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Hi There,

I am really tearing my hair out on this issue.
Maybe someone can give me some advice.

I recently bought an Otari MX 5050, and have not yet used it.
As time goes on, I am starting to convince myself that we need a 2" machine to get a 'Real tape Drum sound' as heard in 70's jazz/ funk music with amazing production. We have some great vintage gear, but want to make sure we can get the best tape sound for the drums.

Our budget is limeted, but a 2" 3M m79 machine is up for sale for £2000, these are apparently better sounding than Struder a80s.

I have had mixed views on this, so now I am confused.
Some say, stay away from the 3M machine, as they are problematic, and expensive to fix. Others say that the Struder A80 is more reliable.

But the real issue is - Can the otari mx 5050 8 track get a good tape sound for drums, or do you need a 2" 16 track with fatter tape bandwidth?

I would be happy to know that the MX 5050 is good enough for quality drum recording - or is it considered an unprofessional machine.

Has anyone had any great results from an MX 5050, or even compared the sound to a 2" machine?

I would be grateful for any advice.




Sebatron Thu, 07/08/2004 - 00:00

I had an mx-5050 8-track for years... still have it.
You'd want to use the middle tracks and print fairly hot if you want some decent results.I was never happy with the tops actually.
It's really not in the league of some of the better 2" machines.
Re-work your logic and maybe don't operate off hearsay that much .... go in and hear for yourself . Spend more time creating and experimenting rather than speculating.
Tape saturation or ' warmth ' isn't necessarily the be all and end all for drums..,,, it can be a lot of hassle that takes away from other areas that may require more attention.
Is the lighting ok ,, for example? 8)

KurtFoster Thu, 07/08/2004 - 10:18

The OTARI 50500 is not in the same league as any of the 2" rtr's. I would not look at the 3M machine ... lots of big clunky relays, slow punches .. and maintenance.

Any 2" machine is going to need maintenance ... the big heavy reels of tape require a lot of "ommph" to get moving but still have to be handled gently. Tape transports require a lot of attention to keep them working correctly.

Wanting any 2" machine is a case of "Look out what you wish for, you just might get it."

anonymous Sat, 07/10/2004 - 15:16

thanks for your comments,

Its true that we should be spending more time experimenting.
Sometimes it's easy to get lost in hearsay and logic - caught up in a web of other peoples perceptions, when really I need to get hands on.

The Studer A80 is a pretty safe option, but still high maintenance and cost.
It seems, as with anything in life you don't get a good sound for free.
But all of these links in the chain to a great 'tape sound' seem never ending..... decent drums, decent room, vintage mics, neve preamps, 2" Tape, plate reverb. I know we wont be satisfied until we reach perfection, but I guess we can only work within our budget.

Thanks for the advice on the Otari, not sure what print hot means though... after its warmed up ?


anonymous Sat, 07/10/2004 - 19:36

Hope your not sarcastic, hot means to print or record signals to tape with a very strong signal as opposed to cold which is a weak signal. If you never heard that you might also want to mess with your machine more before reaching in your pocket for a Studer. Also is your machine working at a proper operating level, is it calibrated, is it baised for the tape your using, are the heads worn do they nead to be replaced? If they aren't then you don't even know how your machine should sound. My advice is get your machine in proper working order and mess with it, I own a MX5050 MKIII and you can get some great results with it. Don't think about getting something else unless your convinced that you can't acheive it with what you have.