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  #1  
Old 08-30-2015, 12:11 PM
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GeneL GeneL is offline
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1000 ZXL vs Dragon?

What are the differences and what is your favorite and why?









(Not a Nak expert.)
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  #2  
Old 08-30-2015, 01:54 PM
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Nakmandan Nakmandan is online now
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First let me say I have never seen a 1000ZXL in person so I can't comment directly on it but I am familiar with its construction, so I feel I can contribute something to this. I played with a DRAGON years and years ago, in fact so long ago (1991-92) that I don't even remember much about it.

Both of these decks are from the same era more or less in that they both use the Nakamichi classic transport. The DRAGON takes that two steps further in that it is the ONLY deck Nak ever made with dual direct drive capstans. All other direct drive machines they ever made, from ANY era, only drove the take up capstan and the supply capstan was belt driven off the take up. Even the mighty ZX-9 did this. So that right there is one serious advantage to the DRAGON transport. Many people put a properly operating DRAGON transport probably in the top three of the best performing W+F of any deck, anywhere, from any manufacturer, from any time. Yes, it's that good.

Mechanically, those are the big differences. Electrically there are other differences. The ZXL has ABLE which stands for Azimuth, Bias, Level, Equilization. When recording, activate the ABLE system and it will automatically adjust all four of these parameters, optimizing that particular tape to perform the best it possibly can. The DRAGON has user adjustable bias and level only and NAAC (more on this below) takes care of azimuth. So both are excellent, both do more than the vast majority of three head decks out there but the ZXL takes it two steps farther.

I have heard that the heads in the ZXL were hand selected off the line, with only the best performing ones ending up in the ZXL. I'm not sure this applies to all 1000ZXL's or only the gold Limited Edition version.

The other big advantage of the DRAGON over the ZXL is NAAC. Basically it automatically corrects azimuth alignment for any tape on playback, optimizing every single tape to perform its absolute best. The ZXL will do this on recording with its ABLE system, but it does nothing for playback or tapes recorded elsewhere. So that's two advantages of the DRAGON.
The 1000ZXL transport is standard Nak classic mechanism. Excellent by itself, but still completely belt drive. The transports MUST use the proper belt to perform adequately, either genuine NOS Nakamichi or one of Fred Marrs premium belts. Those are the only two belts I am aware of that can guarantee acceptable figures.

Both machines have some weak spots too. Both are highly complex and there are lots of things to go wrong with them. They both require top notch service, perhaps more frequently than the average three head Nak to stay in tip top shape. To eak out the last bit of performance these decks are capable of requires specialized tapes, jigs and equipment that very few technicians possess. The ZXL uses lots of edge connectors on the circuit boards and they can be somewhat troublesome.

The last thing I will say about the ZXL is only something I have heard from other Nak enthusiasts, but having never auditioned one myself I can't back up. Supposedly the ZXL is the holy grail of all Naks. Its sound qualities are supposed to be unparalleled by any machine out there. I'm not sure if this pertains to recording or playback though. Willy Hermann has done some custom jobs for customers and has transplanted both DRAGON and ZX-9 transports into 1000ZXL's to get the best of both worlds. There are pictures of these on his website.

Personally, I don't find the looks of the ZXL all that appealing to my tastes. I'm not a big fan of the linear slider controls. The all gold Limited Edition just looks gawdy to my eyes. To me it's in the same category of styling and fashion as giant gold chains and mounds of chest hair with a balding top. That however is just my highly opinionated view of it and I would love to audition one someday. Don't think I would turn one down either!

Hopefully some food for thought and as always YMMV!
  #3  
Old 08-30-2015, 03:44 PM
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One more item for the Dragon: Auto Reverse in play mode...
Haven't had a Dragon, only shortly heard one last friday...
For some reason I never liked the looks of that thing, however the one from last friday was optical in a unused condition, and that looked impressive to say the least.

The 1000, well, just did my first recording on it, and I'm NOT going to tell you what that did to me, I first have to land with both feet on the ground again to be able to give you a objective judgement.

Estatics, Nakmandan has a point there, and to be honest I also never liked slides on any deck, this one has 7.
On the other hand; tonight I experienced the ergonomics of it quit positive.

And yes its ugly, in fact so ugly it becomes beautiful again, it is a mighty impressive machine to look at, just because of the size of it.

If you are married, a 1000 could be a real obstruction volume in your relationship
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Tapedecks: Nakamichi 1000 ZXL, 480 & 480Z, High-Com II, NR-200, Sony 55ES DAT
Turntables: C.E.C. ST-930, Jelco 750D, van den Hul MC One Special / SL-1200MKII, Audioquest PT-6, Audio Technica AT-ML150/OCC / Densen DP-Drive, DP-04 @ MC - DP-Drive Imp. DP-04 @ MM
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Last edited by MarcovS; 08-30-2015 at 04:00 PM.
  #4  
Old 08-30-2015, 04:48 PM
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1000 is better looking than the 700's that for sure Never heard a 1000ZXL, but I recently had a 700ZXE restored by Willy Herman. An incredible sounding deck but it's got to be the ugliest tape deck ever made. The old saying is true: "Never judge a book by its cover"
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  #5  
Old 08-30-2015, 05:50 PM
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See, I feel exactly the opposite. I think the 700's were way better looking than the 1000's. Probably because I don't like the linear sliders on the 1000 and the brushed finish on the 700's just appeal to me more. Just goes to show that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The 1000ZXL is a wholly different animal than the original 1000/II, however. Although I guess they do look similar since they both have the sliders and everything is arranged similarly, they are totally different beasts under the skin. ZXL has the classic transport while the 1000 is the ORIGINAL Nak transport, aka the Tri-Tracer.

Aesthetics aside though, I'd take any if them in a heartbeat.
  #6  
Old 08-30-2015, 08:52 PM
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I own both, and both in top shape, so I can comment rather objectively: hair splitting differences in sound performance, but the 1000ZXL is, to my ears, the holy grail. I also own a ZX-7, which is roughly on par with the Dragon.

Maybe it's the 1000ZXL's electronics, maybe the construction and large power supply, I don't know. When you listen to the mighty 1000ZXL it will simply redefine what you thought a tape deck can do.

In my opinion, if you do want that last 2% in sound quality, and don't mind a 30+ year old machine that will need to be pampered, calibrated, caressed and loved in a way that can make your wife jealous, go for it. It's big. Huge in fact. Rather ugly due to the slider controls, but has hands down the finest VU/peak meters I have ever seen on a cassette deck.

They are also expensive and unless you go all out to eek the last drop of performance from it, don't do it. If you do invest what's necessary to bring this holy grail of a machine to life, it will reward you.
  #7  
Old 08-31-2015, 01:11 PM
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I prefer manual level and bias calibration to automatic, even if the automatic is near flawless. So Dragon over ZXL. Except ZXL bass is flat to subsonic levels. So, ZXL over Dragon.
That's my feelings. (sic)
  #8  
Old 08-31-2015, 07:44 PM
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How about a JVC SEA 60 +Dragon vs 1000 ZXL
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2017, 09:11 PM
The Collector The Collector is offline
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Now if I can only find an NOS 1009ZXL......
  #10  
Old 11-14-2017, 04:56 AM
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I would love a 1000ZXL, My Pioneer CT-A9x has Auto BLE and that works very well - Although I too prefer the manual approach, all part of the process

I do have a 700 ZXE, and Dragon/ ZX7/681zx/ Blah blah... To me that Dragon offers the best all round performance - This does not mean that it is a better recorder, or the easiest to use, or have that 'special' sound (It does by the way).... But is it better than the 700ZXE? Sound nicer than the 681zx?

Not sure, but if I had to seriously down size and only keep one of my nakamichi units, it probably would be the Dragon...

700ZXE is an acquired taste - I do not mind it all.... In fact if you have one and hate the looks I will PM you my address... Always find room in the PC household for waifs and strays and the unloved

PC
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2017, 07:29 AM
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Its just one coloured sound against the other coloured sound. Choose the one you like most. Not really a competition just a matter of taste. Its technical described how to record best and how to play IEC conform. Not much to select imho. Both are not conform...
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  #12  
Old 11-14-2017, 11:28 AM
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crashgarrett crashgarrett is online now
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I have listen several Dragon ( 7 ), for me not better than my ZX7, i sale mine ...
A friend made for me a mixtape on his 1000ZXL with Dolby C (NR100), i do not sleep anymore
So I'm selling all my Nakamichi except my ZX7 and my ZXE to find me a 1000ZXL
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  #13  
Old 11-14-2017, 08:16 PM
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I sold the 1000zxl and kept the Dragon.
  #14  
Old 11-14-2017, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crashgarrett View Post
I have listen several Dragon ( 7 ), for me not better than my ZX7, i sale mine ...
A friend made for me a mixtape on his 1000ZXL with Dolby C (NR100), i do not sleep anymore
So I'm selling all my Nakamichi except my ZX7 and my ZXE to find me a 1000ZXL
IMHO selling your Naks to upgrade your speakers 🔊 would yield much larger gains vs buying another deck (1000ZXL).
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  #15  
Old 11-14-2017, 11:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by active View Post
How about a JVC SEA 60 +Dragon vs 1000 ZXL
An equalizer LOL. Sacrilege.
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  #16  
Old 11-15-2017, 12:21 AM
lucky lucky is offline
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....this is the tool which is needed to bring back what is lost :

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_li.../ex-9000.shtml

its called DYNAMIC.
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  #17  
Old 11-15-2017, 02:04 AM
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Ghitulescu Ghitulescu is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crashgarrett View Post
I have listen several Dragon ( 7 ), for me not better than my ZX7, i sale mine ...
A friend made for me a mixtape on his 1000ZXL with Dolby C (NR100), i do not sleep anymore
So I'm selling all my Nakamichi except my ZX7 and my ZXE to find me a 1000ZXL
It's good that there are people that had and/or have both (or all their flavours).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Discovision View Post
IMHO selling your Naks to upgrade your speakers 🔊 would yield much larger gains vs buying another deck (1000ZXL).
This
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  #18  
Old 11-15-2017, 02:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discovision View Post
IMHO selling your Naks to upgrade your speakers �� would yield much larger gains vs buying another deck (1000ZXL).
Yes that! Every time....
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  #19  
Old 11-15-2017, 05:12 AM
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Not my speakers, because the sound recorded on the 1000ZXL is good , but the same song recorded by ( 680ZX, 670ZX,RX505, Dragon, ZX7 and ZXE ) don't slap as well
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  #20  
Old 11-15-2017, 05:26 AM
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Are your main speaker the Bose 301 ? And you can distinguish all your decks with it ? You can buy a single tweeter from my system for the price of a pair 301 ?
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Last edited by lucky; 11-15-2017 at 05:29 AM.
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