The Technics OTTAVA f SC-C70 Premium All-in-One Music System is, simply put, one of the most fascinating products to cross my threshold in quite some time. Fascinating, in part, because it strikes me as exactly the sort of product that Technics has been rebelling against as a brand since its re-introduction in 2014. Fascinating, too, because I can't say that I've ever used or reviewed anything quite like it.
But what is it, exactly? Because its product descriptor--Premium All-in-One Music System--is so ubiquitous these days as to be completely unhelpful. Simply put, the SC-C70 ($999) is an integrated amp with a built-in CD player, built-in speakers, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Internet Radio, and DLNA streaming capabilities, with file format support for WAV, FLAC, AIFF, and ALAC up to 192/24; AAC, WMA, and MP3 up to 320 kbps; and DSD up to 5.6 MHz. Oh, and there's a built-in AM/FM tuner, to boot. And all of it is backed up by an amplifier section with 30 watts per stereo channel and 40 watts for the subwoofer. The only way Technics could have fit more "all" into this "All-in-One" would have been to slap an asynchronous USB DAC input onto the back panel.
The SC-C70 employs two noteworthy technologies: namely, acoustic lenses and a combination of DSP features known as LAPC (Load Adaptive Phase Calibration) and JENO (Jitter Elimination and Noise-shaping Optimization) Engine. The former is a reverse dome-shaped fin structure that Technics says provides a long sound path for its tweeters, resulting in an incredibly wide soundstage and wonderful stereo imaging for a device whose drivers are so tightly packed. The latter technologies work in conjunction to provide better time alignment across the board.
The design of the unit itself is also worth touching upon, because this is case where pictures just don't do the thing justice. The SC-C70 is graced with a solid aluminum top panel, in which its gorgeous little CD player is housed, as well as physical buttons for power and volume control, along with touch-sensitive transport controls. While the rest of the cabinet is mostly made of dense plastic, it is still beautifully built, right down to the gorgeous tootsies upon which the entire ensemble sits.
The first thing I noticed upon pulling this rigid beauty out of its box is that, for all of its well-designed elements, the SC-C70's bottom-firing woofer just doesn't seem to be well thought out. The problem? The woofer is entirely exposed and susceptible to damage, given that its only protection is a finger guard to the side to keep you from grabbing it when you pick up the chassis. This woofer desperately needs a grille of some sort.
The setup process is straightforward. The unit supports both wired and wireless network connectivity, and it's supported by a pretty standard mobile app that gives direct access to things like streaming Internet radio and in-depth setup functionality.
However, most of what needs to be done in terms of setup can be handled with the included remote and front-panel display. Upon firing up the SC-C70 for the first time, I was greeted with a firmware update, which took a few minutes. One thing the screen doesn't tell you is that, after completing said update, you need to disconnect the power cord and leave it disconnected for three minutes before plugging the unit back in. Little details like that mean that it's essential to read the instruction manual.
One other thing that warrants discussion is the SC-C70's Space Tune optimization technology, which consists of three preset EQ curves for one-boundary (1/2 space, or open air with just a surface beneath it), two-boundary (1/4 space, or against a wall in the middle of a room), or three-boundary (1/8 space, or corner-loaded) placement. The differences between these EQ curves are subtle but audible. There is one more option for iOS users: completely customizable room correction called Space Tune that's based on in-room measurements via iOS.
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