Skip to main content

Hello all

I'm really tempted to buy one of this from a local vintage gear shop.

Tape Recorder TP-1012 R-Player Aiwa Co. Ltd.; Tokyo, build 1 http://www.radiomus…

It's 4 tracks, 3 speed, battery powered.
2 unbalance inputs, haven't checked for outputs yet
It has 2 built in speakers
It comes with some tapes and manual. It looks in very good shape.

I would like to record straight into this thing, then bounce the recording into Cubase for further editings.
I'm totally inexperienced when it comes to Reel-to-Reel tape recording, so I have some questions for you.

Am I wasting money on buying this?
Was this too bottom-end product even for a today home studio?



detlef Fri, 07/06/2012 - 05:34

Hi Boswell

I would use it mainly for experimenting/learning pourpouses, since I'm a total
newbe on the matter, and yes, tape saturation is what I'm after.

I could record the same signal both on digital and tape, then hearing the differences,
or perhaps mixing the 2 tracks together for some kind of double tracking effect.

So why you think I should stay away from it? Could you elaborate please?

Boswell Fri, 07/06/2012 - 06:16

Even professional tape machines drift in sync when you attempt to play them alongside DAW tracks unless the capstan motor drive can lock to external signals recorded on the DAW.

One way of using an unsynchronized professional machine for the sort of saturation effect you are thinking of is to run the tape during tracking with the input signal going to the record head and the replay head signal being taken to another track in the DAW. This will result in a DAW track that is in sync with the live track but delayed by some tens of milliseconds because of the record-replay head delay time. The DAW editing technique is to slide it forward in time so it lines up with the live track.

The TP-1012 is a low-end domestic machine and does not have separate record and replay heads, so you cannot use this technique. With its low dynamic range and low signal-to-noise ratio, it might make an interesting toy, but it does not fit in with professional-quality recording.

Kapt.Krunch Fri, 07/06/2012 - 06:43

detlef, post: 391313 wrote: Hi Boswell

...tape saturation is what I'm after.

I could record the same signal both on digital and tape, then hearing the differences,
or perhaps mixing the 2 tracks together for some kind of double tracking effect.

It's good you are asking. You've probably heard all that hype about "tape saturation by running it through a tape". Without the proper'll be disappointed. There are a lot of factors involved in doing that to make it desirable.

You'll likely get more tape and transport noise than "tape saturation" out of an old low-level R-R that probably hasn't been serviced. A machine that hasn't been serviced and calibrated to a particular kind of tape it's using will likely sound bad. Does that thing even have any noise reduction? If not, it'll likely be pretty hissy, even if you are slamming it.

It's a "4-track", but it appears to be stereo. That means it records to two tracks, then you flip the tape over and record to the other two. And, it doesn't appear that you can even do 1-track at a time, to some something like overdubbing. That may not be important to you.

As for "mixing the two signals" (digital and tape), there is no practical way to synchronize that tape deck with the computer. It will be very unlikely that you get them to start simultaneously...or even a tad off to create a "delay". The deck has no machine control functionality to respond to and follow the digital audio, and the digital audio won't properly follow the tape...even if you give up one track for something like SMPTE. A SMPTE track CAN start the DAW playback, but the digital audio won't follow flawlessly, and it'll hiccup, skip, garble or just plain lock up.

People who do stuff like that have higher-quality machines to run the tracks to, and play back.

Then, you'll have the added expense of buying tapes.

If you want to spend $5 or $10 to mess around, go for it. I wouldn't waste money buying that thing for anything you said you want to do, and expect any quality results.

Just some things to think about.


Kapt.Krunch Fri, 07/06/2012 - 07:56

Actually, about the 100% probability that the timing will not match up with the digital and tape tracks, there is one thing you can mess around with, if you end up getting that thing, and want to experiment.

Record the same signal to both devices, simultaneously.

Arm another stereo track to record the tape back into it. (Don't worry about timing, or lining it up, yet. You may also want to mute any already recorded tracks so you don't hear them playing WAY out of time.)

Now that the tape audio is in the computer, you can do some trimming, copying and pasting.

Let's say you recorded 3 verses of vocals to those tracks. There will be some no-signal areas between the verses. Copy the waveform of the first verse into a new track. You'll copy only that selected area. Now, you have the first verse, all by itself. Do the same for all the sections.

After doing some editing to trim the front and back, you can try to maneuver the beginning of the first verse to line up with the original digital audio track. You can do that for all of them.

Since you have broken up the linear time dependency, if the track was gradually drifting further and further out as it went, it won't do that now. Any drift will be confined to length of the phrase.

You may end up with something that starts up imperceptibly perfectly lined up to start, and it may drift out before the end of the phrase. that will likely produce a bit of a phasing effect. If the phrases are short, it may match fairly well.

Because the tape may have slightly sped up AND slowed down, it may end up being that it drifts behind, and starts drifting back to where it's actually playing before the digital audio.

It all depends on what the deck has done while recording, and while playing back....and how long the phrase is. The longer the phrase, the more likely something is going to drift out. If the deck was slightly varying between slower and faster while recording, and it was slightly doing the same on playback, then it probably varied the same instant of recording differently, and either and/or both together wouldn't match the digital audio, which shouldn't vary at all.

Just something else to think about.

If nothing else, you'll get practice lining up clips, and hear firsthand what can happen.

Still, I wouldn't waste much money on it. Might as well just find an old consumer cassette deck with some kind of Dolby NR. That would likely even be better than a non-NR ancient, unmaintained R-R...and easier to use.


detlef Fri, 07/06/2012 - 13:36

Hey thanks a lot, I'm almost conviced to give up on the thing.

Perhaps I should save some money and try to find a well mantained machine with a minimum of pro features
(even if prices for this units are insanely high, at least in my area), and meanwhile try to read and learn on
the subject as much as I can, like I'm doing here with all your valuable opinions.

This is a 1970 bottom-end product indeed: no separate heads, no NR, maximum speed is 7½ in/19.05 cm sec, wich is the slowest
in a professional realm, and thanks Kapt.Krunch for the pseudo "4 tracks" explanation.

Your ideas on the "double tracking" technique is exacly what I had in mind.

hueseph Fri, 07/06/2012 - 20:00

If you're looking for a decent reel to reel tape recorder, be on the look out for a (Dead Link Removed)

Of course that would only be the beginning of your journey. You still need to find a decent mixing board with either 16 channels which can be routed in-line or 32 channels which you could set up as 16 input/ 16 return from the MSR 16. Have fun searching.

Edit: Oh, and you'd also need either a two track to mix down to, or you could send a stereo bus to your computer via an interface and mix down to your computer live.

RemyRAD Fri, 07/06/2012 - 22:30

Another logical alternative would be a 1/4 inch 2 track or 4 track/4 channel machine that has 3 heads. An erase head, a record head and a playback head. That would be a more professional home machine and with that, while you are recording, you place the machine into tape monitor mode, while recording, so that the playback signal can be routed directly to your computer while you are also recording the signal directly to another track in the computer. Now this track coming from the tape recorder would be delayed by 60-100 milliseconds. This way however, it will hold synchronization in reference to the other recorded tracks. You would then merrily have to slide this pair or 4 channels worth of timeline tracks to be synchronous with all of the others. This kind of machine would be much more affordable than a full-blown multi-track analog recorder of 8-16-24 tracks. As indicated, those machines will still cost a good chunk of change. The machine I've described you can frequently find for just a few hundred dollars. Made by companies like TEAC/TASCAM, Sony, REVOX, OTARI. Any of those would be worthy to have, experiment with, utilize. And because they have three heads they can monitor playback while recording and while you are transferring to your computer audio interface all in real time. Otherwise, if you simply record on it, rewind the tape and then play it back, it will never hold synchronization to any of your other digital tracks. If you go the route of an analog multitrack machine, then you'll need to go through the pain of also having a synchronizer, taking up extra tracks for SMPTE timecode and all sorts of other gobbledygook and limitations. It's literally not worth bothering with and quite costly.

There's more than one way to get what you want. Mine is the simple way and quite effective. No problems.
Mx. Remy Ann David