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Leak!!! Sony's New Portable Linear PCM Recorder PCM-D100 (upgrade of the famous D50s) - Page 6

post #76 of 125

For field recordings I'd just use a set of alkaline batteries and take a spare set.  I wouldn't be making recordings so often that the cost became prohibitive, unless I turn into some crazy audio stalker!


I'm more concerned about battery life for playback at home whilst running off the grid.  An external battery pack is probably the way to go, but it would need to be decent quality and not consist of a hundred AA rechargeables (unless it could charge them all too).  The RWA Black Lightning is an option, but it's very pricy.  I'll need to do some more research.

post #77 of 125

More thoughts:


When recording PCM and using the optical out to the Hugo the 24/96 setting is more natural sounding and engaging than either 16/44 with SBM or 24/48.  In fact the 24/96/Hugo/Earmax combo sounds absolutely delightful and is exactly what I'm looking for.  On that basis alone its a keeper.


I've now switched over to the line output, feeding the Earmax directly and recording in DSD to continue the burn-in.  By comparison to 24/96/Hugo/Earmax the sound is grainy and constrained.  It manages to retain my interest but it sounds ordinary and flat by comparison.  The analogue sections have only had about 48 hours play time (I've not been counting exactly) and the DSD circuitry hasn't been used before except to briefly test the optical output, so things may change over the next 100 hours or so.  Adding the Hugo also triples the price of the source, so it's not an entirely fair comparison...


On the headphone output I'm using Sennheiser CX300mk2 to burn it in, which are budget phones in this set-up.  The sound through those has a rolled off treble, thick midrange and a powerful but boomy and indistinct bass.  That could easily be the Sennheisers though (especially the bass), so I'll try my Westone 4r at the weekend and see if they can improve things.

post #78 of 125

It's remarkable that DSD through the Line Out sounds worse than 96/24.  I believe you, completely, though.  Perhaps when it burns in it will improve.


Have you tried playing pre-recorded DSD files (as opposed to files you recorded using the PCM-M10, itself)?


Thanks again!



post #79 of 125
Just to be clear, DSD through the line out sounds worse than 24/96 through the digital out and the Hugo. That probably says more about having a £1200 DAC in the system than the qualities of the file formats. I couldn't send DSD to the Hugo due to the limitations of the Toslink connector so I'll have to compare DSD and 24/96 through the line outs later. I'll get some files off 2L for comparison as well. At the moment I'm making comparisons with both the ADC and DAC in series.
post #80 of 125
Is it possible bandwidth issues could be alleviated with a "better" optical cable?
Edited by zilch0md - 5/16/14 at 11:44pm
post #81 of 125
The cable I'm using is capable of 24/192 with other equipment, so I'm pretty sure the Sony is the issue. I'd be very happy if someone proved me wrong.

I watched a film last night and after using the line outs for a few minutes switched back to optical>Hugo. It was as though the dynamic range increased, providing greater space around the instruments and a better feeling of effortlessness. It was a significant difference. I've left the line out running overnight again, so it will have had about 100 hours of use by this evening. I'll then do a set of experiments with prerecorded material and stick with the best from now on.

If the Sony's line outs are representative of other DAPs then I can see why so many people wax lyrical about the Hugo. I'm coming from a NAD M51 so the Hugo is more of a sideways move and I find the Sony's line out to be very mediocre by comparison. As always though, burn in can make a big difference to transparency and effortlessness and 100 hours is a little on the low side. My Cardas Clear USB cable was truly ***** for the first 50 hours and then suddenly opened up over a few minutes (in the middle of a song) and I really like it now. smily_headphones1.gif

Edit: heh, I like the way head-fi auto converts rude words into asterisks.
Edited by Stormfriend - 5/17/14 at 12:07am
post #82 of 125
Try typing that number 0f asterisks....*****. Nope, it doesn't work in reverse. :-)
post #83 of 125
The Sony has had over 100 hours burn in time now, so I figure it's time for some more critical tests.  There's a range of things I wanted to check on, but as listening tests are always subjective I've decided to compare it to the other components I have and just flag up the differences.

Test 1: DSD vs 24/96

PCM-D100 -> Earmax Pro -> HD800
Trondheim Solistene - Violin Concerto no4
Trondheim Solistene - Krambulpolka
This was very close so I had to switch back and forth repeatedly to identify the differences (thank god for the D100’s remote).  On the Violin Concerto the 24/96 had a slightly warmer mid bass whereas the DSD was a little breathier.  On the Krambulpolka the DSD had a little more space around the instruments and sounded slightly more realistic.  I’d say it was a draw on the Concerto and a win for DSD on the Krambulpolka, but in both cases I had to look at the screen to remind myself what I was listening to as the differences were tiny.
Note: I discovered that when a file doesn't have any metadata the screen shows as No data / No data once its playing, although it uses filenames in folder view. I’d have preferred it to just show the filenames, but there you go.
All further tests were conducted with the following tracks:
Trondheim Solistene - Krambulpolka (24/96)
Dunedin Consort - Handel’s Messiah, All We Like Sheep (24/88.2)
Die Krupps - Your Voice (16/44)
Emile Sande - Where I Sleep (16/44)
Soil & Eclipse - Bridges (Humanity Mix by M.O.) (16/44)
Test 2: PCM-D100 vs iPad Retina Mini (HF player) vs MBPr (Decibel)
Source -> Westone 4r
I had the volume set to 2/10 on the Sony and about 70% on the iPad, so the Sony has more play in that area.  The MBP was about 30%
I’m just going to summarise this test by saying that the MBP and iPad were good all rounders, well balanced and easy to listen to.  The Sony had a slight treble lift by comparison but was also more detailed.  Again, the differences were small and I had to go back and forth a few times to be certain.  
The difference between the Sennheiser CX300mk2 and Westone 4r (both on the Sony) was huge though.
Another note: I was sat there thinking the iPad has a much better interface, but HF player cut off the end of the track titles too, so I couldn’t tell which Dunedin Consort track was which.  The grass is not always greener!
Test 3: PCM-D100 line out vs PCM-D100 optical out to Hugo.
PCM-D100 -> [Hugo, or no Hugo] -> Earmax Pro -> HD800
The Sony’s line out is sweet, musical and has decent PRaT, but it sounds rather flat compared to the Hugo.  The Hugo has much greater space around instruments and a quieter background which really makes a difference.  I’d say the Hugo has better PRaT as well and it’s a more engaging listen overall.
Test 4: PCM-D100 vs MBPr (Decibel), both via optical out
PCM-D100 or MBPr -> Hugo -> Earmax Pro -> HD800
There was no real difference between these transports to be honest, which is quite disappointing.  Decibel wasn’t the best player on the Mac as Amarra had a quieter background and I was hoping the Sony would match Amarra in that regard.  I don’t have the Amarra demo any more so I can’t repeat that experiment with the Earmax in the chain, so I’ll have to get the Mjolnir out and compare them the hard way.  The Earmax is lovely, but it's not the last word in detail.  Given I'm comparing the background silence of the two transports, a balanced solid state amp should be more revealing than a valve amp.
So far then I’ve convinced myself that the Hugo is the best DAC of the two, but that wasn’t entirely surprising.  The Sony is a very good digital transport and a superb recorder, but the HD800s are still nagging at me that the system could be better.  The Mjolnir is warming up, so tomorrow I'll give it another run.
post #84 of 125

You're doing a great job at this, Stormfriend.  Your description of the D100's Line Out reminds me of the M10's signature, but fortunately, you've not detected any of the ultra-fine grain that the M10 Line Out has. That "flatness" or moderate lack of dynamics seems to be another Sony DAC trademark.


Carry on!


And thanks again!!

post #85 of 125

Thanks for your info re: the PCM100, Stormfriend.


Curious as to how the Sony powers the HD800's directly, as a true portable DAP (sans separate amp)?

post #86 of 125
I can answer that on the specs, alone.

Headphone Output Stereo Mini Jack; Maximum output: 25 mW + 25 mW or more; Load impedance: 16 ohms

See: http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-audio/cat-recorders/product-PCMD100/

This isn't much better than a Sansa Clip into the 300-Ohm HD800.

The PCM-D100's headphone amp is just a convenience feature for monitoring recordings and playback while in still in the field.
post #87 of 125

Well, yesterday morning I went ahead and repeated the tests with the Mjolnir in the loop.  The Mjolnir was being unusually noisy [mechanically speaking] and rather annoying, but I pushed on in the name of 'science' :-)


Comparing the two again showed no difference whatsoever, so in a fit of pique I actually bought Amarra (as it was on sale) and loaded that up.  That sounded exactly the same as Decibel too, completely failing to mimic my previous experiences.  I won't repeat what I said to myself!


The one last test I did was using the internal memory of the Sony, and that did make a difference.  It was a little strident compared to the SDXC card, but also more vibrant.  Of course that slight stridency might be the other half of the vibrancy and you can't have one without the other, I don't know yet.  As the internal memory has had no use at all since I got it, and it sounded like it wasn't burnt in, I won't comment further until it's had some recording time (happening now).  If the internal memory is better than the SDXC then the next test is SDHC vs SDXC as I've seen reports elsewhere that they might sound different.  The SDXC card sounded a little blunted by comparison to the internal memory.


Just to make life a bit more interesting though, having decided this whole hi-fi lark was a waste of money and gone into the garden to read a paperback, I came in much later in the evening and settled down to listen to some music.  Lo and behold Amarra was now sounding better than Decibel and the noise floor of the system had dropped noticeably.  So either my ears weren't flexible enough in the morning (and the night before) and it's a physiological issue, or else the mains was so noisy on Saturday night and Sunday morning that even a balanced transformer couldn't stop all of it. My mains is really bad, which is why I'm switching to a battery powered system, but I'm surprised it was still crappy on Sunday morning.  Still, Sunday night is always the best time to listen, and that proved true in this instance as well.


So I need to rerun the Sony vs Macbook test again, and wait for a quiet (electrically speaking) night.  I should add that the only component plugged in was the amplifier, everything else was running on battery.  Changing the amp to something both battery powered and able to drive the HD800s properly is going to be expensive.

Edited by Stormfriend - 5/19/14 at 5:57am
post #88 of 125

Man, are you thorough!  And I love the way you write.  :D

post #89 of 125

Thanks, and yes - as soon as I put the HD800s on all I hear is "That's wrong!  That's not good enough!  Get that fixed!  Why are you using that piece of mediocrity!  Give me perfection or I'm going to nag and nag and nag and nag..."


My life was simple before I bought those.  But just occasionally everything clicks into place, usually between 2am and 4am on a Monday morning, and then they're worth it. :L3000: 

post #90 of 125



Mad scientist at work.  Do not disturb!

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