A 1950s Ampex Tape Recorder Microphone Preamplifier Restoration
March 29, 2020 No Comments Tech Hacks Jimmy Jones

So often when we check out of a modification on a classic piece of tube electronic devices we prepare to wince, as such work typically leads to ridiculous butchery of an unspoiled survivor. With [Frank Olson]’s work on a 1958 Ampex 601 tape recorder though we were happily surprised, because while he makes an adjustment to permit its usage as a stand-alone microphone preamplifier he likewise carries out an extremely understanding upgrade to contemporary parts and keeps it in significantly the kind it left the Ampex factory.

The video below the break is a rewarding wallow in pre-PCB-era building for any of the generation who cut their teeth on tube, chassis, and tag strip electronic devices. We can nearly smell the phenolic as he carefully gets rid of time-expired capacitors and fits modern replacements complete with period features such as sheathing over their leads. The larger multiway can electrolytics are left in the chassis, with their modern miniaturised equivalents nestling beneath them out of sight. All of us know that electronic parts have actually become a lot smaller sized over the years, but it’s still a bit of a shock to see simply how tiny even a high voltage electrolytic has become.

The Ampex would have been a very high quality tape recorder when brand-new, and while this one has an issue with its system it’s that quality that makes it much easier for him to do this work in 2020. There’s every chance that this one might be returned to service as a tape recorder if someone was of a mind to repair it, and on the other hand it will provide Frank exceptional service as a high quality pre-amp. This is how resto-mods should be done!

Ampex are quite still around making digital storage products, but back in the 1950s they were at the leading edge of analogue magnetic tape technology. We’ve composed in the previous about how Bing Crosby had a hand in the advancement of high quality tape recorders, and also about Ampex’s part in the pregnancy of the video recorder.

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