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Old 30th May 2013, 10:52 PM   #1
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Default Need help converting Ampex 960 R2R to a preamp...

Good afternoon, all. First time here, nice to meetcha!

So recently I came across an Ampex 960 R2R tape deck. I'm not too interested in tape, but I though it'd be neat to salvage the built in preamp to use as a standalone or an iPod dock.

I have some very basic electrical and repair knowledge, but I don't know the first thing about tubed electronics.

Do any of you guys have some suggestions or tips on how to go about doing a project like this?

Thanks!
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File Type: jpg Ampx R2R 3.jpg (83.5 KB, 105 views)
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Old 30th May 2013, 11:42 PM   #2
willamp is offline willamp  United States
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Funny, I would be keeping the mechanical reel to reel aspect of it and replace the head pre-amp with a new one.
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Old 30th May 2013, 11:53 PM   #3
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Tubed or SS, basic knowledge is essential. Run a Google search for NEETS. NEETS is free U.S. Navy training material that will get you started in acquiring the requisite theory.

From the photos, it's hard to tell if that's a stereo machine. If it is a stereo machine, restoration is (IMO) in order, not parting out. Ampex made excellent equipment. Also, that machine has 3 heads, which is another hallmark of quality.

Get the schematic for the unit and post it. The hefty power transformer should be quite capable of powering a preamp, if parting out is that unit's fate.
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Old 31st May 2013, 04:11 AM   #4
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Well, alright. I'll at least consider keeping it as a tape deck.

Thanks for the advice though, guys.
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Old 31st May 2013, 07:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Gross View Post
Well, alright. I'll at least consider keeping it as a tape deck.

Thanks for the advice though, guys.
I would keep it in original condition, even if you don't have use for a tape deck.
It can be used as a line preamp as it is without any modifications. And yes, the 960 is a stereo deck and can play back both 2-track and 4-track stereo reels just by moving a small lever at the back of the head cover.
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Old 31st May 2013, 07:41 PM   #6
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Well that's good news.

So line level is pretty much anything but a phono, right?

If I were so inclined, could I use the output from the R2R as an input to the preamp? Under the tape heads there are 4 wires going in and 4 going out, red/white/black/black and green/yellow/something/something. I'd guess that the RWBB set are just regular audio connections and the GYSS set are the input to the tape heads from the "Input" plug on the back?

Sounds like at the very least I can have a cool looking R2R decoration on top of a useful preamp.
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Old 1st June 2013, 01:43 AM   #7
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There are 2 sets of electronics in the unit: a recording amplifier and a playback preamp. Three head machines allow the user to monitor a recording immediately after it is laid down. The playback preamp is very similar to a phono preamp. Other than using the NAB, instead of the RIAA, EQ curve, no real difference exits.

Get and post the schematic. That "road map" will allow the experienced members to concoct a scheme by which the unit can work as a line stage too.
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Old 4th June 2013, 10:10 PM   #8
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OK, I finally found a service manual for the 900 series R2Rs. It's not great quality, but most likely you guys knows what's going behind the scenes better than I.

Let me know what you guys think...

http://www.ilk.org/~ppk/Manuals/Ampe...aintenance.pdf
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Old 14th March 2016, 07:37 PM   #9
mike39 is offline mike39  United States
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Default Need help converting Ampex 960 R2R to a preamp...

This is my first forum so don't know exactly what to do, but hope that Mr. Gross is still looking at this!? I purchased an Ampex 960 in 1960 and need a play head to get it working again. If the play head in your unit is in good shape, and you want to get rid of it, I may be interested. As an Electrical Engineer, I might be able to help in the conversion you want to do, if you haven't already accomplished it.
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