Nakamichi decks- the best and the worst ?

Discussion in 'Tape' started by Edi M, Feb 12, 2018 at 11:38 AM.

  1. Edi M

    Edi M New Member

    I have never owned a Nakamichi- generally speaking, they`re expensive. When they`re not expensive, they might be broken. Sometimes they`re both. If you look online, there are tens of topics concerning broken down and expensive to fix nakamichi decks. I have an onkyo ta-2760 from 1990. and two denon dr-m12/24hx from 1987. The only "repair" i ever had to make was to replace a belt on the onkyo, which took me 10 minutes. Did i mention how cheap they were and how great they sound, particularly the denons?

    Now i`m not pretending they are still up to factory specs, but any quality tape sounds good on them, they record very well and they have been very low-maintenance. Whereas nakamichi fans seem to always have something wrong and expensive to fix with their machines.

    There is also the "nakamichi only sound truly good with cassettes recorded on them" thing. I have old, badly recorded tapes from 20 years go which i love. What am i supposed to to, throw them away and record other tapes so they sound better?

    So bottom line, there are to many "if"s with these machines for me to bother spending money on them, especially since i`m not an oil tycoon to spend a grand on a Dragon and another grand to make it work, only to find out it doesn`t sound well with my non-nakmichi cassettes. I plan on buying other decks from more brands(sony es, pioneer), just not nakamichi.

    Why do people keep saying how great they are if they obviously have their issues? Nobody brags more about their unreliable cassette decks than nakamichi fans. There are more topics on the internet concerning broken down naks than about ones that work. And the ones that do work have been repaired to the point of doubling their original sale price. It`s ridiculous.

    Ok, i`m ready. Bring on the hate ! I can take it !
  2. KLH9

    KLH9 A Double Pair Sounds OK

    Lost in the music
    I like my 700 triple tracer 3 head Nak

  3. zedex

    zedex Active Member

    I can tell you want one edi. :) First off. You read all the time about their nak not working. That is because after 20 some years of sitting in a closet, its not gonna work properly. If i stuff you in a closet for that long your gonna have a few issues. Another reason you see this "nak not working" is because you can fix them. People know how good they are and dont throw them out. They were big bucks back then and anyone who bought one is not gonna toss it in the garbage unlike alot of cheap garbage plastic decks. So they sell em or fix em.
    Now about a nak not playing tapes from other machines. You got that all wrong. All tapes sound good on naks, especially a dragon. The dragon has auto azimuth so thats very good when playing any tape. One of the best play back machines on the planet bar none. Recording on a nak and playing back on other machines is where they may not sound as good as they could. But who cares. Your got a nak, you record on a nak and you play back on the nak.
    Now about reliabilty. Naks are really good decks and require some tlc when you drag them out of the closet. But after they are serviced, they will work and will keep working. They are very well built, and have the best heads on the planet. You cant beat their heads. They last.
    So i have many naks, lost count actually and they all work very well. All required belts obviously and idler tires. All the decks with sankyo transports had motor issues but easily solvable. Most had dead spots which is common. You can buy replacement motors or rebuild them. Other than that. All good. All my classic naks like dragons,zx7,rx 505 required belts and idler. Thats it. Dragons are a fickle bunch. They are very complicated and do require a full service, belts,idler.etc. But after that they will probably be reliable. They do require a service so be prepared to spend some coin if your break down and buy one. So ya. You can love em,hate em, who cares. They are good decks and if you dont want one,dont buy one.
    Max77 and Bill Ferris like this.
  4. Bill Ashton

    Bill Ashton Active Member

    Central Massachusetts
    Interesting thread...I was "gifted" a DR-2 that had probably sat in a closet for 15 years or so...some time shortly after that, a DR-1 that was the previous "gifter's" brother-in-law's, who told him to dispose of it. I have not used either much (the DR-1 just to try it). Both work flawlessly, and will make a cassette tape that equals the source. I am really astounded. Clearly the naysayers of cassettes have never heard what a Nak can, what did they do when they were new? What could the higher-in-the-food-chain do?

    Coming from a 90's Realistic (Pioneer) dual-cassette three-head-deck (bought new), which wouldn't dupe and whose level control was gritty and could not be cleaned (to the knackers, sadly :(), these machines have it all over in relation to sound. However, they are really behind the eight-ball in their search-function and no auto-reverse. I guess they are "quirky" like an old Dual changer...
  5. KLH9

    KLH9 A Double Pair Sounds OK

    Lost in the music
    Now this is real stone age auto reverse

  6. kermit z

    kermit z Loud Music saves Lives!! Subscriber

    Denver CO
    I have this Nak RX-202, and love it. This is not my video however, but cool to watch

    unfairlane likes this.
  7. qdrone

    qdrone Music is my mistress

    just a taste outside the law
    I have never owned one but The Nak Dragon was a legendary piece of gear. Like all gear,a little tlc goes a long way. I have a friend who has A Dragon and he uses it to record lectures off the radio. Go figure.
  8. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

    Northwest USA
    I’ve owned a 600II, 1000, ZXL1000, 682, RX505 and Dragon decks from Nakamichi. The Dragon is the best at playback and the ZXL was the best at recording. The RX505 is probably the best value but the 682 is a real sleeper of a deck.

    I have owned several brands of cassette decks and they all have their problems. They all require attention to perform at their best. Once you figure them out, i think the Nak decks I’ve owned were the best built and most reliable.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018 at 12:18 AM
  9. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

    West of Weedville
    This was the last TOTL deck from Nak . I bought mine brand new and it still works great .
    J English likes this.
  10. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

    Gilbert, AZ
    That's freakin bad-ass! I have several of those That's tapes.

    OP - I'll second the UDAR decks. I was patient and looked for one for over a year before finding an RX-505 locally for $300. The 303s get equally good marks and the 202s are just stellar for what they can be had for. Really, so many great choices with Nak.
  11. palsapal

    palsapal Active Member

    nr Southport, UK.
    When we discuss decks we generally talk about sound, electronics or mechanics. Very rarely do we talk about ease of recording. Well it's only setting the tape type, selecting NR, manipulating recording levels & monitoring.

    I bought a second-hand Nak BX300 after having read all the hype:

    Setting the tape & NR on the BX300 is via a series of six push to make/push to break switches. Could never tell whether they were in or out. No lights to show selection. Had to look along the face to check the settings.

    The BX300 sliders for setting input levels were relatively stiff & wasn't sure whether this was normal. I found them difficult to get at for lubrication. Sliders are great when horizontal but a PIA when vertical. Much prefer rotary controls.

    The BX300 meters are coarse: six light steps for the critical -5 to +6 dB band. Very stingy. My Pioneer CT-S620 has two ranges & the user can switch effortlessly from one to another: -20 to +6 dB in 12 light steps & -5 to +6 dB in 11 light steps i.e. double the Nak.

    Very disenchanted. I sold it & have never regretted it.
  12. BMWCCA

    BMWCCA AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I've owned a Nak Dragon cassette since new. Never had a bit of trouble with it. I'm on Perry's list to have preventive maintenance done as it approaches its 40th anniversary (I hope Perry remembers that conversation!). I also still own a Nak 550 which had a power-source relay die early in its life but Nakamichi supplied the part and the schematic to help me do the replacement myself. It's still working like a champ and I have the Tri-Mic system that goes with it. I also have a 600 (still working), and I've owned a 500 in a car a long time ago. Tapes recorded in the field on the 550 portable sound great on the Dragon. Tapes made on the dragon sounded great in my car for decades. I don't really use any of these much these days, but nor do I clean-spin-clean-spin vinyl much anymore, either. I find digital sources (including CDs) one of the innovations that has increased my musical enjoyment over time—but I can still bring out those live-recorded Little Feat concert tapes recorded on the floor by handing the microphones down the aisle to strangers with a stack of D-cells shoved inside the 550. The Dragon still plays them very well. And, damn, it sure looks good even when idle.
    safebet, DaveAl and Bill Ferris like this.
  13. miner

    miner Super Member

    When my B-I-L passed away I could not bear to part with his 300+ cassettes from years gone by. I bought a used Nak ZX-7 (cosmetically mint) off of A'gon and opened her up = I could see some of the caps needed replacing so I sent I off the ES Labs for a full restore. 7 months later the deck plays gloriously; I paid too much in the long run but now I have a fully restored near TOLT Nak deck tha I can hand down to my son when the time comes
  14. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

    Northwest USA
    ZX-7 is a fine machine!
  15. guiller

    guiller Toscaninichus Australis

    Buenos Aires (Argentina)
    Once I´ve bought my CR-7 I stopped looking elsewhere: the on-the-fly head azimuth adjustment tool is superb when playing back cassettes recorded in other machines, as I very frequently do (I tend to inherit lots of classical music cassette tape collections).
  16. J English

    J English Super Member

    I'd love to have one with the azimuth adjustment, that'd be nice, but a little too rich for my blood. I have a BX-100 that has performed pretty well over time (that idler tire replacement is a real pain in the butt, and now the counter belt needs to be replaced), also a cassette deck 2 that plays well, it has one or two button hiccups from time to time but nothing major. I just got a BX-125 for free that also needed the idler tire, and has the R channel out, currently trying to diagnose that. I think there are more trouble-free decks to be had - I recently got an Onkyo TX-2028 that records and plays VERY well, and was untouched and unused for the past 15 years, for example. I have other JVC and Onkyo decks with similar trouble-free operation. But, even the lowly BX series sounds pretty good and is still working, so that's something. Still, if someone really does not like to tinker/maintain - I would tend to point away from Nakamichi for that person.
  17. Bob

    Bob AK Subscriber Subscriber

    West coast
    you can't judge by the complaints. that's all you will see and hear.

    the golden age ones are approaching 40 YO. the 681/680/670/660 ZXs were available
    in the very early 1980s and the Dragon was available in the early to mid 1980s.

    it would be like testing top speed in an original 1980s corvette with 38 YO original tires.

    many, many decks have never been cleaned on a regular basis AND with demagnetized heads.

    the PLUS is that there are MANY NAK restorers here in the US.

    locally in the bay area, the dragons (working) go for about $500 and about $500 to do some
    restoration - so its not 2K. not yet anyway - maybe when the TOTL Pioneer/Marantz
    receivers hit 10K then 2K would be a bargain.

    if you're not in the big city/high-wealth areas, search there. or talk to the restoration gurus
    about buying a restored unit they may have.

    go read the decades long archives to tapehead and naktalk. then try to find a dragon
    you can bring favorite tape to and listen.

    and the dragon is one of the few decks that can allow you to transcribe treasured tapes well.
    it allows playback optimization.
  18. Hajidub

    Hajidub Ready for Winter! Subscriber

    Colorado Springs, CO
    Have only ever owned a plain 680 that will be fixed if it ever goes south. I have to say in my limited Nak experience nothing plays/records as well, even pre-recorded sound like hi-end recordings.
  19. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I'll never part with my Dragon.
    DaveAl likes this.
  20. DaveAl

    DaveAl Member

    I absolutely love my Dragon. Recently fixed a couple of things on it myself after getting a quote of "waiting time is 8 months,cost is $850, and time in shop about one month" from a guy within driving distance. I fixed the NAAC, replaced a belt, lubed 2 items and she sounds great. I like recording LP's and CD's to tape so that I get to listen only to the songs that I like. Sound quality is so good, it's not like I'm listening to noticeably inferior sound.
    Awesomeaudio likes this.

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