Tascam ES-50, ES-51

I know this thread is a bit old, but there is some incorrect information going around that the ES-50 is not able to slave a tape machine to a DAW without issues (specifically the runaway slave problem that sweetbeats mentioned). I have successfully slaved my TASCAM 48 to Pro Tools using the ES-50 and it works perfectly. If I change the cursor position on the time line in PT, the 48 chases and locks to that position. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong with sweetbeats attempt to slave his 58 to Cubase. Could be the cables were not wired correctly, or the ES-50 or the 58 were malfunctioning. But this can be done! Anyone who attempts this - DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE. One piece of advice I'd like to share is something I found on a handwritten note tucked inside the documentation binder I got with my ES unit: "roll machines in play mode before using setup". This seemed to make all the difference for me. Hit Play on the DAW and Play on the tape machine before you press the ES setup button. The ES will report problems (blinking setup light) but it will complete and it will work.
Hi sweetbeats,
though there was no answer to the last post in this thread and I don’t know how to send you a personal message, I am not very hopeful so, you will give me a hint with one tsr-8 slaving another one via es-50. what´s those weird cables/connectors?
The ES-50 uses the wrong protocol for syncing the TSR-8. The ES-50 uses serial protocol…the TSR-8 is a parallel protocol machine. To sync the TSR-8 you need something like the MTS1000, or a Timeline Micro Lynx
Hi sweetbeats,
Thanks for the quick reply. 👍
the manual of the TSR-8 writes, that accessory 1 (37pins) is a parallel connector, which is used in combination with synchronizers like tascam es-50, whereas accessory 2 is a serial connector to attach to midiizer or pc‘s.
the machines also physically have the named plug. Are you certain, I won’t be able, getting one follow the other?
why would tascam claim so?
best regards
reel lover
My mistake! You are correct…I forgot the TSR-8 has both interfaces. So yes you could use the ES-50, and if it didn’t come with the cables you would have to make the cables. The master cable is a 24-pin cinch connector at one end and 37-pin DSUB at the other. The slave cable is a 50-pin cinch connector at one end and 37-pin DSUB at the other.
My mistake! You are correct…I forgot the TSR-8 has both interfaces. So yes you could use the ES-50, and if it didn’t come with the cables you would have to make the cables. The master cable is a 24-pin cinch connector at one end and 37-pin DSUB at the other. The slave cable is a 50-pin cinch connector at one end and 37-pin DSUB at the other.
Hi again,

sounds good, but how can I know how to allocate the pins?
Guess I have to solder those two cables myself, right?

Thanks in advance
Hi again,

sounds good, but how can I know how to allocate the pins?
Guess I have to solder those two cables myself, right?

Thanks in advance
That’s what I’m saying…you have to have the cable schematic to know which pin at one end to connect to at the other, and which pins to link at each end, and if there are any other components like diodes or resistors that must be installed.

For example here’s the slave cable schematic for a serial interface machine that uses an ELCO type connector on the machine:


You would have to have the schematic for your machine with the 37-pin DSUB connector. The TSR-8 manual has the pinout for the ACCESSORY port…maybe you can cross-reference the ELCO pinout on the schematic above to the 37-pin DSUB connector on the TSR-8?

But I can’t guarantee it’s as simple as that. You may want to call Tascam and ask if they have any documentation for the cables to interface the TSR-8 with the ES-50.
@Twophones Hi and thanks for your post. Can you explain how you have the ES-50 connected to your Tascam 48?
In my case I have an original Teac sync cable connected, one end is connected to my TSR-8 accessory 1 port (parallel) and the other end is connected to the ES-50 SLAVE I/F. From my DAW I'm sending SMPTE/LTC signal on an audio output, that connects to the MASTER TC IN on the ES-50. Then I have the MASTER TC LOOP OUT on the ES-50 connected to the audio input of track 8 on the TSR-8.

When I play back the SMPTE/LTC track on my DAW, the ES-50 shows the matching framerate, albeit the framerate indicator is blinking, it does never seem to stop blinking.

I have been searching for an ES-50 manual but to no avail. I'm assuming I have to first record the SMPTE/LTC signal on track 8 of the TSR-8, then rewind the tape, start playback on both the DAW and the tape and then press the Chase button on the ES-50. When I do this the TSR-8 goes into fast forward and never stops, so clearly it is not working / not catching on to the SMPTE/LTC track.

According to your note from your post, I'm not even sure if I should be recording SMPTE/LTC signal on track 8 beforehand, maybe this is exactly what the Setup button / procedure does on the ES-50?

So I'm a bit lost on what the correct cable connections should be and what the correct process is, so the TSR-8 will chase the DAW like you described in your post. Any help is really appreciated!

Best Regards
Hi Bimmo,

I think you're pretty close. Sounds like the sync cable is in the right place and the DAW to MASTER TC IN is correct. However, the MASTER TC LOOP OUT to TSR-8 audio input IN is not right on either end. It should be TSR-8 audio OUT to SLAVE TC IN. The SMPTE code recorded on track 8 needs to be fed into the ES so it knows where the slave machine is, timecode-wise. This is probably one of the reasons you're seeing the behavior you describe in the second and third paragraphs of your post. The other problem is that once you have everything plugged up right, you need to run set up (also referred to as auto calibration in the manual).

Your assumption that you need to record the SMPTE on track 8 of the TSR-8 first is correct. The information I gave regarding the setup button assumed that the person reading it was familiar with the setup procedure described in the ES-50 manual so I understand your confusion about that. But the procedure is actually pretty simple:
  1. Start play mode for both the DAW and the slave machine
  2. Press the setup button on the front panel of the ES-50, the setup LED should light
  3. It will then run its calibrations stuff, starting, stopping, fast forwarding etc.,
  4. It will stop, eventually and the LED is supposed to turn off
The problem I was having was that after it stopped, the LED started blinking, which according to the manual meant that there were errors. I kept rerunning the process with different tweaks to try to get it to turn off like it was supposed to but I kept getting a blinking LED. In the end I just ignored it and just tried locking the machines, and it worked!

So if it's blinking at the end of the setup process, don't worry, just rewind the tape and the DAW, start the DAW then start the tape then press CHASE.

Good luck!
Hi @Twophones thanks so much for your quick reply!

Yep, TSR-8 audio OUT to SLAVE TC IN was the missing piece!
So now I was able to lock the TSR-8 to DAW in chase mode!

However: this seems to work when the TSR-8 is not too far behind or ahead (like under 5 seconds) with the DAW. If they are further apart, the TSR-8 either fast forwards without stopping ever, or rewinding until the tape comes of the take up reel.

Also, unlike what you mentioned is working for you, when I click anywhere in my DAW, the TSR-8 does not follow at all. As a matter of fact I think there is 2 issues going on here. The SMPTE/LTC track on my DAW (I use reaper) only outputs SMPTE/LTC when reaper is in playback or recording, it does not output SMPTE/LTC when stopped.
Furthermore, like was mentioned earlier in this thread, when the TSR-8 is rewinding or fast forwarding, I don't think it outputs SMPTE/LTC either, so I can't understand how the ES-50 would know where it is at this point. (Maybe that should be exactly the point of the ES-50, that it does know via other mechanism like tach count and what have you, but it is not working for me?)

So here's a couple of things I think I need clarification on:

How does the SMPTE/LTC signal get recorded on track 8 of the TSR-8? Right now, I'm playing back a SMPTE/LTC track on my DAW which feeds that audio to track 8 input on the TSR-8. Is that correct? Or should that not be needed at all, and instead, is that what the setup procedure on the ES-50 exactly does? But if so, how? You are saying put both DAW and TSR-8 in play mode, then press setup on the ES-50, but how does the ES-50 record the DAW SMPTE/LTC signal on track 8 then? Should it now be armed for recording and should it not be in recording mode instead of playback? Or is the setup mode on the ES-50 only meant for calibration, AFTER I have already recorded the SMPTE/LTC signal from my DAW to track 8 on the TSR-8 as I described I'm doing right now?

Does your DAW (I think you mentioned ProTools) output SMPTE/LTC when it is stopped? How else does your ES-50 know, what location your DAW is at, when you click on different places on your DAW timeline when your DAW is stopped?

Thanks again for the help, really appreciate it!
ok @Twophones I think I just answered all my own questions :-) Here's what I did:
  1. I recorded SMPTE/LTC output from my DAW to track 8 on the TSR-8 until I reached the end of the tape (sidenote, I armed track 8 on the TSR-8 for recording first, then I pressed the sync button, which started blinking), then I rewound the tape to the beginning (and pressed the sync button again which stayed lit).
  2. I started playback both on the DAW and the TSR-8, then pressed the set up button on the ES-50. Exactly like you described, the TSR-8 seemed to calibrate itself by slowing down and speeding up a few times, followed by a few seconds of fast forwarding. Then it stopped, and the set up light turned off.
  3. I rewound the tape to the beginning once again, and set the DAW to the beginning of the track.
  4. I started playback on both the DAW and the TSR-8 and pressed the chase button on the TSR-8. The TSR-8 in a few seconds locked on to the DAW.
  5. When I press stop on the DAW, the TSR-8 stops. When I click a location further in the timeline on the DAW, nothing happens, but when I start playback on the DAW from that location, the TSR-8 fast forwards until it reaches that point, slows down, then starts playback and again locks on to the DAW.
So in other words, I think everything is working as expected at this time!

It would be nice if somehow my DAW would output SMPTE/LTC when stopped so that like you described, when you click a point further in your timeline on the DAW, the TSR-8 would already be searching for it and synching up even before starting playback on the DAW. (At least if I understood correctly and that is how it really works for your set up)

Thanks again!
Hey bimmo, great news! It sounds like everything is working as it should. And I'm jealous that your setup light turned off at the end of the calibration :sick:.

The behavior you're seeing in item #5 is what mine does as well: DAW needs to be in play mode to send SMPTE. Don't know anything about Reaper, but in Pro Tools if you click on the timeline while it's playing it will jump to that position and continue playing. So if I do that while I'm sync locked with my 48, the 48 will chase to the new position I've clicked on in Pro Tools and relock. That's what I meant in my original post.