REVIEW: Technics Ottava S SC-C50 – Brilliant Sound Networking An Issue
Panasonic’s Technics brand has an awesome reputation the only problem is that the products made by the Japanese brand have not been available in Australia up until now.
Late last year the Company launched new vinyl players and some very smart networked speakers that seriously deliver in both design and functionality.
One of the new entries in its portfolio is the Ottava S premium wireless speaker system, which includes the SC-C30 and its big brother, the SC-C50.
Depending on the model you want there is in the Technics Ottava range an option for you.
There is the smaller SC-C30 and the larger SC-C50 which we have reviewed.
The SC-30 delivers a 3.1 sound using independent JENO circuits for left, right, and the woofer, while the SC-50 has a centre channel which does make a difference.
At the top end is the Technics Ottava F SC-70, which also has a CD player which will please all those who have not thrown their CD collections out.
The speaker system also has jitter-reduction technology and features silk-diaphragms for the tweeters, alongside a mid-range speaker and a subwoofer
Available in black or white, the design of the SC-C50 is beautiful and minimalistic – all elegant curves and striking corners, with a single LED screen surrounded by the ring key controls set into the aluminium panel on top.
At the back, a rear louvre adds to the design while also improving internal heat reduction. It would easily make a sophisticated and unobtrusive addition to any home entertainment system.
Though compact, it packs in three 1.6-cm tweeters, three mid-ranges and a subwoofer, all powered by four JENO engines for what Technics describes as optimal performance and superior sound imaging.
This is the sort of engineering or even design that Sonos has not been able to deliver.
Among its laundry list of features is the intriguing “Space Tune”: the unit adjusts its output depending on the profile of the room and its location within the space.
It comes with three pre-sets – free-standing, against the wall, and in the corner – and incorporates a microphone to calibrate itself automatically. This means good sound quality wherever it’s placed within the room, with powerful bass and rich audio all around.
Its range of inputs is impressive: aux and optical, of course, plus Bluetooth, USB, AirPlay, Chromecast, internet radio and podcasts, and connectivity with Spotify, Tidal, and Deezer – keep in mind, however, that these last five require the Google Home app.
It can connect to the internet via either Wi-Fi or ethernet LAN. Users can save playlists and internet radio stations as favourites within the unit itself, which is a great convenience feature; stereo pairing and multi-room functionality is also possible with multiple units, and both also need Google Home.
And here we come to my sticking point: the speaker boasts of Google Assistant compatibility, but for whatever reason I could not for love nor money get it to connect with my Google Home app – either the app wouldn’t find it at all, or would refuse to connect.
That may not have been the fault of the unit itself, but it did mean no opportunity to evaluate its Chromecast.
We did get it to connect with Spotify, Tidal, and Deezer and the audio output especially from the high res audio output was as good as you get.
The accompanying mobile app, Technics Audio Centre, is also a letdown – though functional, it’s severely ugly, with an interface that looks transplanted straight from the early 2010s at least, and while running leaves a persistent and undismissable icon in your notification bar even when it’s not playing anything.
So, at $1429, is it worth the price? Between the wide variety of inputs, the excellent audio quality, and the stylish design, it’s definitely a good choice for those looking for a premium speaker once you get the Google Home connection working – just give the (thankfully free) app a miss if you can.
The big difference is that this speaker delivers crystal clear 24bit audio as well as Full HD audio and 16bit streamed content. I even think that streamed radio sounds better on this speaker than many other premium priced speakers. This is also a speaker that design wise looks sophisticated and is a device you would want to have on show without a Bang & Olufsen price tag.
What Panasonic must do is significantly improve their Wi Fi and Bluetooth networking especially as this is an ideal entertainment and Google Voice product to have in a home network.
David Richards also contributed to this review.