Technics SU-G700 Integrated Amp Review
- Sounds big, confident and tonally even.
- Comprehensive specification
- Beautifully made
- Quite large
- Control system still a little fiddly
- No Bluetooth
Introduction - What Is the Technics SU-G700M2?
The SU-G700M2 is an integrated amplifier combining a selection of analogue and digital inputs in such a way to be most of a complete system when a pair of speakers is added. This is par for the course in 2022; indeed we’ll be looking a fair few more such amps in the months to come. The ‘M2’ bit of the name is important too. This is not a clean sheet design but an update to the existing SU-G700 which has been quietly plugging away in the range for a few years before this.
The M2 brings a series of revisions and tweaks to the basic design and the origin point of some of this thinking is a device we’ve tested before. The SU-R1000 passed through last year and it represented one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment; a device for which no part could be seen as ‘good enough.’ For all this technical wizardry, it very much kept the Technics' house sound present and correct and my conclusions reflected that.
You can have three SU-G700M2’s for the price of an R1000 though and, on first inspection, a fair bit of the ideas, thinking and features of the bigger amp are present here too. Of course, something else present at the same sort of price is a selection of great rivals so we need to ask, has Technics squeezed the proverbial quart into a pint pot and is the result good enough to challenge some of the amps we’ve seen so far? Time to fire it up and see what it does.
Specification and Design
In keeping with the SU-R1000, the SU-G700M2 does not kick its spec sheet off with a power figure you could jump start a planet with. Technics quotes a reasonable but entirely unremarkable 70 watts into eight ohms which doubles neatly into four. More power is available for similar money but equally, most speakers and most rooms don’t require anything like as much power to be driven to room filling levels.
The manner in which this power is generated is via Technics’ proprietary pulse width modulation amplifiers. These are class D in terms of their basic operation; in that they switch, but the amplifier itself is one made of discrete components rather than a single module. Something that is slightly ambiguous from the literature supplied on the SU-G700M2 is whether the output of these amps is still FET based like the SU-R1000. Two bits of technology from the big amp have made the move though. The first is the Load Adaptive Phase Calibration system that negates the need for a low pass filter on the output by dynamically monitoring the relationship between amp and speakers.
The other bit of new tech is on the other side of the amp. JENO (Jitter Elimination and Noise Optimisation… obviously) is a jitter reduction circuit that effectively crosschecks the input and output of the amp and compensates for induced errors. I am aware that for a subset of people reading, this (a smaller subset of people it must be said than if I was writing this for a print magazine) this approach to amplification is never going to strike the right note; it’s too far removed from the notional ideal of your signal passing though Peter Walker’s ‘straight wire with gain.’ Nevertheless, I admire this root and branch approach that Technics has taken; you could never accuse them of being derivative.
The power supply in the M2 has also seen revisions over the original SU-G700. Again, based on the technology that went into the SU-R1000, it moves its switching frequency to 400kHz and uses some of the same components as the bigger amp, including a very low noise regulator to control it. I feel it is important to stress in this day and age that I rarely receive a ‘noisy’ amplifier (or indeed noisy anything) but the SU-G700M2 is utterly silent at idle. When you switch it on, there’s relay clicks and the like but, even with an ear jammed against the casework, it doesn’t make any noise at all.
The connectivity made available to this amplifier is usefully comprehensive. Five digital inputs; one USB, two optical and two coaxial are joined by two RCA inputs and a phono stage. The sample rate and format handling of the USB input (of which the halving in number from the inexplicable two of the SU-R1000 has precisely no effect on use whatsoever) is respectable enough at 384kHz PCM and DSD256. Like a big swathe of amps with USB inputs, the existence of devices like the iFi ZEN Stream mean that they can be set up to run some distance away from a normal USB source and effectively become an all in one system. Something that the SU-G700M2 does not have is any form of Bluetooth connection.
New for the M2 is that the phono stage is now compatible with moving coil cartridges as well as moving magnet ones. In the specific case of a company with both the 1500C and 1200GR in its range which work very happily indeed with moving coil cartridges, this makes a fair degree of sense and puts some clear air between the Technics and most rivals at the price. This does without the exceptionally sophisticated EQ functionality of the SU-R1000 - one of the most singular phono stages I’ve spent any time with but that’s one of the reasons why that costs £7k and the M2 doesn’t. You also don’t get balanced inputs and outputs. You do get a revised headphone amplifier though that communicates with the outside world via 6.35mm socket.
The SU-G700M2 shares a number of design and construction features with the larger members of the range. The chassis is all metal and internally, it divides into three compartments, ensuring that the power supply is kept apart from the sensitive input and phono stage circuitry. Nothing I’ve tested or played about with from ‘new Technics’ (a distinction I make to avoid including the end phase of ‘old Technics’ where standards did slip because the word ‘Technics’ was being slapped onto things that really didn’t warrant it) has been anything other than immaculately made and the SU-G700M2 is no different. Everything feels solid, well made and likely to last.
Aesthetically, the news is fairly good too. The SU-G700M2 is closely related to the SU-R1000 and this means it follows the current Technics practise of having the controls arranged on a single level above the VU meters (don’t worry, we’re coming to those). It’s perhaps ironic that, because the SU-G700M2 does less than the SU-R1000, it means this control interface is rather more pleasant to use. You still have a fairly small display that generally shows input information and doubles as the menu browser but, as there’s fewer things to browse, it is nowhere near as frustrating to use - although I'd be reluctant to call it 'intuitive.' It’s helped by a remote that, while not the last word in design, is well laid out and easy to use.
I like the looks too. The SU-G700M2 is smaller and less imposing than the SU-R1000 and I think that is to its benefit. The decision not to spread the controls around the VU meters makes for a more logical device to use. The meters themselves are things of joy for me. It’s been interesting to have the Technics pass through straight after the Zidoo Neo S which can put a pair of graphic VU meters up on its display should you wish. The manner in which the mechanical units on the Technics move simply feels ‘right’ in a way that digital ones don’t. It gives a little bit of ceremony and occasion to the SU-G700M2 that I think suits a product that will have cost you two grand. I don’t personally find them a distraction but, should you wish, using the dimmer setting on the remote at its lowest setting also turns them off.
Everything feels solid, well made and likely to last
How was the SU-G700M2 tested?
The Technics has been connected to an IsoTek Evo3 Aquarius mains conditioner and has taken a USB feed from a Roon Nucleus and an analogue signal from a Chord Electronics Hugo2 and 2Go. The phono stage has been tested for the most part via the Pro-Ject Debut PRO but the moving coil facility has been briefly shaken down with the Vertere MG-1 MkII. Speakers used have been the Focal Kanta No1, Neat Majistra and a brief stint (for reasons that will be covered) with the Kudos Titan 505. Material used has been FLAC, AIFF, DSD, Tidal, Qobuz and vinyl.
More: Audio Formats
Knowing that people don’t tend to like me being coy and shadowboxing about how something performs, I’ll cut to the chase. The SU-G700M2 could be the literal poster child for the law of diminishing returns. This amp is not as good as the SU-R1000 for reasons I’ll cover but, there’s an awful lot of what that amp does at work here too. As if to muddy the water still further, there’s a slight difference that actually works in this amp’s favour too.
That difference is a very subtle shift in the presentation of the SU-G700M2 and is the reason I briefly ran it with the Titan 505 (which acted as the test speaker for the SU-R1000). I don’t normally do this because there’s generally not a great deal to be gained from attaching a speaker that costs four times the price of the amp. In this instance though, it confirms a few things beyond reasonable doubt. The SU-G700M2 doesn’t have the effortless power of the bigger amp. It lacks the scale and impact that the SU-R1000 stitches effortlessly into its performance but the counter to this is that the SU-G700M2 is a faster and leaner sounding amplifier than its bigger brother. Within the realms of subjectivity that these reviews operate, it’s a more pleasing presentation for me.
This slight tonal shift has been achieved without affecting many other things that the SU-G700M2 does. Listening to the 24/96kHz Qobuz stream of Hell on Church Street by the Punch Brothers, the effect is refined, rich and impressively detailed. The exceptional musicianship on display is perfectly recreated and you find yourself drawn into the presentation because everything sounds effortlessly believable. The Technics' virtues of unflappable order and refinement haven’t been lost in this greater urgency; this is still an extremely composed amp.
The difference is that when you switch to the glorious The Last Dance by St Paul and the Broken Bones (mining the same sort of ‘post-apocalyptic disco’ that makes Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury such a good listen), the SU-G700M2 digs and delivers in a way that its big brother didn’t seem so keen to do. Without compromising on the company virtues, I’ve found myself enjoying the balance that the amp has when using its digital board in particular. The balance across decoding and amplification feels very well judged. With both the Focal Kanta and Neat Majistra; neither of which are a perfect price match to the Technics but closer than the Kudos, the performance that results has been very enjoyable.
There are limitations and it’s the more affordable Neat that shows them more readily than the Focal. Really lean on the SU-G700M2 and it will harden up and lose some of that impressive composure. Beyond the watt output, there feels like some limits to the current delivery that the isobaric driver arrangement of the Majistra highlights. You do need to be pushing pretty hard for this to be an issue though and at more sensible volume levels, the Technics and Neat have formed a superb partnership.
I’ve also enjoyed the performance via the phono stage too. In this area in particular, the SU-G700M2 can’t match the SU-R1000; very few devices can. Judged as a amp in the £2,000-2,500 range though, it’s a fine performer. Noise levels are low and the same balance of warmth and tonal realism underpinned by useful rhythmic energy is apparent here. Something that felt apparent over testing is that, while Technics has added moving coil support and should be commended for it, the moving magnet section is the better performer for me. Given the ever increasing selection of excellent moving magnet cartridges at premium price points, I wouldn’t regard this as a limitation either. No such limitation applies to the headphone amp though which might be one of the first to get close to the imperious performance of the Rega Aethos. Listening to both the Focal Clear MG and Meze Audio LIRIC via the Technics has been a thoroughly satisfying experience with plenty of gain and commendably low noise levels throughout.
The balance across decoding and amplification feels very well judged
Technics SU-G700 Integrated Amp Review
The Technics SU-G700M2 has been an extremely pleasant device to spend time around. What Technics has done is get an impressive chunk of the performance of its flagship integrated into an amplifier that costs a third as much. It holds true to the virtues that the company feels are important but the result just seems more convincing. I can see someone selecting this to partner up an SL-1200GR and the speakers of their choice because the engineering and philosophy of the two products feels distinct and cohesive; something a little different at the price point. Even without the turntable, this is a fine amplifier that combines a comprehensive spec with solid build and likeable aesthetics and a genuinely enjoyable sonic performance. The SU-G700M2 isn’t perfect but it gets an awful lot right and comes Highly Recommended as a result.
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