Steven Kahn, PD

by Steven Kahn
(Lumberton, NC-USA)

I worked at a station, WAGR/WJSK Lumberton, NC which had a Scully 280 the likes of which I've never seen. I'm a member of the Yahoo Scully group and once queried what I'm about to tell you and I recieved a less than satisfactory reply. This 280 had grey plastic embelishments as oposed to the ubiquetous black and white steel embelishments covering the transport controls. This Scully was crated up and sent to Skokie, Ill (1980). for refurbishment and, when it was recieved, a Scully representative called to say it was a hand built prototype. A Scully group member said it was your typical 280. I beg to differ because I've seen a lot of Scullys, but have never seen one like this one. It was mono 1/4 track. 3/34-7/12 ips and I wish I had a picture.

Comments for Steven Kahn, PD

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 24, 2019
Early but not forgotten
by: Anonymous

Yeah Steve. The earliest Scully's had, gray plastic Covering the head stack and transport control pushbuttons. With white cursive like, printing. And are the earliest machines. A manually operated, tape lifter. Like that of an Ampex 350. But the same mechanism. Which later was upgraded with a solenoid. For an automatic tape lifter.

And of course the earliest of the early ones. Had no deck top plate mounted, relay operated, motion detection sensor for, automatic dynamic braking. When one went from, rewind or fast-forward into, stop mode. Through relay logic. The machine should toggle from say, rewind into fast-forward. To slow the tape. Before entering stop mode. Which can on a later machines that also included, solenoid operated, automatic tape lifter. All accomplished through simple, relay logic.

One of the most desirable in redeeming qualities of the Scully's. Were there lack of a, playback head transformer on the input playback preamp circuitry. It had no transformer. Along with that. Scully used a significantly higher bias frequency of 160 kHz. To further reduce the heterodyning of a frequency response run. As the high frequencies began to beat against lower bias frequencies. Making harmonic heterodyning all the more obvious. And the higher 160 kHz bias helps to alleviate a good chunk of that. And then there was the revolutionary, linearizer circuit of 2 diodes. No one else thought about or attempted to use or move upon. That made standard grade, standard oxide, standard level, standard bias tape. Now operate more like the newer, yet to be introduced. Low noise, high output, elevated level, higher bias, mastering tape. As it basically gave standard tape that advantage. Which really made it a superior recording instrument to that of all others for the times. Until 3M was to introduce their 235 kHz bias with the introduction of their M-56. To then, Ampex's, 100 kHz bias oscillator frequency.

The Nyquist theory for digital basically also rings true for, analog recording. Except that, instead of a minimum, 2 times, highest reproducible frequency sample rate. Amounting to, steep brickwall cutoffs at 20 kHz for, 44.1 kHz sampling. The same Nyquist theorem was a sickly true for analog recording. And instead of 2 times the highest frequency, to be reproduced. It was based upon 4 times the highest frequency to be reproduced. Which was, 20 kHz. Therefore requiring a minimum, 80 kHz bias. But heterodyning Stella rose from the higher frequency sweeps. As they encroached 10 kHz-15 kHz-18 kHz and 20 kHz. And so a higher bias frequency ya would move those heterodyning frequencies, higher. Beyond the realm of human hearing.

And that's how it rolled back in the day with early Scully's.

Feb 27, 2015
Nice to know
by: Simson

Glad to know about skully 280.


May 21, 2013
by: Steven Kahn

More on that 'prototype Scully 280'. I know I inadvertantly sparked some interest in this machine, but I have it on good authority from a former Scully engineer that it probably was just an early 280 with the grey trim. Apparently they're out there, but this was the only one I've ever seen. I apologize for my error.

Jan 17, 2013
Scully 280
by: Anonymous

It sounds to me like a "california scully". It was that same machine as the Bridgeport Scullys, but with "fancier" covers and fronts.

Dec 16, 2012
Scully 280 1/4" mono - Prototype?
by: Anonymous

I would love to know the history of that machine. Very well may have been a prototype of what became the Scully 280. Other than the differences you mentioned, were there any other noticeable variations of the Electronics and Transport?



Chris Juried
Audio Engineering Society (AES) Full Voting Member
Juried Engineering, LLC (Tube Equipment Corporation) (

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Scully Model 280 Tape Machine.

Share this page:
Enjoy? Click here to share the HTML code with your friend's!

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.