Roland TL-12 Teaching Laboratory System brochure from May 1986.
Here's something a little bit different. The TL-12 Teaching Laboratory System was part of Roland's effort to get more of their technology into the music education classroom.
Just look at all those DIN cable connectors sticking out of the back of that thing. That's just *hot*.
When I first saw them all, I immediately started getting ideas in my head about how I could possibly take advantage of the the TL-12 to sync all my old Roland gear together. I thought to myself, "Did other people know about this thing? Or did I just discover a way to by-pass the need for six Korg KMS-30 MIDI-DIN sync boxes?!?!".
More about that in a bit. First, a little reminiscing and reference info.
If I recall correctly, I remember a long while back hanging out in a mall somewhere in town and there was this music store that gave group music lessons. And anytime I wandered passed this store, I would see a group of students through a sliding window/door using electronic keyboards and headphones. I can still see all the cables running from the student stations up to the teacher's small platform. So, ever since I came across this brochure, I think back to that group of students and can't help but think (and hope :o) that this was what they were using.
It seems that the TL-12 had a rather long life, because even though this brochure was printed in May 1986, one of the manuals I had downloaded a while back for the TL-12 is dated from December 1982. Also, a really good description of the TL-12 showed up in the Spec Sheet section of Keyboard Magazine back in July 1983. There is some great reference material in that write-up that is not available in the brochure such as pricing information:
"The TL-12 is designed for instructing students how to play electronic pianos, organs, synthesizers, and any other electronic instruments. The basic system requires no special installation or other equipment, and can be connected easily to any keyboard instrument made by Roland as well as most other brands of keyboards. The unit can accommodate up to 12 students. Additional main units can be connected to teach up to 48 students at one time. The device can be divided intro three subgroups allowing the teacher to monitor any group at the push of a button. With the addition of of a connecting box (Model TLC-1) and a headset/microphone (Model RHS-100) to each keyboard in the class, the teacher can talk to everyone in the class, to a preselected group, or to an individual student. The device also lets one student demonstrate for the entire class by pushing a demonstration button. The private and group selector functions allow the remainder of the class to continue to rehearse without hearing every communication between teacher and student. Tape recorders, record layers, rhythm machines, nd other external equipment can be easily hooked up to the TL-12. Performances by students can even be recorded and played back through the system. Measurements are 18" wide, 4-1/2" high, 11-3/4" deep, and weight is 9-1/2 lbs. Price is $695.00 for the TL-12; the TCL-1 connecting box is $20.00; and the RHS-100 headset/microphone is $60.00. Also offered are system packages including all connections, headsets, and cords for classes of 12 (priced at $1,850.00) and classes of 6 (priced at $1,295.00). Roland, 7200 Dominion Circle, Los Angeles, CA 90040."Also, if you look closely at this spec sheet promo, you will see that back in 1983, Roland's headset model was the RHS-100, while in this brochure from 1986, Roland replaced that model with the RHS-200. Okay, maybe I'm the only one that finds this information exciting... :o)
This brochure is also awesome for a number of other reasons. Flip it open and the first thing your eye hits are the photo images of the front and back of the TL-12. Next, your eye is drawn to the "Typical Usage" diagram with that cool looking instructor guy with the headset. And finally, you get to the "Five different communication methods" diagrams. These alone provide some really valuable information for an educator thinking of slamming down over a thousand dollars for a full-fledged system, as well as some really cool reference information for someone in the future like me.
But, I find that there is a real disconnect between the front of the brochure and the rest of the info. Seriously - that fire engine red front cover design looks like it is straight from the 50's. The title font, the headset image (which I may have to swipe for a design project I'm working on right now... talent borrows, genius steals, suckas!) and even the photo of the unit itself all look really dated. In 1986, it would have been really hard for me to pick up that brochure if it was sitting at a music store. But then again, maybe I wouldn't have been the intended audience.
And finally, on the back page, you see some specs, accessory info, and most awesome, photos of Roland gear "best suited" for use with the TL-12. Really? SH-101? It would be awesome to see 12 students learning monophonic synthesis on SH-101s using this system. In fact, I think I had a dream along those lines last night.
If you are still reading, you will recall that at the beginning of the post I mentioned that when I first saw the TL-12 brochure, my first thought was using it as a way to DIN-sync a wack of Roland gear together. The unit has 12 DIN connectors, right? And the diagram shows a drum machine plugged in - that could easily be the master sync, right? And the brochure does say "Din connector (for connection with student's unit)" - right? RIGHT?
Turns out Roland used DIN cables for a lot of different purposes, and it looks like in the TL-12's case, the DIN connectors are purely for audio. The TLC-1 connector box that would be located near each student's station is the real key to getting all the different audio signals to and from the TL-12. The AUDIO out of each student's keyboard instrument plugs into the TLC-1 connecting box, as does each student's headset PHONES and MIC plugs. Then, the DIN cable is used to carry all that audio to and from the TLC-1 through each of the 12 DIN connectors on the TL-12.
But even if the TL-12 wasn't meant for carrying/splitting DIN-sync signals, could it still be used for DIN-sync purpose? Could you have one of the 12 pairs set up to be master through the 'demonstration' button, and push the sync signal to the other 11 connectors? It would require that the same DIN cable pin/wires used for carrying sync signals be the same ones Roland used to carry these audio signals. And wouldn't it be great to use the separate group and solo features to split DIN-sync signals at different points in a song?
Well, a boy can dream...