20 April 2012
sound practices reading club /43
For this final instalment of the turntables topic we are going to be expedient and spin some tape platters. We are reading Get Reel: The Classic AMPEX Machines by Bruce Berman, from sound practices issue 14. In it, Bruce describes how Ampex got into the tape recorder business in the first place, and describes the classic series that made the Ampex name. Then there are ups and downs, both in the fortunes of the Ampex company and the machines described. Bruce wraps up the article with a glimpse of what it is like to record tracks in true fidelity, and a list of Ampex service resourses.
teaser quote: ‘During World War Two, the Germans, through the efforts of AEG Telefunken, had developed the first high quality audio tape recording system using high-frequency AC bias, known as the Magnetophon. […] Ampex Electric, who had manufactured motors and generator units under goverment contract for the military during the war, was looking for a new product to carry them through the post-war period, and upon hearing the startlingly realistic high fidelity sound reproduction provided by the Magnetophon at the AES demonstration, quickly sensed that there would be a tremendous future for this new technology.’
Reading the article, I noticed that it was not that off the wall to include it in this topic. The story is very much as in the previous three articles: an electro/spring motor manufacturing company looking for a new business; the post-WWII transition; massive over-engineering, with a flaw or two; matching preamps; the famous follow-up model; economisation, decline and asian imports; re-appreciation, saving them from the dumpster; strip, clean, lube, check for wear and tear, adjust; a cottage industry of spare and tweak parts; enjoy music in spades.
Look at four pages of magnetic recording history, part of this enchanting recording technology history, with a spotlight for Bing.
All of these types of ‘turntables’ need high-gain preamps to heard, so that is going to be our topic from next week.
Now go and read the article, see you next week.