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  The AIG FM Tuner Project: Sansui TU-888

      Date posted: December 20, 2007

Read the AIG FM Tuner Project Introduction

TU888, front
Sansui TU-888 Classic Analog AM/FM Tuner - Black Beauty

The Sansui TU-888 comes from an era when tuners from this maker were built very solidly, and had an elegant look of their own that distinguished them from other manufacturers. I think this is one of the prettiest models in the whole project, with its sleek oiled walnut cabinet, and lovely backlit dial on a black front panel. Pictures just don’t do it justice! The beautifully finished light oiled walnut cabinet is very nice, a little lifted veneer below a screw that nobody will probably see on the back left side. Scratches are few, and the finish looks quietly lustrous.

This TU-888 has been fully aligned, but before I talk about performance, let me describe its features. At front panel left is the On/Off toggle, just under the Signal and Tuning meters. Near centre is the Output Level control, handy for recording off FM, and beside it the toggles for MPX Noise Canceller and FM Muting. Next right are indicator LEDS for for AM, FM, and FM Stereo, with the Selector knob ( AM, FM Auto, FM Stereo) next over, while the Tuning knob is above at the right end of the dial. The flywheel tuning is very smooth, the dial pointer also illuminated.
TU888, rear
The rear panel (also going from left to right) shows the AM ferrite antenna, which moves only up and down, and underneath, the dual set of RCA outputs, labeled Tape Rec and Output, the latter level controlled by the front panel knob. Just right of the AM aerial are the inputs, all spring-loaded types that take bare wires and small spade lugs for AM, FM 300-ohm and 75-ohm. A Distant/Local slide switch is beside these, and a convenience AC outlet below, with a fuse beside it.

In our tests with a Yagi directional antenna and a double dipole omnidirectional one (both on our tower), the TU-888 was almost equally sensitive, and pretty much as selective with each, bringing in 51 stations with the former, and 50 with the latter. I thought it was just a little bit better in getting clean stereo with the omni antenna on weaker signals. Reception conditions were about average. I found that the MPX noise filter worked well with many weaker signals without affecting separation, but this is not a true DX machine, so don’t expect that kind of reception from this particular Sansui.

Sonically, this is a very fine tuner, right up there with some of the very best in our survey. There’s that very solid Sansui bass,and a very musical and beguiling midrange, with slightly darker upper octaves than, say, the Kenwood or Onkyo analog tuners, a little more like the Luxmans, perhaps. I liked the sound, and the depth of image on the best signals. A Stravinsky Rite of Spring on a CBC broadcast concert was a particular delight that kept me listening at length to this tuner. Maybe this one will be the right combination of sound, sensitivity, and sexy looks for you. It’s certainly among the few I really did want to keep.

Andrew Marshall

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