Sony MDS-E12

Name MDS-E12
Manufacturer Sony
Released 2000/10
Device type pro
Recorder Recorder
NetMD No
Hi-MD No
Radio No
Dimensions 482w x 44h x 290d mm
Weight 3.5kg
ATRAC ver Type-R
Battery notes
Sidecar (depr) No
Voltage 100, 230
Power cable AC
Price (launch)
¥90 000
Inputs RCA in, XLR in, Digital coaxial
Outputs 1/4 inch headphone, RCA out, XLR out, Digital coaxial
Control PS/2 keyboard, RS-232 serial, 3.5mm control

As MDS-E10, minus optical TOSLINK, plus XLR balanced analogue, plus parallel and RS-232 serial control, plus real-time clock. Supports Scale Factor Edit.

1U Rack mountable MD recorder. MDLP support, PC Keyboard Support and comes with a wired remote. CTRL-S input.

The printing on the display window is in gold (white on the MDS-E10).

Content adapted from: MDS-E12 Page, Sony Product Page (archived)


All MDS-E12 and MDS-E10 machines (see Note) ignore SCMS on digital inputs - i.e. you can record any digital source (Coax or TOSLINK S/PDIF) with any Copyright/Original SCMS state. If your machine starts up with the splash screen “MDS-E12” or “MDS-E10” then the Copyright/Original bits recorded will be the same as the source. If your machine starts up with “MDS-E12 PRO” or “MDS-E10 PRO” then the Setup menu contains a new item “Copy Bit” which allows you to set the Copyright/Original bits on the recorded track to either “Permit”, “Inhibit” or “PreRecorded”. Permit means the track can be copied digitally unrestricted, even using consumer decks. Inhibit means that consumer decks can't digitally copy the track and PreRecorded means that one generation of digital copy is allowed by consumer decks.

In “Monitor” mode the SCMS bits output on a digital interface will be the same as the SCMS bits on the input. i.e. these machines don't operate as “Copy Bit Killers” on pass-through. One such device that can do this is the Behringer SRC2496 (although this is now a discontinued product). Other products such as Focusrite USB interfaces and some PC soundcards can also strip SCMS.

Note: Some early machines, or machines from some regions may require an internal resistor modification to allow SCMS to be ignored. See the Service Manual Supplement-1 listed for the MDS-E12/MDS-E10 - a Serial Number range is given where the mod is required. This resistor mod does not make the machine “PRO” and the Copy Bit option will NOT appear in the Setup menu - this comes with newer firmware in the machine. The only sure way to tell if a machine is “PRO” is from the startup splash screen. If you can see inside, early machines tend to use Nichicon “Fine Gold” capacitors in their analogue sections. This usage seems to have stopped in the later machines which tend to be “PRO”.

The Japan version of this unit is marked as 100VAC input only, however it seems that the AC board isn't very different between the Japan and other versions. Converting the unit to run on 120VAC is as simple as moving the yellow wire to the (UC2) solder point, 240VAC is the (CN2) solder point.

This modification is supported by pages 77 and 81 of the Service Manual.

In the service manual linked above, the connector on the AC Board for 100V is CN3 and the AC input is connected to pin 2. For 240V, if CN6 is not populated, then the connector CN3 is moved to CN6 and the AC input is connected again to pin 2.

E12 AC Board

E12 AC Board - alternate version


Drive: MDM7SC (Type-R, CXD2662R)

Eject belt: 17mm dia x 0.8mm square section (53mm circumference). e.g. Linx Audio (eBay)

Belt replacement guide

Parallel port: If you have the “non-PRO” MDS-E12 (splash screen says “MDS-E12”) then the Setup menu Parallel port behaviour for the REC and STOP settings are transposed. If you want the parallel input to be “STOP” then the menu item needs to be set to “REC”. Conversely if you want the parallel input to be “REC” then the menu item needs to be set to “STOP”. If you use the Parallel→Preset setting, then input 2 is REC (not STOP as labelled) and input 3 is STOP (not REC as labelled). This bug is fixed on the “MDS-E12 PRO”.

The upshot of this, is if you are using the parallel interface and using the preset settings you will get the same transport behaviour from both versions of the E12, namely input 2 performs REC and input 3 performs STOP.


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test88.130.59.107, 2022/04/21 07:01
Hey there,
Thanks for putting all this information together.
Quick addidion: I can confirm, soldering the yellow jumper onto the CN2 plug makes it possible to run the machine in Europe on 230V.

kai, 2022/09/05 06:11
re: converting to 220/240V

My E12 had a slightly different power supply to the photo pictured above – it is the same layout, but a different silkscreen on the PCB. The silkscreen markings match the labels in the service manual.

The yellow wire in mine was connected to a two-pin plug that was originally at the top of the board (as per the photo) – on my board (and in the service manual) this is marked CN3. I desoldered it from this position and installed it on the lower two holes, which were marked CN6.

The unit now appears to work perfectly on 240V 50Hz mains power.

For reference, the service manual appears to show another wire that's used for 240V models, however tracing it out, it appears to be connected to a pad that is in turn not connected to anything else, so I have left it out.
kgallen, 2022/09/05 13:53, 2022/09/06 09:50
Some E12 (and E10) decks have a voltage selection switch on the rear panel for switching between EU/UK/AUS/NZ 230V and US/CAN 120V. The E12 in front of me now has this switch. Some of the PCB tracks may relate to this - the switch doesn't seem to be fitted to all machines, maybe the Japan versions were hard-wired.
test46.212.200.86, 2022/10/16 14:33
Hi all, I decided to put together a RS-232 remote control program for this deck (& the similar models).
The source code and releases are on my github:
patp989, 2023/10/10 23:54
Hello, I have this unit mounted in an inclined rack (60 degrees roughly). Does anyone knows if this can damaged the unit, the disc or hinder the normal operation. I'm truly worried that I should put it flat on a counter top rather than in my rack... Please advise
kgallen, 2024/01/02 15:34
I think you'll be fine. Internal heat isn't great so heat rise from the transformer towards the drive should be minimal. Keep on top of replacing the eject belt in good time as this is most likely to age and stretch pushing the disc out against your steep mount angle.
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  • equipment/sony/pro/mds-e12.txt
  • Last modified: 4 weeks ago
  • by kgallen