We reviewed the original generation of the Technics SL-G700 back in 2019. At the time it seemed like a canny choice of source product for those that want to upgrade a traditional premium system but still have an eye for the future. The passing years haven’t changed our view one bit, with the mildly fettled SL-G700M2 version admirably fulfilling the same brief.
Build & design
It will take more than a casual glance to uncover the differences between the two generations of this product. The casework is identical, not that we are complaining. The Technics SL-G700M2 remains a solid and beautifully made box, displaying a level of fit and finish that is among the best we have seen at this level. The front panel controls work with precision, as does the large multi-control dial that comes into use across many aspects of set-up and playback. Special mention has to go to the disc-loading drawer that glides in a beautifully damped way.
Sources Network streamer, CD/SACD player
Digital inputs USB Type A (x2), USB Type B, coax, optical
Digital outputs Coax, optical
Analogue inputs None
Analogue output Balanced XLR/Stereo RCA
Headphone output? Yes
Volume control? Yes
Size (hwd) 98 x 430 x 407mm
Take a careful look inside and you might spot the change of DAC chip from an AKM AK4497 to an ESS ES9026PRO. Unlike most other companies, Technics isn’t spinning this into some kind of performance upgrade story, but with refreshing honesty has explained that this change is down to issues with the supply of the original AKM chip. This change of DAC chip has forced a redesign of the digital board and the company has used that as an excuse to improve performance.
There is now an extra stage in the digital signal path that aims to compensate for some of the innate but unwanted characteristics that are part and parcel of pretty much every DAC circuit. We are talking about reducing artefacts such as ringing caused by the digital filter, and changes in phase and gain over the frequency range. Technics has called this new design ‘Coherent Processing’, and made it switchable on the app so users can easily judge the benefits. It didn’t take us long to decide to leave it in circuit thanks to the increase in sonic solidity and stereo image precision it offers.
Elsewhere you will find an improved power supply arrangement. The supply is split between dedicated feeds for the digital and analogue sections, and while upgrades have been made to both, it is the work on the analogue side that is claimed to be the most significant. The design of this power circuit borrows technology originally developed for the company’s recent premium amplifiers and actively aims to reduce the noise on the supply feed. On paper, this offers benefits to every part of the SL-G700M2’s sonic performance.
The SL-G700M2’s connectivity is good. There is now a USB Type B on the back panel to allow easy connection to a computer, alongside the carry-over front and back panel USB Type A ports. Coax and optical are, as before, on the menu, but analogue inputs still aren’t; this is a digital-based product after all. As would be expected at this level, there are balanced XLR analogue outputs alongside stereo RCAs. A front panel 6.3mm headphone is also included. Move away from hard-wired connections and you have Bluetooth 4.2, Chromecast and Apple Airplay. Roon compatibility isn’t available at the time of writing but should be imminent via an over-the-air upgrade.
The SL-G700 also holds plenty of cards when it comes to music sources. The disc section will play CDs and SACDs, while its streamer module connects to everything you would expect: NAS units, USB storage, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music, among others. Internet radio, and its thousands of stations, is a couple of button presses away.
Set-up is relatively straightforward. Unlike some rivals, Technics doesn’t have a single app that does it all, leaving the initial set-up to the Google Home app. Once that’s done you can move to the company’s own software. This Technics app is mostly good though can be a little clunky on occasion. Much the same sentiment applies to the player. The combination of disc player and streamer doesn’t feel quite as seamless as it should, but once we’re used to the SL-G700M2’s occasionally cumbersome ways we have no real issues with the way it works.
It is worth persevering because this is a strong performer. We start with a few of our favourite CDs from Eminem’s Recovery through to Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love and Arvo Pärt’s Litany. The Technics has a controlled and clear delivery that works well regardless of what we play. It is a detailed and insightful presentation, and manages to organise the musical information in a cohesive and entertaining way. This isn’t a front-footed performer that aims to find the excitement in any piece of music fed to it, though. The SL-G700M2 likes to take a more measured approach, preferring to let any excitement come from the music rather than being deliberately generated.
We notice the same traits when we swap to the streaming module. This player gives balanced results regardless of source. It is bold and authoritative when it needs to be, say when playing Hans Zimmer’s Gladiator OST, but can change down the gears effortlessly when asked to render something as delicate sounding as Found Songs by Ólafur Arnalds. Irrespective of the recording we’re pleased with the insight on offer and the understated yet still musically engaging nature of this player.
The good news continues when we use the SL-G700M2 as a standalone DAC. We have no issues when connecting our MacBook Pro through the USB Type B socket, or our reference Naim streamer to the coax input. The Technics’ presentation stays consistent in each case and the front panel display, relatively small though it is, gives us ample information with enough clarity to avoid criticism.
A product at this level needs a bit of care in system matching. Avoid partnering equipment that’s on the bright or aggressive side and the Technics is well-balanced enough not to cause any issues. But, it is talented too, so while the natural choice would be one of the company’s premium integrated designs – we’ve yet to test any at an SL-G700-compatible level – we would have no qualms about suggesting really talented alternatives such as Naim’s SuperNait 3 or a Copland CSA 100 as suitable partners. Similarly, there are a number of capable speakers such as the ProAc Response D2R, Spendor A7 or Mission 770 that would work well.
Is it possible to find a separate CD player and music streamer that cost a similar amount to this Technics and get a better sound? We think it is. But, that’s missing the point of what is a well-conceived and surprisingly capable unit. As an all-round proposition, the Technics SL-G700M2 is hard to better at the price.
- Sound 5
- Build 5
- Features 5