In defence of the Sansui R-7

sansui au719

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2014
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After 20 years of owning a 1985 Sansui R-7 I finally upgraded to an AU-719. The former cost me a fiver at a junk shop in pretty ragged condition. The latter cost me £200 in almost spotless condition with the innards seeming like brand new.

I fell in love with Sansui through the R-7. It's clearly built to a budget yet it's modest 45wpc produces a delightfully big sound that has seen many friends desire it (though not so much for its looks). Despite some harsh treatment it has not missed a beat in those 20 years nor complained about belting out the heavy bass at parties for hours on end. It's shrugged off damp in our garage, a broken (and repaired) knob and to this day it crackles away for a 30 second warmup with lights flickering. The motorised volume is a laugh and the volume lights themselves don't come on until half way through the first track. And yet it persists and performs flawlessly.

I told the seller of the AU-719 that I'd be bringing the R-7 around to do a back to back comparison. I was interested in seeing if the 719 was all it was cracked up to be and he thought it would be interesting to hear one of Sansui's 'lesser' products. While I'm no audiophile he certainly was. He admitted later he had low expectations of the R-7, though he'd never actually heard any of the R-series. In reality he was genuinely surprised by the quality of the sound. The 719 was clearly the better performer, more powerful, detailed and clear in the high range and even more low end grunt than the R-7 (which is no slouch). Curiously the R-7 seemed to both of us to have a slightly nicer sound in the mid-range. Perhaps not as transparent but adelightful honey sweet tone that never sounds harsh. He thought it was a much better sound (in his opinion) than something like a NAD 3020 (I can't comment as I've never heard one) and while the R-7 would only go for £50 or so at eBay it's hard to say that the 719 is four times better, though I guess that's the law of diminishing returns. Nonetheless I was more than satisfied. I bought the 719 and I really am very happy with it. My R-7 looks on forlornly as the 719 shakes the tiles off the roof but I hope to give the R-7 to my kids when they get older as it's still got that Sansui sound and it's as tough as nails.

I notice the big difference in weight between them is mainly down to the huge heatsinks on the 719 yet even pumping at close to full volume for a couple of hours (I have no neighbours) the chassis is barely warm. Without these the R-7 happily throws out full volume without overheating (though it gets warm) so I can only assume the 719 was built very much to err on the side of caution. A reasonable thing to do with what was an enormous investment at the time.

In summary I think the lesser models have been, perhaps unintentionally, much maligned. It's understandable that folks compare them with the great models but out from the shadow of their very talented big brothers I expect many 'lesser' models would still be considered very nice amps/receivers when judged against other products. In which case I would highly recommend the R-7 as a wonderful (and cheap) first step into the wonder of Sansui.

Forum members may disagree with me but please don't do so without hearing them first. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Any suggestions for speaker pairings welcome. I have a pair of older whafedales at the moment but am seeking to find a nice match. I play mainly from CD and like most music varieties except brash new products of the loudness wars. Budget £600 or less. Prefer secondhand.
 

lindsayt

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Apr 8, 2011
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Would you like me to bring my Sansui SP 5500 speakers round for a listening session at your place?
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Sansui? Great amps. The 217 kicked the NAD 3020 into a cocked hat for me. Had both for a while and much as I have an emotional attachment to the old 3020 (my dad bought me one back in the 80s, so it meant a lot), the AU-217 just blew me away when I heard it. 30w (the Mark II gained another 10) and the sound from it paired with a pair of Mission 752s was mind-bogglingly good.

Had a 717 for a while too and it was another gem of an amp. Spent too much time in the amp hospital though but it was wonderful to hear it for a while though.
 

sansui au719

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2014
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Thanks for the kind offer lindsayt but I really want to pair the 719 with some newish speakers. As much as I like vintage amps (they just look the business), I'm not such a fan of vintage speakers. I like the sound but not the look.
 

sansui au719

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2014
6
8
10,525
the record spot said:
Sansui? Great amps. The 217 kicked the NAD 3020 into a cocked hat for me. Had both for a while and much as I have an emotional attachment to the old 3020 (my dad bought me one back in the 80s, so it meant a lot), the AU-217 just blew me away when I heard it. 30w (the Mark II gained another 10) and the sound from it paired with a pair of Mission 752s was mind-bogglingly good.

Had a 717 for a while too and it was another gem of an amp. Spent too much time in the amp hospital though but it was wonderful to hear it for a while though.

The guy I bought the 719 from also had a 717. He loved it but said it was prone to leaking caps. He said he never had an issue with the 719.
 

a91gti

New member
Jul 9, 2009
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I was lucky enough to own my dads old 919 unfortunately I was also stupid and sold it. I would give up organs in exchange for one now!
 

sansui au719

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2014
6
8
10,525
That's selling off some serious wattage !

The 719 boasts 90wpc into 8ohms and that's serious earth shattering sound. I have real issues with windows rattling. Your 919 would have been a demon. Interestingly I read an article where a guy sent his 719 off to a Sansui specialist to recap and clean the pots. He claims they bench tested it as putting out 125wpc continuous into 8ohms and concluded that Sansui perhaps understated their amps power.

That they can do it with so little effort and only a mild warmth speaks of pure muscle. I can only imagine that the serious heatsinks on the 719 are there for the rare occasion that someone would be mad enough to drive two sets of speakers flat out.

With all due respect to the sound quality of modern amps, they really do look bland compared to these glorious beasts of the 70s and 80s, the exception being some of the wonderful amps at the very very high end. Personally I would love a G9000 as the 4 meters and array of gleaming knobs just look fantastic. Not sure what I'd do with 150W.
 

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