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Leak!!! Sony's New Portable Linear PCM Recorder PCM-D100 (upgrade of the famous D50s) - Page 5

post #61 of 113

I've added an update to my previous post regarding Sony Pro support's response to my question regarding DSD2.8 playback through the PCM-D100's optical out:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/679589/leak-sonys-new-portable-linear-pcm-recorder-pcm-d100-upgrade-of-the-famous-d50s/45#post_10468490

 

Short version:  The PCM-D100's Optical Out does not support DSD2.8 playback.  Its Line Out does (using the internal DAC), as does the very weak Headphone Out.  

 

So, the question now becomes:  How good is the internal, proprietary DAC?  I fear it might not be any better than my PCM-M10's internal DAC - which is somewhat lacking in mids energy, a little bright, and ever so slightly (very slightly) grainy in the treble.  

 

Mike

post #62 of 113

The question for me is how good is the optical output when compared to an AK100 or a MBP?  I understand the user interfaces are very different, which is a separate conversation, but I'm wondering about sound quality feeding an external DAC at 16/44 and 24/96.  For example different music players on the Mac sound different, so potentially the optical outputs of DAPs may sound different too.

post #63 of 113

I agree.  Jitter could be a variable, for sure. All S/PDIF is not created equal.  

post #64 of 113
.
Edited by seeteeyou - 11/4/14 at 8:41pm
post #65 of 113
I decided to take a gamble on the D100 as the sheer flexibility of the thing makes it so easy to justify. As a playback device it apparently has shuffle folder and shuffle all, along with repeat track and a remote control, so that suits me perfectly. I very rarely go looking for specific songs these days so the simplistic screen doesn't bother me.

It turns up tomorrow, so I'll know if I made the right move soon enough... tongue.gif
post #66 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormfriend View Post

I decided to take a gamble on the D100 as the sheer flexibility of the thing makes it so easy to justify. As a playback device it apparently has shuffle folder and shuffle all, along with repeat track and a remote control, so that suits me perfectly. I very rarely go looking for specific songs these days so the simplistic screen doesn't bother me.

It turns up tomorrow, so I'll know if I made the right move soon enough... tongue.gif

 

Whoa, dude!  You are my hero!   

:beerchug: 

 

First, I'm absolutely thrilled that someone else is trailblazing this, obviously, but I hadn't heard the D100 could do any type of shuffle!  That's awesome.  I know it can do gapless playback - which is big on my list.

 

There's no telling what else you're likely to discover - from the perspective of someone who wants to use it as a player of pre-recorded material.

 

I am on pins and needles to get your report - and hoping you'll be as critical as possible - but I'll take anything you're willing to share!

 

(Here's hoping you try the Line Out to an external amp, and Optical Out to an external DAC/amp - but again, just do your thing - I can wait.)

 

Thanks!

 

Mike

post #67 of 113

I saw the reference to shuffle play on a reseller's webpage so I read through the instruction manual a second time and sure enough, there it was.  There's a lot of stuff in the manual I don't fully understand yet, but I guess I'm going to have to figure it out soon.  I'm most confused by the recording section, and how it uses two different levels and then mixes them together, or something...  The playback section seems pretty straightforward so long as you watch out for the maximum number of files, follow the folder structure and write files to the card in the right order (if order matters to you).

 

If I compare the Sony to the AK100mk2, which was another option, we get this:

 

Sony

Mic in

Line in

Digital in

Headphones out

Line out

Digital out

Remote Control

Full size SDXC slot

Plus a stack of pro level recording features and the built in microphones (so I can attach it to my DSLR as an external mic for shooting home movies, even if it makes me look like a nerd).

 

AK100mk2:

Headphone out

Digital out

Micro SDXC slot

Bluetooth

erm... (I may have missed something to be fair)

 

Not only that but I found the Sony for £559, which is £140 cheaper than the AK100 - so it was a no-brainer really.

 

Remote control trumps a better interface (for me), and I just use my phone for audio on the move so size and fragility (of the mics) doesn't matter.  The one thing the Sony lacks is the ability to recharge batteries in-situ, meaning I'll have to use two sets and swap them over every morning (or when I use it).  That's not ideal, but I see why they did it.

 

The thing that made me jump now was finding the Sony for about £520 last week, only to discover the price had shot up to £750 this week.  As the other site still had it at a lower price I didn't hesitate any longer.  I don't know if Sony are putting pressure on the retailers, if there was an introductory offer, or if it's just popular, but that's quite a price hike.  A third site always had it at £750, so I'm guessing that's RRP (although I just checked now and its gone down to £722).  What is it with the pricing on these things? :rolleyes:

 

I'll certainly put it through its paces and compare the Sony's line out to the Hugo's line out, although I believe in letting stuff burn in so I won't be making any definitive comments for a few weeks yet.  I'll let you know how I'm getting on though.  As a source I'm putting it up against a Macbook Pro with Decibel (and my memory of Amarra, which was better than Decibel but fiddly to use), plus a Win8.1 PC with a SoTM USB card and SoTM battery pack.  The latter is my best source, but subject to AC quality variation as the core PC is plugged into the mains.  The Macbook runs completely on battery and is therefore more consistent, but it sounds a bit grey and flat with Decibel.  If the Sony can match the PC at 2am, or the MBP with Amarra, then I'll be a happy bunny!

 

Edit: I forgot to add, the Sony also has adjustable pitch and speed, plus a variety of EQ modes including custom EQ.  I won't be using any of those, except maybe out of curiosity, but they're there in the manual.


Edited by Stormfriend - 5/12/14 at 4:32pm
post #68 of 113
Excellent! I will wait patiently for your followup!
post #69 of 113

And it was going so well...

 

The D100 is superbly built, handles like a charm and is very responsive.  The layout is pretty logical, although I'd read the manual in advance which helped, the firmware updated easily and the sound even out of the box was clean, clear and dynamic.  I couldn't tell any obvious differences between FLAC or WAV either, although I'm not using my most transparent head-amp at the moment, which is good.

 

I'd noticed one flaw, which is that in file/folder view there's a maximum number of characters visible, which can be a problem if you have a Bachman-Turner Overdrive album.  What you see is:

 

Bachman-Turner Ov

Bachman-Turner Ov

Bachman-Turner Ov

 

Which isn't too helpful!  Not a big issue for me, but might be a serious issue for others as you don't know what you're selecting until after you've clicked on it.  In the play screen the filename scrolls, albeit very slowly, and then shows Track / Artist so you find out eventually, if you have the patience.  Recordings use Date_Number.extension as automatic filenames and work fine.

 

But:

 

Then I discovered that the optical output can't handle 24/176 or 24/192.  At 24/176 the light on the Hugo flashes as though something is trying to get through, but there's no music.  At 24/192 the Hugo doesn't even recognise the connection.  That's true of both recordings made on the device and pre-recorded music copied to SD card.  The files still play and are audible fine through the headphones (and I assume the line out), it's just the optical output that can't handle it.  The same files played on a Mac with the same optical cable work fine.

 

That in and of itself isn't an issue for me as I only have one album at that bit rate and I've never been able to tell the difference between 96 (which works fine) and 192, but it makes me question the capability of the optical output - and I was relying on Sony putting some serious effort into that.  The rest of the machine may be really quiet and able to provide a good digital signal, but what's the impact on sound quality of using that output?

 

The AK100 is starting to look a lot better, if it can handle 24/192.

 

I'm pushing on with the burn-in, as I really never use those bit rates and it sounds good on everything else, but if you want to get the best out of this unit then I guess you'll need to use the line out instead.  That's something I still need to try.

post #70 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormfriend View Post
 

 

But:

 

Then I discovered that the optical output can't handle 24/176 or 24/192.  At 24/176 the light on the Hugo flashes as though something is trying to get through, but there's no music.  At 24/192 the Hugo doesn't even recognise the connection.  That's true of both recordings made on the device and pre-recorded music copied to SD card.  The files still play and are audible fine through the headphones (and I assume the line out), it's just the optical output that can't handle it.  The same files played on a Mac with the same optical cable work fine.

 

That in and of itself isn't an issue for me as I only have one album at that bit rate and I've never been able to tell the difference between 96 (which works fine) and 192, but it makes me question the capability of the optical output - and I was relying on Sony putting some serious effort into that.  The rest of the machine may be really quiet and able to provide a good digital signal, but what's the impact on sound quality of using that output?

 

The AK100 is starting to look a lot better, if it can handle 24/192.

 

I'm pushing on with the burn-in, as I really never use those bit rates and it sounds good on everything else, but if you want to get the best out of this unit then I guess you'll need to use the line out instead.  That's something I still need to try.

I'm having the same issue with the optical out and the stock optical cable that came with the Hugo. I suspect though that the problem is with the cable, may have to find a better one from Sys. Concept Inc. I just ordered one and can test it out when it comes in.

post #71 of 113

Thank you Stormfriend!  

 

You're providing me with valuable info sooner than I had hoped. :smile:

 

Quote:
The D100 is superbly built, handles like a charm and is very responsive.  The layout is pretty logical, although I'd read the manual in advance which helped, the firmware updated easily and the sound even out of the box was clean, clear and dynamic.  I couldn't tell any obvious differences between FLAC or WAV either, although I'm not using my most transparent head-amp at the moment, which is good.

 

A firmware update?  Interesting!  My Sony PCM-M10 is still running 1.0.0, and I may be mistaken, but I don't believe any updates are available.

 

When you say, "sound even out of the box," I assume you're referring to the fact that it hasn't burned in yet, but when you say, "clean, clear, and dynamic," I'm also assuming that you were using the Optical Out to a DAC (which DAC?) to your "head-amp" (which head-amp?).

 

The file handling and scrolling display anamolies, you've mentioned, are similar to what I'm already accustomed with the PCM-M10.  (Not a problem, for me.)

 

Quote:
Then I discovered that the optical output can't handle 24/176 or 24/192. 

 

That's a revelation - thanks for testing this!  Even so, like you, it's not an issue for me, ultimately, as I have only a couple of files that go higher than 96/24.  Thanks for confirming these resolutions, though, for sure.  ;)

 

Quote:

The rest of the machine may be really quiet and able to provide a good digital signal, but what's the impact on sound quality of using that output?

 

I hear you...

 

For my tastes, the proprietary sigma-delta DAC of the PCM-M10 is just a little bit bright, is almost undetectably grainy (break out the HD800 to hear this), and overall, is "thin" and "dry" (not in the least bit euphonic).  I'm wondering if Line Out from the PCM-D100 offers any improvement in these areas (or adds new deficiencies).

 
Looking forward to your next installment!
 
:D
 
Mike
post #72 of 113

Yep, the stock cable with the Hugo was atrocious so I'm also using the Sysconcept 3.5mm to Toslink.  It fits the Hugo firmly and handles 24/192 perfectly (although not from the D100, obviously).

 

I've only used the D100 as a digital source so far, initially with a few test files and then feeding it from an Oppo BDP103 analogue output into the line input, set to 24/96, recording to a 128GB SD card, and sending optical out to the Hugo.  I plan on recording my record collection, so I need to put some serious hours on the line input before doing that.

 

The rest of the system is the Chord Hugo (DAC), an Earmax Pro with GEC and Mullard tubes, and HD800s.  I also have a Schitt Mjolnir, which is more transparent than the Earmax, but it's sensitive to AC variation (both mechanically and sonically) and is therefore side-lined for now.

 

I've plugged in some cheap headphones to burn in the DAC, but it's been a long time since I've used them so I can't judge the sound of the D100 yet.  It sounds like it has potential though and it goes pretty loud.

 

The firmware update is 1.0.1 and corrects a fast forward and rewind bug when playing FLAC iirc.

post #73 of 113

Nice!  I really like the way you're the first person I've found who is interested in the Line Out and Optical Out -AND- you happen to be so well-equipped with other gear to make credible evaluations!

 

:beerchug:

post #74 of 113

No more comments on sound quality just yet, but the following observations:

 

The site selling the D100 for £520, that then put the price up to £750, now has it for £466.  I mean, WTF?  The other two sites I found, including the one I bought it from, have been pretty consistent.

 

Anyway, the D100...  I hooked up a linear PSU yesterday and set it to record whilst I was away for work.  22 hours later and it's still going strong.  I've just realised it has a time remaining counter, so this time at 16/44.1 with Super Bit Mapping on, a 128GB card and cross-memory recording set to On it's telling me I've got 201 hours remaining.  That's over a week non-stop at CD quality!  It has a maximum file size of 2GB, but it splits the recordings automatically.  The maximum file size might affect people with long classical pieces downloaded elsewhere though.

 

The stock batteries looked like they'd give me around 12 hours recording at 24/96, which I was happy with.  The Panasonic NiMH batteries I've got are running out after 6-7 hours, which is poor but probably par for the course.  I'll do a sound quality comparison between battery types and the linear PSU later, although I really hope the NiMH batteries win that test (as does my bank account). The linear PSU is nothing special and it's subject to random mains quality issues, but it sounds pretty good at the moment.  It's also the only way to get those incredible recording times.

 

When adjusting the linear PSU, whilst recording, and with the batteries removed, I accidentally turned the D100 off by knocking the power cable out.  When I reseated the power cable it gave me SD card errors and refused to record to it.  I could use the card fine in my MBP but not the D100.  I switched the unit off and on again using the proper power switch and since then the card has worked normally.  I'm just leaving the batteries in place now, even if I'm not using them.

post #75 of 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by holeout View Post
 

I'm having the same issue with the optical out and the stock optical cable that came with the Hugo. I suspect though that the problem is with the cable, may have to find a better one from Sys. Concept Inc. I just ordered one and can test it out when it comes in.

 

I had previously overlooked your post, holeout.  It seems you've confirmed there's a limitation with the PCM-D100's optical out.  Thanks for posting.  

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormfriend View Post
 

No more comments on sound quality just yet, but the following observations:

 

The site selling the D100 for £520, that then put the price up to £750, now has it for £466.  I mean, WTF?  The other two sites I found, including the one I bought it from, have been pretty consistent.

 

Anyway, the D100...  I hooked up a linear PSU yesterday and set it to record whilst I was away for work.  22 hours later and it's still going strong.  I've just realised it has a time remaining counter, so this time at 16/44.1 with Super Bit Mapping on, a 128GB card and cross-memory recording set to On it's telling me I've got 201 hours remaining.  That's over a week non-stop at CD quality!  It has a maximum file size of 2GB, but it splits the recordings automatically.  The maximum file size might affect people with long classical pieces downloaded elsewhere though.

 

The stock batteries looked like they'd give me around 12 hours recording at 24/96, which I was happy with.  The Panasonic NiMH batteries I've got are running out after 6-7 hours, which is poor but probably par for the course.  I'll do a sound quality comparison between battery types and the linear PSU later, although I really hope the NiMH batteries win that test (as does my bank account). The linear PSU is nothing special and it's subject to random mains quality issues, but it sounds pretty good at the moment.  It's also the only way to get those incredible recording times.

 

When adjusting the linear PSU, whilst recording, and with the batteries removed, I accidentally turned the D100 off by knocking the power cable out.  When I reseated the power cable it gave me SD card errors and refused to record to it.  I could use the card fine in my MBP but not the D100.  I switched the unit off and on again using the proper power switch and since then the card has worked normally.  I'm just leaving the batteries in place now, even if I'm not using them.

 

Thanks for all of these details.

 

By the way, you could try an external battery pack for extended field recordings...

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