Master Control Panel 5500
(1987-1989) Master control panel for Beosystem 5500
Type number: 2048
The Master Control Panel 5500 replaced the Master Control Panel 5000. The need for the change was the introduction of the Beomaster 5500, a new model which, like the MCP, was similar in concept and appearance but quite different in detail. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
The Master Control Panel 5500 was different in a number of important ways. Firstly, it used a new type of infra-red code that was similar to that sent by the AV Terminal and the Beolink 1000. This was needed as B&O were re-designing the whole range to work with just one remote control standard, an overdue move that made the integration of audio and video equipment much simpler. This did not mean that the Master Control Panel 5500 could operate any piece of equipment that used the Beolink 1000 terminal, it still required a returned signal from the main system to operate. The reason for the change was so that the Beomaster could be used with other terminals. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
The second change was that the degree to which the audio system could be controlled was increased considerably. The tape decks in particular benefited greatly from the improved capabilities of the Master Control Panel 5500, and such things as the Dolby mode, auto reverse status and direction and recording level could be viewed and adjusted. The recording level function in particular was of interest, for as well as being able to select automatic or manual operation, the level setting could be altered and the resulting signal viewed on a small indicator similar to that of the tape deck itself. The ability to view the recording level meter of a tape recorder that may well be in a different room on a different floor of a building was a major technical achievement and fully underlined B&O’s supremacy in the field of remote control systems. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
The final major change was the way in which the volume was controlled. Instead of using the usual “up” and “down” keys, the designers chose to use a wheel, which could be rotated in either direction to alter the volume, treble, bass and balance as desired. The wheel was suspended on a ball race and its rotation was monitored by an optical sensor. An electrical contact connected by a friction clutch was also fitted so the action of turning the wheel also turned the Master Control Panel 5500 on. While the wheel was undoubtedly elegant, its action was marred by a slight delay that made accurate volume adjustment difficult until it was acclimatised to. Given the power of the Beomaster 5500, it was possible to make a lot of noise without really meaning to. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
While the Master Control Panel 5500 could not control a Beovision TV set directly, it was possible to do so to a limited manner using the “aux” function if the Beovision was a suitable type and connected to the Beomaster 5500 via the “aux” socket. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
Despite all the changes, the Master Control Panel 5500 was of the same size and finished in the same colours as the previous model, though an all-white version was briefly made for the limited-edition white Beosystem 5500. The use of four “D” sized cells also continued and their life was still short, though not so much so as to cause a nuisance. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
- Jarman, T; Jarman, N (2008), Crowood Collectors' Series: Bang & Olufsen: 139, 148