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KLH Model Forty Reel -To -Reel Recorders

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#1 Guest_matty g_*

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:28 PM

Hi Andy

I guess I'm referring to the updated model, which was a very compact, lightweight nicely built tape deck. I know they were available around '70-'73. Could it have been Model Forty One? I can't remember now, but I've tried many times to troubleshoot these units - with no success. I guess KLH couldn't work out the bugs - or else I'm very unlucky.

I do remember seeing them on TV once in a while. For example, Steve McGarett used one in his office on "Hawai Five-o" from time to time. Of course this proves nothing other than the fact that they were out there. Still would like to know if anyone has had any experience with this machine - good or bad.



#2 Andy


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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:26 PM

If you're talking about the big model 40 which was over 50 lbs. (I'm not sure if the smaller unit was also labeled model 40)....the big version was about $600 in 1968 which was a lot of money back then. In a interview, Henry Kloss said these early Nakamichi decks were full of insufficiencies which KLH worked on trying to overcome, saying it was " a very exspensive, unhappy experience".

The big decks are works of art with the large brushed aluminun face plate, but I've also heard a few stories of it being very hard to get them working properly. A ad in High Fidelity Magazine said they were "as good as a $3,500 machine". I'm not so sure about this claim.

This info does not answear your question, but shows that that proper function may be elusive, but they sure do look nice all clened up !


#3 Guest_matty g_*

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 08:28 PM

I know it's not a loudspeaker system and I hope I'm not breaking the rules, but I'm wondering if anyone has a point of view on the Model Forty recorders introduced in '68. I know they were the first consumer machine available with Dolby (sorry I don't have the copyright symbol on my keyboard) noise reduction and were ideal for use with the excellent Model Twenty systems, but I have yet to see one that actually works! I have had the privilege of attempting repairs on 4 of these machines and just can't seem to get to the root of the problem.

They seem to be very problematic, as all of the ones I have ever come across are in perfect condition mechanically, with no wear to the heads or pinch roller. It seems as though they stopped working when they were almost new. The circuit board is most unusual, as it has seperate tracings on the top vs the bottom (like a sandwich) and the Dolby circuits plug into the main board (unusual for that era).
Troubleshooting this board is very difficult as the circuits are split between the top and the bottom of the board and the machine is jam packed with electronics. The electronics were built by Nackamichi - very respectable electronics firm - but they all seem to have a problem with the board. Only one channel records, nothing plays back, etc. Of all of the Model Forties I have had on my workbench or seen in peoples homes, I have yet to see one that works - or that I can fix. If anyone has a working Model Forty could you post your thoughts on it? I'm not looking to buy one, just curious about the performance of this unusual machine.

#4 soundminded


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Posted 08 July 2007 - 02:18 AM

"A ad in High Fidelity Magazine said they were "as good as a $3,500 machine". I'm not so sure about this claim."

The difference between a $3500 "professional" machine and a consumer machine is often far more a matter of ruggedness than of advertised specs. Professional equipment is built to last and last and last even under difficult conditions of use while consumer equipment sometimes breaks down if you stare at it too hard. Workhorse tape decks were made differently than consumer machines from the ground up. First of all, to maintain critical alignment, they were built around die cast frames, not cheap stampings. All moving parts were machined to much closer tolerences and motors were more powerful. Most pro machines had three motors and three heads, some had dual capstans. There were excellent choices for consumers though. Teac's 1230 or 1250 I think was a good choice and a predecessor to their excellent 2300 (Teac's predecessor was American Concertone) and another popular consumer unit came from Roberts, predecessor to Akai, also a reliable consumer machine. It was around the mid 60s that the industry went from parabolic heads which needed pressure pads to hyperbolic heads which didn't. Viking made several variants which sometimes found their way into radio stations, the 85, 86, 87, and 88. All were rugged machines but the 88 had hyperbolic heads. Ampex made some consumer units which were surprisingly reliable. But the king of all 1/4" two and four channel tape decks was Crown. I've never seen another machine like it and surprsingly it can often be had used today for very little money. No expense was spared to make this the finest deck of its type anywhere. It was advertised to survive a parachute drop in its own case. Its electronics were military spec and made on glass epoxy boards, a rarity for consumer products in those days. It used all solenoid controls an industry first. I think it was a match for true professional studio decks like Otari. They found their way into many radio stations. Crown made tape decks long before they manufactured their first amplifier. The 800 series is superior to the 700 series and I think the SX electronics was preferred over the CX electronics. Any way you slice it, this was the pinacle of tape recorders avaialable to the consumer. $600 for a KLH tape deck was a joke and a Tandberg with a stick shift lever and a neon eye instead of VU meters was rediculous. Revox A77 was a good machine but was IMO overpriced like most things made in Europe as I see it (high cost of both labor and materials.) The Teac 2300 was just as good and much cheaper.

#5 Guest_matty g_*

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 09:21 PM

Yep - that's the usual story. Since I posted the original question, a former service manager for KLH during their golden era has signed on. I posed the same question to him, and he stated that those machines were a total nightmare for KLH. He said that he remembered a special repair bench just for those machines, as so many of them crapped out under warranty. His name is Mark, and he goes by the handle KLH SvcMgr - read some of his posts.... very valuable information to be had. Oh - welcome to the pages, by the way!


#6 HarmonY



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Posted 04 July 2007 - 09:41 PM

I guess I'm referring to the updated model, which was a very
>compact, lightweight nicely built tape deck. I know they were
>available around '70-'73. Could it have been Model Forty One?
>I can't remember now, but I've tried many times to
>troubleshoot these units - with no success. I guess KLH
>couldn't work out the bugs - or else I'm very unlucky.
Still would like
>to know if anyone has had any experience with this machine -
>good or bad.

Hi Matt,
Sorry this reply is late but I just signed up. Yes, the smaller model that I've seen was called the Forty-One. A friend had one in the early 70's and when it was about a year old the sound quality went to pot. Cleaning the tape path didn't help; I took it to a friend who was a computer tech and he tweaked a couple pots inside... but a year or two later the machine failed in some other way, and by then its owner had lost interest.

#7 Guest_matty g_*

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 01:44 AM

Hey Soundminded -

Can't believe I missed this - I couldn't agree with you more about the Teac 2300 series. I also feel that way about the 4300 and 6300 as well - my favorite tape decks of all time.
Had the Vikings (with the upside down threading) and they were very durable, had a few Ampex units - very durable, but rather clunky. Roberts/Akai - nice build but too much crosstalk. Can't afford a Revox, but I did manage to let a beautiful B77 slip through my fingers while I hemmed and hawed. Tandberg 64's and 64x's and the newer 10" version... never again. Burn me four times and shame on me.
I've never had the pleasure of checking out a Crown unit, but I'll keep my eye out for one. It almost sounds like a Nagra type of build. Yes, $600 for something that won't last a year, even if it is built by Nakamichi, is quite ridiculous indeed.


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