REVIEW: Sansui TU-X1 FM Tuner
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Captain

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First thing to say about this tuner that is it is big, weighing in at a massive 34lbs. An all black analogue tuner built in the early 1980’s, its looks are very totalitarian and would not look out of place in some army radar tracking station. Despite this I think it is a stunning piece, with a look that means business.


[size=small]Big black and beautiful, weighing in at a massive 34lbs. Right side FM, left AM[/size]

The Sansui TU-X1 now is out of production, so has to be obtained through the used market. Considered by most to be the best plug and play, non-mod-ed tuner in the world, they can now fetch very high prices. A mint condition serviced one, for example, will set you back around £1300/$2500, and they are getting harder to find, as once you have one, where do you go to get something better? Basically you don't. You hang on to them.

Under the bonnet you have 2 tuners, one FM, one AM. Both are tuned in by separate large black tuning knobs, which dominate the front panel. Tuning in is such a pleasure as the rotating action of the knobs is silky smooth - a pleasure that would be lost if you were able to use a remote. Both the AM and FM sections have separate tuning meters. There is also one of the biggest AM bar antenna I have ever seen mounted on the back. Both AM and FM have their own separate buttons for the various functions of operation, which I will go into later.

It is possible to have two outputs which are both switchable from the front of the tuner to either FM or AM. They both also have output level controls.

Powerwise, the tuner can operate at any voltage from 100/240V @ 50/60Hz by a jumper switch at the back of the tuner.

I am going to review the FM capability of this tuner as AM is not something I listen to at all.

[size=medium]There are three choice of antenna set up [/size]

1.T shaped 300-ohm internal antenna.
2.Twin lead 300-ohm external antenna
3. 75-ohm coaxial cable

The coaxial is the better choice, as twin lead is prone to external noise. Unless necessary, internal antenna should be avoided at all cost. With high end tuners you really need all the signal you can get.

It is also possible to change the de-emphasis internally to 50ms and 75ms, for USA/Canada or Europe respecitively.

On the front of the tuner for FM you have two tuning meters, one is for the FM signal strength which, by the press of a button on the front, can also give you Multi-path interference reading. The other is for fine tuning.

[size=medium]Buttons for FM tuning[/size]

1.Mono switch for times when you have a weaker signal.
2.Wide and narrow band selector, to improve weaker signal reception.
3.Muting to stop the irritating noise you get in between stations when tuning in.
4.Noise filter which automatically reduces noise with weak signal
5.Calibration tone used for setting up recording equipment.

[size=medium]In the beginning…….. [/size]

There was a golden age of radio equipment which occurred during the 50’s to early 80’s, due mainly to the lack of television consumption that we have now. I can remember when we only had 3 TV channels inthe UK that started around 3.30pm and finished just after 12am. Radio was still a good entertainment option. A bit before my time, most families use to sit together and listen to radio. This pushed the technology, as with television now (plasma screens etc) to produce some of the best tuners yet produced.

Although radio is still a big listing medium it tends to occur a lot more 'in-car', where you will find a lot of high-end equipment. The separates market seems not to be producing as many classics like the TU-X1 any more. In the 1980’s this was a £500 tuner, a lot of money at the time but you'd pay a lot more for a lesser tuner of today.


[size=small]
The tuner dominates a room with its size, the DAC-1 underneath seems very small in comparison[/size].


[size=medium]Sound quality [/size]

Equipment used
Sansui TU-X1 tuner
HMS Sestetto interconnects
Consonance M100s tube amp with TJ 300B Mesh plates
MIT AVT 1 Bi-wire speaker cable
Wilmslow Audio Mirage DIY speakers
Trichord Powerblock 500 power conditioner
Antiference five element directional aerial


Reviewing a tuner is different to other source equipment, as you have to take in to account the quality of the broadcast material and how well the tuner picks up a signal. I think a tuner needs to be lived with for a while, as it seems the more you listen to it the more of a realisation you have about its strengths and weakness. Before the Sansui I owned a Leak Troughline 2 Tuner with a Tim de Paravicini decoder and a Fanfare FT-1A FM. One very modern the other very old.

The first thing you notice when the Sansui is fired up is its complete lack of radio hiss or any other grunge. With its 3 black LC filter blocks and one Murata “SAW” filter (“Surface Acoustic Filter”) the filtering is absolutely amazing; the sound seems to come out of a black hole. Also the power supply is well shielded to stop any electrical interference affecting the internal components. With both the Leak and the Fanfare, grunge and interference was a big problem. The Fanfare seemed to push interference away into the back ground, but it was still there, though easier to live with. The Leak was noisy and irritating and was sold.

The TU-X1 is a very sensitive tuner with its 7-gang tuning capacitors, and will pull in stations very easily. Most stations on the aerial's path are interference free. The Fanfare was probably a touch better then the Sansui, but the Leak was hopeless with all but the strongest signal.

The TU-X1’s sound stage is massive with a very dynamic three dimentional sound. It has excellent separation, with very good front to back imaging. The sound is very forward of the speakers. The tone is very rich with a stunning top and bottom end extension. It has a very engaging sound that can really capture the emotion of music, making it very hard to pull yourself away from. Bass is very big, something the other two tuners lacked big-time. The treble seems very balanced and natural with no brightness what so ever.

The Fanfare sound against the TU-X1 is very flat and bright, but is still a very transparent tuner with very a liquid sound. The Leak has a rich tone (very lush), but lacks the top and bottom end extension of the Sansui.

On talk radio the Sansui will pick up any thing that is going on in the studio, intake of breath, different microphone settings, and presenters with colds! The detail has to be heard to be believed. A few weeks back I was listening to a three-presenter morning show. There was so much turning of papers, knocking of microphones, coughing, sniffing and breathing that it became hard listening. Just too busy. Sibilance with tuners is always going to be an issue, but with the TU-X1 it does not grate as it would with a lesser tuner giving a fatigue free sound.

Live music recording, be it studio or out of station are captivating, you seem to get sucked into the atmosphere. The sound puts you right on the stage where you can hear and feel the acoustics of the venue. Pianos on classical pieces have real weight to them, with violins being smooth and never piercing. Audience applause is also very realistic, whereas on a lesser tuner it can sound like gravel being dropped on a tin roof. The TU-X1 makes it sound like flesh on flesh. With a studio session, the whole experience seems very intimate. Again, very impressive detail very much influenced by the acoustics of the studio, and will show up any sound engineers' bad judgment with the dials and sliders.

With the amazing transparency of this tuner, pre-recorded music really comes down to the quality of the recording. If it’s old, scratchy and mono that’s what you get, if it’s a modern and well recorded track, again this will come through. Vocals seem to be very well centred and very forward of the speakers. I was listening to a jazz program last night and one of the tracks seemed to be throwing sounds that actually seemed to be coming from behind me. I would not describe music presentation as CD which has a bit of a harder edge, but more like a vinyl/tube mix. I feel the TU-X1 is a lot more musical in its presentation compared to the DAC-1 with its more analytical, detailed, forward and brighter sound.


Are there any weakness with this tuner? To my ears, no when compared to FM tuners, but then I have never listened to the Lirpa 4.7 Laboratory FM tuner. At around $20,000 US I will never know, but I do think I have found my tuner heaven. Thanks to the TU-X1 and the BBC I have the best home entertament I could wish for. Weather you are sitting for a serious listen or it is just on in the background this tuner gets right inside you. One thing I have found with this tuner compared to, say, CD source is that it is so much more family friendly. I very rarely see the wife put on a CD, but she will listen to radio programmes all day. Seems this tuner from the golden age has got the family sitting round the radio again.

[size=medium]Technical data[/size]

1Tuning range: 88 to 108MHz
2FM IHF sensitivity: 1,49 m V
350-dB quieting sensitivity 34.0 dBf (stereo)
4Distortion: 0,03% (stereo)
5Selectivity: 80 dB (narrow band); 55 dB (wide band)
6S/N 80 dB (stereo)
7Frequency response: 10 Hz - 17,2 kHz (-3 dB)
84 FM Antenna Connections; , 2 AM Antenna Connections; built in AM Antenna
9Vertical & Horizontal FM Multipath Jacks (for scope applications)
10AM (IF) Stereo Output
11FM Discriminator output
12Weight (unpacked): 36 lbs (16,2 kg)
13Dimensions: 19,7 cm (H) x 48 cm (W) x 45 cm (D)
 
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tyrion

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Great review. I haven't come across many reviews of FM tuners on headfi. I picked up a cheap turner a while back but gave up on it. I didn't want to get started with buying an antenna for a $25 used tuner. There just isn't enough good radio where I am located. The only stuff worth listening to is the jazz at night on NPR. Interesting read, thanks.
 
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Great review. My only experience with hi-fi tuners is the one in my Harman Kardon 730 receiver (which is suppost to be an excellent tuner). It sounds pretty good, though it has trouble keeping stereo reception with my cruddy indoors antenna (some $10 RadioShack job). Most radio stations I get though don't have that great of sound quality, usually due to over-application of compression (both in the dynamics and encoding sense) on the transmission side. The stations in my area that aren't like that (like the NPR classical station KSJN (99.5) in St.Paul, MN) do sound great.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by tyrion
There just isn't enough good radio where I am located.


We are very fortune in the UK to have a very well run state radio(BBC). They broad cast a diverse array of top class programs with outstanding sound quality. Their tends to be always some thing to listen to. We pay a yearly licence fee, but with my usage I can not grumble.
 
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Rob N

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain
We are very fortune in the UK to have a very well run state radio(BBC). They broad cast a diverse array of top class programs with outstanding sound quality. Their tends to be always some thing to listen to. We pay a yearly licence fee, but with my usage I can not grumble.


Great sound quality,but for how much longer with digital taking over and analogue eventually being switched off?

Digital was OK back in 1999 when all BBC stations broadcast at 192KB/sec.Now it's only Radio 3 at that rate Radio 4 can go as low as 80KB/sec in mono!!Better radio sound quality can be had via digital TV,for instance BBC 7 via radio is in mono but via digital TV it's in stereo.The quality of commercial digital radio is utter s**t,I don't know how they can make them sound so bad.
 
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Really nice to see this fine piece of radio receiving equipment here! Congratulations to a great purchase.

What can I say. I used to live very close to a major broadcasting station/mast, but here...The Sunday concerts off the tuner will stay as a dear memory.

As far as I am concerned, it seems digital broadcasting is inevitable, and that is a great pity since the choice of bit rate usually lefts a lot to be desired.

I hope, for you, BBC will stay the clear beacon of fine FM broadcasting technique.
 
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Pics of that beautiful monstrosity would have been pleasure enough, but your excellent written review made it even more so. I love to see examples of old-school hardware like that, with analog gauges and the like. It brings me way back...

Thanks for taking the time, and sharing. Enjoy your tuner, man!
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Rob N
Great sound quality,but for how much longer with digital taking over and analogue eventually being switched off?


A day I try not to think about, it will be a great loss when the BBC go fully digital
 
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Good stuff.

I just upgraded from a TU-217 to TU-717 myself. Not into FM enough to go all the way to the TU-X1 though!
 
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Great Review! Thanks for the info, I own some early 80's Sansui Speakers and i love them! There towers, 3-way with a 12" woofer. Does Sansui still exist? They made great product
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Little J040
Great Review! Thanks for the info, I own some early 80's Sansui Speakers and i love them! There towers, 3-way with a 12" woofer. Does Sansui still exist? They made great product


http://www.sansui.us/
 
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First thing to say about this tuner that is it is big, weighing in at a massive 34lbs. An all black analogue tuner built in the early 1980’s, its looks are very totalitarian and would not look out of place in some army radar tracking station. Despite this I think it is a stunning piece, with a look that means business.


[size=small]Big black and beautiful, weighing in at a massive 34lbs. Right side FM, left AM[/size]

The Sansui TU-X1 now is out of production, so has to be obtained through the used market. Considered by most to be the best plug and play, non-mod-ed tuner in the world, they can now fetch very high prices. A mint condition serviced one, for example, will set you back around £1300/$2500, and they are getting harder to find, as once you have one, where do you go to get something better? Basically you don't. You hang on to them.

Under the bonnet you have 2 tuners, one FM, one AM. Both are tuned in by separate large black tuning knobs, which dominate the front panel. Tuning in is such a pleasure as the rotating action of the knobs is silky smooth - a pleasure that would be lost if you were able to use a remote. Both the AM and FM sections have separate tuning meters. There is also one of the biggest AM bar antenna I have ever seen mounted on the back. Both AM and FM have their own separate buttons for the various functions of operation, which I will go into later.

It is possible to have two outputs which are both switchable from the front of the tuner to either FM or AM. They both also have output level controls.

Powerwise, the tuner can operate at any voltage from 100/240V @ 50/60Hz by a jumper switch at the back of the tuner.

I am going to review the FM capability of this tuner as AM is not something I listen to at all.

[size=medium]There are three choice of antenna set up [/size]

1.T shaped 300-ohm internal antenna.
2.Twin lead 300-ohm external antenna
3. 75-ohm coaxial cable

The coaxial is the better choice, as twin lead is prone to external noise. Unless necessary, internal antenna should be avoided at all cost. With high end tuners you really need all the signal you can get.

It is also possible to change the de-emphasis internally to 50ms and 75ms, for USA/Canada or Europe respecitively.

On the front of the tuner for FM you have two tuning meters, one is for the FM signal strength which, by the press of a button on the front, can also give you Multi-path interference reading. The other is for fine tuning.

[size=medium]Buttons for FM tuning[/size]

1.Mono switch for times when you have a weaker signal.
2.Wide and narrow band selector, to improve weaker signal reception.
3.Muting to stop the irritating noise you get in between stations when tuning in.
4.Noise filter which automatically reduces noise with weak signal
5.Calibration tone used for setting up recording equipment.

[size=medium]In the beginning…….. [/size]

There was a golden age of radio equipment which occurred during the 50’s to early 80’s, due mainly to the lack of television consumption that we have now. I can remember when we only had 3 TV channels inthe UK that started around 3.30pm and finished just after 12am. Radio was still a good entertainment option. A bit before my time, most families use to sit together and listen to radio. This pushed the technology, as with television now (plasma screens etc) to produce some of the best tuners yet produced.

Although radio is still a big listing medium it tends to occur a lot more 'in-car', where you will find a lot of high-end equipment. The separates market seems not to be producing as many classics like the TU-X1 any more. In the 1980’s this was a £500 tuner, a lot of money at the time but you'd pay a lot more for a lesser tuner of today.


[size=small]
The tuner dominates a room with its size, the DAC-1 underneath seems very small in comparison[/size].


[size=medium]Sound quality [/size]

Equipment used
Sansui TU-X1 tuner
HMS Sestetto interconnects
Consonance M100s tube amp with TJ 300B Mesh plates
MIT AVT 1 Bi-wire speaker cable
Wilmslow Audio Mirage DIY speakers
Trichord Powerblock 500 power conditioner
Antiference five element directional aerial


Reviewing a tuner is different to other source equipment, as you have to take in to account the quality of the broadcast material and how well the tuner picks up a signal. I think a tuner needs to be lived with for a while, as it seems the more you listen to it the more of a realisation you have about its strengths and weakness. Before the Sansui I owned a Leak Troughline 2 Tuner with a Tim de Paravicini decoder and a Fanfare FT-1A FM. One very modern the other very old.

The first thing you notice when the Sansui is fired up is its complete lack of radio hiss or any other grunge. With its 3 black LC filter blocks and one Murata “SAW” filter (“Surface Acoustic Filter”) the filtering is absolutely amazing; the sound seems to come out of a black hole. Also the power supply is well shielded to stop any electrical interference affecting the internal components. With both the Leak and the Fanfare, grunge and interference was a big problem. The Fanfare seemed to push interference away into the back ground, but it was still there, though easier to live with. The Leak was noisy and irritating and was sold.

The TU-X1 is a very sensitive tuner with its 7-gang tuning capacitors, and will pull in stations very easily. Most stations on the aerial's path are interference free. The Fanfare was probably a touch better then the Sansui, but the Leak was hopeless with all but the strongest signal.

The TU-X1’s sound stage is massive with a very dynamic three dimentional sound. It has excellent separation, with very good front to back imaging. The sound is very forward of the speakers. The tone is very rich with a stunning top and bottom end extension. It has a very engaging sound that can really capture the emotion of music, making it very hard to pull yourself away from. Bass is very big, something the other two tuners lacked big-time. The treble seems very balanced and natural with no brightness what so ever.

The Fanfare sound against the TU-X1 is very flat and bright, but is still a very transparent tuner with very a liquid sound. The Leak has a rich tone (very lush), but lacks the top and bottom end extension of the Sansui.

On talk radio the Sansui will pick up any thing that is going on in the studio, intake of breath, different microphone settings, and presenters with colds! The detail has to be heard to be believed. A few weeks back I was listening to a three-presenter morning show. There was so much turning of papers, knocking of microphones, coughing, sniffing and breathing that it became hard listening. Just too busy. Sibilance with tuners is always going to be an issue, but with the TU-X1 it does not grate as it would with a lesser tuner giving a fatigue free sound.

Live music recording, be it studio or out of station are captivating, you seem to get sucked into the atmosphere. The sound puts you right on the stage where you can hear and feel the acoustics of the venue. Pianos on classical pieces have real weight to them, with violins being smooth and never piercing. Audience applause is also very realistic, whereas on a lesser tuner it can sound like gravel being dropped on a tin roof. The TU-X1 makes it sound like flesh on flesh. With a studio session, the whole experience seems very intimate. Again, very impressive detail very much influenced by the acoustics of the studio, and will show up any sound engineers' bad judgment with the dials and sliders.

With the amazing transparency of this tuner, pre-recorded music really comes down to the quality of the recording. If it’s old, scratchy and mono that’s what you get, if it’s a modern and well recorded track, again this will come through. Vocals seem to be very well centred and very forward of the speakers. I was listening to a jazz program last night and one of the tracks seemed to be throwing sounds that actually seemed to be coming from behind me. I would not describe music presentation as CD which has a bit of a harder edge, but more like a vinyl/tube mix. I feel the TU-X1 is a lot more musical in its presentation compared to the DAC-1 with its more analytical, detailed, forward and brighter sound.


Are there any weakness with this tuner? To my ears, no when compared to FM tuners, but then I have never listened to the Lirpa 4.7 Laboratory FM tuner. At around $20,000 US I will never know, but I do think I have found my tuner heaven. Thanks to the TU-X1 and the BBC I have the best home entertament I could wish for. Weather you are sitting for a serious listen or it is just on in the background this tuner gets right inside you. One thing I have found with this tuner compared to, say, CD source is that it is so much more family friendly. I very rarely see the wife put on a CD, but she will listen to radio programmes all day. Seems this tuner from the golden age has got the family sitting round the radio again.

[size=medium]Technical data[/size]

1Tuning range: 88 to 108MHz
2FM IHF sensitivity: 1,49 m V
350-dB quieting sensitivity 34.0 dBf (stereo)
4Distortion: 0,03% (stereo)
5Selectivity: 80 dB (narrow band); 55 dB (wide band)
6S/N 80 dB (stereo)
7Frequency response: 10 Hz - 17,2 kHz (-3 dB)
84 FM Antenna Connections; , 2 AM Antenna Connections; built in AM Antenna
9Vertical & Horizontal FM Multipath Jacks (for scope applications)
10AM (IF) Stereo Output
11FM Discriminator output
12Weight (unpacked): 36 lbs (16,2 kg)
13Dimensions: 19,7 cm (H) x 48 cm (W) x 45 cm (D)
Captain while searching the net for those whom still enjoy FM broadcast over the air I came upon your exceptional review , my Sansui TUX1 was purchased a decade ago which replaced a Accuphase T109 . I found quality FM broadcast superior sound quality over other sources that I have dumped money into .
Over the decades I have found no other source to be so musically satisfying and enjoyable then a first rate live performance of a over the air FM broadcast.
Thank you again for such a good review.
 
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Loose-Leaf

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Exceptional review Captain, Over the decades with all the money I have burnt through chasing sound quality in my home a great over the air FM broadcast of a live performance has not been equaled , I still use and love my Sansui TUX1 .

I thought my first reply didn’t post , an error message popped up,..oh well
 
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