Nakamichi Classic Logo
  • Nakamichi ZX-9

  • Discrete Head Cassette Deck

  • MSRP $1550
  • 1982 - 1985
Direct Drive3 HeadDolby B NRDolby C logoWired Remote ControlMetal Tape
Nakamichi ZX-9
Compact Cassette
  • Microprocessor Control
  • Double Capstan
  • Direct Drive
  • Silent Mechanism
  • Pressure pad lifter
  • Discrete 3-Head Technology
  • Asymmetrical Dual Capstans
  • Diffused-Resonance Transport
What is bias?
Bias is the amount of energy transferred to the tape. As tiny amounts of head wear begin, the tape gap grows slightly larger. It is therefore necessary to adjust so the proper amount of energy is transferred in order to maintain proper high-end response while maintained low THD. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What does CUE mean?
The CUE feature allows you to listen to the recorded sound while fast-forwarding (or reversing) the audio tape. Usually the playback head doesn't touch the tape while doing this but for CUE-ing the playback head will touch the tape so the recorded sound can be heard and a specific location in the recorded sound can be found easily. Some decks support different CUE speeds so the location can be found even more precise.
How do I clean tape heads?
To clean tape heads, use pure isopropyl alcohol and lint-free swabs. Throw the swab away after use.
How do I demagnetize tape heads?
Practical tape head demagnetizers are available for under $10. Try to find one with a plastic coated tip. If you can't find one which is plastic coated. you can slip a drinking straw or plastic tube over the tip for the same effect. This plastic will prevent the demagnetizer from scratching the head.
Before plugging in the demagnetizer, remove all tapes from your working area and unplug the recorder. Hold the demagnetizer away from the recorder as you plug it in. Slowly bring the tip of the demagnetizer up to the tape head and slide it back and forth across each tape head for five one-second strokes. Then pull it away from the head slowly and go on to the next. After demagnetizing the heads, use the tip on each metal tape guide with a similar five strokes. Last, slowly pull the demagnetizer far away from the recorder and unplug it. Recording engineers use a demagnetizer before each recording session. (courtesy of AudioFAQ)
What is Azimuth?
Azimuth is the perpendicular alignment of the head in reference to the tape. Incorrect azimuth will result in loss of high frequency response and potentially uneven record/playback levels. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What is level calibration?
It is the setting that assures that the level you record on tape in the record (source) mode is what comes back on play (tape) mode. Differences develop as uneven head wear occurs. Depending on use, an annual calibration is an excellent idea. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
Closed-Loop Dual Capstan Transport?
A closed-loop dual capstan transport mechanism ensures smooth, precise tape traveling and as a result excellent sound reproduction.
My deck needs new belts, where can I buy these?
A good source is eBay. There are quite some sellers that sell dedicated belts for certain decks. Look inder the 'for sale' tab for current eBay items for sale for your deck.
How does direct drive differ from belt drive?
Instead of using a motor and a belt running to the capstan, the take-up side capstan has an electo-magnetic motor running it. In turn, with a belt, it moves the supply side capstan. In the unique case of the Dragon, both capstans are run directly. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What has Nakamichi done to keep their machines from "eating" tapes?
A: They have a tape motion sensor that will stop the machine if the tape has stopped moving for any reason. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What is assymetrical dual capstan?
Dual Capstan refers to the metal posts that you see down by the heads. A single capstan deck only has the metal/rubber wheel assembly on one side. A dual has it on both. Dual assists in more linear tape travel across the heads and results in less variances in the recorded/playback signal. The assymetrcial means the capstan flywheels are different sizes, and therefore, rotate at different speeds. The result is greatly reduced wow and flutter and stable pitch. Still, a Nak single capstan machine "is driven by a flat belt which ensureseven tension and accurate torque transmission from it DC servo motor." Almost without exception, a single capstand Nakamichi sounds better than the majority of other brand's dual capstan decks. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
Are the dual capstans supposed to spin all the time while the unit is on but stopped?
Yes. This assures tape speed will be accurate open hitting play (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What's the strange cage around the play head on the dual capstan units?
It lifts the fibrous pad inside the tape in order to prevent scrape flutter--the bouncing of tape across the head--the result of uneven pressure on the tape. These pads are installed to put pressure on the tape to keep it in contact with the head in most machines but are not as consistent as the high-quality transport of the Nakamichi. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What does discrete head mean?
The erase, record, and playback heads are all individual components. The result is better recording and playback as each head is dedicated to its specific job as compare to a 2 head which uses a common record/playback head whose function is determined by a switch or relay. Most three head machines allow for immediate monitoring or recorded signal with the exception of the 481, 581, and 681ZX. These machines have the sonic fidelity of a three head without the convenience or cost. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
What are your favorite Naks?
Based on duration of personal ownership, I will always love the ZX-7/9 because they are very user accessible. They allow the user to do most functions that others require a technician for (ie.bias, pb/rcd level, and rcd azimuth). Unlike the Dragon, the play head is constant. They are simply awesome machines. The CR-7a, especially with a gear update kit, is also a great rig. It makes beautiful tapes but consolidates the ZX-7/9 "keys to the kingdom" into a simple "auto calibration" button. Push it and the deck calibrates specifically for the blank tape you have just inserted. It also offers manual playback azimuth control which lets you dial the head to match a tape that was made on another machine. The result is accurate playback of all tapes. My lead technician would not forgive me if I didn't mention the little tingle he gets from the 680 series. They were the epitome of Nakamichi. For years, Nak worked to perfect the classic transport. By the time the 680's were made, all the details were ironed out. Tremendous warmth with total reliability. This deck offered automatic record azimuth adjustment, pitch control, and record level calibration. Not only that, it has rack ears and can be used at half speed to make tapes that are still flat to 17kHz. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
Is the master fade supposed to mute abruptly before the fade is complete? Is there any way to change the timing on the fades and when the mute engages?
There are two speeds of fade. Two seconds if you hold the button in and four seconds if you just touch it and release. (courtesy of Nakamichi Cassette Deck FAQ)
My deck doesn't have a window in the cassette compartment is this normal?
Yes. This deck comes without any window in the cassette-door. Some say the gap is left on purpose to eliminate overheating. The pilot lamp causing heat is to some extend ventilated by this gap.
What is the main difference between ZX-7 and ZX-9?
According to the ZX-9 owners manual: "You have chosen an extremely fine cassette deck. The Nakamichi ZX-9 can be called a 'Super-Tuned Edition' of that tape enthusiast's model, the ZX-7, with still further improved transport mechanism and amplifier circuitry as well as generally brushed-up basic performance. In particular, the adoption of a direct-drive principle employing a unique 'Super Linear Torque' DD motor stands out among the innovations. It permits a further reduction of wow-and-flutter and modulation noise. By improving upon these basic performance features, the high precision tape adjustment facilities for azimuth, record/playback sensitivity and bias can be put to use still more effectively for achieving perfect results."