Sansui AU-555A – A gorgeous, gem of an amp.

Have you ever done something and realized immediately that it was a huge mistake?

That is how I felt when I recently sold my Sansui AU-555A, a little gem of an amp that I never should have let go. I bought it on eBay a few years ago and it sat in my closet for a long time while I worked on other projects. I eventually got around to recapping it and was immediately blown away.

This amp only offers 25 watts/channel into 8 ohms, but what beautiful watts they are! The only way to describe the sound of this amp is warm and luscious. Regardless of genre, everything I threw at it had an appealing glow that I absolutely loved. In other words, this is not the amp for those of you that prefer cold, clinical accuracy! As you can see from the picture above, it is also an absolutely gorgeous amp . The walnut case and black faceplate with contrasting silver knobs is visually stunning, and it makes me wonder why this combination is not more common. This amp would look great in basically any room, and your wife (or husband) would love it!

I initially started listening with my KEF LS-50s, but it was soon apparent that they needed more power than the AU-555A could offer. I switched to a pair of Klipsch RP-600M (which have a substantially higher sensitivity) and it was a match made in heaven.

I found myself listening to a lot female vocalists through this amp, as well as classic rock. Sarah Bareilles’s live album Braver (which I’ve started to use as a reference for all amps) sounded wonderful. I had the sense of being in the audience about 10 feet from her, with her vocals soaring perfectly and the full punchiness of her piano coming through! The amp had no trouble revealing details of the recording, including voices in the audience and individuals clapping, but it presented that detail with a warmth that reminded me of a classic Marantz receiver. I actually preferred the sound of the Sansui, which seemed somehow richer and more revealing than I recall my Marantz being (although, admittedly, it’s been a while). Adele (who my daughters are now obsessed with) sounded equally great, as did Etta James and Fiona Apple.

I also spent a lot of time listening to Creedence, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath with this amp. I’ve always liked the way the RP-600M’s handle rock (which is actually better, in my view, than the acclaimed LS-50s) and the AU-555A really made them sing. Robert Plant’s vocals sounded as good as I’ve heard them, and the AU-555A had no problem handling louder or more complex passages. And again, the music was deliciously rich and warm, with what seemed to be perhaps a slight exaggeration in the bass (even without the loudness switch on). The drum passages sounded particularly good, with great slam and realistic cymbals. I really felt like I was experiencing a Zeppelin show through a haze of smoke in a basement club. Just a great experience overall!

So after all this, why did I let this amp go? Stupidity? Well, yes, but also a lack of space, as well as a wife who wanted more of our closet back. I had five amps in there that I recently let go, and I will be posting some additional reviews in the coming weeks (although, spoiler alert, this was my favorite). In hindsight, I should have kept this one, but, hey, we all make mistakes. Maybe I’ll stumble upon another one and have a chance to redeem myself!

I sure hope so.

6 thoughts on “Sansui AU-555A – A gorgeous, gem of an amp.

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  1. Wonderful writeup. I had a Sansui many years ago and took it for granted. I Found and refurbished a AU555A just this weekend and I’ve been having the same experience that you have written about here, listening nonstop throwing all genres at it. I’m grateful that you have documented and shared this experience because I was beginning to think I was projecting some kind of biased nostalgia. Does this amp really sound that good? Yes, yes it does.


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