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Masukichi Akai founded Akai Corp in 1929, as a manufactuer of radio components, and rose to prominence in the 1970's for their tape recorders, cassette recorders, and some very attractive loudspeakers. All of their early speakers came in a dark walnut finish, presumably for their domestic Japanese market, and typically had 'kumiko' lattice grilles. Akai loudspeakers were sold worldwide, and generally represented good value, and very competitive performance. Early 1970's models included the ST-101, ST-201, ST-301, ST-401 and SW-30.

In 1973 the NDS-70 and -80 speakers were a major departure from the norm. Hexagonal pedestals with artificial marble tops and 6 ‘full-range’ drivers. The NDS80 added an internal subwoofer in a slightly larger box. Clearly aimed at the 4-channel 'quadrophonic' sound market that was blossoming at the time. In the mid 1970's Akai developed their very successful SW speaker series, including:

  • SW-130, 2-way system. 300mm LF, 90mm cone HF. Non removable (plain) grille.
  • SW-125, 3-way system. 250mm LF, 125mm MF, 2x 50mm horn HF. 15w RMS. Removable grille.
  • SW-135, 3-way vented speaker system. 250mm LF, 120mm MF, 50mm HF. 15w RMS.
  • SW-137, 3-way vented speaker system. 250mm LF, 120mm MF, 50mm HF behind an acoustical lens. 15w RMS.
  • SW-150, 3-way system. 300mm LF, 130mm MF, 2x 50mm horn HF. Non removable lattice grille.
  • SW-155 (SW-156), 4-way, vented system. 300mm LF, 120mm MF, 60mm cone HF, 50mm horn supertweeter. 25w RMS. Removable lattice grille.
  • SW-160, vented 5-way system. 300mm, 165mm and 130mm MFs, 2x 50mm horn HF, and 45mm cone supertweeter. Lattice grille is not removable.
  • SW-180, 3-way system. 300mm LF, 90x290 horn MF, and 2x 50mm dia horn HF. Large system with bizarre sculptured grille.

By 1983, Akai had developed their radical “3DR” (3D Radiation) principle. This concept was first seen in their clever 3-way speakers built in aluminium enclosures. The AE-53, had a 130mm LF and 25mm HF dome on the front, with a 39mm planar MF and 130mm passive radiator on the back. The larger model AE-63 had a 165mm LF unit and 25mm HF dome on the face, with a 30mm dome MF and 165mm passive radiator on the back.

In the late 1980's, Akai left the mainstream hi-fi market, to concentrate their efforts on music samplers and synthesizers.