Technics is returning as a high-end audio brand, Panasonic announced at the 2014 IFA show in Berlin. The new R1 Reference Class and C700 Premium Class lineup of speakers, amps, and other components will arrive first in Europe and Japan and then hit the U.S. market in 2015. Brent Butterworth was in Germany for the show and wrote up the details for his blog at About.com.
Here's some of what he had to say...
Technics was one of the best-known mass-market audio brands of the 1970s, '80s and '90s, but Panasonic pulled the plug on it in the 2000s. At a press event that took place today before the 2014 IFA show in Berlin, Panasonic relaunched Technics as a high-end audio brand, showing two systems slated to sell for €4,000 to €40,000, or about $5,250 to $52,500. The new Technics components are slated to launch in Europe and Japan by the end of the year, and in the U.S. "sometime in 2015," a Panasonic spokesperson told me.
It was clear from the event and the demos that followed that Panasonic didn't forget what it knew about audio, because all of the new Technics components offer unique technological twists I haven't seen before.
So why is Panasonic pushing to get back into the higher end of the audio business? Honestly I forgot to ask, but I didn't have to. It's for the same reason other mainstream companies such as Samsung and Sony are pushing harder into upscale audio products: the margins in the audio business are a lot better than the margins in the TV business.
At the press event, which I attended as part of a Panasonic press junket, the company announced two product lines: the R1 Reference Class and the C700 Premium Class. The R1 is the one that's €40,000, and the C700 is the €4,000 one.
The R1 series includes the SB-R1 tower speaker, the SE-R1 stereo power amp and the SU-R1 network audio control player/preamp. The C700 series includes the SB-C700 minispeaker, the SU-C700 integrated amp, the ST-C700 networked audio player and the SL-C700 CD player.
You can read Brent's full writeup, which provides a lot more specifics on the new gear, by clicking here.