I've been trying to get a Sansui amp that I like more than my rebuilt AU-777A for a while. In this thread I'm just going to be rambling from time to time as new contenders arrive at my door step. It's not going to be well organized or logical, because I'm not sure there is any point as what I like is probably different to what you like. In all comments and opinions below of course YMMV. I go for vintage/warm sound and ultimate fidelity and imaging come second, although are desirable to me also. All tests are done with an amp selector box... usually not blind, unless the amps are very similar, then I get my wifey to help with the buttons. I found the amp selector box is the only way to do this sort of comparison.... the time to change wires is too long to form reliable opinions. When you use that selector box and and shift in the middle of a guitar riff, vocal solo, or bass note, things are more obvious. Tone controls kept neutral generally, but slight adjustments made sometimes to see if it's just a matter of different voicing/tone-settings. Loudness off. Oh and one very important point is what speakers I'm using. For all listening tests I'm using Allison speakers, usually the model One, Two, Three or Four... mostly the Ones or Twos. The Ones have dual 10" woofers in the acoustically sealed cabinet and the Twos have dual 8" woofers, also in a sealed cabinet. I mention this because it's important. These speakers tend to do really well with low damping factor amps.... you get ridiculous bass due to the resonance being uncontrolled by the amp, but the cabinets are sealed really well and this keeps things under control a lot (you can push on one woofer and watch the other move - perfectly sealed) so the bass quality isn't too shabby even when things are flapping around a bit. And that's important because many of the sansui amps I like tend to have low damping factor and it might partly be because of my speakers doing well with that. I'm sure if I hook up to some maggies or something else I might really care a bit more for different models. Okay, moving on.... The story is that I grew up with an AU-666 and then tried a lot of fancy hi-fi grabbing a recapped AU-555A. I knew instantly that this unit delivered enjoyment that my fancy gear didn't. So the fancy gear went and the Sansui madness began - I've only been in this game for the last 3 years or so. It started with a couple of AU-555A, AU-505, & AU-666 rebuilds. All fine amps, I would even say outstanding, in their own ways. The 555A has incredible imaging and sense of space, yet retains a warm overall tone, while the 505 might lose slightly on the sense of space but might pip the 555A on bass, only just. The AU-666 as many of you know is a bit of a different topology (like the AU-999) and is great, possible 'higher-fi', than those mentioned already, but I do need to use the tone controls a bit to 'warm' it up. It's not as drastic a situation as it's bigger brother the AU-999 which I owned three stock units off and sold because I couldn't stand the lack of bass. I tried an AU-555 and that was really not to my liking, except at high volume.... it's like there is an anti-loudness! Maybe it was just my unit had a problem but I couldn't detect any problem. The little brother to that, the AU-222, on the other hand sounded incredibly nice. Thumping bass! So I went ahead on did the signal transistors on that and boy, it has some clarity too now! One on my all time favourite amps - we do love little amps that show up their bigger brothers, right? I must do a thread on that amp alone one day.... so cute inside, the case is so small, and yet there is sooo much space inside . Around the same time I tried some other low damping factor amps from Sansui. The highlights were many of the receivers that sounded a lot like the AU-222 (significantly warmer than the AU-505 etc on my speakers), e.g. Solid State 300, 300A, 350, 2000 and so on. I likes most of those a lot, and some had great tuners to boot! And those tuners are sexy at night... will always have one of those where ever I live. I also tried the AU-101, the baby to the AU-505. And boy, another little gem! I ended up selling that though, because the AU-505 sounds so similar and the little AU-222 is my favourite little amp now! Now, while the AU-555 wasn't to my liking, the AU-222 was really an eye opener. And I noticed that the AU-777 was the biggest brother of that line-up. And also, I thought, heck, I better own Sansui's first solid-state amp! I probably also read a couple of thread from Tom and others around that time too. I'm probably skipping a few other models I tried up to that point... but you get the idea. I know I tried the AU-217 (pretty good little amp too!) and some others . So I grabbed a Sansui AU-777. It was mint and had some issues (which I still need to fix) but I got instantly, in the garage hooked up to some little Allison Four bookshelf speakers, I was blown away... one of those "what the heck" moments when you know you have found something new that you like, and not one of e subtle hi-fi moments.... but a true paradigm in my hi-fi life. So i grabbed a couple of Au-777 at the time and a couple of AU-777A. After further listening to the units in a proper listening environment I was certain it was worth the time to do a full rebuilt on one of the units and see how that turns out. I rebuilt the AU-777A (one of those AU-777 is truly mint and I'm hesitant to do anything beyond fixing it's issue - probably will take that thing to the grave with me!). And many of you have seen that amp, or have at least seen my raving about the AU-777 variants in threads all over AK. The AU-777A rebuild worked out better than I could have hoped. It took an amp that I already liked much more than any previous amp, and improved on it (in some areas, subtly and in other areas less subtly). I was already mind blown with the stock unit.... so yeah, I was really in heaven when the rebuilt unit wasn't worse, or similar, but even better. Why is the AU-777 so good? I don't know. I will delve into it a bit more at some point, taking the pre-main jumpers off of a few models and see which part is doing what. But, there has been another quest since then. The AU-777 is Sansui's first solid state amp... some might consider it a trial run.... others might say it is a pure translation of tube topology over to solid-state, forced by the fact that at that time PNP output transistors weren't really a thing yet, much like vacuum positron tubes . But surely, there has to be an amp in the Sansui line-up I prefer more than this first attempt?! So the silent quest began. I'm sticking to mainly Sansui discussion. I've got some other excellent amps from other brands and I'm sure we could all think of some suggestions to try, but I think it's similar to keep it to Sansui discussion for now. I've not had a chance to try any of the fancy later Japanese only models and am very curious. I know some of you here who i respect a lot speak highly of some of those models. The only 'modern' Sansui I've got is an AU-X11 (actually two) that I'm repairing, so that will get a shootout with the 777A eventually. I have tried out the AU-6500. It sounds great. Warmed and bassier than I expected. But the AU-6500 is not really a contender in terms of bass qualilty or quantity, midrange or overall presentation. Still, I like that 6500 a lot, and so I'm very curious to get my hands on an AU-9500 and see what happens. Hmm what else. Oh, I got an AU-888. Sounds like the AU-666 but with more thump, and I think the bass is better. I actually use it in my main system as the fidelity is outstanding and the tone controls and loudness switch are very usable... and it had really nice switches and controls for the tape loops, for my two reel-to-reel decks. The fidelity of the AU-888 (and probably the 666 and 999) isn't completely matched by the AU-777, but the 777 is still the clear winner. I love the AU-888 and sometimes the bass surprises me... and I check if the loudness switch is on as I have a feeling that is is otherwise bass shy... but it's not... it's just very honest. On this note, I'm fully aware of the AU-999 developments over the last couple of years and am keen to get an 999 and do the tone mods (and the matching mod outlined by Stereofun too).... the unit has a lot going for it otherwise, so will definitely try that at some point. Will also rebuild the AU-888 one day I suppose but I think it is a different amp the 777.... not worse, but not my personal ultimate amp for my speakers. One cool thing about these three (666,888,999) is how easy they are to work on. I've got a Sansui HF-V60 pair (well, one is possible a clone, but it uses all Sansui iron etc) that I need to do at least basic stuff to before any sort of shootout. e.g. at least output coupling caps replacement to safeguard that precious output iron. Do have the matching PR-330, which need work too. But I suppose I could just quickly do the power amps and then use the front end from another sansui for a start.... so we will come back to that particular part of the story later. And, there is an AU-70 I've halfway through doing a full rebuild on... I just restuffed the cans and did maybe 2/3s of the recap, but decided to take a break due to a tricky hum issue. Such a rats nest of wiring in that amp which is partly which I liked that AU-111 rewiring job by our South African colleague! I will get back to that eventually too... Two exciting things happened lately on the solid-state front for me. I got an Eight Deluxe (actually, two). What a beauty! I just about climaxed when I pulled the case off and saw the yellow/gold heatsinks with the sansui labels. My units are stock, but all basic checks passed, power supply doing it's job, etc etc. Biased up nicely and did a comparison. This was the first time that I truly felt I found a worthy contender in the bass department to the AU-777A. It might even be a bit stronger on the bass quantity, despite higher damping factor . The Au-777A did seem more controlled on plucked bass, but too hard to be definitive. The midrange clearly when to the Au-777A by a long shot, and the treble was also to the AU-777A, but by a closer margin than the midrange. Again, this is my fully rebuilt 777A. Maybe I should compare to a stock AU-777A to get a better idea of refurb potential. Anyway, the Eight Deluxe has definitely has some magic and I'm wonder if a refurb will clear up the mid. If so, this unit has potential to be my new favourite. It has a powersupply that is much more impressive than the AU-777s... it seems the potential is there for a superior unit unless the mid can't be cleared up. So, we have another project to do.... the Eight Deluxe! But as it stands, the rebuilt AU-777A is still unbeaten, and I wouldn't even say it is very close. I just see the potential in the 8D, and the bass is the closest I've seen so far.