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  #1  
Old 07-10-2017, 10:37 PM
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boldstein boldstein is offline
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Odd issue with Ampex 601 - examples included

Hello!

I recently acquired an Ampex 601 tape machine, and had a local tech give it the TLC it needed. Everything seems to be operating perfectly, BUT when I play back the recordings I made, it sounds very odd, almost as if the singer is singing through a fan, or something. I'm including the recordings below for anyone interested to listen, and throw in their two cents.

Looking forward to more experienced persons than myself taking a stab at it. Thank you!

https://soundcloud.com/boldstein/sets/ampex-601/s-wLSe8
  #2  
Old 07-10-2017, 11:15 PM
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Your Technician should have done a speed test and wow and flutter measurement. Often times people think 3 in 1 oil is what you use in these old motors but if you use a high grade synthetic you will get much better results. I would say if it does not sound like it is suppose to or capable of then you need to find another Technician.
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Past Teac/Tascam Lead Service Technician at Chicago Factory Service still doing repairs.
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  #3  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:27 AM
speaker dave speaker dave is online now
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Seems like high flutter which gives it that "singing through a fan" sound. This would be more obvious on instruments with a fixed pitch like piano. It is usually hard to hear on voice so your deck performance is really bad for it to be noticeable on that song. Nice singing, by the way.

See attached. You need to look for eccentricity (bent?) or dried stuff on the rotating parts that is causing the high flutter. Either the motor pulley (item 61) or the capstan (center of 42) are most likely to be your problem.

Due to the fast rate of the flutter I would be suspicious of 61. Also the suppleness of the pinch roller (79).

You need a tech who is specifically knowledgeable of tape recorder servicing and can measure wow and flutter. You need to get W&F down to about 0.1% or better for the issue to go away.

Good luck
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Ampex-601-Service-Manual-2.jpg (10.0 KB, 24 views)
  #4  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:20 PM
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Thank you!

@Skywavebe @speaker dave
Thank you both so much for your replies! This forum is already proving itself to be immeasurably helpful!

Dave, do you have access to a larger version of that image?

Thanks again!
  #5  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:41 PM
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I looked up the specs on that older unit and it says .17% so I am not all that sure you will get the kind of recording from that deck that you can expect from newer more well refined machines. Wow and flutter for me in any open reel should be down under .07% or then it will have problems.
I took a Teac A2000R of a old vintage and with AMS Synthetic oil in the motor and capstan bearing got it down to .02%wrms on wow and flutter.
Since this is extremely unusual I continued to see gains using that car motor oil and still use it for that reason. Maybe it is possible to get the machined parts of that Ampex unit to give you better specs than what is expected as original with the use of that oil. That may be your only hope.

Then again some manufactures listed specs much higher than what the machines delivered and so maybe the typical specs were more in the .1% area but that by today's standards is still not very good. Try the better oil I say. Make sure the capstan belt is not too tight and the brakes are not dragging. A good pinch roller is a must as well.
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Best regards,

Sam Palermo, BSEE and ProSquad Member
Skywave Tape Deck Repair- Chicago area
(630)616-0932 Office/ Email:skywavebe@sbcglobal.net
Past Teac/Tascam Lead Service Technician at Chicago Factory Service still doing repairs.
http://s609729863.onlinehome.us/tape...uipment-repair
Now accepting MC, Visa, Amex & Discover Cards!
  #6  
Old 07-11-2017, 03:46 PM
speaker dave speaker dave is online now
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http://www.thehistoryofrecording.com...1-2_manual.pdf

It came from the manual. One link is above.

Good Luck!
  #7  
Old 07-11-2017, 06:13 PM
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@Skywavebe You were able to reduce the wow and flutter just by piling your machine?! That gives me great hope. I don't have any synthetic motor oil sitting around; do you think something like this would work?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DIHHLIG..._ECxzzbHAKZ760

Or would I be better off with something else? Opening up the machine tomorrow! Wish me luck!
  #8  
Old 07-11-2017, 06:31 PM
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DON'T waste your money. You can get a Quart of Synthetic motor oil at a local auto parts store for less than that. You could even use a Synthetic Gun Oil.
  #9  
Old 07-11-2017, 06:36 PM
vintagepc vintagepc is online now
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Don't think that stuff is looked on to favorably around here, especially given they seem to sell it everywhere with "Best for <item of choice>" in the title.

Recommendations that come up often here are high quality synthetic motor oil (as mentioned) or a good (brand-name) sewing machine or other very lightweight and high quality machine oil.
  #10  
Old 07-11-2017, 06:42 PM
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Got it. I'm just concerned about applying the oil to the Ampex if buying a bottle of synthetic motor oil from autozone. Would you just recommend buying a needle tip bottle to fill?
  #11  
Old 07-11-2017, 06:59 PM
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That or an eyedropper should work, those can be had for cheap from your local pharmacy.
  #12  
Old 07-12-2017, 12:07 AM
speaker dave speaker dave is online now
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You have regular periodic flutter. This is not something that will be fixed by oiling. Something is badly bent, eccentric or working over a lump of foreign matter (like a bump on a pulley). The condition of your pinch roller could be an issue too. With a machine this old it is likely hard glazed and slipping.

Again, some one able to measure W&F and investigate the whole drive train should be able to track down the issue.
  #13  
Old 07-12-2017, 11:18 AM
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Just an update - I'll be opening up the Ampex 601 today, and making some adjustments with the help of this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlN6Hc_NCY8
  #14  
Old 07-13-2017, 11:13 AM
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Yesterday, I oiled the machine using synthetic motor oil, and also sanded down the rubber on the tape head discs and the pinch roller using a fine dry/wet sandpaper. I also did my best to adjust the plate clutch, as instructed in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlN6Hc_NCY8

Afterwards, I tested the machine by playing some piano music through my home stereo, and holding a mic up to it. When playing it back from the Ampex, I was definitely still hearing some wow and flutter, although I believe it was less than before

Does anyone have any additional ideas? I'm also willing to find a local technician who is comfortable working on this machine, if it comes to that.
  #15  
Old 07-13-2017, 01:25 PM
speaker dave speaker dave is online now
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If you still think you have more Wow & Flutter than you should, then you should try measuring it.

One of our cassette experts, Ant audio, has free software for measuring W&F

http://www.ant-audio.co.uk/index.php...st&qry=library

You might want to download it and see if you can measure your actual amount. You would need to record a 3kHz tone and then play it back through the meter (that would give the W&F for 2 passes on the same machine, which will be more than the manufacturers number based on one pass with an ideal W&F tape).

Another thing worth knowing is that the rate of flutter gives a strong clue as to which wheel is causing the problem. for example, if you motor turns at 3600 rpm, that is 60 times per second. If its shaft or pulley is off then you will get 60Hz flutter. If the motor drives a capstan that rotates 10 times per second, then it will create a speed variation that warbles at the slower rate of 10Hz.

My first impression was that your flutter rate was quite fast, pointing to the motor and its drive wheel.

You could probably also post a recording of 3kHz and someone here could analyze it for you.

Good luck,
David
  #16  
Old 07-13-2017, 04:15 PM
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This is why I had suggested the better oil if it had not been oiled before. The oil I use has been seen at the Ace hardware store in the automotive department. If not this is always a possibility. I do not have any history on that clock oil from E bay.
http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-produc...?code=ATMQT-EA

All I can do is report what I have seen. If the machining of the Ampex is worse than a A2000R then it might not do as well as the Teac deck but Ampex had a pretty good name all these years so all you can do is try it.
Pinch Rollers can be rebuilt by Terry as well as Idlers that may be driving the Flywheel.
The Sony TC630 I finished has a wow and flutter of .045% with the AMS. The spec is much higher than this at 7.5 IPS.
I call the AMS oil Liquid Gold because there are times it proves itself. But not every time. we are still at the mercy of other mechanical forces.
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Best regards,

Sam Palermo, BSEE and ProSquad Member
Skywave Tape Deck Repair- Chicago area
(630)616-0932 Office/ Email:skywavebe@sbcglobal.net
Past Teac/Tascam Lead Service Technician at Chicago Factory Service still doing repairs.
http://s609729863.onlinehome.us/tape...uipment-repair
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  #17  
Old 07-13-2017, 06:10 PM
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I actually went to Autozone and purchased a quart of full synthetic motor oil, so I doubt it's the type of oil I used. However, when lubricating the motor bearing, I wasn't able to find the hole for the inner bearing, only the outer bearing. I wonder if oiling the inner bearing as well would help.
  #18  
Old 07-13-2017, 06:17 PM
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Thank you so much for your continued help, David. I went to install the software, but it seems to be for PC only. So I'm on a quest to find a friend that has a PC. I will CERTAINLY post my findings here in the next few days.
  #19  
Old 07-13-2017, 06:18 PM
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I always try and cover both bearings but the one in front is the one that has to deal with all the load. If no holes put some oil down the shafts and let it work in. Do you hear any rattling sound? Sometimes when motors get oild they can develop some oxidation on the rotor and this will make intermittent contact increasing the flutter.
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Best regards,

Sam Palermo, BSEE and ProSquad Member
Skywave Tape Deck Repair- Chicago area
(630)616-0932 Office/ Email:skywavebe@sbcglobal.net
Past Teac/Tascam Lead Service Technician at Chicago Factory Service still doing repairs.
http://s609729863.onlinehome.us/tape...uipment-repair
Now accepting MC, Visa, Amex & Discover Cards!
  #20  
Old 07-13-2017, 07:10 PM
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The old Ampex 600 series are well regarded machines, capable of very good sound. You should not be able to hear any wow or flutter. The tech should have replaced the belt and pinch roller. The pinch roller is no longer available, so it has to be sent to Terry Witt for rebuilding. If that was not done, that is probably the source of the problem. The pinch roller must be resilient to the touch, it should give if you push your fingernail into it. It should be dull black in color, not shiny. If it's hard or shiny it needs to be rebuilt. I'll go out on a limb here and guess that it has not been done. This machine is over 50 years old and the rubber must be replaced. Flywheel must be removed, the bearings cleaned with alcohol and then oiled. Pinch roller bearing must also be oiled, but the rubber replaced first. Take up clutch must be dismantled and cleaned with alcohol to make sure it is not binding. That can cause flutter.
I have never worked on a 600 series so I am guessing as to the construction. I have worked on the 900 series which were also built by the Ampex Professional Division, so I am thinking they may be similar.
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Last edited by draudio; 07-13-2017 at 07:12 PM.
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