Stereo Graphic Equalizer (1981-83)
The Sansui SE-9 is a truly unique graphic equalizer that lets you attain flat response in any room, regardless of speaker response, furnishings or room size.
Here's how it works: the calibrated microphone (included) is placed in a favourite listening position.
Next, the SE-9's Analyse button is pushed. Automatically, a built-in pink noise generator is activated and the sound is picked up by the microphone.
Response is sent to the SE-9's computer, which automatically adjusts each control - one by one - until response is flat.
The Spectrum Analyser lets you actually watch the SE-9 flatten response.
Output Level: 1V (5V max)
Gain: ± 0dB
Frequency response: 10Hz to 100kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: 110dB
Total harmonic distortion: 0.008%
Control Range: ± 12dB
Frequency Bands: 80, 160, 315, 630, 1.25K, 2.5K, 5K, 10KHz
Dimensions: 430 x 148 x 311mm
Finish: silver, black
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Reviewed Aug 04th, 2015 by mobay
I bought my Sansui SE-9 in exemplary condition from GW for $15. The first thing I did was to clean all button switches and rear jacks. I was surprised at its weight and amount of circuitry in the unit itself. Now with that said ,it must be remembered that we're talking 1983-84 microprocessor and memory technology here. It has a 4-bit Netware based processor with about 100K of memory. Laughable today, with most smart phones having THOUSANDS more times the processor speed and memory, but in 1984 , for an audio component , that was pretty high-tech.
There's a lot of â€œstuffâ€ in the unit and one of the things you'll notice immediately are the motors used to manually slide the 8 EQ levers once a room has been analyzed by the SE-9. I VERY lightly put lubricant ( a drop ) on each of the string pulleys avoiding the actual string itself. Oh yeah, it uses a string coupled to a a complex arrangement of pulley wheels to move the EQ levers up and down to match what the computer has calculated to be a â€œflatâ€ response in the room where the SE-9 is in. This motor drive , string and pulley arrangement is just awesome in its design and how well it works. If this is an original Sansui device and mechanismâ€¦., hats off to their engineers as I don't think you could make something like this in 2015 for less than a $1000 dollars.
Like almost ALL SE-9's sold, the microphone ( 600 Ohm, battery powered eletret condenser type ) that came with my unit from Sansui was missing.
Luckily, I had a very high quality Panasonic stereo microphone that is battery powered ( 3.0 volt ) and has great frequency response ( 30 â€“ 18K ). I initially tried a old ( but working ) Radio Shack PZM microphone but found it was lacking in sensitivity and I did not get an accurate enough reading for the SE-9 to capture room acoustics and therefore make a computer generated EQ setting curve for my set-up of speakers, ( 2 pair of speakers and 1 subwoofer ) in a â€œsoftâ€ room filled with furniture and sound absorbing and reflective materials.
This room would be a challenge for any computer trying to simulate and come up with a flat sound profile, let alone using 1984 technology. I've used equalizers in the past and think that I have a pretty good ear for tonal balance, but admit to having a bad habit of placing my EQ controls like an â€œSâ€ lying on its side as far as bass, midrange, and treble.
I was therefore surprised when the SE-9 analyzed , plotted, and then performed a eq curve base on my listening room unique qualities. This curve was different from what I thought it would be, and the left and right channel had unique settings that showed that the unit actually had â€œintelligenceâ€ when provided with a good microphone to measure and listen.
By far , the most shocking thing about using the SE-9 was how damn good the computer's â€œguessâ€ had been as to what my room needed to produce a flat and balanced sound . I heard a more refined timbre to instruments that I only had heard in a live performance. Timbre is what differentiates the sound of a trumpet from a coronet, or a violin from viola, a timpani drum from a kick drum. It's the subtle but often - times missed part of music that only a musician or (one who listens a lot to live music ) can point out and identify. OK, I'm going off hereâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦, sorry.
I just was flabbergasted on how well this device had smoothed and improved my overall speakers ( ADS L810's, Pioneer HPM 100's with the crossover mod, and a big ole' 12 subwoofer with a ADCOM GFA 585 and a Kenwood Basic M2A providing the muscle). Not just by a simple boost and cut procedure, but by blending the various sound frequencies in order to use the various drivers in the boxes and achieve a balanced sweet sound and bring out harmonics that were previously missing because of overunder emphasis of what I â€œthoughtâ€ was a good balance.
I guess I can say that I was of the belief that a machine could make such a good guess as to sound balance. After all computers,will never be able to listen to music.., right? I think now that I suffer too much from listening to the equipment , and not concentrating on listening to the music.
The SE-9 begs for a good quality mic in order to analyze and then use the sound data collected to automatically adjust the freq. levers and produce a flat response. You WILL NOT really get an accurate computer generated room EQ curve with a cheap mike. Sorry about that, but a good mic can be had for under $40 bucks, or less ( which ain't a lot ) , just make sure it's battery powered, has a good frequency response, and is of the eletret condenser type. Oh .., make sure it has an adaptor for plugging into the Â¼ microphone input of the SE-9. Parts Express has such a microphone and adapter, just call them and ask.
So, in closing, let me say that I was amazed at how well the Sansui SE-9 works and improves the overall sound of my listening experience. I notice no degradation in my audio , having this Equalizer in the sound chain. The really bad part of the SE-9 is that it's almost impossible to find readily and is usually ( I say this mildly ) missing the mic that's needed to measure sound. I see them on E-bay and guess they're not entirely rare, but also not entirely common either.
One of the best unknown treasures out there.
Get one, get a good mike, and enjoy the awakening!
Did I mention that seeing the levers move by themselves during an EQ adjustment is just way, way cool??