Ampex has a long history of tape manufacturing. They started as Irish industries, started by Benjamin Orr, in 1951. They developed the Ferrosheen process, a combination of tape surface polishing and a high temperature treatment to improve frequency response and oxide shedding. Our refurbishing process has proven that their process was indeed superior – tapes made from this process in the 1950s-1970s still have a much lower than average oxide shed, and at the same time their tapes appear to stand the test of time better than others produced at the time. We highly recommend them to people looking for Type 1 (standard) tapes for their older machines that are biased for them.
They also produced the budget Shamrock and Emerald tapes, covered on a different page.
Their formulations started with Irish, with a low cost line of the 195 and 196 (acetates) and 197, 198 (mylar) and the professional line of the 211,221 (acetate 1200,1800 ft) and the later 231, 241 and 251, (mylar) versions (1200, 1800, 2400 ft). They used this 11,21,31,41,51 formula numbering system through the 1970s for their Ferrosheen tapes, later releasing the 300 series through Irish and later Ampex, and the 500 series and the 600 series. Although their formulas appear similar, there were significant performance upgrades as the newer series were released. They are all classified as type 1 (standard) tapes as they were never released as low noise.
Ampex released a number of low noise tapes starting in the late 1960s, as the 434 and 444 series, later released as the 432 “plus” series tapes for consumers. These tapes were also made with the Ferrosheen process and can be used today.
All the trouble started in the mid 1970s with the introduction of their 20/20 and 356/357 “Grand Master” high output tapes. These were the first real type 4 (+3) and type 5 (+6) tapes,that became the famous 406/407 and 456/457 master tapes that took over the professional recording tape market in the 1970s through the 1990s. Although famous for their extremely high output and generally excellent performance, they all suffered from the dreaded “Sticky Shed” syndrome.