The new Technics SU-GX70 joins the likes of Bluesound, Cambridge Audio, Marantz and Naim in delivering one-box streaming amplifier systems that can do it (nearly) all. But the Technics goes one step further when it comes to versatility, throwing everything apart from the proverbial kitchen sink into its box of tricks.
The GX in the unit’s name denotes ‘crossover’ and it’s the first Technics audio product to include a video element in the form of an HDMI ARC input. Regardless of how you listen to music – Tidal, turntable, CD player, digital files, TV or even radio – the SU-GX70 has the (physical and wireless) tools to play it all.
And at £1699 / $1999.95 / AU$3199, it’s a surprisingly well-priced system, undercutting rivals such as the Cambridge Audio Evo 75 (£1799 / $2250 / AU$3299) and the Marantz Model 40n (£1899 / $2499 / AU$4499) and offering more features than both of them.
Build & design
The SU-GX70 is a classy-looking unit with a high quality build and finish. In fact, it doesn’t look too dissimilar from the SL-G700M2 streamer-and-CD-player we recently reviewed, with the same dimensions, neatly machined buttons and clear, informative display.
It’s perhaps not as immediately luxurious as the Marantz Model 40n or the pricier Naim Uniti Atom, but we can’t fault the sleek design. The system feels extremely well made and works well straight out of the box, too. It’s easy to use, everything is sensibly laid out, and whether you’re using the on-unit dials, the app or included remote control, using the SU-GX70 never feels complicated no matter how many features it has.
Internally, Technics has taken plenty of care to ensure the GX70 unit meets its exacting standards. It uses a fully digital amplifier with 40W of power per channel (into 8 ohms), alongside high-quality components and a dedicated power supply to the power amp section that’s kept separate from the rest of the circuits. Special attention has been given to both the moving magnet phono stage (given Technics’ heritage with turntables) and the HDMI ARC input (thanks to in-house Panasonic expertise). The introduction of video signals in the HDMI connection can introduce unwanted noise, so Technics has taken steps to reduce that noise’s impact on sound quality.
However you want to listen to music and from whichever source, it seems you can do it all through the GX70 with nearly every connection type catered for. Wi-fi and ethernet for your network connection are here as expected, and sit alongside Bluetooth, Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 for wireless streaming from devices. DAB, FM and internet radio stations are also on the cards, and most of the popular music streaming services (Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz) are supported through the app, too.
There are a multitude of physical connections, from two line-level inputs, phono RCA, optical and coaxial digital inputs, to HDMI ARC and two USB ports (type A and type B). There’s also a 6.3mm headphone jack at the front for plugging in your favourite pair of cans. The internal DAC can handle up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD512 files and decode MQA streams from Tidal.
Sources Network streaming, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, phono MM, DAB/FM tuners
Headphone output? Yes, 6.3mm
Network Wi-fi, ethernet
Inputs Line level x2, phono, HDMI ARC, optical x2, coaxial, USB Type A, USB Type B
Hi-res support 32-bit/384Hz (PCM), DSD512, MQA
Power output 40 watts per channel (into 8 ohms)
Dimensions (hwd) 9.8cm x 43cm × 36.8cm
Finishes x2 (silver, black)
Setting up the SU-GX70 doesn’t take long, but you’ll need two apps. You’ll first be prompted to download the Google Home app for the initial set-up, before heading to the Technics Audio Centre app for the rest of the settings, music playback and source selection. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s a two-app process, but you can delete the Google Home app if you won’t be using it post-set-up, and just use the TAC app as the main control.
It’s a decent, well-organised app and you can control every aspect of the GX70 and how you play your music. You can even rearrange the order of the inputs so your most used ones are readily available on screen, which is a nice user-friendly touch. We did have a couple of instances of dropout when connected to our Naim Core music server, but otherwise the app and GX70 runs smoothly.
There are additional features you can employ to fine-tune the Technics’ performance. One optimises the unit’s sound according to where it’s placed in your room, another is a calibration that allows the amplifier to work more consistently across a wider range of speakers.
There’s a sweetness to the sound that’s immediately likeable. It’s not as large-scale sounding as its Cambridge Audio and Marantz rivals, but this Technics delivers a genial, rhythmically interesting presentation that’s lovely to listen to.
Play Radiohead’s 15 Step or John Williams’ Jurassic Park theme, and the music zips along merrily. Complex arrangements are handled with a decent amount of organisation, even if the GX70 isn’t the last word in detail. The ebb and flow of each composition is relayed in an engaging, sure-footed manner, with ample subtlety when it comes to low level dynamics. This means the GX70 is compelling to listen to even when the volume is fairly low; there’s a certain level of finesse to the detail that really captures the spirit of the music.
The initial French horns in the Jurassic Park theme, rising to the strings and greater orchestral flourish are all handled with fluid dynamics and, crucially, hold our attention throughout the track. Turn up the volume and the GX70 doesn’t get shouty; it remains a clean, composed listen.
We play more tracks – from Jamiroquai, Eminem, Hans Zimmer, Slipknot, The Unthanks – and we find that we’re missing out on a few ounces of muscle and power to really hear that solid, satisfying punch to songs that require it.
We’d love to hear a greater degree of authority and weight to the SU-GX70’s sound. The imposing tone of James Blake’s Limit To Your Love doesn’t come across with the requisite bone-shuddering impact when the deep bass hits, while Major Lazer’s energetic Pon De Floor lacks a certain amount of snap, punch and solidity. Bruce Springsteen’s heartfelt vocals on Terry’s Song need a few notches of grit and gristle to ring true.
It’s all a tad gentle. This approach works beautifully with the delicate piano notes of Gnossienne No.1 by Erik Satie, but while every song hangs together fairly well musically – no mean feat, to Technics’ credit – a bigger dose of scale and muscle is needed to fully sink our teeth into the music.
This polite character stays the same through the various ways we played music – using a Cyrus CDi player, our reference Technics SL-1000R turntable, Apple Music over AirPlay, and when plugging in Grado SR325x headphones.
Technics has crafted a system that’s appealing, hugely versatile and delivers plenty of musical prowess. The SU-GX70 is a refined, musical system, if not quite the all-rounder in sound quality. If you’re after one-box convenience with all the music-playing methods you can wish for (and don’t require a huge amount of bass or power for your music) then it’s certainly worth considering.
- Sound 4
- Features 5
- Build 5
Read our review of the Cambridge Audio Evo 75
Also consider the Marantz Model 40n