Tascam M520 Story...

flyingace

Active member
Correct on the ACCESS jacks to patchbay. You can have the jacks connected to each other via normalled or half-normalled pairs of jacks on a patchbay to replicate the jumpers, or normalled/half-normalled to inputs and outputs of your insert effects processors. My advice is, unless you have insert effects processors for every channel, I would pair up the SEND/RCV jacks on normalled jack pairs on the patchbay. And then just patch in your processors as needed.

So you have two stereo send-effect type processors? Like reverb, delay, that sort of thing?
Yes, I have a TC Electronics M-One XL and a Yamaha SPX 90.
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
So typically you use the AUX 1~4 busses to feed your send effect processors, and I typically used line inputs on channels to return the outputs of the processors to the console. It’s one reason the M-520 isn’t the M-516, so you have additional input channels for comprehensive effects returns, or two-track returns.
 

flyingace

Active member
I‘m super feeling out of my league with this thing. It was one thing to work in a fully set up studio in the 90s but I never had to set it up, only maintain it. It may be the M520 is just too much for my needs, it’s huge and heavy to boot. I sure love it and would love it to be the centerpiece of my studio but… where can I get educated better on how to not only use this unit but how to set it up properly and all the options? I have the manual but it’s pretty tech, I hate to keep asking you all questions here… is there a preferred book for learning all things audio engineer/console set up/use? Thanks!
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
There are general books you can read but none that are going to be specific to the M-520. What is the barrier you face next with using it? Did my answer about the effects processors help?
 

flyingace

Active member
I think it’s time to start reading up to get some basic terminology down, engineer speak, if you will, and that will likely help me better understand the EXCELLENT advice you give. I’ve watched all three of your videos on YouTube, they helped with the over view but some leave me with questions I can’t exactly figure out, yet, how to put into an actual question. When I do, I’ll ask it! :) thanks!
 

flyingace

Active member
BTW, any tips on good books that focus on the old analog way of doing things out there? I’ve searched amazon but usually only come up with books that focus on the DAW. I was hoping local libraries might have some old old books available but unfortunately not. Any older titles to look for in used markets? Thanks!
 

flyingace

Active member
Thanks! I ordered that book, I think I actually checked it out from the library once, when we lived in a larger city the library system had a ton of the older books to choose from. I’ve read many books on music production, even taken an online course, but nothing has really prepared me for the setup of an older 80s system quite like this. I also ordered a book from 1990 called “Sound Studio Production Techniques” that has great reviews talking about the older equipment. Here’s hopin’!
As to your other advice, thank you, I’ll try to figure out some of those questions and see what you and others are willing to help with, esp. pertaining to this M-520 for now. If it veers from this unit, I’ll start a new thread or PM you.
Again, thanks for your patience!
 

flyingace

Active member
BTW, the headphone jack was missing when I bought it. The seller didn’t have any reason why or how this happened. What is the best way to get inside to check and replace, through the top or bottom?
 

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sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
The headphone jack is not PCB mounted, it is panel mounted and point to point wired to the PCB. I’m wondering if yours became detached from the panel and fell down inside the works. You cannot get to anything from the top, you have to access from underneath or kind of from the side. The master section is an assembly of vertical and horizontal PCBs. I have a complete master section around here somewhere…
 

flyingace

Active member
The headphone jack is not PCB mounted, it is panel mounted and point to point wired to the PCB. I’m wondering if yours became detached from the panel and fell down inside the works. You cannot get to anything from the top, you have to access from underneath or kind of from the side. The master section is an assembly of vertical and horizontal PCBs. I have a complete master section around here somewhere…
Thank you Cory, for all your help. I realized I just jumped into this thread after reading only about the first 10 pages or so, then saw that it was inactive for a while, thought I’d ask for help in hopes someone was still around... And there you were! Now that I’m on page 22, and continuing to read, I’m amazed at all you did and documented! Plus to see how you’ve been so awesome to help so many others, it’s really, well.. awesome! Thank you!

I’m going to spend more time with the manual (yes, mine came with it!!), testing each channel with the jumpers I have (until I either create my own, solder some RCA shorties or find some), and reading the two books I just bought to better understand mixing/engineering from a tech point of view.

After reading about your journey, though, I am pretty sure I am going to need to upgrade my soldering iron (450watt radio shack is all I have, which works great on guitars, but is problematic for PCBs) and learn to re-cap, and take this thing apart to get it back up to working condition.

By then, I hope to have my studio delivered, and start work on the interior electrical, insulation and finishing walls and ceilings. It’s only a 12’x10’ portable building, but It will be nice to have my own space to finally get my vintage synths out of storage. Plus I have a new-to-me Tascam Studio 8 388 to play with on top of this M-520!! Oh, and if I really go completely insane… the guy that sold me the M-520 is offering to sell me his MS-16 1” recorder complete set up for $500… that’s another story to be told. Ha ha!🤪

Again, you have been amazing on this forum, I know many many more than I thank you for your service, storytelling and advice… but THANK YOU again anyway! I’ll pay it forward.

P.S. Here is a mockup of my building to be delivered in September:
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- Patrick
 

flyingace

Active member
The headphone jack is not PCB mounted, it is panel mounted and point to point wired to the PCB. I’m wondering if yours became detached from the panel and fell down inside the works. You cannot get to anything from the top, you have to access from underneath or kind of from the side. The master section is an assembly of vertical and horizontal PCBs. I have a complete master section around here somewhere…
Oh, and the headphone jack is down in there, just fell through like you said. It won't stay in the hole, so I'll likely need to solder in a new one with a nut that I can affix to the top panel. Good news is looking inside... super clean in there, nary a dust bunny! Happy to see that it's not infested with spider eggs/webs and gunk!
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
It should be a fairly standard size nut to affix the factory one…if you remove the dress panel maybe you’ll even find the nut? The M-500 series construction is such that there is a sub-chassis to which the PCBs, pots etc are attached, and then the decorative painted dress panels are on top of the sub chassis. The nut might be stuck in between the dress panel and the sub chassis. Remove the knobs, and then there are a couple screws top and bottom of each dress panel as well as maybe one or two in between, and remove the faders. The dress panel will then lift off.
 

flyingace

Active member
It should be a fairly standard size nut to affix the factory one…if you remove the dress panel maybe you’ll even find the nut? The M-500 series construction is such that there is a sub-chassis to which the PCBs, pots etc are attached, and then the decorative painted dress panels are on top of the sub chassis. The nut might be stuck in between the dress panel and the sub chassis. Remove the knobs, and then there are a couple screws top and bottom of each dress panel as well as maybe one or two in between, and remove the faders. The dress panel will then lift off.
It appears to be the plastic "press on/friction fit" kind. And from the marks around the collar (threadless), it looks like the part that the top ring "clicked" into has broken away. I'll have to order a new one with a washer and nut to replace it with but... the cost for such a tiny thing plus shipping is a lot, I'm thinking I'll wait to see if I need to order new caps first and make the order at the same time. Being in a small town, there are no stores to puchase items like this within 2-3 hours away. :( Thanks Cory!
 

flyingace

Active member
So the guy I bought my M-520 from felt bad that he couldn’t find the jumpers and that I’m having to clean it up to operate, he refunded me $200 of the $350 I paid for it and also threw in a Tascam 122MKIII cassette deck Along with a ton of snake and cables! So now I have the lower initial investment to spend the time and effort to do what Sweetbeats did completely cleaning up this unit to refurbish it as best I can! Hard work ahead but it will be worth it!
 
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flyingace

Active member
So, good news! All the inputs and outputs check out. Very minor inconsistencies in input./trim levels, but no squawking at the EQ, no noise at the faders. Some switch noise at the input section. I exercised all the knobs and audio was reliable and consistent. Very happy do discover this. Many more tests to do when I get it set up as my main console but that will be several months before I can really stress test it.
Thank you Sweetbeats for all your advice and help!
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
It’s normal for there to be some inconsistency channel to channel in levels. Many things contribute to this. The good news is it’s all adjustable right?? :D

Switch noise “at the input section”…are you talking about the source select toggle switches? If so these are actually very easy to service. You can get the straw of a DeoxIT D5 can down there. And you want the D5, not the F5. Squirt down in there and exercise the switch well, do another squirt to rinse and let it sit overnight.
 

flyingace

Active member
Thanks Sweetbeats! Yes, the toggle. I have some D5 on order. I'm excited to move forward. I had my synth repair guy take a look at the power supply caps, and they all spec out, no visible issues or metering issues so far. As you said in a prior post, just start using it and then do repairs and maintenance as they come up. We will see once I put the board under load with everything plugged in. It's still going to be a few months before my studio is ready. (biting nails with impatience!)

I've now read the entire thread, understood most and definitely entertained throughout. Let's keep it going. BTW, I saw the part about you selling your board to Richard Swift. I was unaware of him, so I went and read/listened, then was very sad to see that he passed away in 2018!
 

flyingace

Active member
So, one of the books that ordered, “Sound Studio Production Techniques“ (Link listed above), arrived yesterday and I was blown away to find out that in chapter 4, Mixing-Console Architecture, he uses the Tascam M-520 as his example throughout the chapter and future chapters on everything from each channel strip, SND/RCV, Monitor Section, Buss Section, VUs, I/O, EQ and more! I was so excited to have this additional “use” manual for not only production knowledge but to have it focused directly on this console is awesome!

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sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
It’s interesting they would choose that console because there’s some mildly unconventional topology. I think the book I recommended also features the M-520 somewhere in there.
 
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