Tuners are listed in alphabetical and numerical sequence by model number. In parentheses after the model number are the year of introduction and most recent list price, and/or the original list price if indicated by "orig." Special thanks to David Rich of The Audio Critic for
copies of historical material from his reference library. We have posted updated eBay sale price data on this page through June, 2009; data for "as is" or damaged tuners, or otherwise unrepresentative auctions, may be excluded.
There are many Sansui tuners in our On-Deck Circle that we'd like to consider listing here if we can get some basic information on them (types of controls and features, and any personal anecdotes or comparisons to other tuners). Please post in our FMtuners group if you have any information about any of them.
Sansui T-60 (silver, black, inside, schematic left, schematic right, block diagram, service manual) search eBay
The T-60 is a simple, inexpensive tuner with 3 gangs, 2 filters and pretty good sound. With two new narrower filters installed, it makes a decent but unspectacular DXing tuner. Our contributor Ed Hanlon says the T-60 and T-80 have a blend circuit that reduces noise on moderately strong stereo signals, so he prefers them, after mods, to the TU-217. The T-60 is easy to modify and would be a good tuner for a DIY novice to practice on, perhaps by following our panelist JohnC's blueprint on our DIY Mods page. The T-60 usually sells for $15-40 on eBay, with a recent low of $5.50 in 2/08 and occasional spikes to $60-70. [JC]
Sansui T-80 (silver, black, block diagram, service manual) search eBay
The T-80 is almost identical to the T-60, cosmetically, but it also has a digital frequency readout. Like the T-60, the T-80 has 3 gangs, 2 filters and good sound. Read our panelist JohnC's mods to the T-80 on our DIY Mods page. The T-80 generally sells for $20-60 on eBay, but a T-80 sold for $1.75 in 6/08 and one clueless bidder paid $90 in 6/07. [JC]
Sansui TU-217 (1978, $190, earlier version, later version, back, schematic left, schematic right) search eBay
The TU-217 is a very nice, basic tuner with 3 gangs and 2 filters. Our audiophile panelists speculate that the simplicity of the TU-217's signal path is one reason it sounds so terrific on strong signals. The TU-217 is also easy to modify for improved sound quality by rebuilding the power supply and inserting better-quality capacitors in the audio stage as described on the DIY Mods page. One shortcoming is that it has no dial lights and can be hard to tune in a darkened room. Also, the muting on/off and stereo/mono controls are on the same switch, making it impossible for one to choose to listen to a weak station in slightly noisy stereo. The TU-217 is very common on eBay and normally sells for $40-70, with a low of $10 in 2/08 and an inexplicable high of $129 in 3/04. Our panelist Jim observes that there were two versions of the TU-217. The earlier version had a white vertical stripe on the front panel and curved lines on the meter faces, while the later version had straight horizontal lines on the meter faces. The Sansui logos were different as well, but we don't know if there were any non-cosmetic differences between the two versions. See how one TU-217 sounded compared to many top tuners on our Shootouts page. [JR]
Sansui TU-317 (1978, $240, photo) search eBay
The scarce TU-317 appears to be the same tuner as the TU-217 with the exception of an additional switch labeled "Noise Canceller" and a lighted tuning dial. They look almost identical cosmetically and have basically the same circuitry. Like the TU-217, the TU-317 is easy to modify for even better sound quality as described on the DIY Mods page (the toughest part is finding one). Our contributor Warren M. reports that his modified TU-317 is "not very selective, not very sensitive, and requires a very good signal to get quiet, but its stereo/soundstage is fairly good. It performs seriously above its weight." The TU-317 has 3 gangs and 2 filters and usually sells for $40-80 on eBay, with a recent high of $159 in 6/08 for a mint one. A TU-317 with rack handles and manuals went for $123 in 4/09.[JR]
Sansui TU-417 (1980, $275, photo) search eBay
The relatively scarce TU-417 has 3 gangs and 2 filters and is known for good sound and decent DX performance (for the price) when modified. Even though it is larger than the TU-217 and TU-317, the TU-417's circuitry is more similar to those tuners than it is to the TU-517 and TU-717. Like its little brothers, the TU-417 is easy to modify for even better sound quality as described on the DIY Mods page. See how one stock TU-417 sounded compared to many top tuners on our Shootouts page. The TU-417 usually sells for $60-100 on eBay, but every once in awhile a couple of ignorant bidders will run up the price of a nice TU-417, usually with rack handles, to $160 or even higher. [JR]
Sansui TU-517 (1978, $300, front, back) search eBay
Just below the TU-717 in Sansui's line, the TU-517 has 4 gangs and 4 filters and is almost identical to the 717 inside, as well as cosmetically. Our panelist Jim found "a couple of differences worth mentioning: The 717's C71 is a 3.3 µF 50v 'lytic, while the 517's C71 is a 4.7 µF 25v in parallel with another 4.7 µF at C122. Strange. If this was an update, maybe the 717 could use a 10 µF single here. Also, while the 717's C24 is marked 100 µF 16v, the 517's C24 is marked 10 µF 16v and that's what it had." On the DIY Mods page, Jim describes how to improve the TU-517's sound quality by rebuilding the power supply and inserting better-quality capacitors in the audio stage. The TU-517 usually sells for $80-125 on eBay, but as high as $200 is possible (the all-time high is $245 in 5/04). TU-517s with rack handles are fairly common and sell in the same price range. [EF][JR]
Sansui TU-519 (1979, $325, front, back) search eBay
The TU-519 has less impressive specs than a TU-719, and does not appear to be a close alternative to the 719 like the TU-517 is to the TU-717. The TU-519 is somewhat scarce on eBay and can sell for $75-125, but we don't consider it a good value at over $100. One silly person even paid $202 for one in 5/04.
Sansui TU-710 (1978, front, inside) search eBay
The TU-710, a very rare tuner with 4 gangs and 4 filters, was apparently the successor to the ubiquitous TU-717. The TU-710 and its companion amplifier, the AU-710, filled the gap when Sansui was not yet ready to introduce its redesigned -19 series products. The TU-710's front panel is identical to the TU-717's, and their circuit board layouts are identical as well (although there may be some minor differences in parts). The TU-710 also performs just as well as the TU-717, making it one of the better tuners around for DXing when modified. Those who wish to mod the TU-710 for improved audio quality can follow our panelist Jim's suggestions listed for the TU-717 on the DIY Mods page. The TU-710 usually sells for $150-200 on eBay, with a high of $355 in 5/04. [EF][JR]
Sansui TU-717 (1977, $370, front, back, inside, schematic left, schematic right) search eBay
The TU-717 has 4 FM and 2 AM gangs, 4 ceramic filters, and audiophile-caliber sound. Some think the TU-717 and its relatives are among the best-looking tuners, with their sleek black faces and nice lights. When modified with narrower filters in the narrow IF bandwidth path, the TU-717 can be an excellent tuner for DXing while retaining its fine audio quality in the wide IF mode. On the DIY Mods page, our panelist Jim describes how to make the TU-717 even better by rebuilding the power supply and inserting better-quality capacitors in the audio stage. See how one stock TU-717 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and our contributor Jeff R. compared his TU-717 to a Kenwood KT-9900. Here are Sansui's instructions on how to replace the dial cord on a TU-717. On eBay, the TU-717 can sell for almost anywhere from the mid-$100s to over $300, with $150-200 being the most common range. The all-time high was $461 in 4/05 for a "new old stock" TU-717. The higher priced 717s usually have rack mount handles. [BF][EF][JR]
Sansui TU-719 (1979, front, back, inside) search eBay
The TU-719 has 4 FM and 2 AM gangs, and 4 ceramic filters, arranged in a different configuration on the circuit board than the TU-717's filters (despite the similar front panels, the TU-719's circuitry is quite different from the TU-717's). The TU-719 has an analog tuning capacitor, with a tuning knob and analog dial scale like the TU-717, but has a digital frequency readout where the 717 has a signal strength meter (it's a vacuum flourescent display, which resembles LEDs). The 719 uses fairly narrow stock ceramic filters and is more selective than an unmodified 717, but some may find the 719's overzealous crystal lock circuitry (like the TU-919's, as described below) an annoyance rather than a convenience. When modified with narrower filters, the TU-719's selectivity only improves slightly, and a DXer or anyone else who changes stations frequently will probably prefer a modified TU-717 since the 717 doesn't have the annoying crystal lock. The TU-719 is somewhat scarce and can sell for anywhere from $150-300 on eBay, with a high of $399 in 1/05. The higher priced 719s usually have rack mount handles. [EF]
Sansui TU-777search eBay
The TU-777 seems to have been the most common member of the series that also included the TU-555, TU-666, very rare TU-888, and TU-999. The TU-777 had separate FM and AM tuning caps, with 3 gangs for AM. We'll have more information on it eventually. The TU-777 is very common on eBay and usually sells for $70-100, with a recent low of $42 in 5/07 and a recent high of $240 in 3/08.
Sansui TU-919 (1979, $585, front, closeup, back, inside, block diagram, brochure1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) search eBay
The TU-919 is now widely recognized as a top tuner and a worthy rival of Sansui's classic TU-9900 (if perhaps a bit short of a TU-X1). The TU-919 has a 5-gang analog tuning capacitor with a digital LED readout like the TU-719 has. Our panelist Bob has details on the TU-919's 4 filters: "The filters are set up a little differently than, say, a KT-7500. The TU-919 uses three 280 kHz GDT flat group delay 3-pin filters for the wide IF bandwidth mode, and what appears to be one 150 kHz 3-pin filter for narrow mode - all Murata, and well-matched stock. In narrow it is using all 4 filters, and in wide just the three 280 GDT's. As a result, the wide mode is not super wide, and really almost makes the narrow extraneous, sort of like the Accuphase T-100 or Kenwood KT-8005 or 8007. The TU-919 would probably be great for DXing with a 110 kHz filter in narrow for getting adjacent channels." The TU-919 is more sensitive than the TU-717 and 719, and our audiophile reviewers agree that the TU-919 sounds great. AM radio listeners should note that the TU-919 has a wide-narrow filter for the AM band which can eliminate typical AM splatter noise, making it the best-sounding AM section Bob has ever heard. He adds, "Sensitivity is very good, and the TU-919 excels in having probably one of the best stock stereo blend noise filters. It really does a good job killing the noise, keeping the stereo image, without rolling off the highs. The ergonomics are good, but you are wishing you could turn the crystal lock off on occasion. It locks on and hangs on well past the indicated dial marking, then lets go and steps to the next frequency (in .1's). It's just odd because you are now well past where the dial says you should be. It does this in both directions, depending on which way you approach the station."
Our contributor Ed Hanlon did some work on a TU-919: "My favorite tuner of all time is a newly modified TU-919. First off, we defeated that silly quartz lock tuning (but kept the pretty green LED on all the time). Next we rearranged the filter configuration so that instead of 3 filters functioning in wide mode, now just two do. The narrow band, which before only added a fourth filter to the 3 in wide, now has 2 filters. So instead of being a 3+1, this tuner is now a 2+2. Wide bandwidth has enhanced fidelity, and you can even notice a difference between the wide and narrow settings! And unlike our first go-round with defeating quartz lock tuning (in the TU-719, perhaps?), defeating the lock on the TU-919 works perfectly. Right now I'm listening to WQXR-96.3, with no splash from my local station on 96.5, and it sounds wonderful. The one nit I can pick: even with the stereo threshold cranked all the way down, this tuner will pop in and out of stereo on very weak signals. By changing the pot that controls the stereo threshold, the user can decide how much noise is too much, and has the option of using the very fine FM Noise Filter this unit employs. It looks like the stereo threshold will affect the muting, meaning that if we change that pot, we may lose the muting function. I say 'who cares?' I never use FM muting anyway."
Our panelist JohnC did a comparison: "I initially felt that my modded TU-919 was better sounder than my TU-9900, until I got around to replacing the 9900's op-amps, direct coupling the output and bypassing the variable output control. Huge, huge improvement, made the 919 sound flat, and this after having felt that the 919 was my reference. Relooked at the 919 and replaced a couple of electrolytics with some film caps, and a couple of other things knowing now what could achieved, and it came in much closer than it had been." See how one TU-919 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and read our panelist David "A"'s Ricochet. [JC]
The TU-919's normal sale price range on eBay is $500-700, but higher is possible for particularly nice ones. A TU-919 in good condition with rack handles can easily sell for $800 or more, and a "new in box" 919 fetched $820 in 7/07. And what about the truly abnormal sales? In late 2003, some crazed eBay newbies ran up the price of two ordinary TU-919s (no rack handles, no manuals or other extras) from $650 or so to $1,005 and $920, respectively, and another one with rack handles and manuals went for $1,125. Hey guys, even though Jim thought the TU-919 sounded great in his system, you got carried away. [DA][BF][EF][JR]
Sansui TU-999 (block diagram, schematic left, schematic right, maintenance/specs) search eBay
The TU-999 was the tuner at the top of the TU-555/666/777/888 line. It was followed by the TU-9500 in 1973, then the TU-9900 in 1974. It had 4 gangs, a single IF bandwidth, two FET RF amps, a crystal filter, a discrete (not chip) MPX section and discrete audio amp section. Our panelist Bob says, "These discreet MPX circuits sound good but need more adjustment (like tube tuners) to work best. This one also likely has either ceramic, or crystal filters. Probably a really good tuner, well built." We have more information on it that we'll be putting up eventually. The TU-999 usually sells for $75-125 on eBay, with a recent low of $41 in 1/08 and a recent high of $255 in 6/08.
Sansui TU-3900 (1977, $160) search eBay Our panelist JohnC reports, "The TU-3900 is a 3 gang, 2 filter, single-bandwidth AM/FM tuner. The front panel includes lighted signal-strength and center-tune meters, muting, attenuation, power, AM/FM and FM Auto Stereo switches. The tuning dial face is not lighted but the dial indicator is, and the tuning knob is adequately weighted. The filters are Murata SFEs 10.7 kHz red dot. The TU-3900 employs a ratio detector, uPC554c MPX IC and discrete output circuits using 2SC1312 transistors. The rear panel provides fixed, Dolby, and discriminator outputs, including the usual voltage selector, fusing, unswitched power and antenna connections. Construction is good, with a removable bottom panel and dedicated PS board. It also shares the same power supply as the TU-5900 and TU-7900 tuners. Lastly, the 3900 uses the identical boards and components as the TU-4400 with the one exception being that the MPX chip in the 4400 is an HA1120. The TU-3900 sounds pretty good after a little tweaking but not equal to the TU-217." The TU-3900 usually sells for $20-50 on eBay. [JC]
Sansui TU-5900 (1977, $230, front, back) search eBay
Here's our panelist JohnC's review: "The TU-5900 is an AM/FM single bandwidth tuner. It has 3 FM and 2 AM gangs with 3 ceramic filters. The front end sports a single dual gate MOSFET and a 2SC1047 mixer. Aside from the usual controls on the front panel you also get an antenna attenuation switch in case you're in a market where the front end overloads. The IF IC is an HA1137 which feeds both a dedicated discriminator OUT on the rear panel and an HA1196 MPX IC which directly drives the variable outputs. There are no fixed outputs but Dolby RCAs are available. The 5900 shares the same single-sided power supply as its series sisters the TU-3900 and TU-7900. Easy to mod, with nice results when completed. Definitely better that its little brother and very similar to the later TU-217/317/417 series tuners, all in a compact case." The TU-5900 usually sells for $50-90 on eBay, but occasionally $140 or more (with a high of $172 in 10/08. [JC]
Sansui TU-7500 (1973, $250, front, back) search eBay
The little brother of the TU-9500, the 4-gang TU-7500 might be worth a try. It usually sells for anywhere from $70-120 on eBay ($200 in 9/06 for a mint one), but get this: two absolute lunatics bid up a mint TU-7500 from $112 to a bizarre $536 in 2/04.
Sansui TU-7900 (1977, $300, front, back) search eBay
The little brother of the TU-9900 is a fine tuner in its own right. The 4-gang TU-7900 has good specs, especially sensitivity, and our contributor Marc reports that it's very quiet and clean-sounding, particularly in stereo. Its signal meter doubles as a multipath meter. The TU-7900 usually sells for $150-200 on eBay, with a recent low of $94 in 9/07, a recent high of $290 in 6/08, and an all-time high of $333 in 6/05.
Sansui TU-9500 (1973, $350, front, back, inside) search eBay
From an older generation than the TU-9900, the TU-9500 is a good-sounding 5-gang tuner. It has 4 filters and should be a decent candidate for mods. The TU-9500's 3 AM gangs give it good performance on AM as well. Our panelist Bob speculates that the TU-9500 might be similar to, or even better than, the fine Pioneer TX-9100. The TU-9500 usually sells fairly consistently for $150-200 on eBay, with a low of $91 in 5/04 and an all-time high of $311 in 5/09.
Sansui TU-9900 (1974, $570, front 1, front 2, back, schematic, owner's manual, service manual) search eBay
The TU-9900 has 5 gangs and 3 IF filters, two of which have 4 stages rather than a typical ceramic filter's 2 stages, so it's like 5 filters if we count them in the traditional fashion. The TU-9900 is solidly built and our panelists who have used it praise its sound quality and DX performance, but David "A" rates it well below the TU-X1 for sound even though Eric (a non-audiophile) felt that it was "close enough." Our panelist Bob did some mods on his: "The TU-9900 has incredible potential. At first, it just did not open up sonically, but after trying a bunch of things, I nailed it. It is there now. I removed tantulum caps in the signal path. The big gain was replacing the TA-7136P op-amps, which were limiting the sonics in a big way. They are inline 7-pin units, so I had to put in 7-pin inline sockets, and custom modify a standard single op-amp to solder onto a 7-pin header. It was about three hours' work just to make the replacements, but well worth it. I also added six polypropylene caps, along with new power supply caps. With all the mods, the TU-9900 may be one of the top all-around tuners ever built. I have talked to many people who feel that a stock TU-9900 just smokes about everything out there for distant reception capability. If your unit does not astound you, it is broken or out of alignment. It will easily surpass a stock KT-8300 by a decent amount. I think the sonics were the holdback on the 9900s, but not anymore."
The TU-9900 is very sensitive and selective in stock form, better than just about any analog tuner that commonly sells for under $500 on eBay. It also offers many nice features, including a calibration tone and scope outputs. Because it uses LC filters that are encased in metal and plastic enclosures, no one should buy a TU-9900 expecting to replace the filters, but our panelist JohnC says: "Aside from the power supply, the TU-9900 is very easy to work on and mod. Bill Ammons' op-amp boards make it very easy to change out the old op-amps and since you can leave 4 caps out of the audio output the cost, compared to using say Black Gates for those 4 caps, is actually a wash." Read about John's mods to the TU-9900 on the DIY Mods page, and a comparison of his modded TU-9900 to his modded TU-919 in the TU-919 writeup above. Our contributor doug s. says, "I own a modded refurbished TU-X1, and I can say that its performance compared to the TU-9900's is only the tiniest bit better, with a bit more low end, and you really need to hear them side-by-side to discern differences." On eBay, the TU-9900 usually sells for around $450-700 but anywhere from $380-800+ is possible, depending on condition, the seller's track record, and fluctuations in demand. A mint one sold for $952 in 12/07 and the all-time record was $1,200 in 2/08 for one with the original box and manual (that's one pricey box). [DA][JC][BF][EF]
Sansui TU-D55X (1984, $275) search eBay
This little brother of the TU-D99X usually sells for $15-40 on eBay. The baby brother TU-D33X can be found for $10-25.
Sansui TU-D77Xsearch eBay
This very rare little brother of the TU-D99X is seldom seen on eBay. One sold for $124 in 2/05.
Sansui TU-D99AMX (1985, $389) search eBay
The very rare TU-D99AMX is a digital synthesizer tuner that was apparently identical to the TU-D99X (see below), except that the TU-D99AMX was one of the relatively few home tuners with AM stereo capability. Not surprisingly, the TU-D99AMX was praised by Stereophile for having an excellent AM section. Our contributor Jovit says, "When I got my TU-D99AMX, the sensitivity was not on par with my TU-7900, but after I performed a full alignment, they were very close. The TU-7900 has the edge when de-tuning a station since it's analog. The sonics of the TU-D99AMX are better than the TU-7900's. With the TU-D99AMX, the realism and ambience of the DJ's voice is right there. Classical music was very detailed and I could hear audience coughing :) - just to show the benefits of an aligned tuner." We've seen TU-D99AMXs on eBay that sold for $202 in 9/04, $132 in 5/07, $75 in 4/08, $214 in 3/09 (for a "new old stock" one) and $140 in 5/09 (with wood sides).
Sansui TU-D99X (1984, $349, photo) search eBay
A digital synthesizer tuner with the equivalent of 5 gangs and 4 3-pin ceramic filters, the TU-D99X is a good candidate for a filter mod, since its specs list alternate channel selectivity of only 60 dB in the Narrow IF mode. The TU-D99X was virtually identical to the TU-S77X, and the two tuners shared the same service manual. Its op-amp outputs are easy to replace with better units, as Jim and Bob did with the KT-7500 (see the DIY Mods page). Our contributor Jovit has the details: "The TU-D99X/AMX and TU-S77X/AMX use M5219L(export)/NJM082S(Japan) for the output stage and not NJM4558D. The 4558s were used for the 304 kHz VCO loop filter, DC/LPF amp and schmitt trigger." Jovit adds, "Owners of the TU-D99X can use the TU-S77X schematic [see below - Editor] as a reference but should note the following differences: L103 and C143 are not populated, and R112, R113, R118 and R119 are 680R instead of 330R. There might be more subtle differences that I haven't spotted. For those wondering what the component values are for the FM front end, please refer to the Onkyo T-4650 schematic. The FM front end was made by the same OEM, with minor differences." The TU-D99X has way above average sensitivity and good sound, with nice solid bass. It also has a "super linear digital decoder" (SLDD) circuit, an advanced MPX decoder with 38 kHz harmonic cancellation that eliminates the need for an anti-birdie filter.
The TU-D99X is very thin and its multicolored LED signal meter is a little funky, making it a unusual-looking piece overall. However, Bob observes that there's a fine line between a "cool-looking" and "Mickey Mouse" appearance, and says: "The display, if you are used to meters, can be very non-informative. It is not a businesslike display - it is more like a toy, that is, different. Yes, the colors are 'cool,' but it looks like a toy compared to say a T-9090II or 600T that actually convey useful information about signal strength. The TU-D99X is still a very quiet unit that has reception capability that may not be far off from a TU-919." Bob adds that the 99X has better inherent adjacent channel capability than the TU-S9. The 99X "is actually an incredible circuit, not found in any other tuner except the TU-S77X/TU-S77AMX." See how one TU-D99X sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. The TU-D99X usually sells for $75-130 on eBay, with a bizarre high of $235 in 1/05 as two crazed bidders ran it up from $106. [BF][JR]
Sansui TU-S7 (1980, $340, photo) search eBay
A digital synthesizer tuner with the equivalent of 4 gangs, 3 filters, and one RF FET amp, the TU-S7 can have either a black or silver front panel. For sound quality, mids and highs are better than average, and bass, while not earth-shattering, is not bad. The TU-S7 is more sensitive than one might expect, has an excellent signal-to-noise ratio, and is especially quiet on strong signals. The TU-S7 usually sells for $50-65 on eBay, with a recent low of $17 in 11/08 and a high of $97 in 5/07. [BF]
Here's an excerpt from the TU-S7 owner's manual: Twelve Preset Stations: One touch recall, instant identification. You can preset up to six FM and six AM stations and commit them to the memory of the TU-S7. All you have to do to tune in a desired station is touch the appropriate button. Stations are easily identified by the illuminated ID panel next to each of the six preset buttons. With the decal set included with the TU-S7, the call letters (or frequency) of each preset station may be entered. When you switch bands between FM and AM, the ID panel changes also so that all 12 stations may be identified.
Touch Convenience: The light touch up/down tuning buttons allow you to tune stations automatically or manually.
Automatic Tuning: A firm push of either the up or down button and the tuner begins scanning the tuning band (FM or AM) until a station is located. The Search indicator lights while scanning and turns off when a station is found and tuned in.
Stepped Manual Tuning: a light touch of either button activates frequency scanning in predetermined steps, 100 kHz [50 kHz in some areas] for FM, 1 kHz for AM.
Rapid Manual Tuning: In this mode, the tuner continues to scan frequencies as long as the button is held. This is for use when you want to move from one section of the tuning band to another quickly.
"Last One" Memory and Memory Backup: Bonus Features
The station you were last listening to will be perfectly tuned in the next time you turn on the TU-S7. This is called the "Last One" Memory feature - of great value when making unattended, time-controlled recordings off the air.
"Memory Backup" is a penlight battery powered circuit that keeps the memory of the TU-S7 "alive" even when the unit is shut off or unplugged. The first of the five LEDs in the Signal indicator turns off, letting you know when it's time to replace batteries.
Quartz-PLL Synthesizer Tuning: Accurate, precise and stable. In the TU-S7 Quartz-PLL synthesizer tuner, tuned stations are locked in with the same precision as a fine timepiece. Drift is virtually zero. Station frequencies are compared for phase difference with that of the quartz oscillator and instantly adjusted to maintain zero difference. Changes in temperature or humidity cannot affect performance.
Sensitive Front-end and Selective IF: Exceptionally high 83 dB S/N ratio! Despite their many conveniences, synthesizer tuners used to be scorned by audiophiles because of their poor signal-to-noise ratio. No more - the TU-S7 has a high S/N Ratio of 83 dB (mono) and 78 dB (stereo). The secret lies in the superior front-end and IF sections.
The front end has new high-Q variable capacitance diodes of the back-to-back type as sensitive as a 4-gang variable capacitor - for dramatically improved adjacent channel rejection performance. Interference noise is completely shut out.
Listen to the TU-S7 and you'll appreciate what the high 83 dB S/N ratio means to your radio listening.
Sansui TU-S9 (1980, $420, photo) search eBay
The fairly common TU-S9 is an unusually attractive digital synthesizer tuner, with a rosewood veneer cabinet and an elegant black front panel. Unlike some of Sansui's other digitals that some feel have overly colorful front-panel displays, the TU-S9's is subdued and "grown up," with a blue frequency display and preset channel markers, small green LEDs for signal strength/multipath and stereo, and red preset and "direct set" (see below)indicators. It has the digital equivalent of 4 gangs, 3 filters, and one RF FET amp. Our panelist Bob compared his TU-S9 to his TU-D99X and says he likes the TU-S9's sound better, stock. Bob also notes that like the TU-S7, the TU-S9 is more sensitive than one might expect. The TU-S9 is very similar to the TU-S7, but has more presets (10 vs. 6). It is packed with well-chosen and convenient features, including direct frequency entry for tuning or setting presets into memory (enter 1-0-0-7 for 100.7), a "noise canceller" filter, calibration tone, and signal-strength meter that doubles as a multipath meter. In the back are RCA outputs for Dolby FM and one labeled "AM IF OUTPUT (for stereo)," and a battery compartment that holds two AA's to maintain the memory settings. Unusual for a tuner, there is also an unswitched AC outlet. The TU-S9's RF front end and IF circuits are almost identical to those in the TU-S7, but the TU-S9 uses a different MPX chip and audio circuit, the very fine HA11223W, vs. the LA3380 in the S7. Finally, Bob notes that his TU-S9 "kills the M-D FT-101A in every measureable way but narrow selectivity (as it lacks a wide/narrow IF bandwidth switch)." See how one TU-S9 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. Sale prices on eBay can be very erratic, like this: $102 in 4/07, $150 in 8/07 and $15 in 10/07 for no discernible reason, $182 in 8/08, and a bizarre all-time high of $300 in 4/08 as two guys ran it up from $91. [BF][EF][JR]
Sansui TU-S33 (1982, $200) search eBay
The TU-S33 is the evolution of the Sansui TU-217/TU-317/T-80 line of tuners and is a "really impressive cheap tuner," according to our panelist Bob. Like its predecessors, the TU-S33 has 3 gangs and 2 filters. It has the added feature of "servo lock," which makes it incredibly easy to tune and keep locked onto the station. The tuning mechanism glides smoothly, and uses two arrows and a "locked" LED to indicate that the station is properly tuned. Front-panel controls allow for weak station reception, with a noise canceller circuit that works very well, and a mono/muting off switch. The dial has a nice light blue tint, with tick marks linearly spaced 200 kHz. The TU-S33 is very sensitive and moderately selective. It usually sells for $20-40 on eBay. [BF]
Sansui TU-S77AMX (1984, $389, photo) search eBay
The TU-S77AMX, a digital synthesizer tuner that appears to be similar to the TU-D99AMX (see above), has a varactor-tuned front end with the equivalent of 5 gangs. The TU-S77AMX is one of the few home tuners that have AM stereo. Like the TU-D99X, it also has the mysterious "super linear digital decoder" (SLDD), as well as a "pulse swallow synthesizer" (where do they get this stuff?). But seriously, the TU-S77AMX is a solid performer, with rich bass, decent stock selectivity and sensitivity, and plenty of useful features including Wide/Narrow IF bandwidths, RF Mode (Local/DX), Noise Canceler, and a recording calibration tone. There's an unswitched AC power outlet on the back panel, unusual for a tuner, and a switch to change the AM frequency steps from 10 kHz to 9 kHz.
Sansui guru Dave Compton reports: "There are some negatives to the TU-S77AMX compared to other vintage Sansui tuners, like the TU-X1, TU-9900, etc. It's built with some plastic used for the backing to the front panel and the sides of the chassis. This is not the 'heavy metal' stuff that most of us love. Packing it very securely for shipping is important. It has a rather hokey-looking signal-strength tuning indicator using five LEDs. It has no center-tuning indicator, which is normal for digital tuners. It is assumed that it will always be on center due to the precision of the digital tuning. There are many positives to this model, too: very slim, very attractive styling; lots of features - and they are the features you want, not just extra buttons; Narrow/Wide IF bandwidth switching; big, highly visible display (many digital tuners fall down here); indicators for certain mode functions, like RF attenuator and narrow bandwidth, along with the standard stereo and tuning indicators; and preset scan to sample the stations you have stored for something to listen to. Like many Sansui items, the TU-S77AMX seems to have been designed by somebody who USES it. Primary controls are large, and secondary controls are smaller. It's easy to use, with good ergonomics, and it's chock full of good later technology circuitry like quality MPX chips, the front end, etc. It has good sound when unmodified and the ability to get better thru easy mods, has good (better than most) reception when unmodified, and has great reception when modified and tuned correctly. There are lots of adjustments for the circuitry. Many units cut costs by making certain circuit parameters nonadjustable, but this makes the circuit much less tweakable. Overall, it's a very nice tuner." The TU-S77AMX is rare and usually sells for $70-100 on eBay, with a recent low of $36 in 6/08, but Dave's tweaked unit with audiophile mods sold for $205 in 3/04.
Sansui TU-S77X (1984, $350, photo, RF/IF schematic, MPX schematic) search eBay
The TU-S77X is a digital synthesizer tuner that we're guessing is identical to the TU-S77AMX, but without AM stereo. The TU-S77X is also virtually identical to the TU-D99X, and the two tuners share the same service manual. Our contributor Jovit, who provided the TU-S77X schematics, says, "For those wondering what the component values are for the FM front end, please refer to the Onkyo T-4650 schematic. The FM front end was made by the same OEM, with minor differences." The TU-S77X usually sells for $30-70 on eBay, but as low as $20 (in 11/06) is possible. The presumably similar but scarce TU-S55X (1984, $275) generally sells for $15-35 on eBay, but one went for $1.00 in 3/06.
Sansui TU-X1 (1980, $980, photo, FM schematic, AM schematic) search eBay
The mammoth 34-pound TU-X1, with its 7-gang FM front end, is a step up from the TU-9900 at the top of the Sansui heap. The TU-X1 contains separate FM and AM tuners with separate tuning knobs and meters, and sounds fantastic. Our panelist Eric found that a TU-X1 blew away a stock Kenwood 600T and KT-917 for sound quality and selectivity (sensitivity was a virtual draw) in a 3-way head-to-head battle, but a TU-9900 was just about as good at a much more manageable size. Eric has not heard a better stock tuner than the TU-X1, for those who don't mind its size and premium price, but unlike the 600T the TU-X1 has no replaceable ceramic filters. It has 3 black LC filter blocks that read "Super Fidelity Filter" and one Murata "SAW" filter ("Surface Acoustic Filter") like some of the top Kenwoods use. Our panelist David "A" adds, "I bought my second TU-X1 ($199 at an estate sale!). What was interesting is that the new TU-X1 was dramatically better than the first one I had (and a ton cheaper, I still have to laugh at the people paying more than new retail for them). I consider this example of the TU-X1 to be the best stock tuner that I have ever heard."
Following up on a discussion in our FMtuners group about poor sensitivity in some TU-X1s, our panelist Ray theorizes that there needs to be a jumper used across the second 75 Ohm input, which may have been furnished with the TU-X1 when new. Without the jumper, the 75-Ohm input is much less sensitive than using a 75-Ohm to 300-Ohm balun on the 300-Ohm input. Ray explains further: "A review of the tuner's service manual schematic shows the 75-Ohm coax jack to only connect one side of the input's primary, leaving the other end to float. However, if one were to put a strap across the 75-Ohm alternate terminals, the circuit would be complete. Without that connection, one will get the reduced signal that Hank reported. Rather then opine, therefore, that Sansui were poor designers, we thought possibly the issue was covered in the operator's manual and maybe even an accessory bridge strap was provided." Our panelist JohnC replies: "I was reading your posts about the sensitivity issue. I saw the schematic and it does look like the one side floats but it is only a drawing misrepresentation. The balun is physically located on the back of the F connector with all wires connected to the signal lead that goes to the tuning cap. Now the strange part: I took a jumper and shorted the two 300 Ohm leads, and the signal dropped. I guess that makes sense. Then for whatever reason I took the jumper off one side of the 300-Ohm inputs and ran it to ground. The signal strength immediately jumped up ~35 dBf. It's a real jump in strength because on a marginal signal the audio immediately improves when the jumper is attached. I took a pic of the jumper (yellow) so you can at least see that configuration. I wish I knew someone else with a TU-X1 in order to confirm the results." John adds, "There is no resident at Chez Carp that can convey the air, ambiance and soundstage of even a stock X1. On a good live program, and I'm lucky enough to have two stations here that still do that, the sound just appears against a black background of nothing. Yeah, a Sony ST-J75 is dead quiet, but to these old ears there's something missing that should be there. It's dry, like early CDs were. My systems, components and rooms."
See how one TU-X1 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page, and read more from David on the Ricochets page. See the TU-9900 writeup for our contributor doug s.'s quick comparison of a modded TU-9900 to a modded TU-X1. The TU-X1 shows up 5-6 times a year on eBay and typically sells for $1,800-2,600, but even higher if there hasn't been one listed in awhile (with highs of $3,049 in 3/06, $3,200 in 3/06 and 12/06, and $3,000 in 5/07), or as low as $1,425 if not in good condition. Prices have been stable during the recession with sales of $2,595 in 5/08, $2,500 in 10/08, $1,901 in 4/09 and $1,925 in 8/09. k-nisi's site has a few inside photos of the TU-X1 and this site has dozens of high-resolution photos of the TU-X1, inside and out, before and after mods. [DA][JC][EF][JR]
Sansui TU-X501 (1989, $350, photo, back, brochure) search eBay
The rare TU-X501 is a small black digital synthesizer AM/FM tuner that is the little brother of the excellent TU-X701. We're trying to figure out why we thought the 501 has Sansui's "SLDD" (Super Linear Digital Decoder) circuitry, which Sansui claims eliminates spurious frequencies - it apparently does not have SLDD (perhaps an error in Sansui's marketing materials?). We don't know much about it except that its features include Automatic Gain Control (AGC) with a pin-diode and a MOSFET that automatically adjusts the RF gain, Wide/Narrow bandwidth selection, a DX/Local switch, an FM noise canceler switch, and 20 presets. Our contributor Jovit offers this analysis: "The TU-X501 appears to be a 4-gang tuner. It is one step below the TU-D99X/S77X which has 5 gangs in total with 2 gangs before the 1st RF amp, a big plus on my book. The TU-D99X/TU-S77X RF section has trimmer caps for all the gangs which is a good thing for maximizing sensitivity on the higher bands. The TU-X501/701 doesn't seem to have them. As for the stereo decoder, I personally don't like the one-chip implementation of the TU-X501/X701. The TU-D99X approach of using 4 balance modulators to extract the 19 kHz pilot, generate 38 kHz subcarrier and decode the L & R channels is a pain to align but will squeeze the best results." If you've ever used a TU-X501, please tell us about it in our FMtuners group. The TU-X501 usually sells for $40-75 on eBay, with recent lows of $10 in 9/08 and $18 in 10/08, and an all-time high of $157 in 2/06. There was also a TU-X301 (1987, $280, mostly $10-30 on eBay) mentioned in Sansui's brochure for the TU-X701, and an even rarer TU-X301i (1989, $220, mostly $15-40 on eBay) shown in the brochure for the TU-X711.
Sansui TU-X519 (1993, $250) search eBay
The TU-X519 is a small black digital synthesizer AM/FM tuner with a large orange LED display. It has the electronic equivalent of 3 gangs and two ceramic filters, 10 presets for FM and 10 more for AM. The TU-X519 has a couple of unusual features: the ability to tune by entering the station frequency on the preset buttons (like 1-0-4-7-0 for 104.7) and to enter station call letters or other text into memory for each preset setting. The TU-X519 is rare on eBay, coming up only once a year or so, and usually sells for under $50. [EF]
Sansui TU-X701 (1987, $550, photo1, photo2, inside, brochure) search eBay
The very rare TU-X701 is a small black digital synthesizer AM/FM tuner with an orange LED display. It has selectable IF bandwidths with a decent front end that uses an RF attenuator. The IF strip uses 10.7 MHz transformers to tune GDT ceramic filters for optimum distortion performance. Sansui claims that the TU-X701's "SLDD" (Super Linear Digital Decoder) eliminates spurious frequencies. Our panelist Bob points out that the TU-X701 uses the LA3450, the multiplex chip version of SLDD, fed by a PLL-type detector. Our contributor Ryan says: "On the whole, this design has the right elements for good sound. And Jim's review is right, it can sound very good, but I did not care for mine just out of the box. I finally measured my unit, and saw very high THDs, but with very minimal adjustment, measured performance improved dramatically. Fortunately, this also helped the sonics tremendously, and it is now one of my better post-alignment tuners as well. This just goes to show you that proper adjustment is always critical! The TU-X701 is certainly a bargain tuner given the top-notch design and sound." Our contributor Warren M. agrees: "After alignment and replacement of some aged components, my TU-X701 sounds very nice and has the lowest stereo noise level of any tuner I've ever heard." Our contributor Hank A. "wasn't impressed with the sonics of the X701" as-found, but didn't try getting it aligned.
Our panelist JohnC compares the TU-X701 and its successor, the TU-X711, to the Denon TU-800: "According to the service manual the X701 and X711 are identical tuners, circuit-wise, with only cosmetic changes between the two. There is a remarkable similarity between the X701/711 and the Denon TU-800 from the LA1235 IC to the LA3450 MPX chip. Both bypass the internal quad detector and implement an external discrete one. The Denon is double-tuned while the Sansuis are single-tuned. Both use a 2043 op-amp in the composite signal path and both feed an LA3450. From the LA3450 out the Denon seems to have a much more direct/cleaner signal path and buffer. The X701 and X711 have 4 ceramic filters:
CF1 and CF2 are SFE10.7MX filters which I believe have a 250 kHz bandwidth, and CF3 and CF4 are SFE10.7MS2 filters which are 230s. Having gone through both tuners, the Denon is the better of the two for both DX and sound. Just my $.02."
Read our panelist Jim's review and see how one TU-X701 sounded compared to other top tuners on our Shootouts page. The TU-X701 usually sells for $260-325 on eBay, with a low of $102 in 9/08. One that was outrageously hyped ("today the best tuners use newly developed Satellite Technology to pull and strip the signal out of the air") sold to a novice eBayer for $377 in 5/04. [JR]
Sansui TU-X711 (1989, $700/orig $625, photo, brochure cover, page 1, page 2) search eBay
This excruciatingly rare tuner is only seen for sale once every couple of years. Our panelist JohnC reports that the TU-X711 was basically a cosmetic update of the TU-X701, so his comments on the X701 apply here as well. Our contributor Sam reports: "The TU-X711 was the flagship tuner of Sansui's 'Vintage' components which also included the TU-X501 and TU-X301i. It has SLDD [Super Linear Digital Decoder - Editor]. The Automatic Gain Control (AGC) with a pin-diode and a MOSFET automatically adjusts the RF gain. It has a Wide and Narrow bandwidth selector with a series of ceramic bandpass filters (details unknown to me), a DX/Local switch and an FM noise canceler switch. It has three independent power supplies, one for the audio circuits, one for the RF circuits and one for control. It has excellent sound qualities with a deep tight bass, natural mids and non-grainy highs." One TU-X711 sold for a surprisingly low $162 on eBay in 2/04, another went for $255 in 9/07, and one fetched $342 in 12/07.