Sony MD-M100 Portable Mini-Disc Recorder

by | Sep 13, 2005 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Sony Portable MD-


Mini-Disc Recorder

Mic input and Line input – Ability to Record From Multiple Sources (Mic/Line-in)
Store 45 hours (approximately 675 songs) on one Hi-MD™ MiniDisc
Compatible with both Hi-MD™ and Standard MiniDisc media – store 13 hours of music on a standard 80 minute MD
Recording modes: Linear (PCM) 44.1kHz/16-bit, ATRAC3plus 256kbps
(Hi-SP) mode and ATRAC3plus 64bps (Hi-LP) mode. Text only can be
recorded at 44bps.
Up to 33 hours continuous playback with rechargeable battery and one AA battery

3 1/4″ x x 3 3/8″ x 3/4″  (80.2 x  84.1 x 18.9mm)
4.2 oz (120g) without battery


Have you been in a position in which you wished you’d recorded what an
associate said, either on the telephone or at an interview? Perhaps you
have been recording them, but with an out-of-date microcassette
recorder. As my nephew says, “that is so 80s!” Microcassettes are hard
to transcribe, categorize, and store. Sony has just released the HI-MD,
a portable digital mini-disc recorder that puts all the others to shame
(including those in its own line). [I don’t think it shames Sony’s
TCD-D8 DAT portable a bit, but that is $200 more…Ed.]
Ease of Use

Although the 118-page manual is daunting, you needn’t read it all the
way through to use the HI-MD. It takes only about an hour to understand
the various components of the unit—both hardware and software–and get
it working. At a bit over three inches square by 3/4 inches thick, the
unit fits neatly in a briefcase, purse or pocket. Unlike most digital
recorders that use memory cards, the HI-MD uses Sony’s proprietary
HI-MD discs. These HI-MD discs contain up to 1 GB of data, which
translates to 34 hours of recording time at the LP speed. Unlike memory
cards, the HI-MD discs are cheap: currently about $7.00 apiece.

The player comes with a stereo microphone, which connects to the unit
by a detachable wire. If you unplug the microphone from the wire, you
can attach it directly to the unit for quick recordings. Since there
are potentially noisy moving parts in this recorder (the spinning HI-MD
disc), Sony advises you to attach the microphone using its wire rather
than plugging it directly to the unit. Probably because of this
sensitivity, the HI-MD doesn’t have the more convenient built-in
condenser microphone.
You can view the “6-Line organic EL (electroluminescence) display” from
wide angles and without a backlight. It still suffers somewhat in
bright sunlight, but a shielded hand usually takes care of that. It
also has a standard Sony multifunction remote control which allows you
to start and stop the unit in your backpack with an inline cord
controller. I never found these attachments that useful to me, but some
like them.


To transfer a sound file to your computer for storage or transcription,
use Sony’s SonicStage software. After you’ve connected the recorder
with the supplied USB cable and installed the software, run the
program. It immediately recognizes the unit. You can then copy the
sound file to the hard drive. By default, Sony saves it in one of its
proprietary compressed file formats; however, you can optionally
specify that it also save it as an industry-standard WAV file.

Once the file’s on your hard drive, you can use SonicStage to play it.
Note that if you don’t want to transfer it to your hard drive, you can
just as easily play it while it’s still on the HI-MD unit. The unit
gets the power from the USB connection. In fact, by merely connecting
the unit to the USB port, you are recharging its NH-14WM Ni-MH (nickel
metal hydride) battery.
Sony also includes its “MD Simple Burner” software, which allows you to
record the contents of a CD directly to the mini-disc. Sony says that
the PC to MD recording is at a 100X transfer speed, about twice as fast
as the fastest CD-to-CD-R recorders.

Recording Quality
The quality of the recorded material is fairly astounding. If you set
the sensitivity to high, you can pick up everyone in a small room. If
you frequently record group meetings, you may want to purchase a
microphone stand for optimal pickup. Note that this unit has also been
engineered to record music, although I’m not sure why. Perhaps garage
bands can use it to produce demo CDs, prior to a studio version. The
microphone comes with a shirt clip, but it didn’t work too well when I
tried it. The head is so top-heavy that it flops around when attached
to a singer or speaker’s shirt.
Let There be Music
The quality
of the sound is so good that when you transfer music from a CD onto the
HI-MD disc, you can use it as a personal stereo player. The highs and
lows are as impressive as any I’ve heard from an iPod. The unit offers
some user control, such as presets (“Pop,” “Jazz,” “Heavy,” “Unique
[?],” but not classical) and a six-band custom equalizer. Sony’s ATRAC
3 compressed format is sonically superior to the popular MP3 format,
although you can also transfer MP3 files to the unit and play them
directly on it. The unit will not play WMA and WAV audio formats, yet
the Sonicstage software stands ready to convert these formats to ATRAC3
for you.
Sony’s “Skip-Free G-Protection™ Technology” works.
The unit withstood severe jostling while playing with nary a skip. The
earbud headphones are terrible, like all included headphones. Spring
for a set of Shure E3’s. But do your ears a favor and don’t listen more
than an hour a day.

Pros: Records and plays back sound with extraordinary fidelity.
Plays music as well as an iPod. [I hope so! A few commercial CDs have
actually been made from original mini-disc recordings!…Ed.] Provides
many features and uses inexpensive capacious Sony HI-MD discs.
Cons: At $399.95, the price is the steepest of Sony’s MD
player/recorders. Record and play buttons are a bit small. The
“traveling case” is a cloth bag, not a true protective case. Bad
headphones. No convenient condenser microphone.

ECM-DS70P stereo microphone
Ni-MH rechargeable battery
External AA dry battery case
AC power Adaptor (AC-ES3010K2)
Earbud headphones
Digital cable
USB cable
Carry pouch
1GB Hi-MD™ Disc
SonicStage® software
1 Connect Card

System Requirements:

IBM PC/AT or Compatible
Windows XP Media Centre Edition 2004 / Windows XP Media Centre Edition/
Windows XP Pro / Home Edition/Windows 2000 / Windows ME / Windows 98SE
CPU:  Pentium III 450Mhz or higher
RAM:  128MB or more
Hard Disk Space:  200MB or more
USB port
Display:  800×600 display or better (1024×768 is recommended)
CD-ROM Drive

MAC OS X v.10.1 or better
RAM:  128MB or more
Hard Disk Space:  200MB or more
USB port
Display:  800×600 display or better (1024×768 is recommended)
CD-ROM Drive
USB uploading with MAC (using supplied Hi-MD WAV importer software):
Battery Life
Linear PCM recording mode, Up to 8 hours of recording, or up to 20 hours of playback
ATRAC3plus Hi-SP mode, Up to 11.5 hours of recording, or up to 28.5 hours of playback
ATRAC3plus Hi-LP Mode, Up to 12.5 hours of recording or up to 33 hours of playback

— Peter Bates

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