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

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by noman, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. noman

    noman Active Member Thread Starter

    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:
    Teac TN-550 - same faulty speed sensor on the replacement

    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.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  2. BuddhaBob

    BuddhaBob Forum Resident

    Erie, PA, USA
    Well presented. Good information. Thanks.

    I will be curious to see if they fix this as it seems they should.
    patient_ot likes this.
  3. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Companies don't give a toss about putting out quality products anymore. This is true for almost anything. They are hoping you don't notice problems that were there all along or that the company should've tested for in the first place. I went through this with my last phone.

    Ever wonder why recalls don't happen until a lawsuit is threatened? The above is why.
    Helom and nosliw like this.
  4. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Nope

    Tri-Cities, Tn.
    Thank you for your cogent reporting. It's disappointing that Teac wasn't willing to correct the issue. Even more disturbing, they sent you to a competitor without even trying. An obvious case of apathy.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
    bruce2 likes this.
  5. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    That's an excellent warning review.
    I hope that IF they fix the problem, they give new distinct model numbers, like 551 and 571. Not something like "550a" or "550MKII". Other companies, recently, that have a problem and do correct the problem at some point, keep using the same model numbers, which will lead to confusion for many years. That seems to be the way of the audio business these days.
    patient_ot likes this.
  6. Daily Nightly

    Daily Nightly Well-Known Member

    New Jersey, USA
    Last time TEAC made 'tables was under the "NEAT"-branding in the '60s...as a Japan knock-off of Lencos.
    I, personally, wouldn't have figured TEAC an experienced contender in the turntable market; as: their history excelled with TAPE.
  7. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    SF Bay Area, USA
    TEAC was the USA distributor for some of my favorite 70s Japan vintage tables from Micro Seiki ... always loved the DD-40, had that really nice MA-505 tonearm, decent price, getting hard to find ones in mint shape anymore but it's one to always look out for ...

  8. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Boston MA
    That whining noise would drive me nuts.
  9. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Eagle, Idaho
    Shoot, I was thinking hard about buying one of these. Back to Pro-Ject Classic I guess.
  10. Minty_fresh

    Minty_fresh Forum Resident

    I always assimilated TEAC with crap. Right once again.
  11. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    Is it really TEAC-built? Or more likely a Hanpin?
  12. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    TEAC were once quality especially tape and CD playback. Never been noted for record players. As far as this model is concerned it's likely a Hanpin and the optical speed control similar or same as used on the Pioneer PLX 1000 DD and other models. It could be there is a bad batch with faulty component. Unfortunately less discriminating customers and vinyl newbies don't notice these flaws.
    McLover, patient_ot and nosliw like this.
  13. ggergm

    ggergm you can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd

    The original post is nice work by the author, who unfortunately hasn't made a post since then. Too bad. He or she is a voice we could use.
    You should have used their TASCAM gear from the 1970s and '80s. It was some of the best tape and professional equipment made.

    As others have said, this is turntable is most likely made by others. It doesn't absolve TEAC from ownership of the problem but it does explain why they won't, and probably can't, really do anything about it. If Mama serves you cold soup, you're gonna eat cold soup.
    Minty_fresh likes this.
  14. noman

    noman Active Member Thread Starter

    That's nice of you to say, thank you. Sorry to bump this thread to say that. Haven't posted anything since mostly because I haven't tried any new equipment, but also got distracted by some other life stuff. Will try to keep up!

    I think you're right, it's Hanpin, and TEAC just doesn't have the control over the process necessary to make a real change. I think that sort of arrangement is fine for a sub $400 turntable, but on their "no compromise" $1000 table, it's pretty glaring (grandstanding that of course it's going to have compromises regardless of the marketing speak).
    ggergm and patient_ot like this.

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