Cafad

Accuphase vs Luxman vs Sansui

28 posts in this topic

Now I’m not really a bucket list person but if I was then this would have been right up high, top 10 for sure.  A sound off between 3 of the Great Japanese Amplifier Manufacturers, Accuphase, Luxman and Sansui (in alphabetical order, just to avoid any accusations of favouritism).

 

IMG_0400.JPG

Ready for battle.

 

And even before I get anywhere near the sonic performance I can’t help but notice all the differences between the three amps.   But before I get to those I’ll just elaborate on the specific models present.

 

The Accuphase E460 debuted in November 2010.  Rated at 180wpc into 8 and 260wpc into 4 Ohms, frequency response is 3 to 150,000Hz at +0, -3dB, 0.05%THD from 20 to 20,000Hz from 4 to 16 Ohms.  Uses 92 watts at idle and a max draw of 440 and weighs in at a moderate 24.4kg.  It is also a MOSFET design.

 

The Luxman L507u debuted at around the same time (can’t find any actual dates but it seems to have been on sale from about 2010 to about 2015).  Rated at 110wpc into 8 and 200wpc into 4 Ohms, it is rated 0.22%THD from 20 to 2000Hz (into 8 ohms both channels driven with line straight on) which doesn’t sound that great but it does make 0.015% into 8 Ohms  at 1kHz.  Frequency response is 20 to 100,000 Hz -3dB or less.   It uses 1.5 watts on standby, 82 watts at idle and 325 watts max.  It weighs in at only 22.5kg.

 

The Sansui Alpha 907NRA debuted in 1998 and as such is the old man of the three.  It is rated at 160wpc into 8 and 190wpc into 6 Ohms and frequency response  from DC to 300,000Hz at +0 and -3dB.  THD is listed as less than 0.003% at 8 Ohms.  I can’t find a power draw at idle but it is rated at 400 watts max.  It weighs in at a spine injuring 33kg. 

 

 

These three amps don’t lend themselves well to direct comparisons in many ways, still, what’s life without a few challenges, let’s see what comparison categories we can come up with shall we?

 

Ease of use:

Otherwise known as the laziness category the loser here is obvious as the poor Sansui doesn’t have a remote.   The winner is harder to pick, both Accuphase and Luxman have a remote with line switching and volume control but only the Accuphase has cd controls as well so I think the Accuphase wins this one.

 

Environmental friendliness:

The Luxman is the only amp that has a standby mode, so I can see people using it.  That’s bad because it will use power 24/7.  The Accuphase does not have a standby mode so I would think people would turn it off when not in use, that’s good, unless people leave it on in which case that’s bad.  The Sansui has no standby mode and no remote, on or off people you need to make up your mind with the Sansui.  Most people would see the Luxman winning this one.

 

Capacitor bank size:

Should be easy right?  Wrong!  The Accuphase has one large 33,000uF custom made cap per channel, the Luxman has two 10,000uF caps per channel which is more but they aren’t custom.  The Sansui is harder to figure out as it has six caps of three different capacitance ratings at 2 different voltage ratings.  If we just add up the figures we get 14,200uF per channel.  The winner on numbers is the Luxman but it is obvious that the three amps are all designed along different lines of thinking since the amp with largest capacitor bank is also the one with smallest wattage rating.

 

Coolest Running:

The Sansui wins this category as it barely discharges any heat at all, the Luxman comes in second and the Accuphase third.  None of these amps generate a lot of heat as such but the Sansui is the only one I would consider putting in an enclosed cabinet.

 

Most gratuitous use of knobs in the design:

Sorry Accuphase, you lose.  The Luxman and Sansui tie with 8 knobs each. 

(Yes I could called this one “Most controls accessible from the faceplate” but… well… I didn’t)

 

I was going to include a phono section but there wouldn’t be much point, every one has a choice of MM or MC and since I don’t have a turntable I don’t have the chance to try them out.  Although the Accuphase doesn’t come with a phono as standard so I guess that could count as a loss with a tie for the Luxman and the Sansui, yeah, what the heck.

 

Optional Accessories:

Definitely a win to the Accuphase here with its 2 optional module slots.  It can be fitted with optional DAC, phono and line in boards.  Why you would want an extra line in board is beyond me but I guess if you do then you just do.

 

Wall Voltage Options:

I had to put this one in as since the Sansui Alpha series were only ever available in Japan they are only available in 100 Volt and as such a step down transformer is required to use them in many countries.  This is not the case with the Luxman and the Accuphase amps.  So a loss to Sansui and a tied win to the Accuphase and the Luxman.

 

A and B speaker options:

Sorry Sansui, with your single set of binding posts you lose this one. 

 

Most Gorgeous Looking Ass:

That copper looks damn fine, Sansui by a mile.

 

And one final thing of note, I really like the binding posts on the Accuphase.  They just have the feeling of extra strength and extra grip, a really nice design to use.  They give you the impression that you could really put some strength into tightening those speaker cables.  So if I put in a “Speaker Binding Posts” category the Accuphase would be a sure winner.   I could also put in an “Ability to Power Other Components” category too, with the 100 watt max plugs on its back the Sansui would walk away with that one, admittedly it is much more use in Japan but since that’s where it was designed, built and sold then that is what counts.

 

I could continue on here for quite a while, could probably double the length of this post if I felt inclined, but I think  I’ve covered enough info to let everyone get the impression that these amps aren’t really that similar even though they offer many of the same options and have fairly similar output ratings.  So if you have to that conclusion then good, it will help minimise the confusion later when I start to say things about how they don’t sound that similar either.

 

I have to go now, things to do, but I’ll be back.

Edited by Cafad
Had to move pic.
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That's an amazing collection! I've only heard them at dealers but the Luxman tube sound (to my ears) is superb. The solid state is still A+, but the tube sound is one of the favourites I've ever heard. 

 

I know you're comparing specific amps, but I wonder how most people feel about the brands in terms of general quality/sound production?

 

My preference is for Luxman because it's a sound I like, but I think on a whole, the majority of people might choose Accuphase. 

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@Cafad

 

Which speakers will you be using for the testing?  

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7 hours ago, ClassicalGuy said:

My preference is for Luxman because it's a sound I like, but I think on a whole, the majority of people might choose Accuphase. 

That clean, smooth background does seem like something many people would like so I suspect you may be right.

 

7 hours ago, Peter_F said:

@Cafad

Which speakers will you be using for the testing?  

I was just planning on using my S2Rs as I'm most familiar with them.  I could certainly move to others once I'm done, which were you more interested in?

Edited by Cafad
typo

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I am equal parts nervousness and anticipation of the results! 

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Perhaps as an epilogue you could add how much these amps cost now - just to add some perspective to  the comparison.

 

Also, what source will you be using?

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On 2/6/2017 at 7:35 PM, gemini07 said:

Perhaps as an epilogue you could add how much these amps cost now - just to add some perspective to  the comparison.

 

Also, what source will you be using?

Current cost is quite different, and as they are second hand the costs could vary quite a bit, but as tested they are:

Luxman L507u  $3500 (pick up, so no postage involved)

Sansui Alpha 907NRA  just under $2600 aud (including postage, customs and paypal charges)  or 224,000-ish yen, sold for 300,000 yen when new.

Accuphase E460  $6050  (could have been $6K to $9K depending on condition and optional modules installed, I found a few between $6.5K and $7K that didn't seem to have any extra modules installed)

 

As for sources I was planning on using my YBA Heritage spinner but I could easily use my Burson Conductor or even my Halcro spinner.  I'll probably use the YBA for the bulk of the work and just swap to the Burson for the sake of interest, and maybe the Halcro a little later again, just for the heck of it.

Edited by Cafad
found more info.
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Hmmm,....  run out of popcprn waiting for the next instalment.:popcorn:

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1 hour ago, Steam said:

Hmmm,....  run out of popcprn waiting for the next instalment.:popcorn:

Yeah, sorry about that.  I've been occupied with that non-hobby related stuff that I need to do in order to be able to afford the hobby related stuff (also being lazy, but that goes without saying).  There will be more but it will take a little while for me to get to.  

 

Stock up on the popcorn, certainly, but don't go throwing it in the microwave just yet.

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I have a sui 607 nra2 but its nowhere 33kg. What on earth could they do to make it 10kg heavier than the competition .. seems over indulgent to me

Sent from my SM-T355Y using Tapatalk

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1 hour ago, Snapper() said:

I have a sui 607 nra2 but its nowhere 33kg. What on earth could they do to make it 10kg heavier than the competition .. seems over indulgent to me

Sent from my SM-T355Y using Tapatalk
 

Hmmm, sounds like a good question for an expert.  @skippy124  @pete_mac any thoughts?

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2 hours ago, Snapper() said:

I have a sui 607 nra2 but its nowhere 33kg. What on earth could they do to make it 10kg heavier than the competition .. seems over indulgent to me

Sent from my SM-T355Y using Tapatalk
 

 

The 607 is the lowest model in each line of the Alpha series, so there's obviously going to be further development and complexity with the higher-end models. The 707 is more powerful, and the weight really jumps up with the 907s.

 

The transformer in the 907 NRA is 13kg on its own. There's a lot of chassis damping going on too - Sansui was a big believer in this for their premium models. The transformer has a floating mount to eliminate the transmission of any micro-vibration from the transformer to the chassis.

 

There are five filter capacitors instead of two on the 607.

 

Don't forget that she makes 190WPC into 6 ohms, which is a fair whack more than the 100WPC of the 607NRA II into the same load. You need more iron to do this, and the renowned Tamura transformers found in the upper-spec models are their heart and soul.

 

The top cover consists of three cast pieces of metal, with copper powder interspersed within the metal itself. The 607 is pressed metal.

 

The side cheeks have copper inlays (which you can't see from the outside of the amp) to deal with vibration, and the side panels have a floating mounting. 

 

The feet are solid metal and about 1.8kg in total from memory.

 

In short, there are a lot of extra touches on the 907 NRA (like all of Sansui's premium models) which add to the overall weight.

 

Over-indulgent? No... not at all. Just like car manufacturers, Sansui built pov-pack models (of which Dad and I own three, so I'm not being critical there!) and luxury versions with more bells and whistles, more power, and better sound quality (performance). There's nothing indulgent about it, just superb engineering and attention to detail (of course, in my non-biased Sansui-loving opinion!) :)

Edited by pete_mac
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Fair enough and good answer but i still think its collusion with japan post

Sent from my SM-G900I using Tapatalk

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3 hours ago, Snapper() said:

Fair enough and good answer but i still think its collusion with japan post emoji1.png

Sent from my SM-G900I using Tapatalk
 

 

Haha!! I don't disagree on that front! :)

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Very cool. I have to say though, if it's got a remote its not vintage enough for me... 

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Beautiful amps you have there! The stuff of dreams I reckon.

What is with the power ratings on the Accuphase and Luxman being higher than max power draw though? Or are those power ratings of the 'for a split second while we drain the caps' kind? I'd be kind of surprised if it is.

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20 hours ago, Atjan said:

Beautiful amps you have there! The stuff of dreams I reckon.

What is with the power ratings on the Accuphase and Luxman being higher than max power draw though? Or are those power ratings of the 'for a split second while we drain the caps' kind? I'd be kind of surprised if it is.

You see that fairly often with the stats on amps.  The 8 Ohm numbers almost always make sense but the 4 Ohms ones often don't add up.  I guess that is where they have to use the caps, and is probably the reason that many amps have a hard time driving speakers with truly difficult loads.

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It is always a bit disappointing when a manufacturer lists a peak power rating that can only be sustained for a fraction of a second.

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I don't know about their class a/b amps, but Accuphase quote their class a amps at half of where the clipping point is, both channels being driven.

No 'fraction of a second' there. 

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4 hours ago, rusty48 said:

I don't know about their class a/b amps, but Accuphase quote their class a amps at half of where the clipping point is, both channels being driven.

No 'fraction of a second' there. 

Really?  I was not aware of that.  Very cool.  

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I don't know about their class a/b amps, but Accuphase quote their class a amps at half of where the clipping point is, both channels being driven.
No 'fraction of a second' there. 

Yep, thats the sort of rating I like. Thing is if 2x max power output at 4 Ohm is higher than max power draw, then something is amiss.

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It is always a bit disappointing when a manufacturer lists a peak power rating that can only be sustained for a fraction of a second.

Yes, when this happens it is disappointing, however, I believe all of these amps are rms 8ohm across 20-20k under 1% distortion... Real rms.

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Posted (edited)

On 2/26/2017 at 7:06 PM, Atjan said:


Yep, thats the sort of rating I like. Thing is if 2x max power output at 4 Ohm is higher than max power draw, then something is amiss.

Only if they try to claim that power rating as continual power output, if it is peak/dynamic power output then it is fine.

 

On 2/26/2017 at 8:20 PM, Simon Pressman said:


Yes, when this happens it is disappointing, however, I believe all of these amps are rms 8ohm across 20-20k under 1% distortion... Real rms.

Yes indeed, all high end manufacturers here.  Class all the way.

 

I'm far from done with my listening tests but I think it's time to share some results. (is the popcorn handy @Steam)

 

I've been missing the 100V step down transformer for the Sansui until today so I've only been able to play with the Accuphase and the Luxman, and now the Accuphase is off getting its front panel fixed so I only have the Sansui and the Luxman for the next couple of weeks.  It isn't an ideal situation but it is what it is and we do what we must.

 

I'm a fan of the Accuphase for slower, smoother music as it lacks a bit of punch for serious rock.  It is good, however on everything slower than medium rock.  My notes on the Accuphase are (quoting from my scribbled biro scratchings here)

"smooth, deep, slightly removed, less impact to drums, vocals smoother and more breathy on slower music, top end very easy to listen to but not quite as involving as the Luxman"

 

On hard rock to metal music the Luxman is king, my notes say  "drums vibrant and alive, bass boot feels quite refreshing after listening to the Accuphase, top end slightly harder than the E460, piano slightly sharper, hard rock actually sounds like hard rock on the Luxman"

 

One big difference I have come to realize is in the drums, the initial impact is smoothed over on the E460 and that gives you a drum beat that is easy to listen to but doesn't sound as engaging or as vigorous as it could.  The Luxman really gives you the initial impact and on faster drums this makes all the difference.  A fast drum solo on the E460 just doesn't excite as much as it does on the L507u.  However slower drum rolls just don't echo out to the distance on the 507u anywhere near as well as they do on the E460.

 

The use of the DAC-40 board in the Accuphase does improve the overall performance but while the difference in drums is smaller it is still very much in evidence.

 

The first track that managed to let me really sink my teeth into the drum differences was "Let's Go" by The Cars.

 

Now, on to the Sansui.

Edited by Cafad
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Posted (edited)

And on with the comparo.  With the Luxman and the Sansui on hand this is what I've managed to get so far this week.

IMG_0438.thumb.JPG.89a671d2fbc987f77a5d91b0df5f441a.JPG

 

The Luxman gives more click, snick and snap than the Sansui does.  Taps come through more clearly but also a little sharper and slightly harder.  Neither the Sansui or the Accuphase manage to make a maraca sound quite right when you compare them to the Luxman.  With average singing voices the Luxman keeps up with the Sansui all the way (exception to be detailed shortly).  Electric guitar has a little more bite and strings in general are very similar to the Sansui but sound like they are being played in a smaller room with harder surfaces.

 

The Sansui has a very clean background (which is like smooth but without the warmth as a dominant factor), it has a slight emphasis on vocals and a slight de-emphasis on sharper sounds (so taps come through softer than they do on the Luxman).  With average singing voices there is very little difference to be heard between it and the Luxman, but, when a real songstress digs deep and threatens the integrity of the windows in their frames then the Sansui shows the Luxman the door.  The Luxman was the first amp I heard Montaigne on and it did a good job with her voice but the Sansui is the one that really lets her voice rise up and touch the sky.  Absolutely fantastic!  Electric guitar is less on the bitey side but it plays bigger and wider in more relaxed surroundings.  Non-amplified strings come across as more delicate and articulate than they do on the Luxman.

In many ways the Sansui can sound like a slightly more refined version of the Luxman but every now and then it manages to dig deep and deliver something truly special.  

 

On the subject of drums once again the amps are noticeable by their treatment of drums.  The Luxman gives more initial skin "slap" and thus gives the feel of a faster performance to drum solos while the Sansui doesn't give as strong an initial skin contact and instead delivers a drum sound that makes me think of a drum with a wooden frame rather than a metal one.  The Sansui manages to make drums sound a little more "earthy" than the Luxman.  

 

I'd happily use the Luxman for my normal rock listening but I would switch to the Sansui for all the power ballads.

Edited by Cafad
gramar
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Time for one more update I think.

I've put my new ML2 Ltds into service in an effort to find out what it is about the Modwright integrated I have on hand that doesn't let it do much for me on my S2R speakers.  Where the Modwright is great on drums (maybe 60% Luxman impact, 30% Accuphase smooth, chewy middle and 10% its very own thing) it is not really in the same league as the others here when it comes to vocals and it has this upper mid shine (not really hard, not really bright, not really forward but just as undesirable as all three) that really brings on the listening fatigue on the S2Rs.  

Move on to the ML2s and it is a completely different story, that shine has been reduced to about 10% of what it was on the S2Rs and those drums are just to die for.  It is good on vocals and very detailed in the top end but still not quite doing it for me.  BRMSlash however likes it very much (possibly due to its energetic, hooliganistic electric guitar, which is pretty damn good) as he seems to like a slightly more solid sound than I do.  So, Modwright good but not on my chosen reviewing speakers, but that is just the reason behind my starting this update.  

 

Once I had the ML2s set up I just had to try the Accuphase on them.  Now this was a surprise, I hooked up the Accuphase with the same source and cabling as I was using on the S2Rs (minus the speaker cables as the ML2 Ltds have their own) and I got a sound that was deep and smooth but syrupy and muddled and unfocused.  There was a lot of bass but it wasn't really the good kind.  So the combo that worked so well on the S2Rs just doesn't work at all on the ML2 Ltds.  Switching to the new, internal DAC 40 brought a drastic change, the bass sped up and tightened and after that happened everything else just fell into place.  The soundstage was pressing against the walls, which means I will have to move the ML2s around a bit and test out other placements as putting them in the same place as the S2Rs just doesn't work.  

 

This could throw a spanner into the works as I was planning to sell the E460 (as I only intended to keep one of the three amps and that one seemed like it would be the Sansui) but now, at the very least, I am going to have to do a second comparison with the 907 NRA on the ML2s.  Good thing it's a long weekend I guess.

IMG_0493.JPG

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