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Yamaha K-540

Stereo Cassette Deck (1986-87)

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Yamaha K-540


Type: 2-head, single compact cassette deck

Track System: 4-track, 2-channel stereo

Tape Speed: 4.76 cm/s

Heads: 1 x record/playback, 1 x erase

Motor: 1 x reel, 1 x capstan, 1 x mechanism

Tape Type: type I, CrO2, Metal

Noise Reduction: B, C, HX Pro

Frequency Response: 25Hz to 20kHz  (Metal tape)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 74dB  (dolby C)

Wow and Flutter: 0.05%

Total Harmonic Distortion: 1.0%

Input: 60mV (line)

Output: 0.36V (line)

Dimensions: 435 x 112 x 273mm

Weight: 4.4kg

Year: 1986


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Reviewed Feb 15th, 2017 by ilkkasuni

I recently picked one of these for 20 euros, i.e. USD 21.

I was surprised to find out, this old deck in my ears runs at the right speed. What surprised me even more, the pinch roller appeared to be in full tact. My tapes play with no problem, from the very beginning of the cassette tape. No need to wind for some 2 or 3 minutes playback time from the C90 tape side start, to avoid the precious music archive tape from being mistreated by a hardened or worn out pinch roller.

Been into C-cassette since 1968, and I already own two Yamaha decks of the series K-540...KX-500...KX-580, each of them I bought second hand. What I can say is, this Yamaha line in audio quality is of the best 2-headers I have experienced. I have owned, tested more than 100 different deck models, less than 200.

The K-540 offers luxury, such as back-lit cassette compartment, real-time tape counter, phones out level adjust, the deck carries HX Pro. But the deck has no bias adjust, and the peak-hold level meter is with just 2 dB resolution. So being, the K-540 is far from adequate for the demanding recorder. The bias adjust knob the model KX-500 has, in model K-540 stands for a switch for some auto-play functions.

But this deck sounds good, this deck sounds real good when listening to recordings made with upper class 3-headers. Besides, the azimuth appears to fit 100 per cent with my tapes recorded by decks carefully, professionally aligned.

What I wonder with Yamaha products ever since is, the way they trick the output level, I suppose in order to gain some more artificial dynamic response. That is to say, at least with the Yamaha 500 line decks, one has to turn up the amp volume, to gain the speakers output level equivalent to other deck brands.

Anyways, the K-540 is a swell cassette player, sounding good. For a tape recorder, the gear is rather inadequate.

I personally prefer these top 2-headers over the flimsy single capstan 3-headers of the late 80's and early 90's. For a playback machine, considering the price tag back then, with its multiple functions the K-540 is a 4-star product. For a recording device, the lack of bias adjust in 1986 just cannot be excused, furthermore the level display resolution is inadequate. For a hifi cassette recorder, a 2.5-star product.

Ilkka Suni



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