Akai X-200D Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Help - Wobbly Reels and such - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-30-2012, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey, hope I'm in the right place for this. I have an Akai X-200D which I use frequently for recording interviews for my radio show at college. It was a gift from a friend of mine a year ago and the audio quality has been phenomenal. However, there are a few things bugging me and was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction.

Sometimes tapes brush up against the side of the reel, sounding really squeaky. This makes the tapes wobbly and eventually causes some to break. I think they may be out of balance, but I also suspect one of the motors might be out of tune. It wobbles slightly just by itself.

What I would like to find out is:

1.) Does anyone know of anyone else with one of these machines?
2.) Does anyone have any personal recommendations for overhauling a reel to reel machine like this?
3.) Does anyone know of a decent repair shop or someone I could get in contact with for help with this sort of thing in the local Washington D.C. or Hampton Roads area?

Thanks guys!

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post #2 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 06:12 AM
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You are likely can get a nice digital recorder for less than what would be a cost to fix your Akai.
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I know this is opening up a whole can of worms, but having tried digital, in my personal opinion open reel tape captures the human voice much nicer. Granted that all the sound clips are edited on a computer in lossless digital, I still think its worth having to put up a little extra effort for our listeners.

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post #4 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleWill View Post

I know this is opening up a whole can of worms, but having tried digital, in my personal opinion open reel tape captures the human voice much nicer. Granted that all the sound clips are edited on a computer in lossless digital, I still think its worth having to put up a little extra effort for our listeners.

Get a tube microphone preamp. It will likely deliver what you are after.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-31-2012, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleWill View Post

I know this is opening up a whole can of worms, but having tried digital, in my personal opinion open reel tape captures the human voice much nicer. Granted that all the sound clips are edited on a computer in lossless digital, I still think its worth having to put up a little extra effort for our listeners.

Can of worms - maybe. There are advantages to analog tape, but these days they really do not matter - digital recording can now do very well. You might consider trying again using your existing Mic and preamp (likely you can run it right into a laptop)

Unfortunately I can not answer your original questions. I have no knowledge of your specific machine, or repair places in your area.

I would say that wobbly reels is not a common problem on a well made machine. Inconsistent take up speed can be a problem, but the reel should not wobble side to side.

I guess the first thing you need to determine is it the reel that moves side to side, or, is the reel shaft wobbling. Take off the reel, does the shaft move at all (except round and round)? If the shaft wobbles, you might have to replace a few bearings/bushings which would be cheap if they were still available. If the shaft is solid, you might just have a bent reel (which sounds like all it may be).

You might be better off just buying another used tape player that is known to work well. It might be cheaper than fixing what you have. Again I don't know your machine - there might be a common problem that can easily be fixed. Did you google your machine?

I don't know about what they are doing at college these days, but I'd suggest you convert to digital recording - then processing it if needed to simulate your reel to reel. This is a skill you can carry forward. If you already have a mic and preamp you like, and a computer, you are (nearly) ready to go!

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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post #6 of 14 Old 02-01-2012, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Duh, I didn't even think about the bearings! Thanks. Its a pretty solid machine overall and I've repaired a fair number of stuff on it myself. For some reason, the main manual does not discuss how to grease up the two reel motors, which perplexed me.

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post #7 of 14 Old 02-01-2012, 09:08 AM
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Google "refurbish vintage audio equipment"

and don't even think about a budget.

Solution: FREE. Explanation: I will have to charge$ you.

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post #8 of 14 Old 03-29-2012, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Just an update for those interested, I took the machine a local repair place up in Northern Virginia that has served us well before. Total cost was $150. Everything was relubed, heads aligned, demagnitized, etc. Will be picking it up around Easter. Not too bad considering the recorder was a gift from a friend. He gave it to me, feeling I was the only person he knew who would appreciate it.

Many thanks for all your suggestions too. I considered buying another one, but it just seemed like putting off the problem longer and probably introducing more problems. Any machine at 40 years old needs a little TLC at some point, right? Pic of the machine in use two months ago for the analog fans: Attachment 242143
LL

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post #9 of 14 Old 04-01-2012, 10:31 AM
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I had an old Akai/Roberts tape deck years ago with the Cross-field heads. It was an excellent machine.

Unfortunately, the heads and the guides wear rapidly to the point where the playback fidelity rapidly is lost due to imprecise alignment of the tape to the heads.

What you have there is undoubtedly a machine that needs new motors, because the bearings are worn out, and also bad heads and tape guides. All it needs is replacement of 90% of the mechanical parts, which if you could find them would cost several thousand dollars.

There is a good reason why tape recording technology is dead. You could probably buy a decent Nagra tape deck, which is and was a much better machine, for what it would cost to fix it.

For $35 on Amazon, you can buy a Sony TCM 200DV recorder, which uses standard cassettes and has 2 speeds; the quality is probably as good as what you have.






Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleWill View Post

Hey, hope I'm in the right place for this. I have an Akai X-200D which I use frequently for recording interviews for my radio show at college. It was a gift from a friend of mine a year ago and the audio quality has been phenomenal. However, there are a few things bugging me and was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction.

Sometimes tapes brush up against the side of the reel, sounding really squeaky. This makes the tapes wobbly and eventually causes some to break. I think they may be out of balance, but I also suspect one of the motors might be out of tune. It wobbles slightly just by itself.

What I would like to find out is:

1.) Does anyone know of anyone else with one of these machines?
2.) Does anyone have any personal recommendations for overhauling a reel to reel machine like this?
3.) Does anyone know of a decent repair shop or someone I could get in contact with for help with this sort of thing in the local Washington D.C. or Hampton Roads area?

Thanks guys!

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post #10 of 14 Old 04-10-2012, 11:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


You could probably buy a decent Nagra tape deck, which is and was a much better machine, for what it would cost to fix it.

I can understand the better machine part, but NAGRAs are in mono and cost twice what it did to get this one going well again. My personal supply of 7inch reels would also be difficult to use on a smaller, 5inch deck.

Quote:


For $35 on Amazon, you can buy a Sony TCM 200DV recorder, which uses standard cassettes and has 2 speeds; the quality is probably as good as what you have.

Are you kidding? From someone who has a Sony TCM 200DV recorder, I can immediately tell you those things are fine for normal transcription and everyday stuff. When it comes to something professional sounding , this reel deck far surpass one of these portable decks in smoothness and clarity. The human voice is captured with much better with open reel. I used to use a handheld cassette like this earlier for my interviews, but opted for the better sounding recorder. The end result is far worth it.

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post #11 of 14 Old 04-11-2012, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleWill View Post

Just an update for those interested ...Pic of the machine in use two months ago for the analog fans: Attachment 242143

That is quite larger than I was imagining. I have been toying with the idea of a RtR, but I did not realize how large they are.

Either way, I'm glad you got it to work.

What do you interviewee's say when they see you break out that thing?
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post #12 of 14 Old 04-11-2012, 11:19 AM
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Back in the RtR days we sold and serviced Revox, Akai, Sony, Ampex,Wollensak, TEAC, Tandberg and a few others. On older machines, one of the most problematic issues is the pinch roller. Some manufactuers used poorly vulcanized rubber to manufacture the rollers and they deformed, flattened or became gummy. This can cause the tape to skew across the head(s) and distort the audio as well as physically damage the tape in extreme cases.

As for the fidelity issues some have mentioned, remember that many studios STILL use RtR tape for mastering. Not everything digital is better.
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post #13 of 14 Old 04-14-2012, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


That is quite larger than I was imagining. I have been toying with the idea of a RtR, but I did not realize how large they are.

Either way, I'm glad you got it to work.

What do you interviewee's say when they see you break out that thing?

It is really large but they do get bigger. This one is only using 7inch reels, as opposed to 10inch. Weight wise it is about 40lbs. Still, they can be quite a bit of fun. The expressions on the interviewees are priceless. Most of them have either never seen one or haven't in years.

Quote:


Back in the RtR days we sold and serviced Revox, Akai, Sony, Ampex,Wollensak, TEAC, Tandberg and a few others. On older machines, one of the most problematic issues is the pinch roller. Some manufactuers used poorly vulcanized rubber to manufacture the rollers and they deformed, flattened or became gummy. This can cause the tape to skew across the head(s) and distort the audio as well as physically damage the tape in extreme cases.

As for the fidelity issues some have mentioned, remember that many studios STILL use RtR tape for mastering. Not everything digital is better.

Ouch, could see how that would damage the tape. Reel to reel requires more maintenance, but I think it pays out. Did not know they were still using them as much in studios. It is true that not everything digital is better, despite what Best Buy will have you believe. The true key to effectiveness is practicality and "does it do what you want?"

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post #14 of 14 Old 02-19-2013, 03:05 PM
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I just saw your post on getting your X-200D fixed in Northern Virginia. would you please give me the name of the shop so I can take mine in? thank you.
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