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Thread: A New (To Me) Tascam M-3500

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    Cool A New (To Me) Tascam M-3500

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    I bought an M-3500 console and am starting to play around with it and do some testing. I posted some questions about it in the Tascam section of the forum but it doesn't seem to get much traffic over there so I thought I'd post a link to that post here in the Analog section... I hope that's OK.


    The post is here:

    https://homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=313547

    If anyone has any experience with the board and can add some insight to my questions, I would greatly appreciate it!

    Robert

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    I'm using a 32ch M-3700 so take it for what it's worth--it's the automated version of the M-3500 but they're pretty much the same otherwise.

    Quote Originally Posted by sr71rules View Post
    So, I took the plunge and bought a 32 channel M-3500. I ask myself, what have I done? (Actually, so far I'm really enjoying the board)

    I've been going over every switch, pot, fader, input and output looking for all the little issues the board will no doubt have.

    A couple of things have come to my attention and if anyone has any insight about them your opinions will be most welcome.

    First, what I think is a minor one. Several of the channels have weird issues with the lights. Many buttons have a little light to indicate if it's on or off. EQs, Mute, Solo, ect. On some channels between 1-10 when you press a button instead of it's light coming on, all the rest of the channel's lights go out. The functions all work, just not the lights. Seems like a short circuit perhaps? Odd that it's about 5 channels and all between 1 and 10. None of the channels past 11 have that issue at all. They are LEDs. Some channels the lights go out totally, other they all just dim way down, but it only affects that one channel.
    Yikes, got me there...maybe your PSU has some issues, wouldn't surprise me. Mine had some problems when I first got my Tascam; I brought it to a tech and IIRC they changed a regulator and fuse, possible some other stuff but it took care of most the electrical gremlins in the board (I also had some issues with the automation computer but that doesn't pertain to your situation).

    Second issue is that the right side of 'Stereo Out' doesn't pass audio. CR Out A and B as well as 'Studio Out' pass audio, it's only the output destined for a 2 track mixdown deck. I'll have to open it up and see what that is but it leads me into my next questions...
    Check that the cables for that fader module aren't mixed up, broken or pulled out. I had this happen to me last time I had to pull the stereo/group fader module out...all those cables aren't labeled and when I put it back in I lost audio on the left side of the Stereo buss. I simply had a cable plugged to the group 1 fader that should have been on the Stereo and vice versa. Swapped them back and voila, it worked fine again...just be careful pulling that module out, there are cables that like to snag on things when you pull it out and some may not be as long as they ought to be!

    The outputs for CR A and B as well as 'Studio' all seem quiet to me. I have a pair of known working active monitors plugged in, via XLR cables, and when the mix buss shows the mix is right around 0db I need to crank the 'CR' or 'Studio' volume knob to about 75% to get a moderate level. If I go higher on the board, it distorts. The speakers themselves have volume knobs as well and they are both cranked up as high as they will go. I checked each output one after the other and they all were at about the same volume for the same position of the volume knob. Right now for testing I'm just feeding in a stereo pair of my iPod.

    When I got done with various CD and Studio outputs I started to move an XLR to the 'Stereo Out' connectors which are offered on XLR (as well as RCA). I was of course using the same XLR cables as before and when I started to plug in 'Stereo Out' left the audio was super loud. Mind you, the board is still reading just about 0db on the meter and nothing else has changed. The level of audio coming out seemed on par, frankly, which what I would have expected the other outputs to be. I unplugged the cable from 'Left' and pulled the channel faders down to -40 and the master bus down to -40 and plugged the speakers back in. Left works fine and was at close the same moderate level the other outputs where at but of course the VU meter was barely reading at all since I had it turned down to far. The 'Right' side of 'Stereo Out' was dead.
    The CR A and B outs operate at -10; the stereo l-r main out is at +4; your active speakers are probably expecting +4 in so that probably explains your level mismatches. I use an Ebtech Line Level Shifter between the CR out and my +4 active speaker matrix.

    As a side note, you may want to calibrate the meters before you go trusting them too much.

    All that being said, I'm waiting for Tascam to get the manual back in stock, which they tell me will happen next week. Right now I have no manual and no schematics. I have some experience on much more complicated consoles like the SSL 9000j series and the Amek 9098i so I don't find this console confusing or difficult to use but without the manual I could easily be doing something wrong without knowing it. The meters are showing what I expect them to show but the speakers are much quieter than I expect...
    You'll find the manual very helpful so do get one if/when you can--there's a section on basic console functionality, a section on maintenance (all your calibrations) then a sizable maintenance section with PCB and wiring diagrams and lots of schematics.


    Good luck-

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    Wow! I'm really surprised to hear all the XLR Output jacks on the back of the board for CR and Studio outs are -10. That's one of those obvious things I'd have known from a quick glance at the manual... Can't want to get a hold of it!

    I've been holding off on opening the console up until I had a manual in hand but perhaps I'll start to look around in side to find some obvious things wrong.

    Thanks for your response!

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    I don't think the XLR CR outs are -10. At least mine are +4dBu. Is the "Dim" switch deactivated? It pads the CR (by about 20dB I think), when activated.

    The switches causing all other LEDs of the channel to go out sound bad. Short circuit somewhere on the channel module would be my first guess, too. You really need the service manual with the schematics, there's something wrong with the board, at least with some of those channels.

    Wiring the master section to the faders and to the cables that go to the jacks in the back is mostly intutitive since the internal sub-snakes for most of the master modules are color coded and match the modules length wise. You can't connect them in the wrong order. However the edge cases (Bus 1 & Stereo, Bus 8 & Phones Breakout) are tricky and you can mess it up. Maybe the previous owner did a sloppy job on putting it back together.

    Cheers
    Tim
    Hobby studio: unknown-artist-studio.de
    Also on facebook and soundcloud

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    If I press 'Dim' things do get much quieter, so that function seems to be working and doesn't seem related to the issue of the quiet monitors. I know it's all relative but about how far around do you usually have the CR volume knob on your board? If I go any higher than about 3 o'clock it distorts for me...

    I don't have a lot of time this evening to do much work on the board but I'll try to open 'er up and see what I can find in terms of obvious cable issues, ect.

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    I have the CR out connected via XLR to my Yamaha HS80M active monitors. The monitors' level pot is at +4dB position (it has "min" and -10dB positions, too) and if I turn the CR knob any higher than 9(!) o' clock with the meters at 0dBVU it's really loud already. I can dial in 10 o' clock if I really want the Yamahas kicking, but any louder and I'd be concerned about my speakers' lifes.
    Hobby studio: unknown-artist-studio.de
    Also on facebook and soundcloud

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    Quote Originally Posted by timkroeger View Post
    I don't think the XLR CR outs are -10. At least mine are +4dBu.

    Cheers
    Tim
    I seem to recall reading that the Europe-spec consoles had more +4 and also 1/4" jacks for the direct outs. US spec M-3x00s have RCA direct outs and strangely although the CR outs are XLRs they're at -10, at least mine are. I'll double check my manual tomorrow when I go to the studio. There was a balancing kit for these boards that could bring a pretty good chunk of the -10s up to +4 balanced but mine doesn't have it and they're fairly rare from what I can tell.

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    Every things at -10 as they were designed to operate with the TSR and MSR tape machines of the day.

    The main mix outs, XLR are balanced at +4, jacks are unbalanced at -10.

    The balancing kits that were available only turned the Group outs and the tape returns to +4 balanced.

    The USA consoles had RCA record ins and outs and the rest of the world got 6.5 unbalanced jacks. Everyone but the US also got the full meter bridge as standard.

    I had my favourite tech build a 24 channel unbalanced -10 to balanced +4 and / balanced +4 to unbalanced -10 rack box (but it's sitting on the floor under the console) for the interface between the M3700 and the MX2424, when I use he MSR16S its back the the -10 plugs.


    Cheers
    Alan.

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    Ok. The 'Stereo Out' Left on XLR works fine, at a good strong level. The 'Stereo Out' Right XLR doesn't work at all. To troubleshoot a wiring issue or a jack PCB issue I moved the feed cable from the unworking right jack PCB, to the working left jack PCB and it worked fine. That means the cabling is good and the jack PCB is bad. At least I know where the issue is...

    To further test, 'Stereo Out' is offered on both XLR and RCA jacks and as luck would have it, my monitors have RCA jacks, in addition to the XLR and TRS jacks. I wired the monitors to the 'Stereo Out' jacks via RCA plugs and, voila! Wonderful stereo sound. That further narrows the issue down to JUST the XLR jack on the right PCB.

    This issue with a quiet level on the monitors is still troubling. The 'Stereo Out' XLR (the working one anyway) is right where I expect it to be, level-wise. Interestingly, the RCA jacks come through on my Monitors just as loud as the 'Stereo Out' on XLR. Looking through the manual for the monitors confirms the RCA jacks are -10, and the XLR +4 so, as unbelievable as it seems to me, the XLR jacks for the CR and Studio outputs on the M-3500 may in fact be pumping out balanced -10...

    I need to lay my hands on a line level shifter to be sure (Or the Manual.. I'm looking at YOU Tascam!) but so far so good.

    Beyond that one troublesome XLR jack everything else on the board seems to be working well so far. I have many more inputs and channels to check so fingers crossed...

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    To use the console correctly the monitors should be connected to the Control room outs not the stereo outs, I get tons of level from the CR outs.

    Don't forget that these console are wired for Pin 3 + on the XLRs not Pin 2 as is common now.

    I would bet that the non working Stereo XLR is a dud solder joint where the XLR is soldered to the board.

    Cheers

    alan.

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