Sharp MD record better than Sony type-R on N1/R909?
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jok

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this looks like a serious forum - just what the doc ordered, would be grateful for thoughts please re sony MZ-N1 and MZR909, If you don't like stories
please skip to summary.

think i messed up. i tried a friend's sony mzr501 with my collection of sharp mdmt877-recorded md's and thought it sounded better (all this imho). so i got rid of it and got ready to buy an N1 or 909 *before* testing the 501's recording capability.

i've since optically recorded in SP a few tracks (guitar/pop u2/radiohead) with the 501 using the same CD player used for the sharp recordings. Findings: the 877 makes better recordings imho. retains a lot more detail, can hear individual instruments more clearly, clearer separation of low, mid and high bands. Since read that sharp atrac uses 24 bits and sony 16 so this may explain things.

Summary (what to get?):
1. prefer the 501 for playback.
2. prefer sharp for recording results. Anyone know if digital SP type-r recording on the N1 or 909 is better than 501's?
3. Sharp also has analog sync record which is important (for unsupervised recording from radio, and cutting out silent periods). 501 doesn't have this. Does the N1 or 909?
4. i'm ideally after a small do-it-all MDLP recorder with good features and battery life in addition to high quality playback and record. a compromise may be needed if the answer to 2 and 3 are negative! Not too keen on the MD-MT888 as it has few controls on main unit and a bulky remote.
Could go for a separate recorder and player - total budget around the cost of an N1. Any suggestion for player? i'd prob go for a sharp mdmt99 or mt190 recorder.

Apols for long post, hope it helps others seeking best recorder. from personal experience last years sharps are better than this year's type-r sony 501 (and quite possibly all current sony's).

 
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leon

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Okay, for starters, Sony ATRAC has been 24-bit before Sharp went 24-bit, they just don't mention it. That "magical number" is apparently an indication of how big a batch of data the ATRAC chip can handle in one go. Read on.

From having owned a string of recorders (Sharp 702, 831, 770, Sony R900, Panasonic MR200), my conclusion is that Sharp's ATRAC is the "worst" of all.

Allow me to finish before you interrupt.

For a long time, the main concern with ATRAC seems to be the processing power of the chips that handle the encoding (recording) process. The analogy: I've got 20 eggs coming down a conveyor belt every second. If I can't put them all into boxes in time, I might lose/break some of them in haste. So even though the ATRAC was theoretically very good, in practice it introduced artifacts, sounded occasionally harsh and weird.

But once you've got enough processing power, there are other issues. Based on psychoacoustics, nobody should care much for the high frequencies (15-22kHz in ATRAC's division), but in reality a lot of people don't like it when you remove those high frequencies. Also, the "classic" ATRAC emphasis on the mids (and relative ignorance of the highs) is based on psychoacoustics, but can sound somewhat closed-in.

Therefore, Type-R is meant to fix two things. If an ATRAC DSP is Type-R, it's got double the processing power compared to earlier non-Type-R chips. It also inherits version 4.5's emphasis on the high frequencies.

Panasonic, in its HDES-version ATRAC, also shares Sony's methodology of putting more emphasis on the highs and lows. This makes for a more "open" sound, but also less punchy, less in-your-face.

Compared to these ATRAC versions, Sharp's ATRAC has stuck to the "classic" ATRAC principles - that is, still giving the midrange priority because the human ear is most sensitive to them. Compared to Sony and Panasonic, it really kinda ignores the lows and highs.

On several occasions I got to compare Sharp ATRAC (from different Sharp units) to Type-R, and to Panasonic's HDES. I used Natalie Imbruglia, so sue me
I preferred the non-Sharp ATRAC for recording each time, because there's better separation of the elements that make up the music. With Sharp's version 6 you can't really tell the instruments apart sometimes, but it gives music that "punch" that Sony's settings may not provide. I think that's why the guitar/pop sounds good for you.

Sony's "signature sound" tends to be less in-your-face, so playing back a Sharp-recorded track on a Sony somewhat cancels out each other's punch/lack of punch. I'd also like to point out that, when you say one "sounds better" or "records better", you're not hearing just the ATRAC. You're hearing the tendencies of the headphone amp, the decoding process, the headphones, the degradation from the wiring, and many other things.

In my books Type-R wins hands down for true encoding capability, and I personally prefer Sharp for playback. The ATRAC database for each model of the same ATRAC version MIGHT be different, but it's impossible for us (non-employees) to track that.

Happy shopping... took me over 60 portables to get enlightened about portable audio in some way. :S
 
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jok

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thanks leon. For info, playback of both recordings was carried out using sony mz-r501 hooked up to pioneer a-400x amp and a pair of MS 906's (decent kit) - headphone amp not a factor.

If you're right in saying the sharp has better playback (not into emphasied bass mind) maybe my old sharp had an amp from a dodgy/cheapo batch?

i've read about these artifacts but to date haven't heared any in my recordings. could possibly live with them if 95% is fine. What sections of music exposes these artifacts in the sharp and/or sony atrac recordings?

I'll try an nat imbr type album then. May try and post both u2 recordings if the difference is still noticeable after analog recording to pc.

swaying slightly towards an N1, tried pana 220 and thought great recording but 'muffled' playback - but again could be due to a cheapo amp stage in my particular unit (had one when they first arrived in UK) - does this happen?
 
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leon

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Okay:

1. You can try whatever music you like - and you need to be familiar with the music in order to compare. There are many recordings you can use to compare.

2. On the processing power thing: I'd say that today's MD equipments - even if they're not specifically Type-R - might still be more capable than equipment from a few years ago.

You shouldn't hear as much artifacts with recent equipment as you would with older (pre-scatman john years) equipment. Artifacts of ATRAC come in a number of forms. For instance, a miniscule "bubbly" sounds that wasn't there in the original - you may not notice it until you try the original CD. Or it might be a hi-hat that's harsher than it really should be.

I used Natalie because it was a CD I owned, and I know it fairly well, and it seems to have a lot of "compression" in the final CD form.

3. The Sharp ATRAC debate... Sober-ly speaking, while it might score 90% on a test, other ATRACs score higher in certain areas. I think the Sharp versions, as encoders, smudge/crush the construct of sound more than the others do. Borrowing a commonly used term: I think Sharp ATRACs are less musical.

4. Headphone amp is completely ruled out as a factor ONLY if you can take raw ATRAC data and decode (play) it using a third source. For instance, if you compare 2 tracks made with different recorders, play them through a third equipment.

I'm being strict here because each brand has their own equalization, to some extent, even with all bass boost off. Line out is good quality, usually, but different brands' line out might still sound different.

5. Please remember that you (like all of us) probably just like the way one unit sounds over another. As long as you're not mistaking your own Bible interpretation as what God MUST have said, I think it's all right. I certainly do bring my opinion into what I say - and I'd like to conclude with this. Enjoy.

P.S. I agree that Panasonics don't have the most likable amps. I used my MR200 just for recording.
 
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Magicthyse

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[begin incoherent ramble]

The way I've heard it, Type-R introduced improvements to the high frequency sounds so that they sound more "musical".

Having said that, I like the way Sharp units record - the differences between Type-R and Sharp ATRAC was not great enough when compared to the user interface for recording between the two units.

I record commercial CD's to MD using a Type-R deck or a Type-R system, and except for about 4+2 frustrating months when I had Sony's (R700/R900+N707/N1), all of my recording portables have been Sharp. For playback, I like the sound I get with Type-R recordings and the Sharp amp (which does emphasise the bass on earlier models) - which is incodentally louder than the anaemic Sony amps. The IM-MT880 I have at the moment sounds much more Sony-like than Sharp units of old on the 'flat' bass setting. I never used to use Bass Boost on Sharp units, but since it's now really crispy, I use it all the time on a low setting.

However you play it back from a portable unit, the headphone amp will enter the equation always.

[end incoherent ramble]
 
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jok

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sorry i couldn't post the samples, my soundcard is pants.

yup it's down to personal taste. with my limited setup tried a number of tracks and think the quality of the coustic/guitar-based stuff is most important to me.

'the bends' album recorded on the sharp sounded more lively overall, my brain wouldn't accept the type-r recording - i tried, maybe it's all in my head?
neither came close to the original cd source though - a high-end deck/player may have - wish i could audition whatever i fancied!

As magicthyse says, sharp has recording features which are not on any sony, such as sync record on mic and analog/line-in, true 'on-the-fly' record level (during recording) etc.
could live without these features if could be sure the N1 makes better type-r recordings than the 501.

Maybe a mt770/888? but if playback quality's no improvement on the 877 (anyone have opinions?)
i'll probably go for a separate recorder and player - not ideal. ...or maybe the new pana 250? More reading required...
Cheers.
 
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Magicthyse

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Mystyler

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Just for the record, Panasonics can sync with digital and analog sources, but not mic. They don't have "on the fly" recording adjustment, rather two sensitivities you can choose before you record. To change it, you must stop recording.
Panasonic have "H.D.E.S.", which is their answer to Type-R.
 
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jok

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cheers all for advice. the sync on analog is something i can't do without - useful for recording radio shows while out (kind of timer record), so guess that rules out all sony's for recording. surprised sonys don't have this.

i'll take a look at t-forums, cheers.
 
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