AudioRumble rating 87/100
What We like
A gorgeous, simple design comprised of marble and transparent acrylic.
The build quality is really high; it feels premium.
Listening experience was good in all of our tests.
What We don't like
Not a whole lot of extras, but not the worst thing.
|Playback Speed:||33-1/3, 45 RPM|
TEAC is a Japanese company which has been working in the production of audio equipment for just about every conceivable sector of the market for over 30 years. Pioneers in home recording, let’s see how this turntable offering holds up.
Once you end up spending between $500 and $1000 on a turntable, visual design becomes a surprisingly more variable field than you might imagine. In most industries, it is generally true that the more you spend the better looking product you end up with. But in audio, this is often not the case. Expensive equipment tends to prioritise the pure, auditory experience, and many companies opt not to bother with the comparatively superfluous frills of visual flair.
With that said, TEAC has decided to largely ignore this trend. And in a big way. The TN-550 combines artificial marble with high density MDF to create what they call a ‘dual material chassis’. Everything about this model looks luxurious, as if you’ve carved a piece of some ancient column into a slab especially for housing the clear platter and silver finishings of the turntable. If this is your thing, then it’s a great looking device.
The TN-550 employs both speed selector and EP adaptors finished in machined aluminium to add to the luxurious feel. The clear acrylic platter is more than just an aesthetic choice, and is manufactured so as to suppress unwanted sympathetic vibrations. A carbon coating is applied to the spindle bearing which increases its hardness and means you can control the electrification which, claim TEAC, provides “excellent static electricity performance”. What we’re saying is there’s a whole lot going on.
The S shaped tonearm is designed to be highly flexible, and allows you to adjust its height so that you can optimize the setup depending on the shell and cartridge which you decide to make use of. All in all, the features are primarily geared towards stabilising and noise reduction and, we have to admit, they manage to pull both off with some flourish. Neither have any significant impact on the audio performance which, as we are about to discuss, manages to sound utterly flawless in its lack of graininess or other such hallmarks of the vinyl experience.
In terms of how it holds up against competing products at this price point, it’s fair to say that the TN-550 does a pretty great job across the board. There is almost no acoustic feedback of note, and the weightiness of the artificial marble does a great job of reducing unwanted sympathetic vibrations to the point at which they are no longer noticeable.
The sound quality is best described as accurate. It managed all of the genres we threw at it with consistent success, and managed to continually reproduce nuanced, clear, and rich soundscapes just as you would hope for the price range. We found that the default cartridge sounded pretty good, but upgrading is obviously always an option if you have a specific sound signature of other requirement for which you are aiming.
As discussed, many of the features of the TN-550 are aimed at promoting the absolute removal and reduction of background noise and other such errors. And, across the board, this has been an entirely successful effort. It is a testament to the quality of the components used throughout the device that it manages to deliver an audio performance that is totally free from such minor glitches across all volume levels and playback options.
All in all, this is a device that appeals on a number of levels. The faux marble and clear platter make for a strong visual to any room, and sound is good enough to warrant the price-tag for an audiophile.
AudioRumble rating 87/100