Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Unboxing the Sony PCM-D50

A nice FedEx man rang my doorbell today and dropped of my brand new Sony PCM-D50 digital audio recorder. I won't be able to post a thorough review for another day or two, but here are some photos in the meantime.



Oh yeah, and I also couldn't resist giving the recorder a quick sound check. Keep in mind, I haven't read through the instruction manual yet, and I haven't tinkered with the settings very much. But my first impression is that while the internal mics have just about the same level of hiss as the mics on the Zoom H4, you get a much more natural sounding vocal tone with the PCM-D50.

You also do need to hold the PCM-D50 carefully when using the built-in mics. While you don't get as much handling noise as with the Zoom H4, you'll definitely notice some noise if you change your grip.

But the most impressive thing, and the reason I bought this recorder in the first place (aside from good hardware controls, a great limiter, a sturdy body, and 4GB internal memory), is that it sounds great with a dynamic microphone. Grab a good pair of headphones and listen for yourself.



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19 comments:

WildeGeek said...

My main questions relate to how problematic is wind noise and especially handling noise using the internal microphones.

Brad Linder said...

I haven't taken it outside yet, but based on the fact that I held it too close to my mouth briefly and picked up a fair bit of wind noise, I'm going to say that if you plan to use this outdoors you're going to want to either use an external mic or purchase the optional wind screen.

Jose Luis said...

Do you think PCM-D50 is much bigger than Marantz PMD-620?

I would appreciate if you could give more details about the PCM-D50 preamp. The same level of hiss as the mics on the Zoom H4 is quite disappointing.

Do you think Marantz PMD-620 preamp + internal mics will perform the same?

Brad Linder said...

Jose: The PCM-D50 is definitely larger than the PMD620. The PMD620 is described as the size of a pack of cards. I haven't held one in my own hands, But I would estimate that it's similar in size to the M-Audio MicroTrack or the Edirol R-09. The PCM-D50 isn't huge, but it is much larger than those recorders.

As for the sound quality, Jeff Towne of Transom says the PMD620 sounds better with an external mic than any other low-end recorder he's tried. I haven't tried a PMD620 yet, and to my knowledge, he hasn't tried a PCM-D50, which I would describe much the same way.

It would be great to get internal mics that sound as good as a studio mic, but I think that's just not going to happen. These internal mics do sound very good, and the ability to plug in a dynamic mic and with little interference makes this an excellent deal at $500.

I'll be posting more audio samples over the next few days so you can judge for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I was referred to your site to hear a sample of the quality. My PCM-D50 arrives on Wednesday. Thanks for your review and sample recordings to help confirm I made a good decision.

- MM

Rob said...

I've been waiting for you to get your d50 as we wont be getting any in Europe for a while...

I'm disappointed you think the mics have a similar level of noise to the H4's. I was hoping I could use the d50 for sound effect and ambience recording but it appears I may have to splash out on the d1 as their mics are supposed to be considerably quieter. If you've used one, do you think there is much of a difference in the level of hiss from the two units?

Thanks for the blog and keep up the good work :)

Rob

ian said...

I've had my PCM-D50 a few days. I think there is a problem recording 24 bit optical input. Sony telephone support suggested my m-audio coax to optical converter might be the problem - degraded signal throttles back to 16 bits - But I just connected a Sony DVD 24 bit optical output to the D50 and it still records only in 16 bits. Are you able to test this Brad?

Anonymous said...

Might get one of these. I have a couple questions. 1.)The manual is a little cagey about which memory sticks will or won't work. Are you able to test more than one type? 2.)Curious if I'll be able to use a USB-On-The-Go external hard drive to offload the contents of the D50's internal flash memory to the external hard disk? This is what I use for my 30GB Sony SR-1 camera and it's quite handy. Anyway if you have an OTG supported enclosure and can test that it would be appreciated. So far though I think I'll be purchasing a D50.

Brad Linder said...

You can use a Memory Stick Pro Duo (High Speed) or Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo card. That's it. No other Memory Stick models will work.

As for the OTG hard drive, I honestly have no idea. My Windows PCs automatically recognize the PCM-D50 as an external hard drive, but I haven't tried it with any other devices.

RussRoca said...

Brad...just got hold of the Sony today and ran a few quick tests with the mics I have (Giant Squid omni lavalier, Rode NTG2 and EV635).

I am comparing these three to how they ran with my Zoom H2, my only other point of reference here.

1)
Of the three, the Rode sounds the best. Little to no background noise as compared to the H2.

2)
The GS lav was pretty bright sounding. Easily driven by the Sony. With the H2 I had to either crank up the grain or bring it up quite a bit in post.

3)
With the 635A it was more easily driven than with the H2. It was tough to get any decent level with the H2. The Sony definitely gave a healthier reading. I noticed however a real low level hum with the 635. I moved around the apt. to make sure it wasn't feedback.

Did you have similar experience with the RE50 mic? My understanding is that they're similar with the exception of additional pop filter?

It really is some sort of electronic hum I'm getting. Not a hiss. Strange. It's not present with the Rode or Giant Squid lav.

Brad Linder said...

RussRoca:

Nope, no buzz for me with an RE50. I did get an email a while back from another new PCM-D50 owner who reported that she was getting a buzz with her lavalier mic. She didn't say which model it was, but did say that is sounded better in some parts of her house than others, so they may have been picking up some sort of interference.

Her solution was to switch mics. She says the Audio Technica Pro 70 cardiod lav sounds great.

As for my RE-50, you can hear samples in my PCM-D50 review.

http://www.bradlinder.net/2007/12/sony-pcm-d50-review.html

I think it sounds great, and with the volume cranked up to 7, I can record a much higher signal than I would using the Zoom H4 and PCM-D50 with the volume all the way up.

Anonymous said...

>>You can use a Memory Stick Pro Duo (High Speed) or Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo card. That's it. No other Memory Stick models will work.

Hmmm. I have sucessfully run an 8GB pro duo card (Not "high speed" or HG, which don't yet exist in the 8GB size) and got 3 hours 53 minutes of 24/96 recording (line-in) in 4 files with seamless splits.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

please i do i burn from d50 unto cd help.please email raymoreb@yahoo.co.uk

Anonymous said...

please how do i burn from d50 unto cd help.please email raymoreb@yahoo.co.uk

mungo said...

i have a pair of sony ecm77 lavaliers with xlr out which i use for recording, usually with a 2xXLRf to 3.5mm stereo cable.

sounds fine with other recorders.

anyone tried a stereo pair of external mics on this recorder?

jay said...

Thanks for your review, which has been invaluable in helping make the decision to get the PCM-D50, plus I learned how crucial mic pre-amps are to recording devices, it seems this is mainly where this Sony delivers something more.

Drew Weber said...

Brad. I wish you would have either recorded these samples in a stereo file, or not have converted them to mono. This would have given a more realistic pre-amp noise level.

Drew Weber said...

Brad. I wish you would have either recorded these samples in a stereo file, or not have converted them to mono. This would have given a more realistic pre-amp noise level.

Jose Luis said...

Do you think PCM-D50 is much bigger than Marantz PMD-620?

I would appreciate if you could give more details about the PCM-D50 preamp. The same level of hiss as the mics on the Zoom H4 is quite disappointing.

Do you think Marantz PMD-620 preamp + internal mics will perform the same?

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