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Video Review: Technics SU-R1000 - An All-Digital Powerhouse
By Bes Nievera

In the early 1970s, Technics was gaining a foothold in the market with its appealing line of electronics, which were competing against products from brands such as Sony, Pioneer, and Yamaha. But as the decade wore on, Technics reached a new level of success, thanks to turntables that would become legendary among music lovers. Most notable was the SL-10, and later, the sales-busting SL-1200.

The company re-entered the market with the launch of its SL-1000 and SL-1200 turntables in 2016, so it should come as no surprise that Panasonic's most revered audio brand would subsequently elevate its stature by rolling out a line of complementary electronics with state-of-the-art tech and that unmistakable Technics sound. With the Reference Class SU-R1000 Integrated Amplifier, now available at Music Direct, Technics brings us its most ambitious product yet, an amplifier that fuses the analog and digital audio world and goes above and beyond the expression "exciting the senses."

From the moment you unpack the unit, this all-new, all-digital amplifier feels superb to the touch. You can feel the solid build quality and see the no-compromise assembly. The elegant front panel features warm illumination and accurate VU meters, an easy-to-read information display, and sturdy control knobs for power, volume, and input selection. Of course, we had to ask, "Is there more behind this timeless façade?" Definitely. For example, like the flagship SE-R1 Power Amplifier, this amp utilizes groundbreaking Technics technology, like Load Adaptive Phase Calibration (LAPC) and Jitter Elimination and Noise-Shaping Optimization (JENO). Plus, it adds a new concept called Active Distortion Cancelling Technology (ADCT). A 150Wpc – 8 ohms; 300Wpc (4 ohms) – amp gives the SU-R1000 plenty of horsepower...but that's just icing on the cake.

Because this is an-all digital component, one challenge in engineering accurate reproduction of music was how to tackle digitally induced noise in the audio band (also known as "jitter"). For those needing a quick 101 on the subject, jitter is a form of distortion, seen as errors during the conversion of a digital signal into an analog output. To address this, the SU-R1000 utilizes a uniquely designed jitter-reduction circuit called a JENO Engine. In this engine, a clock generator reduces the jitter present in lower frequencies, while a high-precision sample rate converter reduces jitter present in the higher frequency ranges.

Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) optimizes the noise-shaping speed, the degree and re-quantization number, and the PWM gradation so that those cleaned-up, high-resolution signals are converted without causing any damage to the dynamic range. The result is error-free reproduction of music across all your sources, allowing you to experience the music exactly as it was meant to be heard.

In LAPC, the SU-R1000 focuses its attention on your loudspeakers, specifically impedance, which changes every time you're listening to music. In a conventional amplifier, this constant up-and-down swing can negatively alter the sound as the amp struggles to adjust to varying degrees of output. With LAPC, the SU-R1000 measures its own frequency amplitude-phase characteristics with your speakers through a specially designed DSP algorithm. What you get is a flat frequency response in amplitude and phase.

ADCT, or Active Distortion Cancelling Technology, removes distortion in the power output stage as a result of a speaker's counter electromotive force by determining the difference between the JENO Engine's output and the speaker's output, then applying corrections to the digital amplifier's output. This increases your speaker's driving force and acoustic energy while offering exceptionally low noise and increased soundstaging and ambience – no matter which speaker you choose.

When both circuits are engaged, the experience of hearing music with virtually no loss in signal quality at all levels is staggering. During our in-house tests, tower loudspeakers, like Revel's 328Be, or studio-grade monitors, such ATC's SCM-19 and JBL's horn-loaded 4309, responded flawlessly to the changes: Increases in micro- and macro-level detail were instantly apparent, while bass notes were natural and involving, even at low levels.

Now, with all that stability in the power amp section comes the need for an all-digital front end. To make this happen, Technics' design team infused the SU-R1000 with a suite of capabilities that enhance its already immense audio output. The engineers developed a dedicated Digital to Analog I/O circuit to generate the most accurate reproduction of music possible across all sources. A fully discrete analog and phono section set in a symmetrical circuit layout is meticulously tuned to prevent unwanted channel interference.

USB inputs are outfitted with a ruby-mica capacitor, and an independent power conditioner with non-magnetic film resistors blocks unwanted noise from multiple sources, such as your computer, while optical and coaxial inputs manage native digital content in PCM and DSD. All critical A-to-D conversions are completed with chipsets made by AKM, giving music lovers a rich, detailed, forward-thinking sonic experience.

But what about those analog junkies who thrive on vinyl playback as the be-all, end-all? Well, phono lovers, take note: The SU-R1000's phono input is one of the most sophisticated designs we've ever seen ... and heard. While most conventional preamp sections limit the phono sections to simple impedances and gain settings, the SU-R1000 goes above and beyond in analog reproduction so that every note taken off the grooves feels immediate and full of musical truth. Technics' Intelligent Phono EQ uses its onboard LAPC as a hybrid analog and digital system. High gain and low pass filtering process the analog signal coming from the source, while high-frequency signals get a boost once the conversion is completed. The filter also resolves bit-loss, while the improvements in high frequencies result in increased signal-to-noise ratios.

Next, Intelligent Phono EQ examines the phono cartridge's crosstalk characteristics to correct any deficiencies in the cartridge's relationship with the record. Once the signal passes through the SU-R1000's DSP-tuned Crosstalk Correction Filters, any crosstalk evident in the signal path is cancelled out. The results include a stunningly wide soundstage, precise imaging of instruments, and more.

Technics' game-changing Intelligent Phono EQ surveys the phono cartridge's frequency characteristics using the supplied calibration LP. Using a Time Stretched Pulse signal, the cartridge gets evaluated for any disturbances, then corrects the impedance matching between the cartridge and phono preamp's equalization. This process results in a startling improvement in sound reproduction – one that has to be heard to be believed! Our test runs (using our reference decks from VPI and Dr. Feickert Analogue, as well as a Technics SL-1500 outfitted with Koetsu, MoFi, and Ortofon cartridges) yielded stunning results: We're talking an immediate impact in soundstage, instrument layering, bass solidity, and detail retrieval. For cartridge-switching fans, the three-input calibration is excellent, indeed, not to mention the onboard equalization curves for all the known formats on vinyl (sorry, no Quadrophonic).

Overall, we feel that the engineering team at Technics has achieved a remarkable goal with the SU-R1000 Integrated Amplifier. They envisioned an amplifier that would be capable of high-accuracy signal processing and transmission that surpasses the conventional analog amplifier design, with a front end that would be the ultimate reference of high-quality digital and analog source reproduction – without any loss in fidelity. The purity of your favorite music remains protected, even as intricate sonic textures arrive with amazing clarity. This is one of the most impressive amplifiers that we've ever heard, and one that commands your immediate attention.

As always, a Music Direct Audio Consultant can answer any of your questions and help you get your hands on the SU-R1000 Integrated Amplifier (or any of our other Technics products). Remember, you're always a click away from new product announcements, special deals, and more when you sign up for our Soundbytes emailer. And the conversation continues when you like and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

June 7, 2021

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