History of SansuiSansui Electric Co., Ltd. (Sansui Denki Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese manufacturer of audio and video equipment. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, it is part of Grande Holdings, a Chinese Hong Kong-based conglomerate, which also owns Japanese brands Akai and Nakamichi.
Founded in Tokyo in 1947, Sansui initially manufactured transformers, but by the 1960s had developed a reputation for making serious audio components. They were sold in foreign markets through that and the next decade. Sansui's amplifiers and tuners from the 1960s and 1970s remain in demand by audio enthusiasts.
In 1971, Sansui introduced the Quadphonic Synthesizer QS-1, which could make simulated four channel stereo from two channel sources. Sansui developed the QS Regular Matrix system, which made it possible to transmit four channel Quadraphonic sound from a standard LP. The channel separation was only 3 dB, but because of the human way of hearing it sounded relatively good. In 1973, Sansui introduced the more advanced QS Vario Matrix decoder with 20 dB separation. Unfortunately the SQ system developed by Columbia/CBS was the most popular matrix system. But later QS decoders could also play SQ records. Some Sansui receivers could also play the most advanced four channel system - CD-4 (or Quadradisc) by Japanese JVC and American RCA. Most big record companies used either SQ or CD-4, but Decca used the Sansui QS system.
During the late 1970s, the iconic matte-black-faced AU-series amplifiers were released. The first-generation '07' models included the dual-mono power supply AU-517 and AU-717, and the second generation featured the updated AU-719, 819 and 919. The separate pre-amp/power-amp CA-F1/BA-F1 topped the model range along with the AU-X1 integrated amplifier.
In the UK around 1982, the Sansui AU-D101 amplifier and its more powerful sibling the AU-D33, were highly acclaimed by audiophiles and were so well matched to a pair of KEF Coda III speakers that they could be bought as a set from some outlets. These amplifiers used a complex feed-forward servo system which resulted in very low 2nd order harmonic distortion. Despite this success, Sansui completely failed to follow up with further mass market audiophile components.
As the mid-1980s arrived, sales were lost to competitors (Sony, Pioneer, Matsushita's Technics). Sansui began to lose visibility in the United States around 1988, and then focused on manufacturing high-end components in Japan. The company began to manufacture high-end television sets and other video equipment, but ceased exportation. In the late 1990s, the company's brand was used on video equipment manufactured by other companies. The current manufacturer of the rebranded sets is Orion Electric, based in Osaka and Fukui, Japan. Its U.S. subsidiary markets products under the Sansui brand, among others. Sansui is thus a mere umbrella brand at present. This radical change in Sansui's corporate identity has resulted in a notable change in its product quality as consumers now tend to consider Sansui a mass-market brand rather than a maker of high-end electronics.
Sansui had developed the patented a-x balanced circuit, that used in its high power amplifier along with the so-called double diamond differential, another patent for balanced driver stage.
Its latest amplifiers included the a-u alpha series like the 707 907, b-2105 mos vintage, au-x1111, b 2302, c 2302 and others. Sansui ended its Japanese production of high end amplifiers some time between 2002 and 2005.
Many Sansui devices, particularly vintage items, have a large following in the audio community to date, with online forums dedicated to the Sansui brand.