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Reference Section - Report on Sansui SP-5000 Speakers
Reference Section
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Sansui SP-5000 Speakers
Pioneer SPEC System
(also info about db meters, Output Power, Sound Pressure Level)

I posted this "report" of my fall 2003 "hallway" system in 70sAudioMindset, an audio discussion group we sponsor which is hosted on Yahoo Groups. It was intended to be a report about the performance of my set of Sansui SP-5000 speakers when hooked up in a fairly powerful setup. It's core components are a Pioneer SPEC-1 preamp and a Pioneer SPEC-4 power amplifier. Since it has a nice section about db meters, output power and Sound pressure Level (SPL) I decided to post it here for our site visitors.

Hi everybody,

I was going to wait awhile till I had more time to write this and upload some pictures. But because of the other threads about speakers, power levels, etc., I decided to go ahead now and will upload pictures later.

Two days ago I hooked up a set of Sansui SP-5000 speakers that I have owned for 2 1/2 years but had never really checked out. When I first received them, I pulled them out of a massive set of boxes to visually check them and then slid them back in the boxes. They have been stored in my entrance hall ever since with stacks and stacks of other equipment... all not hooked up or useable.

I had to get a particular piece of gear out of that mess to check out for sale, so I decided to rearrange and move everything. Now I have a space there to mess with the stuff. These Sansui SP-5000's are the speakers of choice for that location. They are spaced with only about 3-4 ft of space between them with shelving across the tops to form a "workbench" for stacking up some working gear.
I can't really express how impressed I am with these 5000's. They are a large, heavy, efficient, 7 speaker, 4-way system. To me, they sound beautiful with a very smooth and effortless sound whether played at very low background level or thunderous wall-shaking volume. Here are the specs from the User Manual.

  • (1) 15" woofer
  • (2) 6.5" low midranges
  • (2) 4" high midranges
  • (2) 2.5" horn-type tweeters
  • Sensitivity = 102db/watt
  • 8 ohm system (6 to 15 range with no loss of efficiency)
  • Frequency range = 30 - 20,000 (at Anechoic Chamber)
  • Frequency range = 25 - 20,000 (at Normal Listening room)
  • Dimensions = 19.25" Wide x 32.6" High x 16.6" Deep
  • Weight = 90.3 pounds
  • Finish = Oiled walnut (also with the wood fretwork grilles)

Like most all the Sansui speakers of the era, they have cloth surrounds instead of foam, so the typical foam-rot is not an issue. The crossover network is not described. They do have the typical Sansui Clear, Natural and Soft control on the back to help with matching to room acoustics. But these have TWO of them on each speaker. One is labeled Mid-range, the other is labeled High-Range. So this gives what... 9 different crossover settings.

They are hooked up to a mostly classic silver-face Pioneer system consisting of:

  • Pioneer SPEC-1 Preamp
  • Pioneer SPEC-4 (150wpc) Power Amp
  • Pioneer TX-9800 Tuner (with rack handle shelf adaptor)
  • Pioneer SG-9800 Equalizer (with rack handle shelf adaptor)
  • Pioneer CT-F1250 Cassette deck (with rack handle adaptors)
  • Pioneer RT-909 Reel to Reel deck
  • Pioneer RT-707 reel to reel deck
  • Pioneer RG-2 Reverberation Amp
  • Pioneer SR-303 Dynamic Range Processor
  • Pioneer DT-510 Timers
  • BSR (ADC) EQ-3000 Equalizer
  • Optonica Turntable

This is all in a 20+ ft. long by 9 ft. wide entrance hall with 9 ft ceiling. It is widely open (6 ft opening) on one end to a relatively spacious living room area, a kitchen at the other end of the hall with a standard size door opening and a large open stairwell to upstairs.

The Pioneer SPEC-4 power amplifier is a clean, powerful amp and has large analog power output meters on the front panel that I assume are of high quality. The meter scale range is 0.01 to 300 watts output power. (Note: 0.01 = 1/100 of 1 watt.)
As a point of reference, the meter also has a db scale.
  • 0.01 watts = -45 db approximately
  • 0.1 watts = -31 db approximately
  • 1 watts = -22 db approximately
  • 10 watts = -12 db approximately
  • 50 watts = -4.5 db approximately
  • 75 watts = -3 db exactly
  • 100 watts = -1.5db approximately
  • 150 watts = 0 db exactly (corresponds to rated output)
  • 300 watts = +3 db exactly
Or precisely (watts rounded to two decimal places)
  • 0.01 watts = -42 db
  • 0.02 watts = -39 db
  • 0.04 watts = -36 db
  • 0.07 watts = -33 db
  • 0.15 watts = -30 db
  • 0.29 watts = -27 db
  • 0.59 watts = -24 db
  • 1.17 watts = -21 db
  • 2.34 watts = -18 db
  • 4.69 watts = -15 db
  • 9.38 watts = -12 db
  • 18.75 watts = -9 db
  • 37.5 watts = -6 db
  • 75 watts = -3 db
  • 150 watts = 0 db
  • 300 watts = +3 db
It takes 2X (twice as much or a doubling) of power output to make a 3db change which is the amount required for most folks to notice some change in volume. It requires 10X (ten times as much or a 10 fold increase) of power output to make the perceived volume to be twice as loud.

I do not own a SPL meter but here is my subjective report of these speakers with the above equipment. Playing a rock FM station with music containing normal levels of bass information.
With average meter readings of...
  • zero perceptible meter movement (less than 1/100th of 1 watt) = the music is a very perceptible background level, it is quite easy to have a conversation with no special effort. The music does not sound thin or weak. It has good bass quality that is in balance with the volume level.
  • 0.01 (1/100th of 1) watt output = it is still easy to carry on a conversation but music is much more noticeable
  • 0.1 (1/10th of 1) watt output = the music is very present, but conversation is not a real problem.
  • 1 watt output = the music is loud, conversation requires more force and more focused toward the listener.
  • 10 watts output = is very loud, conversation is much more difficult and requires real effort to be heard.
  • 50 to 100 watts = the music is VERY loud, our old style windows rattle considerably, conversation is very difficult and requires semi-shouting.
  • 100 to 150 watts output = THUNDEROUS volume, powerful bass notes vibrate the pants on my legs, it is impossible to have a conversation without face to face shouting. I can feel the house shaking and can only imagine how loud it is in the neighborhood. Sometime when enough neighbors are gone, I will try this long enough to to go out and walk around the neighborhood just for shits and grins... :)
  • 150 to 300 watts output = Noticeably higher volume than THUNDEROUS, but I can't hold this at an average level because the SPEC-4's protection circuits kick in. The speakers seem to handle it just fine before amp cuts out. At that sound level, it is difficult to judge quality, distortion, etc, but I did not notice any extreme harshness or speaker breakup, etc.
Hope you enjoy the info

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