New Teac DVD Receiver DR-H358i and Predecessor DR-H300(DAB)

Do you have a Teac DR-H358i or DR-H300 (with or without the -DAB suffix)? Are you thinking of getting one?

The DR-H358i is a successor to the nice-but-flawed DR-H300DAB which Teac advise has now been withdrawn. It comes with an iPod dock which connects via the front-panel USB socket and, perhaps oddly for a ‘reference system’, incorporates a digital clock with timer, alarm and sleep functions.

If you have a DR-H358i I’d be interested to know whether they’ve fixed the various design flaws with the DR-H300DAB; if you’re thinking of getting either you need to read the following, based on living with a DR-H300DAB for two years (I also recently bought a spare via eBay which exhibits the same problems – just like two others I tried at time of original purchase):

Mad 1. Noticeable hum/buzz on phones output, accompanied by clicks when changing sources. Late at night I often use phones to listen; quiet passages on ANY source (I often listen to Freeview TV via AUX 1) WILL reveal a fixed-level (doesn’t change with volume or mute on/off) of annoying hum and buzz. Simply unforgiveable in a unit built around digital sources.

Mad 2. NON-RANDOM mutes on DAB. You WILL hear mutes (anything up to 5 seconds) even with a decent RF signal level. The DR-H300DAB uses the Gyro 1122 DAB module and – to their credit – its manufacturers have willingly engaged with me regarding the problem of any (and they are actually quite frequent) change of transmitted bitrate on a BBC service (eg Radio 4 from 128kbps stereo to 80kbps mono) causing a mute across ALL BBC services on the same DAB multiplex, so that’s Radio 1, 2, 3, 4…, as the little Gyro module has a headache and goes back to square one to sort itself out!

This is not typical behaviour for a DAB radio, indeed some (eg Pure Evoke-1) are very good at handling these bitrate switches and you hardly notice them on the switched service itself. A feature of this shortcoming, is that if you have muted the DR-H300DAB, it will promptly unmute. This is what the nice man from Gyro said in his last e-mail: “While we need more tests to validate, I would like to thank you for understanding and you did help in a way that prompted us in improving next tuners!” You might think that this was more constructive than a confused letter from Teac’s UK Service Manager wherein he stated that “…we have absolutely no doubts about the quality or performance of the DRH300DAB unit… …why not just settle back and enjoy the sound reproduction of the system instead of ghost-hunting for faults with it.”

Mad 3. CD playback. If you play CDs from start to finish, the start of around 40-50% of all tracks is clipped – by half a second or so. It does vary with CDs, but after months of listening to loads of CDs, that’s where I’d put the percentage. This is really annoying. If you press skip back the track will then play cleanly. The problem is usually repeatable for affected tracks. This may be happening because it’s a DVD player first and a CD player second – it also takes an age to read a CD’s TOC (table of contents) when the disc is first loaded. I have a service manual for the DR-H300DAB and plan to bring out temporary connections to the circuit boards to see where in the signal chain the clipping is present – including right back to pins 224/226 of the MediaTek MT1389HD chip (which is as far back as I can go in the analogue domain). The MT1389HD chip forms the core of the DR-H300DAB’s DVD/CD functionality – because it does so much, it’s known as a ‘system-on-a-chip’ (SOC). If I can find a cheap one, I’ll also try an external DAC. My ears are too old to be ‘golden’ so I don’t have one already – but they still know when something ain’t right! MediaTek have been helpful in correspondence and say they don’t think the problem is with their chip.

Wink 4. CD play problems solved early 2009 (15 months old) after I fitted a new Sanyo SF-HD65 optical pickup assembly – not a difficult job.

Smile 5. We usually watch DVD films on a Saturday night and the DR-H300DAB has behaved impeccably in this regard – but I must stress that we use the Scart RGB output to feed our Panasonic 28″ widescreen CRT TV (flat panels aren’t there yet if you want to watch natural pictures, in my opinion)…

Exclamation 6. …Problems have been reported by other DR-H300DAB users with the HDMI output and one retailer has stated: “There were serious de-interlacing problems that led to visible lines across the screen, especially during movement. Due to this, we suspended sale. We are yet to see this problem rectified but we do not feel that the quality of the video output is suitable to pass on to consumers.”

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