EDIT: We have since replaced this console with a linked pair of Studer 169s

We use the Tascam M-520 here, and we like it quite a lot. It’s very intelligently laid-out and it has great routing options. And the build quality is superb. Our only quibbles with this desk are the design of its channel mutes (they’re prone to getting noisy) and its somewhat limited EQ (I’m cool with the fixed bandwidth, but I wish the Q was broader).

Here the brochure for this mixer and its little brother (the 12 channel M-512):

M-500 series brochure

And here’s the manual (minus the schematics):

M-520 manual

Tip: The manual has a great section on the fundamentals of sound engineering that’s really useful for any novice or intermediate analogue recordist.

And finally here’s some weird, elaborate, interactive flash model of the mixer:

Interactive M-520

We recently gave our M-520 a bit of a cleaning. So if you have this mixer, or are thinking of acquiring one, here’s what the channel strips look like when disassembled:

Tascam M-520: the knobs from a one 'bucket' of four channels

Tascam M-520: the knobs from a one ‘bucket’ of four channels

These pin-and-header connectors are a bit fragile; the pots are all bolted to the metal–which is great for durability, but a major pain-in-the-ass to disassemble for cleaning

It’s not a bad idea to label those headers

Yep, that’s a lot of annoying ITT Schadow switches to clean…

Tascam M520 channel buckets disassembled

Another view of the channel buckets disassembled.

8 Responses to “Tascam M-520: 20 channel 8 bus console”

  1. The Bottle Garden / Recording equipment Says:

    […] Tascam M520 20-channel/8-bus console […]

  2. Jim Freschi Says:

    I am about to clean my M-520 but I don’t really know what I’m doing. On page 79 of the manual there is procedure showing how to lift up the top panel. Is this the best way to get to the inside? The manual has everything but how to get inside or maybe I’m just blind and dumb. Any suggestions on how to take the M-520 apart for such a cleaning?

  3. Daniel Lupinski Says:

    I recently bought a Tascam M-520, however, when I got it home it filled the room with this very toxic smell that gives you a headache. The board is suppose to functional and lights up and everything though I haven’t run signals through it yet! I had to get it out of the house because of the smell and have no idea what is causing it! I unscewed the modules and looked underneath but cannot get a fix on where the smell is emanating from! I thought maybe you had some ideas as you have dismantled the board completely. My wife is pregnant and is why it down resides in the shed outside. I also bought 2 8 track and 4 track reel to reel machines but once I got the board out of the house the smell was gone! Please email me any ideas!

  4. admin Says:

    Hi Daniel,
    That’s a tricky one. My wild guess would be something went awry in the power supply…
    Apparently, in some failure modes, electrolytic capacitors can give off a sort of ammonia-type odor. Maybe you could open up the power supply and see if there are any obviously damaged or deformed caps?
    If the smell is inside the main console frame itself, maybe something got spilled inside it? I know of someone who had a mouse make a home inside his Tascam console at some point; I’d imagine that didn’t smell so great.
    Good luck!

  5. The Bottle Garden » Blog Archive » Studer 169 Linked Pair Restoration/Installation Says:

    […] reliable, loyal Tascam M520 couldn’t have seen it coming. One doesn’t expect older, mightier, more tranformer-y […]

  6. skotchy Says:

    Hi i’ve just landed a tascam m520, my previous mixer was a tascam m320B.I had no problems connecting aux fx with the 320b, however i’m bewildered on how to do this using the tascam m520. Can someone help me out ? Also it is just 2 aux fx right? because i’m reading in some places that its 4. Any help greatly appreciated. Oh and i had a real good look at the manual, but still no luck.

  7. admin Says:

    Hi there,
    We no longer have our M520 but it does indeed have 4 aux sends (2 sets dual concentric pots on each channel; four master send faders in the master section). IIRC it doesn’t have dedicated effects returns, instead you just patch the effect unit outputs to normal channel line ins. We tended to use channels 19 and 20 as our main reverb returns.
    Hope that helps.

  8. Jack Ellister Says:

    Hi, I’ve got one, works perfectly but has a couple of cracking pots. The routing options are insane. Sounds great for alternative/underground styles. VU meters and the leather look good :-). I like it a lot. Used it on several releases. A very nice analogue mixing desk, but I have to get rid of it due to having moved into a small London flat. So if anyone in the UK is interested… 07519510627… Cheers Jack

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