Ampex AG-1000 Magnetic Tape Recorder

Message Board - AMPEX AG-1000 General Discussion

In 1966 Ampex built their first 16-track recorder, the model AG-1000, at the request of Mirasound Studios in New York City. In 1967 Ampex introduced a 16-track version of the MM 1000 which was the world's first 16-track professional tape recorder put into mass-production. Both used a 2 inch tape transport design adapted from the video recording division.

The 16-track MM-1000 quickly became legendary for its tremendous flexibility, reliability and outstanding sound quality. This brought about the "golden age" of large format analog multitrack recorders which would last into the mid 1990s. Foundational text courtesy of Wikipedia.

As, my dear friend, George Schowerer tells the story:

"The Mirasound Ag-1000 was the culmination of many hours , previously, of suffering through sessions requiring multiple, multiple, and more multiple overdubs and bouncing of tracks. Our experience with producers like Bob Crewe (especially), who needed extra layers of foot stomps, handclaps, tambourines, background vocals and even brass and strings led to the exploring of a large recorder with added tracks.

We had lived through the 4 and 8 track Ampex recorders by bouncing the various tracks and continuous additions to the recordings. Since the "sync" playback on all Ampex units suffered from restricted response, I chose to bounce all tracks in the regular playback mode to maintain quality during the myriad of overdubs. This placed those "bounced" tracks out of sync with the remaining tracks, so I had to eventually "bounce" all tracks using that method except the last track for vocal. Working with our 8 track AG-300-8, it quickly became evident that we needed more tracks in order to keep things from having to be sub-mixed down several generations.

Samples from the AG-300-8 are "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli and other late sessions with the Four Seasons and the Crewe "Girl Watchers" albums.

The owner of Mirasound was Bob Goldman. Bob was a good tinkerer, so he and I set about designing a 16 track recorder, and since I had a 2" VR-1000 hulk and between us we had plenty of AG-350 electronics (probably 30-40 units), we came to the point where we needed someone to build the 16 tracks heads. We met Leon Wortman of Ampex at the Cattleman restaurant in New York City, and proceeded to sketch a drawing of what we intended to do on one of the restaurants cloth napkins (which I think Leon must still have).

Anyhow, we parted that night with the feeling that Ampex would be the maker of a head assembly for our new idea. Two days passed, and Bob received a call from Leon implying that since the Ampex name would be on the unit, Ampex would prefer to make the whole recorder and lease it to us. The deal was made and I then made cables in order to facilitate the arrival of the unit. Since it would not fit into the control room immediately, we planned to operate the unit from the clients waiting room.

Well, the unit arrived at 10 am in the crate, and we had it connected and checked out in time to do a session at 8pm that same night. The session was "With This Ring" by the Platters, produced by Luther Dixon. So I became the very first engineer to record in 16 tracks. Sessions with the Skyliners followed the next day..."Dry My Tears". It was no easy task, since the Mirasound console was 12 inputs, to 4 output busses. In preparation for this doubling of tracks, I set about adding outboard mixers to feed all those added tracks, and literally used the console (with an added 4 track mixer) to become the monitor mixer.

Skip Juried, my machine man on the AG-1000 was the backup level protection. He was a best friend who later died unexpectedly at age 45. It was a crushing blow, since he knew of every session of hit records we had done....and since I didn't keep track, we lost the list, because neither of us wrote them down. When I say busy, I mean unbelievably busy. There were times when each of us slept on the couch for just a few hrs. at times...all because everyone wanted to use the new system.

The AG-1000 had NO TAPE LIFTERS, so the outputs had to be muted during fast fwd or rewind. That recorder worked continuously for three yrs. day and night with never a hiccup or problem. It was a bare bones recorder that proved to be bullet proof. Our first 24 track unit worked for less than 4 hrs. before the erase headstack (in-line) cracked and then had to be refitted with staggered erase heads, leading me to wonder just how much time the unit ran at Ampex before delivery. All in all, it was a hell of a time in the recording industry."

Regards, George S.

Ampex AG-1000 Tape Recorder

- AMPEX AG-1000 16 Track 2" Master Recorder. The very first unit arriving at Mira Sound Studios New York, NY. The Recorder was used, later, in the day on "With this Ring" by the Platters. The producer was Luther Dixson. - Photo courtesy of George Schowerer

Ampex AG-1000 Tape Machine

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The AG-1000 was a modified Video recorder deck. They just replaced the head stack and the first units were only eight tracks on 1" tape. In the photo above …

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I was an employee of Mira Sound always soldering parts together forever. I would like to know what happend to Lynn and Bob Goldman. The best story I remember …

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