seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

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coles4038
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seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by coles4038 » Sun Dec 07, 2003 6:11 pm

Hello,

It took a while and I got my first reel to reel, the Otari MX5050 MkIII-8.

I'm getting ready to build my wiring harness which I'll do with Mogami cable and have it pin 3 from the Otari then pin 2 to my mixer.

I've had Adats for a few years now and it seems I'm very ready for this.

Might anyone have advice to share and help out.

I'd like to also be able to take the Otari to band rehearsals and record there besides having it in my home studio.

Thanks very much.

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by cyrusjulian » Mon Dec 08, 2003 12:13 am

If you don't already know this, don't forget to buy a demagnetizer (I use R.B.Annis' Hand D. Mag) and to use 99% Isopropyl Alcohol to clean your heads. Also, when you demagnetize, do it,, move it VERY slowly to the heads and then when moving it back.

Have fun!
Cyrus

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by bigtoe » Mon Dec 08, 2003 5:26 am

find a tech in your area that will service them to go thru all the tests in the manual which you can get from otari.

athan.com sells aftermarket rollers and arms.

otari is nice but try not to order parts from them...takes a long time.

Mike

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by aurelialuz » Mon Dec 08, 2003 8:34 am

coles4038 wrote: I'd like to also be able to take the Otari to band rehearsals and record there besides having it in my home studio.
i would advise against carting them around too much. i had to have a cracked CB repaired that was almost undoubtably due to us schlepping it around town.

alex
"While every effort has been made to ensure optimum sound quality, priority has been given to historic content and importance."

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by coles4038 » Mon Dec 08, 2003 1:34 pm

Thanks for all the solid tips!

I'll check out Athan.com and I have spoken with Otari. They have a $25 minimum which just stopped me getting small parts which I would've done in a flash.

Ok, traveling is not such a great idea. I will see if I can think of a way to put in packing blankets if I do travel with it.

Are there reel to reels that handle traveling better? Maybe the Tascam MS, or MSR 16?

Best.

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by biasvoltage » Mon Dec 08, 2003 1:58 pm

I have a few tips for you-

1. Be very careful with the tensioner arms (the posts that are on little stamped sheet metal arms one either side of the transport.). The sheet metal part is pretty flimsy and if someting heavy gets put on them or you drop a tape reel on one of them it'll bend , and even a slight bend will throw your tape path off. Fortunately, they're cheap and still available.

2. Get the set of tweakers at RatShack that has a hollow black platic tube with a wide, flat blade stuck in it to do your adjustments on the back. I used a regular screwdriver and wound up snapping one of the bias pots (one again, though, the pots are cheap and still available from Otari)

3. Make sure you set the bias using 10k! I screwed this up my first time and used 1k and then couldn't figure out why I could barely get the machine set up for +3, much less +6.

4. If you don't know what +3 or +6 means, go to the MRL website and learn all about the can of worms you opened by buying an analog machine!

5. You can punch in/out a few different ways.

A. You can have the track armed and in Input and hit "record" at the punch in point and "play" at the out point, or:

B. you can have the track armed and in Sync, and when you hit "Record" at the in point it will automatically switch to Input. This is cool because it allows you to hear the track you're going to replace up to the point where you start replacing it; or:

C. You can have the track in Safe and on Input, hit play and record (the record light will flash, as it isn't recording since there are no armed tracks), and switch the front panel Safe switch off (armed) at the punch in point. I do this often, because I'm usually tracking in the same room as the machine, and the Record button makes a louder physical sound than the switch does.

cv

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by Corin » Mon Dec 08, 2003 2:34 pm

The above is a very helpful post. Being as I just got one of these beasties (it's being cleaned and sorted out by a professional as we speak...I'm writing songs to record), I'm glad people are replying rather than just telling the original poster to just do a search. More practical info like the above would be much appreciated. For instance, how often do you all recommend demagnetizing? Is 456 the best tape to use?

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by aurelialuz » Mon Dec 08, 2003 2:39 pm

oh, this is kind of a no duh, but having the remote and auto-locator on these machines REALLY helps.

i've only ever used 456.

and sure, you can pack the OUTSIDE of the machine when moving it, but that doesn't help with the cards internally. i guess my best advice with that is be really careful. as much as it's like a glorified four track, it is still a precision machine after all. there's really not going to be too many tape machines that will hold up to getting thrown in and out of cars repeatedly.

and yeah, softsupply's post is really good. i always try to be helpful, but i can only ever think of what NOT to do.

alex
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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by coles4038 » Mon Dec 08, 2003 2:46 pm

softsupply, thanks very much indeed.

When i tell my friends that all the rap stuff is in Analog, they think I'm mad.

The better Outkast record was done on Studer then sent into the puter. That's a good song even if i'm a rock guy.

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by george walker's closet » Mon Dec 08, 2003 4:05 pm

i use quantegy 499 tape like 95% of the time with my otari 8 track. its a little more money, but is much clearer sounding.

coles4038
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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by coles4038 » Tue Dec 09, 2003 9:06 am

I'm grateful to all - thanks again.

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by JASIII » Thu Jan 29, 2004 12:23 pm

I've got a question that seems to fit this thread:

When setting the bias on a MX 5050, the manual says this:

"4-3-(2) Bias Level Adjustment
Biasing should be done with the type of tape and at the tape speed most commonly used for optimum performance. To set bias level, perform the following procedure for each channel.
1. Thread bulk erased tape onto the recorder.
2. Set SRL calibration switch to calibrate position.
3. Start the tape in record mode
4. Press the TEST OSC pushbutton and set the record level control for an on-scale reading on the VU meter.
5. Adjust the BIAS/CAL adjustment for maximum output reading on the VU meter."


My questions are this:
-Step 4-I realize that I'm supposed to use a 10K tone, not the 1K tone that the built in oscillator has, right? It says "set the record level control for an on-scale reading.." ANYWHERE on scale? Does it matter where? Should it be "0"? Can it be -10 or +3? "On scale" is pretty vague to me.

-Step 5 "...for maximum output reading on the VU.." Does this mean stop at +3 (the highest meter reading), or should I bury the needle off the meter if I have enough headroom? Will this make a difference?

I truly appreciate any info. anyone can offer. I've found the Otari manual to be very helpful, but it gets a little vague in some areas. Notice it doesn't say anywhere that you should be in "Tape" monitor mode for this procedure. I missed that one the first time I tried this. Thanks.
"If you will starve unless you become a rock star, then you have bigger problems than whether or not you are a rock star. " - Steve Albini

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by greatmagnet » Thu Jan 29, 2004 3:05 pm

I have no anwers for the NEW set of questions, but as to the FIRST one I do have some thoughts. I just bought one of these myself about six months ago, had it professionally serviced, and have used it on two sessions now. I'm still learning too, but I can say a few things:

1.) 499 is not necessarily better than 456, though it is more high-fidelity and crispy on the high end. The thing about the 456 formulation is that it creates more of the "natural tape compression" that people long after for big fat snare and kick sounds when you hit the tape really loud, so 456 is kind of a natural from drum tracking if not for more delicate applications like guitar and voice.

2.) I agree...don't you dare take it on the road. You'll pay bigtime. People have mentioned on this thread where you can buy Otari parts, but they have not mentioned that a new pinch roller costs $100 and new heads cost $500.

3.) It's not a bad idea to find a local tech and find the dough to have all the points adjusted and the calibration done the first time professionally just so as you start playing with recordings you know that your good/bad results are a result of your own techniques as opposed to the machine being fucked. If you find a cool tech, he'll let you watch him calibrate it so you can do it yourself the next time.

4.) I found out recently the hard way that although it's really nice to hit the tape hard with your levels when you're doing drums, output can be a different story. There are those lo/hi switches on the back of the Otari for your output? If you're dumping your recordings to a digital workstation or DAW afterwards, make sure the levels are low enough and you're not overloading the inputs of whatever your digital I/O is. The clipping is butt-ugly by any estimation!
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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by cyrusjulian » Thu Jan 29, 2004 11:22 pm

Caldo71 wrote: 1.) 499 is not necessarily better than 456, though it is more high-fidelity and crispy on the high end. The thing about the 456 formulation is that it creates more of the "natural tape compression" that people long after for big fat snare and kick sounds when you hit the tape really loud, so 456 is kind of a natural from drum tracking if not for more delicate applications like guitar and voice.
The guy who works at the place where I buy my tape said this same thing also.

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Re: seeking tips for Otari 8 track operation

Post by coles4038 » Fri Jan 30, 2004 8:04 pm

I want to mention that I found a great source for cables, etc that Otari is not stocking any more. His name is: Jamie Sutton and his phone is 818/842-6500.

I asked Otari (their phones are messed up now in the new offices - modern technology) to get me a cable for the CB-116 locater and they said Japan isn't keeping those parts anymore. Whoa. Good news, they gave me Jamie's number. I spoke with him and he's going to fashion a Hoda 50 pin Male and Female cable for me. If you call him, say Sasha sent you.

I also did something wacky. I managed to find a Tascam DA-78HR for recording on location. I've had it for two days now. It has it's strenghts, but man analog is still where it's at. This way the Otari stays put and safe from the road. In the future it'll be MX or MTR for me.

Thanks for keeping another machine alive.

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