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Sansui Alpha Series Amplifier Reviews


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I probably should be holding off on creating this thread but I've been so slack lately that I haven't had anything to post about and the lack of anything to write has me breaking out in hives so I thought, what the heck.  Maybe there is no time like the present.  Deep breaths,  deep breaths and here we go.

 

OK so... this was bound to happen eventually.   I’ve found I like a certain manufacturer so much I just couldn’t help myself and went and bought up several of their amps to see which one sounds the best to me.  I would like to start at the beginning of this story but that would just be confusing since I didn’t buy them in order and they certainly didn’t arrive in order and I started buying them long before I made the decision to buy the rest of them and turn the whole ordeal into a massive comparison.  So I’m going to start where I feel the beginning should have been and then I’ll try to move on towards where I think the middle should be, and then on to the logical conclusion.  Things will be much less disjointed that way.

 

A little history behind the decision, I bought the Sansui Alpha 907NRA back in December 2016 and liked it so much I hatched a plan.  I would buy another Sansui Alpha, have a bit of a listen to that and then use this second amp as a trade/gift/incentive to get either Pete_mac or Skippy124 to give the NRA a full service.  It seemed like a good idea at the time so I went for it.  Unfortunately the second amp (an Alpha 907DR) had performance issues on arrival and has spent most of its time in Oz sitting with my nominated tech/repairer, so that plan didn’t really turn out as conceived. 

 

While I was waiting for the DR to arrive I found this thread on AudioKarma:

http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/what-would-be-the-best-sansui-amplifier-for-sound-quality.450432/

 

And that started me down the track I would take that ends in this thread being created.  I just wanted to know, and I wanted to know badly enough to decide to do something about it.  I really shouldn’t have, it hasn’t been kind to my financial situation, but I decided to and I did and there’s no point in worrying about things that are now in the past (unless you regret the decision, and I most certainly do not, so it’s all good).  The thread above is a long one but the thing which stood out to me was that the NRA was not a clear front runner.  Of the Alpha series the general consensus, and it was fairly general, was that the MR was probably the best.  Many people didn’t like the Alpha series at all and claimed that the 70’s gear was their favourite (likers of warmer sound I guess).  Anyway, to my mind this thread didn’t  answer the question it just served to make me even more curious to find out for myself.

 

I decided to limit this thread to the Alpha series of Sansui Amps, because even my large amplifier appetite was not up to the task of taking on the entirety of Sansui’s back catalogue.  I did toy with the idea of including the model prior to the Alphas, the 907X and/or the X Decade but these were a different design to the models that directly preceded them and those models (the G and G Extra) were different again to their predecessors.  The 80’s was a decade of great change in the Sansui line up so it didn’t really matter where I started the question of “How does it sound compared to the model before it?” was always going to come up.  So I decided to stick to the Alpha series, because lines have to be drawn somewhere.

 

I have been taught a few things by conducting this importing exercise.  The first is that freight from Japan is expensive.   The second is that freight varies wildly depending on the company doing the sending even if the freight company is the same.  Hifido for instance obviously has a sweet deal with Fedex as freight from them came to about 45% of freight from other senders in Japan.  The third is that packing is extremely important and most people don’t do it well.  Again kudos to Hifido as their packing is second to none.  Other senders in Japan have varying levels of packing volume and quality, however if you ask for more serious packing they are usually quite helpful and the extra fees are quite small in the overall scheme of things.  

The fourth thing is that freight from Japan is expensive, this emphasis is important, in several cases the freight came to more than the auction price of the amp, should you even intend to import from Japan ensure you do not forget the fourth thing!

 

My initial findings, long before I get into the nitty gritty of details are as follows.  In most cases these are gleaned from just a few hours of listening so they should be treated as very preliminary.  I plan to follow all of the reviews later in this thread with an update of this list of differences so that those who are curious will have a “Sansui Character Reference Chart” they can use.

 

Sansui AU-α 907               The last to arrive and not yet listened to, sorry, you’ll just have to tune in later.

 

Sansui AU-α 907i and AU-α 907L Extra   I’ve only given these a brief listen to confirm they were operational, however from what I’ve heard they have a thicker sound texture to the later models with plenty of bass weight (probably a bit too much for my liking).  They have a strange way of taking digital music and making it sound more like vinyl-ish. 

 

Sansui AU-α 907DR         This amp needed attention but I can confirm that this is where Sansui really started getting serious with the top end capabilities of their amps.  A decidedly better top end than the previous two models but still with a powerful bottom end and the beginnings of the spectacular mid-range that would come later.

 

Sansui AU-α 907 KX         A large improvement in both the top end and the mid range over the DR however it does this by sounding less smooth and more resolving so digital advocates are likely to like it over the DR but vinyl advocates may well prefer the DR.  Less bass on display but far more articulate with it.

 

Sansui AU-α 907 XR         More bass punch than the KX and a bigger presence but very similar in other aspects.

 

Sansui AU-α 907 MR       Very much an XR with much more subtlety on display, more resolution, cleaner background and slightly clearer vocals.  Unless you get them side by side it is pretty much impossible to tell the XR and MR apart, they are very, very similar.

 

Sansui AU-α 907 NRA     More polish present than the other Alphas, so clean in the mid-range it sparkles, so clean in the top end it shines.  Has a mild bass boost effect that is not present on the other Alphas.

 

There is also a ring in Sansui that I have yet to get to serious grips with, it also needs a little care and “technical attention” so I can’t really say much about it yet but I’m sure I will be able to later.   

 

In an effort to make this comparison more interesting I’m going to be using a Sansui cd player as the source.  I have managed to obtain a Sansui AU-α917XR cd player in addition to all the amps.  I haven’t listened to this cd player yet as it arrived needing new belts.   I’m picking it up tomorrow and needless to say I have high hopes.

 

Pictures will follow, and yes, there will be many.

Edited by Cafad
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I probably should be holding off on creating this thread but I've been so slack lately that I haven't had anything to post about and the lack of anything to write has me breaking out in hives so I tho

I'm not sure if I should be posting this here or start a new thread for the Wilson Benesh Discovery stand mounts but since I've already got the Sansui thread I figure I might as well continue. I

I was listening to the Sansui 907 NRA on my ML2 Limiteds a while ago (quite a while ago I think, some time last year actually) and I was really enjoying the combo (check out my "Addicts Guide" thread

30 minutes ago, niss_man said:

I have a feeling you will get more amps very soon. I am psychic.

You are, of course, correct.  Although I don't think you need to be psychic to make a prediction like that.

Edited by Cafad
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First up the very first Alpha.  The 907 that is devoid of suffix or prefix.

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Damn that glossy black front.  An awesome colour for an amp it is true, but so very hard to photograph.

 

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Much simpler.

 

Almost forgot, with amps as old as Sansuis are there is often a little more to the story of each amp.  The 907 came with a receipt that would seem to indicate it was recapped in 2013.  If any Japanese literate SNA'ers could tell me if the brand names of the caps are mentioned I'd be grateful. 

IMG_0573.thumb.JPG.1540c00a20a28310c1a0bd5af93a9dfc.JPG

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Then the 907i.

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This fine amp was actually already in the country, it has spent the last few years living in Adelaide.

 

IMG_0569.thumb.JPG.7eec28f02c23163bd37afa852b24ff17.JPG

 

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The 907L EXTRA.  There was no 907L model so I decided to skip that model series as I wouldn't be comparing like with like.

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A little less reflection there, I'm learning as I go.

 

IMG_0572.thumb.JPG.a404bd533bc44b1595101bb1adc8247a.JPG

 

That will have to do for now.  More pics to follow later.

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Really enjoyed reading and eagerly looking forward to more reviews. Especially some comparison between regular Alpha's and MOS models e.g. 607 MOS Premium.

 

The timing is just perfect too. I have been smitten by the Sansui alpha range lately and have just got myself a 607MR which I am enjoying a lot. So really a big thanks for putting the effort and sharing your experience with us :thumb:

 

Cheers mate.

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@ cafad...You are in need of the @Luc Sansui's Anonymous Society...

For a small fee he will arrive...relieve you of your Sansui's then bury them for safe keeping...

He has a swimming pool...it once had water in it...

He very cleverly drained all the water...carefully wrapped all his Sansui's...

Wrapped that in Geotech & Viscreen...and covered them with dirt...

His cunning plan unfortunately has come unstuck when...

 

DON"T touch that mouse...stay tuned for the next exciting episode of...

Confessions of a Hot Sansui...

Edited by Rob181
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His lovely wife (AKA "The Handbrake") donned a bikini in on a hot summers day...

Declaring it is time to cool down...only to find no water in said pool...rather a dirt landscape... 

She sweetly asked "My darling husband...where has the pool water gone"....

Quick as a wink @Luc declared "Its part of the landscaping you asked me to do...oh love of my life"...

"Hmmm..." said his lovely wife (AKA "The Handbrake")..."please give me my pool back"...

Oh dear...red wine spurted from @Luc lips as he realised the gig was up...

 

DON"T touch that mouse...stay tuned for the next exciting episode of...

Confessions of a Hot Sansui...

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9 hours ago, gemini07 said:

Mate, you've got it real bad.

 

Is there any truth in the rumour that you're starting up Audiophile Ampifiers Anonymous??

 

:sorry:

I tried an anonymous group a while back, it didn't stick.  Also the presenter only spoke in mono which completely ruined his sound stage, no imaging whatsoever. 

 

 

I like the abbreviation of the Sansui Anonymous Society, SAS, very cool.  

I'll have to tune in again this afternoon with some corn chips.  Can't wait to see how Luc gets out of this one.

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@rantan requested a pic of the Sansui Alpha 917XR cd spinner and who am I to say no.

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OK, the first pic is terrible but it's an action shot from the listening position.  I've got the 917 teamed up with Simon's Zeus Integrated and the strength of the presentation is phenomenal. 

 

IMG_0584.thumb.JPG.47f3032bbffa552ceb4164a2ce7d5c08.JPG

And one from a bit closer (after I realized I had to actually get up to take a decent pic).

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  • 1 month later...

My last Sansui has arrived this afternoon, an Alpha 607MR.  I picked it up while low on glucose and caffeine and on night shift but no regrets, we can't go having regrets about these things that just happen by themselves.  Acceptance is key to satisfaction with this hobby of ours.

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Not quite as clean an example of the brand as most of my 907s but it does have its charm.

 

It arrived as dusty as all get out so I took the top off and got out my can of compressed air.  And when I look inside I see.

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It was slightly dustier when I first saw it, but even then it brought a smile to my face.  

 

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Note the plastic, anti-vibration treatment along the tops of the front and back and the use of copper plated screws on the inner chassis, I thought that only the 907s got this extra treatment but it seems I was wrong.  Even the little 607s get a decent dose of noise deadening.  See the plastic strips that run across each of the heat sinks?  Still there after 20 years!

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And look, a strip of plastic across the underside of the case too.  

 

I think I'm going to have to plug it in now, because if I don't I just won't be able to sleep tonight.

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And I thought this thread was over... but there's still more Alpha's to visit! :lol:

 

Didn't know the MR series came in black finish too, looks nice! I had only seen the common champagne silver, which is what my 607MR is :)

 

Can't wait to hear your impressions of this amp. Also, very curious to hear how it compares to its bigger siblings, 707MR and the ultimate 907MR...

 

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7 hours ago, Rob181 said:

And....come on...haven't got all night you know...

Worry not, it sounds just as superb as I expected it to.  Maybe even better (it is a black Sansui after all).

 

7 hours ago, MrMojo said:

And I thought this thread was over... but there's still more Alpha's to visit! :lol:

 

Didn't know the MR series came in black finish too, looks nice! I had only seen the common champagne silver, which is what my 607MR is :)

 

Can't wait to hear your impressions of this amp. Also, very curious to hear how it compares to its bigger siblings, 707MR and the ultimate 907MR...

 

No more Alphas to visit now, I think I've got hold of all the Alphas I need.

All the Alpha series 607 models were available in black, but not all of the 707s and none of the 907s after the DR, so black Sansuis were always there but only in 607 form.  If you are chasing one though it can take some effort to find one, they don't seem to be that common.

Yep, the idea of getting a 607 was to do a direct comparison with the 907.  All part of the longer term plan.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm afraid not, between borrowing a Leema Pulse 3 and a Rega Elex-R and having a rather ruthless seller drop off a very expensive amp at my place in an effort to make me buy it I have been a bit on the busy side.

I'll get there, but it isn't likely to be as soon as I would like.

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44 minutes ago, Cafad said:

I'm afraid not, between borrowing a Leema Pulse 3 and a Rega Elex-R and having a rather ruthless seller drop off a very expensive amp at my place in an effort to make me buy it I have been a bit on the busy side.

I'll get there, but it isn't likely to be as soon as I would like.

Lucky you! :) 

 

That Leema amp must be nice, they make some awesome sounding gear.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Since I have unable to hold my impulse buying tendencies in check there is no audio show for me.  So, I guess I should get on with some other stuff then.

IMG_0643.thumb.JPG.836059e707f08566f51ba69b1b60e45d.JPG

 

So it's time for a 607 vs 907 discussion.

I have been listening to some rather upmarket and expensive gear recently and I have to say the 607MR still manages to be one of the most enjoyable amps I've heard for a while.  It has a good measure of everything, clean top end, clear and clean vocals and mid range with a nice PRAT that lets you "rock out" to pretty much any genre of music you care to listen to.  Bass is smooth, clean and speedy and sounds very 'acoustically satisfying'.  The mid range is so good that I managed to pick up some vocal overlay on one of my favourite albums that I had never noticed before, and this on an album I have listened to a minimum of once per fortnight since I bought it over 3 years ago.

So, considering this little gem only cost me $219 Aussie at auction (total cost of $630 all fees included) the value for money rating is through the roof.  The fact that this amp is old enough to vote (at 22) really just emphasizes what a great product Sansui made back then.

 

Switching over to the 907MR there are three things that are immediately clear.  The first is that there is a little more headroom in the top end, the second is that there is more "musical torque" on tap (particularly in the bass) and the third is that the two amps really do sound similar.  

Everything else is small potatoes but they do rate mention.  The extra headroom up top allows piano and trumpets to shine a little more and it also feels like female vocals are able to go a little higher too.  Drums are just a touch faster, slightly fuller and noticeably more weighty.  If you want to push the volume up and throw in more than 3 or 4 instruments then the 907 comes in to its own but even then the 607 still does a respectable job.

So yes, all things considered the 907 is a better component, however since it cost $1275 at auction (a cool total of $3150 which is a bit ouch-worthy for, again, a 22 year old amp) it does not win on the value for money front because it is not 5 times better.  

 

I believe there is an old saying that goes something like "80% of the performance for 40% of the price", well here we have 80% of the performance for 20% of the price.  

 

If I had really thought about this Sansui thing ahead of time I would have bought a 607 unit of each Alpha model series, in retrospect that would have been a pretty good idea.  But what's done is done.

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Yeah, I would like to hear the 607NRA and the NRAII but I have to stop somewhere. 

I'd like to hear that 911DG of yours too.

 

 

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I'm a big fan of my 911 .. had remote and dac, and 240v. I've also found a couple of lesser known sansui models made in Malaysia post 2000 such as x301 or x501 also excellent and cheap as chips

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Thanks for the comparison and sharing your impressions. Internet is full of opinions, but an opinion on Sansui Alphas from someone with actual first hand experience is rare and valuable indeed :)

 

I think you have summarized the performance of 607MR pretty well here.

3 hours ago, Cafad said:

I have to say the 607MR still manages to be one of the most enjoyable amps I've heard for a while.  It has a good measure of everything, clean top end, clear and clean vocals and mid range with a nice PRAT that lets you "rock out" to pretty much any genre of music you care to listen to. 

My impressions are exactly same, this little gem of an amp can play any kind of music and with what refinement!

 

I guess I will hold off  (or I should say i will 'try' to... :)) on my itch to get the 907MR for now, don't think its such a great idea for spending that much on that little 5-10% of performance improvement.

 

Do you normally listen through regular CD input, or the Line/CD Direct input? I have personally found the 'Direct' inputs to be more neutral where as the regular line level inputs do have a sound signature, but the sound also seems to have more body to it perhaps due to the pre-amp in chain.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Snapper() said:

If you were in melb could lend the very last 607 .. the nra2. Guess I'll have to do my own emoji41.png

If you are curious, you are more than welcome to bring your 607NRA II to compare with my 607MR :)

 

Or perhaps I can bring mine over, whichever way works. I would love to hear them side by side.

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10 minutes ago, MrMojo said:

 

Do you normally listen through regular CD input, or the Line/CD Direct input? I have personally found the 'Direct' inputs to be more neutral where as the regular line level inputs do have a sound signature, but the sound also seems to have more body to it perhaps due to the pre-amp in chain.

 

I use the regular cd input for music, and usually use the tuner input for my TV watching.

The Sansuis are the first amps I have found in which I actually prefer not to use the line direct function.  I actually enjoy that little bit of extra body.  I still leave the tone controls out of the circuit though, even though I have tried them out and found them to be very smooth in function.

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If you are curious, you are more than welcome to bring your 607NRA II to compare with my 607MR [emoji4]
 
Or perhaps I can bring mine over, whichever way works. I would love to hear them side by side.


Taken offline ... but yes will drop off the 607 for review
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Big fan of the Sansui products being a 1980s hifi tragic and, used the Sansui CDX-711 CD player and AUX-911 integrated amplifier into a pair of 42kg sealed Yamaha NS-1200 speakers for several years. Superlative sound on many  levels majoring on punchy dynamics especially when played at realistic 1.00 o'clock (+) volume levels! If less hi-end when compared to the valves and electrostatics or horns that I favour these days.

 

Short story on the Sansuis can be seen here on my blog at: 

 

http://stevem1960.blogspot.com.au/

 

Cheers,

 

Steve.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Would like to thank Cafad for his time last weekend and his desire to let me hear his Sansui babies.. Although the speaker choice has diminished ...We was able to connect the goliath 907 to a pair of miniature B&W Pm1s..
Im not sure if this a match made in heaven as my little Pms looked a liitle daunted by what was about to be shoved in their little behinds!
Jeff and i sat a little perplexed by what will transpire... Well.. The little pms said.. give me what you got to a point.
Ive never heard the pm1s prior as ive only owned 800 series . All i can say if your listening room is limited in size these represent great value.
Im sure Jeff will agree that the pm1s considering their size managed themselves very well. The bass portrayed was not expected from such a small speaker. We both came to the conclusion that the pm1s up to a certain level did everything right.
I have been told by "She who must be obeyed" that i am never to sell the pm1s.They just have so much WAF.

Jeffs passion for Sansui is engaging to say the least. . The 907 alpha series is a gorgeous animal . The sleek champagne brushed finish with the timber cheeks oozes class. It seems to have reservations of power ready to explode...
Ready for my next Sansui experience... wonder what Cafad will entice with next

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10 minutes ago, slawrence436 said:

Would like to thank Cafad for his time last weekend and his desire to let me hear his Sansui babies.. Although the speaker choice has diminished ...We was able to connect the goliath 907 to a pair of miniature B&W Pm1s..
Im not sure if this a match made in heaven as my little Pms looked a liitle daunted by what was about to be shoved in their little behinds!
Jeff and i sat a little perplexed by what will transpire... Well.. The little pms said.. give me what you got to a point.
Ive never heard the pm1s prior as ive only owned 800 series . All i can say if your listening room is limited in size these represent great value.
Im sure Jeff will agree that the pm1s considering their size managed themselves very well. The bass portrayed was not expected from such a small speaker. We both came to the conclusion that the pm1s up to a certain level did everything right.
I have been told by "She who must be obeyed" that i am never to sell the pm1s.They just have so much WAF.

Jeffs passion for Sansui is engaging to say the least. . The 907 alpha series is a gorgeous animal . The sleek champagne brushed finish with the timber cheeks oozes class. It seems to have reservations of power ready to explode...
Ready for my next Sansui experience... wonder what Cafad will entice with next

I am not even slightly surprised they worked superbly. I have a pair also and I also will never, ever sell my pair,so I reckon your wife has great taste and judgement.

I also once had an Alpha 907 and this worked gloriously in my room,with the PM1s which are quite possibly the most under rated speaker around. Simply put ,the better the amplifier, the better the sound and frankly I really don't understand why they were discontinued,but am am certainly chuffed I managed to get a pair,with the dedicated stands,which makes an enormous difference.

Hopefully you have these also

 

Cheers

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I am not even slightly surprised they worked superbly. I have a pair also and I also will never, ever sell my pair,so I reckon your wife has great taste and judgement.
I also once had an Alpha 907 and this worked gloriously in my room,with the PM1s which are quite possibly the most under rated speaker around. Simply put ,the better the amplifier, the better the sound and frankly I really don't understand why they were discontinued,but am am certainly chuffed I managed to get a pair,with the dedicated stands,which makes an enormous difference.
Hopefully you have these also
 
Cheers
Unfortunately no dedicated stands.
Ive always wanted a pair of these pm1s but found them elusive.
Comparing them to 805d2s i find them more fun. Very lively and offers a very wide sound field. There was a time Jeff and i looked behind us thinking something was rustling...it was the speakers projection
If i had to compare to the 805d3s which ive also owned.. I would say the D3s excell in the midrange and you can drive them so much harder. But.....love these little things immensely
Our wives judgement should never be ignored!
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11 minutes ago, slawrence436 said:

Unfortunately no dedicated stands.
Ive always wanted a pair of these pm1s but found them elusive.
Comparing them to 805d2s i find them more fun. Very lively and offers a very wide sound field. There was a time Jeff and i looked behind us thinking something was rustling...it was the speakers projection
If i had to compare to the 805d3s which ive also owned.. I would say the D3s excell in the midrange and you can drive them so much harder. But.....love these little things immensely
Our wives judgement should never be ignored!

 

A very good summary and kudos to your wife ( and mine also ). She loves the almost as much as I do. The reason you found them elusive is that the vast majority of owners just don't wish to sell them.

 

If you possibly can, beg,borrow or steal some dedicated stands, if you think they are great now just wait till you get them on their stands. All their great qualities are enhanced and multiplied by an order of magnitude. I was sceptical at first when I placed my order for them and complained about the price but honestly, they are worth every cent

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A very good summary and kudos to your wife ( and mine also ). She loves the almost as much as I do.
 
if you possibly can .beg,borrow or steal some dedicatted stands, if you think they are great now just wait till you get them on their stands. All their great qualities are enhanced and multiplied by an order of magnitude. I was sceptical at first when I placed my order for them and complained about the price but honestly, they are worth every cent
Find me a pair ... .. Please
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1 minute ago, slawrence436 said:
2 minutes ago, rantan said:
 
A very good summary and kudos to your wife ( and mine also ). She loves the almost as much as I do.
 
if you possibly can .beg,borrow or steal some dedicatted stands, if you think they are great now just wait till you get them on their stands. All their great qualities are enhanced and multiplied by an order of magnitude. I was sceptical at first when I placed my order for them and complained about the price but honestly, they are worth every cent

Read more  

Find me a pair ... .. Please

 

I shall keep a sharp eye open and let you know immediately If I see any for sale

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I shall keep a sharp eye open and let you know immediately If I see any for sale
Thanks mate.. I have a suspicion they are unobtainable ...
I have to add... sorry for showing Cafads midlife crisis.. Sorry mate [emoji6]
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It's alright mate, that's my other, non-audio, midlife crisis.:)

 

I did like those little PM1s in the mids.  I'm afraid they aren't linear enough for my needs in the top and bottom end but for more mid range centric music they are very, very good.

 

Hey have you thought of trying out one of Perreaux's Audiant 80i amps on those little PM1s?  That amp has an awesome mid range as well, and a built in DAC.  That combination would have to have a fair level of WAF approval.

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