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The Akai 200 Series

GX-210D (ca. 1974-1976) and GX-215D (ca. 1977-1982)

The GX-210D is in fact the X-201D model with a GX head. That's how some early 70's Akai magazines explain the need for introducing this model. It looks a lot like the X-201D indeed but since it has a three head system and only 2 speeds there is not a lot in common between those sets. The GX-210D has one erase/rec combination head ('combo-head') and one playback head.

When the deck goes into reverse mode, the playback head is pulled back by a solenoid; a relay switches the head wires. There's a tape selector for choosing between normal and super range tapes (S.R.T). Because of its attractive price, strong mechanics and indestructible GX heads, this set sold very well.

The GX-215D was the last mechanical set from the 200-series. It was also the only set with a plastic face plate, probably its worst flaw. The functions of this set are identical to those on the GX-210D, so I guess the GX-215D is just an improved version.

It's also a little more oversized: the reels fit within the face plate, just like the GX-220/221 and 225. The low noise/SRT tape switch has been replaced by a low noise/wide range switch. This set has three separated heads and thus no combo head anymore. It has been available with either silver or black panel.

GX-220D (ca. 1970-1972), GX-221D (ca 1972-1974) en GX-225D (ca. 1972-1974)

The GX-220D is about as old as the X-200D and has been available in an older and a later version. The later version had another head cover and looks just like the GX-221D. The picture shown here is the older and more common version of the GX-220D. Both GX-220/D, GX-221/D and GX-225D are very similar; the GX-225D has an extra built- in noise reduction system and hasn't been available with a main amplifier. This noise reduction isn't Dolby or dbx but a system which was invented by Akai.

They all have three separated heads, 3 speeds, an S.O.S. knob and an auto shut off function. The GX-220D has "solid state" written on the front and is an early transistor set. The GX-220/221 and 225 are larger than the X-200D and X-201D; the reels fit within the face plate, mechanically there's no difference.

GX-230/D (ca. 1975-1976), GX-270D (ca 1976-1978)

The GX-230/D and GX-270D are 4-head sets; they look very much alike and they both have a lot of printed circuit boards (PCB's) in common. The GX-230/D is a little older set and is an electro-mechanical set with mechanical push buttons. The pinch roller is activated by a solenoid. The brakes are activated mechanically at FF and REW and by the same solenoid at PLAY/REC. The GX-600D also has mechanical push buttons but these buttons have no further mechanical function since a solenoid always takes over.

Because of its attractive price the GX-230D sold well. Probably this has been the first set with an additional playback head instead of a single head in combination with a solenoid which pulls it down. The GX-230/D and GX-270D do have the combination erase/rec head instead of two separated heads.

The GX-270D is an electronic set and has an additional solenoid to activate the brakes. It also has a system control board; the GX-230D hasn't. The GX-270D has larger VU meters, a socket for remote control and a peak LED between the VU meters. I can't think of any other Akai set with a peak led, so this might be a special feature on the GX-270D only.

Both GX-230/D and GX-270D sets don't have the external head near the capstan motor for the servo control anymore. The servo pickup coil is built within the motor itself. The S.R.T. switch has been replaced by a low noise/wide range tape selector switch.

The GX-270D has not been available with a built-in main amp. However, a surround sound set has been available (see: Surround Sound sets)

GX-230D Specifications

Track system: 4-track, 2 channel stereo system

Tape speed: 3.75 ips and 7.5 ips

Total Wow and Flutter: Less than 0.18%

Frequency response: 30 to 23.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 7.5 ips (LN tape) 30 to 19.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 3.75 ips 30 to 22.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 7.5 ips (Normal tape) 30 to 18.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 3.75 ips

S/N ratio: Better than 50 dB

FFWD/RWD time: 120/90 sec. using a 1.800 ft tape at 50 Hz

Main motor: SCM2-24KJ

Reel motors: Eddy current outer rotor motor; model: XO24-MR


Erase Head: RE4-6 combo head

Recording head: RE4-6 combo head

Playback head: P4-202 GX head

Dimensions: 404 (H) x 441 (W) x 210 (D) mm.

Weight: 15.2 kg. for GX-230D; 15.4 kg. for GX-230

Power consumption: 90 W. max. for GX-230D; 120 W. for GX-230

Listed new: $ 620.00 in 1976

Model 250D (ca. 1971-1972), GX-280D (ca 1972-1974), GX-285D (ca. 1974-1975), GX-286, GX- 286D and GX-286DB (early 1975)

The 250D is the only set from the 200-series with neither GX-heads nor the Cross Field recording system.

The 250D looks a lot like the GX-280D and it must have been the first Akai set with a servo controlled motor, something which is proudly written on its head cover. The servo control works by means of an external head which is mounted on the capstan motor and "checks" the motor revolutions. The later sets (from GX-230/D) had the pick-up coil inside the capstan motor.

The 250D is also the only set from this quartet which has 3 speeds and 4 heads; it has the additional 1 7/8 ips speed, which is mainly used to record speech/voices. The GX-models all have three heads. The playback head sits on a solenoid which is pulled down a little for reverse mode. The 250D has an additional 4th head for reverse play. I guess a fourth non GX-head was cheaper than adding a solenoid and its circuitry.

All four are controlled by relays and they have easy to remove audio and a relay boards (relay board is sometimes called the 'system control board') here. The 250D has a little earlier system control board than the GX-280/D and GX-285D sets. Still it looks very similar.

These sets can do a single reverse in PB mode only except for the GX-286 which has an extra reverse mode switch for continuous playback if desired. The others don't have that switch but they have a shut off function instead. Because of separated line/mic rec levers, line/mic mixing is possible.

When you buy one of these sets second hand and defective, the most common failures are: uncontrolled motor revolutions caused by a bad servo transistor or another bad part in the servo circuit, one or more blown diodes in the syscon board, one or more stuck relays in the syscon board and/or a defective playback and recording pre-amplifier. Most of these failures are still fixable. All it takes is some common parts and a lot of patience....

The GX-285D is the later version of the GX-280D and was the first Akai set to incorporate a Dolby noise reduction system. The reason why it hasn't got the "DB" suffix behind its model number is that a GX-285D without Dolby simply doesn't exist. The GX-280D uses the LD3141 IC in the playback amplifier which sometimes fails and which is impossible to get these days. The GX-285D however uses a two stage transistor amplifier for the playback amplfier.

The GX-286/D/DB is a very rare set and its design looks a little like the 10" model GX-600D. It's functions are more like the GX-285D. Not only a restyling has taken place; the GX-286 also has an additional reverse selector for continuous playback. Technically the GX-286 can be regarded as an "inbetween" version of the GX-285D and the GX-230/D.

Gone are the big relay board, and the old capstan motor with its pick-up head (servo coil) and gone are the easy-to-pull-out PCB's. The amplifier PCB's are built like the ones found in the GX-230/D and GX-270D; the mechanical part however is just like the GX-285D. This means it still uses the playback head on a solenoid.

The most striking distinction are the tape function buttons. The GX-286 is the only Akai set to use a "touch button system operation". You don't even have to push the button a little, just touch it with your finger to activate the function. Probably this didn't turn out to be a success since its succesors were provided with the common push buttons again.

Three versions of the GX-286 have been available; one version with a main amplifier but without Dolby N.R., one version with neither a main amplifier nor Dolby N.R. and one version with Dolby but without a main amplifier.

GX-255 (ca. 1979-1982)

The GX-255 is together with the GX-266II the last set from the 200-series and has been produced between 1979 and 1982. It looks a lot like its big brothers GX-620 and GX-625 with nice looking illuminated function buttons. It's also, together with the GX-266II, the only deck from the 200-series to have the IC logic controls.

Its functions are almost like the GX-270D; the GX-255 has two additional track selectors but lacks the peak led indicator. So it looks to be just a sophisticated version of the GX-270, but that's not true. It's technique is quite different. The capstan motor is an SCM-200B.

The letter "D" behind the model number has been omitted since Akai chose not to continue to make any sets with a built-in main amplifier. In my opinion the GX-255 is one of the most beautiful 7" Akai sets.

FYI: The Japanese version has an additional "rec mute" function and "rec mode select" switches instead of "track selector" switches. The GX-255 also has different side panels in Japan

GX-255 Specifications

Track system: 4-track, 2 channel stereo system

Tape speed: 3.75 ips and 7.5 ips

Total Wow and Flutter: Less than 0.06%

Frequency response: 30 to 24.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 7.5 ips (WR tape) 30 to 19.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 3.75 ips

S/N ratio: Better than 61 dB

FFWD/RWD time: 75 sec. using a 1.200 ft tape at 50 Hz

Main motor: SCM-200B

Reel motors: Eddy current outer rotor motor; model: XO24-MR


Erase Head: E4-201

Recording head: R4-242 GX head

Playback head: P4-251 GX head (x2)

Dimensions: 419 (H) x 440 (W) x 242 (D) mm.

Weight: 16.0 kg.

Power consumption: 100 W. max.

Listed New: $ 660.00

GX-260D (ca. 1973-1976), GX-265D (ca. 1976-1978), GX-266D (ca. 1979), GX-266II (ca. 1980-1981) and GX-267D (ca. 1979)

All Akai models in the 200-series have two things in common: they all have three motors and they all have the auto-reverse system. The first set from the 200-series is from about 1970: it's the X-200D. The last sets from the 200-series are from about 1979/1980: the GX-255 and GX-266II. Only the X-200D and X-201D have the Cross Field system, all the others are supplied with GX heads, except for one: the 250D.

All models from this series until the GX-225D are mechanical sets and they have a belt driven capstan. The GX-230/D (1975) is an electro-mechanical set. All others are fully controlled by electronics.

Only the GX-255 and GX-266II have a proprietary Full Logic IC for the operation of the transport control functions.

All sets from the 260-series have at least one important thing in common: they all have a symmetrical head design with a centre capstan and a 6 head system, which allows the user to play and record in both forward and reverse mode. None of these decks have been available with a built-in main-amplifier.

The GX-260D looks to be a perfect copy of the Sony TC-580; a set which looks identical. Since the Sony TC-580 is a little older, Akai may have copied Sony this time? Just like that Sony set, this set also lacks a pause function. I can't think of any other Akai which lacks that function. This set is controlled by relays and has a belt driven capstan, although direct drive sets already existed, like the 250D and the GX-280D.

A funny thing is the GX-260D can be regarded as the improved version of the GX-370D but was about 30% cheaper. The GX-260D has 4 physical heads; two playback heads and two GX rec/erase combo heads. This set is the only one from the 260-series with a Sound On Sound function.

In my opinion it's a huge, heavy though nice deck with very large and clear VU meters. The blue VU meters were only available in some parts of the world; other countries got black VU meters, like the GX-260D I have.

It has an output level knob on the back of the unit, next to the line in/line out jacks. Because of separated line/mic rec levers, line/mic mixing is possible. The line/mic potentiometers have a small ball bearing and they work by degrees. A more or less flexible and smoke-coloured dustcover was included with this set.

The GX-265D looks similar to the GX-270D but is more based upon the older GX-260D. The GX-265D also has a 6 head system with again 4 physical heads. This set uses a servo controlled direct drive motor and it has a pause function. The pause knob pulls the pinch roller a little away from the capstan by means of a mechanical switch.

The GX-266D looks a lot like the GX-635D/DB. It also has the distinguishing holes in its headcover to allow a technician (!!) to align the azimuth. The 266 and 635 are the only sets with those holes in the head cover. Their electronics differ a lot since the GX-635 has IC logic controls (see article about the GX-635D/DB); the GX-266D works by means of transistor logics.

Compared to the GX-265D the GX-266D has lots of improvements. The tape functions are controlled more by transistors instead of relays so internally it comes closer to the GX-270D.

The GX-266D has 6 separated heads; combination heads (combo-heads) were not produced anymore. Probably throughout the years it had become much cheaper to produce separate heads and I think sound reproduction was also better with separated heads. This set has a timer start function, a reverse selector and a rec-mute function. It lacks the wooden side panels (only available as an accessory), which are very common to Akai. The pause function is mechanical just like the GX-265.

The GX-266D is a rare set in most parts of Europe, except for Germany. The GX-267D is a stranger. It's 98% identical to the GX-266D. According to the service manual it has only been available with a power transformer working on 120 V, which means it only works in the U.S. and Canada. Since this set works on 60 Hz only there are some parts missing compared to the GX-266D syscon board. Both GX-266D and GX-267D use the same audio boards.

The GX-267D has wooden side panels and the head cover is different; it doesn't have the annoying 18 holes in it.

The GX-266II is not just an improved version of the GX-266D. This Mark II version is similar to the GX-255, the only other set in the 200-series with IC logic controlled tape functions, which is probably not a thing to feel happy about since the IC's are rather difficult to obtain if power supply problems blow it up. Nevertheless, it still has the mechanical pause function.

The GX-266II has a pitch control facility and a remote control socket on its rear. Externally it looks a little like the GX-636; the partly transparent head cover looks more like the one which can be found on the GX-255 and similar sets. This set has a tape counter with green digits and two stationary reverse sensing poles. It's large VU meters have green arrows against a white background.

GX-266II Specifications

Track system: 4-track, 2 channel stereo system

Tape speed: 3.75 ips and 7.5 ips

Total Wow and Flutter: Less than 0.03%

Frequency response: 30 to 26.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 7.5 ips (WR tape) 30 to 19.000 Hz +/-3 dB @ 3.75 ips

S/N ratio: Better than 62 dB

FFWD/RWD time: 90 sec. using a 1.200 ft tape

Main motor: SCM-200

Reel motors: Eddy current outer rotor motor; model: 24XO-MR


Erase Head: E4-201 (x2)

Recording head: R4-241 GX head (x2)

Playback head: P4-251 GX head (x2)

Dimensions: 470 (H) x 440 (W) x 250 (D) mm.

Weight: 18.7 kg.

Power consumption: 90 W. max.

This page is under construction ( Like software, the job is never done!....)
Last Update - 2-7-2004 5:00 PM.

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