hifi engine





Akai GX 400D

The GX-400D line consists of exactly one set, but boy it was the real high-end for the Akai line. I say that because it used the same chassis and motors as are found in the GX-400D-ss and the PRO-1000. Rumour has it that the GX-400D was limited to a production run consisting of just 200 units, I can't deny that, or confirm that. This series was definately designed to appeal to studio's and radio stations, as well as high end home users, along with the GX-400D-ss version which was basically a Studio in a box, and the PRO-1000; a 2 Track version with more advanced microphone mixing which could be considered a "poor mans" Studer. Tipping the scales at nearly 69 lbs., within such esteamed lineage, the GX-400D shares the same 3 speed servo-controlled motor; 15 inches per second; and a closed loop dual flywheel assisted capstans within a belt drive system that rivals Studio Tape machines for low wow and flutter; also probably the biggest VU Meters ever seen in a tape deck; along with a set of audio controls that all tick off in minute increments. There are two cosmetic variations, the beige VU meters and the blue; the latter can be seen to match cosmetically some of the Akai Receivers and amplifiers of the period.

About the only thing the GX-400D lacks is internal Dolby "A" or even Dolby "B", or "C" noise reduction, well I guess they did have to build it to a price-point. It does feature a distortion reducing non-defeatable ADR Circuit that reportedly reduces distortion in the upper two or three octaves. As a benefit, it also has a record and playback frequency response that is flat almost to 30,000 Hz. at both 15 ips and 7.5 ips, which is no small feat! The only thing I fault it for, is the huge mechanical "Thunk" when it goes into Play, as both pinch rollers hit the capstans. Well just maybe that is elitist nit-picking :-). Still... some users will certainly jump for joy, at a machine that has such a frighteningly loud way of announcing... "I'm going into Play now "... THUNK... which then reverberates off the four walls of the room ( only if your room actually has four walls... ). On the slight down-side, its "logic" circuitry really isn't, its just eight of those costly 4 Pole Power Relays, which in reality can get a bit troublesome after a decade - or two, or three deacdes. Also the head changing switch is not sealed, and oxidation and can become rather troublesome, causing the wrong heads to be active, or losing the head interconnection completely - giving no sound in reverse, or forward play.

Both the Head Switch, and numerous Power Relays, are this design's weak points. That neither is quite environmentally sealed off does mean they are exposed to air pollution, sea salts, and other pollutants over the years; and then they become troublesome. The GX-400's feather touch operation switches which are all lighted ( except for Stop ) and the solonoid pause control, with the dual capstan mechanism - its a blast. Tape handling is both gentle and impressive as its keeps tight control of the tape between those precision balanced flywheel assisted capstans running between a 1/2 inch wide flat belt. It allows a more precise head to tape contact than can be engineered into a single capstan moving tape system. Also a tighter stop to startup nominal speed deviation compared to what one can find in lessor sets. Some interesting brochures and data can be found on the PRO-1000 Page about these functional aspects. The clear benefits of a dual capstan mechanism certainly defines these sets ( also the identical twin GX-400D-ss and PRO-1000 mechanism's - same capstans, same flywheels, same motors, same belt drive system ) as being in a higher class than even the rest of the set. So functionally, operationally, and audibly its pretty much the tops... While I can't get a peep out of mine in Reverse Play mode, I haven't yet wished to dismount and disassemble it, to clean those head switch contacts; it is a ton of weight, as well as, a ton of work.