How to fix a Tivoli radio tuning problem


Years ago, we bought a Tivoli Model One radio for our kitchen.

At first, the tuning was rock-solid. But recently, the radio started drifting. Over time, the tuning knob got very touchy. Even if I was able to successfully tune a station, the LED would glow bright for a moment, then quickly fade. Left long enough, any station would degrade into static. Frustrating, to be sure.

I emailed [email protected] about the problem. Their suggested remedy:

It is pretty common over time for dust to collect in and around analogue tuners. Dust can cause drifting, scratchy noises while tuning, and difficulty finding stations. Regularly exercising your tuner will help to keep it dust free.

To exercise your tuner you will want to turn the radio on and turn the volume all the way down. Turn the tuning knob to the far left and then to the far right. Continue to vigorously turn this knob back and forth for two to three minutes. This will loosen any dirt or dust that may be lodged in your tuner and will recoat it in grease.

Success! After several minutes of vigorous turning, our radio’s tuning problems went away. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

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  1. Norm Epstein says:

    My Tivoli is dedicated to listening to Radio 1 in T.O., so tuning knob dust is not an issue.

    However, I have it attached to stereo speakers, and I found that when I turn off the radio, the speakers still (very quietly) play. So turning the Tivoli off is not enough.

    Does Tivoli refuse to ever turn Radio off? Perhaps Radio One is listening to me? Wait.., is it spying on me?

    Any thoughts?

  2. Markus says:

    Perfect! Thanks for the post. Works just as well for Model Two.

  3. Dave says:

    I was just about to bring my model 1 in for repairs. Glad I found this post, works great!

  4. Tom Lee says:

    You just saved me a bunch of money at a repair shop or a disaster if I attempted to open up my Model 1 to get contact cleaner into the dial … did exactly as you suggested and it works like a charm now. Thanks for posting this info!!

  5. Phil says:

    Already had the radio in for service once and they said a defective tuner was common in this radio. Was pretty frustrated and not wanting to pay a second service charge. This seems to have worked pretty well. Thanks.

  6. Steve says:

    Genius! Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  7. FCAsheville says:

    Our volume knob has been driving us nuts for months. 30 secs after reading this post….fixed! Thanks!

  8. Karl Kristian Bjørnland says:

    Your tip helped me fix the scratching sound from or DAB. As soon as I get to our cottages I will try this out on volume running up and down on the iPal, and drifting out of stations for a Number One.

  9. Kirsten Provost says:

    I love my Tivoli One radio and have been discouraged that the tuning had gotten so bad. Thrilled to have found your solution! It worked perfectly and now I have my favorite little radio back. Thanks!

  10. David Inosaka says:

    First result on Google took me here. The solution worked perfectly! I cannot believe we’ve been dealing this for so long. We love this Tivoli radio, which is on several hours a day and have been discouraged that the tuning had gotten so bad. Thank you for posting your solution!

  11. HB says:

    I have the same issue with my Model 1 and one lady at Tivoli suggested I gently blow some canned air in from the front by the knob. This helped.
    I then followed up again weeks later after it returned and mentioned this to someone there and he responded with ‘don’t you dare do that’ .
    Okay now I’m moving the vernier back and fort for a view minutes but it feels like for forever…
    The AFC seems lacking on the little buggers as the radio warms up.
    I can imagine a bedridden person having the radio turned on by a caretaker who walks away and returns much later.
    Perish the thought.
    The radios are quite expensive and the Chinese are knocking them out like hot cakes.
    I wish Henry Kloss was alive yet, because he put his name on the radio and I’m sure he would have improved the drifting problem.

  12. TB says:

    My Model One will hold a station rather well. But what station is being played (on AM band) and what the dial indicator is set for is quite different. If I’m listening to 550AM the station won’t tune in till the dial reads ~580-600AM. But yet 700AM is dead on.

    It seams that the more time goes by (weeks) the further away 550AM on the dial is pulled in. Still 700AM is where it’s supposed to be.

    I’ve tried adjusting the screw inside that fine tunes the dial but it doesn’t have enough range to even get it close.

  13. MdG says:

    This is amazing. After 6 months I finally resolved to get this annoying problem fixed. I was about to pay some 80 dollars and then thought to look it up on the web. This advice solved the problem immediately! Thanks so much!!

  14. Captain Jason says:

    Awesomeness! I was pulling my hair out and ready to trash my radio. Thanks for the rocking advice.
    Cheers, Jason

    • TB says:

      Mine is drifting more every morning I turn it on anymore (now over 50MHz off). The gang (tuning) resistor is so far out of spec it’s barely funny. Tickling said I can start the RMA process and get 1/2 off any other unit they have.

  15. Troy says:

    Overpriced garbage. I bought two and the tuners are both crap after a year. I tried the recommended method and it did not work. The almost want the cost of the radio to fix it. Bunch of crooks selling a poorly designed radio who won’t stand behind their product.

  16. TLQ says:

    Recently my Tivoli Model Two developed a crackling noise whenever I turn the tuning knob. It can be extremely annoying. I intended to have it fixed at Bay Bloor Radio, where I bought it.

    By accident I found this site – After following your instructions the above mentioned problem was fixed.

    I thank you, Dan, very much for the posting. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.


  17. John says:

    I tried your remedy and it worked and I am thrilled. I had the exact problem. I left the radio at a high end stereo shop and they a. told me to buy a new one because mine would be too costly to repair, b. they took it in and four months later accomplished nothing and in frustration I picked it up, took it home, and put it in a storage cabinet where it has been for six months. The size, the finish and the quality of sound of this radio is wonderful. In desperation I Googled the name of the product and found your post. I retrieved my radio from the cabinet, plugged it in and tried your remedy. It worked. Hard to believe. Thank you.

  18. John says:

    I tried it and it worked. Thanks

  19. Russ says:

    Thanks! Worked great!

  20. Graeme says:

    I was just in the throes of tossing my Tivoli in the rubbish when I decided to google and found your advice.
    Thanks a lot, amazingly simple!

  21. Ken says:

    I tried this twice (so the tuner got quite a workout) but I still have the hash noise between stations, and the radio has a tough time finding stations unless I really fuss with it. So, I don’t see much improvement.

    However, my listening habits are essentially glued to 1 or 2 PBS stations at the low end of the dial, so it doesn’t really matter as long as the tuner remains “locked on”, which it does.

    • HGB says:

      Be that as it may, there is still a drift problem.
      When I turn my Model One on the tuning light is barely on and after an hour it’s bright and the station is then held by the AFC.
      Yes once in a while I also get away from NPR and then the whole dial crackles as various stations are encountered. To find the center of such station can be a bear then.
      I don’t appreciate such an expensive radio having such an tuning annoyance where the dial must be moved back and forth to bring it back.

  22. Harley says:

    I have a model 3 and the alarm is out by 15 minutes to what you set it at so in order to wake at 6am I have to set it for 5.45. Does anyone have any suggestions for this. Also the tuner dial is out so in order to listen to 95fm I have to set it to 96fm. Will try the tuner remedy above tonight.

    • HGB says:

      There should be people who come to your house biweekly for a modest fee who rotate the tuner back and forth for about a minute or two, because that’s how long the tuner holds up in my office. This is the Model One. My PAL is always working well.

  23. Ray Lum says:

    I had stopped using my Tivoli because the drifting and static were too annoying. The turning back and forth solution solved the problem. Thank you!

  24. Risto Noponen says:

    Thanks for the tip, Dan!
    I already knew that this kind of remedy would repair some tuning problems, but sweeping & scratching through the whole scale was news to me. I have a Model One and two iPALs which all have had these problems. Drifting has never been an issue.
    The oldest iPAL was a bit hard to handle, but when I additionally concentrated on twisting & turning the frequencies around my favourite stations, the scratching noises gradually faded away.
    After all this I’m very satisfied and determined to take better care of the equipment. And another thing – I hope that iPAL replacement batteries are available in the future also!

  25. Steve says:

    The drift was annoying the crap out of me! Your post has saved this Tivoli from being on the wrong end of an axe. It thanks you Dave, and do I. Awesome!

  26. Fren says:

    I had found out the solution of vigorouly turning the tuning knob, but it only helps for a few days. Can I open the radio to remove dust and clean things up a bit? Anyone any experience with this?

  27. Pamela says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I was ready to throw mine out, I got so frustrated. Finally, I have my NPR back.

  28. Vicki Blier says:

    Has anyone tried tuner cleaner or can tell me how to apply it?

    The dial-turning solution helped for just a short time.
    My adored Tivoli’s are now my hated Tivoli’s.

    Expensive paper weights.

  29. Toni says:

    Thanks a lot for posting this! Mine model one drived me crazy, but Your advise really turned out to be well!

  30. Per says:

    It is now the second time I follow this procedure and it works fine. I am a bit dissapointed in Tivoli who does not take any respnsibility for a poor design. I am afraid that I need to agree with others who say “a funny little overpriced radion made in China with surprisingly good sound”

  31. gdab says:

    This worked, thanks so much.

  32. AB says:

    YES!!! Thank you. This worked perfectly.

  33. Great radio.

    My AM tuner is not working. I can get one station near the top end of the band and nothing more. FM tuner works fine.

  34. Lilly says:

    wow! I was rolling my eyes as I did this and it fixed the problem, I thought my radio was ready for the trash because I did’t think it was worth the effort of sending it in for repairs. Thank you for taking the time to post your advice.

  35. Lino says:

    I had the same problem on two radios, tried to do as described above but no good result.
    Disassembing the varible capacitor I saw a bad contact from the center pole and the upper metal surface.
    Simply adding a thin metal washer, the problem is solved.
    I hope this can help someone.

  36. Rich says:

    This fixed my Model One woes! Thanks!

  37. Jim Michaels says:

    Thanks for the tip!!! I’ve had that problem for years and now it’s cured. Much appreciated. Jim

  38. LLV says:

    I was told about this solution a while back by my local stereo shop where I purchased my Tivoli Two. However, I never did it for 3 minutes. Typically I did it for only 30 seconds or so while over rotating past the end of the dial on each end (hope that is doesn’t make things worse). Anyhow, my light “workout” only made it slightly easier to lock on to my only radio station (CBC 1) at the low end of the dial (91.5 MHz). Now it takes me up to 5 minutes trying to lock on to this station while rotating the dial back an forth. Do folks using this 3 minute trick over rotate past the dial or stop at each end? Thanks!

  39. Dundee says:

    Thank you for posting this. Been putting off getting my model one repaired for months. This tip worked like a charm & fixed my beloved radio. Thank you!

  40. Jerry says:

    Great tip! My Tivoli was not sounding as crisp as it was when I first got it. Turned the volume down…turned the dial about 3-4 times and Viola! Great sound again.

  41. Martin Mickeler says:

    My Model one pops and snaps rather than scratches or drifts. Just got it back from Bay Bloor Radio and $65 later it is no better. Not impressed with a $200 radio that doesn’t work. And all these posts about tuner cleaning – really??

  42. Steve says:

    It works! I’m so blown away. I’d given up on the radio, to be honest, and was just searching for anyone to fix it when I stumbled upon your post. Thank you so much!

  43. DaveB says:

    Thank you!! I was so pissed at this radio, and I bought 2, one for me and one for another family member. Just followed your great advice. It’s not perfect, but so much better. Thanks!!

  44. terry tauber says:

    Found this page while searching for a replacement plastic knob for my Tivoli model one.
    Any suggestions where I might get one. It’s gray.

  45. Mats says:

    Thank you for this very efficient remedy! My Modell Two started to drift first time three years ago. Had the gangcondensator and the condensator in the tuner changed, payed 100 dollars for it. Six month ago it was was back to non-function again. Used it only as a speaker for my IPhone the last 5 month, and now, before throwing it away I gave it one last chance by a Google search. Works perfectly again!

  46. Vicki says:

    Sadly, no amount of “the cure” worked for me. I tried it endlessly on both of my Tivoli’s and it didn’t help enough to make them usable. I can’t bear to throw them away, so now they take up precious closet space.

    Any thoughts about tuner cleaner? I’ve read that I can disassemble the whole thing and then re-calibrate the dial (with the power on!), but I not going to do that.

    How about just spraying it in via the hole behind the dial?

  47. Mighty Favog says:

    You can re-calibrate the tuning dial with the radio on. The best tool to use is an old-time non-conductive TV tuner’s screwdriver (re: plastic) so as to not ground out anything.

    Here is a pic of which one it is. The radios I’ve worked on are usually within a 1/8 to 1/4 turn off its mark. Not saying it won’t drift more later and you’ll have to readjust it, but….

  48. Matt says:

    Thank you – I had the same problem. I was about to go buy contact cleaner until I stumbled on to this link, and twisting the tuning knob back and forth for 3 minutes is all it took to fix my tuning issue on my Model One.

  49. B. Scheiner says:

    The problem is that the tuning noise keeps coming back and it becomes a bit of a nuisance having to “exercise” both of my Model 1’s every few weeks. The company could have designed it better. I’ve had other analog-tuning radios over the years and never had such problems. I also have a Tivoli Music System and found problems with some of the buttons which also seem related to dirt or oxidation on the contacts. My conclusion is that Tivoli makes good-sounding products that seem well-made and rugged but have internal components that could be of higher quality.

    The volume control on my first Model 1 became noisy after a couple of years. Tivoli replaced it, saying the early ones used volume controls that were not sealed. Seems like they were trying to cut corners from the start but then paid the price.

  50. Alain in yyc says:

    Hi 5 Dan,
    I was very glad to find your solution after searching online for “fm radio drift”. I followed the instructions and now my little tivoli is as good as new.
    I was getting tired using the big amp and speakers every morning!

  51. I can’t believe that worked. I was about to give up on my Tivoli Model One which I love so much. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world.

  52. Dave says:

    I was convinced the problem was interference from our Wi-Fi. We live in an old farmhouse and it is dusty. After following your directions the FM capture and retention is much better. Thank you.

  53. Martin says:

    Thank you, it worked well on my 2 units.

  54. FM says:

    Tivoli 3 given to me today out of frustration by current ownwer. I fired it up to assess.

    AM tuner works perfectly. FM is acceptable at high end, scratchy and imprecise at low end. Easy to miss stations and does not seem to care if I am tuning up or tuning down. Sound when on station is acceptable.

    I am now contacting Tivoli to see if there’s a repair service, since I am willing to pay $75 for a free radio.

    However, wanted to mention that the common way of tuning radios is with variable capacitance. The knob does not connect to resistors or mechanical contacts. I’ve had symptoms like this before that were due to foreign substances in between the fingers of the interlaced capacitors and in the old days, air blowing or contact cleaner solvent was the go-to solution. In those days, caps were accessible, which made for both easy fouling and easy cleaning. This one is not particularly accessible.

    I will note that in SOME cases, vigorous agitation can shake loose contamination. In other cases, not.

    Disassembling from the rear, I could see what looked like a sealed capacitor assembly, and to clean it, it will require complete access and possibly further disassembly.

    I managed to get the rear off (two screws) but the fit of these things is so good the front did not willingly come off when i loosened what i guesses were the 4 screws securing in from the rear.

    If anyone knows the disassemlby technique, I’d be grateful. Will come back anyway and post what I discover/hear.

  55. Hens Runhaar says:

    Thanks for helping this way Dan, same problem and same solution. It worked perfect. Glad I stumbled into your site, Hens, Netherlands

  56. Carla Ramos says:

    Thank you for the post. It works like magic.
    This fixed my Model One I’m amazed.
    God bless you.

  57. Phil Werntz, Manassas, Va. says:

    My 20 Year-old GE Spacemaker was driving me nuts, drifting off my NPR station (only one worth a damn). Scratchy as Hell,and just about impossible to hit the frequency spot-on. After twirling the dial back and forth for 3-4 minutes, Viola ! Problem solved ! Thanks so much for your help…Phil Werntz

  58. Daniel Derdzinski says:

    Wow, it worked! Both me and my Model Three thank you!

  59. George Cronk says:

    Your remedy worked incredibly well on my model one…but lasted only a week or so. I did it again, and had success for a few days more, but now it is back to the original problem of dreadful static as I try to tune it. Very frustrating, as I loved this little radio

  60. Bernard says:

    It works for me; thank you so much!

  61. Don Day says:

    For a long time I have not been able to tune my Tivoli Model One in. Searching for a radio repair shop was an expensive option Your idea of tuning the dial back and forth worked immediately.
    Thank you ,Thank you ,Thank you

  62. Fred van Elk says:

    The problem of the scratchy tuning knob is a factory fault caused by cheap Chinese parts used by Tivoli manufacturing.
    The tuning capacitor has rotating sliding contacts that, because of oxidation, cause this annoying scratching.
    It has nothing to do with dust. (How should dust collect in this almost waterproof housing? Tivoli knows this but just don´t want to admit it.
    It is a a shame that these totally overpriced products suffer from this kind of irritating malfunctioning.
    The only way to repair this fault is to replace the tuning capacitor by a better one. After replacement, it needs fine-tuning adjustment by a qualified radio repair specialist in order for the device to meet specifications and frequency accuracy.

    Shame on you Tivoli !

  63. Vicki says:

    Sadly, the magic solution did not work for me.
    But… after leaving the radio off for six months or so, it now performs perfectly.

    I wonder how this can be explained?

  64. Carol says:

    Thanks, just tried it for three minutes and was immediately able to tune into my NPR station that had “disappeared”. That said, I originally bought this radio for my father seven years ago and could not get the NPR stations in at his assisted living place.

    • B. Scheiner says:

      It doesn’t work. The problem will come back in a short time. The procedure needs to periodically be repeated. A real nuisance. The radio looks nice and solid and sounds good, but is ultimately made very cheaply, something that can’t be discerned initially. This seems to be a pattern with Tivoli products (I have several, unfortunately). And they are not at all inexpensive. I will buy no more of the company’s products. They are not the only game in town.

  65. Andrew Hibbard says:

    Worked like a charm, unreal, thank you!

  66. B. Scheiner says:

    See my June 28 comment.

  67. Timo Haukilahti says:

    It works! Thanks!

    I found another thing: I was listening music through my iPhone using AUX and a cable with 3,5 mm plugs, and the disturbing noise did not end. But it was because of the GSM phone being too close to Tivoli: the GSM signalling causes that problem. Longer cable and about 1 m distance heals that symptom.

    Bit different problem and different solution, but I hope this helps somebody.

  68. Evgueni says:

    I absolutely agree with Fred van Elk. The tuning capacitor has rotating sliding contacts that, because of oxidation, cause this annoying scratching.This is not the dust and poor contact. I let one drop of spray contact cleaner into the tuning capacitor axis and has worked well for more than 3 months. Then crack again
    Shame on you Tivoli !!!

  69. Hans says:

    Genius, just like the radios!! Worked on my Model Three, like a charm!!

  70. David Mann says:

    The rotation form side to side for 3 minutes
    improve the reseption but didn’t fix it still drifting. I will try the contact cleaner hopping it will last more then it did for Evgueni, if you sell one of the more expensive Radio you have to do it right ):

  71. Saulius says:

    Looks like it helped me too. I have bought used Model One for 8€ in the local market and was happy, but a little sad about tuner drift. It has stopped for now.
    I’ll try the method with my very old philips D2010 radio. :-]

  72. Jeff says:

    Haha.. even helped my cheap Tivoli target knockoff! Aces! I was just about to bite the bullet and buy a tivoli.. worked great! Thanks poster from years ago!

  73. J. Sewell says:

    I have had a Model One now for several years (I’m guessing at least ten years). Have had the static problem when tuning into a station and drifting for a few years. Just saw this post on how to correct. I thought it was a joke. Well I turned the tuning knob back and forth for a minute of so. I can’t believe it – like having a new radio. THANK YOU!!!!!!

  74. E Kor says:

    I have a Tivoli with Sirius. Same thing with tuning the radio, like everyone else. And like many, vigorously rotating the tuning knob cleared up the radio tuning. Thanks for the advice!!!

    • B. Scheiner says:

      Check it in a couple of weeks. The problem comes back. Probably the only way to truly cure it is to open the radio and spray contact cleaner on the tuner, but I won’t do it because who knows, it might have something plastic that will get ruined by the cleaner and doom the radio.

  75. Kim says:

    Thanks for this! My radio dial had drifted. After a couple of minutes of turning it, it’s now in the right place.

  76. Arby says:

    This “fix” is temporary and is BS considering how expensive these radios are. If “dust” can settle into the tuning mechanism, then these radios are poorly engineered.

    Very disappointing since it’s such a nice looking radio!

    • B. Scheiner says:

      I fully agree. Tivoli previously replaced a Model 1 for me because they were originally made with unsealed volume controls (probably to save money) and mine became very noisy. The new ones are sealed and this one has been OK for years. The FM tuner is another story.

      They look well-built and rugged but the company, at least back then, apparently cut corners.

  77. Dennis Murphey says:

    Paid $50 for a well used Model one. Could not get local traffic and weather, would not tune to that station. Tried the rotating dial trick, VIOLA! Like magic station came in exactly at the right dial position, wife has to use it in the kitchen now. Thks

  78. Steve says:

    Unbelievable… same problem (barely tunable), same result. rotating tuning knob for a couple minutes back and forth worked for my model one also.

  79. Tristan says:

    I’ve had my model one for almost 10 years and have found it progressively harder to tune my favorite FM station. I tried this method and found the station nice and easy first time. Hopefully the solution holds, but I guess I don’t mind a few minutes winding back and forth every few months if it keeps my Tivoli running.

    • B. Scheiner says:

      It won’t hold, see my previous comments. I have 2 Model 1’s and I have to do this every few weeks for both of them. Poor design, poor choice of parts, Tivoli probably could have avoided the problem if they’d spent another dollar for a better tuner.

      • HGB says:

        I bet it’s 10 cents or less for such an improvement.
        The Chinese can make great things for a mere pittance in the great scheme of things.

        • B. Scheiner says:

          The radio IS made in China.

          Tivoli says “Designed in the USA”. That’s always a giveaway that the product is not made here. Usually means China.

          You’re right, I stand (sit?) corrected, probably 10 cents.

          You may recall that the main advertising point of the radio was its high-quality tuning, designed by the late, great Henry Kloss (of KLH and Advent fame, among others). But he didn’t manufacture the radio, unfortunately, or for sure it would have been made as well as it looks.

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