It’s hard not to think about Technics without thinking about THAT turntable. Although the brand has a long and illustrious career in domestic audio (and home-grown ultra high-end in Japan), it’s the SL-1200-series direct drive turntable in all its guises that keeps getting all the attention. It’s perhaps little wonder then that when the model was deep-sixed a few years ago – and in the process freezing the Technics brand – such was the furore that the company revised its position and both Technics and that direct drive turntable so beloved of DJs and audiophiles alike sprang back to life.
This was no easy task. The teams behind the design of the turntable had long since retired, and building a turntable like the 1200 from scratch is a bit like Porsche re-engineering the original air-cooled 911. Possibly worse – Porsche still has the factories involved, just put to use on different tasks. To restart the 1200 project required rebuilding the factory, resourcing long-discontinued components, and finding the skills and technologies required to make the deck anew. That’s one heck of a project.
It could be easy to make the rest of Technics something of a footnote; a collection of box-ticking make-weights components to make it seem like the Technics brand was back, where in reality it was just the turntable. Certainly, that’s how things first seemed, especially as reviewers were quick to grab the new/old turntable and just as quick to distance themselves from the electronics and loudspeakers. But as Technics Reborn evolved and expanded, so did the product line. What we have now is a series of remarkably cogent products that form an extremely good system in its own right.
There are three products in this line-up; the aforementioned SL-1200GEG-S turntable (the unlimited version of the limited edition turntable with magnesium tonearm that so wowed people at the time of re-launch), coupled with the SU-G700E integrated amplifier, and SB-G90E loudspeakers. The three form a key part the brand’s distinctly audiophile-flavoured Grand Class.
In a way, the product that is the magnet here is almost the least interesting, even if the story behind it certainly isn’t. The Technics SL-1200GEG-S represents the functional top of the SL1200 tree, especially as the limited edition SL-1200GAE is long gone. The SL-1200GEG-S is effectively the same model as the ‘GAE’, albeit with a slightly different finish to the magnesium tonearm and without a badge saying ‘limited edition.’
Literally millions of Technics SL-1200 have been sold through the years, so going over the design is old news at best. However, Technics top SL-1200 rebooted is a very different beast and includes a new coreless twin rotor direct drive motor, a more robust three-layer platter, a clock originally used in Blu-ray players, and the kind of build quality that battleship builders would be proud of.
The SU-G700E is a 70W Class D integrated amplifier in a typically elegant brushed aluminium case with large backlit VU meters on the front. It sports both analogue and digital inputs, plus a phono stage for those using the SL-1200GEG-S with a moving magnet cartridge. Perhaps more significantly, the amplifier uses the company’s clever Load-Adaptive Phase Calibration system, which fires a series of test tones at the connected loudspeakers to ensure the amp is compensating for the impedance plot of any given loudspeaker.