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HI! Welcome to my AKAI REEL TO REEL'S Photo's Page...

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This is an early Akai ad, with a sexy model... showing an X Series Deck which Akai Deck is it... well, who cares ???

Here is a picture of an Akai X-IV, a portable 4 speed set that took 5 inch reels. Possibly made to compete with the German Made Uher 4000L Series, while it isn't a part of the usual Akai lineup, it is in the X Series, so this is as good a place as any...

The next set was the X-V, another portable 4 speed set that basically took 5 inch reels, this set shows the little adapters for 7 inch reels, these used belts to drive them from the existing reel assemblies on the set. With those big piano keys and two front mounted speakers it looked a bit unusual...

The X Series ( as well as some of the prior M Series ) used the Crossfield Head Technique, where an additional head placed on the rear side of the tape, and aimed at the center of the record head, would separately infuse just the bias signal, a high-frequency supersonic Bias waveform, to make the audio capabilities of the magnetic tape medium operate in a more linear region. This supposedly for less self-erasure and to lower distortion. Crossfield Technique, has been the subject of much speculation and supposition over time, the results remain, to this day unresolved. Some of the X-100 and X-200 series sets, used the same single motor chassis as other Akai's, the 1700 series and the 1800 / 1900 multi-purpose sets.

Some of the X-300 Series sets, used a more sophisticated three motor chassis, in which case, the Capstan motors were likely to be the Synchronous-Hysteresis type, with a belt drive, and the capstan mounted on a large flywheel. This type of drive often using a precision bearing or two. Those bearings could be inside the motor, or in the capstan assembly, or used in both. I've seen/heard those types of bearings get noisy. I had one bearing - in another brand of tape deck that was so bad after thirty years, it sounded like the type of machine that grinds coffee beans... it was easily audible more than ten feet off. After replacing that bearing ( and luckily it was of a standard type designation ) the set was so quiet, you had to have your ear pressed on the front plate to even hear the motor purr... I've never heard an Akai's bearing go bad and become audible like that, but some of these older sets do have two or three of them in there, so it could happen.

The audio circuitry used in the X-Series was very early solid state. What that means is that some sets used early Germanium Transistors, which tended to be noisy. Perhaps in those early days, the Crossfield Head technique had an advantage, in reducing noise and improving overall distortion, or audible levels of distortion, and self-erasure of high frequencies.

The Crossfield head technique, was eventually abandoned by Akai, when they developed and used their Glass and Crystal Ferrite heads, in the later GX Series which began to appear around 1969. This may have started with the Model GX-365D. By the late 1960's low-noise silicon transistors were available and used, so, noise and distortion levels, being either vastly different, or much reduced compared to early Germanium parts, then, perhaps the additional cost of also implementing the Crossfield Head technique, no longer produced either measurable or audible improvements. Also, perhaps the focused field of the Ferrite Gapped heads could be made to tighter tolerances, with smaller gaps for better high frequency response. Still, early on, the GX heads must have been very expensive to produce, and the GX-365D, and even much later sets ( like the GX-210D ) used the mechanical moving head mechanism, where a solonoid moves the entire Playback Head Assembly up and down to select which set of tracks ( forward, or reverse ) is being played. Some later low-end GX Series sets still used this mechanical moving head mechanism, but in the later GX Series separate playback heads were used and after 1975, I think the solonoid/mechanical method was never used again.

Here is a picture of an early vintage X Series unit the X-150:

Here is a picture of an early vintage X Series Crossfield unit the X-200D, was a three motor deck, that had three speeds and Autoreverse Operation:

Here is a picture of the X-200D, with the optional NAB 10.5" NAB Reel Adapter System in place. Rarely seen, yes, it existed at one time for some of these X Series decks ( or at least for the X-200D ):

Here are two pictures of the rarely seen X-300D, a 10.5" NAB Reel capable unit, which may have been the first 10.5" reel capable Akai which did not use an external adapter... boy those reels are really "close" together! The overall look of this set resembles the "portable" X-V unit:

Here are several pictures of the vintage X-330's another 10.5" NAB Reel capable unit. It has three speeds and a backtension adjustment switch for 5", 7" and 10.5" reels, and even triple length tape. So, has anyone ever seen a 7200 foot reel of 10.5" tape ? Not Me! I do suspect it dates from the later part of the 1960's, perhaps after the X-345 and X-355, and maybe even after the X-360, like 1968-69, being three motor decks, that uses 10.5" reels, I suspect the X-300D and the X-330D were the only X Series sets that were 10.5 inch reel capable without those strange optional adapters with all the belts and wheelies. So, with its very modern looks, the X-330D gets my vote as the final member of the X Series, unless someone else knows otherwise...

From the mottled look of the crackle surface on the front, and the heavily machined and fancy engraved metal knobs, and ivory piano key look, I do suspect the 7" Reel capable model X-345 is a way older design than the prior X-330. I'd say it comes from the early part of the 1960's; only the ghosts of Akai design teams past know how they determined these model numbers. Several pictures of the early vintage X-345's:

Here are some shots of the X-355 which dates from around 1964:
It looks like the mechanical sections of the X-345 and the X-355 are the same, and the jump in model designation involves changes to the electronics section. What changes, I can't be sure, but my guess is somewhere in the mid-1960's they stopped using germanium transistors, and switched over to silicon.

Not much is known about the X-360D, except that it uses the RC-16 remote control unit, which also can be used one the later GX-280D and GX-280D-ss. Still, it is the highest numbered set in the X Series. Like the X-330D, which the X-360 does resemble more or less, except in a 7" Reel deck, we are definately nearing the end of the 1960's - probably 1967, or 1968. If you look at the last picture, under the head cover there is a post for mounting another capstan sleeve and it shows an additional pinch roller, with this capstan sleeve and pinch roller, the X-360D has 15 ips capabilities; too bad it doesn't have a 10.5 inch reels capability.

Go to the next Akai Vintage Photo Page: The 1700/1800/1900 Series Page

Go to the prior Akai Vintage Photo Page: The M Series Page

This page is under construction ( Like software, the job is never done!....)
Last Update - 10-18-2002 1:30 AM.

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Steven L. Bender
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