It’s funny how quickly certain impressions can take hold in the mind. Say the words “Technics integrated amplifier,” and immediately my mind’s eye is filled with wall-to-wall VU meters recessed behind a panoramic window of glass against a clean, white background. So, for me, the look of the company’s new SU-GX70 amplifier was somewhat surprising, as it does not follow that aesthetic, but I think a quick peek at all of the logos on its packaging gives some indications as to why. This isn’t an integrated amp with streaming capabilities onboard so much as it is a streamer with amplification built in.
Is that a distinction without a difference? I don’t think it is. In many respects, the SU-GX70 follows the visual template of Technics’ SL-G700M2 streaming SACD player rather than the Grand Class SU-G700M2 integrated amplifier-DAC I reviewed a little over a year ago. Like the SL-G700M2, it features Chromecast and AirPlay 2 connectivity, with support for Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon Music, and Deezer built-in.
The SU-GX70 also upgrades the Bluetooth specification from 4.2 to 5.1 and loses the disc-playback capabilities, of course, but it adds 40Wpc of class-D amplification (into 8 ohms), along with a few other surprises we’ll discuss in a bit.
Cracking open the packaging for the SU-GX70, we’re met with a presentation that’s similar to that of the aforementioned SU-G700M2, which I described in that unboxing blog as “Here’s your book, here’s your remote, here’s your power cord, here’s some expanded polystyrene.”
I’m bummed that Technics is still using EPS, and doubly bummed that the cushioning material consists of two endcaps rather than four or eight corner pieces that might make unpacking a little easier. But given the $1999.95 price tag (USD), it’s hard to complain too much. The packaging and padding do their job, and that’s what really matters.
With the amp out of the box, we get our first good look at the industrial design and accessories. As I said above, the look of the amp isn’t unlike that of the SL-G700M2 streaming SACD player, although in this case there’s a big center-mounted volume control, which is remarkably stiff and free from stops—meaning it rotates infinitely in both directions.
The remote control is quite similar to that of the SU-G700M2. What I didn’t expect to see in the pack-in materials, though, was an FM antenna. I guess I didn’t read as deeply into the SU-GX70’s specs as I thought I did before I agreed to this review.
It’s the sort of thing I would imagine most people won’t use, but I’m jazzed to see FM reception included. I’ve been listening to a bit more terrestrial radio lately, and it’ll be nice to enjoy it OTA on my hi-fi rig rather than via internet radio on my Amazon Echo speakers or on my nearfield desktop sound system.
You’ll notice that my SU-GX70 review unit came clad in black. When given the choice—assuming there’s even the option—I always request silver- or champagne-colored electronics because I was raised right. In this case, I wasn’t given the option. I expected to be disappointed, but I’m actually digging the black. In this close-up, not only can you see the standby button, front-panel USB jack, IR window, and full adult-size headphone jack, but you can also get a sense of the texture of the amp’s front panel. You can just barely see that the Technics logo is etched in rather than silkscreened on, which is—again—a bit more class than I expect at this price. Little touches like that add up.
When I flipped the unit around to get a look at the back, the first thing that stood out to me was that, as with the SL-G700M2, the SU-GX70 relies on two permanently affixed antennas for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, each of which rotates 90 degrees but no more. We can also see those big, gorgeous five-way binding posts in the accompanying photo, along with a panoply of other connectivity we’ll zoom in to take a closer look at.
First, a closer look at those sexy binding posts. They speak for themselves, obviously. Just to their right and below, we see the unit’s stereo RCA pre-out connections, which might come in handy for either adding a sub or beefing up your power down the road, should you need to.
Moving to the other side of the back panel, we see a few more welcome surprises. In addition to the aforementioned FM antenna connection, there’s the all-important ethernet port, a USB-B DAC connection, one coaxial (RCA) and two optical (TosLink) digital inputs, two single-ended RCA line-level analog inputs, an MM phono input, and an HDMI ARC connection—the latter of which is still sadly rare in the two-channel world. It’s nice to see Technics embracing it.
That’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of functionality to evaluate, so I’d better get kicking. Look for my full review in the not-too-distant future here on SoundStage! Access.
. . . Dennis Burger