The Studer A-800 is a GREAT machine...
The transport is killer, the audio electronics well designed
and overall it's perhaps the best sounding Studer ever built.
But they can be quirky!!!
Note that Studer no longer supports the A-800 in any way - no tech help, no parts, no nothing....
So parts will be difficult to find from now (2008) on...
In theory "Audiohouse" in Switzerland has the old Studer A-800 parts and will sell them,
so give them a try.... Audiohouse
We only have a few good used parts left for the Studer A-800
Here are some helpful tips I've found over the past 25 years working on Studer machines...
First off, there are a ton of Molex connectors in the A-800....
and these have to be cleaned regulary.... once a month for busy studios.
Take the audio card-cage down to get to the molex connectors, remove them one at a time,
spray clean the sockets and press the connectors firmly together....
Then after all the connectors have been cleaned, you MUST test ALL the audio functions!!!
You'll find that some of the connectors aren't making good contacts...
and for those you'll have to go in and physically tighten up the contacts....
making the female connectors slightly smaller and/or the male pins slightly larger.
Note that it's important to re-pin the Power Molex connectors from time to time -
they can develop corrosions and cause problems.... if the molex connector is slightly 'brown'
that indicates that at one time the connection was so bad the pins started to heat up,
so replace those pins and the connector itself.
Once you think you've got all the conectors tight and good, brush your fingers over
the Molex connectors while monitoring the audio, and see if any channels become intermittant...
if so, then you will have to pull out the connector and try to tighten up the pins and sockets once again...
This can be a frustrating job...
but the goal is a good reliable machine, so you just have to spend some time on this....
Next you need to learn the 'feel' of the transport control buttons -
they have a tendency to go bad now and then, and you need to know when one is about to fail...
there should be a good solid 'click' to the button, and it should bounce back after being pressed.
There are switches on the power supplies that set the VU Meter lamp brightness...
these you should set to 'low'.
The A-800 uses mechanical braking in the stop modes....
The braking system on the A-800 is crude and prone to slippage when it
gets changed from it's original setting. SO if the brakes are
working do NOT go adjusting anything! The instant you start
adjusting or moving the brakes, the odds are they will NOT go back
and set correctly - even after cleaning the brake drum and brake bands
as recommended in the manual.
I highly suggest you also buy a spare brake band !!
Note that the A-800 is a micro-processor controlled machine....
it's basically a computer, but it's getting OLD... it's a 20 year old computer now,
and chips do fail, EPROMs loose their memory, and strange things can start to happen.
Make a list of the various chips in the control system, and make sure that you
have a couple chips of each kind sitting around... some you may find hard to find,
but it's better to try and find them now, then when the machine's not working...
some chips will take hours of searching to find, but do it now!!
Make a Back-up set of your EPROMs... they will go out one day.
I can make you a Back-Up Set of your EPROMs for you...
The Studer A-800 Power Supplies often need repairs...
they fail now and then, so make sure you have the transistors and
caps on hand for possible future repairs.
Also the +5.2 volt switching regulator card gets hot in use.
You can help cool this down by removing the door that covers the
One of the MOST IMPORTANT and overlooked thing is oiling the Capstan Motor...
A drop or two of the CORRECT (and expensive) oil will keep your
Capstan Motor running for years.... don't oil it and it will go bad !!!
Please read the Studer Memo on Lubricating the Capstan Motors
Here's the Link: Studer Oil Info
USE ONLY THE CORRECT OIL FOR YOUR MOTOR !!!
You can purchase the correct Oil at Precision Motor Works... :
Turn each reel motor by hand quickly... if you hear a metalic 'click' and you have loud
clicking or scraping noises comming from a reel motor, you likely have blown out your
reel motor rubber spacer. This is the rubber unit that interfaces the reel motor to the
Reel assembly. The motor has three metal posts, the assembly also has three metal posts.
Studer put in a rubber gasket with 6 holes spaced apart, so each unit's metal posts didn't directly
touch the other's but still they were interlocked, with just a little give via the rubber.
This was very nice and made the machine run very quietly, BUT.....
Over time and use that rubber gasket will break apart, then the metal posts have
about 1/2 inch between them, and when you engage the motors you'll hear a loud click
when they meet. These can (and should) be replaced with the Athan Polyurethane units
at a cost of about 100 bucks each (2018).
You REMOVE the reel motor from the chassis and take off the reel assembly via 4 bolts just above the motor.
Clean the motor area and the reel mount areas, slip in the new spacer on the motor side, then
put in the reel assembly, turning it slightly until the open holes match the assembly, then
slip it together and bolt it back into place, then remount the motor and assembly into the chassis.
Note that the cost of Studer heads is high - way too high for most studios to afford
to replace heads once they're gone.
Check to see if you have the 'Long-Life' heads (.317), and hope that you do...
and make sure that the tape lifters are pushing the tape away from the heads in wind modes!!
The Long-Life .317 heads last for more than 12 - 15,000 hours of use, while the
early .316 heads only last about 8-12,000 hours. You will likely get
far more hours of use than this if your machine is set up correctly !
The A-800 mark I and II machines had the .316 heads, Studer changed to a
better longer lasting head in 1986 with the Mark III machine, though some
mark III machines may still have the .316 heads.
Often you can find A-800's with worn pinch rollers.... sometimes all you have to do
is change the order of the rollers on their shaft, but once again they're getting old,
and they should be replaced as soon as you can afford it. Athan makes new Pinch Rollers.
Buy a few spare transport buttons right now before they disappear !!!
The A-800 is old enough now so that various electrolytic caps are going bad...
If you find that you are replacing one value cap in cards, go ahead and
replace that cap in each card.... they're cheap and this will save you time and headaches
in the near future.
Finally.... disable the 'rehearse' function of your A-800.
If the Rehearse command line starts fluctuating because of noisy or bad chips
you will either get no Record function at all, or worse, recordings that
cut in and out as the Rehearse command comes and goes on it's own.
You need to ELECTRONICALLY disable it, not just press the 'disable' button !!
Hey, you will almost never need the Rehearse mode anyway!!!
Finally the VU Meter switch almost never gets toggled... and it will
corrode and get dirty inside over time - making the switch intermittent and
begin cutting the VU Meter out if it's moved or wiggled. Spraying
some LPS-1 greaseless lubricant into the switch at the lever (do each side)
and then excersing the switch will usually correct this problem.
If it doesn't then you should replace the switch.
Finally here's some pictures of the insides of a Reel Motor that's going bad
because moisture that has gotten into the motor itself... Likely because it was
it was stored in a damp location for a few years.....
Basically this motor MUST be reubilt at a cost ABOVE normal since it's so
corroded - it will cost $ 1,450 to get this Motor Rebuilt and back to Original Spec !!!
If you need to store your machine -
MAKE SURE IT'S STORED IN A TEMPTERATURE AND MOISTURE CONTROLLED LOCATION