Technics SU-V660 Amplifier
Top of Technics' fully-fledged integrated amplifier range the SU-V660 is a solidly built 100W design decked out in the company's traditional gold and bronze livery. The fascia is dominated by a huge rotary 4-gang volume control with two independent logarithmic scales. These correspond to 'normal' or 'Power Amp Direct' modes of operation, the latter indicated by a small LED mounted in the trim ring. Another large control provides for selection of two tape, CD, tuner, aux and both MM/MC phono sources.
All the remaining facilities are distributed about the lower portion of the fascia, including an independent record-out selector, defeatable tone controls, balance, mono/stereo mode and loudness controls. Two sets of speakers may be connected at any one time, but the terminals will not accept 4mm plugs.
The inside of the SU-V660 is less impressive. There's a decent enough OFC-wound mains transformer, but the main power amplifier is actually an 18-pin hybrid IC (SV13205) - unusual in such a costly product. The driver stage uses discrete A1535/C3944 devices (with current-limiting) and the disc stage a low-noise differential FET input, although the RIAA EQ is performed around a single UPG4570 op-amp.
A hint of vocal sibilance was almost immediately detected via the CD input, and this, together with a constrained and dead feeling over much of the audio range, led to a degree of listener discomfort. Stereo images tend to bunch towards the centre of the soundstage in monophonic fashion - quite the opposite of the SE-M100 in fact, which revelled in the spaciousness and atmosphere revealed by the PDM D/A convertor.
The presentation is essentially neutral but lacks freshness and airiness throughout the upper octaves: not strictly dull, these are nonetheless flattened and bereft of ambient detail. The crash of hi hat cymbals dies very abruptly, for example, while timbre is simply 'metallic' rather than obviously 'brassy'. Vinyl discs (MM) sound mushier and similarly lacking in that spark of emotivity. Every note, every nuance, sounds as if it was straining to be released, a quality that will undoubtedly prove taxing in the long term.
The preceeding subjective comments may seem harsh, but simply reflect the Technics SU-V660's basic inability to reproduce music in a genuinely convincing manner. That said, the product is beautifully built and offers a wide range of useful features. It is also likely to be very reliable and is therefore worth considering for those listeners who already own other Technics separates.