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Sansui P-L50 Reviews

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Sansui P-L50

Sansui P-L50

9/10 by electrajojo

I bought two of these off Ebay, one for parts $20.00+sh which only needed belts. One black one silver, so I put the black case on the silver faceplate and it looks awesome. Once the simple calibration is done it works way way better than I expected. It goes to any tracks in any order on an LP, and always lays down perfect, with about 3 to 4 seconds of mute (silence before each custom track is played. This cartridge is also just amazing it's the clearest crispiest sounding turntable I own, and I have a few with some high dollar Sumiko carts, and this Sansui blows them all away. There is absolutely almost zero wow and flutter, even on slightly warped LP's. I don't know how Sansui achieved this thing to play so nicely. It may be a plastic type build, but it's not your regular plastic, its very think like Bakelite the whole turntable weighs right at 15 lbs and is very solid feeling not plasticy like cheap other brands that actually use cheap plastic. This thing is built with the real vintage Sansui quality. And when powered on it looks as good as it sounds, the display is really beautiful in person. At 10 to 20,000Hz this baby thumps, and is as crisp as lettuce, just as if it had a $1,000 stylus. Under the cover it's packed with just about every inch with circuit boards in a nice layout and easy to service, all being plug and play design - again it is definitely built with quality. If you find one in nice cosmetic shape with low hours where you are able to lithium the gears and slides and re-belt it, it will last many more years to come as long as you keep it lubed and oiled. Mine works like it just came out of the box very quiet and smooth. Encase anyone is wondering it tracks right at 2 grams and with it's linear tracking there is no more inner groove distortion! which plagues just about every straight and s-shaped tone arm on every other turntable. Also want to add the direct drive locks in at exactly 33 1/3 & 45 rpms with absolutely no trace of drift. The computer locks in the speeds automatically after the laser determines the vinyl size, and if you had a 45 size record that plays at 33 1/3, it switches to that speed also through inverse switching.

All in all it's the best direct drive turntable I have ever owned and I have quite a few nice ones.

I love it!

8/10 by narosenberg

I initially had doubts about this turntable, mostly due to its reliance on a proprietary non-replaceable cartridge and conical-only stylus.

When I received my first example it was intended as a learning tool -- how did the low-cost linear travel TTs work? Much to my surprise (pleasure) once I got a new needle and belts on it and went through a simple calibration procedure, it impressed me beyond my expectations. The sound is pleasantly clear and undistorted, the stereo imaging is really good, and quite unexpectedly I've become a fan of its ability to random-access tracks in any order I like.

As a result of this good experience I decided to acquire a couple more (off ebay) with the hopes of finding one that was cosmetically better than the first one, which had more than its share of dings, cracks and scratches.

Fast forward == I now have three of them, the original homely black one, another black one (for parts only) and a really nice silver one. They have all been on the bench and I've gained a reasonable understanding of how the dual-optical pickups on the tonearm are used by the logic (there's a little computer in there) to find the start and end of each track.

In summation, here's what I've learned so far about this model:

1. If one of the optical sensors is dead (I saw this on a P-M70) it can be the death-knell for the automatic features. I suppose you *could* disassemble the arm, unsolder and replace the really tiny photo-pickups (unobtanium?) and hope you haven't damaged or misaligned anything else. It's a job I wouldn't happily tackle.

2. If the belts are worn/stretched/broken it's no big deal to replace them. Make sure to get the right size: SBS-3.7 (for the tonearm lift) and SBS-2.6 (for the carriage movement).

3. Needles are easy to get, but can be challenging to replace. For the two machines on which I've replaced needles it took considerable coaxing with a tiny screwdriver on the rear edge to get the old one to come dislodged. Putting the new one on was no big deal.

3. The service manual here on vinylengine is really great. I printed it out and made a large copy of the schematic. The procedures for calibration have proved to be very helpful (see comment below). You'll need a voltmeter.

4. The little dc motor that drives the carriage (the thing the tonearm etc rides on) had very dry bushings and seemed weak. Using a syringe I put a single drop of light sewing-machine oil on the shaft near the bushing, then it ran much better. I was careful not to get oil on the belt or pulleys.

5. Adjusting the potentiometers for finding the start and end of each track is an exercise in patience. I set it for the recommended value, then tweaked it up or down so that it (a) finds the tracks and (b) doesn't eject before the end of the tracks. This only affects automatic operation with the numbered track buttons. If I am playing the whole side, or manually controlling, I didn't see these issues. One cool thing is that you can remove the triangular cover-plate under the tonearm to expose the adjustments, then take the necessary time playing-adjusting-playing until it's just right. I put the plate back on only after it was fully wrung-out. BTW I've learned it's best to do this adjustment with the sensitivity control on the M setting.

In summary, if you manage to get one in good operating condition, I think you'll enjoy this turntable as much as I do -- both from an audio and usage perspective.

One last note: I have seen the examples of P-L50 that have forward-only seeking or bi-directional seeking on the tonearm system. In my small sampling, it seems that the silver ones are bi- and the black ones are forward-only. I don't see any real play-ability advantage, it's just an interesting oddity.

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