Review: Nakamichi RX202 Tape deck

Category: Miscellaneous

I was searching for a long time a machine that would transfer my valuable vinyls onto the tape with minimal compromise and yet to be an affordable piece. There are some records I even buy so I sell them later-on due to its sky-rocketing price. Such records are usually very rare and out-of print since stone ages. Moreover it brings me a possibility to record a new upcoming music that I can borrow from my friends without searching or buying them through the internet.

This deck despite having only basic features is quite sophisticated having a maximum noise isolation from the motors with highly-complicated belt-driven system. Somehow I realized that belt-driven system for tape deck works almost the same as belt-driven system for turntable where you have more vibration isolation and less noise transfered in comparison to the direct drive.

My deck has two motors, three heads, 4 tape selectors, record-playback memory, record-dim, separate level adjustement for each channel, headphone jack and uniquely designed uni-directional mechanizm that lets the head stay on its place unchanged.

After several comparison tests with studio original cassettes I realized that whatever I did through my Nak was far more superior and natural. Some of the CD copies actually sounded more musical and better(maybe the jitter issue?). The noise level was lower compared to the original tape, dynamics were greater and faster. Some of the bad recorded vinyls sounded real bad on my system sound now better thorught the cassette.

My wife consider this tapedeck one of my best toys and it looks stunning! She might watch to the end of cassette shined by the light in the dark and weight until it flips over by itself by unidirectional auto reverse mechanizm!

After numerous comparisons of a recorded compact cassettes I realized that nothing can record like Nakamichi and RX202 can be as budget Dragon in that case

Strengths of the unit are the following:
1. quiet operation with very low noise during playback and recording as well.
2. excellent recording capabilities that bring to the compact cassette even unexpected quality that is very close to the reel-to-reel 7.5ips speed.
3. compact and can be placed on the component shelf.
4. dual-mono recording level adjustement
5. convenient buttons
6. sounds great
7. looks stunning

The weaknesses on that tape are the following:

1. rewinds and fasts forward slow
2. no automatic song tracing
3. output level is too low that requires high-gain preamp or low-gain phono preamp.

This is probably my last tape deck and will never be changed or upgraded. It will be repaired and serviced if it will break.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
OTARI MX5050B2 1/2" 2trk analogue recorder,
Teac 1050,
onkyo 3060.
I too have the RX- 202 and was shocked at the recording quality it is
capable of.
I hadn't used mine for several years until I did a major component upgrade......
Either recording from CD or FM tuner produced spectacular "analog" results.
I'm using RadioShack type2 tape with great success.

Thanks for your review.
I have had my RX 202 for many years now it still performs flawlessly and the quality of the recording is beyond comparison,I use TDK MAR tapes that I have also been using for years they don't seem to wear out.Tape noise is virtually inaudible even with dolby off,my preferred way of recording.As mentioned in above forum for some reason if you record vinyl or cd's the full sound is almost equal to reel to reel.I have shocked people who have heard it playing and can't believe it is a cassette playing. Live On Analog.........
If i am not mistaken, I believe the NAK 202 is a 2 - not 3 - head deck. This makes the quality of the recordings produced even more impressive if you consider the fact that the recording head shares double duty with the play-back head. A compromise of sorts between the two ideal "gaps" is used I believe ( unless Nakamichi has some system that adjusts the head gap when switching from play to record and back. I would'nt doubt it with their engineering genius!). I recently bought the 505 and what a beauty it is! Old cassette sound fantastic! I found a box along the side of the road that someone was obviously "getting rid of" - a box full of recorded tapes. One mans junk- another man's treasure. A fairly large mix of music, but alas , no classical, which is what I mostly listen to at the moment. Still, all these tapes sound fantastic through the Nak, and the price was certainly right! Always good to listen to other music now and then - even music you might at first think you are not attracted to. A bunch of recorded reggea tapes were in the box, and the bass booms right through! The tapes themselves are good quality type 2 and 3 tdk and maxell tapes - even better recordings can be achieved with metal tape. I think that I will begin taking CDs out of the local library (they have a pretty good selection) and record them onto metal tape. Does this sound retro or what! It's 1985 all over again, except now I can afford the Nakamichi decks I could only dream about back then!
I agree more or less with the test of the people above.

My test results are:

Strengths of the unit are the following:
1. very quiet and smooth mechanical operation with low noise during playback and recording as well.
2. excellent recording capabilities that bring to the compact cassette even unexpected quality from a two head single capstan deck. As the combination of the point 1+2 the RX-202 handles the tapes carefully and the chance of crumpling -even the thinner tapes- has been reduced.
3. convenient buttons
4. looks stunning especially when the UDAR system turn the tape

The weaknesses of the RX-202 are the following:

1. rewinds and fasts forward slow
2. no music search
3. no real time counter
4. output level is too low that requires high-gain preamp or low-gain phono preamp.
5. tape selector is complicated due to the combination of two buttons (bias and EQ)

I strongly recommend this deck to anyone who likes to listen to old tapes.
the 202 is not a 3 head machine and only single capstan. It is the low end of the series with a cheap transport. Good deck but nothing to be terrible impressed by. Hands down the move up to dual capstan, 3 heads and proper NAK transport offers a far superior deck in the 303 and up
Long live the 'Dragon', best deck ever made.