The heart of any audio restoration business is invariably the ‘vintage’ audio equipment used to transcribe the analogue signal from the various record and tape sources. By its very nature, the kit tends to be fairly old and no-longer serviceable or supported by the manufacturer. As time goes by, there is often an increased need for remedial TLC in order to keep the equipment fully operational. This was the case recently with our 1 inch 24 track Fostex G24s reel-to-reel tape deck.
A common problem with these decks (and the Fostex G16S) is the failure of the electrolytic capacitors on each of the 24 audio in/out boards. These boards accept the input signal, and condition it into a form that the recording head can use to imprint the tape, including noise reduction if required. During playback, the same boards read the signal from the playback head, decoding any noise reduction (if used) and output it from the deck.
The electrolytic caps have a bad history of leaking and drying out over time, so are often found to be in need of replacement. Bearing in mind that there are approx. 35 such capacitors on each board, replacing 840 caps is not a 5-minute job!
Once boards start to fail, it is a false economy to replace the caps on just the faulty ones – the best approach is to re-cap all 24 boards. Newer components are said to provide a better spec. than the original caps, and should last for at least 20 years if not longer.
So the problem was – who could I contact to perform this service? A quick Google search came up with a few forum sites (mainly in the USA) where the suggestion was either to do it yourself (not very appealing!) or to use various overseas services – which is not so convenient for us Brits!
After several fruitless suggestions and many phone calls later, I finally discovered Adam Pope, working at Funky Junk in London. Adam can re-cap Fostex multi-track decks either partially or fully, to a time scale that suits the client, and at a very reasonable rate. Thanks to Adam, our 24 track deck is up and running perfectly again, and earning its keep!