New Reel to Reel....Im Clueless


Oct 2, 2003
I just got an Otari MX5050 8 track deck and i dont have even the faintest clue on how to operate a reel deck. maybe that was a dump move, but i really want to learn how to use this machine. Any info., links, or maybe a title of a book on how to operate reel decks would be very much appreicated. thx a bunch in advance.


Well-Known Member
Jan 28, 2004
What don't you get? one trick is using "sync". When you are recording you put the track in record. When doing overdubs all the other tracks must be in "sync" whichs mean they play back from the record head (not the playback head). When you mix all tracks should come from the playback head.

For set up use a 1khz tone to set all ins and outs to 0 dB. The bias should be factory set, don't worry about it unless your tracks play back with a different sound than you recorded them with.

What else don't you get?

M Brane

You'll also want to keep some cleaning swabs/solution, and a de-guasser handy to keep things clean/non-magnetized.

Check the manual for cleaning/service intervals. Follow them religeously.


Well-Known Member
Dec 10, 2001
Pacific NW
Congratulations! These are very good sounding decks.I had one for 4 years and never had a problem with it.Remember that unlike digital recording, you can use your ears to greater effect with tape.If it doesnt sound distorted going on tape good chance it aint....Also if you like to peg the meters its what you're hearing thats going to determine what its going to sound like in playback.Natural tape compression is a very nice effect.

Thomas W. Bethel

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2001
Oberlin, OH
Suggest finding someone in your area that can do maintenance on your deck before too much time has gone by as you are probably going to need them. You should also be a member of where a lot of people know a lot about reel to reel tape decks. You might also want to go to and look at all the information provided (even though it mainly deals with AMPEX decks it is a very good resource for learning)

You might also want to visit and and and

The other thing you will need is an alignment tape. They are available from MRL and their site is also a very good source for more information on tape recorder maintenance. Here is the website
Link removed

Hope this helps.