The historic Technics audio brand was revived in 2015 and was lauded for bringing back its iconic SL1200 turntable range. Following on from this, several new products have been released and one such item is the OTTAVA Forte SC-C70; an all-in-one hi-fi system complete with inbuilt speakers. Let’s take a further look…
Technics have seen glowing reviews for other mini systems such as the SUC550 CD player and streamer so it’s no surprise to see a growing range emerging. Despite sounding like the name of a piece of IKEA furniture, the OTTAVA Forte looks anything but as we unpack it and take a good look at its design. A brushed aluminium panel with touch sensitive keys gives an immediate impression of premium quality and the centralised CD player with its rotating cover adds a certain unique experience to the design. Along the front facia is an LED display (which also houses a headphone output) sitting in between the built-in speakers. Both left and right channels have a 2cm tweeter and 8cm woofer each under a louvered grille that’ll protect from prying fingers. There’s also a down-firing 12cm subwoofer such as you might find on TV sound bases. Around the back, there are connections for digital optical and an analogue 3.5mm aux jack as well as an aerial for the DAB+/FM tuner, a USB and an Ethernet port for a secure network connection if you’d rather not use the built-in Wi-Fi.
The SC-C70 isn’t just a pretty face though; the plentiful network features mean you have a choice of services such as Spotify, Tidal, internet radio via vTuner, Apple Airplay, Bluetooth and DLNA, as well as 192/32-bit Hi-Res audio via the asynchronous USB when connected to a Windows or Mac computer. The JENO engine circuitry inside uses a bi-amp method to separately drive the different speakers in order to achieve better separation, detail and avoid phasing. Technics also utilise “Spacetune” technology via their app to specifically adjust the sound depending on the acoustics of the space where you’ve placed the unit, much like Sonos’s TruePlay.
After easily setting up the network connection so that we could stream off of a laptop, it’s pretty clear that the SC-C70 means business. It doesn’t seem to matter what we throw at it, and we get a smooth yet energetic presentation with everything we play. The addition of the down-firing sub adds weight and punch to styles that need it such as Royal Blood’s “Light’s Out”, making the dirty bass line buzz along with vigour and attitude. For lighter tunes such as “Timeless Dreams” by jazz trio Depart there’s still an excellent spaciousness and openness that really makes you aware of the sound of the room the track was recorded in, so much so in fact that you can even hear double bassist Heiri Kaenzig humming along to his own solo in the middle of the tune – something I only usually hear when using full-sized hi-fi speakers. When we switched to Bluetooth, there was naturally a drop in the cohesiveness and scale of the soundstage but we still had a smile on our face as the hypnotic drum beat of Jarryd James’s “Sell It to Me” is pumped out.
When using the Technics App we’re treated to a neatly laid out interface with all the normal options for selecting different sources and searching for artists, albums and tracks on a server or via subscription services. Once you choose your music, the screen changes to show the album artwork along with a time-bar, volume bar and controls for pausing/skipping etc. It also goes a bit further by providing you with the resolution of what you’re streaming which is a nice touch not always seen on apps. Songs added to your queue can be played immediately, next, or at the end and can be saved as playlists. Internet Radio is similarly easy, allowing you to search for stations or podcasts via location & genre with the option of adding the ones you like to a Favourites list. Along the bottom of the screen you’ll find a Settings tab allowing you to adjust tone controls, enable power on/off via the app plus links to support pages if you’re experiencing network problems.
Though we love our great big powerful amps and massive speakers, there’s always something to be said for a slick, well-designed all-in-one system. The majority of the time this means a dramatic compromise in sound quality and usability but Technics has struck an excellent balance between value and performance. If space is at a premium or you just don’t want a system to dominate your room, the SC-C70 should be on your list of potential purchases. Why not swing in to your local Richer Sounds and hear it for yourself?
Author: Steve, Bristol store