Killer curves: The radically new Technics SB-C700 speakers

The Audiophiliac spends quality time with Technics new bookshelf speaker, it's amazing!

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
3 min read

The Technics SB-C700 speaker's flat driver. Technics

In 2015, there's no shortage of affordable, small and easy ways to access music on your phone or Bluetooth speaker, and that's fine. But if you really want to feel the heart and soul of your music, you'll need something better. That's where the Technics SB-C700 speakers shine: they can unravel the deepest mysteries of your favorite music in ways other speakers cannot.

Technics was best known for its direct-drive turntables that were popular with DJs and consumers; the company pioneered the technology in 1970 with the original SP-10 turntable. Technics was also known for its electronics and speakers, but the parent company -- Panasonic -- retired the Technics name years ago. Things change, and Technics is back with a new slate of speakers and electronics -- but alas, no turntables!

The curvy SB-C700 certainly looks the part of a 21st-century audiophile speaker, and its coaxial driver features a 0.75-inch (1.9 cm) aluminum tweeter in the center of a 6.5-inch (16cm) flat-woofer diaphragm with carbon fiber skins and a honeycomb core. It's a radical design -- I've never seen anything quite like it. The driver's frame is cast aluminum, and the speaker's impedance is rated at 4 Ohms.

The curved sides lend a modern look to the design, and I think it's gorgeous. The SB-C700 has a bass port on its backside, so leave at least a foot of space between the SB-C700s and the wall and give this speaker some room to "breathe."

The Technics SB-C700 (left), KEF LS50 (right). Steve Guttenberg/CNET

It measures 8.7x13.2x11.25 inches (220x336x286mm), and the SB-C700 weighs a very solid 18.7 pounds (8.5kg). Currently, the only available finish is gloss white. I used my NAD C316BEE, Vinnie Rossi LIO, and the new Technics SU-C700 amplifier with the SB-C700s, I'll review the SU-C700 next weekend here on the Audiophiliac.

The SB-C700s reproduced the sound of the hand drums on Bela Fleck's "Tabula Rasa" album with rare palpability, I could almost feel the texture of the hands hitting and slapping the drums. Soundstage depth and spaciousness were impressive -- the SB-C700s can really fill a room with sound. Electronica from Tosca's "No Hassle" CD projected sound far out to the sides and in front of the SB-C700s.

The SB-C700 doesn't add any false fullness or romance -- that's not this speaker's job; it sounds like a recording studio monitor. There's bass aplenty with no flab or sloppiness down to 50 Hertz in my room -- that's extraordinarily deep for a speaker this size. It's not just powerful; bass definition surpasses any small speaker I've had at home.

I spent an afternoon playing dub reggae and jazz for an audiophile pal, and he couldn't help but blurt out "oh wow," and occasional expletives from time to time. He's heard my system from time to time, but I can't remember him ever reacting to any other speaker that passed through my living room like he did with the SB-C700s. More than anything else, it was the way they communicate rhythm -- you tap your feet and bob your head when the SB-C700s are playing tunes.

My long-term reference small speaker, the KEF LS50, presents a fuller, sweeter and softer sound balance; the SB-C700 is "faster" and clearer. Bass definition is firmer, treble is more distinct, there's more sparkle. The LS50 shrinks the music's dynamic contrasts; it's a less lively-sounding speaker. I still love the LS50 for its romantic glow, but the SB-C700 wins for sheer transparency and impact. Rosanne Cash's vocal and guitar on her "10 Song Demo" CD sounded a touch more naturally sweet over the LS50, but the SB-C700 wasn't far off the mark.

The Technics SB-C700 runs $1,700 per pair in the US, and £1,199 in the UK. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these speakers -- they're astonishingly good, and I was truly sorry to see them go.