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Author Topic: I sweated out my audio test of the PCM-M10's line-in -- and was very pleased!I  (Read 1830 times)

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Offline chadbang

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This is pocket-sized favorite among the tapers of the world (you know who you are. And we know who you are: We just look at your bandwidth.) It was also frequently reviewed by nature and outdoor enthusiasts, who apparently can't get enough of surf breaking. But to each his own (and I have to admit I recorded a whipporwill outside my door tonight. It seemed like the thing to do.)

The reviews have generally been very, very favorable. A small cult is devoted to them. Sony discontinued them two years ago to a general outcry akin to the SL-1200 being spun into obscurity (not for long) by Panasonic. The average purchase prices of these was about $250. Not really very expensive compared to $1K iPhones, but the PCM-M10 only does ONE thing. That's almost inconceivable among todays multi-faceted gadgets. "It only records audio?" Puzzled face.

But the $250 question is: Is the quality of it's recordings equal to the one-trick-pony PCM-M10 price? Or even having a reason to exist? "It only records audio?"

That's what I tested today. I won't keep you waiting. I certainly think it it. The Sony PCM-M10 is now my favorite little analogue/digital whatzit. Why call a digital recorder "analogue?" Because of the way it functions. I think any can see a microphone recording is inherently an analogue process, the mics' condensers creating electrical impulses from sound waves. And that's what the M10 primarily is: a recorder with two built in mics. It is much lauded for ultra-clean mic preamps that apparently are excellent at this "prosumer" level. Yes, there are better out there, but the size of a calorie-challenge iPhone for $250? (that was the price. There are now highly hunted on the used market, with prices -- like SL-1200 madness -- of up to three times their original selling price being asked for them.

But what makes it really nifty is a good old fashion 3.5mm mini RCA jack (Why didn't auto makers ever put 3.5mm jacks in cars? I never had one that did) that leads into a DAC for possible needle drops and line-in recordings. Line-in recordings? Why a line in recording?

That's so ANALOGUE.

If I want copy of a song file, why not just transfer it to the Sony M10 and play it back? Well, yeah, you could do that, and the M10 sound just great as a portable player (the interface isn't exactly Cover Flow, if you know what I mean), but what special about being able to make a line in recording; Because then you can HEAR YOUR SYSTEM. Staying analogue and not just copying a file of the original track, let's me hear the influence of my digital source (and it's dac) and my preamp which then feeds it to my recorder. So the created file is not EXACTLY the same as the original file: It's the same song played by THROUGH MY GEAR.

I think that a real fun capability of keeping a recorder around. :D

Anyway, to the testing. I'm too tired today to do the SoundCloud thing, but I will post links. Useless without. Right?

1) The mics are great. Some complain they do not image well or create a natural soundstage. I agree. There are two omnidirections mics spaced apart, yet they yield a center-focused image. The M10 was meant for recordists like journalists and digital filmmakers (although there is no time code) on a budget. So I think Sony went for a narrow soundfield to yield the best results of someone speaking or playing directly in front of the mic at a fairly close distance. So it you're into nature recording, probably not your best choice. But for capturing an event at a close distance, the focus the mic create (by narrowing the soundfield) I think is ideal for performance related taping.

But that's all I'm going to say about the mics. I made a dead quiet recording outdoors. You would hear every detail and myself whispering as softy as possible without zero hiss. Pretty amazing.

What I was really curious about was the line-in jack, as you may have guessed. So this is how I proceeded:

I copied the original files (okay, I'm guilty 320mp3 versions) of "I Love Being Here with You" from Diana Krall's "Live in Paris." "Willkommen" from Artists: Alan Cumming, Natasha Richardson Album: Cabaret (New Broadway Cast Recording) from 1998 (great recording) and "You Can't get a Man with a Gun" sung by Bernadette Peters from the 1999 revival of "Annie Get Your Gun," probably the BEST recording I've heard of a live performance, hands down.

Anyway, I copied these original song files to the M10 for later playback.

Next, I recorded the same three songs coming out of my source (stand back $100K system guys) my Sony PS3. I won't argue it. It sounds great. That was fed into my Sony GX series receiver (again, I've had a lot of gear, this receiver sound fab) and then the line out from the receiver into the M10.

You can set the headphone jack on the M10 to a line-out signal, and I then connect the M10 to my stereo, which plays back through my Allison Four loudspeakers.

Okay, the verdict:

The line-in on the Sony PCM-M10 is just damn peachy. :goodie:

No disappointment at all! A big smile. I think the analogue line-in did a top notch job of converting the signal. Very nice analogue/digital conversion. Amazingly, absolutely no degradation of the signal, but I could hear the nice sweetening of the signal from the PS3 coming down the chain. I know the sound of the PS3. It boldens the sound a bit, gives it a bit of punch and heft which is very nice. You know, the same track filter by the system and recorded sounded terrific. I couldn't have been happier.

So that's my contribution the the M10 lore. Yes, the line-in is excellent. I'll rate it a 9/10 on the fussy audiophile scale. On the: It rocks and sounds great scale for home audio: 10/10. :righton:

I will post the competing sound files sometimes soon. But it's my Saturday night, so let's party to some music. Cheers.

Offline rocksuitcase

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Dig it. I like your writing style. Thanks for the extensive testing and write up of the M10. Everyone I know that uses one has nothing but good to say about it. Incredibly short sighted of Sony to discontinue the model. Surely they could have sold a million more. Extra flair for pairing Diana Krall with Bernadette Peters!
music IS love

When you get confused, listen to the music play!

Mics:         AKG460|CK61|CK1|CK3|CK8|Beyer M 201E|DPA 4060 SK
Recorders:Marantz PMD661 OADE Concert mod; Tascam DR680 MKI

Offline chadbang

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Thanks for the nice words. Cheers.


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