Marantz Model 2325 vs. Sansui 9090

Marantz Model 2325 vs. Sansui 9090
Much like the beginnings of early high end audio when Audio Research and Conrad Johnson were the common catch words, Marantz and Sansui are two names that most likely crop up when talk goes vintage solid state receivers.

2325-copy
9090-copy

Of course there was Pioneer, Sony, Technics and others that carved their respective mark in consumer audio. Case in point – the SL 1200 turntable (and its incarnations) by Technics is probably the longest running model in production dating back to 1975 and still  a favorite among DJs and audiophiles alike up to the present. Pioneer had the SX 1010 receiver – the first receiver to breach the 100 watt mark and unofficially started the “watt wars” of the 70’s.

pioneerSX1010

Pioneer SX1010

setton_rs-660_01

Setton RS-660

Then you also have the ultra rare Setton RS660 (allegedly designed by Pierre Cardin) and Concept 16.5 receivers  – considered the Maseratis and Alfa Romeos of vintage audio.

All these brands have their respective cult following but none more rabid and fanatical as Marantz and Sansui. These were the Mercs and Beemers of stereo.

Two models in particular have been pitted against each other in various fora and discussions – the Marantz Model 2325 and the Sansui 9090. These two were the standard bearers during their time of release and up to now, close to 40 years after, discussion on which is better is still hotly contested.

It is no wonder why, since the Model 2325 and the 9090 have so much in common between them. Both are responses by Marantz and Sansui to contest Pioneer’s SX 1010 supremacy of the 100 watt mark. Both pack 125 watts – fine examples of the monster receivers of the era. For those uninitiated in 70’s vintage receivers, these two models share similar aesthetic looks. Each have the push button switches within the black face dial and rotary knobs on the main faceplate. Each have their VU meters, although the 9090 has four against only two on the Model 2325. The significant difference is the tuning knob. Whereas the Sansui utilizes the regular rotary type, the Model 2325 employs the gyro tuning knob which Marantz is famous for.

Another striking similarity is that these two models carry with them a long history and pedigree in consumer audio. Marantz traces its lineage back to Saul Marantz,  a respected pioneer in the audio industry. Though the Model 2325 was introduced during the post-Saul Marantz era, its release coincided with the “second golden age” of Marantz as a company.

The Sansui 9090, on the other hand, emerges from an ancestry of audio classic integrated amps – notably the Sansui AU 111, AU9500, AU20000. All these classics are equipped with the legendary Hashimoto transformers.
http://tube-amps.net/Hashimoto_Sound.htm
The 9090 was introduced after the Hashimoto era of Sansui – thus did not carry this fabled transformer. But just like the Marantz Model 2325, the 9090 debuted during the years when Sansui was heralded as one of the best in consumer audio. After this era, there was a notable decline in quality and performance of the company’s offerings.

But the similarity stops there.

There is a particular sonic distinction between these two receivers – a house sound if one may call it. The Model 2325 retains that midbass bloom that Marantz is known for. While those that are not particularly enamored by this characteristic, call it a “bloat”, fans of this sonic signature, have long been enticed by this full-bodied richness. The Model 2325 takes this a notch further up with its beefier power and musicality. Some consider the Model 2325 a rock amp. To a certain degree, I would think so. The Model 2325 can drive my AR3a or JBL L100 Century with ease to near concert volume levels while still retaining its musicality. The midbass bloom is also quite evident in the Model 2325’s tuner section. There is a certain analogue chestiness to the sound akin to vacuum tube gear. The best part though is the 2325’s phono section. Playing LPs is such a joy since the coloration introduced by the Model 2325’s “house sound” masks the brightness of regular recordings.

Now for the downside. When hooked up to the AR3a’s, the soundstage is expansive to a fault. Larger than life. With the 2325, I find myself slightly tilting my head up when trying to determine vocal positioning which I roughly measure to be around seven feet high! There is a lack of pin-point focus on the soundstage probably due to these oversized images. Though the lateral imaging gets my thumbs up, depth is slightly lacking – two to three layers at an average but you’d be lucky to have more than that.

Being one who puts soundstage imaging and focus on his upper echelons of listening, I should be annoyed by the faults in this area.
But I’m not.
The musicality and non-fatiguing character of the Model 2325 make up for these faults.
I consider the Model 2325 a stellar performer.

A more in depth review of the Marantz 2325
(MILF) Marantzs’ I’d Love to Fondle

On the other side of the fence, the Sansui 9090 bends over the lean side. Though it still has that 70’s vintage sound, compared to the Model 2325, the 9090 has an airier, more refined presentation of music. Maybe more neutral as compared to the Marantz. This is not to say that the 9090 is lacking in musicality though I may give the edge to the Model 2325 in this area. But the 9090 has a warmer sound that hooks you upon first listen. If the Marantz presents a darker tube-like quality, the 9090 is like a hybrid SS power/tube pre combo. This is evident when driving the AR3a.

Then you have this fantastic soundstage. Not as wide as the 2325 – but the 9090’s depth and layering is something I only thought available in Sansui’s triple digit integrated amp series. Focus of the 9090 is more accurate as compared to the Marantz – so with the presence of air around the instruments.

The Sansui 9090 is less forgiving to regular recordings though. Garbage-in, garbage-out. Cult followers of this receiver would argue that this is a mark of a higher end sound character. Maybe so.

From an objective standpoint, the Sansui 9090 gets the nod over the Marantz Model 2325.
But from the subjective view where musicality and a less-fatiguing listening experience is a consideration, one cannot discount the Model 2325.

So which would I choose between the two? . . .

. . . I didn’t like to be burdened with that decision and settled for both! 🙂

 

 

 

More vintage gear:
Vintage Stereo Collection

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Comments
13 Responses to “Marantz Model 2325 vs. Sansui 9090”
  1. Jeroen Paco says:

    Hi, I wrote a post on Medium on my Sansui 9090, you might like it: https://goo.gl/vrx6Ba

  2. Sean Custer says:

    Had a both the 2325 & 9090 I bought my 9090 in 86 for $5 at a yard sale a few years later my friend’s father gave me the 2325 I loved both until about 1995 when I come across a Harmon Kardon twin power 930 and soon both Sansui and Marantz were in my closet. The 930 was just hands down the better receiver period and even though it was only 45 watts it still had solid bass and neutral realistic sound. Then one day in 2005 I sold the 2325 & 9090 on e-bay and bought separates and never looked back.

    Then in 2016 I found another 9090 at a thrift store for $79 in perfect condition I still own it but it sits in the closet with the twin power 930. I still must say after a weekend of comparison the twin 930 destroys the 9090 easily and is the best 70’s receiver I have ever heard and they are a fraction of the cost of a 2325 or 9090. They both still sit in my closet due to the fact they are dated and do not perform like separates once you hear base from an amp with a damping factor of 800 it’s hard to go back to the bloated unrealistic base of the 9090 although the bass from the twin 930 is still very impressive even against newer high damping factor amps.

    Buy a HK twin power 930 or 730 and both your Marantz & Sansui will sit in your closet guaranteed.

    • bb3 says:

      Hi Sean, I’ll have to agree with you. I once too owned a twin 730.
      Yup, it had that magical and engaging sound. More neutral sonic signature compared to the 9090 and 2325. And as you mentioned, the HK is still under the radar of most collectors hence the more reasonable price compared to the Sui and Marantz.
      I too, still keep my separates (Threshold) to drive my Maggie 3’s although I haven’t fired it up for some time.
      Thanks for swinging by the blog.

  3. Andrew McConnell says:

    any thoughts on the perfect speaker pairing for the 2325?

    • bb3 says:

      I’ve used AR3a, JBL L100, and Dynaco A 25 with some success. Different flavours, for sure but all pleasing most specially with the ARs. Didn’t like it so much with the big Pioneers and Suis.

      • Andrew McConnell says:

        I’ll bet the AR3a’s are very nice. Little speedy for me Would you ever consider Forte or Heresy with the 2325?

  4. Andrew McConnell says:

    Typo. I meant spendy.

    • bb3 says:

      I haven’t tried both on the 2325 but heard the heresy driven by tubes and they sound so sweet!
      I wouldn’t mind having one. 🙂
      I’m thinking that they might match well with the 2325 but with anything audio, we can’t be too sure until we get a listen.
      Happy hunting on your speakers, Andrew.
      I’ll ask around the vintage guys over here what other speakers they were successful with the 2325.

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  1. […] The Sansui 9090db and G9000 would definitely make it to my shortlist. Technically, theses are receivers though. But let’s include these for the sake of discussion. The 9090db packs the power to drive most speakers. It has that vintage warmth that suits my preference especially when paired with vintage speaks such as the JBL 100 or Pioneer HPM100. Often compared to the Marantz 2325, It lacks the midbass bloat of the 2325 that I usually look for in an amp – but nonetheless a stellar performer. https://bb3blog.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/marantz-vs-sansui/ […]

  2. […] The Sansui 9090db and G9000 would definitely make it to my shortlist. Technically, theses are receivers though. But let’s include these for the sake of discussion. The 9090db packs the power to drive most speakers. It has that vintage warmth that suits my preference especially when paired with vintage speaks such as the JBL 100 or Pioneer HPM100. Often compared to the Marantz 2325, It lacks the midbass bloat of the 2325 that I usually look for in an amp – but nonetheless a stellar performer. https://bb3blog.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/marantz-vs-sansui/ […]



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