Check out the new Tape Project website at, now with online ordering. Inventory is updated every week, so stop by often to see what we have in stock.

Author Topic: Otari MX-50 Track alignment  (Read 3812 times)


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Otari MX-50 Track alignment
« on: February 13, 2012, 07:17:40 AM »
Hi, I borrowed a MX-50 to transfer several recordings from the 1970 & 1980. For a reason I don't understand I can hear only one track of the tape tracks and also the track on the reverse side backwards. I suspect that track configuration of the playback head maybe the problem , but this machine is a basic MX-50 and I'm sure there's no modification to the machine.  Do I need to adjust the head alignment & height? Please help me with this. 

Offline sound signal

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 46
    • View Profile
Re: Otari MX-50 Track alignment
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 09:37:58 AM »

From what you say you are probably playing four-track stereo tapes with a two-track playback head.

A two-track playback head with 2mm guard band between tracks in the middle of the tape (standard two-track format a la Tape Project, as opposed to wide-track two track which only has a 0.75mm guard band) will cover track 1 and track 4 of a four-track tape, with tracks 2 and 3 mostly falling in the guard band.

Since four-track stereo tapes are recorded with left and right channels on tracks 1 and 3 "going" and tracks 4 and 2 "coming" (accessible by flipping the reels over on a two-channel machine), you are hearing the left channel of the "going" stereo programme on track 1 in your left channel, and the left channel of the "coming" stereo programme on track 4 backwards in your right channel.

You need to find a machine with a four-track stereo playback head.  Consumer machines, as opposed to a pro machine like the Otari, are your best bet, since four-track stereo was the standard consumer format, with two-track more of a semi-pro or pro format.

Revox, for example, made machines in both two- and four- track formats; you need to find one in the format you want.  Some machines by other manufacturers had two playback heads, selectable by switching.

Best regards,
George Karaolides
Nicosia, Cyprus