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FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Otari Mx5050 B2HD in the house


U.S. - Virginia

Apr 24th, 2015 05:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So the local university was blowing out old recording equipment. A half dozen reel to reels were there. I had no idea what to expect price wise. Boy, were they priced to move.

I got the Otari for $30 bucks, and a box of 6 big reels of ampex 407 1/4" tape for $30 bucks. Honestly, I don't believe the tape will work, itll probably shed like crazy. But who knows.

The Otari turns on. All VU lamps work. The right reel brake needs some fixing. The capistan motor is clicking, so I imagine some loose parts in there need re-gluing out of the way.

The heads are in so-so condition. But it'll be a fun little project.

Its amazing how simple converters make recording. This Otari will need some work before I can get a mediocre sound going.

I'll probably look for some ATR tape or something in a while. Should be fun to track to then bounce to the PC, or perhaps take the master 2 track to for some color. It aint no Studer, thats for sure!

Contributing Member


Too Much GAS
Apr 24th, 2015 06:51 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

No, it's not a Studer but that was a pretty nice machine in its day. A friend of mine had one in his studio and I used it often.

My old studio partner still has our old Otari MX 5050 MKIII 1/2" 8 track machine. He never uses it and it's half mine so I'm thinking about looking into what it would cost to ship it from Phoenix to Nashville. Probably more than it's worth. As far as I know all it needs is a pinch roller. We had just had the heads lapped before we took it out of the studio back in the mid 90's. There's probably not 20 hours on the heads.

I haven't looked lately but a few years ago you could buy those all day long for $300 to $500. I'll tell you, we gave a LOT more than that when we bought it. Almost 10 times that.

I don't even want to know what 1/2" tape goes for these days. It's probably stupid expensive.


U.S. - Virginia

Apr 24th, 2015 07:00 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I believe I will be able to get a nice sound from the machine once I complete my work on it. I am going to recap and upgrade it as much as I can without going crazy out of pocket. Jury on the heads is still out. They may need lapping.

Those MX5050 1/2" 8s go for a few grand these days if I am thinking of the right ones. It might be worth having it shipped out. Of course, that is if you don't mind going back to the PITA of maintaining a machine and all the work that goes along with tape. I'm not exactly looking forward to it -but for 30 bucks out of the gate, I had to dive in.

Your machine sounds like its in great shape.

1/2" tape is probably $150 for a 10.5" reel...


U.S. - Virginia

Apr 24th, 2015 07:43 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I am looking at this as a long term toy - so I may invest a little at a time. There are some nicely made parts like tension arms that surpass the original parts. $50 may sound like allot, but every bit helps.

There is a mod for the tape path for $225 that I may go for once I get it up and running.

I have to decide if I want this for more subtle mastering purposes or more of an obvious effect. If the latter, I may leave it. The former, I would want it running as good as possible...


Juice Nichols
Contributing Member

Panama City, FL

Same ol **** but my hair's longer
May 8th, 2015 08:56 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I would have been all over that thing at that price! For $30 what do you have to lose? You can turn it into a studio ornament if nothing else. LOL


U.S. - Virginia

May 9th, 2015 06:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yea really! Why not!

I am awaiting the pinch rollers return. I have since replaced a transistor in the brake solenoid circuit so now the brakes function properly.

All my transport controls were intermittent, but resoldering most of the logic boards joints seemed to fix it.

The ampex 407 box of tape they had has been running across the heads quite a bit and actually hasnt shed at all. Pretty remarkable. I thought it would be bad tape for sure. Its a bit old.

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member

Panama City, FL

Same ol **** but my hair's longer
May 11th, 2015 08:59 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So what's your plans for this machine once you get it up and running? I have an old Akai R to R that I got from my brother a while back that's kind of fun to mess around with. It still records pretty well considering the age.

I still have hopes of having a 24 track machine in my studio some day.



U.S. - Virginia

May 12th, 2015 12:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Basically, I'm planning on running certain moves down to the tape and back to the pc before or after mastering. Probably no taking with it at just 2 tracks.

I resoldered every joint on the logic board. Talk about insanity. Yikes. Analog is allot of work.

These otaris sound remarkably good when kept up. They are very clear but add a little something depending on the tape you use. I heard a mix a/b'd that went from the board to digital and board to tape at the same time. Wow. Btw Nirvana's "bleach" album was recorded to an otari 8 track...

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member

Panama City, FL

Same ol **** but my hair's longer
May 12th, 2015 09:16 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Analog is a lot of work no doubt. I still enjoy cutting and splicing tape. Kinda therapeutic for me in some ways I guess.

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you as far as what you can do with 2 tracks. I still have some gremlins to work out with my deck. I think I'm going to need to replace the record level sliders as they are really touchy and don't seem to want to maintain the level they're set at.

I was able to record some acoustic guitar to it before it started going crazy and it really sounded good. Guess I need to get off my rear end and see if I can get the thing operational again.

Will the Mx5050 allow you to record one track at a time? Or are you stuck with a stereo recording?


U.S. - Virginia

May 12th, 2015 02:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sounds like you need to get hoppin on that r2r! I know how it is, though. Finding time etc. And if you haven't repaired 100 of that model of machine, you are pretty much on uncharted territory feeling your way around.

The b2hd otari and subsequent models were all pretty dang good machines for pro use. They've got the ability to monitor tape or input on each channel, record separately and monitor odd the sync head while recording another track. Perry neat. However, unless I get good enough at acoustic, I probably won't track to it much. I'll just run mixes through it, and on the way back in ill probably put them through my line level inputs of the vintech 573s. That'll add plenty of mojo.

When I get a 24 track, we can open a studio. There have been studer A800s going for less than 1000 these days... insane...

FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Otari Mx5050 B2HD in the house

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