Country of Manufacture:Australia
Speeds: 3 3/4
Max Reel Size("): 7"
Number of heads: 2
Head Composition: Permalloy
Head Configuration: Mono - Full Track
# Motors: 1
Signal-to-Noise Ratio:Valve complement: 1 x 6AQ5, 2 x 6AU6, 1 6X4, and 1 x N78
Sound quality rating:6 / 10
Long-term reliability rating: 7/ 10
Probably the first truly ‘portable’ small recorder made in Australia, the Byer “55” was a full-track mono recorder with a single speed (3¾ ips) and a 5″ reel capacity.
The deck plate and all drive wheels of the “55” were precision engineered from cast aluminium which helped to keep the weight down to 18lbs (8.2 kg) – very light for the early 1950s. A single heavy duty synchronous motor was used.
Simple operating controls were incorporated in the Byer “55”, the 5-position function switch on the left side of the panel provided : FAST FORWARD, REWIND, STOP, REPLAY, and RECORD. Playing time was measured by markings on the deck.
Servicing was problematic due to the compact nature of the recorder. In order to re-fit or replace the main spool drive belt involved removal of the loudspeaker, which first required the removal of a capacitor. The speaker wires needed to be de-soldered as they were too short to allow reasonable speaker movement. Replacement of the N78 output tube necessitated the same procedure!
The “55” sold for £100 and was supplied with crystal microphone and carry cover.
Price when new (in Australia)
|two – erase and record/playback|
Maximum reel size
|1 x 6AQ5, 2 x 6AU6, 1 6X4, and 1 x N78|
|2½ minutes for 600 ft reel|
Audio output power
|approx 3 watts|
|high impedance for radio or microphone|
|external 2 ohm speaker|
|Rola 5B 5″ speaker|
|12 x 7¾ x 8in high (305 x 197 x 203mm)|
|18 lbs (8.2 kg)|
Published test report
From Radio & Hobbies, August 1953
Something new in the tape recorder field has been produced by Byer Industries in their newly released Tape Recorder Type 55. It is probably not only the smallest available with full facilities, but also the lightest in weight as well. It sells for less than £100.
The overall size of the recorder in its cabinet is 12 x 7¾ x 8in high, and its total weight in carrying cover, with microphone and tape, is 18lb.
Both these characteristics are made possible by an exceptionally neat design, by the use of cast aluminium for all metal work in the deck and chassis, and the use of a tape speed of 3¾ in per second with 5in reels. These reels carry 600ft of tape and allow the standard playing time of 30 minutes per reel.
Despite the slower speed, the reproduction is comparable with most tape recorders running at 7½ in per second, and is claimed to be comparable with that from an ordinary radio receiver. Under listening tests this claim would appear to be justified.
The handy size and light weight of the recorder are the two features which are immediately impressive, in addition to the plastic, zippered carrying cover which has the appearance of an overnight bag rather than a technical instrument case.
When operating the recorder, the smoothness and positive action of the changeover switch is worthy of special note. Both fast rewind and fast forward speeds are provided, and it is possible to rock the control backward and forward at any speed with no apparent danger of breaking the tape.
This is due to the ingenious and well-made deck, based on a cast aluminium panel. The various drive wheels are also of cast aluminium, turned and machined to fit, with bonded neoprene tyres giving very smooth running.
Only one motor is used, a heavy duty synchronous type similar to that used for the well-known Byer disc turntables, and shielded against hum pickup. It has a powerful, smooth output without any discernable flutter or wow in use.
The recorder has a built-in loud- speaker—Rola 5B—with jacks for any high impedance input from radio or microphone, and for an external 2-ohm loudspeaker. It has two full-track heads, one for recording and one for erase with a high frequency oscillator.
The record-playback amplifier has three stages using two 6AU6, one 6BJ5, and one 6X4 rectifier, and is wired on a cast aluminium chassis built around the drive motor. The chassis in turn is suspended from the top panel, so that the entire recorder may be withdrawn from the case as a unit.
A red, bezel type volume indicator is used, which flashes when the recorder reaches overload point. This indicator also serves to show when the recorder is switched for playback.
The top panel is finished in bronze enamel and ivory lacquer, the case in beige leatherette, the speaker grille in anodised aluminium, and the carry cover in tan PVC waterproof leather-cloth.
The Byer 55 gives the impression of being a well-engineered, true-to-label recorder which, because of its special features, should make quite a name for itself in the lower-priced field. It comes complete with a crystal type hand microphone and power cord.