HiFi Bargains: Sansui AU-555A (1971 – 1973)

Vintage HiFi can be a veritable goldmine of HiFi Bargains. It can also be a minefield of mediocrity.

I don’t pretend to be a vintage audio anything. Sure, I’ve owned some vintage gear including a lovely pair of Altec Valencias, a Sony Playstation (wink), and a number of tube amplifiers but that’s just that. What I do know is that I bought a Sansui AU-555AU integrated amplifier a long time ago on eBay for $70, making it one screamin’ HiFi Bargain.

The screamin’ Sansui is a full-function integrated amplifier offering 2x MM phono inputs, 2 line-level RCA inputs, Tape inputs (DIN and RCA), and 2 pair of spring type speaker terminals for running 2 pair of speakers (A and B). You can also use the AU-555A as just a preamplifier or just a power amplifier by removing those bridge clips. This Sansui packs 25wpc into 8 ohms of sweet-sounding solid state power. Real sweet. On the brushed black front panel you’ve got a silver Power button, 1/4″ phono jack, Speaker selection switches (A and B), Low Filter button (to reduce turntable rumble and other low-frequency noises), High Filter button (to reduce record scratch, tape hiss, and other high-frequency noises), Loudness, Balance control knob, Stereo/Mono operation, Volume, Input Selection, and Tape Monitor (allows you listen to the mix tapes you’re making for friends through the loudspeakers).

The Sansui AU-555A is wrapped in Walnut around the sides and top with silver side panels making it one handsome devil. Seeing as these were produced between 1971 and 1973, buying one from eBay can be a gamble as internal parts like the electrolytic capacitors dry out over time and those switches and knobs may need a good cleaning so they don’t pop and add static to the mix. If you don’t know a good tech, and you don’t tech yourself, I’d only recommend buying one from a reputable seller who details what’s been done inside. I only buy from eBay sellers with damn-near perfect Feedback.

I’ve used my Sansui for years, leaving it running for months at a time, and it always sounds sweet, full, and punchy.

Specifications

Power output: 25 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
Frequency response: 20Hz to 30kHz
Total harmonic distortion: 0.5%
Damping factor: 50
Input sensitivity: 2mV (MM), 180mV (DIN), 180mV (line)
Signal to noise ratio: 70dB (MM), 80dB (line)
Channel separation: 45dB (MM), 50dB (line)
Output: 180mV (line), 30mV (DIN)
Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω
Semiconductors: 23 x transistors, 2 x diodes
Dimensions: 395 x 127 x 278mm
Weight: 8kg