Aiwa AM-F3 Review

-Bala Swaminathan (

Look and feel

The body is elegant and reasonably sturdy. The rechargeable battery is small and is a separate unit that can be removed so that normal alkaline battery holder can be attached. The manual is mainly in Japanese but also has essential English translations. The head phones are also good; I like the design of having the left ear phone wire much shorter than the right ear phone. The remote control on the head phones is a little tenuous, but certainly not flimsy. The volume control in the remote in a continuously rotating wheel--there is no maximum or minumum; of course, if you rotate it past the maximum volume level it has no effect.

Regular operation

Playback is just a touch of a button. You can fast forward/rewind within a track by holding the track button, or jump to another track with a single button push. These operations can be done from the head phone controls also.

There is a double speed playback mode which is quite useful. I recorded from my tuner and then used the double speed playback. Whenever I detected some talk I stopped and divided the track at that point, and then went on and looked for the next song. With double speed playback I didn't have to listen to the whole song while editing.


Simple procedure. It automatically marks tracks (the manual says indexing, which was initially confusing) when it senses a 3 sec silence on line-in. Of course, auto indexing can be turned off easily and indexing done manually, either while recording or when you play it back. I like the timed indexing, every 5 minutes it automatically indexes. (I have learned French tapes where each lesson is 5 minutes!! I just copied the tapes onto a minidisc and now I can jump from one lesson to another in a whiff.) The head phones can be connected for listening while you are recording.

There is an auto-start function that starts recording when sound is present, good for covering lectures and discussions. The start activation threshold has two levels H and L. You choose level H when the source is a little noisy (a la concerts) and level L when the source is a little quieter (ex. class room). I was able to test this in a meeting with a garden variety $10 mic from Radio Shack and it worked reasonably well.


Of all features, this is my favorite of all. You can use the volume control wheel in the remote to advance the characters! (I understand that the R30 has something similar on the unit itself.) You can enter upper case, lower case, some handfull of ASCII symbols, or Japanese characters. I only wish they had a copy track title function by which I can copy a title from another track and then edit it!


There is a DISP button that lets one change the display. It cycles through track time played, track time remaining, disc time remaining, and the date of the recording. The mode button takes one into different modes: changing the rec level, stereo/mono recording (you can record one track in stereo and another in mone etc.), etc.

All the modifying functions like track naming, disc naming, track dividing, track combining, renumbering, track erasing, and disc erasing, start with the same set of keys. I have referred to the manual just once, and never needed to use it again. One thing I noticed is that the regular stereo line in recording and the optical in recording sound the same to my ears. I am using Radio Shack's Gold line of connectors. The optical in is from the Sony store, but I returned it as I did not hear much difference and so there is not much use for me.


I am very pleased with the unit. I must thanks David Iannucci for piquing my interest in Aiwa AM-3, and for many many other reasons too!

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