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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 14th Jan 2021, 8:24 pm   #1
Andrew64
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Default Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

I have been asked to recap an Akai GX77.

The machine is early 80s and all works, I've checked the capstan motor commutator and other wear points so know hours run are low.

The majority of the caps are Nippon Chemi-com, mostly black with some orange and yellow ones. There are a sprinkle of Marcom ones which I believe are a subsidiary of Nippon Chemi-com.

Now my question is, is it worth replacing all the caps, only some or even none?

If only some, would those in the audio paths be the ones to go for?

Lastly is there anything else that would benefit from a change?
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Old 15th Jan 2021, 8:43 pm   #2
John_BS
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

There's an awful lot of them, and there's the risk of collateral damage.

I'd recommend removing a respresentative sample* and testing them. The ones which tend to be critical are coupling C's which feed into a high impedance (c. 100k ish ) where any leakage current may upset the DC conditions. Check those for leakage at the approximate working voltage.

If they're OK, leave well alone.

John
* e.g. C10, C33, C39
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 8:13 am   #3
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Definitely concur with above, do not replace all the capacitors, a huge job with high risk, very few if any may actually require replacing.

Recapping (as a full blown exercise) generally refers to coupling/de-coupling paper capacitors normally found on some older valve equipment, some Electrolytics and some Tantalums.

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Old 16th Jan 2021, 8:44 am   #4
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

It's an 'american' phrase/word; recap. They do it because it has become de rigeur, fashionable even to recap any item of vintage hi-fi. Over there there are many specialist vintage hi-fi technicians who make a living out of wading through amps, receivers, tuners, cassette decks etc changing every electrolytic cap in sight and furthermore claim that it is necessary. Given the good living they make out of the practice, a cynic may say that it's biased advice.

Now, to me. I collect and restore vintage hi-fi and I like everything to work perfectly. After normal restoration, when in terms of electrolytic caps I may have had to change the main smoothers due to leaking and hence faulty, I have very rarely had to change any other electrolytics. I've probably changed more transistors and resistors than electrolytic caps! And to my highly critical ears everything works and sounds perfect. In the UK we do not suffer from extremes of temperature like they do in the US, and I'm sure this helps with the longevity of caps, heat kills them. Similarly, in the US they generally push their equipment harder/louder in bigger rooms and use much higher powered amps and receivers that similarly generate more heat, leading to failure.

Your cassette deck is working fine, leave as is is my strong, experience based opinion. Just explain to the customer that recapping is an American obsession that may have some justification in a hot, dry country but over here it's not necessary and is no more than a borrowed, misguided vintage hi-fi fashion.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 1:41 pm   #5
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew64 View Post
The machine is early 80s and all works, I've checked the capstan motor commutator and other wear points so know hours run are low.
I'd let that be your guide. If nothing's wrong, don't fix it until it breaks! If it's for a customer, either they'll accept the engineering advice that nothing needs doing to it; or if they insist then you'd have to charge a convincingly gigantic price for the great labour of doing so.

Besides, there's a lot of nonsense written about 'capacitors in the audio path' which I think comes from America, in the same vein as stevehertz's post. When one stops listening to the music, some imagined niggle of dissatisfaction means money must be spent on changing hardware, or taking tiny measured differences in radio frequencies and believing there's an audible result.

If that comes on strong, it's because I've made the mistake of fixing something tiny until it breaks. Shipwright's disease is debilitating!
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 2:22 pm   #6
stevehertz
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

You me both Uncle. Lotta rubbish and 'guilt' propagated by inveterate cap changers. The 'improvements' they supposedly hear and the blind faith levels of belief they have in recaps are borderline audiophoolery territory.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 2:32 pm   #7
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Totally agree. The only exception may be the capacitor fitted across the mains input. These can and do deteriorate with age and can be replaced with a more modern class X2 component. However, if there's one fitted to your machine it's likely to be a Japanese part which are usually reliable.
I see there's a kit available online with 59 capacitors! I would be very reluctant to replace all - or even some - of those as even experienced restorers can make a mistake and we've all had that 'why did I start?' moment. Maybe take out and test a sample as suggested above.
It's a lovely machine and as most capacitors are in the small signal path and of a good make they are unlikely to have deteriorated much if at all.
Far better than random capacitor replacement is a good old mechanical service. Then the best test is your ears - if it sounds good then enjoy it!
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 2:34 pm   #8
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Each time you take something apart you increase the chances of introducing another fault, sometimes it's best to replace all of a certain type of component in one service if you want long term reliability and good feedback from paying customers.

Lawrence.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 3:08 pm   #9
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
.

Your cassette deck is working fine, leave as is is my strong, experience based opinion. Just explain to the customer that recapping is an American obsession that may have some justification in a hot, dry country but over here it's not necessary and is no more than a borrowed, misguided vintage hi-fi fashion.
Reel to Reel not cassette.

David
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 4:06 pm   #10
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

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Originally Posted by Uncle Bulgaria View Post
If nothing's wrong, don't fix it until it breaks! If it's for a customer, either they'll accept the engineering advice that nothing needs doing to it; or if they insist then you'd have to charge a convincingly gigantic price for the great labour of doing so.

Besides, there's a lot of nonsense written about 'capacitors in the audio path'
Quite agree.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 5:30 pm   #11
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Don't get me started on this capacitor nonsense. I have ended up avoiding participating in several US forums I used to use regularly because of the moronic obsession and unscientific positions found there in this regard.

A surprisingly large number of people over there seem to think that the capacitors needed to be changed 'for reliability' because they're 'old'. The response I adopt is: if you're going to do that, then why stop there? What about all those old resistors, pots, transistors and other semiconductors of the same age? No logical responses were forthcoming!

Of course, as always there are shades of grey and exceptions. Caps in audio do not lead anywhere near the hard life you find in enclosed SMPS or high voltage equipment like TVs. But there are caps that are known as problematical: Rifas and the wax types; the red/black plessey electrolyrics... There are others that have seemingly given many people problems such as the gold frakos (though I only ever saw that once on a Uher r2r) and tantalums. Then there's the 'badcaps' plague of a few years back which I suspect is responsible for originating a lot of this nonsense.

But of course, it just comes down a proper servicing 'approach'. The internet is now full of the non technical who do not use a meter, or even deductive reasoning and fault finding techniques, yet churn out their 'advice' to others who then perpetuate the same thing and so the cycle continues!

In this case, if there's no hum or loss of signal, leave well alone.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 5:57 pm   #12
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
.

Your cassette deck is working fine, leave as is is my strong, experience based opinion. Just explain to the customer that recapping is an American obsession that may have some justification in a hot, dry country but over here it's not necessary and is no more than a borrowed, misguided vintage hi-fi fashion.
Reel to Reel not cassette.

David
Ok, thanks for pointing that out. Still of the same opinion regarding recapping.
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Old 16th Jan 2021, 11:17 pm   #13
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Hum in an audio device is often a sign of a failing electro. Another is weak bass.
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Old 18th Jan 2021, 11:40 pm   #14
Andrew64
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Thank you all for your suggestions, there is a lot of knowledge on this forum that I am most grateful for!

I personally am not in favour of wholesale recapping, particularly a difficult deck such as this. That is why I sought help to clarify my mind.

I have done a cap and trimmer change on my Revox A77 but as 10 caps were duff and itís not a hard deck to do I was happy to do it.

A problem of wholesale component change is, as John mentioned, collateral damage - so easy to do.

In view of this and various points contributed I am going to check the frequency response and various caps then make a decision on how best to proceed, Iíll keep you posted.
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Old 19th Jan 2021, 12:50 am   #15
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

You clearly know what you are doing Andrew [which is more than I can say] but the reaction here illustrates the strength of feeling. No one seems to quite know where this "change all caps" notion originated except it's probably American and clearly relates to engineers who have such a regular through-put [as mentioned] that they can be totally confident they won't make things a lot worse or can sort it out if they do! It's become a sort of accepted truism which it isn't at all-especially for amateur restorers. It's a form of wishful thinking in a way I suppose if, like me for example, you don't have the experience!

Surprisingly this takes me back to the first vintage Popeye films when he is very upset and releases all the the animals from cages in Olive's Pet Shop. Only the wise old Parrot refuses to leave a perfectly comfortable and satisfactory existence.
He sings the great song- Leave Well Enough Alone!
"I know me stuff and I'm smart enough to leave well enough alone!"
[Of course a sense of humour may be required

One of the much later Hunikun Technical TV series episodes has him stripping
down a van with a funny noise. He doesn't sort it and concludes it's better
just to leave things alone some times!

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Old 19th Jan 2021, 8:56 am   #16
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

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No one seems to quite know where this "change all caps" notion originated
I think I first heard of this in connection with refurbishment of studio desks, where there are many capacitors in the signal path of each channel, densely packed and running up to 24/7 for a decade. This would have taken enough of the electrolytics beyond their design life to justify wholesale replacement, on grounds of reliability if nothing else - and at the time there were the budgets available to do it. Enough of the audio fraternity took the headline away and pronounced it a panacea, without understanding the background.

Of course there are cases where it's sensible just to do the lot - David's (RW) Revox tuner which had spent many years roasting in a rack is a good example, as are Fostex G series multitracks, where the failure rate is woefully high - but most domestic semiconductor-based kit is best served by replacing faulty capacitors and letting the rest be.
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Old 19th Jan 2021, 10:30 am   #17
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

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...most domestic semiconductor-based kit is best served by replacing faulty capacitors and letting the rest be.
Yes. An exception perhaps being that if you find a fault caused by a failed electrolytic capacitor, it's sometimes reassuring to replace any "similar" ones at the same time, e.g. the LH speaker coupling cap if the RH one has developed high ESR; or the other Frako 10uF 25V caps if you've just had one that's gone s/c.

I'm also suspicious about ones that live right next to hot-running components. And those horrid SM ones which leak corrosive stuff. And Callins ones.

But the rest I'd leave. Not least because the original components (especially if Japanese) may well have been of better quality than that available nowadays.
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Old 19th Jan 2021, 10:35 am   #18
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Fair comment.

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Old 19th Jan 2021, 2:39 pm   #19
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

The mention of Frako reminds me of s/c 470uf 25v one I had to change in my Grundig Satellit 3400. I won't complain though, it ultimately resulted in me getting it as a none worker for just under a ton, it was cosmetically almost perfect and came with the case & booklets as well. Must post on that sometime.

The Peak ESR70 meter I ordered has just turned up so can check those caps now…..
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Old 20th Jan 2021, 4:09 pm   #20
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Default Re: Akai GX77 recap - which ones to change if any?

Not sure if this is a granny/eggs comment, but I do recommend retesting the machine after every replacement. It's all too easy to change a handful of parts and be greeted with a fault that wasn't there before!
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