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Encyclopedia > Nakamichi
Nakamichi Corporate Logo
Nakamichi Corporate Logo

Nakamichi is a historic high end audio audio company most famous for its innovative and very high quality cassette decks. It is now part of the Grande Group, a Singapore-based conglomerate. Image File history File links Nakamichi-logo-1-.gif Summary Nakamichi Corporate Logo. ... High end audio refers to audio equipment that is created to be the best, regardless of what it might turn out to cost in terms of price. ...


Nakamichi was founded in 1948, manufacturing portable radios, tone arms, speakers, and communications equipment. In 1972, Nakamichi launched its first Nakamichi-brand products, home audio gear that included the world's first three-head cassette deck. In 1999, the Nakamichi-brand SoundSpace audio and home theater audio systems was introduced, all design-oriented products that could be hung on a wall. Nakamichi also sells a line of higher-quality mini systems, to a market similar to that sought by Bang & Olufsen, as well as selling automotive stereo products and home theater items. Year 1948 (MCMXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1948 calendar). ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... A typical consumer hi-fi cassette deck from late 1980s, features full electronic transport, separate playback and record heads, Dolby B, C and HXPro noise reduction A cassette deck is a type of tape deck for playing or recording compact audio cassettes. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... Home cinema, also called Home theater, seeks to reproduce cinema quality video and audio in the home. ... Bang & Olufsen (B&O) is a Danish company that designs and manufactures high end audio products, television sets, and telephones. ...

Contents

Background

Nakamichi is a Japanese manufacturer founded by Etsuro Nakamichi and later headed by his younger brother Niro. Etsuro's son Ted is the only remaining Nakamichi in the company today. The company was originally established as a research and development firm in electronics and optics but later became known as a manufacturer of quality audio products. While their cassette decks were particularly well known, the company is also credited with numerous other audio innovations, such as self-centering record players, high-end DAT recorders, and ultra-compact slot-loading CD changers. Over the years, the company managed to garner an impressive level of brand loyalty. Edison cylinder phonograph from about 1899 The phonograph, or gramophone, was the most common device for playing recorded sound from the 1870s through the 1980s. ... A 90-minute DAT cartridge, size compared to a AAA (LR03) battery. ...


In 1973 Nakamichi created stereo cassette decks with such high quality that eventually made reel-to-reel tape recorders obsolete for consumers. The Nakamichi 1000 and 700 were regarded as two of the finest cassette recorders made in the mid-1970s. They had three heads, dual capstan drive that reduced wow and flutter to new low levels, and Dolby-B noise reduction to improve the signal to noise ratio. The feature that really set them apart was the adjustable record head azimuth and Dolby calibration that could be optimized for each cassette tape. Many audiophiles aspired to but could not afford a Nakamichi 1000 or 700 (whose model number was derived from the list price), so Nakamichi came out with more economical two-head models such as the Nakamichi 500 and the wedge-shaped 600. A typical consumer hi-fi cassette deck from late 1980s, features full electronic transport, separate playback and record heads, Dolby B, C and HXPro noise reduction A cassette deck is a type of tape deck for playing or recording compact audio cassettes. ... A Sony TC-630 reel-to-reel recorder, once a common household object. ... In general, a tape recorder, tape deck, cassette deck or tape machine is any device that records and plays back, fluctuating signal by moving a strip of magnetic tape across a tape head. ... Wow and flutter may refer to: Wow (recording) and flutter, two forms of noise which emanate from cassette tapes; The title of a critically-acclaimed single, from the 1994 recording by Stereolab, entitled Mars Audiac Quintet; and Wow & Flutter, an indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. ... Dolby NR is a noise reduction system developed by Dolby Laboratories for use in analogue magnetic tape recording. ... Noise reduction is the process of removing noise from a signal. ... The phrase signal-to-noise ratio, often abbreviated SNR or S/N, is an engineering term for the ratio between the magnitude of a signal (meaningful information) and the magnitude of background noise. ... A recording head is the physical interface between a recording apparatus and a moving recording medium. ... Azimuth is the horizontal component of a direction (compass direction), measured around the horizon, usually from the north toward the east — i. ... This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ...


Nakamichi pushed live recording with their Nakamichi 550, a portable cassette recorder that had three microphone inputs: one for left channel, one for right channel, and one for a center blend channel. This recorder could run from batteries or AC and was used to make very high quality recordings in the field. All of these products were known for top-notch engineering and sound quality. A microphone, sometimes referred to as a mike or mic (both IPA pronunciation: ), is an acoustic to electric transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal. ...


In the late 1970s Nakamichi updated their machines with the Nakamichi 1000 II, the 700 II, and other midrange and low-end models. They branched out into other audio components such as amplifiers and eventually speakers, but these products were never as highly regarded by the audio community as their cassette decks.


In the early 1980s Nakamichi came out with further refinements in a successor top-of-the-line machine, the Nakamichi 1000ZXL. Prices pushed upward with this machine being $3,800 at the time. The updated 700ZXL was a mere $3,000. Low-end cassette decks sold new for under $200, with the Nakamichi name on them. This time period stands as the pinnacle for cassette recorders, as from that time onwards digital recording methods began to make inroads. In digital recording, the analog signal of a motion-picture/sound is converted into a stream of discrete numbers, representing the changes in air pressure (chroma and luminace values in case of video) through time; thus making an abstract template for the original sound. ...


The meaning of the brand name & logo

The Nakamichi logo consists, in part, of the stylized representation of the letter "N"; it is also intended to represent in a fanciful way the earth, half of which is illuminated by the sun.


The Japanese to English translation of the word "NAKAMICHI" in the mark is "in the middle of a road" or "midway".


Notable Nakamichi products and advances

Three-Head Cassette Decks

Nakamichi was the first to use a three-head recording technique in a cassette deck. Separate tape heads were used for playback, recording, and erase, whereas prior methods combined the playback/recording function into a single tape head. The three-head mechanism was optimized for each head and allowed the user to monitor the recording quality as it happened. This feature was limited to their higher end units.


Flip-Auto Reverse

Nakamichi RX-505 audio cassette deck with UDAR.
Nakamichi RX-505 audio cassette deck with UDAR.
Top view of UDAR mechanism.
Top view of UDAR mechanism.

Called "UDAR" for UniDirectional Auto Reverse. Used on the Nakamichi RX series of decks. With the advent of auto-reverse (playing the tape in both directions), Nakamichi recognized that the angle of the tape passing over the playback head was not optimized if the tape was simply turned in the opposite direction. Thus, Nakamichi developed its UDAR mechanism. This was a mechanical system that would eject the tape, spin it around and reload it into the deck. It was available on all Nakamichi RX series of tape decks, i.e., the RX-202, RX-303 and RX-505. Image File history File links Nakamichi_RX_505_Front_edited. ... Image File history File links Nakamichi_RX_505_Front_edited. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Nakamichi_RX_505_Top_Open1. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Nakamichi_RX_505_Top_Open1. ...


Tape Pressure Pad Lifter

A cassette tape contains a "pressure pad" of some type, usually made of felt ( Reference- image). This pad is within the tape shell and opposes the magnetic head of the cassette deck, providing pressure when the tape is being played. Nakamichi's tape decks provided such accurate and precise pressure on the tape that they contained a device to lift the pad so that it would not provide inconsistent pressure when it was being played back. This lifting system was unique to Nakamichi. Typical 60-minute Compact Cassette. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (994x752, 123 KB) Summary I made this. ... A typical consumer hi-fi cassette deck from late 1980s, features full electronic transport, separate playback and record heads, Dolby B, C and HXPro noise reduction A cassette deck is a type of tape deck for playing or recording compact audio cassettes. ...


The Dragon and Special Products

In the CD era (post 1983), the top line Nakamichi products were termed the "Dragon." The Dragon-CT turntable ("Computing Turntable") automatically adjusted for off-center holes in records by moving the platter in two dimensions. The Dragon CD playing system has special mechanical dampening to prevent vibrations of the CD, and holds multiple CDs. The Dragon cassette deck used a special microprocessor controlled azimuth adjustment called Nakamichi Automatic Azimuth Correction (NAAC) to implement auto-reverse. Because it optimized the angle of the tape head when switching directions, it did not need to eject the tape and spin it around to maintain proper tape head alignment (as with the Nakamichi RX series).


Other products from Nakamichi did not acquire the "Dragon" name but were still notable. These include the Nakamichi 1000 series products with the 1000ZXL cassette deck being more advanced and expensive than the Dragon cassette deck. The Nakamichi 1000 digital audio tape transport and Nakamichi 1000p digital to audio converter system were Nakamichi's reference digital audio tape components. These components were intended to establish Nakamichi's dominance in the field of digital audio tape (DAT), but DAT was not widely adopted by audiophiles, as the format itself did not gain acceptance as an industry standard. A 90-minute DAT cartridge, size compared to a AAA (LR03) battery. ... An audiophile, most generally, is a lover of sound or music, but the word is more commonly used about someone who cares about hi-fi playback of sound recordings, rather than live performances. ... Standardization or standardisation (sometimes abbreviated s13n), in the context related to technologies and industries, is the process of establishing a technical standard among competing entities in a market, where this will bring benefits without hurting competition. ...


Stasis Series Amplifiers

Nakamichi licensed "Stasis" technology from powerhouse amplifier manufacturer Threshold (a class A amplifier circuit by Nelson Pass, then a designer at Threshold, now at Pass Labs). This circuit was used in a line of expensive Nakamichi PA series of power-amplifiers, such as the PA-5 and PA-7, as well as their SR and TA series of receivers. This topic has already been covered in electronic amplifier. ... Look up Threshold in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Pass Labs is a high end audio company founded by Mr. ...


Car Stereo Products

In the early 1980s, Nakamichi introduced a line of car stereo products. The flagship product was the TD-1200 cassette receiver which incorporated a drawer-mounted, top-loading cassette mechanism with NAAC, Dolby B and Dolby C. Other early products included the TD-700 cassette receiver with manual azimuth correction, a power amplifier and speakers. In the early 90s, Nakamichi was one of the first companies to produce automotive CD changers that loaded multiple discs via a single slot rather than a CD cartridge. Most people using the term car audio to describe the sound system in an automobile, though the term also refers more broadly to the field of mobile entertainment and is becoming a sport at large. ...


Another follow-on flagship head unit was the TP-1200, which consisted of a headunit and a separate 'black box' pre-amp section. The casing for both units was made from machined aluminium, and the internal circuitry for both units was suspended using a mechanical suspension system. The headunit contained a diversity tuner and display unit only. The Pre-amp section performed input switching, volume and tone adjustment. The tone controls (bass-mid-treble) were motor driven analog controls while the volume, balance and fader were digital.


Other products of note were the 100PA amplifier and the limited edition version the 1000PA. Both were identical in specifications (4x50wrms)and internal layout, the only difference being the case color. The 100PA was silver and the 1000PA black.


The decline of Nakamichi

Nakamichi has never held its prominent position in audio technology since that time, as they failed to move to computers, DAT, CDs and other new technologies with the same excellence that they had done with cassette recording. With the decline of analog taping, Nakamichi was unable to retain its appeal to the high end audio community. A 90-minute DAT cartridge, size compared to a AAA (LR03) battery. ... CDS may refer to: Commercial Data Systems, Ltd. ...


By the 1990s Nakamichi was largely forgotten. It was acquired by the Grande Holdings, but was allowed to be run independently and with mostly the original management and design teams. Niro Nakamichi left in 1998 to set up Mechanical Research Corporation. The company went into bankruptcy protection on February 19, 2002. The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... February 19 is the 50th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ...


Phoenix from the ashes

Today, it seems to have re-emerged after a reorganisation, repositioned in the high quality "lifestyle" systems" a la Bang & Olufsen. They also manufacture a range of CD changers available for Hi-fi, computer or car audio use, and indeed have a big in-car audio range. Unusually enough, parts of that range are designed and built in the USA. Bang & Olufsen (B&O) is a Danish company that designs and manufactures high end audio products, television sets, and telephones. ... A CD Changer holds multiple Compact Discs and allows the user to access (or play) any of them, one at a time. ...


Niro Nakamichi

In 2001, Niro Nakamichi, designer of many of the historic tape decks, started a new company, Mechanical Research Corporation, which introduced ultra high end audio amplifiers, preamplifiers, and an integrated amplifier, called "engines." The products featured innovative designs and addressed issues of mechanical isolation, as well as presenting a unique appearance [1]. Soon thereafter, however, the "engine" products were no longer promoted and a line of home theater products was introduced [2].


See also

A typical consumer hi-fi cassette deck from late 1980s, features full electronic transport, separate playback and record heads, Dolby B, C and HXPro noise reduction A cassette deck is a type of tape deck for playing or recording compact audio cassettes. ... In general, a tape recorder, tape deck, or tape machine is any device that records a fluctuating signal by moving a strip of magnetic tape across a tape head, which is a strong electromagnet. ... Typical 60-minute Compact Cassette. ... High end audio refers to audio equipment that is created to be the best, regardless of what it might turn out to cost in terms of price. ...

External links

  • Nakamichi Nakamichi web site.
  • Naks.com The Unofficial Nakamichi cassette deck resource.
  • Pictures of Cassette Decks A Japanese language page, but containing pictures of historic cassette decks including the Nakamichi 1000ZXL, Dragon, and RX-505 mentioned above.
  • Pictures of Digital Audio Recorders A Japanese language page, but containing pictures of historic digital audio tape decks, including the Nakamichi 1000 and 1000p.
  • The Nakamichi foundation established by the will of its late founder, Etsuro Nakamichi, dedicated to the promotion and encouragement of baroque and other forms of classical music.
  • Engine(s) Review, Integrated Engine Review Niro "engine" products.
  • Niro Corporation Niro current web site, HT products.
  • Vintage Cassette Decks Collection of Nakamichi Vintage Cassette decks and other brands.
  • Nakamichi @ PEROMARTA.ORG Pictures and restoration projects of Nakamichi Cassette Decks.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Stereophile: Nakamichi Seeks Protection (485 words)
On November 19, Nakamichi Corporation Japan "applied to the court of Japan for a civil rehabilitation," in the words of a company press release on the development, issued the next day.
Nakamichi also contributed to progress in CD technology in the 1980s and early 1990s, with innovative designs in changer mechanisms.
Nakamichi Japan had been primarily owned by the Nakamichi family until January of 1997, when it was acquired by Grande Holdings, a Chinese conglomerate with diverse interests and operations throughout the world.
CD-400 (412 words)
Product evaluations are based on weighted criteria: value to user, aesthetics, contributions to the quality of life as well as the product's innovative qualities.
To complement the ultimate in digital-to-analog conversion accuracy, a high-resolution preamplifier circuit topology was developed to achieve ultra low-noise and distortion levels and a highly linear signal transmission to the powerful and dynamic 47 W x 4 channel power amplifier.
Additionally, triple-band tone controls, a Nakamichi tradition, are included to allow for fine-tuning the bass, midrange and high frequency ranges - essential for the corrective compensation of the poor acoustics in automobile interiors or source program material.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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