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Review: Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier – sound + technology

Review: Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier believes to that the SU-R1000 should be able to cope with almost every musical genre

My first “real” hi-fi system in the early 1990s consisted of used Technics components that were a good ten years old and even older compact loudspeakers from Braun. In terms of sound, this chain was worlds better than my “old” compact system and made a decisive contribution to my later journey into the wonderful world of high-end hi-fi. No wonder then that the prospect of testing the new Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier (price: 7,500 euros) triggered a not so small endorphin boost in me.

This is not so much due to the design of the new Reference Line top model among the Technics integrated amplifiers. In terms of design, the SU-R1000, which is available in black or silver, with the large-area VU meters on the almost 20 centimeter high front, points one or two design generations further into the past. As with the SU-C700 premium-class integrated amplifier and the SE-R1 reference-class stereo power amp, the Japanese have skilfully played with this retro 1970s element and integrated it into a housing that is as minimalist as it is modern – one might almost think the grandchildren of the Bauhaus founders have a hand in this.

Stabilo-static

The workmanship of the Technics SU-R1000 is more than appropriate for the price range, which is partly due to the sheer use of materials: the housing was designed for maximum rigidity in order to keep vibrations that are harmful to the sound largely in check, says Technics. According to Technics, the ten millimeter thick front panel, the six millimeter thick cover made of aluminum plates with four ventilation grilles and the cast-iron device feet contribute significantly to the improved insensitivity to vibrations. The Japanese have also padded inside. The signal-processing departments are divided over two floors, which are separated from each other by massive steel shielding plates. They are not only used for shielding, but also for the rigidity of the housing. The double mono class D sits in the upper compartmentpower amplifier including its channel-separated power supply, while the preamplifier section, each with its own power supply unit for phono and digital signal processing, can be placed below. Between these two compartments, steel shield plates also provide shielding and even more rigidity.

The feel is also convincing. The two play and wobble-free aluminum rotary knobs – one is used for volume control, the other for source selection – are each milled from a solid block of aluminum and then ground. The generously sized on/off switch clicks well and with a satisfying click.

Incidentally, it switches the Technics SU-R1000 off completely – standby is only possible with the clearly designed system remote control, which, thanks to its adult dimensions, can come up with many direct selection buttons, for example for the inputs of the SU-R1000. The size of the control panel also helps not to misplace it, because that would be somewhat problematic: The device settings cannot be made on the amplifier itself – a concession to the clean design of the front panel without any other control elements apart from the 6.3 millimeter Jack output for headphones . And since the Technics SU-R1000 is neither LAN nor WLAN-capable, there is no app operation either.

No noise in the forest

Anyone who read along carefully earlier counted a total of four power supplies: Two in the preamplifier section are responsible for the phono EQ and the digital section, and two others each take care of one channel of the power amplifier. And all four are switching power supplies with the nice name “Advanced Speed ​​Silent Power Supply”. In order to achieve high performance with a fast response time and low noise tendency, the Technics engineers have placed the switching frequency in the 400 kilohertz band. In this way they want to have virtually eliminated the modulation noise of conventional switched-mode power supplies. And if there is still some noise in the high frequency ranges, a so-called “Super Low Noise Regulator” takes care of minimizing this measly remainder.

According to Technics, these measures should be reflected in an “effective prevention of line-induced interference between the circuit blocks” – in other words: the signal-to-noise ratio and the channel separation are exceptionally good, although Technics does not come out with specific figures. But the behavior in the event of sudden power peaks should also improve compared to linear power supplies. According to Technics, the voltage does not drop even if the load current changes in pulses. This guarantees a highly stable power supply.

Totally digital?

The Technics SU-R1000 doesn’t offer either LAN, WLAN or Bluetooth , but plenty of digital inputs that support PCM up to a sample rate of 384 kilohertz and a word width of 32 bits as well as DSD up to 22.4 megahertz (DSD 256 via USB in ASIO Native mode) receive. In addition to the two USB-B ports , there are two optical and two coaxial S/PDIF inputs. The USB-A port is only used for installing firmware updates.

Absolutely analogue

Two RCA inputs and one XLR input are available on the high-level side . I particularly like the connection options to external power amplifiers or subwoofers, recorders or headphone amplifiers and even preamps: There is the good old tape loop (record-out with a fixed level and record-in), a pre-out with a variable level and direct access to the internal power amplifier of the Technics via main-in – helpful, for example, if you want to use the amplifier stage of the SU-R1000 in a surround setup.

Please stay strong now

Some of our readers must be very strong right now. Especially if they count themselves in the hardcore vinyl fraction. But I promise it’s worth persevering… The Technics SU-R1000 has two phono inputs, one via RCA and one via XLR. Moving magnet and moving coil pickups can be connected via RCA, only MC types can be connected to the XLR input. According to Technics, both inputs have a symmetrical signal routing until… Yes, until the valuable phono signals – like all other incoming analog signals – are digitized. I’m sorry, what? Potzblitz! outrage!

Or not? Viewed soberly, the complex signal processing, the specific functions of which I will come to in more detail in a moment, can only be done digitally per se – or at least in a simpler and more efficient way. The prerequisite for losing as little analog charm as possible is high resolution in the A/D conversion, i.e. the closest possible approximation to the continuously running analog signal. The Technics SU-R1000 therefore first converts all analog incoming source signals with an A/D converter from Asahi Kasei Microdevices with 24 bit/192 kHz. The JENO engine then samples these and of course all digital input signals (more on that later) up to 32 bits/768 kHz. The first positive effect: The signal-to-noise ratio at this level would be -120 decibels, says Technics.

Intelligent Phono EQ – Special phono treatment

Technics works particularly intensively with the phono signals. Technics uses three digital signal processing steps, which are summarized under the banner “Intelligent Phono-EQ”: Above all, Technics wants to achieve a high signal-to-noise ratio with Accurate EQ Curve before the other tricks are used. To do this, the Japanese put a 40 decibel lowpass filter in front of the actual A/D converter and raise high frequencies again after the conversion with “high accuracy”. In this way, losses in digital filter processing are to be avoided and the desired high signal-to-noise ratio is to be achieved.

Essential

But the two technologies that I think (and hear) are more relevant are the Phono Response Optimizer and Crosstalk Cancelling. Both are adjusted with the help of a “Time Stretched Pulse” measurement signal, which is on a calibration disc included with the Technics SU-R1000. The measurement result is used by the Response Optimizer as a basis for an active calibration of the equalization curve that is precisely adapted to the cartridge used, which is intended to correct the interactions of cartridge and phono stage – for example due to mismatching of the terminating impedance – at 400 points in the frequency response. Up to three pickup measurements can be saved and named. In addition to the standard RIAA equalization curve, the phono section also supports legacy EQ curves such as IEC, Columbia, Decca/FFRR, AES, NAB and “Old-RCA”. N / A, slowly interested? If not, then perhaps the Crosstalk Canceller will help to finally shed the analog purist blinders. It analyzes the pickup crosstalk – often a sore point for vinyllies – and corrects the signal via DSP. Theoretically, the sound image should be defined more clearly and spatially better.

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

JENO – upsampling, volume control and PWM conversion

The signal processing specialties in the Technics SU-R1000 do not stop there. Some readers may already be familiar with the JENO engine mentioned. JENO is something like the digital heart of modern Technics amplifiers and consists of a jitter-reducing sample rate converter for upsamplingto 32-bit/768 kHz, the volume control and a ∆Σ (Delta/Sigma) PWM converter, which converts the PCM signal into Class D PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) format and feeds it to the output power amplification stage. The ∆Σ converter is also responsible for noise shaping, an important process in JENO processing: it shifts the quantization noise to the high-frequency range during upsampling in order to reduce noise in the relevant audio band. The volume control happens immediately before the PWM conversion in the form of a multiplication of the 32-bit/768 kHz audio signal by a volume coefficient. The fact that the volume control gets the signal from the output of the sample rate converter and not vice versa is not trivial: This is the only way the Technics SU-R1000 can get the audio signal (also for LAPC,

ADCT – Active Distortion Avoidance

Technics has identified a potential weak point of the fully digital concept in the power amplifier stage: A possible “kick-back” of the connected loudspeaker (a reaction of the electromotive force) and voltage drops in the power supply with high current requirements could lead to distortionto lead. That’s why Technics uses the already mentioned “Advanced Silent Power Supply” in the Technics SU-R1000, as well as a kind of “internal revision” called ADCT (Active Distortion Canceling Technology). ADCT picks up the signal at the speaker output and compares it with the output of the sample rate converter. According to Technics, this adjustment of the analog PWM output signal from the original audio signal makes it possible to effectively compensate for potential distortions in the JENO engine.

LAPC – Optimized adaptation to the speaker

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

LAPC, a DSP for load-dependent phase calibration (Load-Adaptive Phase Calibration), is installed upstream of the JENO engine and downstream of the A/D converter. The initial problem: the impedance of a loudspeaker is known to be anything but constant, but inevitably has a more or less volatile frequency characteristic. Ideally, an amplifier should not be affected by this impedance characteristic. However, this is almost never the case. LAPC determines the individual load curve of the connected speaker via the frequency curve by measuring the necessary amplification and the phase at the output of the amp using a tone generated by the Technics SU-R1000, comparing it with this and then making the appropriate compensations. Small spoiler: This technology can result in decent sound gains. Of course, the user can switch LAPC on and off via the remote control.

phew That is truly a whole bar of tricks that the Japanese are bringing up there. And we haven’t even talked about “little things” like the GaN FET components – gallium nitrite driver transistors, which according to Technics switch extremely quickly, work with a low on-resistance and thus significantly less distortion in the pulses of the Class D output stage attach as MOSFETs. Or from the battery-operated master clock, whose clean power supply should avoid even the smallest disturbances caused by unavoidable distortions from the so-called Zener diode and should therefore oscillate particularly precisely. But what is the point of all this?

Technics SU-R1000: sound test and comparisons

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

Short answer: quite a lot. For this listening report, I listened in “Direct” mode and took advantage of all the technical possibilities of the Technics SU-R1000: LAPC, Cartridge Optimizer, Phono Response Optimizer and Phono Crosstalk Canceller. This is because they all offer quite clear advantages over standard playback. I will come to the specific differences in the course of the listening description.

The Technics SU-R1000 has character, and it basically retains that character regardless of the source and the use of the various sound-enhancing measures. Contrary to the general trend (my subjective observation), however, it does not try to simulate cozy, romantic tube sounds or impress with massive bass power. Instead, it is extraordinarily disciplined and controlled, with a tight bass and an almost ruthlessly honest, detail-loving midrange and presence range.

The fact that it remains musically sensitive is particularly impressive with a playfully mastered tightrope walk, in which many other amps in its price range slide down the slope in one direction or the other: It transports surging energy, clarity and weightless transient speed without being aggressive, hard or to sound awkward—for all his brusque honesty, he’s fun and hilarious. Neither the Waversa WAMP 2.5 MK2 (7,800 euros), which also works fully digitally, nor the Mark Levinson No. 5805 (9,000 euros) are worth the sparkling brightness of the overtones and the attack of the steel strings in the guitar solo of the single “The Lay Down (with HER & WATT)” by DRAM or the dirty distortion of the guitar at the beginning of “Chismiten” byMdou Moctar’s current album Afrique Victime  so convincingly and concisely. Both the Waversa and the Mark Levinson sound more authentic, softer, a bit more embellished – a matter of taste. Only the overtalented Grandinote Shinai (11,400 euros) is as realistic and natural as the Technics SU-R1000, but adds a touch more elegant smoothness and creaminess to the sound.

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

Last but not least, voices benefit from the characteristics of the SU-R1000. Jarvis Cocker performs “Tearjerker” from the album Room 29: Song Cycle about a Piano in a Hotel Room in a dynamically gripping, meticulously articulated and haunting way – despite the rather slim substructure of bass and fundamental tone . The Technics SU-R1000 has the talent to make the modulations of voices and the overtones of instruments effortlessly transparent.

An example of this is the dominantly mixed, widely modulating analog synth in “Wildfire” from the self-titled album by the British combo SBTRKT. Exciting, which twists, bends and flowing breaks the synth sound wizard produces here. And extremely entertaining how easily and relaxed the Technics SU-R1000 reproduces them! But also hard stuff like in “Nocturnal” from the album Scrolls of the Megilloth by the Australian Christian Death Metal warriors Mortification  suddenly becomes dramatically more audible: when was I ever able to experience the electric bass being so defined and clearly set out from the band’s sound? And yes, the mid-band is responsible for that, because that’s where the sound of the “bass” instrument is defined.

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

As already indicated, the bass of the Technics SU-R1000 tends to be dry, tight and somewhat slim. Not too lean, mind you, because even mediocre recordings like Katatonia ‘s “July” (Album: The Great Cold Distance) or the dead compressed “Mouth for War” from Pantera’s classic Vulgar Display of Power have enough pressure to set the neck muscles into rhythmic contractions . In addition, the Japanese pushes linearly very far into the bass range without thickening there for the sake of the effect or letting the control slip, even if an ASR Emitter I (from 6,800 euros) because it offers an even firmer grip and more pressure. Incidentally, this concise, sinewy, athletic tendency is even more evident with the LAPD activated than without it and extends into the fundamental range. The fact that even with very neutral and tightly and precisely tuned loudspeakers such as the ATC SCM19 never sounds boring or even tips the balance into the bloody void speaks for the perfectly defined tuning performance of the developers.

Exorbitantly powerful bass boosts are not among the Technics’ favorite feats. Fast on the bass side, it seems somewhat reserved in terms of gross dynamics compared to competitors such as the Waversa WAMP 2.5 MK2, simply because of the lower moving “bass mass”. The Technics SU-R1000 impresses all the more with its start in the mid-high range, catapulting brass sections like in Lambchop ‘s “Fuku” (album: Showtunes), piano attacks and voices ( Chilly Gonzalez and Jarvis Cocker on Room 29) with almost ghostly speed out of nowhere from very soft to very loud. And loud is possible with the SU-R1000 anyway: The ATC SCM19, which is not exactly efficient, reproduces even levels that are unfriendly to the neighborhood without the slightest hint of distortion or compression. The most fascinating feature is the unbelievable impulsiveness of the SU-R1000: The impulse is there and gone, so quickly and precisely delineated that even Phil Collins ‘ drumming cue from “In the Air Tonight” activated the reviewer’s old bones in a completely new way Charms unfold, without any exalted bass inferno. Hammer!

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

Auch feinen dynamischen Schattierungen – wie etwa bei den ausgeklügelten Transientenspielereien in Felix Labandes „Black Shoes“ (Album: Dark Days Exit) – fühlt der Technics SU-R1000 bis hin auf die mikroskopische Ebene nach. Dass der Technics ergo zu einer guten Auflösung des Hochtons fähig sein sollte, bestätigen recht beeindruckend die feinen Schlagzeugblechgespinste in Max Roachs „Lonesome Lover“ (Album: It’s Time).

You can still describe the Technics as “fresh on top” even after its two-week break-in period. He obviously doesn’t want to achieve the smooth, delicately flowing texture of my Norma-Audio combination of SC-2 DAC (7,400 euros) and PA-150 (5,300 euros): Because when the treble really gets down to business – such as in “Montagues and Capulets” from the dramatic recording of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet by the Munich Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergiu Celibidache – this should reach the listener unvarnished. Well peppered, but not over-seasoned, the tins of the percussion section glisten. The Technics does not let this din become a homogeneous mush of sound, but works out the structures of the individual sheets in the best possible way.

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

By the way: The impedance matching LAPC brings significant progress in terms of resolution and fine dynamics. If you don’t get goosebumps crawling down your back in the crescendo of the orchestra with this piece, you should hardly be able to help emotionally with the music. Oh yes: Last but not least, the Phono Response Optimizer is particularly positive and allows the connected pickup to emphasize its resolution and fine dynamic capabilities even more clearly. Highly recommended!

LAPC also helps the Technics SU-R1000 to better classify the spatial events. With the load correction switched on, the SU-R1000 separates voices and instruments more finely and sharply from one another, allowing Jarvis Cocker on Room 29 to step a few centimeters forward and Chilly Gonzalez ‘s piano to stand more freely behind it. In any case, it is impressive how large and boundless the space appears, which the Technics SU-R1000 creates an illusion of: the Munich Symphony Orchestra are staggered well beyond the lateral boundaries of the loudspeakers, far up and back towards the back wall of the room . Here, too, LAPC helps the Technics SU-R1000 to gain a better overview and differentiation.

What particularly impresses me, however, is that the Technics uncovers Q-Sound effects with activated load correction, which I had previously simply remained hidden from. Conclusion: LAPC is a great step forward and one of the strongest points of the SU-R1000. When it comes to spatiality, the crosstalk canceller also hits the big time. The positive effect is similar to that of LAPC, only a touch clearer: the depiction of individual instruments is more discrete, more sharply defined, more clearly ordered on the virtual stage. In terms of clarity and definition, the built-in phono section is even dangerous for the Neukomm MCR112S – and that alone costs 2,600 euros.

Technics SU-R1000 integrated amplifier

Conclusion

Like hardly any other amplifier I know, the Technics SU-R1000 embodies the pursuit of sonic perfection through well thought-out technical innovation. It sounds neither technoid nor unmusical nor romanticizing, euphemistic, lulling or softened. But reference-like precise, clean and controlled. The almost phenomenal talent for breathtakingly fast impulse and transient reproduction is also an absolute must. If you value these properties above all, you will hardly be able to get past the Technics SU-R1000 in the class under 10,000 euros – regardless of whether an integrated amplifier or a pre-amplifier combination is on the wish list.

The flexibility of the SU-R1000 is enormous. Both in terms of equipment and in terms of connected speakers: With LAPC, the Japanese tries to get the best out of the speakers. The more “difficult” the loudspeaker, the more clearly the improvement in sound is audible. A small restriction: I would not recommend speakers that are very bright and slim, regardless of their load characteristics, as the ideal choice for the Technics SU-R1000, as the balance could possibly tilt into the strenuous.

And although I believe that the SU-R1000 should be able to cope with almost every musical genre, I cannot rule out that some listeners with a desire for steamhammer bass and earthquake impulses or romantic high-frequency melting might find the Technics somewhat humorless and disciplinarian. On the other hand, lovers of sophisticated electro, classical, vocal music, jazz – but also rock, funk and pop – will be amazed again and again. A dream for friends of undisguised sounds and deep insights.

The Technics SU-R1000…

  • has a fundamentally lean tonal balance without appearing emaciated.
  • does not exert the greatest pressure in the tight and fast bass and therefore holds back a little in terms of coarse dynamics, but shines with exceptional precision and control.
  • presents the midrange in a very open, clear and unpretentious manner. The voice reproduction, like the entire midrange and high range, is impressively free, authentic and (also roughly) dynamically unlimited.
  • is blessed with a fresh high tone that sounds very detailed without ever crossing the threshold of sharpness.
  • has very good fine dynamic abilities.
  • is blessed with breathtakingly fast impulse and transient response.
  • builds up a space that is wide and free in all dimensions, which it defines and staggers particularly well (but not only) when using the phono crosstalk canceller.
  • owns innovative and efficient digital tools that can significantly improve the sound. For example, the LAPC impedance correction makes the Q-Sound effect more audible, a sign of better phase coherence.
  • could convince even the hardest analog disciples that ones and zeros, if processed correctly, can also enhance a vinyl signal.

Facts:

  • Model: Technics SU-R1000
  • Concept: integrated amplifier with DAC
  • Price: 7,500 euros
  • Dimensions and weight: 430 mm × 191 mm × 459 mm (H×W×D), 22.8 kg
  • Colours: black or silver
  • Inputs: analogue: 2 x line-level (1 x cinch, 1 x XLR), 2 x phono (MM/MC, 1 x cinch, 1 x XLR), 1 x record in (cinch), 1x main in | digital: 2 x Toslink, 2 x S/PDIF (coaxial), 2 x USB-B
  • Outputs: 2 pairs of speaker outputs, 1 x pre-out (cinch), 1 x record-out (cinch), 1 x headphone output (6.3 mm jack)
  • Power: 2 x 150 watts/8 ohms, 2 x 300 watts/4 ohms
  • Codec Support: PCM (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384 kHz / 16, 24, 32 bit); DSD (2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz and in Asio Native mode 22.4MHz)
  • Miscellaneous: remote control, calibration record, control socket (3.5 mm jack), USB-A for updates (no streaming)
  • Guarantee: 2 years

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