The ‘any given loudspeaker’ in this system is anything but. The SB-G90E tower is a three-way bass-reflex floorstander with a two-way coaxial unit designed for the mid and treble. Technics was baffled by the baffle, in that it felt that mounting drive units on the front baffle of a loudspeaker is a bit silly if you think about it. By building a secondary internal sub-baffle allowing the drive units to be mounted at both their centre of gravity and their point of greatest potential resonance (the magnet), a point of distortion ingress is addressed. Couple that with some very well-engineered drive units, an extremely non-resonant and well-braced cabinet, and a suitably well-designed crossover, and the result is a pair of loudspeakers that perform a lot better than you might expect.
The overall result of this system is one of pleasant surprise. The individual components are an extremely good match for one another, the engineering is exceptionally good, and most of all, they sound fantastic. The SL-1200GEG-S is everything you might hope from the big deck; aside from its ability to start and stop almost instantly (which gave it its DJ heritage), the solidity and precision of its sound and the bass it creates in the process gives it real audiophile credentials. Couple that with a soundstage that is expansive (if the music requires it), taut, boppy (how a turntable used in tens of thousands of clubs around the world could lack rhythm always escaped me), and accurate. There is also room for growth in changing the standard headshell, mat, power cord and interconnects, all of which can improve the sound (and tick many of the audiophile boxes in the process). While the integrated amp supplied is MM only, the SL-1200GEG-S actually deserves a good moving coil design, like the excellent EAT Jo No 5. That combination sang!
Moving over to the amplifier, the SU-700E is a good and slightly sterile sounding Class D amplifier that does everything right and nothing wonderful... until you run those LAPC tones. At which point the ‘slightly sterile’ and ‘nothing wonderful’ parts of that pithy description melts away and you are left with a clean and dynamic performer. In particular, what seems to change in the pressing of the button on the remote handset is it makes the sound more coherent in both tone and time; the net result is incredibly insightful.
Last, and not least, the loudspeakers. These were something of a surprise, as recent Technics designs have been more about the technical exercise than the sonics. The SB-G90E has both. The integration between the loudspeakers is excellent, the loudspeaker does seem to genuinely have a lower noise floor than many of its peers, stereo imaging in particular is the stuff of way bigger cabinets, and the dynamic range is impressive. It would be a standalone star, but in the context of the whole system, works extremely well in a team too. Taken as a team, though, it’s a sophisticated and surprisingly powerful sounding platform, with the accent on detail and dynamic range.
Reservations are few and far between. OK, the VTA adjustment (a large knurled wheel) on the turntable is perhaps not as elegant as the on-the-fly adjustment of a VPI or similar, but it still works well and has none of the prissiness of many more audiophile-directed designs. I’m also not entirely convinced by Stevenson alignment of the arm across the whole LP arc, but it makes set up quick and easy. Finally, 2x70W is ultimately a little limiting; while this system is ideal for typical UK rooms, the loudspeakers especially could work in larger environments easily but the amp might run out of puff.
Perhaps the biggest problem for Technics is inertia. No, not the kind that would affect that turntable – the audiophile inertia that stops people buying good products because of some long-held and irrelevant belief in component matching, and system building from more than one brand. On the other hand, listen to this system blind and if you try to guess the price, don’t be surprised if you are off by a factor of about two in Technics’ favour.