Last year Panasonic resurrected the Technics brand and its legendary SL-1200 turntable. Now, the company wants to be your one-stop solution for all things HiFi, with a new model of the SL-1200, a pair of speakers and an integrated amplifier.
Let's start up top. The new SL-1200GR ("Grand Class") takes bits from last year's model and tweaks them for higher performance. The direct-drive motor is a "single-rotor, surface-facing coreless direct-drive motor" the company says eliminates cogging (read: added noise during playback due to motor instability). There's newly tuned circuitry under the hood as well.
The turntable platter's gotten a few improvements, too, with some extra weight and new resonance-deadening rubber on its underside. Technics says these adjustments help make the deck's damping abilities "more than twice as good" compared with the SL-1200MK5 from 2002.
You're going to need speakers for that turntable, and that's what the Grand Class (notice a theme here?) SB-G90s are for. The glossy black, floor-standing speakers pack in dual 6.5-inch woofers, a 6.5-inch midrange cone and a 1-inch dome tweeter to hit a frequency-response range of 27Hz to 100kHz at -16Db and four ohms.
There are plenty of other promising details too, like all kinds of vibration-reduction methods, aluminum-dome diaphragms, high-linearity-drive-underhung voice coils and 16cm low-distortion long-stroke woofers.
But wait, there's even more. A turntable and speakers won't do much good without an amp to power them. The reference-class SU-G700 should fit that bill, assuming you have the cash to spare for it. The case is all aluminum, with a pair of analog needle meters. The unit's volume knob is a chunk of aluminum as well.
This all should give it a decidedly solid look and feel, but Panasonic hopes its digital internals -- with a High-speed Silent Hybrid Power Supply and Load Adaptive Phase Calibration, among other accouterments -- will get the audiophiles salivating.
Around back a pair each of digital coaxial inputs, digital optical inputs and RCA jacks are rounded out by a USB-B port and a powered phono input. That's enough to hook in a CD player, turntable, Chromecast Audio and still have a few inputs left over. In terms of power output, the amp tops out at 140W at 4 ohms and 70W at 8 ohms.
Here's the thing: Technics' 2015 model (SU-C700) cost over $1,500 and was derided by critics for being overpriced and outclassed by cheaper amps. Let's hope the follow-up fares better. What's more, the company hasn't given any pricing details for any of this gear yet. All of the press materials were rife with highfalutin words about construction materials and their impact on sound quality, though, which should be pretty telling.
Billy Steele and Richard Lawler contributed to this report.
Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.