Akai reel to reel trouble

I just purchased an Akai gx 230 reel to reel. The original owner guaranteed that it worked perfectly and it seems to be in great shape.

When I played a my old tapes I got very faint sound and only the right channel VU meter showed a signal. I have it connected to a modern amp into the RCA tape input (out of deck into amp).

I called the owner and he said he used it less than a month ago with no problem. He seems like a straight forward guy. He thought maybe it needed a preamp since there was barely any volume (just enough to hear what was on the tape) so I plugged the deck into a small preamp that I use for my turntable; same result.

What am I doing wrong? Do I need a different preamp or should this deck be playing back with just RCA out and in? Sure would like to get it up and running so if any one has suggestions I'd love to hear them.
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More about akai reel reel trouble
  1. Could the tapes be half track and the Akai be quarter track (or vice versa) ?
  2. Quote:
    Could the tapes be half track and the Akai be quarter track (or vice versa) ?

    Hmm...possible but I taped these reels so long ago I have no idea how they were taped. I am real new to this, how could I tell?

    I have tried to play reels that I taped on my old Teac deck (old stuff from my band taped off the sound board) and one pre-recorded tape (Oklahoma) as well as some family stuff that I used a mike; all played back about the same...barely audible, even with the amp cranked up.

    Is there some way that I can test the deck to see if the audio out is operational or test to make sure the play back head is working. I guess the only other thing is to test the CD -- TAPE in on the amp to determine if that is the problem there but I doubt it, it is a fairly new amp.

    Or maybe it is the way the tapes were recorded...if I record over another tape with this recorder, it should play back Okay, if the recorder is working the way it should, right?

    Thanks for your help.
  3. Best answer
    If you can find some blank tape (or used that doesn't have any value) just record direct from a CD player or whatever into the line inputs and monitor from the playback head (or just wind the tape back and replay it). This would establish whether the heads are in good condition and if the electronics are all working.

    If you are confused about connections keep it simple and plug the CD player into the RCAs on the tape deck and monitor via the tape deck headphone output -- you may have to find a regular big stereo headphone jack converter plug for walkman type headphones.

    Presumably you have cleaned the heads (cotton wool sticks and simple alcohol like vodka and dry the heads after with cotton wool stick) -- occasional demagnetisation is a good idea too (if you can still find such an accessory).
  4. Best answer selected by Dandee23.
  5. I did this and discovered that the monitor switch was dirty. Flicking it on and off produced improved sound but still not great.

    I took the deck apart and cleaned the monitor switch with D5 and it worked like a charm. Amazing how something like that could cause so much trouble...Thanks
  6. Switch contacts and potentiometers corrode with age on old equipment. Switch cleaner is an essential (I speak as the owner of amps dating back to the mid 1970's)

    At least your Akai hasn't suffered from the heat that plagues Revoxes -- I've opened those to find that the plastics of every potentiometer has almost turned to dust.
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