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FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Otari MX5050 8SD 1/2" multitrack machine

Contributing Member


Too Much GAS
Apr 22nd, 2018 09:35 AM   Edit   Profile  

I just got back to Tennessee from Phoenix last weekend with a truck load of family heirlooms and my old Otari 1/2" 8 track machine. My studio partner and I purchased that back in the early 80's and put a bazillion hours on it. It was retired in 1991 when my partner sold his house where we had built the studio in his back yard. The machine had been in storage ever since. Just before it was de-commissioned we had the heads lapped to bring them back up to spec. That alone was about $1200 back then.

We gave about $5k for it then and it served us well for many years. He was never going to use it for anything so I offered him $200 for his half and he took it. It had been in a back room at his house behind a bunch of junk.

Now that I have it there are a couple dozen old tapes that I want to transfer to digital. I'm sure the tapes are going to need to be baked in order to play them after sitting for so many years. After doing all of the transfers I am considering doing away with the transport and using the 8 pre-amps in my recording chain if they sound good enough. That remains to be seen. If nothing else, the machine is in a really nice custom built rack that I can use in my new studio. It still looks cool but I have no need for a powered door stop.

I have to send the pinch roller out to have new rubber put onto it because the old one had disintegrated. Too many years of cleaning it with denatured alcohol did it's damage.

I have zero aspirations of ever recording anything with this machine anymore. I'm not aware of anyone making high quality tape anymore. Even if they did I am a staunch digital convert. Some say digital doesn't sound as good as analog. POPPYCOCK! Maybe in the beginning but, the technology is so good now there is no reason for me to go retro and pulverize that dead horse.

Otari Still Looks Cool


U.S. - Virginia

Apr 22nd, 2018 01:20 PM   Edit   Profile  

Ah yes a thread I can really sink my teeth into.

The Japanese made very decent multitrack machines and mixdown decks.

I have an Otari MX5050 mk ii 2 track here. I got it for $30 at a local university. I recapped it and replaced the xlr jacks and had the pinch roller re-rubbered. Check out Terry's Rubber Rollers.

Also, check out Athan rollers. They are another material than regular rubber so they deform less.

Terry did an amazing job on my roller but the temps must have fluctuated in shipment because it swelled just enough in one area to go out of round. Then you have increased WOW... oh well.

I rarely use it.

As far as tape made now, defining high quality is one thing, but I would say ATR makes great tape now. However it's expensive. I'm sure the best tapes ever made were probably around the mid to late 90s early 2000s. Aside from Scotch 250 which apparently was amazing. RMGI or BASF 900 I think was quite nice. Records done on Gp9 I'm on the fence about.

Anyway, yes I agree. Digital now is amazing, although it's the same as in the tape days - you get what you pay for. I've used budget interfaces which are great(there isn't much of a tape era equivalent unless you count the Portastudio) but when I switched to my Lynx Aurora (n) late last year, I was pretty much done with wanting tape. They are the best converters I've heard so far. Basically invisible but totally relaxed and 3d. Almost more analog sounding because they capture the analog chain so effortlessly.

That combined with how good tape emulation plugins are now, I don't think there are too many advantages to tape other than the workflow forcing you to actually play. You can do that on digital but the temptation to fix is always there.

I really enjoy Slate's VTM and UAD's Studer A800 and ATR 102 plugs. Softube tape is decent, too.

So in effect, I can get the things I like about tape like the inherent EQ and distortion without the expense and huge equipment sucking up all my electricity.

I don't think digital will ever sound just like tape 100% but there's no reason it can't be as good.

Contributing Member


Too Much GAS
Apr 22nd, 2018 06:07 PM   Edit   Profile  

"Check out Terry's Rubber Rollers."

That's who I'm using.

"....it's the same as in the tape days - you get what you pay for."

Absolutely. As in the analog days, the most important part of the sound is the quality of what you use getting the signal into the medium. A high quality front end makes more of a difference in the sound than anything else at the technology level. If you can't get a great, clean, quality, signal, to the tape or hard drive, then you are limiting the capability of either technology. You must have a good pre-amp and converter to get the signal onto the hard drive. Of course, you need a good D/A converter too on the playback side to be able to enjoy that great recorded program material.

I don't do much corrective editing with the DAW. I still do many takes of audio segments but, I play them right or do them over. If I have a really good take with a small timing error I may slide it into place but that's about all I'll do. Keyboards, on the other hand, take me a lot of editing because I'm not a great player. If I didn't have MIDI I would have to hire a keyboard player because my chops suck these days. That's cost prohibitive for my little projects. For vocals, guitar, or bass, however, if it's not right I do it over.

As for the Otari, it's a great machine as far as 1/2" 8 tracks go. I won't record with it because tape hiss, 50 or 60dB below the threshold drives me crazy.

Contributing Member

Whitehorse Canada

I don't get out much
Apr 22nd, 2018 10:34 PM   Edit   Profile  

1/2" 8 track.....what's what's the IPS?

Contributing Member


Too Much GAS
Apr 23rd, 2018 03:20 AM   Edit   Profile  


FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Otari MX5050 8SD 1/2" multitrack machine

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