Need help with an Ampex atr-700 tape machine

Discussion in 'Tape Recorders' started by Cryogen, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. Cryogen

    Cryogen Guest

    Hi all,

    A friend of mine just acquired an Ampex atr-700 reel to reel tape machine. He got it from the company he works for while they were cleaning out some old gear. We wanted to try doing transfers of some digital material to tape to see how it sounded. The material in question is 24bit 48k two track material that I have on my audio computer.

    Here's the problem. First of all we don't have the manual. We both have some experience loading tape and using tape machines so we were able to load some 1/4 tape and get it to playback. We loaded a tape with pre-recorded speech and it sounded good. Levels sounded good, the whole nine yards. Next, we plugged a mic into the rear input and I spoke into it and it sounded fine, not distorted and the record levels looked good without using much gain. It was set on mic input. Recorded some speech and it was super low on playback. Then we tried running a line input (+4db) and it choked again. Couldn't get a usable level. The record and channel gains were cranked and you could barley hear the audio, meters weren't moving at all. The rear switch was set to line, and everything else I could think of was set in place. I use an aardvark q10 for an interface and I was using a pair of analog outputs to send the signal (1/4 trs to male xlr). I checked the level of the aardvark outputs through my amp and it sounded fine.

    Could I be missing something here? Maybe we just got a busted unit, which is entirely possible considering it age. I looked around for a manual but most sites I dug up with information wanted to charge you $30 or more for a photocopied manual.

    Any help would be appreciated. If you need more info just let me know.

  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Hello Cryogen;

    I can't help you with this personally, but I found all this on Google, by doing a search with "Ampex ATR-700"

    Pic and specs here:

    Service Manuals for sale here:

    A good place to go for repairs of analog gear here:

    More misc info here:

    This model was made in Japan 1977 by Tascam with Ampex design.
    Inside it's actually the same as Teac 7030 or Tascam 25-2. Connections on the back is XLR instead for RCA as Ampex wanted that design instead.

    The standard ATR-700 has 3 heads but a space is reserved for a fourth reproduce head as a extra option.

    This unit has a 4-track head installed for playback function.

    Speeds are 3-3/4 and 7-1/2. There was also models with speed 7-1/2 and 15.

    3 different head configurations was available also, full track, two track and quarter track with either one or two channels capability.

    Ampex released 6 different models of the ATR-700. The partnumber on the back shows the different versions.
    Adjustable pitch control 5 %.

    Good luck with it; it may not be worth all the hassle of shipping it out for repairs (if that's what's needed in this case), but who'll at least learn a few things from it!
  3. Cryogen

    Cryogen Guest

    Thanks for the info. I did manage to find that site already. Thing is that i'm not sure I want to plop down $30 or more for a manual when it might be something simple i'm missing. Chances are that the tape machine is broken and needs to be repaired, so thanks for the link to

    I guess I'm looking for someone who either owns this machine or has used it before, thinking they could point me in some sort of direction. I might just bite the bullet and get a service manual, or send it out for repair.
  4. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    I've been taking care of 4 ATR-800's for about 20 years. Without a manual, you are TOAST. Spend the $30 and do it right.

    PS - good luck finding parts (at least the mechanical type)
  5. Cryogen

    Cryogen Guest

    You're absolutely right. At this point i've determined there is no quick fix. If there was I would have found it by now. Thanks for everyone's help.
  6. Arny

    Arny Active Member

    Ampex ATR 700 Manual & Parts

    Yes I am in Europe but I do have a manual as well as many parts for the above

    Best Regards,

  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Home Page:
    Tony, were the XLR inputs on those models wired as pin 3 hot by any chance?
  8. Arny

    Arny Active Member

    With most Ampex Recorders Pin 3 is hot.

    Sorry never noticed this question till now, but maybe it will come as useful to others entering this thread for the 1st time.

    Best Regards

  9. Antonio_4346

    Antonio_4346 Active Member

    Denver, CO
    Seeking Manual for ATR-800

    Hey everybody!

    Lots of useful information on this thread, but I'm desperately seeking out the User Manual and Service Manual for the Ampex ATR-800 tape machine, as I just acquired one. Is there any possibility that anybody here may be able to assist? Thanks!
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    AMPEX ATR-800 Tape Machine

    The 700's & 800's were built for AMPEX by TEAC to AMPEX specifications. Perhaps you can finda manual or other information at the TASCAM /TEAC pages?
  11. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    western PA
    Try Evan Mater at VARK Audio in Cabin John, MD. He may still have Ampex parts...
  12. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    western PA
    One more comment: The ATR machines may require a true balanced input. In other words, you can't ground either pin 2 or 3. Try feeding the unbalanced audio through a transformer (600 ohm secondary) and see if you get any level. The output may be the same way.
  13. Antonio_4346

    Antonio_4346 Active Member

    Denver, CO
    I had some luck tracking a manual down locally. I spent a few hours scanning it page by page into a .PDF. If anybody stumbles on this thread and needs a copy, please contact me directly. Hopefully, by then, it will be circulating on the internet and available to those who need it without much trouble.
  14. Myface

    Myface Member

    First things first
    is the tape flipped ( that's what it sound like
    tape path dirty ( old tape can really dry up in head gap
    visit The-Old-School-Music-House on Facebook

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