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FOSTEX FR2 Compact Flash/Micro Hard Drive Deck For Field Recording

In a message dated 12/15/04 3:56:33 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Hello Leonard,

I'm David in Australia, keen to gain your recommendations for mike/preamp,

I'm not new to computers and audio, and have decided to branch out into
ambient field recording (not music events). Hopefully I can obtain some
interesting sounds to incorporate into music loops and surround-sound
compositions. I will probably be needing a wind shielding arrangement.

I like very high quality gear and I'm planning on purchasing the new Fostex
FR-2 field recorder, which saves direct to PCMCIA hard disk or to flash
. I aim to roam the countryside in search of inspirational sounds!

Would you be able to help me with binaural or HTRF mike choice?

Many thanks in advance

David Wxxxxx

Hello David,
Thank you for requesting system for rural non-industrial/music ambient recording with Fostex FR-2
Recent Canada professional customer has tried FR-2 with mixed results using deck's MIC preamplifier with 12 year old DSM microphone with passive XLR mic level output; seems LINE level input is going to work best with FR-2 using an external preamplifier. 
Suggest best system with external PA-24NJ/XF ($1300 USD) preamplifier that powers and amplifies DSM-1S/M or /H ($550 or $650 USD) + WHB/N ($250 USD) windscreen mic to dual R/A XLR line input as best system for this deck.
DSM-1S/H                $650 USD  (or DSM-1S/M @ $550)
WHB/N                      $250
PA-24NJ/XF               $1300
FedEX                      $ 65
Suggested TOTAL   $2265  USD  (or $2165 w/DSM-1S/M)
DSM mic models at:
Ship/Payment options:  
Let me know if suggestions for best system for FR-2 make good affordable sense, when/where you need this shipped with Tele number, and what method of payment is best for you.  Suggest most secure $65 USD FedEX shipping for delivery in Australia.
Side NOTE: This Fostex deck may require external battery for practical long recording time as 8 AA cells do not last for very long.  Also, NiMH cells may be too cumbersome to keep recharging several carefully 'kept matched' battery sets, and expense of regular disposable cells seems costly and environmentally unsound for regular use.  May be possible to run the deck from disposable 8-10 quantity alkaline D cell pack for over 25 hours

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo
Sonic Studios "18 Years of Stereo/Surround Audio History with DSM Microphones"
Patented HRTF Portable Ambient Systems for Multichannel Field/Studio/Event Recording
Informative Web Site:
DSM Microphones, MD/DAT/CF/HD/Laptop Portable Multichannel Recording Systems/reviews+tips+FAQ+mp3
USA FREE: 1-877-347-6642  TEL: 541-459-8839
A World Wish: "A bit of technical knowledge coupled to a great deal of God-given wisdom"


New Technology Memory/H.Drive Recorder Advisory

In a message dated 12/16/04 7:52:28 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Leonard & Debbie.
I'm determined to find the right combination of gear to maintain the
highest quality of recording within a
realistic budget. (This will include the DSM purchase)

I'm going to L.A. in February, and Florida in March, and I'd really
like to put together something to take with me.

Perhaps you can suggest an alternate recording device, available on
todays market which you think will perform
as well as or better than the DAT.
I haven't experimented with the new Mini Disks yet, but as you know,
any new format from Sony is just waiting to get blown away.
and from what I've read in many reviews, people don't believe that Mini
Disk will be around much longer.
Have you had any experience with Memory Card recorders, or portable
Hard Disc Recorders etc. etc.?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Kindest Regards,

Kevin Hxxxxx    M.P.S.E.
Ontario, Canada

Hello Kevin,

For the most part, I'd suggest forgetting about MiniDISC format as Sony has made this a crippled consumer format at best for recording live sound.  ONLY advantage of new technology (NT) recording decks (just now showing up) is some offer higher definition 2-track stereo and multichannel 24bit/96K recording ability.  Otherwise, using PCM-M1 for reliable 16 bit/48K 2-channel stereo ability still seems most practical choice for many good reasons.
The following is the rant on NT decks:

New Compact Flash/Hard Drive audio portable recording technology seems to be moving way too slowly in supplying refined decks of good reliable design and practical long running internal powering options.  Small size, high quality 16bit/44.1-48K, shock resistant, and long running time, that was fully realized with Sony PCM-M1 DAT deck, has yet to be shipped (in ready available quantity) that uses NT. 
Only small-compact-easily powered deck in sight is Edirol R1 that might be a good candidate using CF, but has limited 16bit/44.1K recording, and very, very few R1 units have shipped to vendors who all have long waiting lists of customers for this model. So Edirol R1 has NOT been (fully) evaluated as yet (December 2004). 
Higher quality recording with 24bit/88.1K-192K Compact/Flash or micro-Hard Drive (hard to find these) is possible with available large size Fostex FR-2 (~$1300 without storage).  Customers who have tried this remark on good overall design, but also the impracticality of using 8 AA cells for maybe getting 2 hours worth of recording.  Also, one customer trying 1992 DSM with passive  adapter into XLR mic input reports Fostex FR-2 preamplifier is noisy (mostly with hum) when using this vintage mic.  Same mic seems fine when used with other decks like Deva II (4-channel HD) recorder or vintage TCD-D10 DAT.  So FR-2 may be best used for advantage of 2-track stereo 24bit/96K high definition recording ability with DSM mic, but only with using PA-24NJ-XF ($1300) model preamplifier for LINE level input to FR-2.  
FR-2 may be a good field deck to choose for needing high definition recording ability, only if awkward size/powering and lack of cheap storage strategy does not discourage this choice.  The issue of recording a few very long recordings (or a lot of short duration clips) to compact flash or tiny hard drive has real remote location limitations.  Lack of portable storage may be less an issue when Edirol releases for shipment Edirol R-4 24bit/96K 4-Channel portable that records to internal 40 GIG Hard Drive (also to Compact Flash).

In contrast, 4 mm DAT tape (with limited 2-4 GIG capacity) has always been very practical to use for storage (or archive) of good reliability for field projects of any duration.  
With the new technology using limited capacity CF storage or micro drives, it seems necessary to frequently be dumping recordings on to larger more secure (backed up) disk type storage.  This seems an especially important issue while traveling when there is most likely no practical means to store a series of digital recordings in a secure 'Raid' HD 'archive' system.  Instead, it may be practical to burn a series of DVD-Audio or DVD-R data file disc from overflowing smaller deck storage using a portable laptop system (or something like the new Sony 'stand-alone' portable DVDirect drive that records with/without computer connection). 

However, I still feel that optical storage is still at least if not more fragile than DAT tape cassette.  Any form of optical disk needs careful physical storage and handling even when using high reliability DVD blank media from established quality manufacturers. So with optical, suggest making at least TWO backups just in case. 

Hard drives inside and external to laptops can fail, taking too many GIGS (hours/days) of recordings with them.  At least with DAT tape and optical disk, it is unlikely that whole collections would be lost due to media storage failure as this media cannot store that many GIGS of data like 40-250 GIG HD storage.  So with large Hard Drive storage, having two drives (2'd HD and/or series of Optical disks) for backup seems most wise.  However, this type of backup makes for much work after making the recordings, and more computer (data backup) equipment that needs to be taken on extended recording trips as you plan to do next year. 
The short of this is all these technologies, new or old, work more or less to record field audio.  You must decide what deck model using available technology (with resulting recording bit depth/bandwidth) fits your needs for a particular set of project requirements.  Size of deck, power requirements, and form of storage are all consideration that I cannot make for you.
With that said, seems to have stock of PCM-M1 DAT deck if deciding 16 bit/48K meets your requirements. 
The DSM mic can be made to work with M1 directly or (more versatile) with external DSM preamplifier.  This is mostly true with any available recording deck with suitable DSM mic system component choices.  I will suggest a proper configuration once you decide on which recorder you need or want to use for this purpose.

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo


In a message dated 3/31/03 6:24:28 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Subj: Portable hard disk recording - Jukebox 3
Date: 3/31/03 6:24:28 AM Pacific Standard Time
Sent from the Internet

"Welcome to the group of those who hope to buy an affordable direct-to-hard disk audio recorder like the Archos or Nomad Jukebox, but with also having proper mic input features AND quality A/D systems inside. These first products fall far short of having needed features and internal processing circuits of acceptable quality so far, but there's hope for the future. "

I've just learnt that the latest firmware (?! did it allready have the neccessary preamp, but not the software to support it?!) for the Jukebox 3 adds support for recording from a mono or stereo mic (see Can you comment on this? I'm not a big audiophile, but would want to make recordings where reasonable detail and particularly dynamic range are fairly important (once bitten twice shy after getting an MD with extreme, unavoidable, compression, and no manual control of the record level. An ok meter, and control, even if relatively coarse, of input gain are obviously also necessary). Sound quality approximating that of a half decent minidisc (but with better, or no, data compression) would suit me pretty well, at least for now. I haven't been able to find any reviews analysing this aspect of the machine ("Audio can be recorded by attaching a microphone to the Jukebox" is a representative depth of insight here), perhaps partly because it is such a new (and eerily unsung, it seems) feature right now.

Another slight cause for concern comes from a user review on; "I was really excited about the recording feature in the Nomad. This feature is worthless. You can't pull the music back off the mp3 player because they don't want you to pirate music.". I think this was referring to a slightly different model, but obviously having to go through an extra pair of d/a a/d converters (and transferring in realtime) would be highly irritating and lossy. I would appreciate any feedback on this unit, and any new reflections on the general state of portable hard disk recording - how long do you think it will be before there are several manufacturers offering decent, comporably costed, solutions (and why on earth does there seem to be next to nothing at the pro end - surely people are itching to replace their dats with something non-tape based with vast storage, 24/96, possibly multichannel etc)?

Appologies for the verbosity, and thanks again for any feedback, and for maintaining a valuable resource in your website.


Peter Txxx

Hello Peter,

I have evaluated firmware upgrade v1.10.06, 1.11.07, and next to latest v1.20.06 with good results on analog input quality available, but have heard problems from those with latest Nomad Jukebox 3 (NJ3) version upgrade 1.32.02 that boosts analog input gain to 48 dB replicating a mic preamplifier analog input gain stage.

It seems the latest version is NOT an improvement with increased distortion and very audible digital system noise bleeding into the recording most audible when the unit operated with adjusted input gains greater +12 dB (the previous firmware limit.)

Also note the difference in firmware operation as follows:

Firmware upgrade v1.20.06 allows -12 to 0 dB to +12 dB analog LINE input recording adjustment IN 1 dB STEPS and (rather crude) VU level indicator.
This is most desirable to have the 1 dB fine adjustment range ability with using an external preamplifier, BUT NOTE that the " -12 dB to 0 dB" range is TOTALLY USELESS as FIRST STAGE INPUT OVERLOAD will occur regardless, with clipping distortion most likely even if VU levels are showing within the safe region!!!

So DO NOT use the adjustment below 0 dB (-12 dB to 0 dB range) as it is totally BOGUS in controlling input overloads. ONLY the 0 dB to +12 dB range works for controlling the input against overload.

For downloading (ONLY as suggested) next to latest NJ3 firmware upgrade v1.20.06 GO TO

In other words, newest firmware upgrade v1.32.02 changes the input gain to be much greater than before and is in 4 dB steps (0, +4, +8, +12 dB, and so on to Max +48 dB), but over +12 dB gain is likely adding distortion and noise so do not use higher available gains if having (mistakenly) upgraded to faulty 1.32.02 version. Also below 0 dB (the - dB adjustment range) is likely again BOGUS and is to be avoided when recording from LINE level input jack.

Best NOT to upgrade to latest v1.32 version firmware for this reason alone, instead use an external mic preamplifier like my PA-24NJ (for DSM mic ONLY) if best fidelity is desired, staying with no greater than 1.20.06 version until (maybe) noise/distortion issue is resolved in later than 1.32.02 firmware version.


CAUTION: The user CANNOT (*easily) GO BACK to re-installing previous (maybe better working) firmware upgrade once a later version is installed.


Also, I cannot comment on from direct experience or heard about any upload lockout of perhaps 'marked as copyrighted' recordings placed into the NJ3, but believe this is NOT a problem with original recordings or those made via analog input by the user. NJ3 has ability to record with full bandwidth fidelity of uncompressed .WAV at sample rates to 48K per second. Recording quality seems very nearly the equivalent of existing portable PCM-M1 DAT audio deck for most end-use purposes.

If you desire to record very satisfying, highest quality live sound, then consider DSM mic + PA-24NJ preamplifier into Nomad Jukebox 3 or (with or without external preamp) PCM-M1 DAT deck (without or with MOD-2 mic powering upgrade) as the finest quality system available regardless of cost.

See DSM mic page:
See DAT deck review pages:
Listen to DSM MP3 recordings at:

Slightly less quality, (not easily audible to most), is to use this suggested system with a Sharp portable MD of any available model.
See: Best Sharp MiniDISC Models Past and Present

Much general recording discussion at: FAQ PAGES

Shipping/payment options:

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners


("with the passing of time, all things may, or MUST change")


*A customer in JAPAN comments it IS POSSIBLE to go backwards with NJ3 firmware versions, that is, reinstall previous version firmware in cases where undesirable more recent version firmware version has been installed. While this was thought NOT possible because Creative Labs technicians said it could not be done for some reason, here is the suggested procedure that just may work regardless:


----pasted tip -------
I can go backward if wrong firmware is installed.
It carries out by the following method.

1. it will boot up into the emergency screen,
  (if not, remove the battery, hold the stop button, put the battery back in,
  release the stop button as soon as the screen lights up,
  then press and release the play button.)

2. select "3. Reload OS"

3. It connects with PC

4. Firmware Install (you can go backward if wrong firmware is installed)


My current HD portable recorder favorite is NEUROS HD 20 with Firmware Upgraded from VERSION 1.38 (as sold) to having most recent VERSION 1.44 installed. This unit is being produced by a somewhat unique small company with excellent website/phone support. In addition, Neuros Audio has established strong connection to the OPEN firmware/software development community that's complete with on-site support/discussion forums and links to developers!!!

Both Creative's NJ3 & NEUROS Audio HD units are similar in several areas. Both require the installation of a free firmware upgrade to function as a full featured analog LINE-to-WAV digital audio Hard Disk recorder system. After firmware upgrade, both show a total LINE Recording level control range of +/- 12 dB in 1 dB steps, but ONLY the 0 dB-to-+12 dB (-3 dB-to+12 dB range on the NEUROS) seems effective in avoiding LINE input overload (clipping) distortion. Acceptable LINE input level is (typical consumer audio) modest at about +1 dBv or ~ 1 volt RMS maximum.

The NEUROS Audio Computer has excellent (measured) low noise LINE input with realtime MANUAL input GAIN control, and quality A/D processing. The spectrographic screenshot (at left) shows -115 dB noise floor (with grounded 47 ohms resisters at input; no input signal) at 1000 cycles; worst case noise shows excellent -96 dB noise below 100 cycles.

In addition, the NEUROS HD20 (with this firmware version) has the best VU display of any low cost HD portable that actually measured to within .5 dB accuracy wth the addition of dual NUMERIC dB peak indicators.

While the NEUROS VU display is greatly improved in this version, the bar graphic is a bit too small, and operates in an odd manner (compared to usual left-to-right VU indication) traveling inwards toward maximum 0 dB VU (two simultaneous directions) as levels increased.

However small and odd as the VU bargraph display appears, I found myself appreciating the display's overall accuracy, especially the peak reading numeric dB display positioned below each channel's bargraph low signal starting display areas.

In a message dated 3/24/03 12:30:33 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Subj: a recording system for my son
Date: 3/24/03 12:30:33 PM Pacific Standard Time
Sent from the Internet

Hi, folks,
  I got to your web-site through Transom, and I need some advice, if
you can spare the time. I'm the mother of an 11 year old boy who is
home-schooling. He wants to start recording his own work-- interviews,
stories, and some music. He has the time to get serious about this
project, but at this point I don't know how far he will take it. I'm
ready to buy him the equipment he needs to begin. Could you recommend
something to suit a serious beginner?
  Thanks for helping. We're excited, and ready to get started.

Lorelei Sxxxxxx


Hello Lorelei,

Starting with a simple, lowest costing, but very good quality live sound recording DSM mic + Portable deck system seems what you require at this time.  The suggestions that follow are based on this assumption.

Let me know if or when ready for alternate system suggestions where budget, or simple controls operation is less a concern to maximum recording quality, easier digital audio interface, and ability to use the mic on a stand.  This is usually afforded with using a DAT type deck, with or without external mic preamplifier, and the LiteGUY baffle on tripod stand, allowing the mic to be used without needing to be Headworn by someone.


Lowest cost recorder is any model of Sharp (not Sony) MiniDISC recorder for ~$200.  These are available from here (older model MT15S) or which imports direct from Japan.  Sharp no longer markets these in USA: newest suitable imported model now available is MT190.

As you may have read already (in the FAQ PAGES ?), consumer MD portables have ONLY ANALOG headphone/line output jack. 

This means quality direct transfer (to computer editing system or CD recorder) of selected MD recordings is best done with also having a second MD, but full size AC powered MD deck.  
These larger MD decks can be purchased (now only used or new $400+ Sony model) with standard digital audio SPDIF output features.  The full size MD deck will then interface with suitable computer sound card,  or digital input of ***CD recording deck. 

In other words, the full size deck is therefore used only for playing back recordings made on the portable MD unit for direct digital transfer to computer or (simpler to operate) CD-R recording deck.

***NOTE: An alternative to somewhat complex computer system editing of recordings for later CD-R replication, while still keeping the process simple and interesting, audio MD recordings can directly duplicated and then shared with others using a stand-alone CD recorder deck that will accept both analog or digital input from analog only output portable or full size MD deck digital output.

With this said, I must admit that many 11 year olds have NO trouble figuring out how to operate computer-based audio editing and CD burning software; as long as the computer is already fully functional for this intended purpose.

The microphone (and how it is used) is responsible for 95% of the recorded quality possible, everything else takes much less importance to getting consistent (interest keeping) satisfaction.

DSM microphones are available in a range of models that best suite a certain range of sound recording interests. 
See mic page for details:

Lowest costing DSM mic that might be suitable is the DSM-6/M model at $350.  The DSM-6/M is a moderately LOW sensitivity model that is best suited for recording up to fairly loud PA speaker amplified Pop/Jazz/Rock club/concert performances, but still can be used for recording interviews and acoustic instruments (at close range, especially with deck operating in lower quality boosted high gain mic input mode) if some background noise (soft hiss heard during more quiet portions) is not of too great a concern.

Perhaps better for your child's interests (specific range of subjects?), but costing a bit more are the DSM models best suited for recording pure acoustic (very moderately or NOT amplified) interview, music, and sound effects.  These mic models are the very sensitive DSM-1/M* ($450) and less sensitive, but more versatile DSM-6/EH* ($500) models, or next less sensitive DSM-6/H* ($400) model. 

*NOTE: These suggestions are DSM mic models in the LESS PRECISION left/right channel match category; lower cost (than DSM-1S or 6S/ standard models) by $100 with little or no audible (what most can hear) sound quality loss.

Lowest costing MIC + DECK system is ~$550, but cost for a more suitable DSM mic model could increase this to ~$700 or more depending on *useful purpose.

*The above suggested system is for indoor recording, or outdoors ONLY where wind, rain, or long term exposure out in intense Sun is not expected. 
However, if most versatile and fully protected indoors/outdoors recording ability is desired, then I strongly suggest adding $250 to the system cost for the WHB/N.  This also comes with very practical protective carrying/storage zip case for WHB-mic + mini deck combination. 
See accessories page for best description of WHB/N:

I'm sorry about the long length of this reply, but your requirements must be understood and issues carefully considered so that long term satisfaction with the choices is most likely.  Please consider the URLs presented as good reading for background and look to the MP3 recordings page for examples of recordings and systems use. 

E-mail (or maybe best to call if in USA) to answer further questions and to order.

Payment/Shipping options is prepaid or cash COD (in USA via FedEx) as shown at:

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners
Sonic Studios "17 Years of Making Audio History with DSM Stereo Microphones"
Featuring Patented Headworn or HRTF Baffled Gear for Field & Studio 3-D Ambient Sound/Music Recording

Informative Web Site:  WWW.SONICSTUDIOS.COM
Microphone, Headphone, MD/DAT Portable Deck equipment reviews+Tips+MP3 sound files
USA FREE: 1-877-347-6642  1-(541)459-8839 TEL/ 42FAX
A better wish:  "A bit of technical knowledge coupled to a great deal of God-given wisdom"

Subject: portable music recording info
Newsgroups: 1999/02/03
Message 1 in thread

From: (

I am considering purchasing a portable recorder for some live music recording.
I am talking about stereo recording here, on budget.

Here's what I want to know:

What portable recording devices can anyone here recommend and what
configuration have you used (mics/mixing/other gear) to achieve this.

I am not a 'bootlegger' but I am planning a trip next fall and I would like
to make good ( not necessarily the BEST) recordings of street musicians and
live music I can get using 'the best of both worlds' so to speak, of
convenience and quality recording. I understand there's always a tradeoff,
but I am looking for your experience here.

If I am barking up the wrong tree here, please point me in the right direction
of who to ask- or what other newsgroups I might look in.

Thom Yelton

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
Subject: Re: portable music recording info Message 2 in thread

From: Scott Dorsey ( Newsgroups: Date: 1999/02/03

In article <7985qt$60k$> writes:
>I am not a 'bootlegger' but I am planning a trip next fall and I would like
>to make good ( not necessarily the BEST) recordings of street musicians and
>live music I can get using 'the best of both worlds' so to speak, of
>convenience and quality recording. I understand there's always a tradeoff,
>but I am looking for your experience here.

I'd tend to recommend something like the Tascam DA P-1 recorder. Using something like a single point stereo mike is usually the way to do when working in the field like this because placement becomes a problem. The Beyer single point mikes are pretty good. Sony and Audio-Technica make some cheaper ones that are better than nothing.

In general, off-axis rejection and the sound of the mike off-axis becomes a major issue when you're working in doubtful acoustics with a lot of ambient noise, and better mikes are worth paying for.
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

Message 3 in thread
From: GuySonic ( Newsgroups: Date: 1999/02/03

Subject: Re: portable music recording info

In article <>, (Scott Dorsey)

>From: (Scott Dorsey)
>Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 16:03:34 GMT
>In article <7985qt$60k$> writes:
>>I am not a 'bootlegger' but I am planning a trip next fall and I would like to make good ( not necessarily the BEST) recordings of street musicians and live music I can get using 'the best of both worlds' so to speak, of convenience and quality recording. I understand there's always a tradeoff, but I am looking for your experience here.

>I'd tend to recommend something like the Tascam DA P-1 recorder. Using something like a single point stereo mike is usually the way to do when working in the field like this because placement becomes a problem. The
>Beyer single point mikes are pretty good. Sony and Audio-Technica make some cheaper ones that are better than nothing.
>In general, off-axis rejection and the sound of the mike off-axis becomes a major issue when you're working in doubtful acoustics with a lot of ambient noise, and better mikes are worth paying for.
>"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

While the DA-P1 is considered a pro deck, it's less than convenient to use for your purpose as expensive batteries last 2 hours at best, it's a bit large to carry around and the recording performance is no better than a more practical alternative such as Sony's TCD-D100 or (pro version of the same deck) PCM-M1 costing less than half that of the DA-P1.

These compact DAT decks will operate at least 5 hours on two lithuim AA photo cells (or 3.5 hours on a $10 set rechargable NiMH cells), have dual AKM 20 bit A/D system, an excellent mic preamp for unbalanced mics or balanced with adapter.

Single point mics are disappointing and not at all suitable for use in difficult ambients. In general, single point stereo mics still sound artificial (stereo quality) even in the best situations. They've always sound like a good idea, but fail to deliver any real and lasting satisfaction when compared to the following suggested alternative. I know many hundreds of recordists that started with single point stereo mics and will never use them again.

One of the most successful stereo mics with the Sony portable DAT decks is Sonic Studios DSM that can be headworn and there's windscreen accessories that allow unhampered recordings in stiff winds.

Fletcher used a LiteGUY baffled studio version of this same DSM microphone with excellent reported performance while many small label music and sound editorial companies use this exact Sony deck + DSM mic system for capturing all kinds of music and ambient sounds worldwide for their projects.

Portable sound gathering is needs not be expensive, bulky, or difficult to use in order to get the highest possible quality in difficult ambients.

Best Regards in Sound & Music, Leonard Lombardo
Sonic Studios(tm) "Making Audio History With DSM(tm) Microphones"

Subject: Re: Sharp or Sony
From: GuySonic
Date: 4/19/01

In article <>, "jes.da.bes" <> writes:

>Subject: Sharp or Sony

>From: "jes.da.bes" <>
>Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 18:34:55 +1000
>Sharp MT77 or Sony MZ900

Yes, it does usually boil down to these two makes of Minidisc decks. THE MODEL IS REALLY NOT SO IMPORTANT, IT REALLY IS WHO MADE THE MODEL THAT MATTERS MOST. Please read more.

So which make, Sharp or Sony? ......... Model be damned for what is really important.

Really depends on what's important to you.

Are you a consumer couch potatoe or a producer of your own entertainment? Do you ONLY buy prerecorded stuff, or do you want to mic your own live recordings?

CHOICES, CHOICES: Owning a Sony 'MD strait-jacket' (as cleverly designed by Sony) or owning Sharp 'MD recording skates' (sounds like a better time doesn't it).

Funny thing is, Sony makes one of the finest portable DAT decks ever made (PCM-M1); go figure .... maybe MD and DAT are designed by a whole different group seperated by a few islands with no telephone, or the groups have very different motivations and objectives.

Consider that MD (as Sony always envisioned it) was and still is meant for consumers (read a product that makes you want to consume more), and as designed by Sony is most suited for playing/copying all those rerecorded MD/CD (like you already know that Sony is a huge media music producer and pre-recorded MD/CD manufacturer, don't you?). Sony is looking out for their best interest when they invented MD and nothing has changed.

On the other hand, Sharp (now please try to get this) is only in the business of customer satisfaction 'with the MD deck and the MD deck's full feature capability' which includes 'RECORDING YOUR OWN STUFF WITH A MICROPHONE!!!!'

Sharp is NOT TRYING TO GET AWAY OR FRUSTRATED WITH MAKING YOUR OWN LIVE RECORDINGS by making decks that discourage the use of such things as RECORDING USING A MICROPHONE. Sharp MiniDisc decks give you full freedom and control with their deck design, but Sony designs (and it's getting worse with newer models) is removing the full freedom and control of using a microphone connected to their models of MD deck.

So which is better for what you want to do? Sharp or Sony?



Subject: Re: Sharp or Sony

From: GuySonic
Date: 4/19/01

In article <XuED6.3136$>, Frosty Morn<> writes:

>Subject: Re: Sharp or Sony
>From: Frosty Morn<>
>Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 16:37:11 GMT
>>Really depends on what's important to you.
>I suggest trying them out for yourself, which is what
>I think the previous poster is getting at.
>When I began my search, I started out with the attitude of
>"anything but Sony" because of what I read about
>the need to pause before changing the manual record
>level. However, in my shopping I bought both a
>Sharp SR60 and a Sony R37. I tried them both with
>my AT822 mic recording acoustic stringed instruments.
>To my ear, the Sony recorded sound was closer to what
>I hear live. I returned the Sharp. In my case, the
>sounds I heard was more important to me that the
>recording convenience.
>My $.02

If you use the Sharp models with the recording adjustment level set at #20 or lower (staying within the 1-20 range), you will find the Sharp decks at least the equal of what you'd get with the Sony (as most reports confirm).

See the RECORDING TIPS page for more on suggested digital DAT or MD analog MIC input settings:


Subj: Re: What equipment do I need to tape a live concert?
Date:8/21/02 7:53:37 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet

I'm interested in taping live concerts, but I have no clue what equipment I need. Can you give me an idea about what personal audio recording equipment exists and what is the best. Also, how would I transfer my recordings to my computer and then to CD? I know that may be asking a lot, so if you can steer me to an existing web page that details the process, that would be awesome. Thank you.

John Sxxxxxxx
West Chester, PA

Hello John,

Thank you for your inquiry for a suitable concert recording system. Please advise me to what types of sound, or in this case the type of music (and conditions of the venue) is of most interest.

Knowing this, I can make specific DSM mic suggestions (~$450-$600) for correct sensitivity model.

Look to the DSM mic chart for finding a suggested DSM model that best fits your loudest music interests at:

ALSO, the FAQ pages have much to say about mics and recording decks: FAQ PAGES

Sample sound clips (with equipment used) of various sounds/sessions/concerts is at:


Low costing choice is ANY Sharp MD you can find available (MT15S for $200 here); suggest NEVER use a Sony MiniDISC for this purpose. Smallest and longest battery life of any high audio deck, but downside of MD is 80 minute media recording maximum (takes ~1 minute time to change a disc) and can record a skip that's audible or (if severe enough) make a track NOT playable if bumped or given too much physical movement.

See: Best Sharp MiniDISC Models Past and Present

Best possible recording quality (and easiest to use) is Sony PCM-M1 ($950 here with MOD-2) DAT deck.
See 7 page review at:
Battery tips and external long run BC-1C is found at:

These two are the most practical deck choices at this time.
Also see the tips page for suggestions on using microphone and MD or DAT deck for live music recording:

General Considerations:
Recording a concert is requires a working system of mic and portable audio recorder. The system of mic/deck needs be carefully chosen for the kind of concert music of interest and operating conditions within a music venue.

First and most important is the microphone. Choosing an appropriate microphone (and method/position of using the mic) will determine 95% of the recording quality regardless of the recording deck used or later audio editing done to finalize to CD.

The microphone sensitivity needs be enough, but not too much to clearly record your favorite sounds without audible deck/mic background noise (most critical for pure solo acoustic music), or overload distortion (loud bassy or boomy Pop/Rock)

The many available models of DSM microphone (and PA powering accessories) allow easy and consistent satisfaction for recording a wide range of subjects from pure acoustic nature outdoors ambient to full Metal Rock concert.

Making a CD of your recording requires a transfer of the MD or DAT recording to either a suitable computer soundcard or direct into a CD-R recording deck. Digital audio transfer (verses using analog line) usually gives the best results.

For MD recordings made on a portable deck, digital transfer is only possible with playing the recorded MD back on a second non-portable full size ($200 to $400 shelf type) model that has optical or coaxial (or both) digital output.

M1 DAT recordings requires purchasing the available Pro Digital coaxial digital interface cable in stock here for $150.

Computer external USB ($80 to $300+) or Firewire ($300+) connected soundcard with digital input/output are the easiest to connect to computers that lack digital audio I/O or quality stereo analog input features.

Let me know the specifics of your interest with a phone call or e-mail for appropriate DSM mic model and system suggestions.

NOTE: Some concerts allow tapers to set up equipment at their seats or provide an area for this activity.
When a system for this is desired, the addition of the LiteGUY baffle ($600), 6 foot mic cable extension ($35), and a folding tripod mic stand ($195) is suggested

(Continued)Subj:RE: What equipment do I need to tape a live concert?
Date:8/22/02 8:29:40 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet


Thank you so much for the info. It helped me tremendously.

The kind of music that I would be recording is primarily Rock that could range from a natural acoustic sound to a harder edge (but not that hard, for I plan to record mostly jam bands - sometimes the sound guys at those concerts can load on the bass and drown out the finer sounds, but I'll have to go on faith that they won't I guess). Knowing that, let me know the right kind of mic that would suit my purposes. Thanks.

REPLY: DSM-6S/L ($450) IS LIKELY A GOOD CHOICE shown on chart at:
If the deck used can directly power the DSM mic, bass filtering (for venues that require bass reduction may be done with PA-6LC or PA-6LC3B ($125 or $200) models shown on page:
When recording venues where bass reduction is not needed or desired, the PA adapter is left at home.

Also, After looking at the two recording units (the MD and Sony DAT), I think that the DAT serves my purposes the best. MD sounds too accident prone, possibly. I want something durable that, when bumped, can take it.

About the Sony DAT system . . . the PCM-M1 sounds great. One question though, on what do you actually record? Is that DAT system a cassette deck or is the music stored on some sort of hard drive? Just curious.

REPLY: DAT tape is EXACTLY a miniature version of a VHS video cassette that will play for up to 3 hours high qualty mode. Cost is anywhere from $3 to $7 for 2 or 3 hour audio DAT to equivalent DDS (4mm data grade) in 60 or 90 meter tape length.

Finally, let me know if you have any used equipment for sale (the new stuff is pretty expensive which just means that I would have to save a bit more) and some sort of list of all the gear that I would need in order to begin my recording career : ) Thanks again.

REPLY: is recently selling new, B-stock PCM-M1 decks for $619; lowest price seen for full warranty 'new' M1 deck, but would need $85 MOD-2 upgrade if direct DSM powering without using a PA adapter is desired. Avoid buying a TCD-D7 or D8 as head life is only 500 hour maximum and recording quality/features inferior to M1.

A used TCD-D100 or M1 DAT in good condition is a possibility, but for $200, a Sharp MD (MT15S) would suffice if careful when recording, and later a second MD deck (new or used) with digital output can be purchased.

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners


Subj: Re: request for info on mic . . (is Archos Jukebox suitable to use as a recording deck?)

In a message dated 5/27/02 3:20:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

<< Subj: request for info on microphone ...
Date: 5/27/02 3:20:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time


that has definitely stands out in its field is the Sonic Studios DSM series. They are smaller than a penny, can be worn on the temples of glasses, take their power from the plug-in power feature of many small minidisc recorders, and their sound is nothing short of amazing. hand made by a real audio maven, they have been used in everything from gaming, to movies, to Jim Metzner of Pulse of the Planet, and Sandy Tolan. Check them out, even listen to some recorded examples at the somewhat cluttered but very informative website:
Keep us posted on your progress. Good Luck.
Mxxxxxl Johnson
Send E-Mail to:

Can you tell me if the microphone described has a pre-amp in it or
not? I am thinking of using it with archos jukebox recorder.

Jay xxxxxxxxx, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Folklore

Department of Anthropology
University of Pxxxxxxxxxx


Hello Jay,

Welcome to the group of those who hope to buy an affordable direct-to-hard disk audio recorder like the Archos or Nomad Jukebox, but with also having proper mic input features AND quality A/D systems inside. These first products fall far short of having needed features and internal processing circuits of acceptable quality so far, but there's hope for the future.

In other words, these hard disk (with ready two-way computer interface) products are NOT going to work for easily making microphone based recordings, and the resulting analog input processing is reported to be of disappointing quality.

In the meantime, suggest reading the FAQ PAGES about deck options and mics on my site and considering either a SHARP minidisc (NOT Sony) or a Sony PCM-M1 DAT for this purpose.

Advise me on your desire is for recording subjects and ambient environment expected for best system suggestions.

A call here (1-877-347-6642) is also welcome to discuss practical options.

Payment/Shipping options is on page:

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners

(Part 2)

Subj: Re: request for info on mic . . (is Archos Jukebox suitable to use as a recording deck?)

Message dated 5/28/02 9:51:14 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

<< Subj: Re: request for info on microphone ...
Date: 5/28/02 9:51:14 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Jay xxxxxxx)


thanks for the tips; there's no question (after perusing your tip pages etc.) that you folks give great advice, but tell me this: i'm not interested in recording any high audio quality materials, no concerts etc., just voice and voice interviews, and i was anticipating using the archos jukebox to record them, and then being able to drag and drop onto a laptop to burn a CD with each interview, to distribute to transcribers. efficient and easy, i thuoght. given that i'm not concerned with capturing music/audio to enjoy per se, do you still have concerns about the archos product?

I would greatly greatly value any information/thoughts/suggestions you might care to offer.

and btw, thanks for being so strong on providing real value to customers through information rather than the typical corporate pr bs that omits all the details about everything.


Hello Jay,

The desire to have any recording go direct to a computer hard disk as a .wav file is undeniable and a great time-saver.

This I can attest to from personal experience.

While the latest Creative Nomad/Archos Jukebox models now seem to have more analog input controls for adjusting line level inputs, they still do not have low level MIC preamplifier stage especially with High/Low input sensitivity ranging features (like on Sharp MD and Sony DAT) . In addition, one or both Jukebox models still may not have (or easy to view) signal level VU indicator.

No easy to read VU makes the recordist blind, and risking to experience way too low a recorded signal to occasions of awful sounding overload clipping distortion.

THEREFORE: Lombardo's Jukebox System Suggestions

In order to practically utilize available Jukebox devices for low level speech recording (virtually regardless of microphone type used) at least some kind of external mic amplifier stage is needed with output signal level VU.

In other words, as far as I can tell, the Jukebox devices are not complete enough to function as stand-alone for your application without additional input gear like a Sharp MD or Sony DAT (using ANALOG Line/Phones output or DIRECT DIGITAL DAT output) into the Jukebox.

This is regardless of RECORDING QUALITY or ease of recording operation issues.

For these reasons, I suggest the following two systems to make practical and affordable the latest Jukebox incarnations:

1. Low budget: Use any Sharp MD portable model (NOT a Sony) for microphone input processing (preferably using the #0-#20 Low range) for VU level control-to-Phones/Line level output function; the output from the MD is then Miniplug-to-miniplug/or dual RCA patched into the Line input of the Jukebox.
MD headphones output level is usually set to full up maximum and Jukebox input level is initially set to full maximum.

Roughly determine just WHERE the VU indication on the Sharp MD deck relates to overload on the Jukebox. If needed, adjust the MD headphones output and/or the Jukebox input level manual control downward slightly to allow getting CLOSE RELATIONSHIP to the MD deck

Max signal indication at 0 dB VU to maximum acceptable for Jukebox input.

NOTE THESE CALIBRATION SETTINGS and always adjust for this before using the system.

2. With more budget available the system likely is easier to use. This seems especially the case with a Sony PCM-M1 DAT with improved mic input processing quality, and dual channel backlighted VU indication.

Major carrot is the possibility of using the PCM-M1's direct Digital AUDIO TOSLINK OUT (with accessory cable) connection.

So the DAT deck may always be used identical as described for MD, except now using available (a fixed level) LINE output jack.

In addition, direct Toslink digital connection to the Toslink input featured Jukebox is now possible. Audible advantages with using an M1 DAT deck via Toslink digital connection is a boost in low level mic signal quality inherent in this DAT model. Also, the Jukebox analog line circuitry is bypassed, a very likely good idea and very purist in any case.

A logistical gain is now ALWAYS the DAT deck VU indications are correctly calibrated (automatically) for any model Jukebox without further consideration.

In other words, the Sony DAT PCM-M1 + Jukebox direct digital TOSLINK system is would seem easier to operate, and with a best chance for having consistent recording quality.

It is good to remember that both MD and DAT DO NOT NEED TO BE RECORDING to serve as input processor to a Jukebox device. Only MD decks need to actually have a blank MD inside, but do not need to spin this working in RECORD SETUP MODE. This takes but one button push to activate from being off.

The PCM-M1 and TCD-D8 deck need NOT TO HAVE A BLANK TAPE INSIDE to stay operating in record setup mode.

To me it looks like a choice between getting a Sharp MD or Sony DAT with your choice of a Jukebox model.

Lastly, it almost goes without saying that deciding on a practical microphone is equal in importance for having a satisfactory recording system in any case. Mic choices are another favorite subject discussed here. Let me know if considering using a Mono 'By Lombardo' Lapel mic and/or desire a stereo DSM-1S/M model with WHB for versatile indoor/outdoors speech/nature ambient work. (Found on page:

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners

Subj: Re: Portables DATs- Which one? #53

Date: 02/12/98
>> Your posted message:
From: >
Subject: Portables DATs- Which one?
Reply-To: jpjpco.
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 22:15:31 -0600

I am looking to purchase a professional portable DAT.  I would like to
spend between $1,000 to $2,000.  My friends have recommended the Sony D8

and the Tascam P1.  Are these the only choices?  What is the best
portable DAT in your opinion?  I will pay the premium for the best
recording capability, but I want to make sure I receive it.

Thanks for your help.
Your Fan

Email address : jpjpco@...........

Best Quality and Best Capability are two different issues and depends on recording style...mics...and some other issues.

Best overall quality in a portable is the Sony TCD-D100 or PCM-M1; reliability of these two virtually identical decks is reported excellent and seems better than DA-P1 and D7/D8 decks (...which seem more reliable than the DA-P1 but at equal overall recording quality).

For Stealth taping style, (or headworn DSM mic usage), the D100/M1 decks are ideal by 'phantom' powering the electret type mics directly with Plug-in-Powering feature (should be MOD-2 upgraded for best DSM mic performance).  These decks are very easy to power internally or with external pocket sized packs (available from Sonic Studios) for 25 to 50 hours.

You need adapters to use D100/M1 decks with standard XLR or 1/4" mic connectors and these mics would need to be self battery powered or use an external in-series phantom power supply.  (NOTE: Sonic Studios has 'safe' mini-DAT mic adapters that are secure and won't ever damage the deck's jacks.... if needed)

If only using mics that need 48 volt phantom power (and for balanced XLR 25-50 foot long-run cables) AND only wanting an all-in-one deck solution, the DA-P1 is the only answer regardless of the other issues.  You'll need to address the High-power DAT deck battery requirements with additional external battery systems.

If using standard XLR mics and want the very best quality from this style of recording, then using the D100/M2 decks (going in Line input) with an EXTERNAL mic preamplifier (that also supplies standard mic 12-48 volt phantom powering) is the best system.  This also allows just the D100/M2 to be utilized as a stealth, stand-alone deck.....and DSM mic stealth powering deck later as a bonus.

The DA-P1 seems a better deck for using as a home deck because of its full-sized heads and faster motors but, spending less on the higher quality recording D100/M1 decks may allow a better solution with a 2'd standard-sized home consumer or pro deck purchase.

Your choice will greatly depend on all these issues: what you want to record (bands that allow taping ...and/or.... stealth ability), which mics/method you're going to use, how important quality, system size, versatility, and if you also need a robust playback deck with faster rewind/editing features. 

Money is the least important issue, recording ability, available opportunity, and equipment reliability/satisfaction is the most important.   

"Life is too short; purchase the best suitable quality/value you can afford"

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard Lombardo, Sonic Studios(tm)..."Making Audio History With DSM(tm) Microphones"
TEL: 541-459-8839 /\ FAX: 541-459-8842 /\ USA Free: 1-877-347-6642
"A bit of knowledge coupled to a great deal of wisdom serves us best"

<< Subj:  mic info for DA-P1

Date: 98-02-13 17:46:06 EST
From: (Joel )
To: (Leonard Lombardo)

hi leonard---i wrote a few weeks ago and haven't heard from you so i thought i'd try again.

i'm interested in your mics for post-production sfx recording...indoor, outdoor and a little foley.  i'll be using a tascam da-p1.  i was wondering which model(s) you'd recommend...i'm a little confused as to whether the dsm-1, dsm-6 or dsm-6s would be appropriate for my needs.

if you could,  please reply to this address as well as  thanks much.

Joel Sc----
Sr. Audio Designer
The Troupe/Modern --------
Windham, NH, USA

Hello Joel,

Thank you for expressing interest in these products.

Sorry about the need for a second query.  I may have missed your E-Mail because
there's no record of reception or a reply.   

The DSM-6S/EH may be the best for most recordings under 117 db SPL (a mic table on the web site helps define best model uses).  For outdoor recording where the slightest breezes are present, some mechanism for wind screening (WHB) or an umbrella should be considered.

The DA-P1 is not the ideal deck as the phantom powering available is a liability to damage the DSM (DA-P1 mic powering can be switched off to avoid damage) and a PA-x powering adapter of some model is needed to power the DSM microphone; a mini-stereo jack to dual XLR adapter is also necessary if using the PA-6 type adapter.
The DA-P1's mic preamplifier is not as quiet as I would like to have it. 
Bottom line, using you present deck will consume 3 times the power and have about four times increase in hardware mass.  All this with much less recording quality and reliability.

The suggested deck in terms of much better mic & dual 20 bit A/D is the Sony TCD-D100 (or PCM-M1 pro 'identical' version) that is MOD-2 upgraded to optimize the standard Sony mic powering feature ('plug-in-power') for DSM direct powering.

Any DSM-6S model mic is then directly plugged into this deck model and the entire DSM mic & D100/M1 system is an audibly much higher quality recording package that can also fit in your shirt pocket and run for up to 3.5 hours on the supplied rechargeable NiMH cells or up to 8 hours on just 2 AA size Lithium cells!
Reliability of this deck is the best in the business and only one connector interface for the mic directly powered by the decks mic input.

Please consider these suggestions, your present deck is an all-in-one marvel for powering standard mics with long balanced cable runs but will mostly hinder your satisfaction, freedom, and versatility for truly portable ambient stereo sound recording.

If you haven't seen the Sonic Studios site already, please take a look.

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard Lombardo, Sonic Studios(tm)..."Making Audio History With DSM(tm) Microphones"

Subject: Which Portable? D8/D100/M1

Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 00:31:54 -0400

Hey out there in DAT land,

I've been lurking and learning since last July and bought my first DAT
deck (a Sony R300) in December.  Well, I'm getting tired of having to
send b/p to parents on trees and would also like to be able to patch in
at the shows I attend in NYC and surroundings.  A portable is in dire

My first choice would be a DA-P1, but $1350 + outboard batteries is out
of the question.  $700 to $800 (including those silly 7 pin patch cords)
is more like it, so it looks like a D8/D100/M1 will have to do. 

It seems that the D8 for ~$600 would be the *easiest* because you don't
have the daisy chain concerns of the D100/M1.  But, the newer technology
of the D100/M1 could be worth
the hassle, if you can be overcome the incompatability.

I've read that the Oades have a new $100 cable that fixes the D100/M1
voltage problem and allows you to feed a digital signal out to a D8 (as
long as the signal your host deck is getting is digital.)  For another
$50, you can get the same cable with a switch that allows you to feed a
digital signal out to a D8 even if your host deck is getting an analog
signal.  ***Please, please anyone correct me if I'm wrong on this.***

The D100 also for ~$600 looks real nice with the earphones and remote
display thing that seems really convienent for stealthing or listening
on the go.

The M1 ~$700 looks nice for the lack of SCMS (but doesn't have the
remote thingy.)

How concerned should I be about SCMS?  I would be able to ignore SCMS
with my R300 and copy ANY tape.  All the tapes I've received so far from
trees and grovels have SCMS=00, so it seems that the only tapes I'd be
passing on with SCMS=10 or 11 would be the ones that I master at a
show.  Would this make them that much less desirable?

OK, I know.. a lot of questions and options here, but where else does
one go to get unbiased (for the most part ;-) ) advice? 

Please offer suggestions on which deck and cable options would be best
and why!
I'd love to hear from you archiving warriors!
If you reply directly, please CC the List, too.

Thanks for all knowledge, past, present and future!  This list is *the
shit* :-)


Hello Richard,

Your need for the SCMS-free feature is being met by the R300.......... best choice for a quality and advanced feature portable deck would seem  the D100 (identical to the M1 but has the all accessories short of a digital I/O cable). 

The battery problem (and one reason this deck gets put at the end of a patch chain) is virtually solved with using an external battery system such as the BC-1 ($80) shown on the DAT battery systems page on the web site listed below........... 25+ hours on 4 C alkaline cells!

At some time, ......... your own ability to record with very high quality microphones will be desired.......... the DSM microphones system also on my site is an excellent good value................. a perfect match to the D100/M1 deck in everyway.

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard Lombardo


Subject: M1 Back Light Noise?

Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 05:37:31 -0700 (PDT)

Hey all

I'm an official DAT-Head now - my Sony M1 arrived yesterday! :)

I have a question for other M1 owners - the manual says that if you
use the back light during recording, it may make noise on the tape.
Has anyone found this to be true?  Does the D7/D8 manual make the same

happy to be here,

Welcome to DAT-Heads Bruce,

Yes the backlight does add some noise to the recording.  But I've only been able to hear this when the Mic Sensitivity was on (H) with D7/8 decks or Attenuation was on 0db with the D100 / M1 decks. 

Most recording is done in the (L) or -20 db Atten setting; with less gain being demanded from the mic preamplifier, the backlight noise is not audible to my perception with this setting. 

I don't hesitate to use the backlight under these conditions of lower mic gain.

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard Lombardo

<< Subj:  Minidisc vs. DAT with DSM Microphones

Date: 9/9/98 11:28:56 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Jamie S)

I am looking for advice on a good recording setup.  I have read the majority of your web page and your microphones seem to be very good.  My primary purpose will be live concert recording.  Is it better to got with a MiniDisc or a Portable DAT recorder?  What setup would be best for use with your product and what would I need to buy from you.  Any information or sites you could direct me to would be greatly appreciated. 
Thank you,
Jamie Spelsberg

Hello Jamie,

Thank you for expressing interest in the DSM mic system and providing some information on your interests.

Mini-Disc is an interesting medium for recording that has improved with better (lossy type) encoding over the past few years, but remains behind a DAT deck in suitability for concert recording mainly from the MD's short recording time (74 min?) and cost (now down to about $5per disc) of the blank medium.

While the Mini-Disc decks are very reasonable to initially purchase, you may find that when pursuing this hobby for even a short length of time, the blank disc costs will quickly exceed what you've saved on the MD deck unless the blanks drop another 50% from current costs. 
On the other hand, a Sony TCD-D100 or PCM-M1 (virtually the same deck, but M1 is pro-model/outlet distributed) will allow you to adjust levels while making a recording (at least Sony mini-discs decks need to be placed in pause mode) and media costs is about $4-$5 for 2 - 3 hour length tapes.  Quality of the DAT remains much greater for hobby to professional purposes.

The main drawback, other than the higher purchase price, of the mini-DAT deck over the MD is that DAT decks have a VCR type transport that starts to wear the heads (and occasionally also the guides) after  500-1000 hours of usage.  Service to replace heads and guides is currently about $150-$200.  However, 500 hours of recording represents a lot of enjoyed use.  Using these smaller decks also for playback means that in about 3-4 years, service probably would be needed to keep things working reliably. 

Larger AC only Standard sized DAT decks generally give good service of at least twice that period and many go 3000 or more hours without significant wear, but all need occasional fabric tape or a technician's manual cleaning.  The larger DAT decks are a good investment for home playback and copy purposes.

No audio medium is perfect.  The optical disk/transports seem the most immune to wear (if handled carefully), but no practical and affordable recorder at this time exists other than MD for portable use.

I agree that both MD and DAT have their shortcomings and I've tried the Sony R30 and R50 MD for a short time and find the necessary manual level setting quite awkward by DAT standards but the MD quality is quite acceptable for concert use if the mic is matched properly to the deck; same goes for DAT.

Let me know what types of music is your interest as the DSM mic model will be identical for either MD or DAT deck.  I suggest the Sony recorder MD or DAT models mainly for known quality and the ability to power the mics directly. 
Check on the DSM powering page:  MOD-2/PA-x Mic Powering Page  for bass controlling adapters with associated considerations if you've not already seen this.

The DSM-6S/x models are mostly used for club/concert purposes with M or L (i.e., DSM-6S/L) sensitivity designations and are in-stock available at this time.  The mic chart is at:

Sorry for the long reply, but I hope to have answered most of your questions about these rather complex issues.

<< Subj:  WM-D6C
Date: 11/26/98 11:59:34 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (Philip C)

  Hello Leonard:

I use the WM-D6C and would be very interested to know the type and brand
of tape that works well for you. Sony has not answered my Email
inquiries on this matter

I have had good results with Maxwell LXII type 2, and have purchased two
cartons of  Sony type 4 metal, 90 MTL SRB.  Any suggestions from your
experience would be appreciated.

Thank you.

--Philip C
  (snip) ...there is something about using certain
brands of cassette tape with that machine (I've owned three WM-D6C decks
over the years) that can make a very poor sounding recording if the deck
isn't adjusted for bias and overall recording level properly for the type and
brand of tape used.

Hello Philip,

Well, for starters, metal tape is too hard on the WM-D6C in terms of necessary power needed to fully utilize the benefits promised by type IV metal formulations.  Even most home decks lack sufficient power to use metal tape to any advantage over type II formulations.  Increased head wear, recording distortion/loss of clarity, and increased tape noise are common problems with using metal on machines not equipped to supply many watts of audio recording power to the record heads.  A good indication of a decks ability to use metal tape is the rated S/N ratio with using Dolby C or S; should be at least 76 db; can be as high as 82 db S/N on decks that are prime to use metal IV to record with real advantage.

The older runs of WM-D6C was originally biased and calibrated for Sony's UX-ES and UX-PRO type II tapes for the best performance, especially with Dolby B & C operation.  If you've purchased your deck in the last 6 years, then the top Sony Type II formulation would be the one to choose as the most correct for what the deck was set up at the factory to run with full benefit. 

Sony no longer markets the UX-ES or PRO types as such and I've not used these decks in the last 8 years to keep up with what the current top type II formulation is called, but your best bet is whatever top type II Sony has available now; they've always made excellent Type II formulations in the past that was the equivalent of any other top rated brand.  Their fixed bias decks, like the WM-D6C, usually always performed best with their brand of tape.

I've got most of this information and other stuff related to DAt and WM-D6C in the tapers tips section (linked off the taping tips page ) of my site.

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard Lombardo

<< Subj: Interested in mic elements / DAT or MD?
Date: 11/1/01 1:54:55 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: (JF)
To: ('')

I work for a dental equipment manufacturer, and have been working on
a project to measure sound coming from our dental drills. The work will not
involve anything as fancy as a stereo image, or anything like that. It will
be mono recordings only. However I will need to be able to pick up the sound
with a very flat frequency response microphone. The frequency response of
your condenser mics look very good, and may be what is needed. Is it
possible to get the unpackaged mic elements with only small wires to solder
on to? How much would these mic elements cost for a single mic? Do you have
calibration data for the mic elements such that it could be used to
compensate the sound data generated by the mic to create a flatter response?

The goal of this project at this point is to be able to record the
sound of a dental drill, and play it back with enough precision that a
listener would not be able to tell the difference between the real drill,
and a recording played back through a speaker. The drill is a point source
so if a good small speaker is used I think that I could faithfully reproduce
the sound of the drill. Then we can filter a recorded sound, and evaluate
what frequencies are the most annoying, and how much we have to reduce a
particular frequency to reduce the annoyance to an acceptable level. The
start of everything here is the microphone.


Hello Jim,

No acoustical sound that exists in our world is anything less than 3 dimensional, regardless of how it is produced. To achieve a realistic recording of any acoustic sound, you really need to record it in multidimensional stereo using one of my microphone systems. If you cannot realize this and do what many manufacturers (see some hardware MFG customer profiles at page bottom: WWW.SONICSTUDIOS.COM) are doing with using a DSM microphone + stereo recorder to capture the actual sound of a product in operation, I cannot help you further with this. I understand you think that recording is just a function of microphone element feeding a recorder, but this is far from the case in reality.

Please see: for a brief overview of why your idea with a mono mic is far from what is needed.

Suggestion: The DSM-6/M ($350) is minimum cost mic model and the DSM-6S/H ($500) seems about best for your stated application. See mic page at:

DSM mics need powering before going into a good quality microphone preamplifier; see

While using a Sharp SR60 or MT90 MiniDISC deck ($170; see current models at Sharp MD-MS722) might work in powering the mic and making a good quality digital recording, this may not be the case for your unique project because you are producing very non-musical sounds with high-speed drills and the lossy compression used by the MD may not do the recording easily without adding some audible artifacts. Therefore, for best recording of this type of sound, I suggest the PCM-M1 DAT ($850 see ) as the best bet for most consistent recording ability.

If you desire to record the drill sound exactly like it's actually heard by the patient, then have this person head wear the DSM mics for a virtual reality recording of the drills airborne acoustic effect. The other vibration that also effects the patient is 'bone-conducted' directly into the patients head and may require fitting a microphone element tightly into the ear canal(s) to get some data on this type of vibration; especially if deemed significant and also a cause of patient discomfort.

Payment/Shipping/Ordering guidelines are found at:

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners
Sonic Studios "17 Years of Making Audio History with DSM Stereo Microphones"
Featuring Patented Headworn or HRTF Baffled Gear for Field & Studio 3-D Ambient Sound/Music Recording
Informative Web Site: WWW.SONICSTUDIOS.COM
Microphone, Headphone, MD/DAT Portable Deck equipment reviews+Tips+MP3 sound files
USA FREE: 1-877-347-6642 1-(541)459-8839 TEL/ 42FAX


<< Subj: dat recorders
Date: 10/31/01 8:37:35 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: matej (matej

I'm writing you from Slovenia, Europe. I found your site which is very interesting. I want to buy portable digital recorder, but I don't know which models are good for it's price. Of course the best is Sony TCD-d100, or d7, d8, but I don't have so much money, so could you tell me the best option around 200$.

I will use my recorder for recording movie sound (instead of digital Camera), recording live concerts, recording from mixers,...and then putting sounds into computer to edit them.

Thank you for all your help,


Hello Matej,

As you seem to suspect, the PCM-M1 (or consumer version D100) model DAT is a much better value as it will last from wearing out at least four times longer (~1500+ hours head life) over all previous models including D8. See 7 page review at:

D100/M1 deck recording/playback features are superior and has native ability to handle full Pro +4 dbv analog patch signals from most mix boards WITHOUT NEEDING an in-series -15 to -20 dB attenuation network like most other DATmodels and all consumer MiniDISC decks.

If you desire to patch +4 dbv high level Line into MiniDISC or D8 DAT you need this SOLUTION for patching: Use a Line Input Attenuation Adapter.

Description: . . . -15 dB , costs $75 OR $85 here with either Dual Mono instrument size Phono Jack OR XLR-3F input, BOTH VERSION with 3.5 mm stereo plug to deck LINE input as the attenuation output.

In any case, you may be wise in finding the DAT or Sharp model MD deck locally in Slovenia or from any European source. An advantage to MD (despite the GENERAL LIMITATIONS of consumer MD; see below TXT discussion), is any currently available Sharp MiniDISC model may save money needed for affording an excellent stereo microphone. The choice of stereo microphone, and how it is used, is responsible for at least 90% of for the recording quality, so plan to spend wisely for the mic as most important for consistent satisfaction.

Another advantage with using MD is that Sharp decks have native ability to directly power the DSM mics at the mic input jack, but any DAT you can buy will not do DSM powering with any confidence. Therefore with DAT deck, you need to purchase a DSM mic powering PA-6(xxx) model, but advantage is that the PA adapter can also have a bass reduction filter. Bass reduction filtering (as with PA-6LC2, PA-6LC3/B models) is sometimes quite useful for Rock/Blues recording as described on page:

Suggestion mic models for your projects is the DSM -6S/M for moderate loudness POP concert/Rock Club or DSM-6S/L for louder POP/Rock Concert or club audience recording; both these are $450 USD; OR $350 for less precision channel matched DSM-6/M or /L models, but these lower cost models are few at hand or sold out so please ask about these if needing to reduce system costs.

Let me know if recording loud Rock Concert is important and maybe using DAT (or MD) deck with PA adapter for mic powering + bass reduction filter is a good choice for your music interests.

EMS shipping cost of these items together (but NO deck shipped) is $32 USD + DSM mic cost + PA adapter cos (if ordering one), Mic + PA adapter will be sent as a personal gift to keep costs low for you. Shipping a MD deck will cost an additional $32 USD (or $202 USD total cost to you) as this would likely be sent seperately to fit standard EMS easy-inspection envelope or can be sent with DSM mic ONLY if hard case mic storage box is ommitted to allow the mic to fit inside the MiniDISC deck box.

I hope this is not (too) confusing for you and I am open to your concerns and questions. Overseas payment and what I need to know for shipping to you is discussed at: .
If practical, the Western Union Money transfer process for payment seems best way next to sending international money order via 1st Class Certified Postal Airmail (with return receipt of delivery sent to you upon delivery here).

Best Regards in Sound & Music Recording,
Leonard (& Debbie) Lombardo, Owners
Sonic Studios "17 Years of Making Audio History with DSM Stereo Microphones"
Featuring Patented Headworn or HRTF Baffled Gear for Field & Studio 3-D Ambient Sound/Music Recording
Informative Web Site: WWW.SONICSTUDIOS.COM
Microphone, Headphone, MD/DAT Portable Deck equipment reviews+Tips+MP3 sound files
USA FREE: 1-877-347-6642 1-(541)459-8839 TEL/ 42FAX

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Hello Leonard,

Friends and fellow radioheads Sandy Tolan (Homeland Productions) and Ingrid
Lobet (Living on Earth) highly recommended your DSM mics to me.

I am an independent (i.e., poor) radio producer/reporter with an interest in
documentary radio. I've been using MDs and omni mono mics for several years,
and now feel ready to go to stereo and DAT. Like Sandy, I would use these in
often-difficult field conditions, but nothing super-technical (arctic
temperatures, underwater, outer space, whatever). I wonder if you could put
together a package for me at a great price. It would include:

-- portable DAT recorder
-- DSM mic
-- windscreen & headband
-- belt-mountable battery pack

One last question -- do you think the DAT gives MUCH better sound than the
MD? My main complaint with the MD has been lack of recording level control;
your site lists Sharp decks with that feature. But old-timers tell me that
the DAT sound is significantly better and worth the extra money. Your


Jon M


Hello Jon,

Thank you for the encouraging news of good words spoken about our recording systems, and also for your concise description of interests and requirements.

The potential recording quality of the MD is now excellent, and there is just recently a shift (some manufacturers) from DAT models to making costly MD professional portables to market.

The Sharp MD models are not designed or sold as a professional model, but still an excellent value with the full Manual Recording features and ability to do excellent sounding work even with the 5.5:1 reduced digital data ATRAC system common to all current MD decks. However, all MD decks are somewhat limited (more or less as compared to PCM-M1 DAT) in operating reliably when physically moving about; the deck needs to be mostly motionless. In addition, MD's input to VU signal REC Level adjustment (that which produces excellent quality when correctly adjusted) is more limited or less forgiving if misadjusted for recording a particular type of subject.

AN EXAMPLE OF MD SETTINGS: VU levels that are acceptable (~ -12 DB VU) for recording voice/music is at least 15 dB HIGHER than what is acceptable for MD recordings of very complex, pure background ambient; for this ~ -20 dB VU or less recording VU levels is suggested; mostly because of MD analog-to-digital lossy compression scheme that may produce audible artifacts if driven hard with complex non-harmonic type ambient sounds. See tips page for more:

Even with these limitations, most amateurs (and professionals) have found excellent quality recording, even if having a wide subject interest, is fairly easy with Sharp MD + DSM mic systems. Reason for this ease is the DSM model of microphone is appropriately matched to the types of audio subjects recorded (the range of sounds you intend to mostly record) AND to WORK CLOSELY WITH the recorder's best input settings' see tips page for more about this. See the chart on the mic page:

Bottom Line: You can almost halve the total recording system cost by using a MD deck verses a DAT. But, the DAT deck is easier to use, and more reliable in the long run; NO question DAT is the best choice where cost is not an issue. See FAQ PAGES section 'Customer Feedback' section and look for HTML page 38 for "DSM in Africa" for reading about one recent MD + DSM exotic field recording success story.

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What's on Sonic Studios Web Site? (Click underlined text, and navigation photos)
Patented Stereo-Surround Microphone Technology
Passive DSM™ Mic Powering/Bass Filters
Eyegear/Headband/HRTF Baffle mountable matched omni mics
Stops wind blast noise; transparent acoustic design; records real wind sounds
for MD, DAT, CF, HD, and Video Field/Event/Studio Recording
Stereo-Surround Omni Mic Baffle for Stand, Fishpole, Studio Boom, and Ceiling

Portable Deck Power Solutions

Patch/Adapter Cables

Field/Studio Monitoring Headphones, Reviews


High-definition, low noise, very wide bandwidth preamp designs to fit any field/event/studio application using DSM™ stereo-surround mics.

MONO ONLY 'Lombardo' Lapel Mic for interview, Narration, Lecture, and clip-on acoustic instrument Recording

DSM™ Magazine Reviews
    USA Telephone #:


PLEASE .................. ALWAYS INCLUDE an appropriate SUBJECT LINE in all e-mail correspondence.

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