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Old 21st Apr 2021, 8:07 pm   #1
Ellectronics
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Default Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

I recently came across a akai gx240 vcr & found its ability to auto track very impressive. The tape I was ripping made higher spec machines produce audio white noise & picture loose track in places. The video was a live music event recorded in 1996. I've discovered the best thing to do with old tapes is to match them to the same kind of machine they were made in, so it's no big surprise this 2 head akai from the 90s has done me so well, despite being mono.
I was further impressed with the quick servo feature, which makes any transport control almost instant in operation.
It doesn't seem there's much written online in terms of reviews etc of these akai machines & I think they must be a hidden gem amongst a long list of manufacturers.
So what do you guys think about the akai VCRs? I would be interested to hear of your opinions, positive or negative. (I am considering getting a higher spec 4 head akai so your feedback may be very important in my decision making)
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Old 21st Apr 2021, 8:52 pm   #2
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Impressive is a good description for genuine Akai VCRs. I agree with your hidden gem evaluation. I always liked to sell them repaired/refurbished.

Some had design faults, but Akai always corrected them and made kits available. The general design and construction quality was above average, though I wouldn't say top of the line mostly. Some of the design quirks and features (they were the first to introduce on screen display) were very well thought through.

The switching or combined linear and switching power supplies gave many a technician a headache and required low ESR electrolytics in some cases (this wasn't a well known capacitor property at the time, it caused problems in Panasonic, Sony and Grundig machines as well). However, once repaired properly they were quite indestructible, like the rest of the machine.

I've never really liked one thing about the newer machines, though, and that is... The quick servo feature. Akai was one of the first manufacturers to leave the tape threaded around the video head all the time. On the other hand, it never gave me any problems either (maybe because Akai used their glass-ferrite expertise to make the video heads almost impossible to wear out?). I just don't like the idea.

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Old 21st Apr 2021, 10:22 pm   #3
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

I have one of the first ever VCRs with OSD and LP speed, the Akai VS-6 I think. Built like a tank.

I also have a later (circa 1990) VS-22 (23?) a 2 head mono unit, half load design as mentioned above. Rebadged 'Track' - no idea where that was sold, some store brand? I think the PSU gave me trouble on that one, caps and rectifier or regulator maybe? but otherwise very reliable and very sharp picture. No experience of the more upmarket models.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 3:05 am   #4
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

I have an old top loader VS-5. It has an odd fault where the capstan won't lock into the right speed with a ton of wow & flutter, and another fault where there's no picture in record. The RIFA capacitor in the mains supply recently gave me trouble. It went bang with lots of white smoke. That's common with these capacitors however. A unique "feature" with this model is that it displays "BREAKDOWN" on the VFD along with several beeps coming from a buzzer whenever there's a tape loading fault.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 9:07 am   #5
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

I came across two models in large numbers, the VS-F30 and VS-F600 rebadged as the Baird VC-142L and VC-143H. They used the same deck and suffered from mistiming of the front load rack and gear. Akai released a mod which consisted of a metal bush to stop the rack from flexing solving the issue.

Both machines had better than average picture quality in my opinion and the HiFi audio on the VC-143 would playback the worst of tapes that other makes just gave up on.

Sadly both machines suffered from poor electrolytics in the PSU, on the VC-142 particularly it would overun the heaters of the VFD leading to it's early demise. I seem to recall a mod but it only put off the inevitable replacement.

They also fell foul of the Y2K bug and were withdrawn from rental, staff could buy them for a fiver. Still wish I had my VC-143H and it's "Beam me up Scottie" remote.

John.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 1:29 pm   #6
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Somebody gave me a faulty Akai VCR many years ago. No idea what model it was, but IIRC it was a fairly high spec 4 head HiFi deck with jog shuttle and a fair few bells and assorted whistles. I ended up repairing it (can't remember the fault either) and using it for a good few years and I remember it being a decent machine despite having a strong BPC look...

Unfortunately I lent it to a mate who I didn't see for a couple of years. The next time I saw him, he told me it stopped working so he threw it out.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 2:55 pm   #7
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

I always liked Akai, right back as far as the VS2. The first front loaders had flimsy mechs but they were repairable. Good lookers, the clock displays let them down, a modkit came out that had mixed results but as most Akai's had on screen programming this didn't matter. I'd no bother selling them, made good money on them too.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 3:06 pm   #8
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

The old VS-1 was a real battleship among battleships! Looked like nothing else.
Then the one with OSD that looked a bit like a Space Invaders screen, especially on the odd occasion it failed. Advanced for its time. Did they rebadge a 3V23, or am I mistaken on that? They certainly badged the older JVC mechanicals.
The ones I met most were the VS-22 with the capacitor failure that Maarten mentions. It used a very complicated and curious power supply that combined a switching regulator with a mains transformer. Akai supplied a small circuit board and a bunch of capacitors which would work, but was tedious to fit. Then the next machines over-ran their displays, so you fitted another mod kit with unusual (for the time) 120uF, high temperature, low-ESR capacitors. This brought the voltage down, but of course the customer had used it until the display went out so now it was virtually invisible. One modification kit, one new VFD display and one disgruntled customer!
Pity about these problems as I can't recall many mechanical faults.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 6:08 pm   #9
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Some other VS-xx double digit model numbers also used various curious power supplies.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 6:19 pm   #10
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Welsh Anorak View Post
The old VS-1 was a real battleship among battleships! Looked like nothing else.
Then the one with OSD that looked a bit like a Space Invaders screen, especially on the odd occasion it failed. Advanced for its time. Did they rebadge a 3V23, or am I mistaken on that? They certainly badged the older JVC mechanicals.
The ones I met most were the VS-22 with the capacitor failure that Maarten mentions. It used a very complicated and curious power supply that combined a switching regulator with a mains transformer. Akai supplied a small circuit board and a bunch of capacitors which would work, but was tedious to fit. Then the next machines over-ran their displays, so you fitted another mod kit with unusual (for the time) 120uF, high temperature, low-ESR capacitors. This brought the voltage down, but of course the customer had used it until the display went out so now it was virtually invisible. One modification kit, one new VFD display and one disgruntled customer!
Pity about these problems as I can't recall many mechanical faults.
I think the 3V23 was rebadged as the Akai VS10 , along with a rebadged version for ITT as well.
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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 9:54 pm   #11
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Hi,

We sold and rented the VS-Fxx range in vast numbers.
From memory, VS-F10 basic spec, 15 was long play, 33 was the text programmable version and 967 was the nicam machine.

Again from memory, there were three modifications that did a decent job of ending the reliability issue. The pressure roller was changed from a thrust type to a bearing based one, there was the little plastic insert that went under the carriage slider to stop the mech jumping timing, and a rejig of the DC-DC convertor that drove the FL display. The latter was an easy mod in the simple machines, but more of a faff in, for example the hifi one, since all the stacked pcbs would need to come out. Sloppy engineers would cut the plastics out from below the cabinet as a short cut (I hated it when I saw that)

Back to the main point, picture quality. Absolutely excellent. I often remarked upon it at the time, but it really was unbeatable. I'd argue that it was better than the Panasonic range of the same period, of which we also shifted loads. NV-J30,35, F-65 etc

They were really very good indeed

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Old 22nd Apr 2021, 10:21 pm   #12
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

I remember the Baird HiFi machine, mine would play HiFi tapes that were borderline & that my JVC HE-D910EK refused to track properly! The VFD on mine was failing even in the early 90's - I ended up keeping it just to copy to the other machine worn out HiFi recordings with the inevitable loss of picture quality but restored stereo sound! Me & my girlfriend at the time bought a new single speed mono machine with a peculiar 'Sideways' remote which was a pain to get used to holding, that was in 1989 Despite the odd remote, picture quality was very good as was the auto tracking feature!........Funny the things we remember in the audio/video world we lived in![
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 5:33 am   #13
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Quote:
Originally Posted by electronicskip View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welsh Anorak View Post
The old VS-1 was a real battleship among battleships! Looked like nothing else.
Then the one with OSD that looked a bit like a Space Invaders screen, especially on the odd occasion it failed. Advanced for its time. Did they rebadge a 3V23, or am I mistaken on that? They certainly badged the older JVC mechanicals.
The ones I met most were the VS-22 with the capacitor failure that Maarten mentions. It used a very complicated and curious power supply that combined a switching regulator with a mains transformer. Akai supplied a small circuit board and a bunch of capacitors which would work, but was tedious to fit. Then the next machines over-ran their displays, so you fitted another mod kit with unusual (for the time) 120uF, high temperature, low-ESR capacitors. This brought the voltage down, but of course the customer had used it until the display went out so now it was virtually invisible. One modification kit, one new VFD display and one disgruntled customer!
Pity about these problems as I can't recall many mechanical faults.
I think the 3V23 was rebadged as the Akai VS10 , along with a rebadged version for ITT as well.
I have a VS-10 too! It's indeed a rebadged 3V23, or more precisely, a rebadged JVC HR-7700. God that thing weighs an absolute ton and it's full of boards!
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 9:45 pm   #14
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Yes one of my favourite Akai machines was the VS-A77EK, which had an on-board Dolby Surround decoder (with amplifier)! This must've been a good couple of years before Dolby Pro Logic decoders became pretty much commonplace in larger screen tellies. Had a learning remote too!

Interestingly, there was a Salora OEM (SV9800) that naturally had a few cosmetic differences, and an addition of a 'VCR control' socket to allow basic tape functions to be controlled via the TV's remote. Though it kinda defeats the purpose of having a leaning remote! I'm not sure if Salora's earlier Mitsubishi OEM machines also carried the feature, but I digress..

Back to Akai; Later on down the line there was the unusual VS-G815 with its display doubling-up as the tape slot. Can't say I've ever seen that done before!

(pics courtesy of the interwebs)
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 10:47 pm   #15
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maarten View Post
Impressive is a good description for genuine Akai VCRs. I agree with your hidden gem evaluation. I always liked to sell them repaired/refurbished.

Some had design faults, but Akai always corrected them and made kits available. The general design and construction quality was above average, though I wouldn't say top of the line mostly. Some of the design quirks and features (they were the first to introduce on screen display) were very well thought through.

The switching or combined linear and switching power supplies gave many a technician a headache and required low ESR electrolytics in some cases (this wasn't a well known capacitor property at the time, it caused problems in Panasonic, Sony and Grundig machines as well). However, once repaired properly they were quite indestructible, like the rest of the machine.

I've never really liked one thing about the newer machines, though, and that is... The quick servo feature. Akai was one of the first manufacturers to leave the tape threaded around the video head all the time. On the other hand, it never gave me any problems either (maybe because Akai used their glass-ferrite expertise to make the video heads almost impossible to wear out?). I just don't like the idea.
Thank you very much for your feedback and insight. Iíve just been working on Panasonic Toshiba and Funai combis today and noticed they all leave the tape around the head.. must have become a time-saving/money-saving exercise..
Still I must say Iíve never use the deck that response as quickly as they sack I and handles tracking auto correction as well.
Interestingly as Iíve played this type several times in the last fortnight, some of the machines have been testing especially the Panasonic seem to be quite good at handling this tape (EZ48 vcr/dvd) I have grabbed myself a nice Akai now and awaiting delivery. Looks like a beauty of a machine with the LCD display in the flap! If the quality is right itís going to be a keeper.. canít believe Iím so late to The top quality VHS vcr train! The last time I paid for a video recorder it was 1999 and the model was Matsui VP9606 (from memory ) back then I was working at Dixons in Guildford, so naturally I had to put my money to good use!
Thanks again
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 10:49 pm   #16
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Originally Posted by ben View Post
I have one of the first ever VCRs with OSD and LP speed, the Akai VS-6 I think. Built like a tank.

I also have a later (circa 1990) VS-22 (23?) a 2 head mono unit, half load design as mentioned above. Rebadged 'Track' - no idea where that was sold, some store brand? I think the PSU gave me trouble on that one, caps and rectifier or regulator maybe? but otherwise very reliable and very sharp picture. No experience of the more upmarket models.
Thank you for sharing. Neither have I ever heard of track
Glad to hear more positive feedback though & totally amazed at the absolute lack of reviews write-ups et cetera of akai vcrs online. Was there ever a trade magazine for VCRs?
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 10:50 pm   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj_fivos_sak View Post
I have an old top loader VS-5. It has an odd fault where the capstan won't lock into the right speed with a ton of wow & flutter, and another fault where there's no picture in record. The RIFA capacitor in the mains supply recently gave me trouble. It went bang with lots of white smoke. That's common with these capacitors however. A unique "feature" with this model is that it displays "BREAKDOWN" on the VFD along with several beeps coming from a buzzer whenever there's a tape loading fault.
Thanks for your feedback. My question is really more about the later models where perhaps some of these issues had been ironed out. What did you move onto using after these?
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 10:54 pm   #18
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Default Re: Akai VHS VCRs - want to hear your opinions on them

Quote:
Originally Posted by dj_fivos_sak View Post
I have an old top loader VS-5. It has an odd fault where the capstan won't lock into the right speed with a ton of wow & flutter, and another fault where there's no picture in record. The RIFA capacitor in the mains supply recently gave me trouble. It went bang with lots of white smoke. That's common with these capacitors however. A unique "feature" with this model is that it displays "BREAKDOWN" on the VFD along with several beeps coming from a buzzer whenever there's a tape loading fault.
Great to hear your positives and negativeĎs thank you. Really starting to sound like they had a succession of issues with power supplies.. I suppose this wasnít a part of the machine that was made by Akai.. especially UK models which relied on UK friendly power supplies? Funnily enough I just googled your favourite model and all Iím getting on buses and other large vehicles!
Thanks for sharing
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 10:57 pm   #19
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Originally Posted by AmplifyAudio View Post
Somebody gave me a faulty Akai VCR many years ago. No idea what model it was, but IIRC it was a fairly high spec 4 head HiFi deck with jog shuttle and a fair few bells and assorted whistles. I ended up repairing it (can't remember the fault either) and using it for a good few years and I remember it being a decent machine despite having a strong BPC look...

Unfortunately I lent it to a mate who I didn't see for a couple of years. The next time I saw him, he told me it stopped working so he threw it out.
Itís always a shame when these high-end decks die.. shame you never got the chance to fix. Iíve just spent £70 on a nice one although the seller is a house clearance guy.. looks lush though canít wait to use it! Something about those extra controls and knowing that itís going to be top-notch if itís working okay. I guess I need to look on this forum for a guide to servicing VHS machines. I do know some basics but would be useful to know some more specifics. Thanks for sharing
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Old 23rd Apr 2021, 10:59 pm   #20
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Originally Posted by toshiba tony View Post
I always liked Akai, right back as far as the VS2. The first front loaders had flimsy mechs but they were repairable. Good lookers, the clock displays let them down, a modkit came out that had mixed results but as most Akai's had on screen programming this didn't matter. I'd no bother selling them, made good money on them too.
Thank you for your useful and positive feedback. The VS2 was that an early model? Iím struggling to find information on these old machines online. No one love them enough to make a website dedicated to them! I wonder what happened to Akai.. did they go and sell their brand? Not many left making VCRs now but Iíve just picked up and sold at Toshiba DVR 20. Didnít cope with my own type that well to be honest but otherwise a simple and reliable machine.
Thanks for your feedback
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