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Akai AX80 • Akai Buranko • Akai Buranko/Planet Tokyo • Akai Freesia • Akai Ito • Akai Ito (mobile phone novel) • Akai MPC60 • Akai Namida/Beehive • Akai Naomasa • Akai S1000 • Akai S3000XL • Akai S900 • Akai Sabaku no Densetsu • Akai Terukage • Akai VK (videocassette format) • Akai videotape format • Final Commando - Akai Yousai • Rikuzen-Akai Station • Shuichi Akai (footballer) • Takami Akai
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|Founded||Tokyo, Japan (1929)|
Akai (Chinese: 雅佳; pinyin: Yǎjiā, Japanese: AKAI in rōmaji) is a consumer electronics brand, founded by Saburo Akai (who died in 1973) as Akai Electric Company Ltd. (赤井電機株式会社 Akai Denki Kabushiki-gaisha), a Japanese manufacturer in 1929. It is now headquartered in Singapore as a subsidiary of Grande Holdings, a Hong Kong-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.
The manufacturer's products included reel-to-reel audiotape recorders (such as the GX series), tuners, audio cassette decks (top level GX and TFL, mid level TC, HX and CS series), amplifiers (AM and TA series), receivers, video recorders and loudspeakers.
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 Tandberg'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 a few years later. The company's most popular products were the GX-747 and GX-77 open-reel recorders (featuring an auto-loading function), the three-head, closed-loop GX-F95, GX-90, GX-F91, GX-R99 and CS-702DII cassette decks, and the 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. Tensai International was Akai's exclusive distributor for the Swiss and Western European markets until 1988.
Akai produced 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 a few years, all competing manufacturers had adopted on-screen display technology in their own products.
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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 already in 19" studio-rack format but in black color. 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 (32 kHz) 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, had a built-in disk drive and could be extended with 6 individual outputs via cable and a flash memory extension which added another six samples to the memory for multisample playback. The S700/X7000 sampler series were light-grey colored which didn't change throughout the whole "professional" range of Akai samplers.
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 borrowed many ideas from the Roland Juno series, but used voltage controlled analog oscillators (VCO) as a sound source as opposed to Roland's more common digitally controlled analog oscillators (DCO), and also allowed the performer to "split" the keyboard (using different timbres for different ranges of keys). The AX-60 also had the ability to interface with Akai's early samplers through a serial cable, using 12-bit samples as an additional oscillator.
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.
The introduction of a "professional" range of digital samplers which the S700/X7000 started, continued with the appearance of the 12-bit S900 in late 1985. The 16-bit Akai S1000 followed in 1988. The latter was replaced by the S3000, which notably featured a writeable CD-ROM and hard disk recording, and was followed by the S5000 and S6000. Additional releases of note were the Z4 and Z8 24-bit 96 kHz samplers.
Akai also produced several Digital MIDI sequencers and digital synthesizers such as the MPC range (Music Production Center), a line of integrated drum machines, MIDI sequencers, samplers and direct-to-disk recorders that resemble drum machines.
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.
An Akai product that is somewhat sought after in current times is the model DM13 microphone. This small, unidirectional unit was originally made for tape recorders, as well as CB radio equipment. Today, they can be found in the arsenal of many blues harmonica players due to its high gain and high impedance properties.
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.
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