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Amplifier Technics SU-VX600 review

Yet another mass-market offering from Technics? It’s prejudice like this that causes many of us to overlook a genuinely new and potentially great-sounding amp. But if you glance at the fascia with its large volume control, separate input and rec-out selectors, rows of tone, balance, loudness and speaker selectors, then it’s difficult to appreciate the difference between the SU-VX600 and – for instance – the SU-VX800.

In reality the SU-VX600 is something of an experiment, though Technics is not advertising the fact. You see this amp incorporates a newly-designed power amplifier ‘block’, an encapsulated module that’s bolted to a generous alloy heatsink. Back in Japan this, and the new driver stage, received special treatment with engineering towards ‘high sound quality’ in addition to the customary pursuit of high specs.

Technics has included a failsafe system but, crucially, its traditionally invasive protection circuitry has been abandoned. At the same time Technics beefed-up the power supply with an OFC mains transformer and specialised 12000uF reservoir caps. Then it up-rated the emitter resistors and power transistors to cope with the abuse normally evaded by this meddlesome protection circuit.

The result is like no other Technics amp you’ve heard before.

Sound quality

A row of appreciate nods, bobbing from side-to-side in time with the music, suggested this amp was getting through to our listeners. But while there was no disagreement over its performance via CD, not everyone so convinced when the LPs were set spinning. Vinyl noise was extremely low or, at least very innocuous, while the music itself seemed smooth rather than etched in detail.

One listener was very drawn to its sound whereas others were less satisfied, voicing reservations over its ability to project solid, focussed images. Nevertheless, once the ‘Power Amp Direct’ facility was engaged another listener likened it to ‘throwing a switch, plunging the subjective noise floor far lower than we’ve heard before’. A remarkable and quite unprompted correlation with the improvements in S/N demonstrated during the lab tests!

The balance was lighter and vocals just a little sibilant but the music was still very clear, distinct and expressive. This, plus bags of subtle low-level detail made for a very emotive performance.

Conclusion

What a turn up! Flere’s an amplifier with absolutely no pretence of being ‘UK-ori-ented’ or even remotely minimalist. Yet, via CD at least, the potential of its integral power amp is revealed – unleashed by its freedom from over-bearing protection circuits.

All Technics has to do now is spend a little less on the remaining gadgets and a little more on, say, the MM/MC disc input and it will have its own entry for the ‘Pioneer A-400 club’. A definite recommendation.

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