TEAC TN-550 -- Wannabe high-end with fatal flaw

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by noman, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. noman

    noman New Member

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    I recently bought a TEAC TN-550. Given there’s so little first-hand, in-home information about it, I planned on doing a quick review.

    Unfortunately, as soon as I plugged it in and got the platter moving, it was clear something was very wrong. When the platter started moving a high-pitched noise started. 33rpm and 45rpm would produce two different pitches.

    At first I thought it was the motor somehow. Nope. When I got the motor moving independent of the spindle, the motor wasn’t making a hint of noise.

    Then I spun the spindle between my fingers, back and forth. Yep! That’s it. So I figured it was maybe static/grounding and I could pop open the bottom panel and run an extra wire from the spindle cradle. Nope, that wasn’t it either.

    The problem is actually the fancy optical speed stability sensor. Somewhere along the way, from the optical eye to the tiny sensor circuit board to the connector harness on the main circuit board, this thing is putting a squelch noise into the system. When the sensor harness is disconnected from the main board, the spindle movement makes zero noise. I don’t have a video of the operating noise, only the troubleshooting version, but it’s a sustained electrical buzz noise that absolutely wrecks the noise floor. Almost like a ground hum, but way higher-pitched.

    Here’s my video showing the problem (sorry this one is long):


    I notified TEAC immediately, and returned the first table via Amazon at their cost. TEAC swore they’ve never heard of this problem and said a replacement table should fix the issue. Not a chance. The second table I received has exactly the same problem.

    Here’s my video showing the second table:


    The part that bothers me the most is that TEAC went back to research the problem, and when they came back to me they said two things: 1) they have reproduced the optical sensor noise issue in the USA office and in the engineer team offices in Japan, but 2) I’m the only one who has reported it, so they don’t see it as a problem requiring their attention. They told me point-blank that their advice is to return my table and purchase a competitor’s.

    TEAC has no plans to fix an obvious fatal flaw plaguing their “no compromise” wannabe-high-end turntable platform that either goes for $900 or $1100 depending on options (i.e. TN-550 or TN-570). I thought people should know. I tried to tell TEAC that I wanted to work with them on a solution before blasting their new product far and wide, but that’s when they told me they had no plans to fix anything and I should look elsewhere. Pretty dumb, if you ask me.

    What’s particularly unfortunate for them is the table has a lot of promise! The spec sheet and build quality is great for the price… only problem is TEAC shot themselves in the foot with a faulty product and dismissing an early customer.

    My strong advice is to avoid this turntable until TEAC acknowledges the problem and has it fixed. If you agree and/or this review has at all been helpful to your decision-making, I suggest telling TEAC directly: custser@teac.com.
     

     

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  2. tnsilver

    tnsilver Super Member

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    Really? I was checking this official specs. 0.1% Wow and flutter for $900? Sorry for your trouble. This conduct does make my blood boil. There's probably some reference on AK to this model. An early read could save lot's of trouble.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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  3. majick47

    majick47 Addicted Member

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    OP your not purchasing the TN-550 doesn't make Teac have any second thoughts re the tables "problems", they figure there will be plenty of buyers who will be happy to live with that noise caused by the sensor. Same thing with Project who keeps denying any motor noise from their tables. Yes there are plenty of folks who are crazy enough to spend $900-$1,000 for awful performing tables like these no matter what they are told. Far as they are concerned the tables look nice from the pictures they have seen., a $50 Craigslist vintage table would kick their butt.
     
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  4. noman

    noman New Member

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    There's next to nothing from people who have auditioned it themselves. I read and read like crazy. Seemed like it could hold up well if it delivered as-promised.

    I think if they had more customers there'd be more people reviewing it. The fact that early risk-takers like me are getting burned can't help their prospects. I hope that means they'll reconsider their decision to not fix TN-550 / 570. It could be a worthwhile product if it functioned as silently as it should, and that shouldn't be hard.
     
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  5. tnsilver

    tnsilver Super Member

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  6. noman

    noman New Member

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    Not to argue over whether I should have known better, but I read and replied to that thread. What I noticed he said the sound and built was actually quite good. The part about needing a mat for VTA and the needle drop thing seemed like minor points to me if the sound quality was there. Also, I called three separate dealers about their thoughts, and they said they thought it was a good table for the money. I don't think many people have really put this thing through it's paces, and when I did, I found this problem and had it confirmed by TEAC, so this is the start of that being a known thing.
     
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  7. tnsilver

    tnsilver Super Member

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    Dealers deal!

    I actually noticed he said this - which was quite easy to do as it was his bottom line:

    So it appears like two threads, two different owners and allegedly three faulty units...
     
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  8. noman

    noman New Member

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    Ultimately, yes, you're exactly right.

    Just for my own reputation, the question was more "you sell the Rega, Music Hall, and TEAC, please tell me about them," and less, "I want to buy the TEAC TN-550, should I give you my money for it?"
     
  9. tnsilver

    tnsilver Super Member

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    You're not at fault here it's just that there seems to be a pattern with many mfgr's that presumably try to capitalize on the vinyl hype.
    They come up with new, shiny, appealing, modern looking decks, sharing the exact same specifications as did the competitor just a few months ago,
    and they initially sell it for what appears to be an insanely disproportionate price. I mean look at the inside of it!

    Do the ceramic capacitors on the main PCB, appear to be "high-end" components? No Sir! I've seen these noisy buggers on vintage 60's and 70's gear and they are first to
    go and be replaced by modern MLCC caps in any DIY recap job. Why can't the mfgr use Murata caps for these in a $900 deck? Have a look at the electrolytics please. Are they Nichicons?
    Are they Panasonic? Are they any known solid main stream make? I can't tell but I really don't think so. More likely they are some obscured Asian brand, that is likely to go out of specs
    in a couple of years. It's not just that... Under the hood, all of these turntables generally appear flimsy with a capital F. The cheap large PCB, the cross wiring, the mounting of mechanically
    stressed large controls directly onto the PCB, the DC motors, the electronics, it just strikes me cheap, cheap, cheap. I know the tonearm looks OK, but seriously, I wouldn't give an eBay
    listing a second look if it had one of those in it for more than $40. I honestly don't see where $900 can go in this table. I'd find it hard to believe $90 let alone $900.

    Then, as time goes by, you start hearing about "issues"... Tonearm drops like a rock, anti-skate doesn't do it's thing properly, the darn thing hums or makes noise, can't keep it's speed,
    some platters appear to to be warped straight out of the plant, stuff like that... Yeah, sure there are hundreds of positive reviews on reddit and Amazon (probably teenagers and kids
    with Christmas gifts mostly), and along side comes dozens of reports about faulty units that are generally replaced with no questions asked. But the evidence of poor QC and inherent
    defects starts to stack up on AK and VE and what do you know... prices start to slide down as fast as mods appear online suggesting to rip out the piss poor built in pre-amp.
    Then the next one comes along and there's a total reboot and complete loss of memory regarding a few weeks worth of turntable history and it's the same story all over again.


    It's been like that with the Stantons, the AT's, the Reloops, and probably dozens more, then the PLX-1000... Try to guess what all these have in common. Isn't it time the lesson is learned???
     
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  10. winters860

    winters860 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    In my limited experience, TEAC of Japan puts a lot of effort into their new equipment, while TEAC of America is staffed by incompetent assclowns uninterested in their customers' concerns.
     
  11. majick47

    majick47 Addicted Member

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    What is common to all these tables is that they are not mfg in Japan with Japanese parts/design. It's nothing more than trying to keep up with the competitors offering turntables that 40 years ago would be close to the bottom of the barrel. Presently the only competent tables mfg in Japan are from Technics SL-1200G and GR $4,000 and $1,600.
     
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  12. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    You have touched a nerve and explained so much better about what I have been trying to say for many years. The build quality and construction of so many of this ilk of turntable has heavily bothered me, the Quality control and flimsy construction very substandard. Durability and quality such an afterthought. And no parts/service support to speak of either. Horrible when many a late 1960's-1970's Japanese basic belt, idler, or direct drive can with a little love and care, be made to play again for many, many years of musical enjoyment to high standard. I see turntables of many price ranges apart for repair or major maintenance and of many vintages. I mince no words about how they're built, supported, how they are to repair. Not to mention their performance. I tend to tell it like it is.
     
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  13. freQ(*)Oddio

    freQ(*)Oddio "Embracing the cards I was dealt" Subscriber

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    I see you are a new member, you can check out some reviews on AK now for tables in your price range, good luck on your purchase.
     
  14. Dennis Gardner

    Dennis Gardner Jazz Nut

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    No product is perfect, the makers know this and release an item to meet specs and price point expectations to fill a market's need. It is simply the way business is done unless the item causes loss of life like defective airbags.

    Makers that put out products like this give great opportunities for those with the knowledge and entrepreneurial skill to create a fix for the issues by creating a real upgrade option for a nice item to become a really great item that leads the market in value with the increased performance of those modifications to the weak points.

    If you are sharp enough to find these flaws and fix them, I hope that you are sharp enough to make some $ with that knowledge. Good luck upgrading Hanpin turntables, there are already plenty on the market that need your cure.......
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  15. majick47

    majick47 Addicted Member

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    All of these tables were designed to be throw aways that the fickle owners would discard after no more than a year when the next social fad came along. They buy one of these tables and maybe a half dozen albums as a conversation piece, as for listening the thing sounds like bleep. Best cure/upgrade is the nearest dumpster.
     
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  16. freQ(*)Oddio

    freQ(*)Oddio "Embracing the cards I was dealt" Subscriber

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    i will give my recommendation for the $1K range, there is a clear audio concept on the auction now for 875, new VPI scout JRs are 1199, sota makes a table now under 1k, the best in the business are now offering affordable lifetime tables. You are shopping at a good time. Entry price tables from VPI, SOTA, CLEARAUDIO, rega rp2 would be better then the hanpin models, you will be seeing these names all over the turntable forum in a good way.
     

     

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  17. freQ(*)Oddio

    freQ(*)Oddio "Embracing the cards I was dealt" Subscriber

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    You will not read about TEAC in a good way in any forum except the tape thread, or their new high end components, their turntables are horrible, except for maybe 5 out of every 100, they sell ok because audiophiles dont buy them,
     
  18. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    And many of these turntables are also not very well suited to the needs of quite a few vinylphiles either. And too high maintenance, too delicate, or don't meet the needs of average music lovers either. SOTA, VPI, or ClearAudio I don't recommend to people who are not somewhat experienced in vinyl playback.And it's care and feeding. People who know their way around turntables and tonearms, they can be good options. Regas can be recommended but with caveats. I do like their tonearm for the price. Some people want and need a good, well built, no fuss turntable so they can listen to their music without fuss or frippery. And don't want to have to spend extra for things like pitch accuracy (Regas for pitch sensitive people, you have to often buy a GrooveTracer subplatter at minimum to be able to listen to any Piano record or Guitar solo record with held chords without hearing the Rega wavering). If we could get something akin to the best Hanpin models (their features serve many well) with better build quality and engineering, and tonearms better made, then we'd have a more viable option many music lovers could benefit from, and many who want convenient.
     
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  19. jrtrent

    jrtrent AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sounds like they gave you some practical advice, "They told me point-blank that their advice is to return my table and purchase a competitor’s." You mentioned Amazon, so are you one of those hobbyists left with no local dealer where you can handle and audition some options? How did your warranty service go with the Pro-Ject turntable you mentioned in another thread? I'm assuming not well since you bought the Teac. I bought a Rega RP3 a couple years ago and am quite satisfied with its performance and sound quality, but I was able to buy it after auditioning options at a local shop and borrowing a floor sample to try at home first. A friend of mine has used his Rega P1 for 10 years and is still convinced it's all the turntable anyone really needs. Best wishes on finding something that works well for you--sounds like you've had more than your fair share of frustration.
     
  20. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    For the price, I'd keep an eyeball out for a used Technics SL-1200 Mk2 that hasn't been DJ'd to death, or better yet a similar but semi-auto or auto version that's lived its life in someone's home.

    I too fell into the trap of thinking that a DJ table couldn't be that good, but ended up falling into a thread here on the SL-1200 one day while I was stuck in a hospital waiting room with nothing to entertain me but my phone. Found an underpriced SL-1650 on my local Craig's at the same time, and was astonished how easy it was to work on compared to the Duals I'd been fighting with, and maybe my ears are tin, but I can't see that it gives up much sonically either. Honestly my 1650 could easily replace my 1229Q with few regrets save that I like having a table around that can play 78s should I want to do so.
     
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