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Old 05-12-2005, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to snag one of these for <$100 on ebay for some Athena AS-F1's. The Sansui's seem to carry a bit of a premium over the other two, but basically in the 40-55 wpc range (Pioneer 7xx Kenwood KA 4,5,7 thousand series) is there a clear winner in audio quality? Is Sansui worth the 50% premium?

Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2005, 04:17 AM
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As the original owner of a Sansui quad receiver from the late 70's, the last in their line, I can give you a perspective of their power ratings. The unit has a 965 watt power supply for a 4 x 60 watt per channel into 8 ohms rated amp section. The used the RMS rating method, considered to be one of the best ratings methods. Compare this to a current Pioneer Elite flagship receiver which has a 735 watt power supply for 7 x 130 watt per channel rated amp section into 8 ohms. Bottom line: The Sansui's tend to be VERY conversatively rated.

Sansui was a top-notch and innovative company back in the 70's. In the quad realm, they were one of the leaders. I think their stereo stuff was also considered high quality.

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Old 05-13-2005, 04:59 AM

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None of those three brands were considered particularly high end or good sounding in their time. Yes they had great power supplies as compared to the total mess they released in the 80s and 90s but in ultimate terms while you may get decent power output the sound is very 2 dimensional and bleached of all warmth. While these are mid fi at best if you can find a vintage Luxman such as their L series in the rosewood cases they were really quite good and stand up to much more expensive gear in ultimate terms. The Denon 700Z was also deliciously good sounding.
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Old 05-13-2005, 06:25 AM
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I've never heard the Sansui or Kenwood pieces, but as the owner of a 1974 Pioneer SX-737, I can say that newer gear is significantly better. My Marantz Pre/Pro + NAD amp combo in the theater slaughters the poor old Pioneer in every way, which is probably not surprising.

I've noticed that the Pioneer is much more sensitive to the source quality than the Marantz. I was experimenting with DACs and linestages for a while I had a Musical Fidelity X-DAC and X-10D tube linestage as well as a Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 Mk2 (DAC with tube output stage). In my main system I compared the DAC's and Linestage in various combinations with my Pioneer Elite CLD-79 Laserdisc player. In my main system there was very little difference between the different combinations, so I just stuck with the DACs in my LD player. In my living room system with the SX-737, each combination had a significantly different sonic character. The SFD-1 sounds the best, and really improves the soundstage, especially compared to my cheap 5 DVD changer.

So my point in all this is if you end up with the Pioneer, make sure your source has a good output stage, as I suspect the input stage on the Pioneer is quite demanding.

I mostly keep mine because it's paid for and has some sentimental value for me, it certainly is not for the sound quality.

Good Luck-

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Old 05-13-2005, 06:58 AM
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No question that newer gear is significantly better in noise floor, % THD, soundstage, etc. I wasn't trying to imply that a 25 yr old rec. is better than a modern piece. The OP was asking for a comparison between these vintage brands.

I would agree that all are mid-fi with (IMO) Sansui on top. Even by late-70's standards, I would not have considered Kenwood (again IMHO) a higher-end brand. Putting things in perspective, many posters here praise H-K for their line of A/V receivers, yet in the 70's H-K had a lot of quality problems (I know, I owned 2 H-K pieces, one was problematic, and one was DOA). Things change, and we have to look at comparisons in the time frame in which they existed.

In any event, good luck in whatever you decide to buy.

Here's a link to vintage Sansui gear u may find interesting.
http://sansui.us/

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Old 05-13-2005, 07:49 AM
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for those vintage amps i would prefer luxman laboratory reference series or marantz 7 and 9 tube

for solid states amps be careful with those capacitors as they usually dried out after 10-15 years in use and need replacements

cpu8088 - OLD and SLOW !!!
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Old 05-13-2005, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by cpu8088
for those vintage amps i would prefer luxman laboratory reference series or marantz 7 and 9 tube

The Marantz 7 preamp and the Marantz 9 amplifiers were legendary products..
Today a pair of 9s' and 7 are worth greater than $10K... :eek:
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Old 05-13-2005, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
[i]
Here's a link to vintage Sansui gear u may find interesting.
http://sansui.us/

ss9001 [/b]
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I bought the Sausui AU-5500 and TU-5500 in 1976. They drove a pair of Allison 3's until 1979. I moved and sold it all. Always had a soft spot for that gear. It was good mid-fi.
Another poster commented on the Pioneer 737. I gave one to a good friend when I went in service 30+ years ago and he's still using it today. That says a lot for the build quality.
The sound quality of the gear today is much better but I still like the looks of the Pioneer and Sansui.

David
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Old 05-13-2005, 02:44 PM
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I'm going to post a bit of a contrary opinion - I had a mid-70's Kenwood integrated amp - I think the model number was something like KA-7100, or thereabouts - which was a very nice design, IMO.

It was rated at 60 wpc (RMS), with 0.02% THD (20-20k, if not a larger frequency range - see below).

This unit was built like a tank:
- separate power supplies for each channel (dual mono construction)
- no capacitors in the signal path - as a result the frequency response was rated as 0 Hz. to 100kHz. The amp would actually amplify DC, and so they had a switchable "subsonic" filter that was there in case you needed DC blocking due to a noise or grounding issue.
- zero phase shift - the manual included Lissajous plots of the output versus the input waveform at several frequencies - these were a straight line (Lissajous plots are done by putting the output waveform on one scope probe, the input on the other, and putting the scope in X/Y plot mode. A straight line indicates that the output is phase-aligned with the input.)
- a very nice resistor-ladder stepped attenuator volume control (i.e., not a potentiometer), with a beautifally-machined and polished (and large) volume knob.
- In addition to the balance, treble, and bass controls, and the afore-mentioned subsonic filter, there was an additional high-frequency switchable filter, with a 3 dB point somewhere around 10kHz, plus a three position loudness switch (bass boost), and a -20 dB attenuator switch, in case you wanted either more volume-control resolution at low volume levels, or just wanted to flick a switch to answer the phone. The tone controls had a defeat switch, as well.

The sound was very clean - and the 60 wpc was plenty to drive the speakers I had at the time, a pair of Large Advents (not too efficient!)

(As an aside, I once had this amp driving my Advents in one room, and a pair of Altec Lansing Voice of the Theaters in another room, for a party. In order to hear anything out of the Advents, the volume in the room with the VOT's was almost unbearable!)

It may be that this particular line of Kenwood integrated amps was done better than some of their other products - I don't think they used the same designs in their receivers. But I would have stacked my amp up against a Marantz amp from the same period. (Although definitely not in terms of collector value - those early Marantz amps from the 50's and 60's are indeed classics!)
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