Question about cassette player settings

Bought a used Nakamichi cassette player (LX-5) with no manual. The player offers 3 Tape Selections - EX, SX, and ZX. I'm familiar with Type I, II and IV tapes, but not with the Nakamichi settings. What do I use? Also, the player offers 2 EQ settings - 70 and 120. Again I'm at a loss about which to use since neither my pre-recorded nor blank tapes indicate an EQ setting. Can anyone give me some guidance? Thanks and have a Merry Christmas.
As I recall, your EX,SX and ZX settings are for bias, which is part of the recording function. EX will probably match inexpensive tapes, SX for high quality tapes and ZX for the very expensive "chromium" type tapes. Your EQ settings are for playback with the lower setting for inexpensive tape and the ligher setting for high quality and "chromium" type tapes. Using oth the Bias and EQ settings properly will maximize the performance of the tape you select. (I found that TDK SA worked the best for my applications.)

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Jim is partially correct. The EQ or equalization is set for 70 for chrome and metal tapes, and 120 for conventional tape, as I recall. The bias is some Nak proprietary coding, but is probably EX for conventional, SX for chrome and ZX for metal. I'm surprised that your blank tapes don't say something like high or low bias, and give the recommended EQ.
Thanks for the corrrection, Swampwalker- it's been a few years since I've been involved with tapes. Although, I seem to recall at some point that chrome and metal meant the same thing as far as bias was concerned and that high quality non-metal tapes like the TDK SA was the mid-bias setting. Perhaps the standards were changed at some point as even higher bias tapes were introduced?
I have an LX-3 which is the same with the exception of having two heads.The previous poster is absolutely right. I would like to add that if you want the best performance use only metal tapes:TDK,Maxell, even Sony.The 'super' chrome (Maxell XL-IIS and TDK SA-X ) sometimes come close but I can always here the difference.Forget about 'normal 'type tapes; they are so inferior that it is not funny.This deck is capable of the very high quality recordings though not quite there with the best.
If i remember correctly, Audio magazine did a test using a referernce quality cassette deck to see which tape types performed best. I think the machine in question was a Nak 1000. As one might expect, the Nakamichi brand tapes of various formulations ( EX, SX and ZX ) did the best of the lot. They bettered the likes of similar yet better known formulations from TDK, Maxell, Scotch, Sony, Memorex, etc... Then again, Nak probably pre-set the factory bias / EQ on their machines to match their specific tape formulations.

With that in mind, you'll find that specific tape formulations / brands will work better than others in any type of magnetic tape based recorder. This has to do with the factory pre-sets in terms of Equilization and Bias. Some machines automatically re-calibrate themselves for optimum performance with whatever type of tape you install. These were all more expensive three head machines and typically from the late 1970's to mid 1980's or so. If you don't have one of these machines, it would probably be best to experiment with a few different brands of tape to see which works best. For audio reproduction, Metal is best with Chrome coming in a close second. Anything else ( normal or Ferri-Chrome ) coming a distant third and fourth in most cases. Sean
Like most of the posters, it's been a while since I used a cassette deck. Most Nak decks had a bias setting procedure to optimize recording on blank tapes. I never owned the LX-5 so I don't know if it has this feature. From memory, having set the tape type and put the deck into record mode, you start the test tone and start recording. You then adjust the bias to achieve "0" on both channels. On at least one of my Naks this required using a small screwdriver.

If you haven't already done so, you might try emailing Nakamichi and inquire whether it would be possible to purchase a manual, or whether one is available in a pdf file.


These guys gave you very good information. I've owned 5 different Nak decks and there are some tricks to very good recordings. Firstly, the Nak can be custom tailored internally for a particular tape formulation. TDKs are decent, but the oxides shed too easily and the housings are not as stable as Maxell. Have the deck internally tweaked for Maxell UDXL II and the noise floor will drop, dynamics will be better.

Also, no matter how good the Dolby is, high end will be rolled off. I record/playback without Dolby SX @ 70. Some tape hiss but much better dynamics and natural highend. Also, you can push the saturation point on Naks like no other deck I've owned. Just touching the red zone on peaks is okay and results in very dynamic recordings. Good luck.
Just a little to add to the above. I've been making tapes with the same H-K deck since 1987 & have to agree with Celtic66 on not using Dolby. I also *push* the recording level so it hovers between 0 and +1 dB with peaks reaching into the red. Depending on what you use to playback the tapes with I would suggest changing the playback settings to experiment with in regards to hiss & rolloff points.

I've had very good success with Maxell XLII-S and even have some UDXLII from 1982 & '83 that still play OK. I made all my tapes to take over the road with me so only made a few metal ones, but they definitely were of better quality.

I've played these tapes in Pioneer, JVC, Alpine, Concord & Soundstream decks & they all played back differently. Have fun with it.
Good point about the equalization settings being named for and optimized to, Nak tape formulations. If the bias and equalization cannot be tweaked from the front panel like some of the better vintage 3 head decks (both my Aiwa and my NAD can), then you are WAY ahead if you pick a tape and then have a local technician adjust the bias and EQ to match the tape (just make sure it is a major brand/long running formulation).
Thanks for all the responses. I've gotten quite an education. I'm blown away by the quality of sound coming from the LX-5 using pre-recorded tapes (a variety of brands of both CrO2 and metal) that I made back in 1991 on a relatively inexpensive Nak (CRA-1 I think). I'd swear the dynamics and high and low end are better than the source CD.
Again, thanks for your help.