View Full Version : Nakamichi 581 playback alignment screws - advice please

20-06-2009, 19:24
I have noticed a channel difference on my 581. The left hand channel seems to consistently play back at a lower volume than the right hand channel. It's not my tapes because they are fine on another cassette deck I have and I have proven the issue by looking at the WAV form when I copy music to my PC. It doesn't appear to be a problem with the connectors on the back of the unit or my various cables either because I can observe the lower levels by watching the VUs.

I have no knowledge whatsoever of adjusting head height and azimuth alignment screws. The prospect of getting it wrong is worrying me but I can't afford a 200 repair bill so feel like giving it a go but don't know whether I am barking up the wrong tree.

Can anybody offer any advice please? :)


20-06-2009, 19:49
PLEASE DON'T TOUCH!!!!! I did and fortunately lived to tell the tale after a stiff telling off by the UK NAK service dept.

Nakamichi used to make an excellent service test set. using this with the proper test tapes, one could set up a machine like yours in around five minutes, starting with the guide adjustment tools, then levels, fine-tuning the heads for physical alignment, final play and record levels and azimuth. It's easy for an experienced and trained techie to do, but not for twiddlers like me.

You could try recording a test tone on another known machine and then play it back on yours. The playback level preset is inside and labelled I think, but 200 on an expert service isn't a bad cost as long as a very thorough service is done - your machine is 30 years old now and who knows may have been at it in the past...

20-06-2009, 19:55
Thank you - I'm now so glad I asked! You have made my evening.;)


20-06-2009, 20:05
I know I haven't and it's going to cost.. Perhaps you could save for a trip to Sussex and stay on the coast for a couple of nights while the service dept sort it for you?????

20-06-2009, 20:37
You really have made my evening! I have been in a dilemma about it for weeks... now I have free, good and impartial advice and know to not take a chance. I could at least have a couple of days out to save the transporting fees :)

Spectral Morn
20-06-2009, 20:53
Interesting..!? I too have a slight imbalance on my Nakamichi CR5....I just compensate my reducing the playback level on that channel. I can hear no loss in sound quality by doing that. However it needs a service no doubt...I too can't afford it but know not to touch.

Regards D S D L

Alex Nikitin
21-06-2009, 22:37
I would start from cleaning and demagnetising the heads and then would use a proper test tape (full width recording) to check for the playback level. Dave is quite right - better not to touch the head adjustments - the only exception is for the azimuth and even that should be done with a test tape and at least a computer to check the signals.


22-06-2009, 18:03
Thanks Alex. That seems to be the prevailing advice I have received from other sources I have tried as well. A thorough clean and demagnitization has not brought dividends. A friend is going to send me some test sounds so I can create a test tape that I will then play into my computer.


22-06-2009, 18:16
With Naks of this type, azimuth affects the head height to a degree as I remember and the two have to be done together.