A bit of a recorder update; on the digital front the last few 6 months has seen the arrival of a Sony PCM-D100 to replace my old PCM-M10 and maybe also the PCM-D50. The latter does sound really good though, and I'm still not totally convinced that the D100 improves on it sound-wise, so I'm hanging on to it for a bit longer. Then again, I haven't yet tried the 24bit 192kHz or DSD recording capability of the D100, so either may well move things up a gear.
On the analogue front my Nak ZX-9 has now returned from a rather lengthy stay down in Worthing. The bill was a bit more than I expected but plenty was done, including new capacitors, and I'm assured that it's now tip top and well within spec. It's still wrapped up and in the box though because while it was away I decided to give the BX-300E a belt and idler service and also I finally got around to putting my old and rather sickly Pioneer CT-A9 on the bench. I bought this about 10 years ago for about £80 as it had stopped working and since then it had just sat on the shelf gathering dust. Sending the ZX-9 to Bowers & Wilkins was just the spur to try to fix the Pioneer.
So, I purchased a replacement belt kit (although direct drive, the second capstan drives from a belt and so does the mechanism) from the States and a replacement idler tyre from Germany. That was the easy part...
Anybody who has worked on one of these Pioneers with the Reference mechanism will know the problems you face when trying to work on these decks. Partial or complete removal of the mechanism is a must on this deck as it's so packed inside access is otherwise impossible. On the CT-A9 a belt change means effectively opening up the direct drive motor so there are plenty of pitfalls and things to go wrong. And then, to cap it all, there's a geared drive for the powered door mechanism and unless you know the trick of how to align the various cogs exactly right, it won't work properly. That's the point where you find yourself tearing out your hair. The solution is to go and walk the dog or just walk away for a day or two, do some more online research, and then come back afresh and try again.
Another hair shredding job is getting at the idler wheel. There's a knack to it - once you get it, fine, but up to then - "aaargh". By comparison the BX-300 is a breeze to work on.
Anyway, once I thought I had finished, the tentative moment of switch-on, and... "oh". No display. Hmmmm...
At the back of the machine is a bank of fuses and a cursory inspection showed that one of them was blown. Phew! A replacement fuse fitted and all is working well. I have only one possible issue left and that's the auto tape type selection. It seems that you can have Normal lit up, Normal and Type II lit up together, or all three with Metal. It doesn't seem quite right so I need to double check that. However, it all seems to be working well, including the A.B.L.E. tape tuning system, and makes some excellent recordings. The meters are probably the most discriminating (and green) of any ever put on a tape deck.
All in all, at times a fun yet also frustrating job, but very rewarding to now have this TOTL deck back and working again. Horrifying to think that it could well have gone to the skip instead.
Here are a few pics..