A New Member of the Family: Otari MX-55 N-M

So, the inevitable has happened……….again.

I have bought myself another piece of studio equipment to live next to my Studer. I got myself an Otari MX-55N-M

This one I discovered in Belgium. Yes, down there. It came originally from a guy with a small studio who sold all his stuff, but I got it from someone who bought some records from that guy and got the Otari as a side catch.

Getting it from Belgium required a road trip. In about 2,5 hours we were there, it was actually not too far across the border. The place was a 2nd hand vinyl shop with a lot of records, but it had CD’s and DVD’s too. Oh, and comic-books, like Suske en Wiske.
The Otari was all dusty and just a little bit dirty, but not much. I brought a test tape that I had recorded with my Studer, as this is also a 2-track studio machine. I loaded the tape, plugged in my headphones and after fiddling with the knobs (how to put this thing in playback mode, and how to get signal from it) I got some sound from it and boy, did it sound good! Within a few minutes I knew that the sale was going to be made. I just had to do a quick check for any defects that I could find and if they would be a showstopper. I could not find any.

So then came the problem of transport. My car has a loading space with a flat floor that is 70 cm high and 100 cm wide. But the machine is with a cart and wheels and a meter bridge, as you can see from the pictures. We measured the Otari and thought: well, I may fit just laying on it’s back. And it did. So I didn’t have to dismantle the meterbridge or take the machine from the cart. That was good.

After we got home I cleaned it up. From beneath the layer of dust came a beautiful and almost pristine looking deck that has no marks on it of prior use. I started to play with it and explore it’s possibilities.

  • the deck is tilt-able in various positions.
  • it has a selection switch for 2 standards: NAB and IEC.
  • it has another 3-way switch for selection of the reference fluxivity. I found that mine is calibrated to the following setting:
    • LOW – 250 nWb/m
    • MED – 320 nWb/m
    • HIGH – I don’t know, I haven’t got a calibration tape in that range. It will probably be around 510 nWb/m.
  • high and low speed is now set to 19 & 38, but can be adjusted to 9,5 and 19.
  • has a built-in oscillator with test tones of 0,1-1-10 kHz for bias calibration.
  • reel size is selectable for LEFT and RIGHT reel separately.
  • Slack tape can be picked up by pressing STOP.
  • in- and outputs are fully XLR and +4dBu.
  • the speed is adjustable from veeeerrryyy sllllooowww to very fast.
  • Startup is very quick, 1-2 cm at 38 cm/s and its up to speed.
  • Digital tape counter hms with goto and 3 memory positions.
  • Recording and playback levels are adjustable at Standard Reference Level (SRL) or user controlled with a knob.
  • Tapedump function, where the takeup reel is switched off so the tape is dumped.
  • Button for listening (cue-ing) while spooling.

This is what I found so far. It came with a remote control with 10 meter cable, 2 Otari NAB adapters (which are very well built), and 2 aluminium reels.

I noticed that the left tape roller is making more noise than I would have liked, but it works ok and someday I will replace it. The heads are ok.

I am very fond of the smooth tape transport and the overall robustness of the machine. This Otari really is meant for heavy duty studio use.

I have not measured anything except for the fluxivity levels yet, but I expect the results like wow/flutter, distortion, frequency response etc. etc. will be very good. This will make a nice younger brother to the Studer.

Oh and by the way………..

I am looking for the manual, service manual and schematics for this MX-55 N-M.
I have found manuals for other models of the MX-55 family, but not specifically for the N-M. 

I found some manuals online, but they only contained the first two chapters.

So, if anyone know of these manuals, either in printed or electronic form, I would be happy to get hold of one. Please leave a message in the comment section.

8 thoughts on “A New Member of the Family: Otari MX-55 N-M

  1. Mark

    Hi there! Greetings from Essex, England.

    What a wonderful find, you are so lucky 🙂

    I too have an MX-55, but like you could never find a service manual. I have the ‘SIXTH EDITION’ manual but, as you say, it is only the first two chapters. Did you mange to find what you need? If so, would you very kindly help me too?

  2. Philip van der Matten Post author

    Hi Mark,

    Some time ago I have found an official dealer from Otari who was very kindly willing to scan his manual in paper form to a PDF. The cost of that would be approximately £60 – plus Carriage + 20% VAT, which at the time was a bit too much for my purpose.
    So I have not taken him up on that offer. But, he is in the UK, so maybe you could get a better deal. Maybe we could even split the costs. Maybe we could find other interested.
    Anyway, the dealer is here: https://www.theartechnology.co.uk


  3. Roel

    Still looking for a service manual. Let me know!

    So how do you like the sound of the MX-55 compared to you Studer and other machine. Very interested in you feedback!


    1. Philip van der Matten Post author

      On reproduce, the Otari is very very good. But mine is not recording very well. I recently got the Service Manual, so I should be able to calibrate it properly.

  4. Sergiu Dan

    My name is Dan, and I am from Atlanta, USA.
    That Service Manual, if you have all 8 chapters, is very hard to find, Could you make a pdf, of it.
    Many are looking. Thank you!


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