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SOS MDS-JE520 Review

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I wish we could update the links (and correct other errors, and update specs/data) on minidisc.org - but I don't believe we can.

So second best I'll just post here.

Here is the Sound On Sound Oct 1998 review of the MDS-JE520. It's back on the web as SOS rebuild their site from their archives (great one chaps - I was a mag subscriber for some time back in the day). Of course though the URL is different from the link on minidisc.org. So here goes. And I never realised "my beloved" was held in as much esteem as it was (is). Better still I paid £139.95 for mine rather than the £230 discussed. Although admittedly I was nearly a year late to the party so I guess you could argue it was "last year's model". But I don't care, I wouldn't have been able to afford the new 530.

https://web.archive.org/web/20150607080326/http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct98/articles/sonyminidisc.html

ps This is @Richard's fault, he's meticulously replacing all of the lost images in this part of the Forum - a part I never really knew existed. So now you'll have to put up with my ramblings here now too.

pps SOS by Issue and by Article: https://www.soundonsound.com/more-sos-past-articles-coming

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Certainly is a very glowing review! Thanks for posting.

Re MiniDisc.org, does anyone know who owns that site and whether they still make any updates? I noticed the other day that a couple of Sony portables were missing. Didn't know whether it was worth notifying the webmaster via the site somehow or whether it was run by anyone on here.

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1 hour ago, BearBoy said:

Certainly is a very glowing review! Thanks for posting.

Re MiniDisc.org, does anyone know who owns that site and whether they still make any updates? I noticed the other day that a couple of Sony portables were missing. Didn't know whether it was worth notifying the webmaster via the site somehow or whether it was run by anyone on here.

Yes, before we became Sony Insider forums this forum was hosted at forums.minidisc.org (it was then merged with another forum we managed called AtracLife - for non MD devices)... The admin of the top level minidisc.org equipment browser was / is Eric Woudenberg and the forums were always totally separate. We never had access to be able to update that and if we wanted something adding always had to request him to do it.. I'm not sure if Chris is still in contact with him.. For the sake of completeness over there, there are indeed a few things missing - ones that immediately spring to mind are the E630, E730, DS-HMD1 and various later Victor portables.. I'm sure there are others too.. 

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33 minutes ago, BearBoy said:

Anyway, I'm derailing Kevin's thread here so I'll maybe take that discussion somewhere else :-)

No, you carry on with pleasure! This thread had nowhere else to go, I just wanted to capture that 520 SOS review! :-)

All the contributions here are well worth having, I love reading them.

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:-)

Trying to keep this vaguely on topic, you mentioned that you've also got an MDS-JE530 in another thread. Have you ever compared the two models in any great detail? Specs wise it looks like the 530 had a few updates (Type R, 24 bit ADC) but just wondered how noticeable these were in real world use.

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53 minutes ago, BearBoy said:

:-)

Trying to keep this vaguely on topic, you mentioned that you've also got an MDS-JE530 in another thread. Have you ever compared the two models in any great detail? Specs wise it looks like the 530 had a few updates (Type R, 24 bit ADC) but just wondered how noticeable these were in real world use.

Honestly I have no clue! (As in they both sound great to me!)

My assumption is that the 520 and 530 are essentially identical inside, aside the MDM5A to MDM5D (and hence CXD2654 [ATRAC1 v4.5] to CXD2656 [ATRAC1 Type-R]) drive change. They have the same case, buttons and display. Same menus. Same I/O essentially (530 adds Control-A1). I must admit I haven't compared schematics so they may as well be completely different, but as they are one product iteration apart I doubt it [now I'm going to have to compare aren't I to see how wrong I am again...]. I did read a review recently that concluded the 520 sounded better than the 530 (530 more "metallic"), but I couldn't corroborate that.

I use the 530 because it's got the Control-A1 ports, it's wired to a Sony CDP-XE530 via optical and Control-A1 so can do Type-R CD copies. (This is why I would like another 530 or similar so I can do MD-MD dubs with title copy). Although in most cases I use a Tascam MD-CD1 for CD dubs in Type-R SP or LP2...

I must admit that for listening (on cans) I tend to use my MDS-E10 (or Tascam MD-CD1, but the E10 audio quality is superior) which is next to me now as I work from home. Both are MDLP and a lot of the discs I've recorded recently are in LP2. When in the office it's my MZ-R700 portable (also MDLP). The 520 tends to get more "abused" these days as a DAC and headphone amp since it has an optical feed from my desktop PC, analogue feed from a 480 [no headphone socket] and coax feed from a Denon TU-1800DAB receiver. Useful for recording radio programs - although recently the 480 has been doing that in LP using its optical in...

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50 minutes ago, BearBoy said:

Specs wise it looks like the 530 had a few updates (Type R, 24 bit ADC).

Yep the 520 has the Sony in-house CXD8607 DAC/ADC [probably 3rd-party devices were not up to scratch at that time] with a Sanyo LA9615 front-end amp, whereas the 530 moved to the AK4524 24-bit ADC/DAC, which became the standard for a fair few generations of machine, with a front-end amp based around Mitsubishi M5218 op-amps.

uC is slightly different - newer version of the M30 series. The pinout is almost identical between machines with the 530 having a couple of uC pins assigned to keyboard - which in the 530 are not used.

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Would be good to capture that sort of information somewhere as MiniDisc.org can be a bit variable between the level of detail for different machines (that's not intended as a criticism - I think it's an amazing resource and has been incredibly useful for me personally).

I keep meaning to do some comparisons between my various decks to see whether I can genuinely pick up on the supposed improvements in sound quality.

I was intending to produce a test MD with the same song recorded on it in SP by my MDS-JE500 (ATRAC 4) and one of my QS decks (Type R) and then also record it in LP2 and LP4 so I can compare playback between my MDS-JB940 and MDS-JB980 (Type S).

I'm pretty sure my later decks sound better but would like to try to prove it to myself somehow.

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I was playing about the other day with my Tascam MD-350 (Type-R MDLP, CXD2662) [I think I noted that somewhere here the other day, as yet another distraction...], recording in SP, LP2, LP4 using both some pop and classical pieces (recorded over SPDIF from a Tascam CD-450).

LP4 was better than I expected but I could definitely hear a "flutter" in trumpet solos (although not so much on flutes). LP2 sounded as good as SP (Type-R) to me. With pop I think you could easily get away with LP4 quite frankly!

Playing back the LP4 on the 480 (Type-S) it didn't sound any better to me than it did on a non-Type-S machine (MD-350 or MDS-E12).

I did find out that the MDS-E10 sounds a whole load better than the Tascam MD-CD1 though... the Tascam was as rough as a badgers rear bits (actually the CD section is terrible - flat as a pancake, the MD section isn’t too bad).

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15 minutes ago, kgallen said:

Yep the 520 has the Sony in-house CXD8607 DAC/ADC [probably 3rd-party devices were not up to scratch at that time] whereas the 530 moved to the AK4524 24-bit ADC/DAC which became the standard for a fair few generations of machine.

Just checked the service Manual and my MDS-JE500 has the same CXD8607 DAC/ADC.

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7 minutes ago, kgallen said:

I was playing about the other day with my Tascam MD-350 [I think I noted that somewhere here the other day, as yet another distraction...], recording in SP, LP2, LP4 using both some pop and classical pieces.

LP4 was better than I expected but I could definitely hear a "flutter" in trumpet solos (although not so much on flutes). LP2 sounded as good as SP (Type-R) to me. With pop I think you could easily get away with LP4 quite frankly!

Playing back the LP4 on the 480 (Type-S) it didn't sound any better to me than it did on a non-Type-S machine (MD-350 or MDS-E12) to me.

I did find out that the MDS-E10 sounds a whole load better than the Tascam MD-CD1 though... the Tascam was as rough as a badgers rear bits.

Interesting! That's the sort of comparison I've been intending to do but never quite find the time.

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4 hours ago, BearBoy said:

Interesting! That's the sort of comparison I've been intending to do but never quite find the time.

It’s only because I was faffing about with joining the CD-450, which only has coax SPDIF, to the MD-350 which is only TOSLINK. So I ended up having a play. I think the MD-350 gets quite favourable reviews - along the lines of ‘Choose Sony or the Tascam MD-350 is the only other that comes close’. I bought it (£120) when the 530 didn’t work - the 530 being the first machine I bought in 2019 in my ‘second wave’ of MD whose fault brought me to this Forum.

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4 minutes ago, BearBoy said:

A very fortuitous fault!

Not for you guys, I’m still here! :-D

From recent perusing I notice you’ve all got quite a bit of history here!

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Haha :-D

Checking my profile, it appears I've been here for coming up to six years. I think that must have been around when I started getting interested in the format again. Quite a newbie compared to some, I'm sure.

I think the site was fairly quiet for a few years though with very little traffic IIRC.

 

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3 hours ago, BearBoy said:

I think the site was fairly quiet for a few years though with very little traffic IIRC.

Someone clever could plot posts against eBay prices against Techmoan videos... (for the UK at least).

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4 hours ago, kgallen said:

With pop I think you could easily get away with LP4 quite frankly!

I just found this quote which seems to concur:

"Given how many people totally accept the quality of MP3, though, I suspect that most will find LP4 acceptable for everything."

(Here: https://www.minidisc.org/brian_youn/MDLP_usercomments.html)

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34 minutes ago, kgallen said:

Someone clever could plot posts against eBay prices against Techmoan videos... (for the UK at least).

Haha. That would be interesting. Would also be interesting to check actual sold prices, rather than some of the crazy BIN prices that some sellers put up. I think they often give a somewhat skewed view of what the going rate is. 

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