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Author Topic: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck  (Read 7636 times)

Thomas W. Bethel

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I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« on: February 21, 2011, 10:03:45 am »

I am just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this particular tape deck??? It is in good but not great condition but it was the best of the lot of 7 that I had the pick of. These all came from the VOA and have seen a lot of service. I plan to use it for PB only. The heads are worn and will need some polishing but they look serviceable. The cost of this machine, according the paperwork that came with it, was about $6800.00 back in the 70's. I was able to find all the servicing information on this deck as well as the schematics so it will be an interesting "after work" project. Thanks in advance for any and all info.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Tim Halligan

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 09:19:00 pm »

We used to use the MX55-T version - with centre-track timecode - in our post suite. Compared to the old 5050, it was a much nicer machine in terms of tape handling, and features - 3 locate points, not just RTZ.

One of the best features - which may or may not interest you - is the built in monitor speaker which was fantastic to check balances on.

I have a great deal of affection for these old beast, and provided you can make sure the heads are up to scratch, I'm sure it will serve you well.

Cheers,
Tim
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 06:56:34 am »

Thanks for the information. This is a MX-55-N version.
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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Andrew Hamilton

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 09:17:51 am »

Hi Thomas,
    Since this is just for PB, you may reap dividends in performance by converting the transport to a single-head player, and turn any needed dummy heads into rolling guides.   I am not familiar with that machine's transport geometry, but, as you know, some machines' head assemblies require support in more places than others (for tape tension and how it bows the head gap).  

(Time to call JRF)

    The flutter spec. of the MX-55N is twice that of the stock ATR transport (or Studer A 80), and the speed accuracy is an order of magnitude tighter on the stock ATR...  so there is a need to do some re-engineering of the transport for pro transfers to disc/k, but the electronics are not shabby (in spite of the almost-"in band" bias signal (150k  ( Very Happy )  "Also dann...is really same as Studer A 80..."  )...

(...from the Otari web site:

http://www.otari.com/support/vintage/mx55/spec.html)


The tests were able to done at 1040 nWb/m, just like the ATR manual tests.   The ATR has  30 in/s capability, by design, and A 80, by model, for 3 dB better Rec/Rep Signal-to-Noise... But at 15 and 7 in/s, the MX-55, ATR, and A 80 seem to be neck and neck for 2-track R/R SNR.

PLUS, you seem to have MIC inputs as well as LINE.  

Too bad, since the mods that make this hum for repro precludes use of any of the input capabilities.   The erase depth is also, for MX, 10 dB lower than that of ATR, but matches A 80.   So, for virgin laysback, you should be rockin'...  );


Wonder if you can make this have very slow library spool?  


Have fun with the new gadget, Inspector.  (:


Andrew






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SafeandSound

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 02:36:32 pm »

Congratulations and enjoy the machine.
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mcsnare

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 05:48:15 pm »

Not to throw a wet blanket on the idea, but when I used to print mixes to those machines, I always thought they sounded pretty bad. Noisy, crunchy AND dark, with a big bass bump. And that was a new one properly aligned. I wouldn't put much money into one if I were you.

Dave

mcsnare

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 05:49:53 pm »

Oops. I was thinking of a MX-5050B. I have no idea about an MX-55.

Dave

Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 06:17:50 pm »

mcsnare wrote on Tue, 01 March 2011 17:48

Not to throw a wet blanket on the idea, but when I used to print mixes to those machines, I always thought they sounded pretty bad. Noisy, crunchy AND dark, with a big bass bump. And that was a new one properly aligned. I wouldn't put much money into one if I were you.

Dave


Actually I did a lot of rework on a 5050B MKII and after fixing numerous internal grounding problems I got it to sound really really good. The MX55 is suppose to be a "top of the line" machine which was used a lot for master recordings. I did not pay very much for the MX55 and it was one of 8 available which are now all gone. I am not going to put a lot of money into the deck until I see how good it checks out as it is. I also own a Tascam BR-20T and an Otari MTR-10 and we just sold off our Ampex AG-440B/4 servo. We do a lot of restoration work and some things just sound better on different machines. I see by your later post that you thought I had a 5050B hence your comments above.

Thanks for your posting and advice.

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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: I just picked up a MX-55 Otari two track "master" deck
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 06:24:45 pm »

Andrew Hamilton wrote on Tue, 22 February 2011 09:17

Hi Thomas,
    Since this is just for PB, you may reap dividends in performance by converting the transport to a single-head player, and turn any needed dummy heads into rolling guides.   I am not familiar with that machine's transport geometry, but, as you know, some machines' head assemblies require support in more places than others (for tape tension and how it bows the head gap).  

(Time to call JRF)

    The flutter spec. of the MX-55N is twice that of the stock ATR transport (or Studer A 80), and the speed accuracy is an order of magnitude tighter on the stock ATR...  so there is a need to do some re-engineering of the transport for pro transfers to disc/k, but the electronics are not shabby (in spite of the almost-"in band" bias signal (150k  ( Very Happy )  "Also dann...is really same as Studer A 80..."  )...

(...from the Otari web site:

http://www.otari.com/support/vintage/mx55/spec.html)

The tests were able to done at 1040 nWb/m, just like the ATR manual tests.   The ATR has  30 in/s capability, by design, and A 80, by model, for 3 dB better Rec/Rep Signal-to-Noise... But at 15 and 7 in/s, the MX-55, ATR, and A 80 seem to be neck and neck for 2-track R/R SNR.

PLUS, you seem to have MIC inputs as well as LINE.  

Too bad, since the mods that make this hum for repro precludes use of any of the input capabilities.   The erase depth is also, for MX, 10 dB lower than that of ATR, but matches A 80.   So, for virgin laysback, you should be rockin'...  );

Wonder if you can make this have very slow library spool?  

Have fun with the new gadget, Inspector.  (:

Andrew




I plan to do all of that. It is an interesting machine and I was able, thanks to some generous folks on the WWW, to download all the manuals for the machine including the schematics.

It is a fixer upper to be sure but it gives me something to do on weekends or at night when we are not out recording or I am not mastering in the studio. I will keep you appraised of my progress. Right now I am trying to straiten out a bent back panel. It was the best of 8 but still far from like new condition.


FWIW and thanks for your interest and advice.
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-TOM-

Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.
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