Q. I want to build a stereo system based on either the Polk Audio Legend L200 bookshelf speakers or the L600 towers. I will need an amplifier, a network player and a CD player, no turntable. Cost is no object, I want the good stuff! What do you recommend?
— N.G., Atlantic City, New Jersey
A. I tried the Polk Legend speakers with amplifiers priced between $399 and $5,000. The best sound I achieved was definitely with the Technics Grand Class SU-G700 integrated amplifier, which at $2,499 lands right in the middle of the price range.
The SU-G700 has a proprietary digital amplifier and features top-of-the-line parts throughout. It makes 70 watts/channel into 8 ohms and 140 watts/channel into 4 ohms, and the ability to double its power into 4 ohms is a testament to the excellent design. Especially noteworthy is the LAPC feature that optimizes the power delivery for the specific speakers used with it. LAPC made a noticeable difference when I ran the setup program and engaged it, making speakers sing like I have never heard them sing before.
The amplifier features multiple digital and analog inputs. Although you said a turntable was not a part of your future system, it bears mentioning that the SU-G700 has the best built-in phono preamp I have tried in almost 20 years of reviewing electronics. It supports moving magnet and high output moving coil cartridges and if anyone is building a phono-based system, you can skip buying an expensive external phono preamp and use the savings toward the amplifier. Think of it as a $2,500 integrated amplifier with a $1,000 phono preamp included as part of the deal.
It’s also a looker, with big VU meters that show the power output while providing a classic touch to this elegantly modern component. The appearance and quality feel, advanced technology and pristine sound make the SU-G700 one of my favorite components of all time.
The logical choice to go with the amplifier is the matching Technics piece, the Grand Class SL-G700 Network/Super Audio CD player. It combines both functions in one top-shelf component, simplifying things for you.
The SL-G700 shows no expense was spared in its design and manufacturing, as the engineers literally took the best and most expensive route everywhere I looked. For example, the internal amplifier for the analog outputs is a discrete module and a dual mono design keeps stereo signals completely separate as they are processed. I used the SL-G700 with different combinations of amplifiers and speakers and as you might expect, sound quality is beyond reproach. It also has a headphone connection with a high-quality headphone amplifier so it could even serve as a single-piece system in conjunction with a high quality pair of headphones.
The $2,999 price is not unreasonable when you consider it is essentially a very high-end computer with a disc drive and premium quality audio connections. Either the amplifier or network/CD player represents a significant investment, and though I stand by these recommendations I suggest evaluating them thoroughly at technics.com before making the leap.
If you (or other readers) find the combined cost of $5,500 a bit steep you could start with the SU-G700 amplifier and use a more modest disc player and streaming device to get started. As long as you use the digital connections you will be rewarded with exceptionally fine sound for now, and you can upgrade to the SL-G700 later.©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC