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Yamaha KX-650

Natural Sound Stereo Cassette Deck (1991-92)

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Yamaha KX-650


Type: 3-head, single compact cassette deck

Track System: 4-track, 2-channel stereo

Tape Speed: 4.75 cm/s

Heads: 1 x record, 1 x playback, 1 x erase

Motor: 1 x reel, 1 x capstan, 1 x assist

Tape Type: type I, CrO2, Metal

Noise Reduction: B, C, HX Pro

Frequency Response: 20Hz to 21kHz  (Metal tape)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 76dB  (dolby C)

Wow and Flutter: 0.05%

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.8%

Input: 75mV (line)

Output: 0.36V (line)

Dimensions: 435 x 122 x 273mm

Weight: 4.6kg

Accessories: remote control

Year: 1991


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Reviewed Nov 22nd, 2017 by 330

ilkkasuni said it all (read below excelent review). I'll add:
- Level controls work very well.
- Cassette compartment is backlit, wich is a nice touch not often found, even in the same KX-6xx series.
- Display looks and works great.
- Inside: you'll find top of the line components such as ELNA highest grade electrolytics.
- Operation is smooth and silent.
- This deck's mechanism will easily play any cassette. Even ones that fail in other decks, like old pre recorded tapes, or some heavier reel brands, or 90+ longer lenghts.

Reviewed Sep 07th, 2017 by ilkkasuni

Came across one just recently, and out of curiosity I had to buy the deck as the model KX-650 is rather uncommon in Finland. Mine came with the original remote control unit, and the deck had its belts renewed. My primary aspect for buying this model, was the dual capstan transport mechanism. I sort of dislike them 3-headers with just one capstan, even though I have bought such ones, too, as second-hand.

In last few years, I have collected various deck models from Pioneer, Technics and Yamaha, for instance. Of the Yamaha line-up I have for instance the models K-540...KX-500...KX-580, which pretty much are the same 2-header, the same construction, with various updates. But not facelifts, essentially.

To the KX-650, I would have preferred some facelifting, instead of faceruining. The level indicator, the tape counter as well, is dimmer lit than for instance the KX-500's. The cassette door window is smaller, yet sufficient. The recording level controls are more of a joke, for example compared with those of the KX-500's.

What I do not like about the deck, primarily is the level meter. The 2 dB resolution around 0 level just is insufficient, for a hifi deck. The level indicator range rather unnecessarily starts at -40 dB. Leaving out anything below -30 dB, might have provided room for at least 1,5 dB resolution, around 0...+3 dB level. Or, the level indicator could have been a twin-ranger, which is the case with even some middle-class models of late '80s and early '90s, by Pioneer and Technics.

Another feature I don't like, is them most important controls being this small in size. The recording level knobs are ridiculously small, and almost shameful when compared to the KX-500's huge master level slide control and them separate fine adjust knobs for each channel. Also, all the main operating buttons such as play, recording and winding functions, are tightly packed into an unclearly labeled bunch, which is a feature I dislike about many Yamaha models. Then again, one gets used to...

After all the disliking, to the features I like. Most importantly, the KX-650 offers good, refined sound, after my having tested with some Basf, Sony and TDK type I, II and IV tapes. The sound is pleasantly dynamic, with enough depth and punch to the bass, and sophisticated enough high tones. Them high tones play clear, smooth and very authentic, unlike those of some decks I have experienced, claimed reaching 19000...20000 Hz on tape types II and IV. Also, the play trim adjust is helpful for the high tones, if needed when playing tapes recorded on other decks. My tapes, recorded with carefully aligned high quality decks of the '80s and early '90s, sound just fine.

I consider the KX-650 sound for hifi, then again one has to bear in mind, we are merely talking about a Yamaha middle-class to upper middle-class deck, not a high-end model.

The KX-650 cassette door is simply mechanical, so is that of many upper middle-class Technics models, too. I like this feature, as I have had problems with some motorized cassette doors. The door cover comes nicely easy off, for cleaning the heads and capstans, unlike on many decks one has to use force and tricks to the verge of breaking something. The KX-650 immediately tightens any slack in the tape, when closing the door.

What bothers me is, the wow & flutter given is the somewhat modest 0.05% WRMS, the same value given for single capstan Yamahas such as KX-500 and KX-580, too. Still, my ear can't tell any disturbing flutter in high tones by the piano, violin, horns. For comparison, my best deck models currently are with 0.022...0.024 WRMS given.

The phones-out level adjust is a necessity, and properly enough does not affect the line-out level. The phones amp provides decent sound, far better than that of too many decks I have experienced.

The compact-sized remote control unit works just fine, and handles nice. With the KX-650's quite fast winding functions, much like operating a CD player with remote.

A serious 3-header with dual capstan should weigh for at least some 9 kg, some 20 lbs?

Even though the KX-650 is not the ideal machine for making recordings, also being a rather light-weight apparatus, I kind of like this deck, due to the good sound and to the smooth, pretty silent operating, too. To the sound, the KX-650 in my comprehension is a ~4+...4.5 product in stars, and the tape transport mechanism appears quite convincing, too. Yet for a recording device, the KX-650 ranks 3 out of 5 only, due to the miniature-sized controls and insufficient level indicator resolution. Also, there is no level calibration option, and the bias adjust comes plain manual: no calibration tone.

Overall, the KX-650 is a 4- performer.

ilkka suni
*heavy cassette-decker since early '70s*



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