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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

EAN Audiophile Review!
TEAC TN-570/TN-550
Belt Drive Turntables:
Serious TT's For LP Fans!



Brevis
Price: $1,099 (TN-570); $799 (TN-550)
Likes: very good arm/motor, A/D (TN-570)
Dislikes: just one installed cartridge choice
Wow Factor: LP dubbers rejoice!
More Info: TEAC turntables

by Russ Long
  TEAC's flagship TN-570 ($1099) and its sibling the TN-550 ($799) are quality, mid-priced, belt-drive turntables that feature acrylic platters and beautiful, black marble -textured bases. They are fitted with an Audio-Technica cartridge, and the TN-570 incorporates a bypassable phono preamp. The only major difference between the two models is the TN-550’s omission of a built-in analog-to-digital converter, which allows the user to easily archive their vinyl.
  I’ve been fortunate to spend the past two months jumping between the two models and have found them to be fantastic in every way as they do their record playing duties exceptionally well — with a blend of blending elegant design with impressive sonics.

Features
  With the exception of anything pertaining to the ADC, it can be assumed that all of the functionality and features of the TN-550 are identical to those attributed to the TN-570 in this review., including the tone arm, motor, and platter.

  Designed to rival the accuracy of a direct-drive turntable, the perimeter belt-drive TEAC unit incorporates an S-shaped, static-balanced tonearm, as well as speed controlled by TEAC's new PRS3 (Platter Rotation Speed Servo System) computer.

  The TN-570 measures 16.9” x 5.2" x 14.0: (W x H x D) and weighs approximately 19.9 lbs. It incorporates a 16-mm clear acrylic platter, along with a beautiful black pedestal comprised of artificial marble and high-density MDF. These materials were chosen not just for their beauty but also for their capacity to diminish undesirable vibration resonance.
  To help prevent unwanted sympathetic vibrations, the bottom cover of the base incorporates a honeycomb structure. The four, machined aluminum feet have independent height adjustment allowing the turntable to operate perfectly — even on an uneven surface. Rubber fittings between the feet and the platform provide additional cushioning.
  And unlike many turntables, the TEAC Tn Series models all come with removable, real dust covers, the ones with real hinges and enough barrier to keep the evil dust bunnies off the innards.


The TN-570 features a 24-bit A/D for vinyl archivers

  Designed to rival the accuracy of a direct-drive turntable, the perimeter belt-drive TEAC unit incorporates an S-shaped, static-balanced tonearm, as well as speed controlled by TEAC's new PRS3 (Platter Rotation Speed Servo System) computer. The PRS3 detects imperceptible changes in the platter rotation speed via a contactless optical sensor located at the spindle base and feeds data regarding these changes to an on-board microcomputer. The microcomputer precisely controls the motor speed delivering wow and flutter measurements (0.1%), which is comparable to direct drive machines. Speed selection between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM is achieved electronically so it isn’t necessary for the platter to be physically removed and the belt moved in order to change speeds.

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  Utilizing a belt-drive platter allows the turntable to avoid the cogging effect (the pulsing that transpires when a direct-drive motor turns) often present with direct-drive turntables. The large torque motor required to effectively turn the platter is floated from the chassis via a rubber cushion — suppressing the transmission of vibrations from the motor to the chassis. 
  The TN-570 utilizes a high-precision spindle with a carbon-coated base. Applying the carbon coating to the spindle bearing increases hardness and helps control is electrification which improves static electricity performance.


TN-550 is same as TN-570, minus the A/D

  The tonearm features a light alloy head shell, making it quick and easy to change cartridges; the height is adjustable making it easy to compensate for different cartridge sizes. TEAC supplies the turntables with an AT100E Moving Magnet cartridge. A built-in MM phono stage, designed with an OPA1602 SoundPlus® Op-amp in the phono EQ amplifier, provides a quite good audio path for the modest MM cartridge.
  Analog output (switchable between phono and line) is via gold-plated RCA connectors. The digital outputs on the TN-570 include optical TOSLink (192 kHz/24-bit) and USB (48 kHz/16-bit) making it easy to transfer music from vinyl to digital on your PC or Mac.
  Spec-wise, the TEAC includes a detachable dust cover, provides an impressive signal-to-noise ratio better than -67dB (A-weighted, 20 kHz LPF). It is powered by an AC Adapter that operates on AC, 100-240V 50/60Hz.

  For $799, the high-performance TN-550 turntable is a bargain. The turntable is so reasonably priced, you can afford to sink more money into a cartridge upgrade, if so desired.

  Analog output is via a pair of gold-plated RCA male jacks that deliver either phono output or alternatively line-level output if the built-in phono equalizing amplifier is utilized. The phono preamplifier allows the turntable to be configured into a system that is not equipped with phono inputs, and I must say, it yields an extremely impressive sound for such a modestly priced TT.
  I anticipate many users will opt to utilize the built-in phono preamplifier rather than one built into their existing tuner. The TN-570’s high-precision A/D converter is manufactured by Cirrus Logic and delivers Hi-Res digital output via optical up to 192kHz/24-bit PCM and essentially CD quality output to a PC (Mac or Windows) via USB at 48kHz/16-bit.
  The TN-670's two digital outputs (especially the optical output) are high-quality in their conversion. They allow the user to archive a vinyl collection digitally to a Mac or PC, to transfer them to CD-R/RW discs for car hi-fi playback, or to capture Hi-Res transfers of vinyl to listen to remotely via a Hi-Res music player.

The setup
  My review period was spent utilizing the TEAC TN-570 and TN-550 turntables in my home theater along with a Parasound Halo Integrated Amplifier and a pair of Episode ES-700-MON-6 speakers (placed on a pair of 18-inch stands roughly eight feet apart with the tweeters focused at the listening position).
  The system also included an Episode ES-SUB-12-300 powered subwoofer. Additional time was spent auditioning the turntables through Audio Technica ATH-R70x headphones and Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered IEMs. A MacBook Pro was utilized to record via the TN-570’s USB digital output. 
The audition
  I began my testing by listening to the Tchaikovsky 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49 with Antal Dorati conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Although it was recorded over 50 years ago, it is still one of my favorite classical recordings. The dynamic range of the album provides a great test to the capacity of a system. My vinyl edition features both the mono and stereo recordings and the TN-570 was spectacular in both instances.
  I continued my listening by listening to vinyl versions of Roxy Music’s Avalon and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and in both instances the turntable reproduced every nuance present in the recordings. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is my favorite on the Pet Sounds album. 

  The TEAC TN-570 and the TN-550, the non-A/D version, are both impressive turntables that are much more high-end looking and sounding than their price would suggest.

  I spent countless additional hours listing to dozens more albums including Frank SinatraIn The Wee Small Hours, RadioheadIn Rainbows, Daft Punk — Random Access Memories, Wilco — Summerteeth, and The Beatles — Abbey Road
  Considering the AT100 cartridge is a budget MM unit, it was testament to the TEAC TTs' integration of tonearm, motor and the cartridge to produce such high-end vinyl sound. And it tracked well all across the various LPs. Platter noise, through the air or through the speakers, was practically nonexistent.
  Considering the quality of the platter, motor and arm, you could easily upgrade the cartridge to whatever price range you wanted. Ortophone makes several nice MM units, as well as MC.

The verdict
  The TEAC TN-570 and the TN-550, the non-A/D version, are both impressive turntables that are much more high-end looking and sounding than their price would suggest.
   Initially, I was a little concerned about a turntable with a built in A/D converter, assuming it was somewhat compromised because of the relative low price of this TT. I have sampled inexpensive TT's and have found the A/D converters in many of them to be inferior to standalone A/D units I normally use to dub LPs to digital.
  However, the converter quality of TN-570 onboard A/D (at a $300 price increase over the TN-550) sounds quite good. In my opinion, the option makes the TN-570 a no-brainer — unless your system already provides the ability for Hi-Res conversion from vinyl to digital.




  For $799, the high-performance TN-550 turntable is a bargain. The turntable is so reasonably priced, you can afford to sink more money in a cartridge upgrade if so desired. If you need A/D for archiving, The TN-570 offers that upgrade, but for an extra $300. Based on my tenure with the TEAC TT’s, I have no hesitation giving them both the EAN Stellar Sound Award and a 2016 EAN Product of The Year — in the Turntable category.

  An avid home theater fan and audiophile listener, Russ Long makes his living as a Nashville-based professional audio engineer. He has recorded hundreds of albums for various artists, including Grammy Award winner Sixpence None The Richer. Articles on this site are the copyright of the ©Everything Audio Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited.


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