How do I adjust the VU meters on my Tandberg 3014?

Hello all!

My first post here, although I've been "lurking" for awhile. You all have awesome knowledge and some unbelievable gear!

I have been enjoying the forum posts and especially ones by gearheads interested in old tape decks and old, vintage gear. I dug the comparison post where Nak vs. Tandberg is discussed. Great insight, and I've been a long time fan of Nakamichi, and a recent convert to all things Tandberg, although, I still love Naks. My best recording has also been done on Nakamichi decks, especially the LX-5 which is my favorite.

Here's my situation:

I've recently been experiencing some problems recording with my master record deck, my Nakamichi LX-5. The left channel was starting to go in and out, sometimes a very subtle drop on that left side during recording. By pushing the monitor button, I can cause the left channel to drop out without much effort. Knowing that it hasn't been serviced in over five years, I figure with a good lube and oil and basic cleaning and adjustment, I should be good to go for another few years. But the local service shop takes months.

So, in the interim, while getting the Nak fixed, I found a killer deal on a TANDBERG 3014 (Dragon Slayer) and immediately went over to check it out. It was absolutely pristine and I bought on the spot. I noticed the left VU was stuck in a higher than normal position in the red, but I did see movement, so I figured, with these decks being so adjustable, it would be no problem getting the meters set and perfectly aligned. With the 3014, you need a small plastic, as Tandberg calls it in their manual, "instrument screwdriver" to adjust the bias. The azimuth adjustment has a dial just below these bias holes where you fit the screwdriver to adjust the bias for normal, type II and metal tapes.

I followed the manual step by step in trying to get the meters adjusted, and the right side is dialed in to 0 db, as the manual instructs. The problem is the left side VU will not budge out of the red, no matter what adjustment I do with both bias and azimuth, the meter remains stuck. I see the meter moving at high decibels, but it mostly just sits there in the red.

I have done some test recording, and all the controls and features work perfectly, EXCEPT the recordings are obviously not leveled right, because of this stuck left VU meter.

IF anyone has experienced this with their 3014, or has insite on how I can adjust this meter manually, please let me know. I can find nothing in the original manual on how to adjust other than the bias/azimuth. Also, was wondering what position a "resting" VU should be at. I imagine, they rest right at 0 db. and never go far left, as some other VU's do.

Much appreciated!
My guess is that the pointer mechanism is mechanically stuck (ie from age, dirt, etc.) and electronic adjustment is not the answer. You could try either accessing the back of the meter and/or taking it out. If it has a hole anywhere on the case, you could try giving it a little shot of air. Otherwise you'll have to disassemble it and find out what's stuck. It sounds like the meter's OK electrically. If the coil was burned out, it would only move a little or not at all, but the pointer would be in the resting position (all the way over to the left.)
If you can remove the meters, why not use the good meter for setting your left channel? This way, both channels will be in sync.

In addition, the meters at rest should drop all the way to the left, not remain at 0 db. 0 db is the maximum recording level...

RW and Nsgarch

Thanks very much for your replies. Good information here. This machine is in such great shape, other than the meter settings, I don't want to screw anything up. Sure, I have popped a few tops in my day, but I have also had some problems, especially trying to fix cassette decks, there's so much going on inside. I don't feel confident or qualified to work on this high-end piece. May have to follow my Nak into the shop if I can't figure a way to get these meters leveled. Been trying to find an audio tech here in Denver (via craigs list), so far, no luck.

RW - when you say "why not use the good meter for setting your left channel". Sorry, I'm a bit "technically challenged" here. Not sure what you mean. The left meter is stuck in the red. The right meter, is about level, but is not dropping down to the resting position, far left when no signal is present, or when power is off. They both stay up, the right at around zero, the left, in the red.

RW, you're right, the bias is set by toggling between two settings and zeroing out the meters (max recording level) for each tape type. BUT, right now, I cannot seem to dramatically effect either side.


If you are in Denver, try Moon Audio on Broadway. When I first moved to Denver in 1998 (now live in SoCal) I bought a used Tandberg A440 from them (I'm a Nak guy myself). Their tech guy on site was pretty knowledgeable about the deck. Also, try Sonic Sense ( Mark is no longer focusing on analogue (used to be a big NAK repair/refurbisher), but probably could point you in the right direction. Lastly, try John Barnes at Audio Unlimited ( he won't be able to repair this for you, but he may know someone who can. John is a great guy regardless and someone you should know. I have more names and contacts in Denver so if one of these doesn't work for you email me and I'll see what else I can do.
THANKS so much! I am familiar with Moon Audio (storefront was Second Sound) on Broadway, and they've been there for years, but recently, I went by to browse the high-end gear, and they were gone! I've got to find out if in fact they closed, or have just moved. Perhaps this John Barnes will know, and I will certainly email him and find out his best recommendations. AWESOME!

It's tough to stay in business these days. When I first went to Moon Audio they had a nice selection of used gear. The new gear was focused on home theater mostly which was not my cup of tea.

You should actually just give John a call and arrange a visit. He is in the University Avenue and I-25 area. Has 3 or 4 showrooms in his house where he operates from. Lots of interesting gear.
Thanks Clio
Spoke with John. Knowledgable guy and ultra helpful. He's shared his insight on his best techs up in Boulder, who specialize in vintage, and one guy tape decks. I'll be checking in with them tomorrow, who knows, a great excuse to cruise up to some of my old haunts in beautiful Boulder.

Thanks again!
Glad I could be of assistance. Hopefully you'll get over to John's place some time to check out his gear, not to mention his Alpha's.