DV-H550 DVD Player Retail: $849 (CAN)
AG-H550 Receiver Retail: $999 (CAN)
Distributor: TEAC Canada Inc.,
5939 Wallace St., Mississauga,
Ontario, Canada L4Z 1Z8
(905) 890-8008 FAX 890-9888
Reprinted From the Almanac 2002 Issue
The newest additions to the small and cute TEAC Reference Series, the DV-H550 and AG-H550 bring compactness to full-featured home theatre. The former plays DVD, CD, CD-R/RW, Video CD, and MP3 discs, and has 96/24 stereo DACs, as well as outputting Dolby Digital and DTS. It uses 10-bit, 27 MHz video DACs, and has a digital picture zoom function, and has composite, S, and component video outputs.
The latter has a surprising 80 wpc X 2 (55 wpc X 5), given its size, and offers inputs for DVD, SAT/AUX, and VCR/Tape, as well as 3 audio inputs marked CD, CD-R/MD, and Tuner (actually not an input, since the H550 has the AM/FM tuner , with its 30 presets, built in). There are preamplifier outputs for the time when more power is desired, and these can be used for multi-room use. It has S and composite video inputs, but no component video, which makes perfect sense to me, since I’d be more likely to connect the player’s component outs directly to the TV. There are 2 sets of A/V record-out jacks, each with S and composite.
A flip-down panel at the bottom of the fascia hides secondary controls, including tuner preset controls and Bass and Treble knobs, but users will find everything else on the remote control. This remote also controls the DVD player, allowing you to store its remote after initial setup.
The receiver remote control has a lot of small buttons, identified in very small print, and nothing lights up, but the most used buttons are near the bottom for easy thumb access. Setup is easy for the DVD player and receiver, the displays on the components showing the steps and allowing setting with up/down buttons under the receiver’s flip-down panel or on the DVD remote. For those with cosmopolitan tastes, the DVD player can be set to output a PAL signal.
I started my tests by checking out the FM tuner using our outdoor bowtie (double dipole) antenna, from which 37 stations were brought in, most listenable in stereo. It’s a pretty good sounding tuner, with notably good deep bass, which also says something for the receiver’s amplifiers. There was very little multipath, and several close together stations were received cleanly, indicating good selectivity.
Then we put the DVD player, connected directly to our 64 inch Pioneer Elite TV’s component inputs through the Video Essentials test patterns, where it really surprised me with its colour accuracy and purity, grey scale accuracy, and very good picture detail and resolution. These were confirmed by a look at some movies, for example, key scenes from The Fifth Element, where it had an excellent picture whose only failings were some video noise and occasional motion artifacts, twinklies on diagonal lines. But I ended up very impressed with the overall video quality, on both component and S outputs, the former providing slightly higher picture resolution. However, it cannot quite match a progressive scan player’s absence of line structure, even when line doubled into our big screen HDTV set.
The TEAC Reference 550 system is designed to have automatic turn on/off of 550 system components when they are selected on the remote, but this can occasionally work against one, depending on the setup. I hooked the analog outputs of the DVD player to the CD input, but when I switched the receiver to CD from DVD input to listen to a 96/24 DVD, the receiver automatically switched off the DVD player’s power. This problem was solved by moving the RCAs over to the DVD analog stereo input. By the way, there are no multichannel analog inputs, the limited rear panel space allowing only room for multichannel outputs. So if you’re contemplating DVD Audio or SACD, you’ll have to seek your amplification elsewhere.
A small quirk that surprised me in setup was that remote control of the DVD player did not work until an RCA cable was connected between the two components to send and receive remote control signals. Therefore, if you were to buy the DVD unit and not the receiver, it’s possible you wouldn’t be able to use even its own remote with it. Until I looked in the Manual under Remote Control and discovered this, I wondered why neither remote would operate the DVD player. Maybe this is TEAC’s way of getting you to read the instructions.
Otherwise, once set up, it’s very easy to use, and sounds very good, with excellent bass, good Dolby Digital and DTS, and a quite exceptional DVD picture for the price. I’ve seen quite a few much more expensive DVD players that didn’t come close to the DV-H550 for picture quality. And the AG-H550 receiver not only sets standards for value, it is, like the matching DVD unit, very handsome indeed. That’s why we put them on the cover.