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Old March 30th, 2003, 01:58 AM   #1
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MiniDisk question

I'm thinking about buying a Sony MZ-N707 and I have a number of questions. I gather that the software it comes with is incompatible with Macintosh. Are there other ways to manage files and upload tracks to my G4? Also, is there a way to transfer the files digitally? If not, how much sound quality would I be giving up by doing it analog? This last issue seems like a real bummer if there isn't a way.
I know it has a manual audio setting, so does that mean I can turn off the internal preamp and use a separate preamp? Does the LCD meter work well?
One last thing. I've read that the Sony MZ-N1 has a mike sensitivity setting. Is this feature worth the extra money and what is it?
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Old March 30th, 2003, 06:07 AM   #2
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Manual level control on a MiniDisc recorder is definitely worth having.

Can't speak to Macs or the Sony models you are considering, but I often usually use a digital SP/DIF connections to transfer data from MiniDisc to my PC. However, many MiniDisc portables do not support SP/DIF output. I've also used analog input to a sound card to capture audio. The main issue here will be the quality of your sound card/audio capture device. Some are very muuch better than others.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 07:24 AM   #3
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I bought one of the Sony units for my wife, prof. violinist, to replace her walkman pro cassette for recording rehersals. The manual control works, but it's not adjustable to a fine degree.

Audio upload/download is not supported for the mac at all. There is a guy working on software for OS X. (see http://www.sorted.org/Xmd) but it's not clear if this will ever support downloads. It's a complicated issue.

Bottom line is that this unit just is not designed for second sound applications at a pro or semi-pro level -- so the preamp issues etc. were not at the top of the engineer's list of things to do.

If you want professional features one has to pay a professional price, unfortunately. I use a HHB Portadisc that has XLR in, phantom power, decent level adjust, built-in USB out, and all the rest of it plus rugged. It's about 7 times the cost of the Sony.

BTW there is a good article on second sound editing workflow with FCP at

http://www.lafcpug.org/editing_double_sound.html.

Gives some idea about range of issues related to your choice. As the article suggests, if you are going to do a lot of second sound work reliable, quick download is a must.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 12:17 PM   #4
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Thanks Don and Peter. I've heard good things about the Portadisc, but in that price range, DAT machines start to look attractive. I'm mainly looking to record backup audio tracks. I know two people locally who have had their entire shoots ruined by audio snafus! One of them was a feature length film. Peter, in the end, did you and your wife find the audio with the Sony decent for your application? Could I use a preamp with it? Excellent FinalCut link by the way. I've bookmarked it.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 10:02 PM   #5
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In theory there is no reason why one couldn't use a preamp with the right adapters, but it might not be so simple.

What kind of mic(s) would you be using? What kind of preamp?
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Old March 30th, 2003, 11:55 PM   #6
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Sennheiser ME-66 and a SoundDevices MM-1. I also have an Audio-Technica inline attenuator that is adjustable in 10 db increments up to 30, which I'm hoping will add some flexibility.
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Old March 31st, 2003, 04:26 AM   #7
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There are (or at least were last time I looked) professional quality MiniDisc recorders.
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Old March 31st, 2003, 06:22 AM   #8
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Then you would be going from the preamp XLR (balanced) out to a stereo (unbalanced) mini plug -- right? If not recording in stereo or two channels you'd only be using one side of the mini plug. You don't want the open side to 'float' and pick up noise.

The MM-1 is a nice pro preamp that will be +4dBu out. The Sony will be -10dBV in, I think, like most consumer equipment. You may get better results if you go through a matching transformer. (search the the Web for Jay Rose, who writes on audio for DV Magazine and has a good book on audio production for DV -- he goes into this issue in greater detail).

I guess one would set the Sony on manual gain all the way up and then use the preamp for the "real" gain adjustment. I think this might work fine.

Some radio reporters (many of whom use mini disc because it's ideal for radio ENG) I've seen have some kind of adapting cable that goes from XLR to the mini plug. If don't know if the matching is built into the cable or what, but their needs are less demanding.
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Old March 31st, 2003, 06:43 PM   #9
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Wouldn't a Studio 1 work for the adapter? Got one of those two.
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Old April 1st, 2003, 04:04 PM   #10
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Marco check out these sites.
www.minidisc.org
www.soundprofessionals.com
Yes you can use a studio1 xlr box.I own a sony protable RZ-55??? I usually connect an AT stereo mic directly into its mic jack and use the manual audio settings . I have made some excellenct recordings of some small jazz shows etc. this way. i have also used my Mackie 1202 for the preamps to the MD from the main outs (1/4" to RCA w/1/8 adapter)and it worked very well using the MD manual audio level.
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Old April 1st, 2003, 05:56 PM   #11
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I have the same model. The software sucks. It is very limited and beyond that. With the usb you can only import and export songs that were from cd's or mp3. Then if you record you cannot bring it in with the software. Talk about stupid aparently they dont use the same format as they do when encoding the files from the computer. So anything that you record externally with a mic you will have to use some other way to bring it in.
So far I have used the firewire port with a Dazzle HollywoodDV bridge. Works great and the sound is amazing. The only problem I happen to have is the sound is a little quite when I bring it in. I think that might be due to my computer sound settings and my MiniDisc settings.

Good luck.

Rob:D
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Old April 1st, 2003, 06:01 PM   #12
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Thanks!

Thanks much everyone. I took the plunge and a MZ-N10 is speeding its way to me as I write this. It's the updated model. Can't wait.
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Old April 2nd, 2003, 09:52 PM   #13
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Questions for people who have used preamps with minidisk

Is it possible to use too much gain and damage the unit? If so, what kind of range should I be looking at? Also, Robert, could you talk a little more about your setup with Dazzle HollywoodDV bridge? Are you going from the MiniDisk's USB to the bridge and from there into the computer via firewire?
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Old April 2nd, 2003, 10:09 PM   #14
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I dont think you will damage the unit but you wil get some very nasty sounding recordings.you r levels should peak @ -12 to be safe.
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Old April 2nd, 2003, 10:34 PM   #15
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Wow, that's a fast response. Since the meter is just a line without any numbers, how do I know what I'm peaking at?
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