And Then There Were Three. The National RS-859U

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doity

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I figured that there had to be a Japanese market version of the Technics RS-858US 2/4 channel recording deck and I was right. After purchasing, and falling in love with, my Japanese market Technics 4 channel receiver I started to seek one out. I bought a ticket out on the first plane to Tokyo and hit the ground running. Well actually I lied about that.......I used the power of the interwebs instead :).

I found out that there was in fact a Japanese version of the RS-858US, the RS-859U but National badged. Also this deck was black in color as opposed to silver like the US version. OK, I just had to have one and searched the streets of Tokyo relentlessly for this rare and beautiful piece of equipment. Well I lied about that also....actually I found one on Yahoo Auctions. No one else bid on it thank god and now it will be all mine.

They seem to be identical decks as far as I can tell besides the obvious color difference. Also the RS-859U has white VU meters from what I can tell. Will update when I get it and it likely needs work but oh well. I don’t think the seller had a tape to test it with so it was sold as ‘junk’. I think that shipping will be a lot more than I paid for the deck so even if it needs work it is not like I am out too much.
Here are a few pictures taken (stolen) from the web:








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winopener

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If all the "junk" was in this condition.... looks pratically new.
 

doity

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Yeah but this is not the one that I got. These are older pictures. Mine does look a touch ragged but nothing a good cleaning wouldn’t fix. Also someone had made a round cutout on the top. Apparently there is some kind of adjustment made from the top but I can’t figure out exactly what. I plan to buy some sheets of felt to cut to size to cover it.
 
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JonUrban

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It's probably to allow you to stick a tweaker in there to adjust the up/down of the tape head against the tape. Sometimes Q8's don't line up and you get crosstalk so you have to adjust the head to cut down on the bleed through
 

JonUrban

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That thing is gorgeous!

NOTE TO CHUCKY: Make one. Please. I will pre-order immediately
 

surround.sound.enthusiast

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Hopefully the unit function in both 50 and 60Hz, otherwise you might have some behavioral issues, i.e: if it's only 50Hz and it's run at 60Hz, if you're in the U.S., it might run a bit fast and might get warmer than normal. I think I remember these possibilities from discussions elsewhere, as the one hitch to using equipment with spinning parts that don't use your local electrical frequency, but I am not an electrical engineer - so anyone correct me if I'm wrong!!

Neat looking though, it's the first time I've seen a black version of this deck.
 

doity

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Well she arrived safely today from Japan. Took all of three days to get here via FedEx. I have waited twice as long on Priority packages from the next state over. Crazy.

Anyway, it does work and I was right that the seller likely didn’t have a tape to test with. It is very dirty so I want to clean it up before I do proper introductions to the forum. I did notice that the belt is very loose and is likely the original belt as it has no elasticity. I have a recently ‘belted’ RS845US I think it is. Wonder if I could just swap it into the new deck? If not will just order one. Is this an easy change? It looks to be but sometimes you have to dissemble somewhat to get in there.

Thanks for any tips!!
 

furui_suterioo

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I've just recorded two quad tapes for practice on random pre-recorded stereo cartridges(nothing of value) on the Akai, Pink Floyd Echoes quad mix from Early Years, with part of a really good decode of Herbie Hancock Sextant, the tape was less than 30 minutes. Also recorded part of a quad reel conversion of Black Sabbath Paranoid, both tapes sound pretty good, no track bleeding, now to just need to create a timed playlist for the real blank carts, I'm actually having some fun doing this.

Noob question: Assuming that my sources are BD quality, should I apply any EQ when recording to 8 track?
 
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doity

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Cool. Not sure what I will need the record feature on mine for, but am sure I will mess around with it in due time. I found 2 Columbia 80 minute quad tapes on Etsy for $20 shipped. Not quite the “Colony” that you have, but more like Adam and Eve. Maybe they will reproduce?
 

surround.sound.enthusiast

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I've just recorded two quad tapes for practice on random pre-recorded stereo cartridges(nothing of value) on the Akai, Pink Floyd Echoes quad mix from Early Years, with part of a really good decode of Herbie Hancock Sextant, the tape was less than 30 minutes. Also recorded part of a quad reel conversion of Black Sabbath Paranoid, both tapes sound pretty good, no track bleeding, now to just need to create a timed playlist for the real blank carts, I'm actually having some fun doing this.

Noob question: Assuming that my sources are BD quality, should I apply any EQ when recording to 8 track?
My gut reaction is "no", but there was stuff done on cassette to help compensate inherent sound quality issues, like Dolby B and "XDR". Quad Linda has said she used to use DBX II on home made cassettes. What would clarify it for you would be playing a portion of the copy you just recorded, and then the same portion of the source, and see if you can detect any quality degradation, or at least what you can't live with. Then maybe add EQ or other companding to massage it.

I've never copied over to 8-track or open reel (I do want to do this with open reel for some hi-rez 4-channel reissues of the past decade), only cassette and it's been nearly 20 years at that.
 

furui_suterioo

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My gut reaction is "no", but there was stuff done on cassette to help compensate inherent sound quality issues, like Dolby B and "XDR". Quad Linda has said she used to use DBX II on home made cassettes. What would clarify it for you would be playing a portion of the copy you just recorded, and then the same portion of the source, and see if you can detect any quality degradation, or at least what you can't live with. Then maybe add EQ or other companding to massage it.

I've never copied over to 8-track or open reel (I do want to do this with open reel for some hi-rez 4-channel reissues of the past decade), only cassette and it's been nearly 20 years at that.
I think you're basically right, I tried treble boost but it didn't really make much difference with good source, did help with some lesser quality sources though.
 

doity

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Well here she is. I had to use adhesive felt to cover up that nasty hole on top that someone put in for whatever reason. It doesn’t look perfect but it looks better. As soon as I turned it over to check the belt (I thought the belt on top was the capstan belt but it was for the counter) the old belt just slid right off. There was no way to put it back on as it was so dried and loose. Ordered another from needlesandbelts or whatever they are called. Should be here day after tomorrow as they are close.

So that’s it for now. I am already tired of messing with it. It looks a bit better but the thing was nasty dirty. No wonder I got it so cheap! Was just a bit over $200 with shipping so I shouldn’t complain too much.
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doity

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Well make that four not three. But this one just seems to be the National version of the RS-858US. I can’t really make out many differences between the two besides the badging. From what I can tell the last two produced were the blue meter US version and the one that I have. 1976 time frame? Well as far as I know that is it for recording quad 8-track decks. One from Akai and three from Technics/National Panasonic. Though I am sure that one will pop up somewhere as there always seems to be pieces yet discovered.


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doity

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Well I finally got the beast working. I got the new belt but as soon as it was on it slipped off during play. I realized that the motor was loose and must not be mounted securely. Rather than further test my luck I just centered it and used some balled up duct tape in the gaps to center in. Then I laid some strips of duct tape over the motor to further hold it in place. When in doubt use duct tape right? Well it worked.

And then after all of that the front right channel was not working. So I remembered that I had a cassette deck once with a channel out and I just toggled between recording and playback for awhile to ‘clean’ the switches. Finally I got all channels working thank god. You can see there is some burn in or discoloration in some of the meters. Not much I can do about that and if there was I won’t bother. I still have to get another voltage converter cause I just have the one for my receiver so I can’t hook the tape deck up to my system until I get another.

I am crossing my fingers that it keeps working as I would hate to pay big $$$ to fix it. Here is a short video of it with all meters going. Oh yeah....for some reason in record mode the record lights don’t work? But it does record I can verify that.


 
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surround.sound.enthusiast

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I think you're basically right, I tried treble boost but it didn't really make much difference with good source, did help with some lesser quality sources though.
If you're able to go from a high quality source (DVD-A, SACD, BD-A) direct to your recording deck, you'll get the least adulterated transfer, I'd figure. Then it's really down to the quality of the deck, recording media, and format. The only thing that could be an issue, is if the output level from your source player is loud enough that it overwhelms the deck and gives you a crummy transfer. But as you said "Akai" I'm assuming a CR-80D-SS, and your profile cites that model. The owner's manual seems to indicate that the volume controls adjust the recording levels as well as playback, so that issue should be a non-issue for you.
 

furui_suterioo

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If you're able to go from a high quality source (DVD-A, SACD, BD-A) direct to your recording deck, you'll get the least adulterated transfer, I'd figure. Then it's really down to the quality of the deck, recording media, and format. The only thing that could be an issue, is if the output level from your source player is loud enough that it overwhelms the deck and gives you a crummy transfer. But as you said "Akai" I'm assuming a CR-80D-SS, and your profile cites that model. The owner's manual seems to indicate that the volume controls adjust the recording levels as well as playback, so that issue should be a non-issue for you.
So far I think the recording quality on the CR-80D-SS is just about as good as it should be, I've been making bunch of stereo mix tapes for some portable 8 track players I have, they sound good even on the mono player. The biggest hassle now is replacing the cushions on several of the sealed tapes I've opened, will just have to sit down and get to work.
 

doity

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So far I think the recording quality on the CR-80D-SS is just about as good as it should be, I've been making bunch of stereo mix tapes for some portable 8 track players I have, they sound good even on the mono player. The biggest hassle now is replacing the cushions on several of the sealed tapes I've opened, will just have to sit down and get to work.
Yeah, both of the tapes that I got new (ConvertaQuad) were both bad even though they were sealed. One had pads that were coming off and the other one broke at the splice when making a recording. I had to re-jigger my MacGyver fix on the motor. The mounts had dried off and broken, and I initially thought some food had gotten in there somehow. But it was the remnants of the motor mounts, RIP. This time I found some adhesive clear Velcro that was still really sticky and folded it in half and made a ring around the outside of the hole where the motor sits like a gasket. I pushed it down with a tiny scewdriver enough to hopefully allow the sticky tape to hold the weight of the motor securely in place. And then I used strips of duct tape to further hold it in place.

I think when the splice broke the tape wrapped around the capstan and put strain on the motor causing it to go off center just enough to slip the belt. I am going to keep doing fixes like this as I don’t want to have it repaired only to have the service tech tell me “the parts are unavailable for this model” which is what would happen.

Maybe I should had bought the Akai after-all like you did :unsure:
 
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