Otari MX 5050 Mk III 8trk Problem.... can you help?

Discussion in 'Tape Recorders' started by NumodusFunk, Apr 26, 2004.

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  1. NumodusFunk

    NumodusFunk Guest

    Hi All,

    This is my first message on this forum, until now I have been a
    passive member. There is a wealth of great info on here and some real
    knowledgeable folks!

    So here is my problem.... Can anybody help me?

    I have recently bought an Otari MX 5050 MK III 8 trk (without manual)
    and I am having a very frustrating time trying to record.

    I am using Quantegy 456 1/2 in tape

    All I want to do is record a 1k oscillation signal onto track 1..

    The input level is fine, but when I playback what I have recorded, it
    is almost totally inaudiable - I need the headphone level on max, just
    to hear a faint tone.

    The recording settings are:
    track 1 "ready" mode
    "Individual" button selected,
    Track one's switch set to input

    The Playback settings are:
    Track 1 "Safe" mode
    "Individual" button selected
    Track one's switch set to "Repro"

    Am I doing something foolishly wrong here?

    I'm sure its the right kind of tape, but it may be a little damaged,
    as we put it on the wrong way at first and after rewinding the whole
    lot, there was a small pile of iron dust where the tape had been
    rubbing on the metal rod.... we also had the tape with the shiny side
    facing the head at first, and had to flip the reel back, so the darker
    matt side was against the head..... Your probably thinking - what an
    idiot !

    I have tried every combination of record and playback settings, but
    still cannot get the same levels coming out, as are going in on the vu

    I am considering calling someone in to look at it, but I thought I
    would consult you guys first...

    Would greatly appriciate any comments..
    I would be over the moon to get this thing working !
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    What is the meter doing in playback mode?Have you tried monitoring the track with the safe not engaged? This would be playback to the studio phones mode after a take to check the track.....I've owned an Otari 5050 and I loved it....If you have a meter rise similar to the one you got in recording mode then the problem is with the output selection or possibly the output amp...What are you moniotring through?Sometimes something like this is as simple as a button on your monitoring amp......Also...check the tape and make sure its riding against the playback head in this mode...seems I remember the 5050 having a set of tape lifters to keep the tape off the heads not in use and if you didnt rout the tape correctly it would not ride on the playback head in this mode....
  3. byacey

    byacey Active Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    How old is the tape? Ampex /Quantegy had trouble with the binder for the magnetic particles gumming up the machine when it aged.

    Also, check and see if it plays back properly in the "sync" mode instead of repro, if so this indicates a problem with the repro heads or switching.
    As well try some of the other tracks - perhaps the problem is only showing up on track 1. Could also be a lack of bias.

    Check the heads to see if they are clean and there is good tape to head contact as mentioned in the above post. With the quantegy the black side is the side of the tape to contact the heads.
  4. NumodusFunk

    NumodusFunk Guest

    Hi There Dave,

    Thanks for your reply.
    The meter is hardly moving in playback mode, "safe" or "ready" doesn't seem to make any difference on playback also.

    To simplify matters, I am just working on track 1 to try and record a 1k oscillation signal.

    If I have Track 1 in "ready" mode, then the main button on "Individual" and tracks 1's own lever set to "Input" the 1k tone comes through the headphones real loud..

    Then I hit record, for a few seconds.

    then switch track 1's lever down to "sel-rep" and "Repro" and replay the recording - the signal dies to a very low volume.

    I am monitoring this through my headphones plugged into the unit.

    The tape seems to be routed correctly also

    I really can't understand what is going on, Is there a way I can do a sure test ?

    I wish there was more info online about these things - It is such a wonderful machine, and I am dying to use it! - I am trying to get hold of a manual too.

    I do hope that there is nothing that needs fixing on the unit, I vought it on Ebay, and the guy who sold it to me worked for otari for 8 years - he said that it worked fine before shipping..

    sorry if i come accross vague, its 04.18am in London and these sort of problems never let me sleep !
  5. NumodusFunk

    NumodusFunk Guest

    Thank you,

    The tape is brand new, although I mentioned that we had it routed wrong to start, which rubbed the tape to the extent of leaving a some silver dust come off next to the area it was rubbing as it was feeding through - Could this have damaged the tape enough to make it unrecordable?

    Can't see a "sync" mode, do you know where that switch is?

    The other tracks have the same result unfortunately. It seems like a record or playback issue, as the levels are fine coming in to the machine..

    The heads are also clean.

    Is the Bias a possibility? not sure where/what this is.. Do I adjust this at the back with a screw driver for each track?

    Hope i am not annoying you with these anwers.. I'm thinking that it may be worth someone looking at it...
  6. missilanious

    missilanious Guest

    I think the repro level adjustment on the back of the machine (the ones you can adjust with a screwdriver) is low. It adjust the playback level of the reproduction head. You should purchase a MRL tape to do that repro adjustment.
  7. NumodusFunk

    NumodusFunk Guest

    ah ha, that sounds interesting...
    Is there a way I can adjust the repro adjustment without the MRL tape? so i can definately know that is the problem?
    I wouldn't want to mess it up.

    The only screws I can see on the back to adjust are the screws by the XLR inputs/Outputs..... thanks peeps
  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    When you are listening to the tone you are going from E TO E (in tape terms) so that indicates you are getting signal to the electronics. When you put the signal onto the tape is when you are having problems. I would do two things. I would try and borrow a 1/2" alignment tape from someone and play it back on the Otrari. It is the only way you will know IF the PLAYBACK electronics are working correctly. Once you know the PLAYBACK electronics are working correctly then you can start to trouble shoot the RECORD electronics.

    On this deck their should be switches on the front that are labled input, sync and tape or playback. The sync selection will use the record head as a playback head so you can "sync" up other tracks to that track when you are recording on other tracks.

    Are you sure the tape is loaded in correctly? Are you sure the oxide side is next to the heads. In the old days the shinny side when out and the dull, oxide side, when in next to the heads. But that all changed when back treated tapes came in and they looked wrong because the back side, coated, looked duller than the oxide side. The back side was normally dark brown/black.

    Go here and download the .pdf file for the Otari 5050. http://classes.berklee.edu/mpe/pdf_files/manuals_pdf/ that should get you started and answer some questions.

    Until you know if your machine will properly playback a tape you will never be able to start your trouble shooting.

    Not seeing what you are doing and not knowing more about the machine it is almost impossible to trouble shoot it over the net.

    Hope this helps.

  9. NumodusFunk

    NumodusFunk Guest

    You guys are soo helpful - Thanks a million for the pdf download!


    The wrong side of the tape was facing the head, What a silly mistake...

    Thanks Thomas for pointing that out!

    What a relief, now I can sleep!
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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