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  Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
This Sansui AU 7700 was a recent acquistion, as I continue to revamp the current system and push further upstream in the near future. This is an interim unit for the time being. And I have to admit this is one fine sounding integrated power amplifier, putting out 54 WRMS into an 8 ohm load. It is powering some 87dB speakers with total ease and authority to room shaking levels.

It has been years since I have had a Sansui Integrated here and this one has been a total delight to live with. The Sansui AU 7700 was produced from 1974 to 1976 and was listed at $399.95 during those years. While not the most powerful integrated in the Sansui line up, it more than fit the bill for a wide majority of hi-fi mavens.

As was the common practice of the time the Sansui AU 7700 was fitted with a wide complement of controls.

From the front panel top row is the speaker selector switch that has on,A,B,and A + B, Tone Controls Bass, Midrange,Treble. Bi Directional Tape dubbing for two tape decks, Selector switch for Phono 1 and 2, Tuner and Aux 1 and 2.

Bottom row consist of Power Switch, headphone input and bass and treble turnover frequency switches hi and low filter with two settings each,as well as Tone Defeat switch with two settings, Loudness two settings, bass and bass/treble. Mute with -15 and -30 dB settings and Mode switch for Stereo, Reverse and Mono. The Volume/Balance control is near center of unit with a power on LED above it.

Rear Panel consists of all the inputs required of the front panel and speaker connections. Also has a switch to separate the amp from the preamp(nice touch there). In additon there is a selector for setting ohm loading for phono cartridges.

All in all a most impressive integrated amp for the time and there is little today in this format that can exceed the venerable AU 7700, except the mega buck integrateds. And most of the mega buck integrateds do not have a phono section or a headphone input! You would think so do to their lofty price points.

Having had this powered 24/7 now for several weeks, it continues to impress with its outright musical signature. Which has caught me somewhat off guard. As jaded as I am now, near 50 years into this hobby, I am still having a hard time believing how good this piece really is. For what I gave for this, I now feel a wee bit of guilt. I did give more than book, because of the pristine condition it was in from a cosmetic point of view, knowing I may have to service the internals, led me to offer what I did. Although I could tell that the owner was very meticulus about the unit. This one had been definitely cared for over the years.

It has been tested as an amp and as a preamp as it is separable. The preamp section is quite good and very quiet and mated well with the Musical Design D 140 power amp I have here. No it doesn't have the outright transparency of a stand alone preamp. With that being said it is not a major dissappointment to use as a preamp. The overall signature is on the warm side, with just a trace of grain, but has separation and detail in spades, with great presence. The power amp section is typical of this era using darlingtons in a push pull configuration. Four of these used for each channel. As warm as this amp runs it is highly biased in Class A, although the rear heat sinks can only take about 1 or 2 watts of Class A. The power side of the Au 7700 is a delight to listen to, have not experienced any listener fatique, it just sits there and plays music and like the preamp its signature is on the warm side.

What I have found out about the tone controls is rather amazing. They are gently contured in their slopes and offer the correct amount of bias without being intrusive, same goes for the frequency turnover settings as well. At last someone designed useful tone controls, that do not over compensate and blast you out of the chair.

The Mute control is a total joy to use. Anyone using a fairly current CD Player has noticed the amount of gain these newer units put out. But with the Sansui AU 7700 with its two position Mute control of -15dB or -30dB, puts the gain of a CD Player to a more than manageable level and lets one use the Volume Control at higher levels.

For us analog mavens the Mode Control allows us to set for Stereo, Reverse and Mono. The Mono setting is useful to me as I have a lot of vinyl in Mono. Nice touch there. I also have re-discovered my headphones that I long ago put up as much of the newer gear does not have a headphone input. It is indeed nice to kick back late at night and not disturb anyone and listen to the Signet TK 22 headphones that I have had for years now. A joy renewed with the AU 7700, that feature alone may tempt me to hang on to this unit.

The overall fit and finish of the AU 7700 is superb and I find no fault with. Full metal case, no plastic here, nice weight at 28 pounds and is easy to move and set up. It is not a back breaker. I have had plenty of back breakers, this is a pleasant surprise for once. This is a well crafted integrated amp.

Listed Below Is the Music Used For Evaluation.

LP's

Bob James - Hands Down (Columbia FC 38067)
Hiroshima - Self Titled - (Arista MFSL1-525)
John Coltrane - Blue Train - (Blue Note BST 81577)
Wes Montgomery - Bumpin' - (Verve V6-8625)
Rickie Lee Jones - Self Titled - (Warner BSK 3296)
Wynton Marsalis - Live Blues Alley - (Columbia PC2-40675)
Eric Gale - Forecast - (KUDU Records KU 11)(CTI Records)
Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington Jr - (Blue Note BT 85106)
Earl Klugh - Finger Painting - (Blue Note MFSL 1-025)
Larry Carlton - Friends - (Warner 23834-1)
Sadao Watanabe - Autumn Blow - (Inner City IC 6064)
Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute - (Warner BSK 3193)
Santana - Zebop - (Columbia FC37158)
Pat Metheny Group - American Garage - (ECM 1-1155)
Frederick Fennel - Cleveland Symphonic Winds - (Telarc 5038)
Paul Desmond/Jim Hall - Complete Recordings - Mosaic(MR6-120)
Time Out - Dave Brubeck Quartet (Columbia CS 8192)
Paul Desmond - Self Titled (Artist House AH - 2)

CD's

Ben Webster At The Renaissance (Contemporary Records OJCCD-390-2)
The Royal Ballet Gala Performances (Classic Compact Discs CDSCD 6065)
Jurassic Park Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCAD 10859)
We Get Requests - The Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 810047-2)
You Won't Forget Me - Shirley Horn (Verve 847482-2)
On Every Street - Dire Straits (Warner Brothers 26680-2)
Trio Jeepy - Branford Marsalis (Columbia CK44199)
Paris Jazz Concert - Louis Armstrong (RTE 1001-2)
Braveheart Motion Picture Soundtrack - London Symphony Orchestra (London LC0171)
Patriot Games Motion Picture Soundtrack (RCA 07863 66051-2)
Highlights From The Plugged Nickel - Miles Davis (Columbia CK 67377)
Private Investigations Best Of Dire Straits (HDCD) - Dire Straits (Warner Bros 49891-2)
Straight Up - Bob James Trio (Warner Bros 945956-2)
Land Of Giants - McCoy Tyner (Telarc 83576)
New York Reunion - McCoy Tyner (Chesky 5173324)
Gladiator Motion Picture Soundtrack(Decca 2894670942)
Copland - Appalachian Spring (Telarc CD 80078)
F. Fennell - Holst Suites (Telarc 80038)
Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture (Telarc 80041)
John Williams - American Journey (Sony 89364)
Bizet - Carmen (Telarc 80048)
Live At Sweet Basil - McCoy Tyner Trio (Evidence ECD 22106-2)

Associated Components Used With Au 7700:

Goldring GR 1.2 Turntable w/Rega RB 250 Tonearm w/Goldring Electra phono cartridge.

Polk XM Satelliate Tuner

Audio Analogue Paganini CD Player.

Sony Mini Disc Deck Model 480.

Alon Model 1 Speakers w/Black Orpheus Cables.

Belkin PF 60 Surge and Filter Protection.

Musical Design D 140 power amp

Musical Concepts Interconnects.

At its opening price the AU 7700 sold for $399.95 and when adjusted for inflation to today this unit would carry a retail price of $1,298.99. There are quite a few integrateds in the arena at the $1,300.00 mark today. And a good many have passed through here. Such as the Musical Fidelity, Audio Analogue, Music Hall, Creek, and a few others that escape memory at the moment. While not to disparage any of those units, I feel that the AU 7700 can more than hold its own with those and at its used value now the comparison is a moot point. With that being said the Classe, Krell, Sim Audio, Bryston, Levinson,Panache and Coda are overall superior in sonic signature to the AU 7700. And they should at their price point in the pre-owned market. But keep in mind that many of the newer units do not have a headphone input or a phono section. Something to consider if you remain in analog.

The only integrated amp on hand to compare the AU 7700 with, is the venerable NAD 3020A, which remains a bench mark of integrated amps and has been for 28 years, based upon price/performance ratio. After in depth listening tests with both units it is a very difficult choice between the two. However, and I never,ever thought that the NAD 3020A could be bested. At this point I am giving the nod to the AU 7700, based upon its added flexibility. The sonic signature of both amps is way to close of a call to say which one has an edge over the other. Both will drive difficult loads and both far exceed published specifications far into their service life.

The Sansui AU 7700 was produced during the stereo wars of 1967 through 1983 or so. At this time each manufacturer was pushing the design envelope each year. It is no wonder that so many of these products have endured over the years and remain in service. High End they were not and cannot be compared in that area. But for a vast majority of hi - fi mavens equipment such as this became the basis to move further upstream in the hobby, or remain quite contented with the Sansui they have. Founder of Sansui was, Mr Kosaku Kikuchi. He was eventually forced to step down by the bankers, in 1975, as he would not compromise his products. He firmly beieved that the customer of Sansui set the standard. He always was committed to producing the best product in its class and the product lived or died by consumer response. By 1980 the decline of Sansui was evident by cost cutting measures to achieve bottom line profits. Now Sansui is only a ghost of its former glory. But in their golden years Sansui was no doubt a hall mark of hi-fi manufacturers.

The purpose of this review is quite simple - value is where you find it, regardless of date of production. In my opinion this venerable peformer would be at home in a wide variety of systems today, be it your main system or a secondary system. And like anything bought pre-owned make sure of the seller and condition of the product. If you need the complete specifications of this unit visit http://www.classicsansui.net/ where you will find posted a complete original sales brochures of the AU 7700.

While researching this unit, I was totally unaware of the continued interest in Sansui gear, and the almost cult like status these products have to this day. It is a universal world wide following, with several dedicated web sites, blogs and references. Truly amazing when you stop to think about it. Here it is some 35 years since these products were new, and they still command the attention of a world wide audience. And the Sansui Tuners is a whole topic unto itself, with its own audience.

Having started in this hobby in 1957 , then it was tube gear and mono and I have evolved from there finally bailing out of tubes in 1976 when Nelson Pass finally got solid state right. I was aware of the Kenwood,Luxman, Pioneer,Sansui,Yamaha and the like, and pretty much dismissed them at the time, without giving them a fair and impartial listening session.However quite a few of these Japanese imports came my, they were quickly shuffled off, to acquire funds for other projects. Although several of my friends at the time had this gear when it was new. I on the other hand embraced a different route. I think a lot of my disdain for this era of Japanese gear stems from the fact of the war stories I heard while I was growing up and more than likely prejudiced my opinion of this off shore gear. This has been one of those rare jaw dropping experiences for this jaded maven, and now this is my daily driver so to speak. Who woulda thunk it?

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Kenwood,Luxman,Yamaha,etc

by Ferrari on 06-14-07 


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  Follow ups
Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
Very informative review. I have been a fan of Sansui for quite a while but do not own anything by them at present.
Rwwear 06-14-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
Enjoyed reading your post. I'm very impressed with my vintage Sansui AU-D33 Int. amp as well. Excellent piece of equipment. I use this daily and greatly enjoy it throughly. Also own a few vintage Sony Int. amps/Receivers from the late 70's/early 80's as well. A most satisfying system can be put together for such a small amount of money buying these classic products. Enjoy the music. Bill.
Kotta 06-14-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
Great Post! Last year at an Estate Sale I found a mint Au 517 int. amp and A matching TU 517 ..I actually bought both pieces for " $ 5 " ,Yep 5 bucks ! The fellow had no clue of the value..I dusted them both off and plugged them in and have been working beautifully ever since...
Thorman 06-15-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
Founder Mr Kosaku Kikuchi, last amp that he had hands on as designer, before the bankers took over, was the AU 9500. A very hard to come by integrated amp today and a great collectable in the Sansui line up. Highly sought after by collectors.
Ferrari 06-15-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
I have an old U-11000a integrated that looks very close to the picture you posted. From time to time I have used it in my home theater system or my second system. Everytime I listen to it I am always blown away just how nice it sounds. If you get a chance, try it as an amp only with a nice preamp. Some of that old stuff still rocks!
Hi5harry 06-16-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
I just checked out your system and noticed you have tried it with a very nice preamp. The Sansui website was a real blast from the past. The 5000a reciever was a mainstay in my system for several years. Great review.
Hi5harry 06-16-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
What an outstanding commentary on these wonderful amps. I have an AU-6600 amp with the matching tuner. Only problem I have found with this particular amp design is related to the input jacks (the vertical ones). Every one I have encountered has intermittent problems with the inputs. I have yet been unable to find a way to fix this, due to the mechanical design of the input board. Only fault I can find, but a frustrating one. Any ideas? What is the basic difference between the Au-6600 and the 7700? Thanks.
Tradjazzman 11-16-07



Review: Sansui AU-7700 Amplifier
Basic difference between the AU6600 and AU7700 is power output. I would say the AU 6600 is about 40 WRMS per side while the Au 7700 is 54 WRMS per side.

Over the years have had many of these with the RCA connections you speak of. Although I have not experienced the problems you relate to. Perhaps I have been fortunate in that area.

Ferrari 12-06-07



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