What would be the 'best' Sansui amplifier for sound quality?

Discussion in 'Exclusively Sansui' started by RR--, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. RR--

    RR-- Member

    I've been reading pages and pages from this forum and I've narrowed it down to the 9090, 9090db, AU-999, G33000, G22000, G9000, G9000DB, QRX 9001, AU-9500 and EIGHT for best sounding Sansui's.

    I realise a this is purely opinion but I was curious what the most popular amp would be based on sound quality.

    I'm going to as many garage sales and markets as I can trying to find professional level Sansui but unfortunately there isn't a huge amount here in Australia. I'm currently listening to an AU-4400 and it's the only Sansui I've seen since March. Sounds amazing, I do think I would benefit from some more power since I have modern speakers.

    Replies would be appreciated!
  2. pete_mac

    pete_mac Super Member

    Sydney, Australia
    You're leaving some pretty impressive amps off that list... AU-517/717, AU-719/819/919, AU-D11/AU-D11 II, AU-X701/901, and of course the ultra-rare AU-X111 and AU-X1111MOS.

    The Sansui sound changed a lot throughout the years too. As time passed they got more accurate and less 'warm'. I can appreciate the sound of a Sansui Eight and the 881, but I also like the more accurate sound offered by the AU-719 and the AU-D11. It comes down to personal preference in the end.
    Godi likes this.
  3. Hyperion

    Hyperion Roobarb & Custard Subscriber

    Hertfordshire, UK
    You miss out some important models in my opinion, although you would be ridiculously lucky to find these in a 'thrift' store.

    AU-9900, 11000

    BA-2000, 3000 & 5000

    AU-719, 919

    AU-D11 II

    Not to mention AU-D9, AU-D11, AU-G99X, AU-X701, 901, AU-X1, AU-X11 etc

    There are many more.

    EDIT: just seen pete_mac's post above - two minds with but one thought :D
  4. pete_mac

    pete_mac Super Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Indeed John... you've captured a few that I forgot about!

    Come to think of it, there's also the BA-FA/CA-F1 (which I will have the pleasure of hearing soonish!), the B-2101/C2101 (and the 02 variants), and the B2301/C2301. The AU-G90X should also be included in any list of top-shelf Sansuis IMHO.

    We could also list the various Japanese models, but given the need to muck around with step-down transformers etc, perhaps it is best to leave those out of the equation for now ;)
  5. stereofanboy

    stereofanboy AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Of the ones I've owned (I'm including receivers as did the OP):

    1. AU-919
    2. Z-9000
    3. Z-7000
    4. 8080DB
    5. 5000
    6. QR-4500
    7. 350A
    8. QR-500
    9. 3900Z

    That is the order they fell in when I had them. If they had all been restored, the order may have been a little different, but probably not much.
  6. Zekeman

    Zekeman AK Subscriber Subscriber

    You can't just have one!
  7. bdblkta

    bdblkta Well-Known Member

    Houston, TEXAS
  8. mjs1

    mjs1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Ithaca, NY
    Sansui Amps

    I'm certainly looking to add a few more. I'm sure that it's harder in Australia to find the international models listed here, but you may have an advantage over those of us in the US in finding the rarer late Japanese (voltage) models.

    What voltage do you use in Australia?

  9. kevzep

    kevzep Its all about the Music Subscriber

    I've never heard of it being easy to find rarer Japanese models in Australia.......

    240V for Australia, we are 230V in New Zealand.....

    If you want to collect its expensive down here, the choices are limited....
    I had to import all mine, except the AU999.......The shipping is horrendous.....but it makes you think carefully about the one you want...
  10. mjs1

    mjs1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Ithaca, NY
    Sansui Amps

    Thanks for the answer kevzep. I thought it might be cheaper to get things from Japan to your neck of the woods than mine. I guess I was wrong, or at least it's pretty expensive either way.

    Best wishes

  11. Qsiris

    Qsiris Active Member

    Wait a minute, did Sansui ever made a bad sounding amp ? :no:

    There are differences in sound but its a matter of personal preference.
    I would go with the very last models from the 90s. Not only they sound great
    but as a side benefit you dont need to worry about recapping.

    Last 220V series was AU-Alpha 607 MRX, AU-Alpha 907 MRX around 1994.
    Prior to that there was AU-D711 around 1990. These are really hard to find though.
    Unless you go with japanese models plus stepdown transformer.
    Thats what I did anyway.
  12. rnorton

    rnorton Super Member

    Beautiful Rancho Malario, NM
    Although I've forgotten the model, Sansui made a family of really wretched receivers back in the late '60's - early '70's that had the output drivers (but not the output devices) on vertically mounted cards. They used to catch fire a LOT. Not just smoke but ACTUAL FLAMES. Must have had to tell a dozen people that brought them into my shop that they might best just throw it away and start over. Really soured me on Sansui until I saw my first 717.
  13. bluesky

    bluesky Addicted Member

    Sound qualty is sound quality and Power is Power: 2 different things.

    ' Sound ' the best ?

    Never heard them but...

    #1 AU-X1111 MOS Vintage (this amp must be something else. Everyone seems to agree on it's 'quality of sound'. Like it just can't be beat or something. This was a high spot for Sansui intergrateds. I'd love to have one.

    2. Any of the later TOTL 'Alpha' amplifiers (expecially if it was MOS!) The later refined Alpha circuits and componet isolation, etc., make a more 'refined sound', if you like that sound. It's sound is slightly different than the earlier 07s like the 717/919 etc. They 'sound' really fine and more 'sophisticated/musical' for a lack of words. One Sansui AK member here, maybe Pepa, can't remember exactly who it was but he's from Europe, and he said it just perfectly. It goes something like this: 'the alphas do not have the original older Sansui sound, of course, but the alphas sound much more sophisticated. You may not really like it if your used to and enjoy the old school Sansui sound.' It's just a little different, not quite as DEEP but more Musical. They are just a much more 'refined' old 07 sound. If you want an alpha and can find one, get an AU-X901 or AU-X701 International model. One other guy stated that the build quality in the X901 is better than the X701, I don't really know the specifics, but I'm sure the X701 is outrtageous. I have the X901 and love it. Also folks like the X911 and X711, etc. Don't know anything about those at all. One other thing I've noticed about the differences between the alphas and the older 07 amps is that the older 07 amps sound really deep and heavy, which is just LOVELY!! The alphas also sound DEEP, not as deep as the old 07s but they sound much more 'musical'. Which sound is better? I love the X901 for it's properties and sound qualtiy. Perfect. Totally happy but (there's always a but!!) my old 717 sounded like a 'live musical rock concert'! I really loved that amp for that reason. It sounded like you were in the Filmore West or Winterland in 1970! But the X901 is much more sophisticated. More audiophile. OK, the alphas sound much more 'audiophile', and I hate that term but that's the way it is.

    3. An '07 Anniversary' would be perfect. Old school 07 sound in a 'new(er)' package. This would be one fine amp to own. But expensive. $2500+/- plus $800+ shipping from Japan. Very rarely does one show up outside Japan.

    4. Tube amps: the AU-111. Sansui's finest.


    Now if you were talking about 'Power': BA-5000/CA-3000. And others of the 'Definition/Professional Series'.

    And folks seem to really love the Gs, later XXXX models. The Japanese Sansui folks 'Really Like' the AU-D Japanese domestic models. I don't know why. Maybe it's sound, maybe it's nastaliga, I don't know, but they sure do like them and some AU-D models really fetch fairly high prices.

    Of course, any amp has to be functioning 'on specification', of course.

    That's all I know. I have heard many of Sansui's amps but I forgotton which ones, it was a long time ago. I've only owned the AU-717, AU-D77X, and my current AU-X901 "Vintage". Never heard a Sansui MOS.

    I can look up which of the 'alphas' are really the most highly desired, and expensive, but it's on the other computer.

    Sound quality is subjective.

    Lastly, if you have a Sansui amp and really LOVE the SOUND ... you got it!! :>)
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  14. Love-Vinyl

    Love-Vinyl It's about the Music

    Tucson, AZ
    Maybe I've been living under a rock or something but I never knew Sansui even made MOS amp's. I love my restored TU-7700 tuner and would love to match it a good amp. However I've been spoiled by the sound of my Hafler DH-500 which uses MOSFET's.

    Any recommendations?
  15. bluesky

    bluesky Addicted Member

    Sansui made many model amps that incorporated MOSFET. Most of them may have been 'Japanese domestic models' for the local Japanese market only and not very well known to the international market.

    I've read that there isn't any more MOSFETs availiable for Sansui amps anymore and it's been that way for a long time. So...that's why I've always stayed away from amps like the AU-X1111 Mos Vintage, which I really would love to own and use. Can't fix things if there aren't any parts. Guess to fix it you would have to buy another amp for spare MOSFETs.

    Anything 'really rare' has it's associated 'just try to find the parts' problems. I found that out with a pair of Sansui speakers I bought. Bad woofer. Can't be fixed, No parts. And to find a replacement woofer is like next to impossible. Well...it IS impossible. So they sit in the closet awaiting parts which very well may never happen. The only alternative is to buy a 2nd set of speakers, which rarely, if hardly ever...ever come up for sale. Sometimes very very rare can be very TOO RARE.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  16. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I think if I had my choice it would the AU-111.
  17. eradoncic

    eradoncic Active Member


    This is typical...AU-X901 (AKA Alpha 707i), is 14th generation on 07 series, and the series when Sansui actually changed its primordial "sound", started during 1970s. From that point (end of 80s), they started with efforts to obtain a AU111 sound by BJTs...a very difficult tas actually.

    In this respect, the AU-901 was the "sweet spot" between "old" and "new" Sansui sound/refinement, and in my opinion, that's one offer both tradition - deep sound (but not too much) of the old school, and more sophistication of the future Alpha's. This is also the model when the logo was changed, clearly depicting new directions.

    According to an interview with the main engineers responsible for creating and executing of all Alpha amplifiers of the '90s, the best Sansui integrated are AU-907MOS Ltd, and AU-X1111MOS V. Aqua audio labs is the company owned by these engineers, which mainly servicing and upgrading the inferior Alpha models to 907MOS Ltd and AU-.X111MOS V.

    I have not heard all of the below listed amps, but I have had or I have still some of them, and my opinion for best made Sansui integrated are:

    1. Alpha AU-907MOS LTD
    2. AU-X1111 MOS V
    3. AU-Alpha 907 MR(X)
    4. AU-Alpha 607MOS
    5. AU-Alpha 907NRA

    I have direct experience of the two models: AU-X1111 and 907MRx (which I still have), and the other three should be more refined versions actually (AU-907MOS LTD has an 907XR for basis, and 607MOS has MRX for basis)

    The NRA model is largely unknown outside Japan, but technically, it is 907MRX pushed further in quaility, since 907MRX was the only amp awarded in Japan in 1995. ("Golden ear" of the year)
    jayjayjayjay likes this.
  18. RR--

    RR-- Member

    That doesn't really make sense, if the later 80's and early 90's models are considered the best why do I keep hearing so much about the 9090 and G series amplifiers? I also hear that they've been going downhill since the late 70's? Is it that they're technically better but less liked?
    Anyway thanks for the opinions.

    We use 240v in Australia which makes most imported Sansui's usable as there's often a voltage switch in the back.
  19. bluesky

    bluesky Addicted Member

    Beautiful explination and write-up. Thanks!
  20. bluesky

    bluesky Addicted Member

    The following was 'just part' of Sansui's problems but it may help you understand what when on:

    The Sansui company started it's downward trend since about 1972, post Vietnam sales. It was 'company decisions', not the quality of the amplifiers and equipment designs, that caused Sansui's decline. Sansui mostly sold to the US Military personnel. After Vietnam, sales dropped dramatically and they had no other outlet for sales. Sony, Pioneer, Hitachi, etc., they had the domestic Japan and worldwide sales. They were not dependent on US Military Sales and had a domestic sales base. Then there was Quad, great idea, much money spent, but it just didn't take off. Then in the early 80s their equipment really took a the bad hit in the quality department due to cost cutting decisions. International folks didn't like Sansui very much after that. It was over.

    Then in 1986 the company decided to regain their 'good name' in quality audio, hense the new logo and new 'top quality' amps again. But it was too late internationally.

    Starting in 1986, that was like basically the beginning of the alpha series that just kept getting better and better and more refined, circuits and design. The alpha series is super quality, but as mentioned above, very much more 'refined' and it had a slightly different sound than the pre-1980 amps.

    Alphas ARE top quality amps and very much 'liked', and acknowledged, in the stereo world. How could they not be! But Sansui's sales were down because of the early 80s reliablity and quality problems. Also Sansui continually lost money every year, even with the alphas, starting in 1986 even with their top quality amps. It's a big long sad story of a great stereo company that made some really big bad company decisions. Also the USD devaluation, it hurt them really bad. They sold amps much cheaper than they should have just to compete in the basically Japanese domestic marketplace (with a few international models sold in USA, Germany, England, etc. Also the yen was like 100 yen or so to a USD, which made Sansui's amps, as well as all other Japanese products, extremely expensive to purchase internationally, the amps were too expensive for most international folks to buy, plus: computers were in - stereos were out, times changed. So Sansui basically sold to Japanese domestic market, hence all the gear Sansui made and sold that no one even knows about, all 'very top quality' equipment. They also fell behind in patent rights. Other companies had the patents on CD players, etc. In the old days Sansui had devoluped the patients. but no more. Sansui declined. It was just a magnitute of major problems for Sansui.

    The 90s gear is modern day, 'top quality', audiophile type equipment with the 'audiophile' type new sound, if that makes any sense. Wonderful equipment!!

    Guys love the G series, B/C, BA/CA, AU-TU everything up until 1981 basically. They absolutely love the G series! 9090 (XXXX series), super fine receivers. They are 'all' good.

    Except the quality from 1981 to 1985 just wasn't there. Still nice sounding amps, 'some of them', great transformers, but they took shortcuts putting them together, plastic parts, cabinets, knobs, etc. Sansui was just trying to make maximum profit in the early 80s to stay alive. It didn't work. So in 1986...alpha!

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
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