Technics SU-G700 Integrated Amplifier

Watching the power meters bounce in the dark, listening to the title track in Brian Eno’s The Ship, the sheer dynamic power of this compact amplifier is completely revealed.

Eno’s husky voice and deep bass riffs, combined with an atmospheric, ethereal feeling creates an enormous sound field with the Sonus Faber Maxima Amators in the listening room. With even moderately efficient speakers, the 70 watts per channel this amplifier provides is more than enough to partake in realistic listening levels.

The SU-G700s compact, elegant and simple enclosure houses a 70 wpc (into 8 ohms / 140 into 4 ohms) amplifier, but digital is done with a twist. This being a full digital amplifier, there is actually no digital to analog conversion being done until the very last output stage to the loudspeakers, all digital signals (PCM/PWM) remain digital until that point, so no DAC is being done until then. This is what is different about Technics’ digital amplifier design and you still gain the benefit of the higher quality digital processing that a DAC would have given as a result of the 32/384 digital amplifier process throughout. There is an MM phono input for analog lovers too, did you think the makers of the mighty SL-1200 would forget the phono input? For a music lover wanting the ability to access multiple sources with a minimum of clutter, this $2,495 amplifier is going to be tough to beat. The only thing not available is a network streamer. However, it’s easy enough to add your streamer of choice, or use a computer via USB. I’ve beat this topic to death, having the ability to stream without buying another box would be a welcome addition, but not a deal breaker.

It’s often said that talented people make complex tasks look easy, as if anyone could do it. The same can be said for the world’s finest audio components. The level of sound quality, and meticulous attention to build is practically unheard of at this point, showing what having the manufacturing capabilities of a massive company like Technics brings to the table. The SU-G700 feels a lot more like it came from Nagra or Boulder. All of their current products are built to the same standard, think about it – how many SL-1200s are still spinning records 40-plus years later?

Music or tech?

As a tribute to the Technics engineers, there’s a lot going on inside this box. It is a credit to their talent that this is no mere chip amp, or basic A/B amplifier, especially for this price. This amplifier is built like a ten-thousand dollar amplifier, albeit a little different than what a lot of you might be used to. The SU-G700 is a digital amplifier. Digital sources stay in the digital domain all the way through, while analog sources are converted to 24-bit/192kHz digital by a Burr-Brown 1804 A/D converter. Keep in mind that anything connected to one of the two analog inputs (including phono) is also converted to digital.

Using Technics Jitter Elimination and Noise-shaping Optimization (or JENO for short) and a Pulse Width Modulation system, musical signals are amplified in the digital domain and then converted back to analog at the very end before delivering the goods to your speakers. The headphone amplifier uses similar technology to power your favorite headphones.

One of the most interesting aspects of the SU-G700 is its Load Adaptive Phase Calibration (LAPC) circuit, which helps optimize the amplifiers’ output characteristic to match whatever speakers are connected for optimum signal transfer. If you’ve had any experience with Class-D amplifiers, you already know how speaker sensitive they are, and anything presenting a fairly complex load at the speaker terminals doesn’t always produce great results. Not unlike that of an SET tube amplifier. Thanks to Technics proprietary design, the SU-G700 does not have this problem at all, and easily drove all the speakers we had on hand.

Where Devialet has tried something similar with their SAM correction, Technics has done a fantastic job with LAPC – much like earlier ABS braking systems in cars, the Technics system is far less intrusive and produces good result. You merely need to engage the LAPC calibration from the remote (yeah, don’t lose the remote!) and let it do its thing. LAPC runs a few minutes worth of test tones to optimize it for your speakers. Unlike a HT receiver doing “room correction,” (no microphone is required for LAPC) the GU-G700 is internally measuring the load your speakers present to the amplifier and optimizing it for optimum power delivery and phase response.

Where the Devialet system was hit and miss with the test speakers we tried, Technics’ approach  provides a more subtle, and at the same time less intrusive result. On everything from a pair of LS3/5A mini monitors all the way up to the Focal Stella Utopia EMs, things sounded better after running the LAPC correction routine. High frequencies always sounded more natural, and in our room, with the speakers at our disposal, low frequencies always felt more powerful, with less upper bass fatigue. Considering this all happening in the context of a $2,500 amplifier is astonishing.

This is only a slight overview of everything inside the SU-G700. Please visit the Technics site here, to get the full description, complete with charts and graphs.

How to interpret the SU-G700

This is one of those interesting pieces of gear that should appeal to both sides of your brain. Your left brain will love all the latest, state of the art tech inside, and the novel approaches taken to implement it. Your right brain will love how great it sounds and how cool it looks. How can that be a bad thing?

Using the onboard digital inputs proved excellent, and for most users that will probably be enough. We did have the Technics SL-G700 SACD player, which ultimately provides a step up in digital decoding (It is $2,999after all) but going from digital to analog and back again through the SU-G700 seemed redundant. Three different transports were used, a vintage SONY ES player, via optical output, the Cambridge CXT (also in this issue) via SPDIF and just to see where the end of the performance envelope was, the dCS Vivaldi One’s digital output. All discs were standard resolution (16/44) CDs.

There definitely was a jump in clarity when using the dCS, no doubt due to less jitter and artifacts in the digital bitstream from this transport, but suffice to say, the vintage and budget players did a great job, so if you have an older CD player or transport, you can expect excellent results. The majority of the evaluation was done with a combination of 16/44 and higher resolution files from Tidal and Qobuz. The Technics does not unfold MQA files.

The SU-G700 has a very neutral, non – embellishing sound quality about it. You will not mistake it for a tube amplifier, or even a pure class-A solid state amplifier, but it is not harsh. Some system matching will be required, as if you have speakers that start out revealing, with a slightly forward tonal balance, like a pair of newer Paradigm speakers, or the incredible Acora Acoustics monitors we have in for review, the Technics might be too much for you. Arguably, my personal bias tends more to a slightly warmer sound like you might experience with Sonus faber, Vandersteen, or Harbeth speakers – so that was my happy place. Almost like pairing a tube preamplifier with a solid-state power amplifier kind of thing.

Regardless of program material used, the SU-G700 offers a consistent presentation. The only characteristic it shares with other digital amplifiers we’ve auditioned is a slight lack of depth compared to your favorite tube gear. Left to right sizing is big, going somewhat beyond the speaker boundaries, but not massive. This overall character really did not change from speaker to speaker, again suggesting what a great job LAPC does.

The MM phono stage offers four gain settings (0, -3, -6, and -10dB) which is handy if you happen to have a Rega cartridge or a few others with higher outputs in the 5-7mv level. Then, the signal is sent to the ADC and treated as sound from any other input. Utilizing a vintage Technics SL-1200 with Shure M44 and a Rega P3 with an Exact II cartridge, both worked well, and the SU-G700 did an excellent job playing records. The resulting sound is dynamic, and incredibly quiet, something that jumps right out at the listener.  There is also a switchable subsonic filter from the menu, which will help those of you having speakers with major LF output. 
Soundstage width is to the edge of the speakers, not a broad expansive thing that you might expect with your favorite tube phono preamplifier, but then you have to pull yourself back to Earth and realize that this is part of an integrated that only costs $2,500, so in comparison to what’s out there for a few hundred dollars, this is a winner, indeed. The only thing you will notice, is that some of the personality, or some might say, the imperfections of the analog process are somewhat homogenized by the digital nature of the SU-G700.

Overall winner

The SU-G700 has no negatives, and we haven’t even discussed the beautiful enclosure and attention to detail that goes along with this product. From the thick front panel, to the delicately lit power meters and even the high quality of the silk screening on the meters is in five-figure product execution range. If you are a build/style junkie, you’ll freak out by the level of overall quality present here. This is one beautiful piece of hifi gear – and it’s also available in black.

What the Technics SU-G700 does is provide you with a top-notch anchor for a great music system at an incredibly affordable price. It sounds great, looks fantastic, and offers an intuitive user interface too. Good as the remote is, the quality and feel of the controls just beg you to walk up to it, give the volume control a bit of a spin, and watch those power output meters come to life. Pairing it up with the SL-G700 and the speakers of your choice make for an incredibly high value proposition.

We Begin the Technics Project!

Yes, I know I’m a hifi reviewer and I’m supposed to have expensive and mighty turntables or I’m not an audiophile…

Ok, I may not have any six-figure turntables like some of the grand pubahs, but nonetheless, I think I’ve put together a nice set of disc spinners from AVID, Brinkmann, Soulines, VPI and now Grand Prix Audio, with a stable of cartridges and phono stages to match. They sound great and help me do my job at TONEAudio, evaluating pressings and components.

Much as I love these turntables, I started my analog journey with the Technics SL-1200. Bought a new one from Pacific Stereo on 27th street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a Stanton 681EEE cartridge. Worked all summer for that puppy. The first record I bought was Edgar Winter’s They Only Come Out at Night – and I still have it!

But then I became an audiophile and the 1200 wasn’t good enough to pass muster with my like minded buddies, and it was kind of unthinkable then to have more than one turntable. I’m not sure why, but the 1200 moved on to a good friend and a Rega Planar 3 took it’s place, soon to be replaced by an Oracle Delphi mk. II.

Though the 1200 has tremendous respect in the DJ community for its rock solid speed accuracy and ease by which you can vary the speed and scratch to your hearts content, it’s been heavily dissed by the audiophile community until recently, where a number of enthusiasts have upgraded every aspect of the table. Tonearms, external power supplies, you name it.

Having revisited the 1200 myself about five years ago, I did find it a little dark, but there were still things I loved, like the speed accuracy and the solid bass foundation it lays down. A quick swap for an SME 309 tonearm and a TimeStep power supply proves that this is a worth audiophile table indeed.

Needless to say I was more than a little bit excited when the new SL-1200G hit the market last year. And because Technics was so reluctant to hand review samples out, I jumped off the cliff and just bought one from my good friend Antonio Long at AVSF. I have not been disappointed in the least.

Combining this with my modded 1200 mk.2 and a much older SL-1100 (thanks to Erik at Gig Harbor Audio) and the new McIntosh MP-1100 phono stage, I can mix and match cables, cartridges and tonearms to my heart’s content. And I plan to do so as time goes on. But more importantly, I will be playing a lot of records in room two at TONEAudio, because the SL-1200 is so much fun.

I guess I’m not an audiophile anymore. I don’t think I ever was.

Stay tuned, and show us your 1200s (and your story) out on the Analogaholic section of our Facebook page. I look forward to talking to you! – Jeff Dorgay

The Technics SL-1200G Turntable

The older we get, the more difficult it is to remember some of life’s firsts.

Once, while chatting with Jerry Seinfeld about his Porsche collection, a big smile came across his face recalling his first 911; a red, early 80s Carrera, and how hard he had to work to get that car. “You never forget stretching for the first one.”

So it goes for me with turntables. A full summer of chores put enough money in my wallet to walk into Pacific Stereo and plunk a shiny new Technics SL-1200 (with Stanton 681EEE cartridge) into the hatch of my Gremlin back in 1976. Ok, I’m not as famous as Mr. S, but I kinda know how he felt. Rushing home at a hurried pace, a quick set up with the enclosed alignment tool, and Frampton Comes Alive was blasting out of my JBL L-100s. I had never even heard the term VTA and my wallet was empty, but I was really, really, happy.

A little more than 40 years later, weaving through Portland’s rush hour traffic, trying to get to FedEx before they close, I feel the same sense of excitement on the way to pick up today’s SL-1200G. Last year, Technics released a limited quantity of the classic table, model SL-1200GAE. They sold out almost instantly, with a retail price of about $4,000. Yeah, that’s a lot more than I paid for mine, but all things considered, $400 back in 1976 is about $2,300 in todays money. So, is the new 1200, $1,700 better than the old one?  We’re about to find out.

Fortunately, between staff member Jerold O’Brien and I, we pretty much keep everything, or we know how to get our hands on it. Mr. O’Brien just happened to have a 1200 lying about from 1980, so that’s close enough. To make this even more interesting, I still have a 1200 mk.II that’s had some modifications courtesy of Sean Casey at Zu Audio, as well as a TimeStep power supply from Sound HiFI in the UK. (you can read that article here), so there will be none of that “well, I can’t really remember what a 1200 sounded like, but blah, blah, blah.” that you hear from the other so called experts. It’s 1200 fest at TONEAudio. We do our homework.

Attention to detail

Seinfeld is fond of mentioning what he calls “density of thought.” Comparing the 1200 mk.II to the current 1200G is much like comparing an 80s Carerra to a current 911. Most of the visual cues you know are still there, right down to that same cartridge alignment tool, but everything is finished to a much higher standard.

Those that like to geek out the older 1200s usually concentrate on a couple of areas first; dampening the platter and the chassis; the former being tougher than the latter, because of balance issues. Along with a greatly improved direct drive mechanism, Technics addresses both of these issues with the 1200G. The new platter is fully balanced, filled with a layer of deadening rubber and has a brass top layer to the platter. Popping the platter from the original 1200 mk.II on the current table quickly reveals the progress made. Images fully rendered on the 1200G shrink dramatically and a level of low level image focus and quality disappears. The delta is like going from a pair of Nordost Odin cables to a pair of Radio Shack interconnects.

The original 1200 benefited tremendously from having the tonearm rewired with premium wire, but thanks to a pair of RCA jacks underneath the table, a-la VPI, swapping the fifty cent interconnect for a pair of Cardas Clear interconnects brought the sound of the 1200G to the head of the class. Last but not least, for the perfectionists in the crowd (and I know you’re out there) replace the standard issue head shell and associated wire. In this case, a wooden Ortofon LH-8000 fills the bill nicely.

While the new G model’s tonearm looks remarkably similar to the one fitted to the original 1200, the bearings and counterweight are machined to a much tighter tolerance, and where the original arm was made from aluminum, the magnesium arm from the limited edition SL-1200 GAE is retained here. Even the dampening feet are greatly improved over the original model.

Just like any other high performance machine, the SL-1200G benefits from numerous small improvements that you can’t see. Better bearings along with refined motor and drive control circuitry all add up to more music revealed.


Considering all the fun I had taking the photos of this table, I kept wondering how it would sound on initial power up. In a word, dark. However, this is not the table’s fault. After the folks at Technics delivered a huge bag of cash to my doorstep via Fed Ex it sounded much better. Just kidding.

However, in all seriousness, setting up the SL-1200G with the tools in the box and a modest cartridge will not get you to audio heaven, but this would be like assembling a 911 engine with a pliers, and an adjustable wrench. That project would go equally poorly. Though the new 1200G looks a lot like it’s distant relative, all the verbiage in the manual is true; this table is a much more precise instrument.

Get your hands on some decent setup tools – now. A precise protractor like the Feickert or the Acoustical Systems SMARTractor, a good test record and a digital stylus force gauge. If you are a master of the Feickert setup software, that won’t hurt either. 30-60 minutes spent fine tuning the new 1200 will pay a world of dividends. Lastly, throw out the stock power cord and fit something a little better while you’re at it just for good measure.

I can’t fault Technics for any of this; they did their homework and built a solid deck. In their defense, the last $5,500 tonearm I purchased from SME resulted in throwing the packaged tonearm cable in the circular file, to be replaced with a $1,200 cable from Furutech. The good news is that you can at least get the 1200G up and running with the tools and cables included; but properly set up, it’s a sweetheart of a table.

Nothing but fun

The SL-1200G is so easy to use, it’s made vinyl playback a blast. Thanks to the three inputs on the Pass Labs XS Phono, and a set of three Rega Elys 2 cartridges, comparing the three variations on the SL-1200 theme is not only a breeze, but enlightening. Queuing up three copies of MoFi’s self-titled Santana (only a few pressing numbers apart, to keep it all as close to identical as possible) quickly shows the progress the Technics engineers have made.

Immediately the new table’s massive stereo image makes itself known. The mk.2 creates a somewhat small sonic landscape that is limited to the space between the speakers; it feels more like VHS. Where the gentle piano at the beginning of “Treat” feels small and uninvolving on the mk.2, moving up to the 1200G brings it alive, the piano now sounding much bigger and livelier. As the guitar is folded in, a similar effect is displayed and even the non-audiophiles in my impromptu listening sessions stood up and took notice.

All three tables exhibit great speed accuracy, but again the new model (and the TimeStep modded version) offer a much lower noise floor, resulting in a greater dynamic range. When tracking through a new, 45 r.p.m. copy of Kruder and Dorfmeister’s The K&D Sessions, the new table shines, with incredible bass weight that the other two can’t match.

Finally where I would never have mounted a premium cartridge to the original 1200, because of its general lack of resolution, this is now a welcome addition to the current model. Upgrading the standard issue Technics head shell with something from Ortofon or another specialty manufacturer, and some better head shell wires (in this case, a set of silver ones from Furutech) takes it all to the next level.

Switching from the $300 Rega MM cartridge to the $6,000 Transfiguration Proteus cartridge brought about quite the “ah-ha” moment, and convinces me that this is a world class table in the $4,000 price category. The Technics SL-1200G has the ability to resolve the difference between cartridges with ease, and thanks to the easily removable head shells, this was not a terribly difficult task. Even if you don’t invest in a $6,000 cartridge for your new 1200G, know it is up to the task.

Should you be of the “get a great table first, add the mega cartridge later” mindset, one budget cartridge that delivers astounding sonics with the 1200G is the $379 Denon DL-103r. It won’t offer the last bit of fine detail that the four figure cartridges will, but it’s level of sheer musicality and bass weight should keep your ears perked up.

I’ve never been a DJ, but…

I do have more than one turntable, and I can’t resist a good 45 r.p.m. maxi single. The well recorded ones offer up a level of dynamics that is usually a cut above a standard album. Radiohead’s “High and Dry” proved a perfect place to start. A mere push of the button is all it takes to get to 45 right now, and it goes without saying, the speed accuracy of the new 1200G is perfect – the red strobe now replaced by a rich blue.

As you might suspect, the rock-solid speed accuracy provided by direct drive makes not only for explosive transients, but sturdy bass response. Zipping through a handful of Prince 45s delivers a special quality, weight and texture to the lower register that I haven’t experienced with tables at this price before.

Yet the 1200Gs sole attribute is not solid bass response as the early mk.2 was. Where the original still provides a rock solid musical foundation, it’s not an audiophile turntable in stock form. The current G model adds the nuance that you’d expect from a great belt drive table. While the 1200G doesn’t have the level of finesse that my reference Brinkmann Bardo possesses, it grooves in that direction.

Switching the program material to solo piano underlines the 1200Gs solidity. It’s like taking the speed stability of a great digital recording and adding the tonal saturation of analog. It’s a compelling combination.

Lastly, I just couldn’t resist the urge to do a little bit of scratching, so the Ortofon CC Scratch came off the shelf and after resetting tracking and anti-skate (Ortofon suggests a 2-gram anti skate setting and 4-gram tracking force “because of the abnormal behavior of the tonearm when backcuing.” Try that on a $100,000 turntable.

Across the board great

As with a great sports car, much is to be said for balance. Those rare cars with an equal amount of stop, go, handling and feel are often much more fun on a curvy road than a high horsepower car that is a monster beyond your capabilities. The Technics SL-1200G is like the new generation Miata. It offers up such a balanced amount of analog performance, that you’ll never notice you aren’t listening to a $30,000 turntable.

If you haven’t considered a direct drive turntable for audiophile duty, I can’t suggest the Technics SL-1200G highly enough. I’m happy to award it one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2017 and not only have I purchased the review sample, I’m thinking of a second one, just because. -Jeff Dorgay

The Technics SL-1200G

MSRP: $4,000


Phonostage                Pass XS Phono, Audio Research REF Phono 3

Cartridges                  Rega Elys2, Ortofon Scratch, Denon DL-103r, Sumiko Blackbird, Grado Reference 1, Transfiguration Proteus

Preamplifier              Pass XS Pre

Power Amplifier        Pass XS 300 monoblocks

Cable                          Tellurium Q Silver Diamond and Cardas Clear