Hands-on: Technics Ottava SC-C50 Google smart speaker is a Hi-Fi heavyweight

posted on Thursday, 23rd August 2018 by Steve May

Smart Speakers  Hi-fi  Google Home  High Res Audio 

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Technics first smart speaker, the SC-C50, wants to be taken seriously. Part of Technics lifestyle Ottava line, the incoming model is a premium all-in-one with Chromecast built-in and Google Assistant functionality.

It can stand alone, or two can be paired to create a rather imposing stereo system. It can also be integrated into a multiroom sound system. The system made its UK debut this week, and Inside CI was invited along to take a listen. It didn’t take long to realise that this posh smarty is rather different from rival connected speakers.

A high-end low resonance design, the SC-C50 is considerably larger for one thing. It incorporates three mid-range drivers, three 1.6cm tweeters and one forward facing long port subwoofer. Two of the mid-range drivers angle out from the curved glass fibre body, creating a pronounced stereo soundstage, while the centre is used to lock vocals.

A directivity-control horn approach to the midrange/tweeter array is used to enhance the soundstage, while a coaxial mid-range and tweeter construction manages vertical dispersion. When two SC-C50s are paired for stereo, the centre channel on both isn’t used.

Stereo Pair

The SC-C50 also has Space Tune built-in. We’ve seen this room EQ system from Technics before, however it’s only been accessible via an iOs app. The new iteration takes advantage of the in-built Google microphones on the SC-C50, to optimise its performance to the local environment.

Usability seems good, everything is app-driven, and we were impressed by the scale and weight of the SDC-C50’s performance. Powering the SC-C50 are Technics JENO and LAPC (Load Adaptive Phase Calibration) amplifier technologies. LAPC is a DSP function which tailors the performance of the speaker across the entire frequency range.

The SC-C50 had no problem filling a large room. Power output is rated at 2x 20w for those left/right drivers, with an additional 20w going to the centre cone and 40w to the subwoofer. Bass output is prodigious.

Build quality also appears high. A clear OLED display sits in the aluminium top panel, while a cute lighting display adds a designer flourish.

The system is Hi-Res Audio compatible, with support for WAV, FLAC and DSD (up to 384kHz/24-bit), as well as AIFF, AAC, WMA and MP3 . In addition to USB playback, and a local analogue/optical input, the system embraces Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and network NAS playback.

So has the connected audio jungle just found a new king? We'll know for sure when the SC-C50 ships shortly, priced at £699.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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