What does Sansui mean?
Sansui was founded in 1947 in Tokyo Japan. Started as a transformer manufacturer, Sansui produced various audio products for more than fifty years. In its heydays, somewhere between the late 1970’s and the mid 1980’s, Sansui was well known brand all over the world.
The name “Sansui” means “Mountain and Water.” The implicit appreciation of “Sansui” goes back more than thousand years to the ancient China. That was black ink drawings which depict nature, such as trees, rocks, and streams.
A Japanese Zen monk named Sesshu who was eager to learn this technique went to China that was in Ming dynasty period. After several years of visit, he came back to Japan and developed his own version of “Sansui” drawing. Sesshu tried to mix his Zen philosophy into the simplicity of “Sansui” drawing. He passed away at the age of 83 in 1503 leaving many master pieces and left fundamental influences on Japanese culture. The meaning of strength and simplicity in black and white is far beyond the level of just drawing techniques. Almost all ancient Japanese culture has been somehow influenced by this philosophy.
When the founders of the transformer company named their company as Sansui, they must have thought about the philosophy of “Sansui” drawings, and its fundamental meanings; strength and simplicity of black ink drawing on white paper for the purpose of depicting nature mixing with value of your life.
The most of Sansui master pieces have black front panel with white lettering. Just imagine the looks of AU-111, AU-999, AU-9500, AU-9900, AU-919, AU-G99X, AU-X901, AU-X1, to AU-X1111 as well as the piano black, SR929. Even 9090DB comes with black panel under the different name, 990DB.
After Sansui retreated from the U.S. market in the late 1980’s, Sansui still kept producing some master pieces under “Alpha series” until 2001 when Sansui closed the corporate head quarters in Shin -Yokohama. The irony is that Sansui peaked its reputation in the tube gear era with AU-111, followed by the incredible array of solid state equipments, and lost its presence in high end audiophile right after reviving AU-111 as AU-111 Vintage in 1999.
This site, “the Best of SANSUI”, concentrates on only some of significant products including the very rare master pieces sold outside of the U.S, such as later “Alpha Series.” There is no intension or purpose of replacing the de facto sites, such as “classicsansui.com” or “retroaudio.ru.” Those prominent sites have already established their own place in Sansui’s long history. Without them, this site might not have been existed.
The purpose of “The best of Sansui” is to explore Sansui’s history from the beginning to the end by giving some special focus on selected master pieces.