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RE:NOS Ampex 456 1/4" tape How old is old? Channel Strip Plugins
Old 23rd December 2010
  #1
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RE:NOS Ampex 456 1/4" tape How old is old?

I've come across a batch of over 150 reels of Ampex 456 1/4" tape brand new sealed in cases (metal reel in cardboard box) but the batch number starts with 85... which indicates 1985....?

How old is old? heh

Or should I just forget all this NOS stuff and go with the 2 new types out there?
Old 23rd December 2010
  #2
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If it says AMPEX, don't even think about it. While tape generally has the longest shelf life of all recordable media, I wouldn't consider buying tape from the '80s for general use. It will be sticky, gummy and shed all over the place, damaging your equipment in the process. If you're being hired to restore some existing recordings, you can bake them for a temporary fix, but it's not optimal and the problem quickly returns. I recently got a huge box of tapes, 85 some-odd in all from the late 80s for free. I just dumped the tape in the trash and kept the reels so I could buy new pancakes.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #3
Gear Maniac
ditto, you pretty much don't want to buy any NOS Ampex Tape. Quantegy started branding the Ampex line around '95. In summer of 2009, I bounced the Liars album to NOS 456 from 1999, worked great.

sh
Old 24th December 2010
  #4
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Ive recently come across a bunch of old Ampex from two batches...the one batches from 85-87 were crap, sticky tape.....

the batches from 1991 on were just fine.....
Old 24th December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The MPCist View Post
I've come across a batch of over 150 reels of Ampex 456 1/4" tape brand new sealed in cases (metal reel in cardboard box) but the batch number starts with 85... which indicates 1985....?

How old is old? heh

Or should I just forget all this NOS stuff and go with the 2 new types out there?
Are they free or cheap? What do you want to do with the tape?

If they are new and sealed, they are probably fine, and you can find out by looking.

Some of that stuff does tend to get weird, but not just out of the blue. It usually has to be exposed to sub-optimal storage conditions for it to go South.

Wouldn't be my first choice for archiving, obviously, but if you only need it for some sort of intermediate step, and its inexpensive [or free], it'll work. That's if it is in good condition when you buy it.
Old 24th December 2010
  #6
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Re: Ampex 456

An e-mail on sticky shed syndrom came over the wires yesterday from our analog guru in Canada:

"...If it says Ampex 406/407/456 on the box/reel and there is no reason to disbelieve it, bake before winding."


That is to avoid ruining a master on a transport. If nothing's on the tape of any value, or is truly "NOS," then you could safely inspect it without baking the reels first. However, it's probably shot.

Nevertheless, I still have a few reels of Ampex 456 from the mid-'80s that play fine and have no sign of SSS. They are stored upright in a cold/dry room in a box placed in a sand box.

My advice is that you just bite the bullet and buy some fresh ATR tape. It can't sound any worse, and you might never have to bake it.



Andrew
Old 25th December 2010
  #7
ORC
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The problem with this tape is in the binder which holds the oxide particles to the backing is really poor. The EPA put a stop to the really good binder that was once used. When ever I get material in on these tapes, I always bake the tape first, then do a transfer to digital at 24/96. Usually i can get one really good pass from the tape for capture. After that its kind of a crapshoot. Buy some ATR, and you'll be fine!
Old 25th December 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ORC View Post
The problem with this tape is in the binder which holds the oxide particles to the backing is really poor. The EPA put a stop to the really good binder that was once used. When ever I get material in on these tapes, I always bake the tape first, then do a transfer to digital at 24/96. Usually i can get one really good pass from the tape for capture. After that its kind of a crapshoot. Buy some ATR, and you'll be fine!
I've always found the tape to be fine after baking even after numerous passes, and could even be baked again later if need be.


DC
Old 28th December 2010
  #9
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Ampex/Q tape batch dates

Date/Batch codes are 7 digit codes;

XXXX first four the year manufactured ie; 2004
XXX last three the number of days into that year it was made ie; 365

so 2004365 Made New Years Eve 2004. could go far to explain alot about 456. heh
Old 28th December 2010
  #10
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Thanks for the advice, guys. I think I'll pass and just go for new tape.

Now the question: ATR and 900/911. Is the 900/911 problem severe or was that just an isolated batch problem.....?
Old 28th December 2010
  #11
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It depends on your machine. Not all decks can handle the high signal & bias current needed for ATR. 911 & 900 are in the reach of a lot more decks but I know they have quality control issues. As for how severe and how often, I can't speak for that. I do know the problem was severe and not isolated to any specific batch.
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