When you mention Technics, most people probably think of turntables. Maybe amplifiers, after all they have made many really good amplifiers. Tape recorders should also be mentioned, although most people have forgotten what they are and many have probably never seen one.
But loudspeakers are hardly something you associate with Technics. They have struggled to gain a foothold among critics (such as ourselves), and there are so many other well-established speaker manufacturers that have much larger market shares than Technics ever had.
It’s not that they make bad speakers, although I can still remember some of Technics’ speakers from the 1980s that never caught up and competed with Infinity, JBL, Boston Acoustics or Bowers & Wilkins.
Although Technics speakers never had the same status as their turntables, let’s not forget the legendary SB-10000 from 1977. A huge three-way horn speaker with an equally huge 46 cm woofer in a separate cabinet and with the midrange and treble horns stacked on top.
Nor should we forget the innovative SB-10 with Technics flat honeycomb cones and a polyamide plate cone ribbon tweeter.
The new SB-G90M2 doesn’t really look like either of them. They have more similarities with Tannoy’s speakers with Concentric units or KEF’s Uni-Q, and connoisseurs will have guessed that I’m talking about coaxial units here.
For, like its SB-G90 predecessor, the upgraded M2 version has a 16cm midrange with a 25mm tweeter placed in the centre and with the voice coils on the same vertical axis.
The floor-standing speakers – as you can see from the photos – have two 16 cm woofers in addition to the coaxial unit at the top. The latter is a new version of the unit from the G90, for which Technics used Finite Elements Method (FEM) simulations to figure out where to optimally attenuate resonances.
The treble unit in the middle has been given a phase plug to eliminate phase errors and give a smoother and more consistent treble response.
The coaxial unit is screwed into an inner baffle, with the magnet at the back resting on a plate to stifle vibration. Balanced Driver Mounting Architecture it’s called.
The inside of the cabinet has also been completely re-braced, and at the bottom of the cabinet Technics has created a folded low-frequency passage with damping material to reduce standing waves. The Standing Wave Termination Structure is what Technics calls the channel, which looks like a transmission line but culminates in a conventional bass reflex port at the back.
On the back you’ll also find bi-wiring terminals, with cables in between instead of the usual metal rails. Bravo.
Despite the bass reflex port on the rear, the speakers are easy to position. They weigh a fair bit – 35kg – but two men can easily manoeuvre them into place. Just be aware that once you get the brackets on the underside in place, they can’t slide across the parquet floor. The screws on the underside are not flush with the brackets; they protrude and will scratch the parquet.
The trick is to screw the brackets on and then take the loose cardboard sheet from the packaging and use it as a sliding mat to move the speakers around until you find the optimum position. Only then do you screw on the tapered spikes and place the parquet protectors underneath.
Big soundstage with rich timbre
Then you’re ready for a slightly unusual sound experience. That is, if you’ve got an amp with a bit of oomph. The old confirmation amp probably can’t drive the Technics speakers, which are built for more modern, top-of-the-line electronics. That doesn’t mean you have to retire your old Electrocompaniet amp if you have one of those, but you can tell that the speakers demand more from the amplifier.
I’m not sure what I expected, because we haven’t tested the predecessor SB-M90. Of course, we’ve tested many other floorstanding speakers in the same price range, but none of them sound quite like these.
The closest you’ll get is probably the Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 Signature – wonderfully refined speakers with warm sound and potent bass. Compared to the Technics speakers, the treble is a little muted, almost recessed right at the top. The black Technics speakers go audibly deeper into the bass and do so with conviction. Drums get some serious heft, and there’s really good dynamic contrast in the bass.
The treble from the coaxial unit may not sound as refined as in the B&W speakers, but there’s more energy at the top without it becoming strained or spiky. The tonal balance is clearly warmer and fuller than on, say, the Audiovector R3 Signature, and the SB-G90M2 has almost as extreme a dynamic range as the easy-playing JBL Synthesis HDI 3800s.
The SB-G90M2 don’t go as deep into the bass as the PMC Twenty5 24i, but they deliver a bigger, fuller soundstage that suits the music well. It never gets sharp and cutting, even when playing loud, and double bass, drums and larger instruments like a concert grand piano get plenty of bottom end.
I miss some of the detail of the Sonus faber Sonetto V, Dynaudio Confidence 50 or Piega Premium 701, but none of them have the big soundstage and depth of Technics speakers.
As always, it’s all about what you like, and some prefer a cool analytical presentation of the music, while others prefer the opposite. Or something in between. Here you get something in between, but where the sound balance leans towards the warm, rich and pleasant. Without it ever sounding woolly.
The Technics SB-G90M2 is a good fit for anyone who would like a pair of medium-sized floor-standing all-round speakers with good punch and dynamics. Not Klipsch-style, but a warmer sound with a pleasant soundstage where the music gets to play freely.
The SB-G90M2 is not without competition from more established manufacturers who have longer experience with speakers in the same class, but you can feel that there is a lot of experience behind the new version of the speakers, which is really worth listening to. Even for those who don’t immediately think of Technics as a speaker manufacturer.