(1987-1989) Stereo cassette deck, Dolby HX Pro B/C NR, Datalink
Type numbers: 4931, 4932, 4933, 4934, 4935
While the Beocord 5500 looked very similar to the Beocord 5000, the new machine was very different. The most obvious change was that the cassette transport had moved from the centre to the left of the machine and now had an auto reverse function. In addition, the sliding level controls were replaced with a choice of automatic or manual level control modes operated by a slightly larger keypad than had been fitted before. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
The Beocord 5500 was both mechanically and electronically very similar to the cassette section of the Beocenter 9000. The cassette mechanism itself had 3 motors (one capstan, one reel and one mode control), and offered auto reverse with a rotating head assembly and optical tape end sensing. This mechanism was fast acting, and it was argued that the disruption to the programme material at the point of reversal was so slight as to be negligible. This logic meant that the cassette was treated as having one continuous side rather than two separate ones. A track search system that noted and logged the tracks in a numbered sequence would then find any track, regardless of which side of the tape it was on. The tracks could also be played in any order, as with a compact disc player, though a Beomaster 5500 and Master Control Panel 5500 would be required to set up the program. By similar means, timer recordings of radio programmes could also be made. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
Other automatic features made operation easier for the beginner. There was a choice of automatic or manual recording level adjustment, which offered the user the chance to record using the most suitable setting. Operation in automatic recording mode was very easy, unlike the manual mode which was very complicated. The fact that there was only one level meter (that also doubled as a track indicator during playback) did not help, nor that it was difficult to adjust the recording level on one channel only to create a balanced recording. Despite the limited metering on the machine, there was one novelty in this area: the level meter could be displayed on the Master Control Panel 5500, even in a link room. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
Rather more sensible was the automatic Dolby switch, which recognised which NR system, if any, had been used during recording and selected the appropriate setting on playback. The system worked by recording low frequency control codes during loud passages of recording, and worked very well. HX-Pro was also included, helping to make for good recording performance. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
It becomes clear when comparing the Beocord 5500 and 5000 that the 5500 had been geared towards allowing the novice user to make reasonable quality recordings, whereas the 5000, in the hands of a skilled operator, was capable of far better results. This change in emphasis marked the start of the decline of the Beocord as a serious recording instrument, and would end up with the final B&O tape recorders being the basic additions to music centres that would remain 10 years later. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.