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Tuners - Sansui TU-217


A small tuner that can become a big one...



Dear readers, Threshold Lovers is actually sick : we have a new passion, we restore a few vintage tuners that will be presented to you in the coming weeks:

  • a LUXMAN T-02
  • a SANSUI TU-217
  • a SANSUI TU-717
  • a SANSUI TU-9090 (the biggest SANSUI receiver, delivering 2x120W)
  • a SANSUI QRX-9001 (the quadriphonic biggest SANSUI receiver, the 4 channels version of the 9090)
  • a MERIDIAN T-504

A tuner was an important device in a Hi-Fi system during many decades, it was a particular era during which the FM radios broadcast a lot of high quality programs. But when internet appeared, followed by the (crapy) MP3, the FM Tuners progressively became a sort of curiosity, a sort of vintage device.

But believe us : a good tuner associated with a decent antenna can give a lot of fabulous moments !

In this article we present you the smallest SANSUI tuner belonging to the TU-xxx serie, the TU-217. A few elements of this article come from the excelent FMTunerinfo website that we strongly recommend you to visit. This tuner exists in two versions.

Here is the 1st version:

SAnsui TU-217 earlier model.jpg

and the 2nd version:

SAnsui TU-217 latest model.jpg

There is almost no difference, our model is the 2nd version.



When we unpacked the small SANSUI TU-217, we were pleased to find the traditionnal manufacturing quality of the vintage tuners: most if not al the pieces are made with metal, the big Tunning knob turns extremely easily: a true vintage pleasure !

When we turned on the TU-217 for the first time, we were positively surprised. The musical quality is of course not the same that with the most prestigious tuners, but it was very correct particularly if we remember that its price was very low and that it is more than 30 years old... we have already seen and lessoned to far worse ! We paid only 60€ for this tuner, and we have received it in 100% perfect shape: no traces on the chassis, no dust, etc... just perfect. It is just a dream for a restoration work : we can concentrate our work on the electronic part without having to care about any cosmetic issue.

Let us see what is inside this baby !

TU-217 top.jpg


As we expected, the device is simple but the manufacturing quality is pretty good : during this era, the manufacturers cared about the manufacturing quality.




This small analog SANSUI is equiped with a 2 gangs FM tuning circuit : of course it does not have 5 gangs but it is obviously normal provided its position in the SANSUI range of tuners.

If we look closer to the electronic parts, we see that they are low cost components : except a few Nichicon, most of the capacitors are of a poor quality (including the horrible Mylar caps, easily identified by their orange color) in order to reach a low price tag for the final consumer.

Nevertheless, the competitors did not make different choices, but for the same price, the SANSUI performed better.

The printed circuit boards are large with a lot of space, so the upgrade will be easy. As you probably suspect, we will of course upgrade it, in order to give a second life to this 35 years old baby !




As we use to proceed, the restaorition consist in a full upgrade of the capacitors, that will be replaced by the best available: NICHICON KZ/FG and ELNA Silmic II.

You should be aware that, even if an old device still operates, the very old capacitors must be changed because they are a risk for the device: not only thay are probably out of specs, but they can become faulty and generate a lot of damages to the device...

In addition to the capacitors, wehave also changed the rectifiers diodes with Shottky ones.

Here is the list of the parts that we have replaced in the Power Supply section: some of them are listed on the FMTunerinfo website, some other are not.

TU-217_parts replaced PS.jpg


and here are the parts that we have replaced in the audio path:

TU-217_parts replaced Audio Path.jpg

and here is a view of the circuits when all the parts have been replaced:

Sansui TU-217 apres upgrade.jpg

The SANSUI TU-217 upgrade is an easy and funny task : there is plenty of available space and the printed circuit boards are easy to access. You just need an desoldering station is you want to speed up the process.



The 1st thing to remind is that the SANSUI TU-217 is already a good tuner prior being upgraded : it sounds OK, even with the poor quality of the caps (that is totally acceptable given the low selling price of this unit)..

After the upgrade, the things become different ! It becomes much better and sounds very good for a 2 gangs (only) tuner. we have lessoned to it when the parts had just been soldered, without any burn in period, but the musicality was already there.

If the radio boradcast is good, le sound is good, sweet, detailed, clean : there is no feeling (at all) of any dust, any halo. Of course a Sansui 9900 will perform better, but its cost is around 15 times the cost of this small TU-217...

We are sure that after the burn in period, it will sound even better : we are sure because amongst the new capacitors there are a few ELNA Silmic II that do require a long burn in period before they reach their best. The NICHICON KZ/FG reach their best after 1 or 2 weeks only.

The selectivity of this tuner is better than the average.

Finally, the cost of this upgraded tuner, icluding the best available capacitors, is around 100€, so it is a true bargain ! We have not changed the RCA conectors (lack of time) but we strongly recommand you to perform this change, because the original connectors are crappy like it is always the case on the vintage devices.

So we give 4 stars to this upgraded tuner, but we are sure that it will reach a better rank, let say somewhere around 4,5 after the burn in period.


  • can still be bought on eBay or on any similar website
  • its price is very low
  • its upgrade is easy and simple
  • its sound is very good after the upgrade
  • it delivers a true vintage pleasure with its nice and pleasant tunning knob
  • the manufacturing quality is higher than many other tuners in its price range



  • There is no light to illuminate the frequency scale in the night: you have to chose the TU-317 to get it.
  • The upgrade is mandatory because of its age and the poor quality of the original parts.

Will become better after

the burn in period

This article was written by Nounours - January 2016.

Creation date : 06/01/2016 @ 20:30
Last update : 24/08/2016 @ 18:06
Category : Tuners
Page read 1555 times

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