Nakamichi commonly asked questions and problems

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By:  Scott Johnson
Updated:  June 24, 2005

I have been working hard on a Nakamichi Model List.  This

Most of the following was harvested from the Naktalk Mailing List.  You can sign up to be on this mailing list by going to  Thanks go to Wouter for starting and maintaining Naktalk all these years.

Nakamichi USA Website
Nakamichi Japan Website

Recent projects:
Mechanical Calibration procedure for Nak 660ZX
Electrical Calibration procedure for Nak 660ZX
Remote Control Page

A little Nakamichi history, but it's not very interesting.
The Wikipedia has a really good history of Nakamichi in their Free Encyclopedia.

Nakamichi or as it was called in the beginning, Nakamichi Research, was founded by Etsuro Nakamichi in 1948.  Esturo was an acoustic engineering officer in the Navy doing sonar research.  After the war he started Nakamichi Research doing research and development in electromagnetism, magnetic recording, acoustics and communications.  The company initially designed and developed portable radios, tone arms, speakers and communications equipment.  Within 3-years an open-reel tape recorder was introduced under the FIDELA brand name.  This tape recorder used proprietary technology developed by Nakamichi Research and it won critical acclaim for it's high level of performance at the time.  Nakamichi manufactured open-reel tape recorders for major brand name companies, but, not in their own name.  By 1957 they company was also manufacturing magnetic heads and tape recorders.  Nakamichi Research studied methods of reducing the noise common to early tape recordings.  The result was a consumer high fidelity deck using a simplified form of Dolby's complex compression-expansion noise reduction system, as well as the best rape heads and mechansims Nakamichi could design.  Nakamichi Research became Licensee Number 1 for the new Dolby noise reduction system, and the product of this innovation, a reel to reel deck, was introduced in 1969 under the KLH brand name.  When the compact cassette format was developed, Nakamichi became involved with the making high quality tape decks, but, again, under other brand names.  Nakamichi went on to build the world's first Dolby-equipped, high bias capable compact cassette deck for Advent.

In 1972 Nakamichi introduced their first tape deck to bear their name, the 1000.  It was designed to provide reel-to-reel quality sound in the compact cassette format.  It quickly established Nakamichi as one of the most influential audio electronic products in history.  Before the introduction of this deck everyone believed that the compact cassette could not be considered a hi-fi format.  It was the biggest, most costly and most complex deck ever devised.  It had a long list of firsts.  The first cassette deck to have three head, the first to have a fully electronic transport, the first to have an azimuth adjustment system (record head) and peak reading meter.

Kozo Kobayashi joined Nakamichi in April 1971.  Kozo was deeply involved with the development of all of Nakamichi's legendary audio products.  Kozo is currently the Managing Director of Nakamichi Corporation and is also responsible for the R&D Division in Japan as Chief Engineer.

Etsuro's only son Takeshi Nakamichi joined Nakamichi Corporation in April of 1972 and was involved with the launch of the 1000.  Takeshi is currently the President / Representative Director of Nakamichi Corporation.

List of products
1972 - 1000 Discrete 3-head cassette deck.  First product for Nakamichi. First cassette deck to feature 3-head.  A landmark product.
1974 - 500 2-head cassette deck.  This deck was one of the first to incorporate Crystalloy heads, DC Servomotor and dolby.
1975 - 550 2-head portable battery powered cassette deck.  This deck had a built in 3-point microphone mixer.
1976 - 350 Portable cassette deck.  This deck featured a Focused Field Crystal Permalloy R/P head and Dolby-B.
1977 - 430 FM Tuner - This tuner was perceived as one of the super tuners in it's day.
1977 - 1000II Discrete 3-head cassette deck.  Follow on product to the incredible 1000.
1978 - 530 Receiver.
1978 - 730 Receiver - No buttons, no levers, no switches.  This receiver used a Touch Sensor Control System.
1979 - 680ZX - 2-speed Cassette deck.  This deck was the world's first high fidelity cassette deck to
1980 - 1000ZXL Comupting Cassette Deck.  First deck to be equiped with A.B.L.E. (Azimuth, Bias, Level, Equalizer) and RAMM (Random Access Music Memory).
1980 - 7000ZXL Computing Cassette Deck.
1981 - 581Z Discrete 3-head Cassette Deck.
1981 - 682ZX Discrete Head Cassette Deck
1981 - 482Z Cassette Deck
1981 - 700ZXE Audo Tuning Cassette Deck
1982 - ZX-9 Discrete Head Cassette Deck
1982 - DRAGON Cassette Deck.  This is the first deck to feature NAAC (Nakamichi Auto Azimuth Correction).
1983 - RX-202 2-head Uni-Directional Auto-Reverse Deck.
1983 - RX-505 3-head Discrete Uni-Directional Auto-Reverse Deck
1983 - TD-1200  This is Nakamichi's first car audio tuner/cassette deck.  It featured the same NAAC that was in the DRAGON.
1983 - PA-300 70W/ch mobile power amplifier
1983 - SP-400 3-Way mobile speaker system
1984 - BX-300
1986 - ST-7 AM/FM Stero Tuner
1986 - CA-5 Control Amplfier.
1988 - TA-1A High Definition Tuner Amplifier
1988 - DAT-1000 and 1000P  Nakamichi's first DAT product.
1988 - OMS-1A
1991 - 1000mb  7-disc MusicBank System

Orange Cap Disease
What is it?
Orange Capacitor Disease is unofficial name given to the failure of Orange polyester film capacitors that are used in may Nakamichi tape decks.  For some unknown reason these capacitors are very prone to failure and usually result in rustling, crackling or lack of audio on one sometimes both channels.  When an orange capacitor fails in a tape decks bias oscillator, the usual result is an ability to erase, low record level in both channels and/or a varying of the record level.  The best solution is to go through and replace all the orange capacitors.

Which  units are affected?
The only Naks that are NOT subject to orange cap disease are ones made before 1978.  For tape decks that would be the  250, 350, 500, 550, 700, 700II, 1000 and 1000II.  All of the rest are potential Orange Capacitor Disease units.

What are suitable replacement components?
These caps should be replaced with film, polyester, polystyrene or polypropylene with voltage ratings of 50 Volts or more.  In the case of the bias oscillator they should be 100 Volts or highier.  The Panasonic ECQ-B series of polyester has been commonly used because they are similar in size and are quite inexpensive.  They are available from  The caps are usually labeled with a three digits and two letters.  The first two digits are the value and the third is the number of zeros to give you the value in pF.  For example 561 = 560pf, 332 = 3300pF and 683 = 68000pf or 0.068uF.  Don't worry about the last two characters.  I think they are the voltage rating and/or tolerance.  (ANY polyester film cap will be better, but the green
Matsushita's are about the best around that are commonly available.)

Orange caps used in the 480 tape deck
560pF (561) - C139, C239
3000pF (302) - C113, C213
4700pF (472) - C118, C218, C302, C303
0.033uF (333) - C120, C220
0.068uf (683) - C305 is hosting a nice web page created by Kannan.

I just  opened my RX-505 to find out how many orange caps there are and of what values.  Here is what I found.
Dolby Board
330pF (331) - C142, C242, C150, C250
4700pF (472) - C111, C211, C148, C248
0.033uF (333) - C107, C207, C145, C245

Main Audio Board
330pF (331) - C106, C206, C116, C216
2200pF (222) - C115, C215
0.01uF (103) - C119, C219

Main Logic Board
0.018uF (183) 100V - C624
There are probably another two caps inside the bias oscillator module.

Loose contact problem on 700 & 700II
The 700/700II are, however, very prone to "loose contact disease", so one almost always needs to take the deck apart and tighten each & every individual contact spring of every board edge connector in the unit, including those used as cable interconnectors, such as on the logic board.

Nakamichi Tape Deck Calibration Procedure
A lot of people have been asking about how to calibration their Nak decks themselves and I have not seen any good web pages that explains this procedure.  I'm going to start one soon.  It will be based on the calibration procedure in the Nak service manual with my own notes.  When I get it started it will be located:  Nakamichi Tape Deck Calibration Procedure

Head and Pinch Roller Cleaning
There has been a lot of discussion on NakTalk over the years regarding head cleaning.  First I'll start with the No, No's.  Do not use drug store alcohol with a purity of less than 98%.  Standard rubbing alcohol or isopropanol is typically only 70% pure alcohol with the rest being water.  Denatured alcohol is Ok since it contains 99% ethyl and methyl alcohol with only trace amounts of water.

Just about everyone has their own ideas on what to use.  I'm not sure what Nakamichi officially says, but, when I used to go to the Nakamichi parts department in Torrance, CA they had a display on the counter for American Recorder's Intraclean S-711 head cleaning solution.  They were careful to say that they are not officially endorsing their product, but, they did say that they use it on all the decks that come in for service.  Unfortunately S-711 is no longer available because of a ban on 1,1,1 Trichloroethane. American Recorder now has Intraclean S-721H which is pure Hexane.  S-721H is $10 for a 2 ounce bottle that should last forever.   With some of the older high end Naks they included a small cleaning kit containing a bag of cotton swabs and a small bottle of what I believe is just isopropyl alcohol (probably 90% or better, not sure). While this kit was included with some decks it is not recommended because of the possible high water content.  The important thing is to use something that will evaporate quickly and not sit there.  The worst thing is if water sits on the metal parts.  (S.J.)

Some people like using an old Ampex head cleaning solution from the 50's & 60's.  It is basically carbon tetrachloride.  It works great, but, was banned many years ago because of it's effect on the ozone layer.  Intraclean S-711 is no longer available either because it's ingredient 1,1,1 Trichloroethane also deplets the ozone layer and has been known to cause cancer..

Stephan Sank says he uses MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone).  It's cheap and an excellent cleaner, but, is known to cause cancer and can royally screw up plastic.  Use in a well ventilated area and doesn't let it touch anything except the heads and pinch roller.

(Thanks to Jeff Galin at ESL for some of the information contained above.)

Level mismatch between channels
Your complaint with the rec level controls is a fairly inevitable problem that almost always exists in ZX's & most other things with 2 channel level controls:  mismatch of resistance per position of each potentiometer.  Only expensive precision pots can be counted upon to match & to stay matched, but this is one area where Nak chose not to spend the extra money.  The only cure for the symptom is to replace one or both controls.  But, you'd have to do a really difficult measurement of resistance per position of each control to assure an improvement of balance tracking.  Even if you do this, unless you retrofit with precision pots, you may not have good balance tracking six months or six years down the road, do to thermally induced changes in the resistive elements.
So, I really think the best solution is to carefully calibrate your meters & try to rely on them.

Stephen Sank, Owner & RCA Ribbon Mic Restorer
Champlain Valley Speaker Company, aka Talking Dog Transducer Co.

How often should I demagnetize my heads
This is another subject that has come up time and time again.  There is no right answer.
The following is from Kermit Gray from Woods & Waters/KVG Labs
B&W does recommend every 50 hours. I'd recommend every 10 hours for pre-1983 Nakamichis and any 1970s cassette tape recorder.  If you're running a 30-ips reel-to-reel, demagnetize after every cleaning (which occurs at the end of each tape, or every 30-minutes), or not more than every 4 hours if it's a Studer or 3M 79.
Ray Rayburn has created an excellent web site explaining the proper use of a head demagnetizer.  Cleaning and demagnetising

Small rubber idler issue - Idler tire for Sankyo mechanism
32-5665 is the MCM Electronics stock number for the tire and they are $0.57 each or $0.47 each qty 10-99.
Decks effected by this small rubber idler tire problem:  All BX series, all MR series, CR-5, CR-7 and RX-202.
Sonic Sense has an excellent web page concerning the gear mod upgrade.

Personally I wouldn't worry about upgrading to the gear idler. Just buy a bag of 10 tires from MCM Electronics and replace it every 2 years or when the FF/Rev starts to slow down.  You can also buy a CR-1, which has the gear idler and swap the idler assemblies.  It's not a trivial job (especially on the RX-202), but, it's not impossible.  The CR-1/2/3/4 were never made with rubber idlers, as they were introduced simultaneously with the "gear upgrade".

On the CR-7A only units with serial number below A130-10500 are likely to nee the gear idler update (if it hasn't been done).  Below A130-08677, both the gear upgrade & the record EQ correction.  This was to correct mistakes made in the record EQ and has nothing to do with IEC1/2 standards.  An uncorrected CR-7 sounds noticeable rolled off on the upper treble in recording.

(Thanks to Stephen Sanks for some of the information contained above.)

Jeffrey Galin of Electronics Services Labs has created a nice instruction page with picture on how to do the replacement.  He has posted it on the web here

Noise during mode changes (Nak mechanism only)
The Nak decks that use the classic mechanism (not the Sankyo mechanism) are prone to developing a noise when changing modes, especially when going into stop.  This is caused by the oil on the cam drive gear drying out.  The simple fix is to add a drop of oil to the gear shaft.  Do not get any on the gear where the belt is.  Only on the shaft.  Do not put too much on.  It only needs a drop or less.  Here is a service bulletin issued by Nak NR-0040.

Nakamichi CR-7A Record Equalization Correction
The equalization upgrade was incorporated after S/N A130-08677, during the last quarter of 1985.

Only the CR-7, pre S/N A130-08677, was afflicted with the record EQ and rubber idler mistakes.  As for playback EQ, the Sendust head2-head models, i.e., CR-1/2, as well as RX202, BX1/2/100/125/150, DR3/8, MR-2, CassetteDeck2/3, were actually "off standard" per usual Nak standards,having been made closer to IEC-2 (the easier to meet standard used by the other "crap" deck makers), due to the poorer high frequency playback ability of the Sendust vs crystal permalloy heads, so should theoretically make tapes that sound more normal on other maker's decks.  This does, however, say that these decks are "crap" compared to crystal permalloy head Naks(i.e., all 3-head Naks, plus the 580, 550, 500 and 350 2-head decks).  I agree with this statement, but also say that the 2-head Naks are still far and away better than almost every other makers' best decks.

What is NAAC?
NAAC stands for Nakamichi Auto Azimuth Correction.  Only the Dragon home deck and the various versions of the TD-1200 for the car have NAAC.  It works by splitting the gap on the right channel into 2 gaps.  Each gap is then separately amplified, send through a 3-6 kHz bandpass filters and waveform squaring circuits before they go to a phase comparator.  The phase comparator then feeds a circuit that drives the PB head azimuth motor to minimize the error.  NAAC has a funny scheme for when it operates.  NAAC operation is started when the transport is put into play or when audio is silent for approximately 2 seconds.  100mS after music is detected the NAAC light will start flashing at a 2 Hz rate and will continue for about 6 seconds.  The azimuth motor is driven to find the point of least phase error for about 3 seconds then it will stop for 3 seconds and adjust again for about 3 seconds if there is still some error.  After 10 seconds NAAC will stop even if it hasn't found the correct azimuth.  NAAC will restart again when music resumes after a 2 second or more period of silence or when the direction of tape travel is reversed or when going to stop and back to play.  NAAC does NOT continuously adjust azimuth through out the tape.

NAAC light off - System was reset
NAAC light flashing - System is currently adjusting
NAAC light on - System has completed it's adjustment

More information can be found on page 4 of the Dragon brochure.  I have posted a scan here:

Where are various Naks made
From some of the replies to my query about Nak decks manufactured in countries other than Japan, I suspect that the lower grade decks were
slowly phased into subcontracted manufacturing during the 1980s.  By the 1990s, most Nak decks were manufactured in other Pacific Rim nations.  In some cases, quality issues became an issue as subcontracting increased.  Appears that the BX, CR series decks were done mostly in Taiwan, possible South Korea, and the late 1980s mobile components were done predominantly in Hong Kong.  Here's a start to short list what my speculative chronology is for Nakamichi cassette deck manufacturing locations from the 1970s thru 1990s.....

Nak Tri-Tracer series - Japan
Nak ZX/ZXE/ZXL series - Japan
Nak LX series - Japan???
Nak Dragon - Japan (& later Taiwan???)
Nak CR1 thru 4 - Japan & Tawain
Nak CR5 & 7 - Japan???
Nak RX202/303/505 - Japan
Nak DR 1/2/3 - Taiwan & S. Korea
Nak Cassette Deck 1/1.5/2 - Japan and maybe Taiwan & S. Korea
Nak DR 8 & 10 - Japan and maybe Malaysia too
Mobile Nak TD 500/700/1000 - Japan
Mobile Nak RD 460 & TD 560 - Hong Kong
Mobile Nak Amps - Japan & Hong Kong
Mobile Nak Speakers - Japan & Hong Kong

Comments, corrections and/or opinions, please add your views to the
list I've started above!!!

K.J. Bleus
Madison, WI USA

Capstan Belts, going, going, gone
A while back I had noted that the Nakamichi belts (P/N OC08096C) for the vast majority of the classic two capstan decks had become unavailable and that there was some question as to whether they would ever be re-stocked.  Well, I'm glad to say that Patty at Nakamichi parts now has them and has informed all of the Nakamichi service centers that this is essentially "last call" for belts.  Once the inventory is gone, it's gone for good!  This is not to be taken lightly as both Stephen Sank and Jeff Galin have not been able to find ANY third party belt that will provide acceptable performance with these transports!  While I'm at it, I think that Jeff should be given a tremendous amount of credit as Patty in parts made it very clear that he spent quite a bit of time working directly with Nakamichi and was instrumental in getting the company to agree to do this last run.  Without his services, our beloved decks might have become nothing more than conversation pieces far too soon!  If you're thinking of keeping your deck(s) for any length of time, I would strongly suggest ordering some spare belts, and any other parts you may need in the future.  I also would suggest that you do this soon.
Ed Moyes

The models that use the OC08096C capstan belt are: 480 thru 482Z,  580 thru 582Z, 660ZX thru 682ZX, including non-ZX models, LX-3, LX-5,  ZX-7, 700ZXE, 700ZXL, 1000ZXL, RX-303, RX-505 (not RX-202).  I'm pretty sure I didn't miss any.

>> Is there anything else I should order for my LX-5 while I'm ordering a couple of belts?
The parts one might consider ordering & keeping sealed up for the future would be the pinch rollers, P/N OC08164A, and the reel drive idler arm, P/N CA08193A.

If you have an LX-3 or LX-5 you might want to order the pinch rollers, P/N OC08164A and the reel drive idler arm, P/N CA08193A.  Store these parts since they may not be available tomorrow.

The Dragon and the ZX-9 do not use it, nor do any Sankyo-mech decks, such as CR-7, DR-1, etc.

The flywheel belt for the ZX-9 is OC08334A and for the CR-7A it's OC80634A.  But these belts don't need to be as critically "on spec" as the OC08096C, so you won't have tape skewing/chewing problems or high wow/flutter if you find a pretty close generic substitute.  Incidentally, the OC08334A ZX-9 belt is a perfect match for the flywheel coupling belt of the Tandberg 3014/3014A.

The CR-2A, RX-202 and several other 2-head Nak decks with Sankyo mechanism use OC80034A.

What is the Classic Nakamichi mechanism or Transport
Check out this link.

Reel and mode motor on Sankyo mechanism decks
I would very much recommend, though, stocking a few reel motors, P/N CA80728A, for CR-7 or any other Sankyo mech deck worth keeping, as these eventually develop dead spots and aren't terribly vary to overhaul.  The mode motor will do the same thing, but, it's really easy to take apart & de-carbonise, so not much point in buying spares.  If you want to get a spare the part number is CA80007A.

Flywheel bearing shaft
I haven't yet seen a CR-7, CR-5, BX-300 or  MR-1 motors go south.  The only problem I ever seen with them is once in a while finding one needing the left flywheel shaft bearing lub'd, for which "Prolong Precision Oil" works great.

IEC1 & IEC2 (by Stephan Sank)
Nakamichi decks in general adhere to the original IEC1 standard.  Other makers' decks since around 1980 have been made to more or less to the IEC2 standard.  This standard was created due to the fact that nobody but Nak was able to make tape heads that had 20kHz response, even being at -20dB, without a large amount of treble equalisation.  Nakamichi chose not to use the IEC2 standard a)because they didn't need it, and b)because the heavy treble boost severely increases distortion in the treble at all but very low levels.  The B version of the MR1 was created strictly to silence rumours among professional users that Nak-made tapes did not play back correctly on other decks.  But, with the evolution of tape heads in general, the incompatibility is all but non-existent, except with really crappy decks that aren't worth using to begin with.  So, I would absolutely say you shouldn't worry about finding the rather rare MR-1B.  But, you should positively NOT buy an MR-1 unless you have positive confirmation that it has the gear type reel drive mechanism.  Fully half of all MR-1's were made before this mech was in the production line, and have the very high-maintenance rubber tire driven reels.  The only sure way to confirm gear drive is to have the seller remove the cassette well back plate, a matter of two screws, and show you the white nylon gear sitting smack between the reel tables.  The MR-1 is an excellent deck, being a pro version of the BX300.

Differences between the RX-202, RX-303 & RX-505
The RX-303 & RX-505 use the real Nakamichi transport, not the cheaper Sankyo one that the RX-202 uses.  The RX-202 most likely has the small rubber idler problem too.  The transports on the RX-303 and RX-505 are essentially updated LX-3 & LX-5 models, respectively, with auto-reverse (and inferior meters!).  The reel drive idler on the RX-303 & RX-505 is via rubber idler, but the tire is about twice as large & thick, & a much more durable rubber, so not prone at all to losing friction like the small idler on the RX-202.  The RX-202 has buttons that are flat where the RX-505 has buttons that stick out and are angled.

RX-505 Noise
Thanks for reply of my RX-505 problem.  I think that my RX-505 may have a power supply problem.  (maybe grounding fail.)  When I touched or moved the power cord, the noise varied (increase or decrease).  So I tried to tighten the grounding screw which Stephen Sank pointed out.  The screw is nearest the front and to the right, with the soldered grounding lug under it.  Careful not to turn it so hard as to strip the threads in the aluminum bracket.

Souping up your deck
General rule is replace ceramics, mylars and polysters in the audio path and the power supplies for the audio path where possible/affordable with propylenes & styrenes.  Otherwise bypass, with attention to keeping values the same in eq circuits.  The classic electrolytic cap is aluminum.  Tantalum is just a different kind of lytic, but with markedly different properties & generally more compact.  On the supply caps, you only need to worry about the 17v supply, as the 12v supply is not involved with audio.  The most improvement will be gained with bypassing the caps that are after the regulator.  On the first big cap after the reg, I'd add 6 to 10ufd of polypropylene + at least 0.0022ufd of styrene.  Then I'd add at least 0.1ufd of good propylene or styrene to the supply line at each entry point to each amp stage of each channel.
Stephen Sank

Tantalums & aluminums are electrolytic types that should be bypassed with as large a film cap as will fit.  Ceramics should be replaced when possible, bypassed with 5 percent or more of value otherwise, as should mylars & polyesters.  The exception is when the caps are in EQ circuits, where, if bypassing, you should replace the original cap with a similar cap of a reduced value, to arrive at the original value once bypassed.  I am not sure, but I think S.P. refers to a polyester.  Don't have a 700 here right now to compare the schematic reference to.
Stephen Sank

Essentially, the upgrading consisted of:
1) Soft-recovery rectifiers & generous high freq bypassing(propylene & styrene caps) into the audio power supplies.
2) Replacement of all 4558/TL072 format dual opamps in direct rec/pb signal path with OP275.
3) Bypassing of all Pb signal path caps w/styrenes, and elimination of coupling caps where possible.
4) Bypassing of all "in stage" power supply filter caps in rec/pb signal path stages with styrenes.
5) Bypassing of all Rec signal path caps w/NPO ceramic SMD "chip" caps(due to budget limits), including input amps.
6) Replacing of all significant shielded signal wiring(excluding head wiring, due to budget) with LAT IC-200II cable or RCA MI-13322
silver/copper mic cable.  No where near as much wiring to replace as in the ZX-7/9, and no overly circuitous routes, but I was able to shorten some runs a lot.
7) Removal of AC line cord & installation of standard IEC power cord connector.

I think that covers it.  But I may be forgetting one or two things.  May not sound like a lot from the description, but, man, it was a lot of work!  And, of course, I did a complete recalibration after mods.
Stephen Sank

Replacing the opamp IC's for the pb & rec amps & input/output line amps is always a positive.  My favorite is the Analog Devices OP275.  Then, I'd say replace bridge rectifier diode unit that supplies the + & - 12v supply rails with Harris HR4120 soft recovery epitaxial discrete diodes(4 single diodes as opposed to the 4 diode unit).  Next, get a bunch of small value, say 0.0022ufd RelCap RT polystyrene film caps & parallel one with every electrolytic capacitor you can identify as being either in the direct signal path or on the power supply rails to the dolby & amp IC's.  By this point, you'll likely be spending about as much as you'll want to, and have done 70-80 percent of what's possible to get sonic improvement from.  All of these parts can be purchased from Michael Percy Audio, , who is my favorite high-end parts supplier.  You have to download his catalog in .pdf format, then fax or email the order.  The OP275's can be had cheaper from Newark & a couple of other places, but the small number you'll need wouldn't make the difference amount to much.  On the caps & diodes, he's the cheapest I have found.  His catalog is also rather educational.
Stepehn Sank

Comments on T-100 Audio Analyzer
The T-100, as far as I know from use & from it's manuals, measures weighted or unweighted RMS peak w/f, as opposed to RMS average.  The weighted mode is nearest to average RMS measurement.  I have no idea what the mathematical formula is for deriving the average value, honestly.
Stephen Sank

The T-100 Audio Analyzer is an amazing tool.  The dual 100 segment meters are a joy to work with.  Built in test tones, wow&flutter meter, speed calibration, etc, can't be matched by anything built today.  I personally have two that I use to tweak the racks of MR-1's with.

Bleus has a scan of the brochure on this web site.
MrBleus' Nakamichi CyberSpot

Direct link to the T-100 Brochure

MR-1B and equalization differences (applies to the MR-2B also)
The following is from a Service Information document from Nakamichi dated, 6/10/87.  It explains the root cause of why tapes recorded on Nakamichi decks sound different on other decks and vice versa.

To enable users to produce tape on the Nakamichi MR-1 which sound acceptable when played on cassette decks using playback heads of inferior quality, Nakamichi has made available two versions of the MR-1, called the MR-1 and the MR-1B.  The "B" designation denotes a machine which has had its record and playback equalization altered to conform to the IEC March 1981 equalization, rather than the earlier IEC standard which Nakamichi has followed since the introduction of our first products into the United States market in the early 70's.

These two models are not differentiated in any way on the front or back panels, both are identified as being MR-1's.  MR-1B models are generally marked with a small white dot affixed to the bottom panel near the rear of the machine....   ... The following general observations can be made about certain characteristics of the MR-1B as compared to the MR-1.

Playback response -- aprox. +4dB at 15kHz using Nakamichi playback response tape DA09002.  Flat response using BASF IEC standard PBFR tape.

Record characteristics -- Distortion approx. 0.1 to 0.5% higher than normal at 0dB, depending on tape type.  Maximum record level (before 3% THD is reached) about 2dB lower then MR-1.

The following is from Nakamichi Techinical Information
bulletin dated 8/27/85
The following modification is offered in order that the record/playback characteristics of the Nakamichi MR-1 may be altered to closely resemble the many decks with non-standard equalization.  It must be noted that record/playback performance of the altered unit will be diminished.

The following is from Dolby Laboratories/San Francisco
    Nakamichi MR-1 IEC E.Q. Modifications
Due to the number of inquiries by licensees and clients of Dolby Laboratories requesting information modifying the record and playback equalization in the Nakamichi model MR-1 cassette deck to current IEC standards, the following information is provided as a guideling to assist in these modifications.  They should not be considered absolute, as the modifications described may vary depending upon who's
playback alignment standard (playback e.q. mod.) and which blank tape stock (record e.q. mod.) is chosen.

In my experience, it is very rare to see a 482 or later 3-head Nak with significant head wear, thanks to the simple but incredibly effective & ingenious pad lifter, but it certainly sounds like you have a severely worn Pb head.  It is possible that the same degree of wear in the record
head will not significantly affect performance, but you won't be able to be sure until you replace the Pb head, if you actually do that.  Buying
direct from Nak Japan, the head should be quite affordable.  Nak USA is about 50 percent more.  BTW, you guys, I have a 482Z on my bench right now, and it is very much a crystal permalloy head, identical to the 582, 680, etc., and not a Sendust.  Hadn't worked on one in a long time, so I had started to doubt my memory.  As far as I know, Nak has never made a 3-head with a Sendust Pb head.  Only the R/P head on the 480 & later two heads was Sendust(but NOT the 580, which has a crystal permalloy R/P head!).
Stephen Sank

Auto-Stop Problem on 480Z and several others using the older Nakamichi mechanism
It sounds exactly like the light source lamp for the auto-stop reel motion sensor is dead.  If you remove the front panel, you can then follow the belt from the take-up reel table down to a perforated wheel that is black in color.  A small circuit board will be next to it with a small lamp on
the side facing you.  If you turn on the power & the lamp does not come on, it is the fault.  The lamp is Nak part #OB08466, but any same-size lamp that is 12v-14v & 30-50mA will do just fine.

Sendust Heads
The only deficiencies of the Sendust heads is bass rolloff at 25-30Hz, rather than 12-15Hz, and mildly depressed HF PB response(not so much on the 480/LX-3/RX-303), which is EQ'd on the record amp side in the BX & later 2-heads.  The single capstan 2-head decks are less prone to lose HF with wear due to not having the pressure pad lifter, so the tape is forced into the wavy wear areas.  I certainly agree that head wear is last place to look for HF loss, but in this 482 case, it seems fairly definite.
Stephen Sank

Awesome response of Nak heads
On 3-head Naks as far back as the 582, my measurements have yielded "usable" response out to 35 kHz rec/pb on TDK SA & MA tapes.  But the relly impressive thing is the low freq response.  -3dB @ 12 Hz MA, 16 Hz SA.  That's what really distinguishes Nak heads.
Stephan Sank

Nakamichi Heads
BA04927  Head Assembly (TD-1200)
CA08311  GA01294 RP-9E Record/Playback head (480Z)
CA08137  P-8L Playback Head Ass'y (482Z)
CA08300  R-8L Record Head Ass'y (482Z)
CA08524  GA02216 R3LH - Record head, replaces GA02034 (BX-300)
CA08525  GA02085 P-8LH Std Trans Playback Head (RX-505)
CA08659  R-3L - Record head, 3.5 micron gap Crystalloy (BX-300)
CA08658  P2H-L, P-2H3L Playback head, 0.8 micron gap Crystalloy (BX-300)
CA08757  P5D Playback head (TD-300)
GA00101  P53 playback head w/mount
GA00102  R-52 Record head w/mount
GA01050  R-8L Record head see GA02084
GA02007  R-52 Record head
GA02012  R/P-53 Record/Plaback head
GA02013  P-53 Playback head
GA02014  E-54 Erase head
GA02017  E-8L Erase head See GA02103 (480Z, 482Z)
GA02034  P-8L Playback Head See GA020?5 (I think it is GA02085)
GA02039  See GA02012
GA02040  R/P Head-BL
GA02083  E-BLH - Erase head (1000ZXL Limited)
GA02084  R-8LH Record Head See GA0221?
GA02101  See GA02132
GA02102  See GA02133
GA02103  EOK Erase Head
GA02132  P-BLZ - Playback head (1000ZXL Limited)
GA02133  R-BLZ - Record head (1000ZXL Limited)
GA02162  PA-1L - 0.6 micro gap Crystalloy Playback head 4-track/2-channel-stereo (Dragon and maybe the TD-1200 also)
GA02201  E-4F Erase head (BX-300)
GA02203  P2C-3L Playback head Laminated-Crystalloy core, 0.8 micro gap(TD-400 TD-500 TD-700)
GA02217  R-3LZ Record Head for GA02133
E-2D - Erase head (BX-100, BX-125, RX-202)
E-8L - Erase head (ZX-7, 680ZX)
P-8L - Playback head, 0.6 micron gap width, Crystalloy core (ZX-7, 482Z)
P-9F - Playback head, 0.6 micron gap width, Crystalloy core (680ZX)
R-8L - Record head, 3.5 micron gap width, Crystalloy core (ZX-7, 482Z, 680ZX)
RP-2D - 1.2 micron gap, Record/Playback head (BX-100 BX-125, RX-202)
P2C-5D - Hard-Permalloy core, 1.2 micro gap (TD-300)
The 1000 used a 0.7micron playback head and a 5micron record head. I don't know which P/N.

Different type of azimuth adjust used on Nak decks.
I just want to clarify the azimuth schemes of the various decks with azimuth adjust capability.

The 660ZX, 670ZX, 680ZX, 681ZX and 682ZX automatically adjust the record head azimuth to the stationary playback head during record auto calibration.  On the plain 680 the record head must be manually adjusted to the playback.

The ZX-7 and ZX-9 has user adjustable record head azimuth.

The CR-7, Cassette Deck 1, DR-1, TD-500, TD-700 and TD-800 have manual playback azimuth adjustment during playback only.  On the CR-7 (and maybe the Cassette Deck 1 and DR-1 too) the front panel azimuth pot is bypassed and the playback head is automatically adjusted to the record head during recording.  When switching to play the head rotates back to the position indicated by the azimuth adjust pot.

The Dragon, with NAAC, automatically adjusts the playback head to the tape during playback and is automatically adjusted to the record head in record mode.  No manual adjustment is possible.  The TD-1200 with NAAC performs exactly like the Dragon, but, in play only since is doesn't record.

Of course ALL the decks have azimuth adjust screws for the service person to tweak.  If you don't have the calibration tapes and equipment necessary to make these adjustments please don't.

Differences between ZX-7 and ZX-9
The ZX-7 and ZX-9 are nearly identical decks.  They look identical except for the white lettering on the ZX-7 and the gold lettering on the ZX-9 and the phrase "Super-Tuned Edition" on the ZX-9.  Under the hood the biggest difference is the capstan motors.  The ZX-9 uses a "FG servo, brushless, slotless, coreless, Super Linear Torque Direct Drive motor" where the motors shaft is the take-up capstan, known as Direct Drive.  The ZX-9's supply capstan is driven from the take-up capstans flywheel via a belt.  The ZX-7 uses a lower quality PLL servo motor that drives both the take-up and supply capstans via a single belt.  This difference in motors translates into differing Wow-and-Flutter (W&F) specs.  The ZX-7 has a respecable Weighted Peak W&F of 0.08% and Weighted RMS of 0.04%.  The ZX-9 has a Weighted Peak W&F of 0.045% and Weighted RMS of 0.022%.  The ZX-9 supposedly has highier quality components in the playback amplifiers and a slightly different EQ standard, but, all the other published spec on the two decks are the same except for power.  The ZX-7 is 40 Watts and the ZX-9 is 50 Watts.  Frequency Response, Signal-to-Noise Ratio, Total Harmonic Distortion, Crosstalk, etc are all the same.

I believe that the ZX-9 and Dragon are the only two decks using the Classic (non-Sankyo) tape transport to have a directly driven capstan.  The Dragon actually has both capstans directly driven, but, that is because it had to to support it's auto reverse feature.  These are not the only Nakamichi decks to have directly driven capstans however.  When they went to the Sankyo mechanism the direct drive capstan became standard on about half the 3-head models.  The followings Sankyo mechanism decks have direct drive:  ZX-5, BX-300, MR-1, CR-7 and CR-4.  The following Sankyo mechanism decks did NOT get direct drive:  CR-5, CR-3, DR-1, DR-10 and DR-2.  I am unsure of the Cassette Deck series.

Bleus has the brochures of the ZX-7 and ZX-9 on the web at

1000ZXL vs 1000ZXL Limited
Wouter asked Hideo Goto about the 1000ZXL LTD when there were heavy discussions going on on naktalk.  He asked him how many were actually made and this is his answer:

Anyway, I reply regarding your last question.
1000ZXL-limited, it was not big changes from 1000ZXL for the actual sound quality.  However the playback head was selected out!
The official spec was not changed because a filter circuit has cut the high frequency.  PB head can play back up to 40, 50kHz!
That is an advantage.  And the total number of model is not clear.  We guess it was around 100 units.
I  am sorry for the response that was so late.

Tha's for now.


Nakamichi Calibration Tapes
The service manuals for most Naks mentions only 7 calibration tapes.  They are listed below.

DA09001 - 20 kHz Playback Frequency Response Tape - This tape has an accurate -20 dB level signal of 20 kHz.  It is used to verify playback frequency response.
DA09002 - 15 kHz Playback Frequency Response Tape - This tape has an accurate -20 dB level signal of 15 kHz.  It is used to verify playback frequency response.
DA09003 - 10 kHz Playback Frequency Response Tape - This tape has an accurate -20 dB level signal of 10 kHz.  It is used to verify playback frequency response.
DA09004 - 15 kHz Azimuth Tape - This tape has a 15 kHz signal recorded on it and is used for aligning the PB head azimuth.
DA09005 - 400 Hz Level Tape - This tape has a very accurate 0 dB tone of 400 Hz recorded on it.  It is used to calibrate the output balance/level and meter level.  This tape should be used before doing any kind of tape level/bias adjustment.
DA09006 - 3 kHz Speed & Wow/Flutter Tape - This tape has an accurate 3 kHz signal recorded on it.  It is used for adjusting the decks captan motors and for measuring the decks speed error as well as wow/flutter.
DA09007 - 1 kHz Track Alignment Tape - This tape has a 1 kHz signal recorded on it, but, it's recorded on either side of the tracks center.  It is used for adjusting the PB head height.  When using this tape the PB head is adjusted for minimum signal out, NOT maximum like the 15 kHz azimuth tape.

The DA09001-9003 are only used to verify the frequency response.  They are not needed to do a calibration on a deck.  They will tell you if your azimuth is off, but, you shouldn't adjust your heads azimuth to these tapes.  While the azimuth has got to be pretty close, these tapes are most likely not produced on the precision equipment needed to make an actual azimuth tape and therefore aren't guaranteed to be acurate.

The DA09004 15kHz Azimuth Tape is one of the most important tapes for calibrating you deck.  Although a genuine Nak tape would be nice, any of the Azimuth tape will be fine, even the Emtec 10 kHz Azimuth tape.  With this lower frequency adjusting for maximize output level might not work as well.  There are two things you can do to get a more accurate reading.  Adjust for maximum level on a VTVM, then fine tune by adjusting for minimum phase shift on a scope.  Another way is to again adjust for maximum level on a VTVM, then short the Left and Right outputs together and fine tune for maximum level.  When the phases are the same the signal is a maximum.  When the phases are opposite, they cancel and the output is a minimum.  I used to use this method with a Dorrough stereo test set which had a switch on the front to sum L & R.

The DA09005, 400 Hz level tape is another important one.  There is some question about what is considered 0dB.  I think the Nak tape is 400nW/m (nanoWebers per meter), but, other cal tapes may use a different flux level (magnetic strength) for 0dB.  Try to use a genuine Nak cal tape.

The DA09006, 3 kHz Speed and Wow/Flutter Tape is another generic tape.  Any similar calibration tape can be used.  The DA09007, 1kHz track alignment tape is a really special one.  Only Nakamichi has it.  Other calibration tapes can be used to aligning the cassette decks playback head height, but, DO NOT use the procedure in the Nakamichi service manual.  It won't work.  What other cal tape manufacturers do is record a narrow stereo signal down the center of the audio tracks and then you adjust for maximum signal out.

Here are a couple links to Non-Nak Calibration Tapes

There is a calibration tape for sale by Electronix.  DON'T BUY IT.  It is utter crap!

There is a guy on ebay (User ID:  el355) selling a calibration tape that he claims is a genuine Nakamichi calibration tape for NAAC.  Personally I don't believe it.  He says the P/N is DA-09005X2.  I've never seen a tape with that number before, I've never seen any Nak service manual reference any special calibration tapes specifically for the NAAC system and I've never seen a Nak cal tape in a TDK MA-R shell (alluminum alloy frame with clear side covers).  It's a nice shell, but, Nak cal tapes are in generic black shells.
DA-090009-A ebay item # 3839678839 & 3833857770 (too many zeroes in the P/N)
DA-09005X2 - eBay item # 5733621956 - supposed Nakamichi calibration tape for NAAC.

Ok, I need to say one more thing about Cal tapes.  Most of the non nak cal tapes are recorded using using the IEC 1981 standard.  Most Nak decks do not use this standard, they use the earlier one.  As far as I know the MR-1B, MR-2B, later CR-7A's and everything after the CR series uses the IEC 1981 standard.  Everything before uses the IEC 1976 standard (I may be incorrect on the year).  The IEC 1981 standard came about because of the crappy heads the other guys were using.  They didn't perform well at high frequencies.  The IEC 1981 standard introduces a bump of a few dB in the high end during recording.  When a tape is played back the bump is eq'd out.  Since Nak heads were so good they didn't see the need
and did not conform to the new standard until much later (when people started complaining that their tapes sounded dull to everyone else decks and their tapes sounded overly bright when play back on Naks.)  The disadvantage of the IEC 1981 standard is reduced headroom in the high end.  So really the older standard is better, but, only if played back on another Nak.  You can convert your older Nak deck to the newer standard, but, it requires modification in both the record and playback equalization circuits as well as a complete calibration using IEC 1981 cal tapes.  The Nakamichi calibration tape part numbers I wrote in my earlier post are for the earlier standard.  Not IEC-1981.

Nakamichi Manuals
Service manuals for Naks and many other brands is available from
By clicking on the british banner you get the site in english.
Cost for a service manual is about 15 Euros.

You can also get manual from techman777 off ebay or from his web site
At last count they had 222 service manuals, owner's manuals and bulletins.

You can also get manuals from
At last check they had 213 different Nakamichi Service manuals.  All of the manuals are $14.99 or 16.99. has four Nak Owner's manuals at last check.  They are the 480Z, 550, 582Z and 680ZX.  His prices are listed here.  They also have service manuals, but, his list is not on his web site.  Check here for more information.

I have original service manuals of the Dragon CT Turntable, ST-7 Tuner, 730 Receiver, 660ZX, BX-300, MR-1, 480Z, EC-200, EC-200H, PA-150, PA-300, PA-350, PA-400M, SP-400, TD-300, TD-500, TD-700, TD-1200 and LA-50. Copies are available for purchase.  Email me at  I'm also offering a CD filled with product brochures and reviews from magazines.  Hours of fun reading.

Tape Deck Upgrades - Souping up your deck
The following is from Stephan Sank regarding upgrades that can be done to Nak decks to make them better.
1) Soft-recovery rectifiers & generous high freq bypassing (propylene & styrene caps) into the audio power supplies.
2) Replacement of all 4558/TL072 format dual opamps in direct rec/pb signal path with OP275.
3) Bypassing of all Pb signal path caps w/styrenes and elimination of coupling caps where possible.
4) Bypassing of all "in stage" power supply filter caps in rec/pb signal path stages with styrenes.
5) Bypassing of all Rec signal path caps w/NPO ceramic SMD "chip" caps(due to budget limits), including input amps.
6) Replacing of all significant shielded signal wiring (excluding head wiring, due to budget) with LAT IC-200II cable or RCA MI-13322 silver/copper mic cable.  No where near as much wiring to replace as in the ZX-7/9, and no overly circuitous routes, but I was able to shorten some runs a lot.
7) Removal of AC line cord & installation of standard IEC power cord connector.

Auto Shut Off Lamp
LX-5, ZX-7, 481
I'm currently 'repairing' a LX-5 of a friend who suffers from the 'broken auto shut-off pcb lamp'.  This is a common failure, and i guess also because this light is always on when the Nak is switched on.  So i was thinking, isn't it possible to replace this lamp with a led so it will last longer?  I guess some modifications are needed then...  So is this doable or do the experts say, stick with the lamp?
Wonderful as your diagnosis "Check the stop button light - if it is not working then it is the culprit for very low volume of playback " from July 8th worked out to be the very problem with my lately bought 582 (20 euro) as well! Thinking it was due to an electronical failure, the problem ended up to be a simple bulb!  Thank you Kannan for your advise.  Thank you Wouter for this site (by the way, I will register this 582 soon)!
I checked the schematica for the ZX-7 and the 481, their shutoff circuits both use a 12V 25mA lamp with a series resistor and are powered from a 12V line.  They both also use a PH104 phototransistor.  The ZX-7 uses a 100 ohm series resistor, the 481 uses a 220 ohm series resistor.  I couldn't find any techical info on the phototransistor, and I don't know if the LX-5 uses an identical circuit or not, but it's probably similar.

What's my Nak worth
Well the best place to look is check out the completed auctions on ebay.  You can also take a look at  They have a list of models with years made, retail price and used value.

How to get replacement parts
For parts contact Melissa Bradley at extension 231 or by email at
Nakamichi USA, Inc.
1500 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA  90404
(310) 392-1155
(310) 392-1030 FAX

In Europe you can try Bower and Wilkins

Where to get service

Stephen Sank, Owner & Ribbon Mic Restorer
Talking Dog Transducer Company
5517 Carmelita Drive N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87111
This guy is highly recommended for his work, honest and reasonable prices.  For this reason he is very busy and it may take a while, a long while, for him to get around to fixing your unit.

Liberman Sound
224 Professional Bldg
El Cerrito, CA  94530
480, 730, BX, CR, LX series, Dragon, MR-1, MR-2
(they will not work on 250, 350, 500, 550, 700, 1000, TA-2, TA-3, TA-4, TA-4A, some are due to lack of parts availablity and other are because they are just crap to begin with)

Approved Audio Service, Inc.
49 Commons Dr.
Litchfield, CT  06759

Electronics Service Labs
1807 Berlin Turnpike
Wethersfield, Connecticut, 06109
These guys are, in my opinion ridiculously expensive.  They don't want to repair a unit, they was to completely refurbish it to like new or better than new condition and they charge several times what the deck is worth.  Their work is excellent, but, again very expensive.  If you cherish your Nak more than anything else in the world (and have a lot of money) then these are the guys you want to do the work.

Nakamichi lists 7 service centers in the US on their web site.
Nakamichi USA Service Center List

In Canada:
All-In-One Electronics
50 Wingold Dr.
(416) 789-0668

In Europe:
Bowers & Wilkins
Several people on NakTalk say they have used these guys and would recommend them..

Cool Link

Nakamichi Corporation

Nak tape deck valuations

Japanese site with pictures of older high end tape decks
Japanese brochures for older Naks like the 700II, 1000, 700, 500, 600 series of components, 400 series components, 550, 350, 250, 1000ZXL, 700ZXL, 700ZXE, LX-3 and LX-5.

Pictures of the old Nakamichi building before and after it was leveled

Classic cassette tape references
Another Cassette tape reference
Dysoplex "The Blank Tape Gallery

Removed prices from

Link to a 1000ZXL Limited brochure

Tomas' new Nakamichi fan site
This site has the 680ZX and Peripheral Equipment brochures available as PDFs as well as the following owner's manuals:  ZX-7 & 680ZX and the following service manuals:  680ZX, BX-300, 481, LX-5 and 600.

MrBleus' Nakamichi Cyberspot

MR-1, MR-2, BX-300 remote jack pinout

Russian site with lots of advertisements and brochure scans for many Audio brands as well as Nakamichi

Nakamichi Prices

Magnetic and Audio Tape Terms/Information

0 dB Reference Level Explained

High end audio equipment (Japanese)

My personal Nakamichi Brochures page

CR-7 Reviews

Page last updated July 11, 2005
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