AKAI M8 M-8 Cross Field Reel to Reel any good?

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by 1420-1503, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. 1420-1503

    1420-1503 Well-Known Member

    I can by above mentioned professional tube reel deck for €200 and wonder if it's a deal to be taken or not? It's being offered for sale locally so there won't be an extra shipping cost to add to the price.

    I'm asking the question in the hypothese that the unit is in excellent technical condition.
    Of course I don't know that is the case so, therefore my second question:

    Is it worthwhile to buy such a vintage tubed unit versus a transistor consumer grade but newer unit? I say 'professional' unit because if I'm not mistaken I think the Akai M8 actually records at 15 ips!

    Thank you.
  2. 1420-1503

    1420-1503 Well-Known Member

    an example

  3. hakka26

    hakka26 Banned

    Well, if it's anything like my M-9, the 15ips speed is reached by use an of optional capstan adapter-that is easily lost. Also make sure the lever switches work smoothly as they are a friction fit screw. That is, they screw to the shaft without any special receiving area so if the levers are hard to operate they loosen and gouge the shaft. It's a nice performer but mine developed a problem with the sound on one side. As I have an Akai 77 and Revox A-77 looking into theM-9 is not of great urgency.
  4. I used to have one slightly older than that, m6 maybe? Anyway it had a lot of wear and wasnt that great. It could have been a lot better when it was new. I wish I had had kept it and rebuilt it. I would really like to know what a good one sounds like. Please let us all know how it sounds if you get a chance to audition it.

    Mine didnt have the capstan for 15ips.

  5. hakka26

    hakka26 Banned

    BTW. I don't know relative costs over there and I'm guessing that's about $225.00US which seems rather high to me.
  6. goldear

    goldear Certifiable Audio Junkie Subscriber

    I have an old Roberts 997, which I believe was virtually identical to the Akai M-7 tube unit. I have owned LOTS of open reel decks (Akai, Ampex, Revox, Sony, Tandberg, Teac). IMHO, about the only tube units worth messing with are the old Revox G-36s. Now those are beautiful machines!

    Here is my take on the M8: $200 is not a good buy, unless this thing looks like it just came out of the factory. And even then, it is poabaly only worth this to a collector. I believe that others are correct who say that you need to place a little sleave adapter on the capstan to make it run at 15 ips. That certainly was true with my 997 (M7). And even when you run it at 15 ips, its transport is so primative that the flutter can be audible. Worse still is that you can't bias it high enough to run anything even resembling a modern tape.

    And lastly, this is a effectively a two-head deck (I'm not counting the cross-field head here, so as not to confuse matters any more). So, in all candor, you are NOT going to get anything resembling studio-quality performance out of this deck, even if you modify it greatly. And frankly, even an old modest Sony TC-377 will completely embarrass this unit int terms of its performance. And I say this as a registered level 4 bottlehead! :lmao:

    If it is the tube-factor that has you all excited, you might see if you can find a Revox G36 (I think it was called the 736 in Europe). These are REALLY nice tube decks with a modern 3-motor transport, and 3 heads. The only other tube based units that I would consider might be the Tanberg 64, or 64x. But they do not have the professional 3 motor transports like the Revoxes. Those are decks that are worth the effort to fixup and modify.

    Good Hunting! :D
  7. 1420-1503

    1420-1503 Well-Known Member

    Hello, thank you very much, it's been of great help to me. What am I going to do, may you ask? Well, I'll pass this one and I hope to find an Akai 'GX' unit or of the tube players mentioned one day.

    I'm the owner of a Beocord deluxe player made by bang & olufsen in the 60's; a transistor portable player that sits horizontally and has a built in amplifier so you can hook up your speakers (which I don't do.), this originally came with a set of speakers which I don't have. Fortunately it gives you the possibility to hook up to an external amplifier. The sound is great (taken the tape is well recorded) but I have not had another deck to compare it with; so it could be that relative to another deck say it's not so great, I don't know.
    It does not accept the bigger type of tapes, and that's the problem.
    The issue with the connections is that they are the DIN standart, so I'll have to find a quality adaptor.

  8. Strawman

    Strawman Moderator

    I have an X-150D & X-200D with the crossfield heads, while digging around for info on older Akai's, the M-8 came up quite a bit. Mine are all SS, but someday I'd like to play with some tube stuff. If it's in good shape, think about it.
  9. HadYourPhil

    HadYourPhil Member

    The twin of that machine is the Roberts 770x. I have one I have owned since 1968. I have replaced the head, however all the tubes are original. It's big selling point was fairly hi-fi recording at 1 7/8 ips, and quite decent recording at 3 3/4 ips. I never bought the 15 ips capstan for mine.
    It is a heavy boat anchor, but it is also an old friend.
  10. Where on earth did you find a head for it? I toyed with the idea of making mounts for a standard head, but never did it.
  11. HadYourPhil

    HadYourPhil Member

    I bought the head years ago from Nortronics. As I recall, it was a standard quarter-inch tape stereo head. I had lapped the old one once or twice before it got too worn.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2005
  12. doug s.

    doug s. Super Member

    seems over priced, yust based upon the fact that i have seen 'em sell for ~$100 or less on ebay. but then i dunno the condition of *any* of 'em.

    that said, i "overpaid" - ~$60 shipped - for a pair of amps & the power supply transformer outta one of these - i am yust about ready to try 'em, driving my 97db-efficient speakers. supposed to be pretty nice amps. ;) the ones i got look brand-new - truly amazing...

    doug s.
  13. Interesting... Mine was not a standard head, in fact back then I was toying with the idea of replacing it with a Nortronics head. The original head was about 3/4 the width of a standard one, and had a screwball mounting that allowed it to slide up and down with a cam and spring. Then there was that screwy cross field stuff. I would have had to make parts to do it, and I would have had to give up the various modes. That wouldnt have been a problem, because I only used it for 4-track stereo.

    The motors were noisy on mine, and it had excessive wow and flutter. I figure it was just worn out. Probably would have taken quite a bit of machine work to make it right. I have always wondered how good they were when they were new.

    The amplifiers in mine looked extremely well built, but sounded just average. WIth 20-20 hindsight, it probably needed recapping.

  14. doug s.

    doug s. Super Member

    i read somewhere that someone thought the amps, even stock, were far better than the amps in his vintage fisher 500c receiver. that's what got me tempted w/them. what was the efficiency of your speakers?

    doug s.
  15. That may very well be true. I suspect mine needed work. It was sitting in the rack next to an Eico HF-81, usually playing through the Eico. It was pretty easy to a/b. The Akai lacked low end, and was less clear in the midrange when compared with the Eico.

    It was a long time ago, and back then I wouldn't have even considered replacing the capacitors in something wholesale. A lot of tube equipment was still dong just fine with the original caps, including the Eico I was comparing it with. That Akai must have had a lot of hours on it. It had some slide switches actuated by some funky levers. They were dirty and I never could get them clean. That probably contributed.

    In short, I suspect you will have a lot better luck than I did. I can't wait to hear what you think of them.

    I dont remember what speakers.

  16. doug s.

    doug s. Super Member

    hi all,

    well, i got my amps working, w/the help of a service manual. it allowed me to figure out how the wires from the power supply transformer connected to the amps. there are a few missing connectors in the complete tape deck that i dint have. ;)

    anyway, i have been listening to them for about a week now, & i am wery happy w/their sound, driving my 97db-efficient coincident victory's. they may give up a hair of detail in the midrange as compared to my home-brew european dual-mono set amp that was built w/all nos european caps/resistors/trannies/tubes, etc., but that amp is *incredibly* detailed. and, i will have to switch back before i can be sure. not really wanting to, right now - i am yust enjoying these in the meantime. :) they are warm, full, & just sound right. their "tone controls" must be set at max position for proper treble. bass is good, but ultimate extension is unknown, as i ahve then electronically crossed over to subs at 80hz.

    there always seem to be a few of these akai/roberts amps f/s on ebay, in warying states of condition & completeness. i would recommend them to someone w/efficient speakers, & the willingness to sort out getting them connected for use as amps. of cours, you can also yust buy the complete tapedeck, but it will likely cost a bit more, especially shipping! ;)

    there must be something to these l'il set amps; in my ebay search, i came across a company that mods these for pro audio use as mic preamps:


    doug s.
  17. earthman

    earthman Active Member

    Awesome! Mine are still "in line" for attention, but hopefully they'll prove to be solid and trouble free as well.
  18. Cool! Are those red front panels original? Those are very well built units. Glad to hear that they sound as good as they look. :)

  19. Brian

    Brian An Old Geezer

    Another tube r2r series would be the Crown and the Ampex. Both of these are easier to update than the G36 which has tight and difficult work space. The tube Akai/Roberts were popular with the G.I.s returning from the Asian area and were actually pretty good workhorses. Possibly with a good strip down and rebuild they'd still be good but the transports were subject to early wear. At that time Japan was still rebuilding its metal manufacturing and bearing industries and had some way to go.
  20. rwalters

    rwalters New Member

    I had one back in the late '60's early 70's. It's a POS and that isn't point of sale. The BIGGEST problem was the reel drive. The clutches were next to useless. I learned how to splice tape. A LOT of tape.
    For $200, you might be getting some Telefunken 12AX7's out of it, but I think you can do better.

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