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Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal
Old 29th September 2014
  #1
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Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal

Hi everyone, I recently purchased a TAC Scorpion 16:8:2 in mint condition. I've decided to start a quick journal here for the upgrades and mods I have planned.

I love AMEK consoles,I learnt on an Einstein and 9098i and have always felt very comfortable in front of one of those boards. Now I'm not trying to be in the same league as a NEVE or SSL, but these desks do a have their place in history, they are built like tanks with a very nice EQ section and with an upgrade and a few mods here and there, this is hopefully going to be a great 16 channel line level mixer for a DAW setup.

I can find sporadic info and various threads dedicated to the Scorpion and mods etc online, but it's all a little vague and here and there-hopefully I can put this info out there for for anyone who has been thinking of buying an old AMEK/TAC board to restore.

Here is a list to get started:
  • Re-Cap PSU
  • Re-Cap s4000 Master module
  • Re-Cap s3000 Subroup modules
  • Re-Cap s2000 Master Aux modules
  • Re-Cap s1000 Mic/line channel modules
  • Add AML Langley Line Input MOD to s1000 modules
  • Add Carnhill VTB output transformers to master section

All the parts are from Audio Maintenance Ltd, Colin is great there and always answers your questions, very knowledgable guy.
My tech, Andrew Popplewell (Advanced Media Restoration) is helping me out with this project, thanks Andy.

I've taken some pictures to try and capture the condition of this console. There are obviously some scratchy pots/switches that need working out with some cleaner and use.
I noticed when testing the desk, the channels all sounded a little different, also to be expected with a 30yr old console, I'm hoping the re-cap and mods will sort this out.

I have never heard the Langley mod before so I ordered the parts for a recap of the psu, master module and 2 channels including the mod, so I can A/B them.
I'm going to put something through the first 2 channels and take a sample with the board as it is, into Pro Tools at 96k using my Apogee Ensemble (which is what the console will be used with initially). I'll then do the same after the mod and re-cap, I'll try to post them here so everyone can hear the difference.

Apart from that I'd like to put trannys on the master section, which Colin said can most likely be done. I'd really like to fit it out with some P+G faders, this might sound extreme, but for final fader moves and general feel/groove, I can't use what's on the board right now, too clunky an not accurate. I'm also pondering what to do with all the space above the s3000 subgroup modules, I'd really like to pimp this thing and put a vibey 500 series mix buss compressor or something like that......why not, this is a "slut" project!

I'm sure there is much more I can do, and I will but one step at a time, if anyone has any suggestions or comments etc (positive), I'd love to hear them.
Attached Thumbnails
Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4847.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4845.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4836.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4835.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4837.jpg  


Last edited by Beatwulf; 29th September 2014 at 06:44 PM.. Reason: Added pictures now,
Old 4th October 2014
  #2
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Recieved the parts from AML next day, really good service.
I've taken all the modules out and cleaned. I noticed one of the ribbon wires on the master section was split, looks like there had already been a repair on it.

I was thinking of replacing all the TL072 across the board, if anyone is reading this and has an opinion, please let me know.

Lot's of space inside for mods, I may put Carnhill on every channel.
Attached Thumbnails
Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4962.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4935.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4933.jpg  
Old 7th October 2014
  #3
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Ok was over at Advanced Media Restoration on Sunday with Andy Pop. We managed to get the Langley mod on the two channels with a re-cap of the master section and power supply.

The mod itself was pretty straight forward for anyone with decent solder skills (not me!). The fitting guide is well laid out and took about 30 minutes per channel.

I have included some audio samples to show how the desk sounded before and after.
Attached Thumbnails
Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4978.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4979.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4981.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4982.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4984.jpg  

Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4985.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4987.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4988.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4991.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_4992.jpg  

Old 7th October 2014
  #4
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Some audio samples at 24/96.
The mod sounds more open to me, more clarity, mids and top have more definition and the bottom has more weight to it.

The kick sample is just a quick demo of the EQ section with EQ in and out.
Attached Files

Audiosamplebeforemod1.wav (6.19 MB, 7694 views)

AudiosampleAFTERmod1.wav (6.19 MB, 7498 views)

Audiosamplebeforemod2.wav (8.11 MB, 7258 views)

AudiosampleAFTERmod2.wav (8.11 MB, 7225 views)

kicksample.wav (6.58 MB, 7753 views)

kicksamplethrougconsole.wav (6.58 MB, 7751 views)

kicksamplethrougconsoleEQ'd.wav (6.58 MB, 7948 views)

Old 21st October 2014
  #5
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hi, thanks for posting all this. do you by any chance have more pictures of The s4000 module's inside? i have a tac scorpion here with some loose connections on The master, namely 2 white plugs with green, black and blue wires attached. I'm trying to figure out where these are supposed to go, I think they feed The main output xlr's but I'm not sure.
are you happy with The mods overall?
Old 27th October 2014
  #6
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Hi, here are some pictures of the master module. I think you mean the left and right lines from the fader. They connect at the bottom of the module see attached pics.

RE the mods, they are a definite improvement, much cleaner. It gets expensive if you can't fit the mod yourself.

Great little console for a writing suite etc.
Attached Thumbnails
Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_5414.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_5413.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_5412.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_5411.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-img_5408.jpg  

Old 27th October 2014
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beatwulf View Post
I was thinking of replacing all the TL072 across the board, if anyone is reading this and has an opinion, please let me know.
I asked a similar question a while ago. I still haven't got the thing back into commission (considerably more building work — and cost! — on new studio than I'd planned). But there's some useful discussion on suitable TL072 replacements in this thread, particularly once you get towards the bottom of the first page and on to the second.
Old 6th November 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedup View Post
I asked a similar question a while ago. I still haven't got the thing back into commission (considerably more building work — and cost! — on new studio than I'd planned). But there's some useful discussion on suitable TL072 replacements in this thread, particularly once you get towards the bottom of the first page and on to the second.
Thanks for the link, I decided not to replace them.
Old 13th January 2015
  #9
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I can hear a big difference between pre and post mod. Did you do the mic amp upgrade or convert them to line in ?
Old 23rd January 2015
  #10
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Hi
I have a doubt
which brand of capacitors are good for recap the tac scorpion?
I thought change by elna silmic II

many thanks
Old 1st February 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heavyllegas View Post
Hi
I have a doubt
which brand of capacitors are good for recap the tac scorpion?
I thought change by elna silmic II

many thanks
You should go for low ESR types with 105 degree temperature rating.
Old 2nd February 2015
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antnb View Post
I can hear a big difference between pre and post mod. Did you do the mic amp upgrade or convert them to line in ?
I can definitely hear the difference, I went for the line in mod, much more clarity and depth. Thinking about adding some transformers to the master buss.
Old 13th February 2015
  #13
I have done the same mods with my Scorpion II. The Langley upgrades (both mic and line modules) are EXCELLENT. They transform the channel almost entirely and turn this console into a legitimate mixing and recording desk. My console was very well taken care of before I purchased it, and even a re-cap with the help of AudioMaintenence gave it new life (I re-capped the channel sections, return modules, power supply, and master section). During the re-cap I also switched out the opamps in the EQ section and also all the opamps in the master section through recommendations of Jim Williams on the Amek forums on analogconsole.com (A great resource for console-specific questions). This alone brought new life to the console and increased the depth/stereo image perception and clarity as the largest benefit. A VERY noticeable improvement. After the integration of the Langley Mic and Line input modules this desk is literally a tool that, when used in the right hands, can indeed and literally rival the quality of mixes you might get out of an SSL or, dare I say NEVE desk *GASP*, (I mixed and recorded on a Neve desk loaded with 1073 modules for two years fyi). The preamps now sound fantastic (headroom increased as well as the preamps now not sounding...oh....I dunno...."flat" anymore), and the EQ now has great definition/clarity/punch (especially in the lows and mids-the upper frequencies of the EQ were least affected). For $2K or less for a well-taken care of console, $50 per Langley input module, $300 in additional caps/opamps, and 35 minutes per channel of soldering time; I now have a monster of a console for far less than the "big brand" desks that 99% of the engineers/producers out there could never afford, or will probably never even get to work with.

I would be interested to hear what the addition of the transformers on the output section sound like. And if you haven't changed the opamps or re-capped your master section; I would highly recommend at least doing that to improve your results even more. No matter how much you improve each of your channel sections with upgrades, if you haven't re-capped (and changed opamps too - highly recommend) in your master section, you won't be able to reap the full rewards of those upgrades entirely until you do.
Old 13th March 2015
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vern View Post
I have done the same mods with my Scorpion II. The Langley upgrades (both mic and line modules) are EXCELLENT. They transform the channel almost entirely and turn this console into a legitimate mixing and recording desk. My console was very well taken care of before I purchased it, and even a re-cap with the help of AudioMaintenence gave it new life (I re-capped the channel sections, return modules, power supply, and master section). During the re-cap I also switched out the opamps in the EQ section and also all the opamps in the master section through recommendations of Jim Williams on the Amek forums on analogconsole.com (A great resource for console-specific questions). This alone brought new life to the console and increased the depth/stereo image perception and clarity as the largest benefit. A VERY noticeable improvement. After the integration of the Langley Mic and Line input modules this desk is literally a tool that, when used in the right hands, can indeed and literally rival the quality of mixes you might get out of an SSL or, dare I say NEVE desk *GASP*, (I mixed and recorded on a Neve desk loaded with 1073 modules for two years fyi). The preamps now sound fantastic (headroom increased as well as the preamps now not sounding...oh....I dunno...."flat" anymore), and the EQ now has great definition/clarity/punch (especially in the lows and mids-the upper frequencies of the EQ were least affected). For $2K or less for a well-taken care of console, $50 per Langley input module, $300 in additional caps/opamps, and 35 minutes per channel of soldering time; I now have a monster of a console for far less than the "big brand" desks that 99% of the engineers/producers out there could never afford, or will probably never even get to work with.


I would be interested to hear what the addition of the transformers on the output section sound like. And if you haven't changed the opamps or re-capped your master section; I would highly recommend at least doing that to improve your results even more. No matter how much you improve each of your channel sections with upgrades, if you haven't re-capped (and changed opamps too - highly recommend) in your master section, you won't be able to reap the full rewards of those upgrades entirely until you do.
Excellent reading, thank you. This project has been put on the sidelines recently due to unforeseen circumstances but I'll be continuing with the mods in the near future. From your post, my next step is to replace the op-amps in the two channels I re-capped and added the mods to, including the master section. I agree and know this console can sound killer with some work.

Thanks again!
Old 16th March 2015
  #15
I use National or Analog Devices opamps in the master Scorpion mods done here. All of the el caps in the signal path are removed, permanently. The master fader gain is reset to unity gain all the way up at +10. That allows the full fader throw for fades and resets stereo gain easily by shoving the fader all the way up.

Similar work is done to the control room and studio outputs. They are accurate and honest sounding for correct production decisions.

THD and noise are also reduced significantly and stereo crosstalk specs are improved. The bandwidth is DC to 100k hz for mininmal phase shift. The two track playback path has a 200k hz upper bandwidth that yields zero degrees of phase shift. High current opamps add thickness and depth to the low end.
Old 16th March 2015
  #16
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wow, I used that same Model TAC board for about 10 years up to around 2002. It was a great sounding unit and quite a workhorse for me. I must have put a couple of thousand commercial mixes thru mine before I retired it. Ended up selling it to a young guy from Austin who was putting together an analog studio.
Old 18th March 2015
  #17
Very interesting thread! Wonder if there is a list somewhere of easily modded mixers, stuff that can be had for pretty cheap, and benefit alot from (simple) upgrades. My main problem is that all the build threads usually mod mixers that are mostly available in the US, not in Europe where I`m located. And we all know how much shipping a desk would cost...
Old 6th April 2015
  #18
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Beatwulf!!

I love your project, because it just happens there's a tac scorion waiting to be refurbished in my control room as we speak! I started researching about the desk, and got into contact with aml but didn't get around to a start as of yet!

the biggest pain in my ass is the BOM, not so much for a channel upgrade as I found out that I would get the caps to recap the channel together with te mic upgrade kit!!

but for the psu and master section ther's not so much info around. you want to share your bom with us?
Old 6th April 2015
  #19
I use Dale RN resistors, non-ferris construction. The fader recovery opamp feedback resistor is changed to 22.1k ohms (R56/57), that sets the master fader at unity gain when all the way up, like SSL. That takes -10 db of noise and grit off the stereo mix.
Old 6th April 2015
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
I use Dale RN resistors, non-ferris construction. The fader recovery opamp feedback resistor is changed to 22.1k ohms (R56/57), that sets the master fader at unity gain when all the way up, like SSL. That takes -10 db of noise and grit off the stereo mix.
hey Jim, thanks for that responce!! I've been chasing your work on 200b consoles before and it revived my little console!!

I was wondering if you bridge all those el caps you would remove, and I guess bypassing with poly-caps would not be necessary either? I'm not a real electronics specialist but rather an enthousiast so how do I tell which caps to get rid of?
Old 12th April 2015
  #21
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Hey thanks Eliani, I love this little console and so much scope/space for mods. I'm about to order the new op-amps for the master section and 2 channels I have added the Langley mod to. Can anyone clarify which op-amps I need, and if anyone can recommend a UK supplier that would be awesome.
Old 15th April 2015
  #22
Try National LME49720NA. Add .1 uf caps from pin's 4 and 8 to ground. Check DC offsets on pin's 1 and 7. If below 5 mv, short out the el coupling cap.
Old 1st June 2015
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beatwulf View Post
Hey thanks Eliani, I love this little console and so much scope/space for mods. I'm about to order the new op-amps for the master section and 2 channels I have added the Langley mod to. Can anyone clarify which op-amps I need, and if anyone can recommend a UK supplier that would be awesome.
I slightly deviated from my original plans to install all AML Pre's in my little Scorpion! I figured it would be better to have decent line receivers for every channel, and build external pre-amps instead. So I started investigating what would be an easy to build, high performance, good sounding line-receiver to implement into my desk.

First I thought about just leaving everything the way it was, recap the channels and master section. But then I had an epiphany! There was no way around this, it just had to be a discrete circuit, something I would be proud of, and somehow I am...

I replaced the original summing and fader booster circuits with a ClassicAPI 2-ACA-Bo for a thruthfull API replication!! And that sounds profound!! But to sweeten the cake I designed a sub-pcb for the S1000/S1100 channel strips with the same pin-setting as Colin's Pre's, but instead of filling it with silicon and a lot of resistors I was able to implement a truthful API 2520 based unity gain line receiver...

Remove the same parts as in the Langley preamp upgrade documentation, and install this sub-PCB together with your preferred 2520 based DOA and you'll get a killer console!!

The pin-setting is still slightly off, I'm up to revision 003, and I need a rev004 to implement better CMRR setting options, but I found excelent reults in rev.003 with .1% resistors and matching them in pairs of four... with Jeff's Gar2520 and Gar1731 opamps I'm a happy modder!!

Full report over at that other DIY forum: Another Amek Tac Scorpion overhaul!

You can find a lot of pictures on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ELiAudioCom
Old 6th June 2015
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliani View Post
I slightly deviated from my original plans to install all AML Pre's in my little Scorpion! I figured it would be better to have decent line receivers for every channel, and build external pre-amps instead. So I started investigating what would be an easy to build, high performance, good sounding line-receiver to implement into my desk.

First I thought about just leaving everything the way it was, recap the channels and master section. But then I had an epiphany! There was no way around this, it just had to be a discrete circuit, something I would be proud of, and somehow I am...

I replaced the original summing and fader booster circuits with a ClassicAPI 2-ACA-Bo for a thruthfull API replication!! And that sounds profound!! But to sweeten the cake I designed a sub-pcb for the S1000/S1100 channel strips with the same pin-setting as Colin's Pre's, but instead of filling it with silicon and a lot of resistors I was able to implement a truthful API 2520 based unity gain line receiver...

Remove the same parts as in the Langley preamp upgrade documentation, and install this sub-PCB together with your preferred 2520 based DOA and you'll get a killer console!!

The pin-setting is still slightly off, I'm up to revision 003, and I need a rev004 to implement better CMRR setting options, but I found excelent reults in rev.003 with .1% resistors and matching them in pairs of four... with Jeff's Gar2520 and Gar1731 opamps I'm a happy modder!!

Full report over at that other DIY forum: Another Amek Tac Scorpion overhaul!

You can find a lot of pictures on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ELiAudioCom
This sounds excellent! I just checked your Facebook page and the GroupDIY thread. I am almost about to drop the cash for the whole upgrade of all 16 channels and changing out opamps throughout. I'm going to wait now. I would imagine a 2520 would be a marked improvement. I was debating earlier about what I actually want to achieve with this console and mojo is the top of that list.

Have you considered upgrading the faders?

Thanks for sharing this, much appreciated.

ps, love the look of the new knobs, I was looking at Marconi but they are expensive.
Old 6th June 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Try National LME49720NA. Add .1 uf caps from pin's 4 and 8 to ground. Check DC offsets on pin's 1 and 7. If below 5 mv, short out the el coupling cap.
Jim, thanks. I'm a super noob to all this. :face palm:

Luckily I have a great tech.

If I were in the US I would ship the console to you, but unfortunately I'm not.

I appreciate your input.
Old 6th June 2015
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beatwulf View Post
This sounds excellent! I just checked your Facebook page and the GroupDIY thread. I am almost about to drop the cash for the whole upgrade of all 16 channels and changing out opamps throughout. I'm going to wait now. I would imagine a 2520 would be a marked improvement. I was debating earlier about what I actually want to achieve with this console and mojo is the top of that list.

Have you considered upgrading the faders?

Thanks for sharing this, much appreciated.

ps, love the look of the new knobs, I was looking at Marconi but they are expensive.
Sharing information is why forums were intended, so glad it get's appreciated once in a while!! So thank you too!
As for those knobs, after looking at them for a few weeks now I'm not so sure it's a great match. Marconi's are indead expensive, I've used soundcraft 200b knobs for the new API input channels and that looks a lot cleaner! So I'll be looking into slim style knobs. I need to figure out a clean, yet fashionable way to fill the gain-pot hole and the 48V switch hole (I removed this one for safety reasons!)

I replaced the master faders with Alps K-fader 10KA, and I am considering to replace the lot. P&G's are to expensive and I do not believe they would improve sonics that much. I'm thinking about a discrete fader booster too
Old 6th June 2015
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliani View Post
I need to figure out a clean, yet fashionable way to fill the gain-pot hole and the 48V switch hole (I removed this one for safety reasons!)
How about a level driven LED!
Old 6th June 2015
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beatwulf View Post
How about a level driven LED!
Hmm, don't want to turn it into a lightshow...
Old 7th June 2015
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliani View Post
Hmm, don't want to turn it into a lightshow...
Fair enough,
Old 9th July 2015
  #30
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Scorpion Diff_004

So I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you guys my progress on my Scorpion mod! I've designed an API 2520 style Line-Receiver mod for the S1000/S1100 channel-strips! So you remove the same parts as you would need to to install one of Colin's replacement pre-amps, and you slide in the Diff_004 Differential Line mod in place! You add a 2520 style DOA and there you go, instant improvement!!

I incorporated a way to set the CMRR (Common mode rejection ratio) of the differential amplifier by means of a multi-turn trim pot, but with 0,1% resistors you will get great results! I ordered a bunch of the PCB's to accommodate friends and fellow DIY'rs!

Together with Jeff's 2-ACA-BO summing amp and fader booster I turned the Scorpion in a different animal all together!!

There are some sound-tracks here, just pardon me for not being a misician: https://soundcloud.com/eliani/sets/t...ff_rev004-test

More info at: Eli-Audio.com
Attached Thumbnails
Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-1518832_684837218314781_6051329087155928243_o.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-11430377_684837281648108_4734601191629259980_o.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-11168546_688699061261930_911195448683935292_n.jpg   Tac Scorpion Refurb/Mod Journal-11222345_688699014595268_9018036026389586934_n.jpg  

Last edited by Eliani; 9th July 2015 at 03:02 PM..
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