Technics Network Audio Amplifier SU-G30

Device Type: Integrated Amplifier/DAC/Network Player
Full Specifications
Availability: Authorized Dealers
Price: $3,999.00
Website: www.technics.com

Classic
I like Technics, the company, and I always enjoy my time listening to their products and chatting with Bill Voss, Technics Business Development Manager US. Their gear has a classic look about it and Bill knows his stuff. So I was pleased to (finally) get a bit of Technics in-barn and the SU-G30 was the perfect fit in my ongoing series of review of like-components.1

The SU-G30 in a nut shell; 50wpc into 8 ohms (100 WPC into 4 ohms), 6 digital inputs, 1 line level input, 1 phono (MM), and WiFi/Bluetooth/Airplay. The USB Type-B (PC) input can pass PCM data rates up to 384kHz and DSD256, while the Coax S/PDIF and Network inputs max out at 192kHz and DSD128. Toslink maxes out at 96kHz and forget about DSD.

Playback control is controlled by the Technics app for Android and iOS devices. Let's get this over with—in a word, yuck. I mean no disrespect but "Folder" view is so last decade. When I tapped "Albums" in the app, which took 3 taps to get to from the Home screen (Music Server > my NAS > Music > By Albums) I quickly saw that there was no bleeding Alphabet! I like having one handy, in-app, so I can jump to Albums by their first letter. You can just type the first letter in the app's search box, which is speedy to return results, but I have to say (here comes the broken record) that after using Roon for a few years, this type of interaction with my music feels like a condom has been inserted between me and it.

The Technics app does offer Tidal (and Internet Radio and Spotify) but when you go there, the music playing from your NAS is automatically stopped. Bummer because I don't always want to fully commit to Tidal, I may just want to browse. When browsing new releases in Tidal, which takes 4 taps to get to (Tidal > What's New > Albums > New), some album covers take a few seconds to appear, which is also very last decade. You could blame my network but I do not have this issue with Roon. And Roon integrates Tidal with my music library seamlessly. I miss that.

So you can think of the Technics app as a very basic player. A classic.

The SU-G30's 100BASE-TX/10BASE-T Ethernet input explains why it could not connect to my network through my Gigabit TP-Link fiber media converters; they are too fast or the Technics is too slow. Your choice. A direct to router connection worked perfectly, and the SU-G30 connected within a few seconds after powering on. The manual explains things very well, but just make sure you connect the Ethernet cable before you connect the power cord. Firmware updates are handled through the network connection.

While the main manual makes no mention of it, the SU-G30 is an MQA certified device, i.e. it plays back MQA-encoded music at its original resolution. I initially had some issues with skipping when playing MQA titles from Tidal but this was resolved, at Bill Voss' suggestion, by powering the unit down, unplugging it, disconnecting the Ethernet cable, and re-connecting everything. Odd, because I had tried this a few times with no effect, but it worked (finally).

The Technics also has a VCF (Very Cool Feature) called LAPC "output correction function" which "Measure[s] the output signal of the amplifier and correct[s] its output." This is accomplished by either pressing "LAPC" on the included hand-held remote or in the app. Once initiated, the SU-G30 plays a series of test tones through the attached speakers, which takes a minute or two. You can defeat LAPC by pressing the same LAPC button on the remote or in the app but I recommend leaving it on because it very clearly improves the sound. The most noticeable improvement in my system was greater image focus and clarity, like focusing a lens and seeing the image more clearly. VN (Very Nice).

I find the SU-G30's silver aluminum wrapped looks to be classy classic and the minimal front panel to be as functional as needed. I leashed the SU-G30 to my DeVore gibbon Xs with my Tellurium Q Black cables and was off to the races. Let's emphasize this, to my way of thinking, appeal of the all-in-one; Ethernet in (and other stuff like a turntable if you have one), speakers out. That's it.

Classic Sound
The Technics SU-G30 is a very solid and capable performer. It offers a very well-balanced and well-controlled sound with nothing calling undue attention to itself other than the music. This is the way things should be, but aren't always, despite what the in theory people want to pretend is in practice.

Punchy as all get out with very well-controlled bass, the Technics player is a fun listen. Is it as refined sounding as the Moon for Simaudio Nēo Ace (see review)? Not to my ears when listening to the Technics' Network input. The Ace sounds to me like it digs deeper into the recording, revealing more nuance. I'm going to write a big roundup, as much as I hate that word/idea, of all the players that have come through here recently, so I'll leave off the comparisons here. That being said, I can certainly see how some listeners will prefer the Technics for its unfussy and well-controlled presentation.

Just for fun I played some records (well it was really to 'test' the Technics phono input but listening to records is always fun for me). The Bug vs Earth's beautifully packaged Concrete Desert sounded really f*@%king scary especially when I mistakenly played it at 33 1/3 (the devil made me do it). For anyone with LPs they like to spin, the Technics MM phono input and output, yes, even though that pure analog signal is converted to digital inside, is perfectly enjoyable. I like to keep in mind that the beauty of an all-in-one device is that it's all-in-one.

For interface control relief (ICR), I also ran with my microRendu serving the bits to the SU-G30 via USB, which allowed me to use Roon to control playback. Ahh, Spring has sprung, the fog has lifted, the condom is off. As you may have noticed, the interface to my music is very important to me. It may not be as important to you. If a very basic app works for you, you may very well be happy with the Technics app. Sound wise, while on the subtle side, the USB input/microRendu was more refined—it appeared to present micro-detail with more accuracy and nuance. This also gets me back to personal quirks—I have a difficult time using an all-in-one device with an outboard anything. In other words, using the microRendu to feed the Technics strikes me as a waste of functionality, namely the Technics networking capability, but that's just me. If you don't mind this kind of thing, I would say that the combination of better sound and Roon make the SU-G30 much more sexy.

Bluetooth is also on board so I played a few tracks Peter Brötzmann's lovely recording 14 Love Poems from my iPhone and enjoyed every last squawk and squeak. There are 2 Bluetooth "modes', one for signal strength and the other for sound quality which strikes me as a very nice real-world touch. Using my AudioQuest NightOwls, the only headphone I actually love, Kaleema's Nómada was as entrancing as ever. While I'm not a headphone kinda guy, my feeling is all but the pickiest will be pleased with what they hear through the SU-G30's 'phone output.

Classy
I have to admit to some frustration. The combination of the Technics app and the MQA skipping issue very nearly had me writing the Technics off as a no go, no contender. No Más , as my once favorite fighter once said. But. . .a few calm words from Technics' Bill Voss, a relatively quick fix to the skip, some time playing through Roon, and I am all better.

The Technics SU-G30 is a serious contender, no doubt about it. Taking all of its features and performance into account, the Technics SU-G30 falls very near, or at, the top of the recently-reviewed heap of all-in-one players. It is at once gutsy, punchy, sweet and chock full of what one expects from an all-in.


1. Recent all-in-one reviews:
Cary Audio AiOS
Moon by Simaudio Nēo Ace
Hegel Music Systems Röst
Lumin M1
Peachtree Audio nova300 Amplifier

Associated Equipment

COMMENTS
narli's picture

Hi Michael,
My modified Squeezebox Touch will not connect via the TP-Link either. Adding a gigabit switch between the Tp-Link and Touch makes it work. And improves the sound quality noticeably vs a direct router connection. If you still have the Technics try it and see if upgrades the unit's sound.

katylied's picture

Michael, I guess that the server installed on your nas is not able to show the album view in the desired and correct way. I am using minimserver and, when set up correctly, the album are sorted alphabetically by artist first and by release date then (newer first). I will send you some screenshot when I will be back from my holiday.

alexxx84962's picture

Hi there! Completely agree with the previous post. I had the similar problems with TP link router, so added a gigabit switch. Need to say - the sound is perfect! I would highly recommend you to do the same, you will definitely see the difference.

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