Technics, a subsidiary of Panasonic, Inc. (formerly Matsushita), was established back in the mid 1960s as a high-end purveyor of audio gear. Of course, history tells us that the company went far beyond those boundaries in the last 50 years, and after a brief hiatus, it’s good to see them back.
Many of us were crestfallen when word got out a few years ago that Technics planned to stop producing its last hi-fi product, the SL-1200 series direct-drive turntable. Both loved and hated, there can be no doubt that this ‘table deserves its place in the pantheon of classic vinyl disc spinners, given its lasting popularity among both DJs and audiophiles alike. Word on the street was that you couldn’t kill this turntable if you tried, and it even sounded pretty good. I’ve never owned a 1200, but I’ve heard a few, and I concur that they can sound quite nice.
Unfortunately, my recollection of the Technics name in the ‘80s was more that of a low-fi brand that could be found in the (now defunct) big box stores such as Circuit City. Better than SoundDesign and Emerson, but not by much, as I recall. I didn’t know that the Technics brand was at the same time crafting killer turntables such as the SP-10, SP-15, and SP-25 for the “professional” market. I acquired an old radio station SP-25 motor/platter assembly a few years ago, gifted by a friend, and I had it installed in a custom plinth, along with a bunch of other upgrades. It remains my reference ‘table to this day, and it continues to satisfy me with its ability to produce an uncolored, “master tape” sort of sound. And I could probably beat it with a baseball bat, and it would continue to run like a champ.
When Technics re-formed and decided to reenter the realm of high-end audio in 2014, it did so with a splash. On offer were two complete audio systems for the listening enthusiast: the top-quality Reference Class and the more affordable Premium Class. Both offer a combined integrated amp/DAC, network audio player, compact disc player, and speakers. Offered to me for review were three pieces from the Premium Class: the SU-C700 integrated amplifier/DAC ($1600), the ST-C700 network audio player ($1100) and the SB-C700 speaker system ($1700 per pair). The CD player was not included as part of my particular ensemble.
Buyers have the option of purchasing these components individually or as a system. Each piece of gear can play well with other non-Technics system components, as I found out by inserting them individually into my system to get an initial feel for each. However, my recommendation is to run them together as a system, as that’s how the folks at Technics designed them to be used. Even though each worked nicely on its own in my home rig, there’s a certain synergy that brings the best out of each component when performing together as a family, so that’s how the review will be conducted.