Suggestions for a new cassette deck? (Really.)

I want to transfer a large number of high quality (metal, dolby, recording on a Nakamichi 582) tapes to digital, and the old tape deck (Nak 582) needs some adjustments that may cost an arm and a leg. Since I only want to PLAY the old tapes…can anyone recommend a similarly high quality tape deck to me? Even if it is just a player, without the ability to record?

I’m so out of touch I have no idea where to look, but it seems the few remaining consumer decks are all “dual deck” designed for dubbing, at a price that can’t mean great quality for two sets of heads and movements.

I’m reluctant to look at a used deck, since I don’t want to know about problems it may be having, and expect this project to go on for most of the next year.

Before transferring my tapes I had my Nakamichi (a BX2) fully serviced including work on the transport mechanism. It cost c. Uk £150 - not cheap, but much better I thought than buying a new deck for that price.

The are many resources available on t’interweb for Nakamichis - and there are secondhand ones available for sale including 582s.

Don’t know where you are based but in the UK I had my servicing done by Bowers & Wilkins in Worthing tel +44 1903 695 695 - they did a great job on my BX2


In the US East Coast, $300 won’t get anyone to do more than dust off the case on a 582. Apparently the mechanism that makes the play/FF parts engage senses tension and has to be adjusted in some obscure way that involves a lot of labor just to access it, and even from looking at the manual, the process is sufficiently vague and unclear that the folks who DO know how to do it, can claim it is a black art worth great sums of money.

Used decks? Hard to find “off the shelf” in a storefront, and to have one shipped probably means $40-50 in shipping, each way if it has to be returned as unfit. “Repairs” on anything in the US have gotten to be a difficult thing to find, especially if you want the job done right. The real craftsmen aren’t easy to find. Or afford.

This site has a downloadable manual for the Nak 582 (with some basic skills you may be able to fix it yourself) - and so does this site

I read one posting on the Nak 582 where somebody managed to buy a secondhand one for US$14 - but saw another offered for sale at US$890 !


I would tend to avoid second hand tape decks - you’re unlikely to know the condition of the tape heads, belts, etc.

For a good deck you will probably be looking at over £100 GBP for a new one. Cassette decks are still made by Teac, Sony, Tascam and Marantz among others. Sony have some available that support metal tape, I don’t know about the others.

Thanks, guys.

Steve, that’s exactly why I’m not looking to buy a used one–unless it came from a top shop with a warranty and none of that is easy to find. Certainly not inexpensively.

WC, those are interesting sites. The hifiengine one does not have a service manual, the analogue one does–but cleverly wraps it in Javascript to make it impossible to download. (Or so they think.) Anyway, I think I said I already own the service manual, in print, from the copyrightholder. Take a look at the online copy–it is NOT a simple procedure to adjust the play and FF speeds in this deck. It is slightly more difficult than the average appendectomy. Take a casual look through and you will see what I mean.

These machines were an absolute marvel–possibly the first cassette decks to match open reel quality when they came out. And, a mechanical nighmare are they get older. Built to be ‘assembled’ not ‘maintained’.


yes I see what you mean having had a closer look at the manual - similar problem with my BX-2, which is why it went back to the workshop being beyond my capabilities ( I can clean the heads and the transport mech - and that’s about it - similar to modern cars and motorbikes where all you can do at home is blow air in the tyres and put oil & water in occasionally). BTW I love the analog meters on your Nak - mine has “modern” digital light-up ones

In which case it looks like a new one - if Steve says UK prices start at around £100 then you should be able to get one for just over $100 or so in the US.


WC, 100 GBP converts to some $182 US as of today.

And, that would be mistaking the markets for being the same. Many things simply sell differently in different places, any used cassette deck from a reputable vendor (i.e. a high end audio shop or repair shop) will probbaly sell in excess of $500 here, simply because they want that much to fix existing decks. And sometimes, more than twice that much. “Ouch”! But, there’s a limited supply, so they can charge whatever they want for them.

No one here is going to sell, and warranty, a high end deck for less than the price of repairing an existing one.

That’s probably why we put ketchup, not vinegar, on our chips.

Yes, but we typically get charged pounds for dollars for the same goods. For example a $50 pair of Levis in the US will retail in the UK for £50 - a $10,000 Harley-Davidson will retail for £10,000 etc. That’s why you get so many Brits flying to the US mainly to go shopping - when I used to travel to the US regularly on business I used to buy all my new clothes over there, much cheaper.

Which brings us back to your original question - Amazon US lists loads of cassette decks - e.g. this Teac for $108 it does handle metal tape the spec says. And by the way just to substatiate my dollars/pounds comment above - the same deck on Amazon UK sosts GBP£106 !

Or this Sony at $150

Neither will ever be as good as your Nak, and unfortunately they mostly seem to be dual drive and auto-reverse, but they may get the job done satisfactorily. And when it’s done its job you can sell it on eBay.

If you lived closer I’d offer to lend you my Nak BX2 - but it’s a long swim over the pond …


A lot of your retail prices are determined by higher UK taxs and tariffs. For instance, you may pay twice as much for gasoline–but that’s only because you have taxed it 100%, like most of Europe, to support other programs. Your tariffs on some products are historical, if the Crown wasn’t so swift with tariffs, the US would be “Western Britain” to this day.

But on used household goods, like a used tape deck? Totally different market, different rules apply.

On the Teac deck, they say "Frequency response: 40 - 15,000 Hz (CrO2); " and if I may be blunt, that’s crap. That’s typical for the high speed dubbing decks sold on the consumer market, and I’d get better results playing the tapes on my high-end Walkman. (Yes, there are such things, matching the line levels is a pain in the butt though.)

I’d like to see 30-18,000 nearly flat in a replacement deck. Anything that tops out at 15,000, is “FM radio” quality, no better. (The Naks were closer to 20-20,000 using metal tape.)

I think you will be struggling to find anything as good as your old Nakamichi, they are just not being made any more.

You can still get pretty good cassette decks, but at a price. For example:

Dennon DN-780R

20 Hz - 18 kHz, ±3 dB (at –20 dB, metal tape )
SNR 74 dB (Dolby C on, 3 % THD by CCIR/ARM)
Dolby B/C/Off
Dolby Hx Pro

UK price ~ £400
US price ~$600

Marantz SD 4050

Frequency response (record/playback, -20 dB, metal tape) 25Hz-18kHz±3 dB
Signal to noise ratio (Dolby C NR on) >74dB

UK price ~ £175

Alas, both discontinued at any price.

But some misguided search engines got me close with some decks that ARE still sold–at least, in theory.
One Teac W-865R, with very nice specs on paper at least and not a bad price at all.

And another Denon DRW-585

Both worth looking into!

“A ray of light at the end of the tunnel” Or the oncoming train?

Denon has no idea what they made, they’ve pulled their web pages and said find what you can where you can. (Hmmm…)
Teac/Tascam literally doesn’t answer their phones, but the specs and price ($200US) on the W865R, apparently sold under both brand names, aren’t bad!

Technical Specifications:

Heads: Deck1: 1 Erase and 1 Record/Playback (rotating)
Deck 2: 1 Erase and 1 Record/Playback (rotating)

Motor: 2 DC Servo motors (1ea. Deck)
Wow & Flutter: 0.09% (WRMS)
Frequency Response: 25 - 19,000 Hz (Metal)
25 - 18,000 Hz (CrO2)
25 - 17,000 Hz (Normal)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 59 dB (NR off, 3% THD level, Weighted)
69 dB (Dolby B NR on, over 5kHz)
79 dB (Dolby C NR on, over 1kHz)

It looks like a clear winner, unless anyone knows of a problem with this. Tascam also makes some nice units at 3X the price that will record a tape directly to CD, same quality, which in many ways would be very nice. (DO IT NOW, audacity cleanup on the files later.) But the wallet says no, I may not.

I don’t think you’d save that much time recording direct to CD and doing the cleanup later in Audacity - versus record with cheaper deck into Audacity, clean-up if necessary and then burn to CD. So I would definitely go for the cheaper option (I also have a preference for pieces of kit that are relatively simple and straightforward - which would also stter me towards a straight cassette deck rather than the combination device)

You should be able to hear as you record whether you need any clean up or not - I make myself a cribsheet as I transcribe each recording, noting the times where any editing/cleaning may be required.


Saving time, only in the sense that I could run 250 tapes (x 2 sides) = some 400 hours where the process could mainly happen by itself, without my manual supervision or having it run on the computer. And then just copy the Cd’s (which would be backup media at that point, which I’d have to make anyway in some form, again manual time on the computer) into the hard drive.

The vast majority of them won’t require cleanup, a few here and there will, but once they are digital–I can do that a bit here and there, instead of making a larger short-term task out of it.

Still, the wallet says “No”, the cheaper Tascam/Teac seems like quite enough of a way to go.

The other questions that you have to ask yourself are:

Q1) when you’ve finished the digitization (either direct to CD or via the computer) - do you want to keep the tapes and the tape deck?

If no, then

Q2) which of the two devices will be most easy to sell on afterwards and at what price? If the you think combination device will have a higher retained value, then it may make economic sense to buy that and sell it on.

The other thing that you will probably want to purchase is a backup disc or discs. I currently backup my WAV files to a pair of discs (one a 250gb disc and the other is a 1TB disc configured as a pair of RAID array mirror-image 500gb discs (it is actually physically two discs in the box). The RAID disc is also used to back up my iTunes libraries.


No question there, I’ll be digitizing to hard drive and backing up to cd & dvd.

Buying a $200 deck versus buying a $700 deck, the odds are I can’t lose anywhere near as much with the $200 deck. Whether I’d keep the tapes and deck afterwards, I won’t know for a year or more, but EVENTUALLY they just take up too much space as opposed to a couple of terabyte drives. (Which are getting incredibly cheap.) Might keep the deck “just in case” but I strongly suspect I’ll send it and the tapes to a new home.

As George Carlin said, TOO MUCH STUFF.

OK…so you want to know about cassette decks?

Get a used one.

Teac/Tascam made the last GOOD ones. Now they only make crap.

For personal use, I use an Akai GX912, and it sounds GREAT to me, however, they are not all that common.

i’d just recommend getting your Nak rebuilt, as a taoe will always sound the best when played back on the deck that itw as recorded on. This is especially important if you used any sort of Noise Reduction, as no deck is exactly the same and the difference IS noticeable. Or you can get another Nak. They’re still around used.

One word of caution about second hand tape decks. If the heads are worn, the sound quality will suffer a great deal, and the replacement costs of tape heads can be very expensive.

Steve, that’s one of the reasons why I said up front I’M NOT INTERESTED IN USED DECKS.

Knowing that TEAC/TASCAM made some good decks, and then made some not so good decks (ROFL) really adds nothing, unless someone specifies how to tell which deck falls into the good or bad group.

FIxing the old Nak is economically unfeasible, two “gourmets” no longer will fix them, the third (who has the best rep & lowest price) even says the same thing, at 1/3 the other guys price, it is just not worth fixing. And, that there are good and bad Nak decks out there–even if I were to play the “used deck gamble” with them. Which I’m not.

I may settle for a borrowed used deck which at least can be borrowed and inspected without enriching UPS, and if it works, just accept whatever loss of quality comes with it. The folks who can fix decks charge like surgeons, the folks who claim to sell decks–often seem surprised to find they either have no stock, or what they have could have been made by FischerPrice as toys.

Go figure.

Yes, I know - I’ve been following this conversation from the start. My last comment was not really for you, but for anyone picking up this thread late on. Good luck with your quest.