Q: I want to build a stereo system based on either the Polk Audio Legend L200 bookshelf speakers or the L600 towers. I will need an amplifier, network player and CD player, but no turntable. Cost is not an issue. What do you recommend?
A: I tried the Polk Legend speakers with amplifiers priced between $399 and $5,000. The best sound I achieved was with the Technics Grand Class SU-G700 integrated amplifier, which, at $2,499, lands right in the middle of the price range.
The SU-G700 has a proprietary digital amplifier and features top-of-the-line parts. It makes 70 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 140 watts a channel into 4 ohms (a 4-ohm speaker requires more power than an 8-ohm speaker to produce the same loudness), and the ability to double its power is a testament to the excellent design. Also noteworthy is the LAPC feature that optimizes the power delivery for the specific speakers used with it.
The amplifier features multiple digital and analog inputs. Although you said a turntable was not a part of your future system, it bears mentioning that the SU-G700 has the best built-in phono preamp I have tried in almost 20 years of reviewing electronics. It supports moving magnet and high-output moving-coil cartridges, and if anyone is building a phono-based system, you can skip buying an expensive external phono preamp and use the savings toward the amplifier. Think of it as a $2,500 integrated amplifier with a $1,000 phono preamp included as part of the deal.
It also has a great appearance, with big VU meters that show the power output and provide a classic touch to this elegantly modern component. The internal amplifier for the analog outputs is a discrete module, and a dual mono design keeps stereo signals separate as they are processed. It also has a headphone connection with a high-quality headphone amplifier, so it could even serve as a single-piece system in conjunction with a high-quality pair of headphones. Given all of this, the SU-G700 is one of my favorite components of all time.
The logical choice to go with it is the matching Technics piece, the Grand Class SL-G700 Network/Super Audio CD player. It combines both functions in one top-shelf component, simplifying things for you. Its $2,999 price is not unreasonable when you consider it is essentially a very high-end computer with a disc drive and premium-quality audio connections.
Either the amplifier or network/CD player represents a significant investment, and though I stand by these recommendations, I suggest evaluating them thoroughly at technics.com before making the leap.
If you find the combined cost of $5,500 a bit steep, you could start with the SU-G700 amplifier and use a more modest disc player and streaming device to get started. As long as you use the digital connections, you will be rewarded with exceptionally fine sound now, and you can upgrade to the SL-G700 later.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.