Technics musters its mojo again for a $53,000 digital audio system, and we tried it

Remember Technics? Younger readers may be familiar with the brand’s iconic SL1200 turntable, which is sill a mainstay in many a professional DJ rig. But long before Technics was re-inventing record players, it was hocking some seriously high-end gear. The Panasonic brand has a succinct and storied past, having turned out some of the most carefully engineered products ever introduced into the high-end audio category. Unfortunately, recent years weren’t too kind to Technics, so Panasonic more or less shuttered its operations roughly four years ago.

But now its back, and in a pretty big way.

The people and the passion behind Technics never really went away. Even as former Technics designers and engineers took on other roles under the Panasonic umbrella, they had back-room chats about the glory days and conspired to revive the brand. Then, as high-resolution audio emerged as a trending topic among audio manufacturers, it was decided Technics would make a power play.

The rebirth of Technics begins with Michiko Ogawa, a well-known Jazz pianist in Japan who served as a budding engineer for Technics as far back as 1988. Ogawa now sits as director of Technics and, may we say, she’s a pretty stellar choice. Leveraging her understanding of both music performance and the engineering behind its reproduction, she is helping to lead Technics into a new era.

In our video, we showcase both the new Reference Series digital audio system and the step-down (and much more affordable) professional series. At roughly $53,000 and $5,000 respectively, these systems are clearly aimed at affluent enthusiasts, but there is no denying how beautiful the components are. And underneath the sexy exteriors is a long list of proprietary tech that Technics promise will re-unite listeners with the emotional engagement the old analog days used to provide.

We had a listen to both systems at a press briefing during IFA 2014, and while we were impressed, we do think Technics faces an uphill battle. Sure, these systems sound very, very good, but at these prices, Technics will need to rely on steadfast fan base that’s eager to rekindle the glory days when Technics was one of the best-kept secrets in home audio.

No matter its fate, its good to see an old favorite re-inventing itself and staging a comeback.

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