Get Back to 8-Track (or Not)

New Jersey-based vintage audio specialist Skyfi Audio has something special for AV collectors: a vintage Akai 8-track player/recorder.

Skyfi is quick to label the 1976 piece a novelty item “for someone looking to experience an 8-track tape deck for the first time or an experienced user looking for a nostalgic rush.”

And what a rush — assuming, of course, you can even find an 8-track tape at your local flea market. (Actually, there are plenty on eBay.)

The “elapsed time counter” and backlit VU meters give the Akai CR-83D a distinctively nostalgic, even impressive look. Too bad it represents the worst format in the history of audio.

Skyfi has serviced the deck, lubricating all of its moving parts and replacing belts, but will only qualify it as “mostly working,” unable to guarantee its long-term reliability “since most 8-track players were cheaply made.”

“We did not test the recording feature(s) as we did not have access to any blank 8-track tapes, and even if we found them we doubt they would function correctly at 40+ years of age.”

More to the point, Skyfi writes: “Please note this is by no means a top performing format — so don't expect to hook it up to your hi-fi and be blown away. Sound quality is passable so you should be able to recognize the song :-). Boy are we glad this format came and went — especially in cars!”

Strike it up as a conversation piece. Hey, what did you expect for $399?

Click here to see the original brochure.

For more information on the CR-83D and other vintage audio gear, visit


Flops: Fourteen Formats and Technologies That Couldn't Quite Hang On

Puffer Belly's picture

I still have my Craig H260 8-track recorder that I bought in 1977, but I haven't used it in at least 25 years. I've thought about getting it out of the attic just to see if it works after checking its belts first. I still have recording tape for it, too.

For those of you who might try playing some 8-track tapes now for the heck of it, unless you restore the case mechanisms first, you are likely going to break the tape. There are restoration kits sold on the internet and companies that restore tapes for you. The main problem is the lubricant in the tape case has turned to a solid by now.

supamark's picture

How much does Skyfi Audio pay for these advertorials? It's clearly advertising put forth like an article... you should indicate so. If you're not being paid, why on Earth are you showing favoritism to this company (as opposed to, say, The Music Room in Colorado who is a competitor for just one example but there are many others)?

John_Werner's picture

I think I was 14 when I got for Christmas a Wollensak 8-Track recorder. I was getting ready to drive and it seemed logical as Phillips Compact Cassette hadn't really hit big in cars yet. The good: for a deeply flawed high-fidelity audio format Wollensak by 3M probably made the best one with a better transport and a nice industrial design. It still had too much tape hiss so I added a Teac AN-40 outboard noise reduction unit. At home it helped with the hiss problem and in the car it made the highs just a little clearer. TDK's SA tape was the tape of choice for me. I thought with the Dolby B unit and SA tape I could live with the sound limitations. I slowly decided I was wrong though, Making tapes was a chore if you wanted to plan around track switches. I gave up and lived with the quick though still abrupt track changes simply recording through them. In a few years I switched to the cassette medium as I watched the market shift too. Pioneer's SuperTuner car cassette units (among others) proved the cassette could sound better at half the speed of the clunky 8-track tapes. I chunked all of my 8-track tapes and no amount of good will carried over I'd say. Zero nostalgia factor here except for the pride of once owning what was likely the best of the breed.