This is to document the Ampex 351 deck and electronics I purchased to rebuild. Original condition was poor and 7 months later, Analog Domain has restored this machine to excellent working condition and improved cosmetics a great deal.
I can only say thanks ; but thanks is not enough. Being 65 years old, I remember our family going out in the heat of the summer and leaving the screen door, as the only barrier between us and the thieves. Back then there were fewer thieves, we had to work or we starved. In the age of the internet, there are those who prey on those who look for the qualified suppliers of services, who tell us what their qualifications are; how can we check.
Albert, you've saved me the thought of dealing with an unresolvable problem. I won't have to feel like a fool for beliving, what someone who says he is a qualified tech, will do when I give him my charge card to do " what it takes," to return My Ampex to the stature it enjoyed in the golden age of analog.
I must say I am not happy with the outcome, performance is not what I expected and I plan on selling my completed Ampex. Perhaps other mods would make it right but I have run out of energy working on this project.
You're welcome to telephone me, use the Audiogon server to send an email and I will give you my phone number or you can give me yours. I will discuss every detail of my experience if that is of any value to you.
I've waited until you've reached a decision on the quality of the re-build on your Ampex 351. I've been looking at mine for 7 months, and it's time to make a decision.
I was sent a quote of $950 from the company that rebuilt your Ampex. They will change the caps, tubes ,etc. There are only about 1500 hrs on my machine, so the heads don't need to be relapped; the tubes may be no different than nos.
I designed a custom stand for the Ampex and had Sound Anchor build it. After waiting a month to build and nearly a week to ship, UPS smashed it so badly we had to claim it as unusable. It takes effort to crush a steel stand filled with concrete but UPS was up to the task :^).
So, after all the claims paper work and waiting, a new stand has been built and is supposed to ship today.
Assuming the shipper does not do the same to stand number 2, I may get to listen late this week.
I'm sending an email to Bottlehead to see if a list exists. If these are good titles, I'm interested.
As for the rebuild job on my tape machine, I'm very pleased with the mechanical work such as head blocks, pinch rollers and such and (honestly) disappointed with the electrical restoration.
The guy that rebuilt mine believes the Ampex should stay dead stock, even down to crappy wire and bad slip on connection clips to the circuit boards.
I have not put enough hours on mine yet to determine quality of sound. I'm waiting on a rack from Sound Anchor so I can move it into my listening room where it will hook up to the same cables as the Technics 1520. Once I listen, swap a couple of tubes and let it settle in, I will have a solid opinion.
Albert, you'll want to look into the master dubs that will be offered by Bottlehead. 10 issues per year, each on two 10 inch reels at 15 ips. Titles not yet known, $150 per offering, based on a subscription of 10 for the full year.
I need to have the machine gone over, even though there is probably less than 1000 hours use on the machine. The rubber needs to be replaced, electrolytic caps replaced etc. If the cost of the additional head block seems reasonable, it sounds like the way to go, especially since your man perfected the process on your machine. If you're entirely satisfyed with the job he did for you it would be like having a second unit. If you would pass his name on to me I would appreciate it.
I also have an Ampex PR-10 that I purchased around 15 years ago, and had it gone over by an ex Ampex tech. The electronics are the same as used on the 354 machine. It used the same transport as we have on the 351, but used solid state electronics. It would be possible for me to make a dub of anything with the PR-10, realizing that the signal would be going through solid state electronics. I'll see how the recordings go and if they aren't too embarrasing, I'll send you a dub. regards, Ken
Thanks for the tip on master copies at Bottlehead, I would definitely like to take advantage of that.
My Ampex has the advantage of twin head blocks, one is stock (as yours) and records and plays half track. However, the other will play half AND quarter track but will not record.
Advantage is I can buy prerecorded off Ebay for about what used LP's go for and have another analog source. If you get crazy and want to convert your machine I can put you in touch with the guy that built mine.
If you do that recording gig your talking about I sure would love to hear some samples.
Hello Albert, I'm sitting here looking at my Ampex 351-2 that has been staring back at me for 2 months saying, "Feed Me." You may not recall , that I responded earlier about the machine that we both have. I realize that you have a good deal of program material for the Ampex. I have none.
This afternoon we had the meeting for the Richmond Audio Society, the age ranges from early twentys up to 64, that's me. One of our members has a repair shop and caters to the pro and tube set. We kid him about the fact that his hair was straight until he got tangled up with too much high voltage and big filter caps. I mentioned that I needed to check out my Ampex and that I had absolutely no tapes. He sugested that I go to Bottlehead.com. They have a subscription service by which you can purchase dubs of live recordings, the quality of which, will re-enforce the axiom that analogue is best. You may already be aware of this site, but if not, it will be just another conduit for the depleation of funds.
We in Richmond , have a wide range of small musical groups that perform at many small clubs . The only thing we have more of are banks and gas stations. It's been a long time since I miked and recorded a band , but I hope it's like riding a bike. I guess that I need to take a Saturday afternoon off from my Bobcat, dirt, and salt treated lumber, and have a little fun with my wife and my Ampex.
Thank you. I am especially impressed with the Ampex ATR, Studer C37 series and AEG 'Magnetophon 20.
Lots of great old analog players out there. I just got the Ampex operational, the problem was a bad switch. It may have gotten jammed in shipping.
Anyway, now the sound is great, I will decide how just how good with some long term listening and maybe after swapping tubes. The guy that rebuilt it put in JJ Tesla 12AX7 and I'm a fan of Telefunken's version.
Studer and Ampex are the easiest to find parts for, but many other fine pro recorders were made: AEG/Telefunken (a descendant of the origional tape recorder,) Presto, Scully, 3M Mincom, MCI (later bought and carried on by Sony,) Otari, and perhaps others I'm not thinking of
Hornblower, that would be EXCELLENT! I am willing to dub a couple of mine if your interested. My treasure is an original first generation safety that was recorded half track 15 IPS.
The deck you mention, do you know of a website that favors that model where I can read about it and view images? I would definitely like to learn about it even though I can't afford another deck right now.
Having two decks is definately worthwhile. When I get my PR99 over here I will be able to make NAB dubs for people in the US, though CCIR (IEC) is actually a better EQ standard. With the B67 all one needs to do is move some jumpers to change EQ. The Presto is a neat machine; the EQ modules plug into an octal socket, making the change quick and easy, it runs 1/2" or 1/4" tape, and takes 4 heads. It was made from '57-'65, was made to compete with, and was more expensive than, the Ampex 351. I should be able to send some dubs this fall, and I would welcome your opinion. Bach solo 'cello, and a Brahms trio are the currently planned projects.
Nate, keep the dream. Those LP's and open reel tapes will still be around when you finish school. I'm constantly amazed at how much music I missed while shopping for what I wanted :^).
There is an amazing amount of material out there, I've found several jazz titles on open reel that I would have never heard had I not gone for this format. Too bad I'm not friends with Arnie, dupes of even a handful of those masters in his library would make me a happy person.
Albert, I heard that there have been a few R to Rs popping up here and there which is awsome. Arnie had at one time over 1000 masters that he said exceeded every source that he has experienced, even compared to equipment available today.
I'm really a fan of analog as well though not at your level. I've had a Nottingham Space Deck with Ace space arm and a shelter 301 cart for a few months now and I'm very happy with it- very musical!! I have an all tube system (ss phono stage) and I really like the idea of the most "analog" system possible, much like yours. Sometime in the future, I would really like to get into the R to R world as budget allows. I recently quit my job to go back to business school so audio funds are tight- I've had to limit myself to only a couple LP's a month.... So sad! Cheers Nate
David, If you capture any analog recordings of the students playing Cello I would love a copy, assuming they don't mind an individual owning it to just listen.
Maybe we could trade copies of tapes when I get both my machines running.
I looked at the Studer machines when I was open reel shopping. The Ampex has more technicians here in the USA familiar with it because it's so old and made in the states. The Studer 810 came very close to being my choice, it is very beautiful and well made.
Albert, I'm very interested in your project. I have two similar projects of my own. A Presto 800 series (console, two transports, and four channels of electronics with power supplies,) and a Studer C37 are being restored by me and my technician. Making your own recordings, where you are present for the real thing is essential to reach the highest level with audio. I am currently in Den Haag, The Netherlands, where my wife studies baroque 'cello, and most of my recordings are of students in the early music department, though I've made some friends in the Jazz department, and may be recording them soon. Mostly I do digital recordings, as the students usually just want a quick CD, but I now have a Studer B67 here in the Netherlands that I will be using as well. Best, David
OH GOSH! Wish I could hear the S&G Bookends, the Reiner, the Aerosmith, or how bout ANYTHING on that setup! I would imagine those few tapes are capable of playing some of the best sound overall in your setup. Certainly not dismissing the Walker and a good test pressing, but that tape player and some good master dubs has GOT to sound incredible!! I'm sitting here kind of like Homer Simpson does as he thinks of beer and the drool starts running down his cheek....Mmmmm...Ampex!
I have about 150 prerecorded half and quarter track 7.5 inch per second tapes and several safety or master dubs that are on 10.5 inch reels, half track, 15 inch per second play speed.
The dubs and safeties are Aerosmith, "Toys in the Attic," Ferlin Huskey studio tracks, Simon & Garfunkel "Bookends," Reiner "Pictures at an Exhibition," The Isley Brothers (A Bernie Grundman copy), Joe Scott Hill , Faron Young (original first generation safety), Duke Ellington "Indigo's," and some parts and pieces assembled for single play record pressings.
Two or three of these are stunning quality, exceeding anything in my library. The ordinary prerecorded open reel releases are better than CD but not up to the Walker turntable.