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al mcguire

A tour of the Ampex ATR-124 Multitrack Analog Tape Recorder

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The Ampex ATR-124 Multitrack Analog Tape Recorder circa 1980 was a multitrack recorder on steroids. It was huge, it was hot, it ran on 220v. It had an obvious military use, why would you need a 24 track recorder that ran at 7.5 ips ?  It has a light that tells you it is off.  It sounded really good. The record producer used to say “it lies to you on playback  and you just can’t get enough of it !"

 

 

 

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I thought at first you meant JUST 7.5ips, Al ! Can't think of a specific military use though (3 speeds but top at 30 - hardly data/instrumentation speeds for a machine that big, whether or not it carried FM card options ... mention that they made ONLY 70 (???) machines suggests to me it was one of that era's 'potentials' for audio and audio for picture work, rather than (ahem), "real" industry! But then I cannot believe there were only 50-70 (shit did I actually mishear)?

 

I used the Mitsubishi X-80 - another stunning machine - as a retro-toy in the nineties. Missed the DASH as a tape-op but thinking back I came across it a couple of times perhaps as a trainee.

 

Cheers again for the post. Love the wagons! What I liked most about this one was the buttons/graphics - really of their era, the early "soft".

 

Jez

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This was the professional version. The same transport could function in a different way with a different set of cards. This was a military machine transport, a friggin' light to tell you it was off ?  Meters that flash red if something is wrong,  in 1980 ?

 

 

5000 ft x 7.5 ips is 2 hours of record time, make it reverse and record back and repeat and 1 reel would last 48 hours. 

 

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I worked with a 124 in the early 90s. What a beast!! Wonderful transport, quiet but definitely no-nonsense. I had a runaway once and just let the reels go; no way was I going to put my hands even close to the transport.

The next 24 tracks I worked with were MTR90s. Nice, but not the same quality of the Ampex.

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Ah OK, so I presume it was developed as a 'no expense spared' thing for government but always with the idea it could be a straight audio machine and the top of their line ... Could explain too why so few were made (or sold in such a config) if they were 'the audio ones' he was talking about. Any idea if Ampex did higher speed machines than 30ips prior to this? 1980 was of course the era for a big shift to digital for data etc, and the new rivals like DASH for us. Cheers again, Al - I never came across these in Europe. I also mostly used the Otari.

 

Jez

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But quality wise were these no more that the quality of cassette recorders unless the use of Dolby was involved?

 

mike

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On 7/21/2018 at 9:27 PM, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

....I used the Mitsubishi X-80 - another stunning machine - as a retro-toy in the nineties. Missed the DASH as a tape-op but thinking back I came across it a couple of times perhaps as a trainee.

 

hi Jez, I'm in the process of negotiating to buy the successor to the X80, the X86, from a studio in Detroit.  It's in mint condition and operates.  I'm hoping to pay very little for it.  I've got digital tape, so would like to have a little fun with it despite it being completely irrelevant and outmoded in this day and age.

On 7/22/2018 at 1:54 PM, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

Ah OK, so I presume it was developed as a 'no expense spared' thing for government but always with the idea it could be a straight audio machine and the top of their line ... Could explain too why so few were made (or sold in such a config) if they were 'the audio ones' he was talking about. Any idea if Ampex did higher speed machines than 30ips prior to this? 1980 was of course the era for a big shift to digital for data etc, and the new rivals like DASH for us. Cheers again, Al - I never came across these in Europe. I also mostly used the Otari.

 

Jez

 

To my knowledge, Ampex produced no decks that operated at speeds greater than 30ips at any time.

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beautiful deck no doubt. the late mike spitz used to do a really nice electronic upgrade, aria i think it was called, for the ATR-104/102 etc. fantastic sounding machines. 

jeff hall, i hear you on the MTR90's. i'd have to say that doing punch ins and punch outs on an MTR90 is sweet and easy though!

another hi-tech tape machine was the Sony APR-24. they also made the APR-5000 series which would also allow you to store tape formulation presets. 

i'm currently rocking a studer a80 1/4 2-track for mix downs. its quite lovely!

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