Are you looking to invest in a new turntable but don’t know where to look? Are you the kind of record collector who has been going for a while but still prefers to simply strap in and listen to the music rather than fuss over all of the settings and the minutiae of audiophilia? Or are you a novice with little experience who simply wants to spin discs without any fuss?
Then you are in the right place; for today, we will be exploring the ins and outs of a turntable that can offer you precisely this, the TEAC TN 400s.
Table of Contents
- TEAC TN 400s Overview
- The Brand
- Design & Key Features
- Upgrades & Customization
- TEAC TN 400s Performance
- Final Tones
TEAC TN 400s Overview
Before we head on into the full throng of the review, perhaps it would be best to summarize some of the more important points into a handy list of pros and cons, particularly for those who have a little less time on their hands.
- The built-in phono preamp has line-level audio as well as an integrated USB digital output that is, crazily enough, Windows and Mac-compatible, meaning that converting your vinyls to CD won’t be a problem no matter what operating system or computational hardware you are rocking.
- This vessel features a high-torque DC motor that is one of the crowning gems of this belt-drive turntable, offering high-quality analog playback at high precision speed.
- The simple and stylish aesthetic comes in various finishes that will no doubt appeal to a large sum of record collectors today, including an aluminum die-cast platter perfectly suited to filtering through unwanted resonances.
- Setting this turntable up is relatively easy too.
And so, if there are pros, there must almost always be some cons…
- This is a fully manual turntable, something that might be a real turn-off to some like, say, those more used to automatic or semi-automatic turntables or who are new to audiophilia and record collecting and looking for an easier ride.
- For the more discerning ear, this turntable might lack the characteristic oomph and low-end warmth that many have come to expect from listening to music via records. Overall, this is not a turntable for those audiophiles who are going to be kept up at night worrying about the full spectrum of their sound.
- This is on top of the fact that this turntable already picks up a whole bunch of noise interference – perhaps one of the reasons the sound lacks some of that girth in the low-end?
TEAC is already a well-established and profitable brand in the world of audiophilia. While they might not have been doing it for as long as their competitors at Audio-Technica, over the past 30 years, they have accrued a reputation for the sound quality of the highest order. Indeed, their products are of considerable quality in terms of the build too, so you can be sure that whatever you are buying from them is going to last a considerable amount of time.
In fact, one of TEAC’s biggest legacies is in their nurturing of home recording during the 70s, manufacturing some of the most important products in its history. This includes inventing the first 1/2 inch tape, 4-track cassette recorder, the first 8-track, and reel-to-reel/mixer combo, as well as the first R-DAT recorder.
TEAC is famously a supporter of the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct, the Electronic Industry Citizenship, and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative. The latter is of particular importance today, for they aim to eliminate the use of irresponsible materials often found in the manufacture of music equipment. Indeed, in an age where turntables are manufactured just to be thrown away, this could not be more relevant as a prerogative.
In particular, they have accrued a reputation for attempting to reduce the use of harmful minerals during the infamously damaging production process, boosting sustainability within the industry thanks to their work with local suppliers.
Design & Key Features
The TEAC TN-400s is a manual belt-drive turntable whose overall design aesthetic is very much reflective of current trends toward hyper-minimalism in home decor. The bold and sharp square edges almost ooze gaunt and emotionless stares from eyes resting above the shoulder blades of too-sharp cheekbones.
Thankfully, this turntable comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, and a simple walnut wood finish. Since this turntable is technically discontinued, searching for colors online makes for an interesting experience, for you never quite know what you are going to find. Thus, you might be forced into a color that you were previously not as into but that now you find most tasteful.
In terms of physical features and attributes, this turntable has a ready and capable built-in phono preamp that will do some serious damage when paired with a worthy amplifier and set of speakers. The tonearm is S-shaped, the filter is subsonic, and there is even an A2D converted for higher-quality analog playback and computer-based archiving.
Unlike plenty of other similarly-priced belt-drive turntables, this one offers three playback speeds, allowing for a surprising amount of freedom and customization in what is a rather minimal affair. For this playback, the turntable makes use of an aluminum platter and low-friction spindle fed by a turntable AC power adapter.
On the cartridge side of things, we are thankful to have an Audio-Technica moving magnet cartridge that can be fed through an integrated USB output for conversion of analog to digital. This pre-matched phono cartridge on a stainless steel block makes for a turntable that is overall of solid build quality, well-built, and able to last you well into the future, especially well-suited to novices and those entering the world of audiophilia.
Though this machine is an inherently manual belt-drive turntable, this should not cause any major problems during the initial setup (even if, to compensate, this turntable should have a phono equalizer instead). The instructions are relatively cogent and should be interpretable by the large majority of users, meaning most of you will not struggle to put the whole thing together once you have rid it of its box.
This is thanks in no small part to the pre-matched phono cartridge, which has been factory mounted by the folks over at the TEAC factory. So, with very little effort on your part, you can very easily get this show on the road, fiddling a little with the tracking force so that they are in ship shape.
Yes, even the most novice of you should be able to get this record player up and running with its pre-mounted cartridge at an accurate rotational speed with the S-shaped tonearm. To adjust the tracking force and anti-skate, you simply have to set them according to what it says in the instructions, usually around 1.75g. This is to ensure that the high-inertia aluminum platter does not come off its durable brass bearing.
So, all you need to do is set the sturdy MDF base on a flat surface, dial in the relevant coordinates, and you will be good to go! Don’t hesitate to troubleshoot any issues you might be having other than this – most of the time, there is an easy fix for just about anything.
Upgrades & Customization
In terms of upgrades and customization, you can most certainly deck this record player out to within an inch of its life. It sure would support such a maneuver, and you would likely be well rewarded for doing so.
Common advice from audiophiles in such instances is to perhaps stop and reconsider before purchasing a turntable of this caliber just so you can upgrade it in the near future. Such advice posits that, instead of acquiring something to level it up in no time, why not preserve this money and spend what you would have spent on upgrades on an altogether better turntable?
Not only would such a thing mean a little less work for you, but it would also likely result in a turntable setup whose inner workings have been more carefully considered by the manufacturers so that each individual part can work more closely with each other’s strengths and such.
So, before you go ahead and buy the TEAC TN 400s, have a long, hard think with yourself about your position on the matter.
If you are the kind of person that is just inclined toward upgrading things in this way anyhow, then it almost seems unavoidable, no? To defy your inherent leanings?
What if we were to tell you that thinking a little more about it might save you money in the long run? It can be all too easy to think in the short term, especially when money is concerned. We want it, and we want it now, right? Well, being a little more judicious and buying a turntable that either has all the features that you desire already or that is more welcoming of upgrades will save you more money than you realize.
TEAC TN 400s Performance
This brings us to the overall performance of the turntable. While there are undoubtedly a few other things going on, the main objective of this turntable is to offer forth a reasonably good sound and faithful reproduction of the source material without breaking the bank too much. In this way, you would not be wrong to call the TEAC TN 400s a success (unless, of course, you wanted something that also came with a Bluetooth connection)!
For beginners or anyone who is perfectly satisfied just kicking back and listening to their favorite tunes without too much prolonged or detailed analysis, then this turntable is amply suited to the job. In terms of the sound, you can reasonably expect clear and well-balanced mids, lows that, while not anything to write home about in terms of girth, is not at all muddy, as well as a high end that can sometimes be a little harsh to the more discerning ear.
Overall, you can expect from the TEAC TN 400s exactly what you put into it. This is a relatively affordable turntable that is just going to allow you to jam out to your records without much space for customization unless you have a particularly well-endowed stereo amplifier capable of phono equalization and the like.
Where this turntable shines is in the sheer level of convenience it can offer those music listeners and record collectors that are not necessarily looking for the fullness of experience as much as they are simply looking for a way to easily and smoothly enjoy listening to their record collection at a reasonable level of quality.
As already alluded to above, this turntable falls prey to at least a little external noise interference. This is due to the fact that a lot of the parts are pre-fixed by TEAC at the factory, something that somehow leads to an increased vulnerability to external noise factors. What this area of fidelity lacks, though, you will gain in the sheer convenience of listening, not to mention just how easy it is to set up and maintain this turntable in the long run.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to make a wise and informed decision about this turntable and whether you might wish to invest in it or not.