Technics Ottava SC-C70 and SC-C50 Compact Stereo Systems

Ride the Current Stream

Equipment report
Technics Ottava SC-C70 and SC-C50 Compact Stereo Systems

Can they reproduce other types of music well? Yes, certainly. I tried some early Mark Isham (Tibet, Film Music) and it was peaceful and calming. Then I pulled up some classical music, which also takes me back to my youth, since I have been studying it and performing it since 1975. After all, these are called the “Ottava,” which means octave in Latin. I found a Beethoven Symphony 7 recording on Tidal to enjoy on the SC-C50. It sounded good, but the performance was not quite what I was looking for. That is the problem with being familiar with the Herbert Von Karajan Beethoven symphony cycle with the Berliner Philharmoniker from 1963. It makes all other Beethoven performances sound a little “wrong” by comparison. I pulled out my trusty CD from Deutsche Grammophon and started it spinning on the SC-C70. The Symphony 7 was glorious and passionate.

There is a caveat with all this. Though the phones/tablets, phone docks, and mini-systems that people are likely to compare to these Technics compacts are all also very limited in sound volume, these Ottava systems are quite limited in how loudly they can play. I could push the volume up to higher than “quiet home listening,” levels, which are good enough for a small room, but I did not want to. The thing is, the speakers (particularly the midrange drivers) are so small that they start to distort at the very beginning of headbanger levels. Things will sound clear and composed, as long as you keep levels reasonable, but don’t expect to be able to crank it up to the kind of volumes that most larger component systems can manage.

I did not find either of these compact players to be a real “giant-killer,” but I do think they are worth what they cost, which is not too surprising, since putting together a system of separate components (including cables) that could perform some of the same functions, you would need to stay in the $100–$200 range for each piece. Though $800 (SC-C50) or $1000 (SC-C70) is technically not the “starting point” for high-end audio prices, it really is in this case, as these are complete systems. 

These Technics Ottava compact players have a lot in common, though their complements of features are different enough that each may appeal more to a different person. They both make excellent streaming players, complete with all you need. Just add a tablet/phone and a Tidal subscription, and you have an instantly available music collection, with fantastic sound. Those who want a more impressive-looking system and/or CD-play capability will choose the SC-C70. I actually preferred the less expensive SC-C50 for its sound quality. I thought it had more impressive bass, more natural overall frequency balance, and more realistic vocals. I do feel confident recommending both of them. They offer quite a healthy dose of value-for-money, and should provide quite a lot of listening pleasure for entry-level audiophiles (and just plain old music lovers).

Specs & Pricing

Ottava SC-C70
Frequency range: Not given 
Amplifier power: 20Wpc + 35W for subwoofer
High-frequency driver (2): ¾" dome tweeter 
Midrange driver (2): 3¹8" cone 
Bass-reflex subwoofer (1): 4¾" cone
Price: $999

Ottava SC-C50
Frequency range: Not given
Amplifier power: 15Wpc + 30W for subwoofer
High-frequency driver (3): 58" dome tweeter 
Midrange driver (3): 2½" cone 
Bass-reflex subwoofer (1): 4¾" cone
Price: $799

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