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  1. #1

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    Default My Sunday Craigslist score: Akai 1720W Reel to Reel

    Calling all "Tapeheads" . . .

    This fell into my lap off of craigslist this morning.

    The original owner's father sent it to him in 1961 when he was in Taiwain.

    One owner, Low miles, Sounds great; but I know NOTHING about R2R. I think this is a pretty basic unit, but will have some fun with it anyway.

    First step; learning how to clean the tape heads (anhydrous alcohol and a Q-tip ???)

    image below is from original owner's craigslist posting. I'll post better quality images soon.
    Last edited by inspiredsports; 09-11-2011 at 01:03 PM.
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  2. #2

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    That looks pretty cool. Good luck with learning all about them. Trying to learn more about tubes but I keep gettng derailed by posts like this. Now I have to go read a little about this unit to satisfy my curiousity.
    Everything matters. That is all.
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    Welcome to the R2R rabbit hole. Yes you can use Isopropyl (rubbing) Alcohol to clean the heads and tape path but that only get's halfway there you'll also need a head and guide demagnetizer to finish the job every 8 or less hours of use.
    "It currently doesn't have a remote because I'm pretty sure my ex threw it out at some point 'cause she's a whore.!"
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  4. #4

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    I opened the unit up and . . .

    - picked up and cleaned any visible dust (it was extremely clean)
    - air dusted
    - protected drive line parts and hit switches and pots with de-oxit
    - cleaned all of the drive and idler wheels with anhydrous alcohol
    - put a drop of special non-gumming Thorens motor bearing oil on the main idler wheel shaft
    - cleaned all tape to metal contact points with anhydrous alchohol and cotton swabs
    - cleaned the tape heads with anhydrous alcohol and and cotton swabs
    - demagnetized the tape heads (from my ancient cassette tape collection bag of tricks)
    - cleaned the RCA line outs with de-oxit

    - hooked into my CJ PV5 pre's Tape 1 input with a pair of MIT Shotgun S2 IC's

    I warmed up the tubes and then carefully switched on the reel to reel, ready to quickly turn it off if there were any strange sounds. No surprises, nice and quiet.

    I threaded up the single unidentified tape the seller provided.

    It's a collection of ROLLING STONES material and WOW!!, it actually sounds really, really good! I think it is a store bought "best of" tape, but I haven't listened to enough of it yet to be sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gimpod View Post
    Welcome to the R2R rabbit hole. Yes you can use Isopropyl (rubbing) Alcohol to clean the heads and tape path but that only get's halfway there you'll also need a head and guide demagnetizer to finish the job every 8 or less hours of use.
    My (very old) tape head demagnetizer still seems to be working fine as I can feel it "pulse" when I get it very near metal/tape heads just as it did 20 years ago when I was using it routinely on cassette players.

    Yep, I'm already addicted and wondering where I can get some good high quality pre-recorded tapes.

    The tape this unit plays is 1/4" wide.
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    Congratulations on your find! Remember to turn the demagnetizer on and off when you are at least 6' from the deck. Residual magnetic buildup happens when recording rather than playing back tapes. So, it doesn't need done very frequently. I recommend using S-721H head and pinch roller cleaner that you can get online, it's made by American Recorder Technologies.
    All things considered the best place to find tapes is on eBay, in my opinion. The general guideline is that if it sounds good as a vinyl record, it will probably sound good as a tape. Who knows, maybe better?
    Cheers, Ken

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    I stand corrected, my own RTR tapes are that width. Sheeesh, my memory must be going!

    A nice looking piece!


    cnh
    Last edited by cnh; 09-11-2011 at 09:19 PM.

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    1/4" is the standard consumer tape size for reel to reel (8 track cartridges, too).
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Swauger View Post
    Congratulations on your find! Remember to turn the demagnetizer on and off when you are at least 6' from the deck. Residual magnetic buildup happens when recording rather than playing back tapes. So, it doesn't need done very frequently. I recommend using S-721H head and pinch roller cleaner that you can get online, it's made by American Recorder Technologies.
    All things considered the best place to find tapes is on eBay, in my opinion. The general guideline is that if it sounds good as a vinyl record, it will probably sound good as a tape. Who knows, maybe better?
    Cheers, Ken
    I went crazy tonight and bought a bunch of pre-recorded tapes on eBay, even a couple the seller claimed had never been opened.

    Thank you for the head and pinch roller cleaner tip! Fortunately, the demagnetization procedure I was already familiar with so I didn't screw that up.

    I've already found owner's manuals/brochures/schematics in pdf format online and learned how to get all 4 speeds possible by using the speed switch and interchangeable capstan sleeves (this unit came with an extra large sleeve to allow it to burn through tape at 15 ips!)

    I also bought some blank tapes and am going to do some recording just for kicks.

    I'm guessing this 40 year old unit is due for some new caps, but it sounds very good so far.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    1/4" is the standard consumer tape size for reel to reel (8 track cartridges, too).
    Question: Could 8-track tape be spooled onto a 7" reel and played on a reel to reel machine, or is the head configuration different?
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evrythngmatters View Post
    That looks pretty cool. Good luck with learning all about them. Trying to learn more about tubes but I keep gettng derailed by posts like this. Now I have to go read a little about this unit to satisfy my curiousity.
    I already learned I wish this was a 1710W.

    This series of Akai have a built in stereo amp with a 4X6 single cone oval pointing out of each side panel.

    The 1720W I bought is solid state. The 1710W I just mentioned features a TUBE AMP.

    I'm splitting hairs because I will almost always have it plugged into my main tube rig, but it sounds great unhooked all by itself. The tubed version I'm sure would sound even better.

    I'm going to route the 1720W through my Musical Fidelity X10v3 tube buffer tomorrow and give it a listen.
    Last edited by inspiredsports; 09-11-2011 at 11:10 PM.
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    So before I go into a philosophical tirade about why I LOVE ANALOG, I should ask, What brands/models should I be looking for when I'm ready to step up a few notches in R2R ??



    As far as loving tape, I'm already hooked.

    One of my favorite parts of vinyl analog is the tactile ritual of selecting, opening cleaning and queuing up the LP. The other part is that I personally never skip songs. Yes, it's possible to drop the needle into the grooves between tracks, but since 1970 I've made a habit of listening to an entire side of an LP without interruption.

    I think the digital age is wonderful and embrace it on a daily basis, but I also believe younger listeners miss an awful lot of great music zipping from file to file in their playlists.

    Tape is even HARDER to cheat with no visual cues like the LP grooves between tracks. It's just simple and linear. You turn it on and it goes on and on until the tape un-threads. AWESOME!

    And all of the tactile stuff is there too, securing the leader into the take-up reel, wrapping the tape around idlers, over the tape heads and through the capstan guide and roller.

    Last, the aesthetic is just purely old-school cool. I think the reel to reel look is within a percentage point or two of being as cool as a dozen or so glowing firebottles!
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by inspiredsports View Post
    Question: Could 8-track tape be spooled onto a 7" reel and played on a reel to reel machine, or is the head configuration different?
    Negative. Four tracks on standard consumer reel to reel "quarter-track" stereo - 8 track tapes have... well... 8 tracks.

    Here's a handy-dandy tape-head perspective on various tape formats borrowed from a post at AK. I am not 100% sure that the stereo 8-track format shown in this attachment is the standard consumer cartridge tape format... but it probably is.
    Quote Originally Posted by inspiredsports View Post
    So before I go into a philosophical tirade about why I LOVE ANALOG, I should ask, What brands/models should I be looking for when I'm ready to step up a few notches in R2R ??

    As far as loving tape, I'm already hooked.

    One of my favorite parts of vinyl analog is the tactile ritual of selecting, opening cleaning and queuing up the LP. The other part is that I personally never skip songs. Yes, it's possible to drop the needle into the grooves between tracks, but since 1970 I've made a habit of listening to an entire side of an LP without interruption.

    I think the digital age is wonderful and embrace it on a daily basis, but I also believe younger listeners miss an awful lot of great music zipping from file to file in their playlists.

    Tape is even HARDER to cheat with no visual cues like the LP grooves between tracks. It's just simple and linear. You turn it on and it goes on and on until the tape un-threads. AWESOME!

    And all of the tactile stuff is there too, securing the leader into the take-up reel, wrapping the tape around idlers, over the tape heads and through the capstan guide and roller.

    Last, the aesthetic is just purely old-school cool. I think the reel to reel look is within a percentage point or two of being as cool as a dozen or so glowing firebottles!
    Plus... kitty-cats love to attack the spinning reels and snap the tape with they teeny clawses.
    Attached Images  
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 09-12-2011 at 08:39 AM.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    cousin to the OP's new hardware - this one from the PX; Vietnam-era (as, perhaps, were most if not all of this vintage floatin' around in the US today).

    all the best,
    mrh

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    Thumbs up

    Cool-0-Mundo!! Get those tubes tested and find some nice Maxell and TDK blanks, maybe look for a nice metal reel or two

    Ken's right about needing to demag after recording several times, more if you use 3 3/4 than if you use 1 7/8 isp speeds. I do mine after taping 10 big reels at 7 1/2isp and keep a small log sheet near the deck so I don't forget, if you start to hear the highs roll off, you waited too long.
    Huh? Wot?? Dig it :tongue:

    Where can I get me some??

  16. #16

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    I found an owner's manual online and have completely torn down and lubricated and adjusted this unit per Akai specs.

    The one thing I don't like about the unit is it's single cone 4X6" speakers.

    I've started a thread looking for decent quality 2-way (or even 3-way) replacements (must be 8-ohm) at . . .

    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?t=124122
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    AkaiX150D
    That looks very similar and NICE! Does it have on-board speakers also?

    Thanks for the 4-track versus 8-track info.
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  18. #18

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    Nice RTR setup. What effect does the magnetic field around the SDA have on the sound?
    >
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    >This message has been scanned by the NSA and found to be free of harmful intent.<

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    Quote Originally Posted by inspiredsports View Post
    That looks very similar and NICE! Does it have on-board speakers also?

    Thanks for the 4-track versus 8-track info.
    No, it is just a deck; also, it's soiled state; I initially missed that the OP's find is tubed :-P
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    No, it is just a deck; also, it's soiled state; I initially missed that the OP's find is tubed :-P
    No, (and I'm the OP ), my 1720-W is solid state also.

    I made the point that I WISHED it was the 1710-W which is identical mechanically, but has a 6W output tube amp section (uses 2 12AX7's).

    In fact, I learned the mechanism in the 2 units is identical. 4 machine screws, a 4 pin plug, a DIN plug and 1 mechanism wire are all that connect the mechanism assembly to the amp assembly.

    If I ever see a cheap 1710 with a damaged mechanism, I'll buy it in a heartbeat and swap in my good mechanism in less than 5 minutes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inspiredsports View Post
    No, (and I'm the OP ), my 1720-W is solid state also...
    oops, and oops, respectively. Hectic night last night :-P

    AKAI made about a zillion subtly different flavors of the same basic R2R chassis for many, many years... not to mention that OEM versions were imported and sold under the "Roberts" and/or "RHEEM/Roberts" brands in the 1960s in the US. The varieties of these single motor, mechanical-transport AKAI decks are, as the microbiologists like to say, TNTC*!

    * Too Numerous To Count




    -- This one, from my favorite emporium and a bit of a basket case -- was, AFAIK the last of the line for the AKAI mechanical/single-motor decks. Not that I can remember the model number...
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Does anyone know a good source for drive belts for these vintage Reel to Reel machines ??
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    I think I know the answer to this "dumb" question, but will ask it anyway.

    When I listen to pre-recorded tapes, I notice the VU meters push way into the red if I set the volume controls (output pots) at 100% (which is at 5 o'clock).

    When I back the volume down to 3 o'clock, the meters just barely hit into the red.

    In my opinion, it sounds way better "backed off" to 3 o'clock even though I feel like I'm "leaving something on the table".

    Still, I'm guessing keeping the VU's just dipping into the very bottom of the red is the right setting ?? Is the red range of a VU meter distortion?
    Last edited by inspiredsports; 09-16-2011 at 10:52 AM.
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    Hi Inspired,
    Every tape deck manufacturer sets their machines to some standard reference level. The most common is 250nW/m (nano-Webers per meter) flux level will correspond to 1.6vrms (+6dBm) at the tape outputs. This is done with a reference tape playing and the output levels adjusted. Once this is done there are VU meter adjustments that will let the meter reading to be set at "0" to this standard level. This is probably most important if an outboard noise reduction unit is used since the outboard unit will need to be adjusted for the same output levels. On the Teac X series the output level knobs have a "cal" position that is at the 3:00 o'clock position. It is possible that the Akai might have the same results at the same setting. Revox indicates setting the output at the "7 or 8" position which is similar.
    But, it is best to adjust the output levels so the resultant sound is not overloaded. One of the nice things about working with magnetic tape is the distortion produced by the magnetic process tend to be mostly composed of even order harmonics and less odd order harmonics. So, small amounts of clipping can be tolerated without sounding poor.
    This way dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratios can be maximized against distortion.
    I hope this is helpful.
    Cheers, Ken
    Last edited by Kenneth Swauger; 09-16-2011 at 11:37 AM.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Swauger View Post
    Hi Inspired,
    Every tape deck manufacturer sets their machines to some standard reference level. The most common is 250nW/m (nano-Webers per meter) flux level will correspond to 1.6vrms (+6dBm) at the tape outputs. This is done with a reference tape playing and the output levels adjusted. Once this is done there are VU meter adjustments that will let the meter reading to be set at "0" to this standard level. This is probably most important if an outboard noise reduction unit is used since the outboard unit will need to be adjusted for the same output levels. On the Teac X series the output level knobs have a "cal" position that is at the 3:00 o'clock position. It is possible that the Akai might have the same results at the same setting. Revox indicates setting the output at the "7 or 8" position which is similar.
    But, it is best to adjust the output levels so the resultant sound is not overloaded. One of the nice things about working with magnetic tape is the distortion produced by the magnetic process tend to be mostly composed of even order harmonics and less odd order harmonics. So, small amounts of clipping can be tolerated without sounding poor.
    This way dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratios can be maximized against distortion.
    I hope this is helpful.
    Cheers, Ken
    Thanks Ken,

    I'm learning by experiencing, and so far so good. The 3 o'clock or just a tad higher seems to be where my system is happiest.

    I've already received a few pre-recorded tapes I purchased on eBay and the 7-1/2" ips tapes sound very good. My unit's specs show 20 to 10,000 Hz at 3-3/4" ips and 20 to 15,000 Hz at 7-1/2" ips so that answers that (YAY, my hearing is still better than 10 kHz! )

    Here's another question you might be able help me with (sorry for all of the newb questions). Under the tape head cover (and just to the left of the tape heads as you face the unit) is a chrome post with a white (felt material?) insert. Should this be cleaned/replaced ?? If cleaned is the answer, do you have any cleaning tips?

    Thanks,
    Greg
    VTL ST50 w/mods/RCA6L6GC/TlfnknECC801S
    CJPV-5 w/mods
    TT CJ Sonographe SG3 Oak/Sumiko LMT/Grado Wood Plat/Sumiko PIB2/The Clamp
    Musical Fidelity A1 CDPro
    Tuners w/mods Kenwood KT5020/Fisher KM60
    MF x-DAC V8, HAInfo NG27
    Herbies Ti-9/Vibrapods/MIT Shtgn AC1 IEC's/MIT Shotgun 2 IC's/MIT Shtgn 2 Speaker
    PSAudio Cryo PwrPrt Prem/ExctPwrEP15A
    Wlnt SDA 2B TL/Oak SDA SRS II TL-Sonicaps/Mills/Cardas/Cust SDA ICs/Mortite/Dynamat Extreme/TFLF Rings/FSB-2 Spikes
    NAD SS rigs w/mods
    GIK panels

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    Hi Greg,
    Since I'm not very familiar with the Akai products I posted a question on the AK tape forum. The response was that you should be able to turn the felt piece around and be able to use the other side. The person, Mike, who replied to my posting mentioned that he had invested in some of the dense felt material and was willing to share.
    If you're not an AK member you might want to take a peek and visit. They're very friendly and love talking about all kinds of tape gear. Post a photo and you'll be "in like flint".
    Cheers, Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Swauger View Post
    Hi Greg,
    Since I'm not very familiar with the Akai products I posted a question on the AK tape forum. The response was that you should be able to turn the felt piece around and be able to use the other side. The person, Mike, who replied to my posting mentioned that he had invested in some of the dense felt material and was willing to share.
    If you're not an AK member you might want to take a peek and visit. They're very friendly and love talking about all kinds of tape gear. Post a photo and you'll be "in like flint".
    Cheers, Ken
    Thanks KEn,

    Yes, I'm inspiredsports over there too, but always forget they are a source of information too as I always seem to get the scoop here at CP!

    I'll post there too.

    Today's experiment; Record my new Cars Candy O Gold CD at 7-1/2" ips on a new blank that just arrived from an ebay seller.

    Then, back to finding 8-ohm 2-way 4X6 replacement speakers.
    VTL ST50 w/mods/RCA6L6GC/TlfnknECC801S
    CJPV-5 w/mods
    TT CJ Sonographe SG3 Oak/Sumiko LMT/Grado Wood Plat/Sumiko PIB2/The Clamp
    Musical Fidelity A1 CDPro
    Tuners w/mods Kenwood KT5020/Fisher KM60
    MF x-DAC V8, HAInfo NG27
    Herbies Ti-9/Vibrapods/MIT Shtgn AC1 IEC's/MIT Shotgun 2 IC's/MIT Shtgn 2 Speaker
    PSAudio Cryo PwrPrt Prem/ExctPwrEP15A
    Wlnt SDA 2B TL/Oak SDA SRS II TL-Sonicaps/Mills/Cardas/Cust SDA ICs/Mortite/Dynamat Extreme/TFLF Rings/FSB-2 Spikes
    NAD SS rigs w/mods
    GIK panels

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    AA has a tape forum as well (not terribly active, but not bad, either).
    all the best,
    mrh

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    I think there are so few playing around with Reel to Reel that it would be hard to have a lot of activity. I found audiocircuit.com on 9/12 and joined right away so I could download manuals.

    I've received about a dozen tapes so far and my best scores have been Abbey Road and Magical Mystical Tour, plus 4 tapes from a guy who recorded mid-eighties Sunday rock countdown programs with a very good machine. I'm really enjoying those countdown tapes!

    Some old tapes (especially most of the 3-3/4 ips tapes) sound like horseshi##, but some of the 7-1/2's are very good.

    I just purchased a 1710 last night which is the tubed version of the unit I have and I'm anxious to learn if it sounds even better.
    Last edited by inspiredsports; 09-20-2011 at 08:47 PM.
    VTL ST50 w/mods/RCA6L6GC/TlfnknECC801S
    CJPV-5 w/mods
    TT CJ Sonographe SG3 Oak/Sumiko LMT/Grado Wood Plat/Sumiko PIB2/The Clamp
    Musical Fidelity A1 CDPro
    Tuners w/mods Kenwood KT5020/Fisher KM60
    MF x-DAC V8, HAInfo NG27
    Herbies Ti-9/Vibrapods/MIT Shtgn AC1 IEC's/MIT Shotgun 2 IC's/MIT Shtgn 2 Speaker
    PSAudio Cryo PwrPrt Prem/ExctPwrEP15A
    Wlnt SDA 2B TL/Oak SDA SRS II TL-Sonicaps/Mills/Cardas/Cust SDA ICs/Mortite/Dynamat Extreme/TFLF Rings/FSB-2 Spikes
    NAD SS rigs w/mods
    GIK panels

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    Congrats on the score. I had the privilege of listening to a forum member's RTR about a year ago. It sounded so sweet. I was shocked at how good the sound quality was. Watching the RTR run is almost as cool as watching vinyl spin.

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