There is something special to listening to your favorite vinyl record. The crackle and hiss when vinyl records start up remind me of a simpler time when life wasn’t as rushed when we could live in the moment without being interrupted by technology. I was excited to get the chance to review the TEAC TN 300, as the manufacturer claims that it sounds great right out of the box, and that is perfect for anyone from serious audiophiles to the first time vinyl user.
Sounds promising, let’s find it out if the TN 300 can hold up its promise.
Background on the manufacturer
TEAC is a Japan-based electronics manufacturer that was founded in 1953 as the Tokyo Electro Acoustic Company. Well-known for their audio equipment, in the 70s the company started with high-end audio equipment. During the 1980s, TEAC (pronounced “Tee-ack”) became better known for the high quality, yet inexpensive floppy disks they produced.
Today TEAC manufactures not just audio and recording equipment, but also industrial light drives, medical image recording, and reproducing equipment, as well as measuring equipment like transducers.
The TN300 is a belt-driven analog turntable that embraces the digital and analog worlds. The polished exterior looks great, and with the heavy MDF plinth helps keep distortion to a minimum.
The high-torque DC motor is powerful and drives the Neoprene belt to deliver great sound right out of the box. This belt helps in reducing the motor vibration and prevents noise from spoiling your favorite vinyl.
This versatile USB turntable comes with the Audio Technica AT95E cartridge with moving magnet, and combined with the anti-skating technology makes for precise tracking accuracy. It comes with a phono stage built in, which means you can connect it to a stereo amplifier, hi-fi system, active speaker or any other line input. No need to have a separate preamp which makes it a great choice for newcomers to the world of vinyl. If you are a vinyl junkie and own your own pre-amp, you can choose to disable the one on the turntable.
For those who like to digitize and archive their vinyl collection, the Teac TN300 comes with a USB port and TI analog-to-digital converter. This unit makes it simple to save your favorite tracks to WAV, MP3 or other digital formats on both MAC and computer.
What comes in the box
When you purchase this turntable you will receive the following:
- TEAC TN-300 turntable
- AC Power Adapter
- 3 AC plug inserts
- 6’ USB type-B to USB type-A cable
- 39” Stereo RCA cable
- Rubber mat
- 45 RPM adapter
- Headshell with Audio Technica AT95E cartridge
- Cover with 2 hinges (pre-installed)
- 2 Rubber covers
- Owner’s manual
- Warranty Card
Everything you need to be ready for some serious vinyl action in no time. One thing where TEAC might have slipped up, is that there is no recording software included. Not a big deal, as the Audacity software program is a great free choice and can easily be downloaded from audacity.sourceforge.net.
Features and Specifications
The dimensions of this table come in at 13.4 x 16.5 x 7.1 inches and it weighs 11lbs when unboxed. The heavy platter is made from cast aluminum, and the weight helps the Teac TN 300 to remain stable during playback. The unit can play both both 33 and 45 RPM, and is easily adjustable with the flick of a switch.
It comes with a straight type tone arm made from aluminum, and while some prefer the s-shape tone arm, I found it to work well in this case. It does look a little unconventional, but it didn’t take too long to get used to it.
The anti-skating system prevents tracking errors, while the built-in pre-amplifier can be bypassed if you have your own.
A USB connection allows you to archive your vinyl collection for your grandchildren, and also allows you to play music through your phone’s speakers.
Teac TN 300 Design
Color options for this analog table include black, red, cherry or white. My personal favorite is the cherry finish, it looks great with the aluminum dials. Some traditionalists might not like the aluminum with the cherry finish or natural wood finishes, but it looks much better in person than in pictures.
The aluminum feet, paired with the heavy platter also made from aluminum makes for minimal skipping. It also complements the switches, which have a real quality feel to them.
Overall the design is solid for a table in this price range, and if you have ever owned one of those plastic tables that cost less than 100 bucks, you will appreciate this table for what it offers.
TEAC TN-300 Analog Turntable with Built-in Phono Pre-amplifier & USB Digital Output (Cherry)TEAC TN-300 Analog Turntable with Built-in Phono Pre-amplifier & USB Digital Output (Black)TEAC TN-300 Analog Turntable with Built-in Phono Pre-amplifier & USB Digital OutputTEAC TN-300 Analog Turntable with Built-in Phono Pre-amplifier & USB Digital Output (Natural)
This table produces warm and rich sound with a full range right out of the box. It has good bass, and decent highs and lows. To be honest, I was surprised with the bass at this price range! It sounds really good. For those just starting out with vinyl, this is a great mid-range starter unit.
For those that have been listening to vinyl for years, you might notice a lack of detail and perhaps even find the highs a bit lacking, but this unit still presents a solid offering. Paired with good speakers, and perhaps a replacement cartridge (like the SHURE M97xE) takes this table from good to much better without too much trouble.
What I liked
- At this very affordable price, you get a great looking turntable that is both versatile and reliable. For a turntable under $500, the sound is surprisingly good, especially when paired with high-quality speakers.
- You also get the automatic speed adjustment, which is not typical of turntables in this price range. Unlike other units in this price range, you don’t need to take the platter off and move the belt when switching from 33 to 45.
- All in all this turntable is a pleasure to use, and it is clear that TEAC took great care with the layout of this TT and the placement of all the buttons and switches.
What I didn’t like
- While the Audio Technica AT95E cartridge that comes standard with this table is a solid performer, serious audiophiles might be left wanting more. This cartridge is considered a budget option, although it performs better than to deserve that title. TEAC knows their customers and realized there are a select few who would prefer to upgrade the cartridge and they made it easy to do so.
- If you want to upgrade the cartridge, I can highly recommend the Shure M97xE. It will set you back just under 100 bucks, but your inner muso will thank you when listening to your favorite Miles Brown or Billy Idol record.
- I feel I have to mention that this TT doesn’t play 78RPM. Most people won’t mind this, as there are very few 78 vinyl records still in circulation. If you have a few 78s in your vinyl collection, a similarly priced turntable to consider is the Audio Technica AT-LP20.
How To Use
If you have been a long-term turntable user, you will recall the days when setting up a new table was a downright pain. It is clear to see that TEAC thought of the listener when they made the TN300. With the Teac TN-300, all you need to do is configure some of the more important settings, like the tracking force and the anti-skating, and you are ready to listen your favorite record. TEAC did a great job at making this unit virtually ready to play with its pre-matched phono cartridge and tonearm.
What TEAC TN 300 users are saying
Users of the TEAC mention the ease of use of the turntable, and how they appreciate not having to lift the platter when changing from 33 to 45. Just the flick the switch on the top of the deck, and you are good to go.
They are in agreement that the table feels really solid with nice build quality. They love the layout and the feel of the controls. Owners of the TN 300 mention that it works very nicely for casual listening, and those who are more serious about their music, appreciate the option to use an external pre-amp and the upgradeable cartridge.
A few users mentioned that the instructions for the arm calibration were a bit vague. These users mentioned Youtube videos that helped to solve this problem.
Worth your hard-earned money?
The TEAC TN-300 is a mid-range belt-driven turntable that proves good looks and good performance can be found in one package. While the serious audiophile might be able to pick up on some of the sound shortcomings, most of us do not have such well-trained ears.
This table offers really good value for money and is a great option for you if you are serious about your vinyl collection and want something that works out of the box. My opinion is that this TT is not ideal for DJs. I would recommend the Audio Technica AT-LP20 instead.
It offers solid construction, sound quality, and the looks will impress your friends. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is the best looking of all the mid-range turntables. I would recommend this table for all vinyl newcomers and casual listeners who want an easy to use turntable that won’t cost an arm and a leg.