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Thread: Melos Tape Echo Chamber - Speed Fluctuations/Warble & Feedback - HELP!

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    Exclamation Melos Tape Echo Chamber - Speed Fluctuations/Warble & Feedback - HELP!

    Hi guys, i hope some of you can help me out with an issue i'm having with my newly purchased Melos Echo Chamber.

    I just bought it second hand on eBay fairly cheap, and i was told it came with a 'new' tape cartridge, and that it was in full working order. If you're wondering, it's the model that looks almost identical to the Univox EC-80, perhaps rebranded.

    Anyway...

    I can't deny it doesn't work, and it sounds beautiful! You can't beat that warm tape delay, BUT i have run into a few problems that potentially ruin it for me, and i'd hate to have to send it back (the seller has kindly offered a full refund if i return it). I have a sneaking feeling that something may have got damaged in the postage, or perhaps the seller was unaware of how bad the warble is.

    Basically, i was hardly expecting a pristine/perfect sounding model, but this thing seems to have a mind of it's own. Tape delay is renowned for it's flutter/warble but this this fluctuates so much on occasion that it sounds wildly out of tune and frankly ruins the sound. I'll try record a little demo later and upload it if that would help anyone figure out what's wrong. Despite the 'new' tape cartridge, i'm hoping that this is the cause of the problem, perhaps the wrong type of tape or shedding oxide? I have no idea... but i'd much rather it be a problem with the tape and buy a new refurbished one than it be a problem with the machine itself.

    To my very untrained ear... it sounds like the motors running the tape aren't able to run at a consistent speed, perhaps something is loose, but the sound of the echos is constantly wavering, sometimes to dramatic amounts, i know there's supposed to be a normal level of flutter with these old things, i love that, but this really doesn't sound right. Sometimes it's spot on, and sounds sublime, but for the most part it's constantly wavering up and down, almost totally randomly, ever so slightly speeding up/or slowing down, it's as if my echo chamber rather drunk.

    Despite that, every minute or so, the echo will cut out completely for a second before coming back on again, which i assume is where the tape is stitched together in the cartridge... again surely this isn't right, it couldn't be used professionally, or even on an amateur level with an obvious total drop in sound and echo every couple of minutes. This leads me to believe it could be a problem with this rather ancient looking cartridge.

    FINAL PROBLEM doesn't affect me too much, but perhaps it could allude as to what's causing the ridiculous fluctuations, but turning the repeat knob up past 5 (halfway) causes the machine to violently feedback on itself to an instantly unusable level, i'm sure this isn't right either as half of the dial is essentially unusable. I've tried experimenting with all the settings, and i'm just not able to get higher repeats without it feedbacking to oblivion, it's just ridiculously loud white noise basically within a few seconds of turning the dial up.

    Sorry for the long post, but it's bumming me out and i don't want to keep the seller waiting too long as to whether or not i'll be keeping it.

    TL;DR - Melos Echo Chamber warbles way too much, sounds like can't run tape can't keep a consistent speed, sometimes briefly cuts out all together. BONUS problem - can't turn "Repeat" dial up past 5 without it feedbacking to oblivion, regardless of whether i'm playing guitar or not.

    I hope some of you techy guys can help!!

    Thanks all,

    Sammy

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    Buy some "rubber renew". The pinch rollers that move tape depend fundamentally on having some traction to do so. And what can happen over time is that they get hard and smooth fro all that rubbing. Yu need to make them rubbery again. I'm not saying that will necessarily cure the beast, but the reason these rubber-renewal products exist is BECAUSE that has been an eternal problem with tape-based technology.

    This may not be the certified best product on the market, but it was the first one that came up in my browser and is readily available at many industrial electronics outlets.
    Rubber Cleaner

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    I have purchased new pinch rollers and had some rebuilt by this guy:

    Terry's Rubber Pinch Rollers & Wheels

    I was very satisfied with the results.

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    Thanks for the quick replies! I feel like a bit of a shmuck as the echo is built like a brick and i haven't actually been able to open it up and get a look at the rollers, but i think you may be on to something. I'll open it up when i get some decent free time and report back what i find, i'll try track down some rubber cleaner too, i've never seen the stuff, but then again i've never been looking.

    I'm sure the rubber renew can only do so much though, if the traction is really bad would i be looking at getting some new rollers like the ones Kazooman linked? I can tell this might turn into a project... something to keep me occupied i suppose!

    If anyone else has had any similar problems, don't hesitate to give your input! I reckon it may be the pinch rollers causing the speed fluctuations and the refurbished tape causing the momentary drop in echo every few minutes where the tapes rejoins itself.

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    Hi My first suspicion would be the cartridge.From memory they had a few minutes of tape that circulated before the join.
    Secondly the pinch roller and capstan..I'm surprised you haven't opened it 'cause cleaning the capstan and the heads
    is a normal routine with any tape machine ..but I have been fooling with them since 1960!
    Thirdly the speed control pot may be dirty or something to do with the power to the motor.
    The regeneration noise is quite normal in those .Perhaps they gave it too much travel but years ago I heard a guy fooling about with one through a flanger and varying the speed control ...Talk about aliens landing.
    Stick that through a 5k P.A. at midnight in your back yard and check out letters to the paper and talk back radio in the following weeks....just as long as you don't get busted for noise pollution !

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