Q: In my youth, I had a wonderful Technics system with loud volume, deep lows, clear highs and great sound throughout. Back then you could go to the store and buy a complete, perfectly matched system like that. Today I have no idea where to even start.
My LP collection is gone, so I will listen to CDs and streaming from Spotify. My budget is $3,000, but $2,000 would be better.
A: Your Technics system was most likely a rack system, composed of matched components in a stand or rack and a pair of speakers. These systems varied greatly in quality, with the weak link typically being the speakers.
Back in the day, some enthusiasts on a budget (like college students) would buy a rack system and connect it to upgraded speakers to get a complete, decent-sounding system at an affordable price. Rack systems fell out of favor quite some time ago, and while you can still build a complete system using components from a single manufacturer, it is not usually the best solution because few manufacturers excel at every component category.
That being said, Technics is one of the few brands that can still sell you a complete, no-compromise system. Doing this with high-end Technics components would drive your price way over $3,000, though there is a Technics option you might not have considered. I'll recommend that, along with two component systems. Any of them will dramatically outperform the rack system of your youth.
For $3,000, I would start with Polk Legend L200 stand-mount speakers (polkaudio.com), now on sale for $1,199. The $999 Cambridge Audio CXA61 amplifier and $350 AXC35 CD player (cambridgeaudio.com) will match perfectly, and the $549 Bluesound Node (bluesound.com) will serve your streaming needs.
Plan on another $100 for speaker stands. This comes to $3,197. If you have to stay under $3,000, change the speakers to the Polk Legend L100, now on sale for $799.
For $2,000, we will keep the Bluesound Node and AXC35 CD player ($899 total) and change the speakers to the $699 Emotiva Airmotiv T1+ towers (emotiva.com). A $400 Cambridge Audio AXR85 receiver will provide good, clean power for this outstanding $1,998 system.
You said $2,000 would be better than $3,000. Would $1,000 be better than $2,000? If so, take a hard look at the Technics OTTAVA f SC-C70 MKII. It resembles a Bose radio but incorporates a CD player, full streaming capabilities and cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technology. Though compact, it sounds like a full-sized component system using tower speakers of the highest quality and at $999, it is a steal.
When I first heard the original SC-C70, I was shocked by the sound and guessed the price to be $3,500, given the technology, sound quality, Technics name and materials and construction befitting a luxury product. When I was told that it was only $999, I was eager to tell readers about it. Happy purchasers wrote to me expressing their enthusiasm, which matched my own.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.