!

There's an aux-in port on the back. You just need a regular audio cable with an 1/8" jack on both ends (exactly the same as what's on your headphones).

I can't comment on the antenna as I have a Tivoli Pal with a built-in antenna.
posted by bcwinters at 7:47 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


My Tivoli Model One came with an antenna - check the box, it looks like a length of black wire. O
posted by girlgenius at 8:37 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


That radio should have two antenna connections, a 75 ohm coax and then a 1/8" miniplug, which I assume but don't know is also 75 ohm. "75 ohms" is the standard for FM radio and VHF TV antennas. So basically, any antenna designed for broadcast TV or radio ought to work fine... at least much better than the internal antenna probably does.

If you have a reasonably new indoor TV antenna hanging around (new enough to have a coax connector and not the old twin-lead screw terminal connectors), you can hook that up and see how it does. I wouldn't buy an indoor / amplified / HDTV antenna, they're overkill, but one would probably work OK if that's all you can find. (If your house has a TV antenna in the attic or something that you can connect to, that'd be perfect.)

Radio Shack used to sell fairly decent and cheap FM broadcast radio antennas. No idea if they do anymore (varies by the local store and how far down the cellphones-and-iPod-cases slope they've slid) but it might be worth a try if you want a plug-and-play sort of solution. They used to sell one that was basically a couple of feet of wire, and then you could play with the wires to your liking.

But if it were me, I'd just DIY an antenna out of some scrap wire, if you happen to have any lying around. Antennas to receive, as opposed to those to transmit, are not especially hard to construct. If you have some old cable TV coax lying around, you have enough stuff to make a fairly decent FM broadcast antenna. If you also have some lamp cord, you can make a great one. Here's a thread with some options.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:25 PM on May 5


At some point in the future, a year or five from now, you'll notice that your Tivoli radio has a lot of trouble tuning into otherwise clear broadcasts. Antenna presence/placement makes no difference. The FM stereo indicator light is lit, yet the muting kicks in and you can't hear anything. Weirdly, pushing the dial *in* seems to help a bit.

I put up with this for years before I finally got around to Googling about it, and found that it's a totally known thing with all Tivoli tuners. Apparently the tuning dial lubricant tends to settle over time, and that causes problems. To fix it, just spin the dial around, back and forth, for a minute or two. Leave the radio on with the volume all the way down. I'm guessing this redistributes the lubricant. Whatever it does, it totally fixes the problem for a few months until you have to do it again.

There you go, the answer to the question you'll be asking in 1-to-5 years. They should print this advice in the manual. (Maybe they did. I threw mine away years ago.)
posted by sportbucket at 10:35 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I can't help with the iPhone question, but FM is fairly straightforward. Kadin2048's answer above is great - the only other thing I'd add is that with FM radio, the positioning of the receiver and antenna is important. If it's on a low shelf in a windowless room, you'll have trouble with reception. Put it as near to a window as possible - FM is largely based on line-of-sight to the transmitter.

If Sutro Tower is a local high-powered transmitter (I'm not familiar with Bay Area geography!) then you may have issues if you're within half a mile of it. Very strong signals can overwhelm the receiver and cause it to struggle to receive smaller, weaker stations (a problem called poor image rejection). There are four 250,000 watt BBC FM transmitters close to me, and it causes issues for the small local channels. If there's a particular station or a couple of stations you prefer listening to, then tune these in and move the radio/antenna around until these are good quality. This could mean positioning it to mask out the signal from the nearby transmitter.

Hope this helps - enjoy your radio! :)
posted by winterhill at 2:04 AM on May 6


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