Tascam M520 Story...

DrNomis_44

New member
One of my best friends who works as a live sound mixer, here in Darwin NT Australia, recently gave me an old 80's Tascam M-520 mixing desk, plus the rackmount power supply module, for nothing, here's a pic of the desk set-up in my little home studio room I set up in a spare bedroom in my flat.
 

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flyingace

Active member
Nice DrNomis! I just picked this one up for $350 with the power supply and a huge box of RCA-TS 8 channel snakes (6 of them!). He also threw in a Tascam 122 MKIII cassette deck. It wasn’t working but after I took it apart, cleaned it, blew it out with air, manually moved some parts (capstan), it works great now! He also says his partner that is letting go of all of this is also selling his Tascam MS-16 16 track 1” Reel to Reel recorder that went with this mixer. He has no idea how much they will charge for it and what condition it’s in. If it’s anything like this M-520, then it’s like new!66165BC4-651C-4BB9-BE70-FD45E219C2D1.jpeg
 

DrNomis_44

New member
Nice DrNomis! I just picked this one up for $350 with the power supply and a huge box of RCA-TS 8 channel snakes (6 of them!). He also threw in a Tascam 122 MKIII cassette deck. It wasn’t working but after I took it apart, cleaned it, blew it out with air, manually moved some parts (capstan), it works great now! He also says his partner that is letting go of all of this is also selling his Tascam MS-16 16 track 1” Reel to Reel recorder that went with this mixer. He has no idea how much they will charge for it and what condition it’s in. If it’s anything like this M-520, then it’s like new!View attachment 110683
Nice score, my M-520 isn't in as good condition as yours is, there is some rust/corrosion on some of the metal panels, I need to find replacement channel-strip panels to sort it out, I haven't powered-up my M-520 yet cause the power cable that attaches the power supply to the desk is missing.
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
As with any analog console test inputs to outputs. Bring a mic and a line source and some headphones. It’s a lot more powerful/flexible a console than the 388.

I haven’t owned an M-520 for well over a decade but I have spare parts.
 

DrNomis_44

New member
As with any analog console test inputs to outputs. Bring a mic and a line source and some headphones. It’s a lot more powerful/flexible a console than the 388.

I haven’t owned an M-520 for well over a decade but I have spare parts.
Yeah, fortunately I have some test-equipment I can use to service the desk if need-be, like a 20Mhz Dual-Trace Oscilloscope, and Digital Multimeter, the test-tones that the desk has built-in will be useful for signal-tracing when servicing the desk.
 

flyingace

Active member
As with any analog console test inputs to outputs. Bring a mic and a line source and some headphones. It’s a lot more powerful/flexible a console than the 388.

I haven’t owned an M-520 for well over a decade but I have spare parts.
Thanks, when I picked it up, he had it connected to a monitor and a mic in channel 1, it worked, but the headphone jack is missing, just a hole there. I’ll have to open it up and see what’s up there.

We could only get sound from all 20 channels through Bus 1 or 8 (metering on those two as well only), but then over 10 of the jumpers on the back are missing. He’s hoping he has them in storage, we’re going to look Monday I hope. He also has the MS-16 1” tape machine that goes with this that they think works fine, likely pick it up for about $350 too.

So, Sweetbeats, is it true that this mixer needs those jumpers to work if you’re not sending signals to and from those SND/RCV jacks?

I’m starting to realize how flexible Tascam made this, but that also makes it super complicated… but I want to learn. I’m trying to read the manual now but the online ones dont have all the pages.

Other than it missing that headphone jack, it’s pretty damn near mint condition looking!
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Yes, when the SEND/RCV jumper is removed and nothing else is connected the signal is interrupted; signal can’t flow through the input channel or PGM group. So from your picture there, as you have it, channels 3 through 9 won’t work, and PGM groups 2 through 8 won’t work. You can also use standard RCA cables in a pinch, but ideally they are as short as possible.
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Nice score, my M-520 isn't in as good condition as yours is, there is some rust/corrosion on some of the metal panels, I need to find replacement channel-strip panels to sort it out, I haven't powered-up my M-520 yet cause the power cable that attaches the power supply to the desk is missing.
There is enough slack in the internal wiring inside the power supply you can unmount the multipin jack from the PSU chassis and plug that directly into the jack on the console frame in a pinch to test.
 

flyingace

Active member
Yes, when the SEND/RCV jumper is removed and nothing else is connected the signal is interrupted; signal can’t flow through the input channel or PGM group. So from your picture there, as you have it, channels 3 through 9 won’t work, and PGM groups 2 through 8 won’t work. You can also use standard RCA cables in a pinch, but ideally they are as short as possible.
Thanks, Sweetbeats, that is what I thought. We hope to find them tomorrow in his storage. It also had these plugged into random RCAs on the back. Only 4 of them. What would they be used for?
IMG_6534.jpg
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Those are likely RCA shorting plugs or “caps”. You can check by taking your ohm meter and seeing if the pin and shield are shorted together, or you might even be able to just visually see this. They are used sometimes to ground an unterminated input prone to inducing RFI/EMI. Like if you have an input that picks up noise when nothing is plugged into it you can usually plug in a shorting cap and shunt the input to ground and the noise with it. These usually don’t have much use on a mixing console where you can turn off or mute inputs. It’s also sometimes a sign of poorly designed signal grounding.
 

DrNomis_44

New member
My Tascam M-520 has all the shorting-links in place for all the channel send and receive sockets, it should be fairly easy to make-up a set of short RCA patch leads to replace all the missing links, I'm thinking of replacing all the RCA sockets on my M-520 with 1/4 inch TRS types, since RCAs aren't really used much nowadays.
 

flyingace

Active member
Thanks, I had a feeling that‘s what they were. They were plugged into channels 1 & 2 line and tape inputs, think it’s because these are the high impedence instrument inputs?
So, I went to the guy’s storage tonight, no RCA jumper links to be found, ugh. So I guess I’m down to start soldering my own jumpers. Hard to believe you can’t find these things anywhere online at all (that aren’t $15 ea!).
Also, he has the MS-16 1” recorder unit, complete with DBX, VU, record and transport units, even the little rolly stand for the record and transport remote unit! All cables, plus several patch bays, lots of XLR snakes and even a 1” tape recorded in 1982 of Judas Priest “Breaking the Law” that was recorded on it! This guy used to own BeeJay studios in Orlando, FL. Said he recorded a ton of 80s bands back in the day.
I think I can pick it up for about $500 total for everything… worth the headache?
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Thanks, I had a feeling that‘s what they were. They were plugged into channels 1 & 2 line and tape inputs, think it’s because these are the high impedence instrument inputs?
So, I went to the guy’s storage tonight, no RCA jumper links to be found, ugh. So I guess I’m down to start soldering my own jumpers. Hard to believe you can’t find these things anywhere online at all (that aren’t $15 ea!).
Also, he has the MS-16 1” recorder unit, complete with DBX, VU, record and transport units, even the little rolly stand for the record and transport remote unit! All cables, plus several patch bays, lots of XLR snakes and even a 1” tape recorded in 1982 of Judas Priest “Breaking the Law” that was recorded on it! This guy used to own BeeJay studios in Orlando, FL. Said he recorded a ton of 80s bands back in the day.
I think I can pick it up for about $500 total for everything… worth the headache?
Well…not that this is an MS16 thread…

Not sure exactly how to answer your question.

Are you in the market for a 1” 16-track?

Is the one you’re looking at functional or near functional?

What condition are the heads in?

If you’re in the market, the machine is functional or near functional and the heads are in good shape I’d say there’s no headache. That’s a good deal. If you don’t know anything about whether it functions or needs work or the condition of the heads it’s a complete gamble. If that’s the case and you’re not in the market I’d walk.

The MS16 is known to be a pretty reliable machine and the rec-play amp design is pretty neat. It is the more narrow format 1” 16-track so there’s that, but I think they’re a worthy machine. But what is your experience operating and maintaining a tape machine? And are you prepared for the cost of a 1” cal tape and 1” tape stock? Check these prices out before you get into it. It’s a considerable investment. Again, are in the market for a 1” 16-track?
 

flyingace

Active member
Well…not that this is an MS16 thread…

Not sure exactly how to answer your question.

Are you in the market for a 1” 16-track?

Is the one you’re looking at functional or near functional?

What condition are the heads in?

If you’re in the market, the machine is functional or near functional and the heads are in good shape I’d say there’s no headache. That’s a good deal. If you don’t know anything about whether it functions or needs work or the condition of the heads it’s a complete gamble. If that’s the case and you’re not in the market I’d walk.

The MS16 is known to be a pretty reliable machine and the rec-play amp design is pretty neat. It is the more narrow format 1” 16-track so there’s that, but I think they’re a worthy machine. But what is your experience operating and maintaining a tape machine? And are you prepared for the cost of a 1” cal tape and 1” tape stock? Check these prices out before you get into it. It’s a considerable investment. Again, are in the market for a 1” 16-track?
Hey, thanks Sweetbeats for answering that anyway… sorry, I didn’t mean to tack on that to this thread, I’ll keep it M-520 from here on out and I super appreciate your advice.

On the M-520… finding the original RCA Jumper links is ridiculous $$, so I guess I’ll break out the soldering iron and order the parts to create my own, thanks for your tips there too.

I think I‘ve decided to make the M-520 the center of my studio, console, with my 388 for tape recordin (since it’s easier to work with) and my interface for recording with Logic Pro. It seems like a super flexible and capable console that can do quite a bit!

My experience is that I worked as a junior engineer at a 24 track analog studio in the early 90s, I do know my way around 1/4” and 2” tape machines but back then, we had a guy that did the maintenance, set ups, etc. I took it for granted by back then, but now that I’m setting up my own studio, I see how much work and how hard it is to get all this equipment working together properly! Looking forward to learning though. Thanks again! I hope to learn enough to start helping others here too.
 

DrNomis_44

New member
Here's a question for you guys,

My M-520 needs a full set of sheet-metal replacement channel-strip panels (Ch 1-20) cause the original ones have quite a bit of rust and corrosion on them, the other two panels with the Aux-bus, monitor controls are in better condition, I was wondering where I could source a complete set of replacements?
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Here's a question for you guys,

My M-520 needs a full set of sheet-metal replacement channel-strip panels (Ch 1-20) cause the original ones have quite a bit of rust and corrosion on them, the other two panels with the Aux-bus, monitor controls are in better condition, I was wondering where I could source a complete set of replacements?
Not sure. Every now and then some turn up on eBay or something. I believe I have 3 of the 5 on-hand. I used to have all 5 but I sold 2 of them.
 

A Reel Person

It's Too Funky in Here!!!
The M520 is a big step up from the 388 mixer section. Make sure it includes the power supply and power umbilical cable.
 

altruistica

Member
I've owned two MS16 in the past. They're rugged transports, but I was told by one engineer they used to call them 'butter heads'.....apparently they wore quicker than other heads. I never owned them long enough to find out. The sound was creamy (with or without the DBX) but I found with reel to reels, the tape stock is the major thing. The mechanics and electronics are much beefier and have to to haul the reels of tape. I've just gone back to cassette and I'm going to flip between this and the computer to get a more compressed, tape sound. I know lots of people say you can't hear tape compression on cassette.....but I can hear something and I like it. Maybe it's just a temporary antidote to 25 years of digital, I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm going deaf too....because I have lost decibels at 2kHz (probably between 6-8dB). Nothing's forever......
 
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