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Akai ( , Japanese: AKAI in rōmaji) is a consumer electronics brand, founded by Saburo Akai (who died in 1973) as , a Japanesemarker manufacturer in 1929. It is now headquartered in Singaporemarker as a subsidiary of Grande Holdings, a Chinesemarker Hong Kongmarker-based conglomerate, which also owns the formerly Japanese brands Nakamichi and Sansui. The Akai brand is now used to rebadge electronics manufactured by other companies. "Akai" means red, hence the logo color, earlier also accompanied by a red dot.

Historical products

The manufacturer's products included reel-to-reel audiotape recorders (most notably, the GX series), tuners, audio cassette decks (top level GX, mid level TC, HX and CS series), amplifiers (top level AM and mid level TA series), video recorders and loudspeakers. Akai is also generally regarded to have built the best 8-track player/recorders that were popular during the 1970s. The most famous models were the CR-80 series which are still in use over 35 years later.

Many Akai products were sold under the name Roberts in the US, as well as A&D in Japan and Tensai in Western Europe. During the late 1960s Akai adopted Tandbergmarker's cross-field recording technologies (using an extra tape head) to enhance high frequency recording and switched to the increasingly reliable glass-ferrite "epitaXial" (GX) heads few years later. The company's most popular products were the GX-747 and GX-77 open-reel recorders (featuring a unique auto-loading function), the top-of-the-line three-head, closed-loop GX-F95, GX-9, GX-R99 and mid-priced CS-702DII cassette decks, as well as the budget-priced TA-2030 and TA-2045 stereo amplifiers.

Akai manufactured and badged most of its imported hi-fi products with the Tensai brand (named after the Swiss audio and electronics distributor Tensai International, a division of the Swiss-Israeli system developer EXTAL AG, a private international company with Swiss ownership founded in 1988 which has its office headquarters at Baslemarker and Jerusalemmarker, specialized in developing systems and manufacturing aluminum profiles and involving in many branches of industry). Tensai International was Akai's exclusive distributor for the Swiss and Western European markets until 1988.

Akai limited its consumer hi-fi product line in the United States and Europe towards the end of the 20th century.

Introduction of the on-screen display

Akai was a leading brand of consumer video cassette recorders during the 1980s. The Akai VS-2 was the first VCR with an on-screen display, originally named the Interactive Monitor System. By displaying the information directly on the television screen, this innovation eliminated the need for the user to be physically near the VCR to program recording, read the tape counter, or perform other common features. Within several years, all competing manufacturers had adopted on-screen display technology in their own products.

Akai Professional

In 1984, a new division of the company was formed to focus on the manufacture and sale of electronic instruments, and was called Akai Electronic Musical Instruments Corporation, or Akai Professional.

The first product released by the new subsidiary, the S612 12-bit digital sampler, was the first in a series of (relatively) affordable samplers. It held only a single sample at a time, which was loaded into memory via a separate disk drive utilizing proprietary 2.8" floppy disks. The maximum sample time at the highest quality sampling rate (32kHz) was one second. The keyboard sampler X7000, and the S700 rack-mount version, were introduced in 1986 and 1987, respectively. Unlike the single-sample S612, however, they allowed the use of six active samples at once and had a built-in disk drive.

Other early products included the Akai AX80 8-voice analog synthesizer, and the Akai AX-60 and AX-73 6-voice analog synthesizers. The AX-60, borrowing many ideas from the Roland Juno-106, but with a "real" analog VCO, also allowed the performer to "split" the keyboard (using different timbres for different ranges of keys).

Akai's portable studio, Akai MG-1214 unit

In 1985, Akai introduced the MG1212, a 12 channel, 12 track recorder. This innovative device used a special VHS-like cartridge (a MK-20), and was good for 10 minutes of continuous 12 track recording (19 cm per second) or 20 minutes at half speed (9.5 cm per second). One track (14) was permanently dedicated to recording absolute time, and another one for synchronization such as SMPTE or MTC. Each channel strip included dbx type-1 noise reduction and semi-parametric equalizers (with fixed bandwidths). The unit also had innovations like an electronic 2 bus system, a 12 stereo channel patch bay and auto punch in and out, among others. The unique transport design and noise reduction gave these units a recording quality rivaling that of more expensive 16 track machines using 1" tape. The MG-1212 was later replaced by the MG-1214, which improved the transport mechanism and overall performance. Although Akai sold a modest amount of these units, sales never took off, and the company was not able to catch up with Tascam's PortaStudio series, which were much more affordable, utilizing conventional (and cheaper) media such as cassettes and 1/4" reel tapes.

The introduction of a "professional" range of digital samplers started with the appearance of the 12-bit S900 in late 1985. The 16-bit S1000 followed in 1988. The latter was replaced by the S3000, which notably featured a writeable CD-ROM and hard disk recording. Additional releases of note were the Z4 and Z8 24-bit 96 kHz samplers. The S-series samplers and their library formats became defacto industry standards in the late '80s through to the late 1990s.

Akai also produced several Digital MIDI sequencers and digital synthesizers such as the MPC range (MIDI Production Center), a line of integrated samplers–drum machines and MIDI sequencers that resemble drum machines.

New ownership

In late 2004 the Akai corporation was bought by the Grande Group and came out of bankruptcy.

Also in 2004, following a US distribution deal, the Akai Professional Musical Instrument division was acquired by Jack O'Donnell, owner of Numark, and audio-electronics corporation Alesis. The three brands operate under the banner Numark Industries, LLC of Cumberland RI.

Current products

In early 2003, the consumer electronics company began undergoing a re-exposure by marketing various rebranded video products manufactured by Samsung. In the same year, Akai began to distribute home appliances such as HVAC units, vacuum cleaners, water filtration devices, and refrigerated store showcases.

Akai HDTVs can be found at some RadioShack locations, some of which also carry Scott HDTVs which are rebranded Akai TVs with a few added features. Akai TVs can also be found in some Wal-Martmarker, Sam's Club and Costco locations, on,, and various comparison shopping websites.

In Canadamarker, Akai portable DVD players were sold at 'The Source by Circuit City', and at Zellers, a division of the Hudson's Bay Company.

The Akai Headrush looping pedal has been made famous by artists like KT Tunstall, who uses it to loop her own instruments, vocals, and percussion in her live performances. She does this to build up a song from scratch, using sound effects and looping percussion to create the layers.



  • Clock Radios
  • Mini Systems
  • Micro Music Players
  • Retro Radios
  • Sound Boxes
  • Portable Music Players


Mobile sound

  • Amplifiers
  • Cassette Receivers
  • CD Changers
  • CD Receivers
  • DVD Changers
  • DVD Receivers
  • Car Audio - DVD Players
  • Car Audio - Speakers
  • Car Audio - TFT Monitors

Home appliances


See also


External links

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