Akai M-8 Reel to Reel Tape Recorder

Akai M-8I write this listening to my Akai M-8 valve powered reel to reel tape recorder. It’s playing a random tape that I bought on eBay for a fiver entitled ‘Genesis: And then there were three’. Luckily for me that was obviously recorded over and it actually contains Jean Michel Jarre’s Concerts in China which I’ve not listened to for well over 10 years.

Anyway the point is that I HAVE A REEL TO REEL TAPE RECORDER. I’ve wanted one since I was a kid and now I have one; the best bit being that it cost me nothing other than a drive over to Hampstead a few weeks back. I got it by placing a wanted ad on London Freecycle and I got one (unexpected) response from a couple that had recently had a kid and who now needed to free up some space. It came with the original box, instruction manual and a tape (that I ditched).

From the cover of the instruction manual the Akai M-8 has these highlights:

  • Cross Field Heads
  • Vertical Center Speakers
  • Sound on Sound
  • 4 – track — 4 – Speed
  • Stereophonic sound
  • Record and Reproducer

Tonight’s the first time that I’ve really done anything with it as I was waiting for some tape. I’ve given it a really good clean using cotton buds and meths; the crap that came off the transport mechanism and the heads was shocking. It still needs some work as there is a hum so I’m hoping that Cathie’s Dad who has been doing up old 50’s radios for years can give me some advice here, I’m guessing that some valves might need replacing. That said, I’m really suprised with how good the sound quality is and that’s just coming from the built in speakers. It has a 5 pin DIN socket so I’ll need to buy a DIN -> phono lead and then I can plug it though my amp and also try recording.

I think that it also needs a bit of blinging up: I might stretch to one of these metal reels one day, but they are going for silly money, so for now I’ll stay with plain plastic.

1965 test report

  • luaty

    Hi there,
    I hope you check this regularly, ’cause I’m a little bit desperate. My grandfather owns this very reel-to-reel recorder and lately he’s been having some reproduction problems, as the tapes start playing normally but after an irregular interval of time (sometimes seconds sometimes minutes) the speed just starts dying down changing the pitch of the song which makes the listening a drag. I would be extremely appreciated if you could indicate me where I can get hold of spare parts (I need to buy, from what my grand father told me, a substitute read/record “head(not sure this is the term in english)”. We are from Angola, but I am residing in France for the time being, so it’ll be much easier (or so I thought at least before I started sniffing around for it) for me to get hold of such vintages. You’ve got my email adress so if you have some free time please help me out with some utile info.
    Thanks in advance

  • Eddy

    The M-8 was probably not one of AKAI’s best models. The M-9 is much better and reliable. I also had an M-8 in 1970. It did develope a hum in one channel. I sold it to someone who got it repaired. The change in tape speed is probably due to a worn main belt. The M-8 has only one belt that goes around the motor and a huge fly-wheel inside. AKAI spares are rare. The Company closed down long ago. The fast forward and rewind are carried out inside the machine by engaging a number of pulleys two rubber and one plastic. These need to be lubricated from time to time as well as the capstan shaft of the motor. Eddy

  • chuck altman

    I have numerous reel tapes, both 7 1/2 and 3 3/4 speed, recorded on a Webcor machine almost 50 years ago. Problem: I have no recorder to play them on. Can you help? Ideal world: a Webcor reel to reel recorder (or analog of same) that will have outlets enabling transfer of content to a DVD.

  • GJ

    The M8 makes a sweet all valve vinyl pre amp / amp too with direct phono inputs.

  • Rick B

    Does anyone know how to replace the main drive belt on the M-8. I’ve looked at disassembly and haven’t figured out where to start. If I can get a handle on disassembly, I can then look for a replacement belt.

    • evan

      I just changed mine and it works !!!

  • Edward Pinheiro

    To remove the transport part of the machine I removed several plugs which I was able to
    replace quite easily except one… a 5pin jack. By the its shape it should have been easy to replace but can’t find the socket. As best as I can see this group of wires starts somewhere around the fuse housing. By all logic it should end up very near the the left preamp. Please help

  • D.Durga Prasad

    I have 2 Akai M8 recorders. From my experience the tape speed going down is mostly due to main belt wear or due to failing of run capacitor by the side of the motor.
    Replacing this should solve your problem. Caution: These cap’s retain charge long after the power is disconnected and you are likely to get a nasty shock if you touch them. Be shure to discharge them by touching them with a insulated metal screwdriver.