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Otari MX-5050 Review (Reel to Reel Tape Deck)

sergeauckland

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Those measurements shows that this deck is not even in hi-fi region. Is it poor maintenance or industry standard ?
Those measurements are pretty decent for a machine of that type. Distortion is decently low, below 1%, and frequency response flat to +-3dB. Noise without Dolby noise reduction pretty much as expected, although it depends what the flux on the test tape was that sets the 0dB point.
It could be improved by immaculate line-up, but that would have to be done pretty much every time the machine is used for recording.
Not surprisingly, I gave up with analogue tape as soon as digital recording became available.

S
 

F1308

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Would you please let me ascertain if there will be any difference in what CAN be heard connecting my synthesizer to different amplifiers?

Let's say I make a song with a ppppp piano and a FFFFFF taiko.

I mean being able to play with the lowest velocity, that will trigger the lower volume (1 according to MIDI), and the highest velocity that will trigger the highest volume (127 according to MIDI).
The mixing is perfect. Piano....taiko....piano....taiko. Outstanding dynamics.
A beautiful Steinway&Sons played at its lowest dynamics and a huge taiko played at full steam.

Then I reproduce it at 85 dB for the higher volume...to take care of my great hearing....

1....on a 99$ amplifier having SINAD 77dB.

2....on a 199$ amplifier having SINAD 90dB.

3...on a 3999$ amplifier having SINAD 123dB.

And what if I record those with a microphone on a CD and on a Reel....and push play...?

As a musician (amateur) I am in deep a need to understand....
 
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Mattx

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Those tapedecks are cool. Think of all the great music created with these in the past!
Nevertheless, am I correct that the conclusion is that a not very well measuring device can sound very nice? :oops:
 

milosz

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How is it possible with that data, please ?
I think Amirm is talking about the RECORDING - the music on the tape. He's got a recording directly from the studio session (or a 2st generation copy of such a tape) - this is a recording that captured what the musicians played before some engineer or "mastering expert" did all kinds of EQ overdubbing, compression, etc to "master" it for pressing to an album or converting to digital for making a CD. Having the recording from the studio of the ORIGINAL SESSION from (for example) 1972 is going to sound WAY better than the album that was released after a dubious process of "mastering" which is often done according to the MARKETING people and not the musicians or anyone who knows what good sound is.

So if they recorded some musicians in the studio back in the day, then took this original session tape and mastered the hell out of it, and then pressed vinyl and then later "remastered" it to compress the dynamic range to comply with the record label's idea of "good loudness" - well both the vinyl and the CD will sound worse than those original session tapes. It's not a matter of analog somehow sounding better than digital - it's a question of listening to a well-recorded studio session compared to something that has been F'ed up by some mastering engineer who can no longer hear above 7,000 Hz because his hearing has been destroyed by loud sound over the years.....

If they had a digital recorder at the studio in 1974 to record the original session, then THAT recording would sound better than an analog tape made during that session. But they had no such digital recorder back then, all that might exist is a pristine original or first-generation copy of the session tapes.
 

boswell

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What were the different tape speeds used, vinyl records, often only played once and recorded, of which we wanted the best quality recording were done at the highest speed (7 or 6 and 3/4 some thing maybe? ft/min ?), needed to use the same machine though, borrowed/lent tapes sometimes had noticeable speed difference issues
 

Vini darko

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Thanks for the review Amir it's certainly a great looking source. Would probably benifit from a full alignment.
Analog is hampered by so many issues that it is suprising how it manages to produce enjoyable sound.
 

restorer-john

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Not surprisingly, I gave up with analogue tape as soon as digital recording became available.

I took up AFM HiFi VHS while waiting for DAT. It was good, but DAT was wayyyy better.
 

Vini darko

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This review has inspired me to drag my tape deck out of the pile. Nothing fancy a old pioneer ct443 compact cassette player. Get those old dnb tapes spinning.
 

restorer-john

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This review has inspired me to drag my tape deck out of the pile. Nothing fancy a old pioneer ct443 compact cassette player. Get those old dnb tapes spinning.

I will get all you guys back into vintage top quality gear. I think I should pull out a nice quartz PLL direct drive Sony 3 head cassette deck or two...
 

sergeauckland

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I took up AFM HiFi VHS while waiting for DAT. It was good, but DAT was wayyyy better.
I did the same. I used a Marantz S-VHS machine as I could record 2 hours continuous at very decent quality on one tape. Even the 4 hour LP performance was as good as analogue cassette, even on my Nakamichi, and without all the line-up faff.

However, as soon as Digigram brought out their VX Pocket PCMCIA card, I bought one as it allowed proper non-destructive editing, and 24 bit/48k recording on my then 486/40 laptop.

S.
 

Hiten

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Those measurements shows that this deck is not even in hi-fi region. Is it poor maintenance or industry standard ?
The manual says following specifications
Signal to noise ratio
NAB
15 ips (38.1 cm/s): 69 dB (unwtd), 72 dB (wtd)
7.5 ips (19.05 cm/s): 71 dB (unwtd), 73 dB (wtd)
3.75 ips (9.53 cm/s): 64 dB (unwtd), 67 dB (wtd)
unwtd = with RC filter (30 Hz to 18 kHz)
wtd = 1 kHz ref. signal and NAB or ANSI "A" filter

Link
 

sergeauckland

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What's the theoretical maximum SINAD of one these?
Depends on what you take as the peak level, but generally, noise will be around -60dB, distortion around 3% (-30dB) if peak level is defined as the 3% point. Dolby Noise reduction will improve noise by another 10-15dB or so, depending on whether it's Dolby A, B or C. Dolby B reduces HF noise, C goes down to the midrange, A also goes some way down to LF.

S.
 

sergeauckland

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The manual says following specifications


Link
That looks a bit optimistic to me, as it depends on what level the 'signal' part of S/N ratio is taken, and whether that's a record/playback S/N ratio or playback only, and then what tape was used. Possible certainly, but I doubt whether those would be 'real-world' numbers or stay like that for long.

S.
 

Michel Forbes

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Your OTARI need to revised, these OTARI are good transport and it's a matter of having a flat playback and controlling noise.
The repro card certainly need some revision, probably the PSU.
Using a pair of Dolby SR card will put the SNR to 106dB.
 

sergeauckland

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Those tapedecks are cool. Think of all the great music created with these in the past!
Nevertheless, am I correct that the conclusion is that a not very well measuring device can sound very nice? :oops:

Yes, there are plenty of people who like the sound of SET amplifiers, vinyl and analogue tape in spite of, or perhaps because of their poor technical performance.
Last week, I got out my 56 year old Ferrograph mono reel-to-reel machine, completely original, just cleaned and lubricated all the mechanicals as needed. Performance is still to spec, although the spec from those days wasn't great! I recorded a couple of CDs and whilst comparing the recording with the CD, the difference was obvious, (both played in mono) without the direct comparison, the sound was surprisingly pleasant and after a couple of tracks, I forgot it was tape.

S.
 

restorer-john

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However, as soon as Digigram brought out their VX Pocket PCMCIA card

PCMCIA cards! I had them for modems, LAN, audio, extra interfaces etc. I think I still have a few of the early 802.1b WiFi cards someplace.
 

LTig

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I will get all you guys back into vintage top quality gear. I think I should pull out a nice quartz PLL direct drive Sony 3 head cassette deck or two...
My Akai GX75 MIK2 is still ready to play on the press of a button - but I have to admit that I no longer prefer its warm, slightly noisy sound with reduced dynamics. :(
 
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