TEAC V-770: So ordinary, but very good

Submitted on: 15 Jan 24

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Category: Analog recorders/players

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Japanese TEAC holds a significant place in the history of machines that record sound on magnetic tape. Together with its professional division “TASCAM,” it has created a vast number of devices, some of which have become icons of audio technology.

The company was founded after World War II, in 1953, by the Tani brothers. Originally named Tokyo Television Acoustic Company, it merged with Tokyo Electro-Acoustic Company in 1964, adopting the joint name TEAC, derived from the initials of the latter company. Today, the company has four subsidiaries: TEAC Consumer Electronics, TASCAM, ESOTERIC, and TEAC Data Storage and Disk Publishing Products.

TEAC is not only known for magnetic recorders; they also made good CD players, and their CD-ROM readers and writers were considered a benchmark for quality during the 1990s and beyond.

As for cassette decks… I was never a big fan of TEAC, although I must admit that the Z6000 model is a favorite in my collection. Why? Well, it seemed to me that they often economized on mechanical construction and features. Maybe it wasn’t the case, perhaps they just didn’t overdo it like others. When they decided to make real statement decks, they designed the Z series, especially the Z7000 and 6000 models.

During the 1980s, there was a crisis in the market caused by the strengthening of the Japanese yen as the new decade approached, making their devices more expensive to manufacture. Companies responded by cutting costs wherever they could, and sometimes where they shouldn’t have. Solid metal casings became thinner, and plastic replaced metal wherever possible, which often meant everywhere.

The TEAC V-770 is a product of that time: a deck they tried to make both a little and a lot. I’ll explain later.

One of its counterparts was the Technics RS-M253X. Priced similarly, it had a durable but complicated mechanism, a nice display, and dBX. It offered more options and, truth be told, was nicer for the same money, just a few years earlier.

Initially (in 1986), there was only one other model above the V-770 – the V-850X. Later, a new flagship was introduced – the V-900X, although it was the progenitor of a new series of TEAC decks, so we could say that the V-770 was actually the second in the lineup of the two three-head decks the company produced in 1986.

Let me start with the description: the V-770 casing is quite sturdy and mostly metal (except for the front panel), unlike, for example, Technics decks that had already switched to plastic. The plate covering the lower part of the electronics can be removed to access the components.

In contrast, the front panel is masterfully crafted in a blend of plastic and metal: it’s entirely plastic, with thin metal sheets covering the auxiliary controls and the Play and Stop buttons. The cassette holder is entirely plastic and quite ordinary, sturdy enough but still ordinary. The company saved quite a bit of metal in designing these parts, which also means saving money.

The controls are more or less standard, with a couple of additions: there’s variable bias, intro check (plays each track briefly until stopped), as well as CPS (Computomatic Program Search) and CDS (Computomatic Direct Selection) – basically, regular track searching, but they liked to add “Computomatic…” to let you know there’s some computer behind it, just as today they’d emphasize it’s an AI system or something similar – there could definitely have been improvements compared to the Computomatic system, but to what extent, that’s debatable.

The deck can also repeat a part of the tape (block). The counter is a classic digital one, which counts about 2,400 revolutions during one side of a C60 cassette, so it has good resolution. The second mode is real-time, but it functions like a clock during playback and recording, not during fast forward or rewind, so it’s semi-useful.

Monitoring switches electronically, so one point where this deck could be improved is by replacing the existing 4066 switch with something better, like MAX4066.

The display is quite small; they could have made it a bit nicer considering the deck’s price, instead of cramming in options that probably few people actively used. It’s very similar to that on the excellent dual cassette TEAC W-990RX. It’s not as nice as those on Technics decks of that time, but it’s usable. In my opinion, its biggest flaw is the lack of peak hold, and it’s a real shame they didn’t include that feature.

Recording level is adjusted with two sliding potentiometers, a solution I don’t particularly like, but it’s a matter of personal preference. They do the job, in any case.

What makes the TEAC V-770 unique is that it’s the first deck from the company to incorporate the HX Pro system – a dynamic bias circuit developed by Bang & Olufsen, later introduced to the market together with Dolby Labs. Headroom Extension (HX) Pro later became the de facto standard for all decks. In the V-770, it can’t be turned off (a pity for those who like to experiment).

The cassette compartment background has an LED that illuminates the cassette – the way it used to be done, beautifully, but later economized.

The cassette holder doesn’t have any stabilizers or dampers; those weren’t installed back then, and it’s made of solid plastic, sturdy enough but generally nothing to write home about. Opening the door is done with a motorized mechanism – a rare and nice option. This means the doors are unlocked by a motor, then pushed out by a spring (not a motor), while closing is manual.


The TEAC V-770 is very simply designed: there’s the main audio board and a vertical board for the front panel, including the display. Everything is very neat, the wiring is well done for that time, without overcomplicating things. There’s an additional board for the cassette eject button – as I mentioned, the V-770 uses motor-assisted cassette ejection, a precursor to motorized tape deck door opening/closing. When disassembling the mechanism, care must be taken with the wires going to the eject button board, as they are also next to the ones for the LED in the cassette compartment, which cannot be removed.

I must say that the deck is excellently designed in terms of accessibility: the speed trimmers are easily accessible, and replacing both belts can be done without disassembling the mechanism – a breeze. Even removing the transport itself isn’t complicated at all; after removing the top and bottom covers, four screws are unscrewed, and the mechanism can be pulled out (after disconnecting the connectors and cutting two ties). This is necessary if the roller and/or idler need to be replaced, for example.

The real gem of this deck is its transport. The flywheel size and its mass are quite decent for decks from the 1990s. The mechanism itself was used in several generations of TEAC decks, in different iterations, some with direct drive, others with two flywheels, and the most complex version was on the Z6000/7000 decks, containing three DD motors plus an additional one for the mechanics.

The TEAC V-770 has a simpler version than the Z5000/6000/7000, and it’s very similar to those used in later V-800X models, based on a simple DC motor, reel motor, and auxiliary motor for mechanics. As I said, maintenance is very straightforward.

The only thing I would have liked to be different is the tape tensioning system using the erase head and the felt-lined spindle, in my opinion, the most primitive and with the biggest drawbacks. The felt is hard to find, but the replacement problem can be solved with a little effort. On this V-770, the felt was in good condition, so I didn’t replace it.

The transport, which I’m talking about, is reliable, quiet – here are some pictures that illustrate the relationship of the flywheels on newer decks with ALPS mechanics (Denon DRM-650S, NAD 613, Akai DX49, various Yamahas and Pioneers, etc.). The flywheel mass can significantly affect the winding and flutter performance in cases where the cassette is of lower quality or worn from use.


The deck was acquired as defective, with no ability to operate the transport controls, including door opening. There was noticeable dust, a result of sitting around, as well as the need for thorough cleaning.

After opening the device, I found that both belts had melted, requiring cleaning not only of the pulleys but also of the cables, plastics, metal parts, and anything within range that melted belt debris could reach (or rubber compounds you accidentally transferred with your hands), which took quite a bit of time.

The roller and idler were already worn, so I had to replace them. Surprisingly, the mechanism itself had a relatively short service life, so I lubricated the reels (“wheels”), the shafts of all three motors, and the new roller. I also did the same with the capstan shaft after cleaning the bearings. I thoroughly cleaned the heads multiple times, as well as the tape tensioning felt. I dismantled the so-called selector switch (or mode switch, as you wish), cleaned the old grease, which seemed quite decent, and applied new grease. This switch is gold-plated, and gold-plated contacts move on it, so maintenance is minimal, although it’s open type.

Replacing the idler, which has an extremely important function, was problematic – I couldn’t find an original anywhere, not even an idler I could adapt – I ordered the smallest I found on the local market, and it wasn’t worth it. I had several solutions; one of them could have been to try to make it from a roller. The dimensions of the idler are really small, the smallest I’ve ever seen: its outer diameter is 10.0 mm, and the inner diameter is 5.7 mm. In the end, I made it from rubber gaskets I had on hand. The result is perfect, the idler works perfectly. However, it consists of two parts and has a smaller contact area, so it probably won’t last as long as the original, but at least it can be found at any convenience store.

Interestingly, the V-770 has no cooling vents, and inside, only two stabilizers and the circuit driving the reel motor heat up slightly. But all this has little effect on the device’s heating. Therefore, the penetration of dust into it is minimal and mostly from the front. Nevertheless, nearly 30 years is… nearly 30 years. That’s why I washed the entire electronics except for the front panel and the door opening button board – I cleaned them because washing would have permanently damaged the button functionality.

After that, I tackled the front panel: the doors opened too quickly, so I fixed that, in this case by weakening the spring that pushes the doors so that less force is applied. The damping mechanism (sometimes referred to as “hydraulics” by manufacturers, which has nothing to do with it) cannot be adjusted on this deck, so adjusting the spring was the only solution that came to mind.

In addition to cleaning and lubricating the potentiometers, I disassembled and cleaned, further washed and lubricated the sliding mechanism of the potentiometer buttons, to make them move smoothly without force and jamming, with a fine feel.

When I connected the mechanism and electronics, everything worked mechanically, but instead of the chosen one, I used an even better roller because I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the first one. After checking the head geometry, the recording was blurry, especially on the left channel – looking at the heads showed some patina on the surface. For this, I chose polishing because the heads were clean, and obviously, patination occurred over time or something was applied that solvents used in cleaning couldn’t affect. After polishing both heads (for recording and playback), the result was really good in terms of the sound obtained, which now had clear highs.

So, there was a lot of work on this little deck; I spent about 25 hours of work, including multiple performance measurements.



One of the best features of the V-770 is its sound: dynamic and precise, full of finesse in the upper range, with solid bass and punch in the lower range. From time to time, it truly fascinates with the accuracy and edges of the tones in the upper range. By measurement, I got identical results for both channels: there’s a slight dip of about 1-1.5 dB between 1 KHz and 10 KHz, which can result in slightly withdrawn mid-tones and the impression that the V-770 doesn’t reproduce music directly to the listener’s face, especially compared to newer decks that are crystal clear. The TEAC V-770 isn’t as clean or perfect, but it’s irresistibly charming, with soft tones and natural reproduction, to which very clean but not sharp highs contribute – HX Pro does an excellent job in this case.

If I were to describe its reproduction in one word, I would say: stability. That’s the impression it gives.



The fact is that TEAC experimented a bit with the options and design of the V-770. The success is partial; I would have liked a larger display even at the cost of larger controls. Still, everything on this deck is usable, not perfect, not even great, but good.

The mechanism is excellent and durable, easy to maintain (except for the idler), and accessible, everything is tidy.

But most importantly, the V-770 has a sound that, in my opinion, stands shoulder to shoulder with or is better than a large number of competitors, and that’s its most important feature. That’s why, given its low prices on today’s market, it gets a recommendation from me.


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