Spinning a CD, you get a very similar result. The tonal rendering is excellent, and you don’t get the subtle glare that often accompanies the CD format; it’s not quite as resolving as streaming an uncompressed file of the same recording, but few CD players are in my experience. You can hear the effort that Technics has put into keeping noise at bay by playing anything pianissimo; gentle piano can be beautiful and highly atmospheric with plenty of reverb to fill out the picture. Putting an SACD into the tray results in the title info being displayed on the machine and in the Technics app, and you can also control the transport from the same software which is cool. My favourite SACD is La Folia by Gregorio Paniagua and the Atrium Musicae de Madrid [Harmonia Mundi]. This recording combines ancient and modern instruments in an eccentric yet charming fashion, here the tonal richness of those instruments is very nicely resolved especially the higher notes, which creates a strong sense of image depth and scale to the live recording. The Technics takes this disc in its stride.
Another high-resolution recording – this time in streamed form – is the slow blues of Doug MacLeod’s Exactly Like This[Reference Recordings], which sounds excellent on the Technics because it reveals the quality of the recording and the lovely depth and roundness of the acoustic bass so well. I tried the three filter settings that you can access via the app and found that the third one seemed the best suited to my tastes; it has a little more punch than the alternatives. Such things don’t usually have a significant effect, but there is a clear difference between the options on offer here. There are various other features available via the app such as fixed or variable output, MQA decoding, direct and re-master modes and the option to switch off digital and analogue outputs although it’s unlikely you’d get much joy without either. Look a little deeper into the features, and you can find a way of defeating the auto-off function, which is useful as it’s not very patient at all: this machine loves to turn itself off.
The Technics Audio Centre app is a little bit like Linn’s Kazoo with a playlist on the right and browsing on the left; it’s not the quickest to navigate but is relatively intuitive to use after a little practice. The fact that you can go to the top level with one button is a handy feature, especially if you’ve waded deep into Tidal’s waters. However, its approach to this service is page-heavy, and you don’t get large artwork icons when browsing. Also, searching for something is a little sluggish; if you put in a track or artist name, you then have to go through several more filters to get to the work desired.