Nakamichi Dragon - SUPERDRAGON


Here are three major tweaks made by me on my Nakamichi Dragon:


  • LED Indicators For Dolby B/C , Monitor Line/Tape and Backlight in Cassette Compartment
  • Improved Auto Azimuth Mechanism
  • Auto Azimuth tracking LED Bargraph Indicator
  • Improved playback amplifiers and switching circuit

This is not ordinary Nakamichi Dragon. First look on my Super Dragon reveals some modifications making this super cassette deck even more attractive. This is Professional recording cassette deck and like other studio recording equipment that era had no integrated VFD display showing all enabled functions, like decks built in late 90-ties. All settings were made on Dragon on little push buttons very difficult to read from distance in the dark what was turned on what was off. The most frustrating was Monitor - Tape/Source Switch. I couldn't figured out what was playing, tape or source. The Noise Reductor Switches for Dolby B/C and off were a second big hassle.

That is why there are two little light indicators above Monitor Tape/Source Switch and Dolby B/C Switch. When Monitor Switch is set for Tape - Green Light is on, when is set for Source - Red light is on. The same with Dolby Noise Reductor Switches. Dolby off no light. Dolby B on - the Red light is on, Dolby C on - the Green light is on.



Another useful "cosmetic" improvement on my Super Dragon is illuminated edge of VU display, very important for proper tuning during recording in low light condition. Also illumination of cassette compartment background, very practical to know how much tape left in cassette to play.


To compare my Super Dragon with ordinary Nakamichi Dragon look below.


The ordinary Nakamichi Dragon.



These are only "cosmetic" and ergonomic upgrades, they are not that important for playback or recording. I never recommend to drill holes and install some lights in perfect working expensive device (Nakamichi Dragon MSRP $2499, when was new), unless some other more important problems have to be corrected and some changes in device has to be done to restore it to perfect working condition.

My Dragon was far away from perfect condition, when I purchased it on Ebay for $250. It had very serious problem with playback and recording. The great Nakamichi Dragon feature is Automatic Playback Head Azimuth Adjustment.

From :

Proper azimuth alignment is one of the most important factors in achieving the best possible cassette reproduction quality. For this reason, several Nakamichi cassette decks offer either automatic or manual adjustment of record head azimuth. Ideally, however, playback head azimuth should be adjustable so that even tapes recorded on other decks will be reproduced with the recorded frequency response and sound quality fully intact. Commercially available music tape, tapes borrowed from a friend, tapes in which the shell has warped slightly (a common occurrence) all actually require some degree of playback head azimuth alignment to provide the best possible reproduction quality. Further, inaccuracies in cassette shell symmetry result in completely different azimuth alignment requirements in forward and reverse on auto reverse decks, often causing a significant variation in sound quality. All these points and problems led Nakamichi to the development of the world's first fully automatic playback head azimuth alignment system NAAC (Nakamichi Auto Azimuth Correction) and its incorporation in the world's first dual capstan, double direct drive, auto playback reverse, discrete 3 head cassette deck: the Nakamichi DRAGON. In a slightly different genre than the ultimately luxurious 1000ZXL, the DRAGON is undoubtedly the finest cassette deck available. The DRAGON's unique double direct drive system employs two Nakamichi quartz PLL servo Super Linear Torque DD motors one for each capstan so that wow & flutter are essentially eliminated while maintaining perfect transport stability in both forward and reverse directions. Auto reverse operation has been made available only in the playback mode so that the superb performance of the Discrete Three Head system is not compromised. Of course, full provision is made for left and right channel bias and record/playback level adjustment.

This feature wasn't working right in my Dragon. Reverse playback was impossible due to Automatic Azimuth locking heads in extreme tilt position, eating up the tape, causing shut down playback with tape edge damage. After while it was impossible to reset Auto Azimuth mechanism to neutral position. The mechanism had jammed in one position, so solid, that I had to disassemble it and force it manually every time.

I know that, a lot of folks have similar problems with Dragon proper tape alignment. I learnt it hard way how to fix it, drop me a line in e-mail, if you got stuck following my standard advices.

If you interested how to restore Cassette Player tape transport drive mechanism to perfect condition, keep reading, go to next page...