Akai X-2000S

I was aware of this model some years ago and always thought it would be a pretty cool machine to have due to its unique ability to play/record reels, 8-tracks, and cassettes. As far as I know it was the only machine that dealt with all 3 formats. Introduced in 1973, it does not have the best specifications compared other decks on the market but more than makes up for it with the features it offered. Aside from its ability to play and record all 3 formats, it could play in one format and record to another. For example, it can transfer material from a reel-to-reel tape to an 8-track.

It also features all three standard speeds, 1-7/8, 3-3/4, and 7-1/2 ips. This version also has a built in amp and speakers, although the sound quality leaves much to be desired. When connected directly to a good hi-fi system the audio quality is quite acceptable. It has a switch on the back to mute the speakers when desired.

I stumbled upon this machine quite by accident when checking out an estate sale where I picked up nearly 600 reels of tape which eventually became the the 600 project. If I remember correctly, this was in about 2005. A year or two prior I had acquired 200 reels of paper-backed recording tape, which became the Paper Tape Archives. One of my co-workers, knowing of my interest in recording tape, mentioned that his father-in-laws' estate sale was coming up and maybe I would like a sneak preview. I went over to the house and found boxes and boxes of tapes which certainly piqued my interest and, along with those tapes, were a few tape machines. When I saw this Akai X-2000S I knew I should take it along with all the tapes. There were two other smaller recorders, one was a Grundig, but they looked a bit beat and I decided not to take them. I sort of regret that now.

The Akai looked to be in good shape although it was missing one of the shift levers. I ended up taking this player to my classroom where I used it to play music while my students worked in our computer lab. They were mostly amazed since few of them had ever seen reels playing in the flesh. I think they were equally interested in the 8-track player in the side of the machine. I would occassionaly get a "How does that work?" meaning the concept of sound on tape. That's what we call a "teachable moment."

After retirement this unit took up a spot in my man cave and I really just used it for display for a few years, only giving it the occassional exercise. When I decided to get a few more decks and combine them all into a working 1960-70s hi-fi system, I put this machine in service and started using it more often, however, the missing shift lever was a hassle. At the time I was combing the usual online sites looking for a couple parts for my Akai 202D-SS and noticed that someone was parting out one of those machines and the shift levers looked quite similar to the ones on the X-2000S. As I had an Akai 202D-SS, I pulled a lever from it to check for fit and it worked perfectly on the X-2000S so I bought the pair online and the X-2000D looked complete again.

I have had only had one mishap so far when using this machine and it was a doozy. I was playing an Laura Nyro 8-track and made one of those errors I am ashamed to admit. For the most part, when playing a new 8-track, new to me, I use one of my other 8-track decks, like my Realistic TR-801 to play the tape to the end of a track where the machine detects the foil splice and ejects, making it ready for repair. I set the player to channel 4 and to auto-eject at the end of the track, allowing me to check/replace the splice in the tape, a splice that is notorious for failing due to its age. I had not done this with the Nyro tape and all the sudden, while playing it in the X-2000S, it started sounding strange, a tell-tale sign that the player was consumming the tape. And had it ever. The loose end of the tape had entered into the insides of the machine and was captured by the cooling fan on the motor, creating a heck of a tangled mess. It took a major disassembly to extract that tape, which I did carefully in a somewhat-futile attempt to save the tape. While I had the machine open I gave it the standard servicing: clean, lube, Deoxit, check the belt, etc. It's been working great since that event. The Nyro tape still plays but there are some missing sections. I use it as a test tape on my workbench now.

Update: April 2020

As I started restoring all my 400-some 8-track tapes I decided to transfer them to digital in order to have backup. I thought about using this machine for the playback, however, I ran in to two problems: the output level from the line outs is so high it overwhelmed my computer input. Since the X-2000S does not have an output level control for the line outs I ran them through my Akai GX-4000D. That worked except I noticed the 2nd problem: noise, like the wind, in the left channel. I eleminated the Akai GX-4000D as the source and figured that the problem was caused by those notorious 2SC458 transistors in the X-2000S. As I'd already ordered a couple dozen replacements to have on hand, KSC1845, I dove in and replaced all 6 of them on on the amp board. It solved the problem.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

8-track demo

Cassette demo

Reel-to-reel demo

Updated photos from April 2020

Updated November 2020.