Mixdown Deck

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by spratz, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. spratz

    spratz Guest


    I have been playing with an Otari MX-5050 (MKII or III I don't recall off the top of my head) 2-track desk for my stereo mixes. So far I actually prefer my Tascam DA-30 MKII over this reel-to-reel. Is it my ears or do I have a deck that might be a lemon? I had it setup by a good tech and the heads are still in really good shape.

    I also have a Revox B-77 that needs to be cleaned off. Maybe I will dig it out and a/b test that one as well. Just to hear the differences. In the mean time I thought that I would put this out to see if anyone might have any thoughts regarding it.

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    A 1/4" half track @ 15 ips isn't going to sound better than 16 bit digital in most cases. This is subjective and my opinion only. I had a 1/4" mixdown machine (a MCI JH 110B) and I didn't care for it @ 15ips. I loved it @ 30 ips however.

    Most those who rave about analog @ 15 ips are referring to a 1/2" half track ...

    The bottom line is you should do what sounds best to your ears..

    You can try running some test tones into the machine 80 Hz, 1K Hz, 5 and 10 K and then play it back and see how the machine is performing.. If it is "down" at any of these frequencies more than a few dBs then there is a problem with the machine . ..
  3. spratz

    spratz Guest

    Thanks Kurt,

    I did do 100, 1K, and 10K tones and they all came up to the same reference level.

    It is odd but I swear that I could hear the most difference on playback in the low end of the music. I need to spend some additional time with it to confirm this (different day/fresh ears).


  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Your ears are not fooling you. Test tones are just a way of checking the performance of the deck and have nothing to do with how the machine affects the sound.. Do you print your mixes while monitoring off the playback head? That is the first step when working in analog.

    The tape machine will introduce a thing called "head bump". Depending on what speed the machine is running at, the head bump will be in the bass reigons (slower speeds) and in the low mid regions at higher speeds (30 ips) Head bump is a slight boost in the low or low mid frequencies and is part of what makes people call analog "warm" and "thicker"... By monitoring off the playback head, youi will hear what the head bump effect is introducing and you can compensate for it in the mix.. ..
  5. DanKennedy

    DanKennedy Guest

    In my opinion a 5050 isn't really anything more than a glorified hifi deck, a souped up Teac.

    Old MCI's can have a nice "sound", their initials were known as "munchy, crunchy & intermittant" after all.

    Newer ones, 1985 and on say, are transformerless, opamp based beasties that are fairly clean, but gutless.

    The newest Otari's, the 10's and 20's are actually very clean, respectable sounding decks, if what you want is clean analog, which of course is what they were designed to be, just before digital hit hard.

    Remember, back then we were all trying to make it sound better, not "more analog"...

    The funkiest sounding are the Ampexes and Scully's of the middle period, the AG-440's and 280's.

    Big old transformers, big wide fat heads, slow old electronics.

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