Grand Class ST-G30 Music Server
- High capacity solid-state hard drive
- User-friendly control interface
- Proprietary electronic and mechanical design
- Build quality beyond reproach
- Amazing audio quality in every respect
The Grand Class ST-G30 Music Server is essentially a super high end storage device for all of your digital music files. It is designed to playback your digital music either by a USB interface or over an Ethernet network as a DLNA device. My review unit came with a 512 GB SSD drive and the unit can be expanded by installing a larger drive in the 2.5-inch SATA drive bay. The server also sports a CD drive bay that is used to transfer data from a CD to the unit’s hard drive.
SSD 512 GB Built-in with One 2.5” SSD Expansion Bay
Supported Disc/Supported Formats:
CD, CD-R, CD-RW (8 cm, 12 cm) / CD-DA
USB Audio Class 2.0, Asynchronous Mode
DSD (2.8224 MHz, 5.6448 MHz, 11.2896 MHz)
PCM (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384 kHz / 16, 24, 32 bit)
WAV (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz / 16, 24 bit)
FLAC (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz / 16, 24 bit)
DSD (2.8224 MHz, 5.6448 MHz, 11.2896 MHz)
AIFF (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz / 16, 24 bit)
ALAC (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz / 16, 24 bit)
AAC (32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz / 16-320 kbps)
WMA (32, 44.1, 48 kHz / 16-320 kbps)
MP3 (32, 44.1, 48 kHz / 16-320 kbps)
16-15/16” (w) x 3-7/8” (h) x 15-13/32” (d)
Technics, Technics Review, Music Server, Technics Music Server, Music Server Review 2018
I want to encourage you to go to the Technics website where they provide a great deal of information on the design and build of this product. I will give a brief overview below but you can learn a lot more in-depth on their website.
This device is literally built like a tank. The CD drive is isolated in its own “drive shelter”. The chassis is highly rigid and is constructed of two very thick aluminum shells. The unit also includes a cast iron insulator.
The ST-G30’s CD drive is not a player per se but is used for transferring data from a CD to the hard drive for playback from the hard drive. All playback is via the internal storage of the ST-G30. Technics has developed a process for this feature that they call Bit-Perfect Ripping. It reads the disc at 20x. The unit will retry reading areas flagged with possible errors to make the necessary corrections. If the unit is not able to get a correct read, it notifies the user of the error condition. This process ensures that the correct data is extracted from the disc.
The unit also features Low Noise USB Transfer. This system is said to reduce jitter in the playback chain and is guaranteed to function when paired with a compatible Technics-branded DAC.
The Separate and Stable Power Supply divides the power supply into three sections – one for the SSD, one for the USB output, and the third is for the control and display block. This separates out the various functions because each has different power supply needs and this design reduces interference among the various blocks.
Digital Noise Isolation Architecture is employed by isolating all digital interfaces from external components. The Optimally Activated Circuit System limits CPU function to a minimal state depending on the playback function, thereby further minimizing noise.
All in all, this unit is designed to provide the purist with the most pristine digital signal that can be conceivably generated.
The ST-G30 is controlled by an app that I installed on my phone and tablet. Technics claims that it offers “Easy Creation of Your Digital Music Library Without Having to Use a PC” which they further claim leads to “Stress-free Musical Enjoyment”. There nay be a little hyperbole in their claims, but I found that the interface was similar to other products I have reviewed such as BluOS and JRiver Media Center. Which means it was functional, intuitive, and time-consuming (depending of course on the size of your music library).
I used this server with the Technics Grand Class SU-G30 Network Audio Amplifier. I mostly used it for playback via the USB interface but I also tried streaming music over WiFi with the ST-G30 streamer operating as a DLNA server. The audio was naturally better over the USB connection.
The ST-G30 does not have WiFi which means it needs a hard-wired connection to an Ethernet network so you can control it with the Technics Music App. This is also the hookup used to share files over the network after saving them to the server’s internal drive.
I Started off ripping a few Red Book CD’s to the ST-G30 Music Server. I also copied about 400 GB of music from a USB hard drive that I have used as a backup to my NAS. (There is a rear USB port that can be used for backup and file transfer but it cannot be used for playback. Playback is only via the internal storage of the ST-G30.) I was impressed by the speed and quality of the ripping process. But I was even more impressed with how quickly the unit transferred and processed the 400 GB of data I had on my external drive. I was expecting this process to take several hours. I didn’t time it, but I remember the unit transferred these file in less than an hour. It was remarkable how quickly that was done.
So I was connected to the home network, I had the Technics Music App installed and working, the unit was connected to the SU-G30 via USB, and I had lots of music on the hard drive. I was ready for some in-depth listening.
When I first got the ST-G30 server up and running, I wasn’t sure if I would really like it very much. I had been getting into streaming music off the internet. I was pretty well convinced that a quality streaming service was all I would need till the end of my days. That all changed when I did some direct comparisons between streamed music versus the very same music payed over this server. There was little comparison: the quality of the playback over the ST-G30 server beat streaming in every possible category. The sound had greater detail. It was more “present” and the tonal balance was much more “correct”. Transients launched from the speakers and their trailing ends were totally unencumbered by any sort of undue overhang. I ultimately decided the music sounded much more alive and seemed to be charged with electricity. Streaming by comparison was slow, muddy, and congested.
Another observation I have been making is related to one’s overall taste in music. The massive amount of music available from streaming services paradoxically hinders my access. Sure I can find new music to enjoy but frankly a lot of the artists on there are unknown to me and I scroll almost endlessly until I can find something of interest. Then I try it and there is probably less than a 50% chance I will like it. Then I go back to scrolling. I have the same effect with movies on Netflix and the like.
When it comes to my digital library, I have compiled a lot of music over the years and most of it is music that I like. So when I open my own library, it takes just a few minutes to find something I want to listen to. There is a certain degree of familiarity there. I like that.
One album I enjoyed over the Technics playback system was the 1993 album by Willie Nelson, Across the Borderline (16 bit 44.1 kHz PCM). This album is a rich mix of various songs involving great artists such as David Crosby, Kris Kristofferson, Sinéad O’Connor, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon.
I particularly enjoyed the duet with Dylan, “Heartland”. Bob Dylan’s voice by this time was getting gravelly and the nuances of what was going on there were plainly heard over the ST-G30. The transparency factor was off the charts and it didn’t hurt that the bass response was tight and punchy as well. The slide guitar sounded much like it was in the room with me.
Next up was one of my favorite high-resolution downloads – Heart’s Dreamboat Annie (24 bit 96 kHz PCM). Once again, the bass was tight and properly forceful. I also enjoyed the accuracy in the treble. The midrange was “fleshy” and the sisters’ voices floated in the air right before me. The flute on “Sing Child” earns honorable mention for sounding extremely natural.
Much like Dylan’s voice on “Heartland”, I got a kick out of listening to Wilson Pickett sing “Soul Survivor” on his 1999 album It’s Harder Now (16 bit 44.1 kHz PCM). Pickett’s voice shows a lot of nooks and crannies on this album. The ST-G30 found each and every one of them. This is all around a very fun album and the title song was a showcase of the strengths of the ST-G30: low distortion, wide frequency range, tactile transients, and a lifelike quality that was so incredibly addictive.
I closed out my critical listening with Hilary Hahn’s Beethoven Violin Concerto and Bernstein Serenade (16 bit 44.1 kHz PCM). This 1999 CD release is one of my all-time favorite orchestral works. I always use one form or another of “unplugged” music for evaluating an audio component. It is a must because how else can you gauge a product’s ability to pass the sound of natural music?
Some components check all the boxes in terms of what we think about the reproduction of sound but still manage to lose the life of the music. With these components, you are left to conclude that the component was accurate but not “musical”. This is most typical among digital playback devices. They may be analytical, clinical, hard-edged, anything but musical. I mention this as a way of stressing that the Technics ST-G30 is indeed a very musical product. It checks all the boxes but doesn’t lose sight that it is the music that must also be served by the server. This little box has music in its DNA – fluid, emotional, and beautiful music. I found nothing to criticize in what I heard. The ST-G30 is indeed a “Grand Class” component.
One last point to make – the ST-G30 uses Gracenote to find cover art and additional meta data for your musical collection. This worked quite well for most commercial recordings but I have enough obscure albums that I still would need to go in and make some manual edits to get everything tidy. This was no different from most other products of this type I have used but deserves mention nevertheless.
“The TECHNICS ST-G30 MUSIC SERVER is an incredibly well made and thoughtfully designed music streamer. It has decent storage capacity and puts out an emotive, musical performance that is reminiscent of high end analog playback.”
- Stable platform
- Decent storage capacity as equipped
- Upgradeable storage
- Extreme isolation
- Excellent audio quality in all aspects of the sound
- Included WiFi
- Ability to stream from other devices
- Built-in DAC
I really enjoyed using this server to playback music from my digital library. It has just one purpose and one purpose only – create music as true to the source as possible. The engineers at Technics have pulled out all the stops to offer a product that will do this to the nth degree. This product is stable, isolated, reinforced, and immune to any sort of environmental distress.
Does it sound better than playing CD’s over an equally well executed player/DAC combo? In my analysis, it does so equally but with the added benefit that all your music is at your fingertips with direct access of any track or album you want to enjoy. The ST-G30 by the same token bests my NAS in terms of audio quality. That’s because of the great lengths Technics has gone to create the most pure playback environment humanly possible. The payoff is a slick product that houses a treasure trove of great, familiar music and then offers quite possibly the most musical playback I have heard in all my years.