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  1. Stephen, Yes, ordinarily I would agree, except that other 3.5mm output devices when used sound pretty good, such as an old iPod, and even a Bluetooth device to allow music streaming from my phone to the car. I am now toying with a Sony NW-A45 to see if I can put DSD/Lossless music files on that and try some listening tests. I had grown tired of the smartphone output, hence the diving back into MD, but it’s not quite hitting the mark for me (sadly), so I wonder if that might be a way to go? As usual, time and money are the limiting factors! Cheers, Mark.
  2. Me again!! All my listening tests have been conducted at home, in the comfort of my usual environment, but this evening I had to go out to play in a local band, so I had a 45min drive to get there! So, I took the MD player, connnected to the car through the auxiliary input, and took two MD’s. One is an LP2 recording made through SS from an CD encoded into AALC, the second is a SP disc burned to MD from CD via optical. Both these discs, when listened through the supplied headphones, sound pretty identical to me, except the slight squashed high end, but it’s barely noticeable! So the results from the car are very interesting - playing the MDLP recording at admittedly quite a high volume, it was clear that the squashed high end was even more present - especially in cymbals which sounded harsh and sibilant. I only lasted for 15 mins before I had to turn it off. So I switched to the SP recording - and again, it sounded like the sound stage opened up, the treble had the crispness and focus was much better. I have learned then two things - MDLP through headphones is very convincing, and secondly MDLP when played at higher volume levels can expose the weaknesses of the codec more easily. I also did some comparison listening between the MD and the lossless files on my iPhone using AirPods, and I came to the conclusion that the latter won, but then it isn’t a fair comparison is it? i am still enjoying going down this MD rabbit hole though!!! More listening to be had, and more observations will be made too! Cheers, Mark.
  3. Stephen, Thanks again, and alas my home deck is only a Type-R deck, and does not support MDLP, but I am searching for a reasonably priced MDS-JE780 or if I find the funds a MDS-JB980, and then I can test LP2 and LP4 as well. I understand that ATRAC Type-S does nothing for SP mode playback, but improves LP2 and LP4 endcoding and decoding! So it would be one to try and see if the later devices handle MDLP better than the earlier versions. Your last comment, does this mean that any MDLP recording when transferred in any direction, there is no decoding or re-encoding? I ask as I have seen that SS always seems to go into “Converting” when sending data to a NetMD when using MDLP - this implies there is some processing going on - or am I missing the point? Cheers, Mark.
  4. Stephen, Thank you for your corrections and updates, it has certainly been a learning experience over the last few weeks. Funny how this was all oblivious to me back in the day when I would just squirt a CD over to my Sony MZ-R909 and off I would go (after frantically titling all the tracks)! I have today, done some additional testing - and I think I am starting to come to some conclusion on what I think works, and for me, what is not quite as good! So the first test I did today, was to import my reference CD (Queen, The Game, Deluxe Remaster 2011) into Sonic Stage using ATRAC Advanced Lossless Codec, and I then transferred this to a blank MD. I then took the CD and ran a CD to MD copy through my JE530 (via Optical connections). When I transferred through SS, I used the standard (Default) transfer option, which is to copy tracks over in LP2 mode - I made no changes to the default SS settings other then where the music files where to be stored. I then did some close listening between the two recordings and what I found was that: The SS transfers were almost as good as the original source material, and most people would be hard pushed to hear a difference, but I can hear that there is a little bit of squishing at the top end of the audio, and a slight loss of focus. The direct digital copy was near identical to the source material, with sharper treble response and a more focused soundstage. The differences are marginal to be honest - and for everyday, sitting around a pool listening to music, the SS transfers in LP2 would be fine. I wonder if over time I would tire of the sound though, since the digital copy seemed more neutral to my ears. That got me to thinking, so I fired up Exact Audio Copy and I ripped the source material again, this time directly into WAV. I have used EAC before, and it does a good job of ripping to WAV, and lets you have a lot of control over the settings. So I took these files, imported them into SS and transferred them to another MD, but this time I did a few things. First I transferred with the default settings > LP2 track. Second I changed the settings to use SP only > SP track. Third I changed the settings to use LP4 > LP4 track. I then compared by listening back (through a Sharp IE-DR420H) with the same settings as prior to each in turn, and here is what I found: LP2 Track - I could not discern any real difference between this track (from a well encoded WAV) to the SS AALC track. They sounded very near to the source material, but with the same squish in the treble and slight loss of focus. SP Track - I didn't like this at all - it sounded a bit flat and the treble was a bit splashy too as if an over harsh EQ had been applied. Not worth listening to. LP4 Track - run for the hills. Conclusions So now I have tried a number of ways of getting audio data into SS and out of SS to MD, using different input file types (yes have also tried MP3 and M4A files too and they yield poorer results than above - which isn't surprising) and have come to the conclusion that for "My Ears Only" that I prefer the sound of the reference material recorded directly to MD from the CD master using my home MD deck in SP mode. This offers the most neutral, focused and sharp sounding recordings that I have found so far. Yes it means only one album per MD, yes it means realtime dubbing, yes it means carrying around more discs, but for me, if sound quality is key, then that is a trade off I am willing to take. This isn't a put down of MDLP and it's associated codec's, as LP2 using AALC is very very close 2nd in these tests, and as I said, it's likely that 90% of people who listened to that would not notice any difference at all. I am very familiar with the music I am using to test the sounds with, so I can spot those nuances. So for me, important albums will always be in SP and those which I consider to be 'casual listening' - I shall go the LP2/AALC route. Good tip on using SS to title tracks - hand not appreciated that, and now I can use it for that purpose, and yes, I did make the schoolboy error of assuming the NedMD device would draw power via the USB port, and did not have my AC source connected and it lasted a minute before giving up the ghost on a standard AA battery! Thanks for your help everyone, and I hope others might find reading these tests useful. As usual, your mileage may vary, because you have different ears to me! Cheers, Mark.
  5. OK - so my journey back to MD land happened a few weeks back, when I managed to obtain a lovely Sony MZ-R35 and Sony MDS-JE530 deck. I have another thread on the various experiences I have found with the sound quality of digital to digital copies and analogue. Anyway - I recently acquired a Sharp IM-DR420H recorder, which happens to be a NetMD unit and using the excellent guidance on here, I have managed to get Sonic Stage 4 (Ultimate) running perfectly well on Windows 10. After transferring some music to the Sharp via SS, I realised that the restrictive nature of Sonic Stage is probably not worth the effort. Why? First I thought, ah, I can make use of the Atrac Advanced Lossless codec, which I can of course, but this didn't yield any noticeable differences between that and an optically captured recording done in real time. Secondly, the whole (and I am not opening the debate) of check in and check out is a major pain. You cannot just wipe a MD with tracks from SS on it, as it says protected, so you have to check them back in. This is a pain and probably not worth the effort. I was also not impressed by the transfer speed of the SS to MD process. Especially on the check back in from MD to SS, which was considerable! Finally, it means I have to have to fiddle with music file formats, as I have a variety in my library, but the dominant one is AIFF, which SS does not understand! Yes I know I can transcode and covert to WAV or FLAC, but that is another step in the process that isn't worth it. So - I have come to the conclusion that using a CD copy of the music and copying this optically to the Sharp MD unit is just as easy, with the only downside being track naming and time. I guess I am stating the obvious - but it's why SS came to have a bad reputation! Is there any other 'Benefits' of using SS to improve sound quality that I am not aware of? Cheers, Mark.
  6. OK, so I have managed to source a Sharp IH-DR400H and using this to listen to the discs burned in the R35 and JE530 - they sound fabulous!!! So I have come to the conclusion that maybe the R35 just does not have a sound that is likeable to me! The one thing that I have learned though, is do not discount the Sony supplied headphones, as they make the R35 sound pretty good!! Cheers everyone, Mark.
  7. I picked up a Sharp DR400 this week, for the bargain price of £20! It is in really great condition, except the power supply is falling to pieces. Does anyone know of an after market or source where I can get a replacement? Thanks, Mark.
  8. PhillipeC, Yes, agreed, but my initial testing did not suggest this theory. So I am burning another MD again, direct to the RZ35 via optical to compare it to one done earlier on the JE530. This disc sounded less convincing than the last, which may be something to do with the source material, maybe not, so this test will be interesting. I will update tomorrow on the next testing phase! Phew - all this testing!!! Mark.
  9. So - final update for those who are interested - I yesterday posed the question that could it be the cheap and nasty optical cable that I was using that was causing the poor recordings from CD to MD via my home Sony MDS-JE530. In short the answer seems to be - YES. I swapped out the cheap TOSLINK cable yesterday, and swapped it for a new and much better quality one, and re-recorded to another MD the same album as I did directly to the MZ-R35 (via optical in). In listening back to both - they now sound identical. I am somewhat surprised by this, since I thought a TOSLINK cable was very much like a HDMI in concept, that as a digital cable, it would either work or it would not work. So I shall be eliminating the crappy cable from the setup from now on. Maybe keeping all those old cables is a false economy in the long run? Anyway, I am now going to broaden the music catalogue and burn a number of MD's and see what the results are. Given that there is little or no difference between burning directly to the MZ-R35 and MDS-JE530, I am going to use the latter, as it's more convenient to kick off a copy and leave it, and titling on the JE530 is way easier than trying to do it on the R35. Thanks for everyone's help and input - I got there in the end, but you help made it quicker. Thank you! Mark.
  10. OK folks - next update! Have today received a new optical cable, with the appropriate adapter to make it work directly with the MZ-R35, and I have just finished copying a CD to the R35 via the optical connection, and the results are... Well - mixed. So far, from the limited time I have had testing the recording, listening via the stock headphones and remote, I would say that there is a marked improvement. The upper ranges are much sharper and more defined, the mid-range is less scooped, and the bottom end is tighter. Overall, although it does have a touch of the clinical sound that seems to be evident when performing an optical to optical copy - it is better. The clear winner in my eyes so far is: Computer - DAC - 3.5mm > Line In > R35 - with the EQ boosted to how I like it. Downside of this method is that track markers not universally generated, due to the source not always having enough of a 2 second gap between each track. Sound to me is best overall. Sony SACD-XE597 > Optical > Optical > R35 - straight normal digital copy from CD to MD. Although the sound is a little clinical, it is nearly on a par with my preferred method, and I shall do some more listening tests over the week to see if this sticks. Great outcome of this is track markers are 100% reliable! Sony SACD-XE597 > Optical > Optical > Sony MDS-JE530 - straight optical to optical copy. This is my least favourite as when this is played back through the MZ-R35 it sounds thin, midrange scooped and high end is both mushy and smeared. Clearly the encoding through the MDS-JE530 must differ on some way. So the other thing I observed is that for the original round of CD > MD via optical burning (using the MDS-JE530) - I was using a very old TOSLINK cable, which was inexpensive at the time, and this was the primary cable from the CD output to the MD input. Given the nature of optical cables, they should either work or not, so I cannot believe that there is any chance that the cable will influence the recording, but I have today now swapped this cable for another high quality TOSLINK. I am re-recording the same album that I used to record optically and directly to the MZ-R35 so I can do an A-B listening test. It will be interesting to see if this has any influence on the recording made by the MDS-JE530. The crazy thing is, regardless of where the MD was recorded, it plays back fantastically via the MDS-JE530!!! Anyway - once I have completed my listening tests - I will post another update. The fun and games of trying to find audio utopia! Cheers, Mark.
  11. So after some more testing yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like optical copies of CD’s recorded to the JE530 home deck - but only for listening back on the R35. I have the 3.5mm toslink adapter on order, so I will try and record optically direct to the R35 to see if that is any different. In the mean time, I have found that using an outboard (inexpensive) DAC from my Mac pushed out to the line in on the R35 seems to yield much better results. I have found that boosting the EQ has allowed me to reduce the recording levels, and hence the time the volume of the output via headphones is also reduced too. Alas, I cannot remember if my original Sony MZ-R909 that started my MD love affair had on board EQ, and I used to record via optical on that device from a low end Sony mini system and don’t remember the same issues. Wish I had kept that device now, it was rock solid. Anyway, I shall also try and record via analogue input to the JE530 too, and see if that has any difference. What is interesting is that I can discern the difference between a MD burned on the JE530 vs one burned on the R35, which is interesting given the usual rock solid compatibility of MD. Thanks and will keep this thread updated with the next set of testing!!! Cheers, Mark.
  12. This is a good shout, as I had discounted the use of the original headphones as they looked pretty standard plastic rubbish, but to my utter surprise they sounded pretty good, and the bonus being that I can use the inline remote too! Just wish they would have had a standard 3.5mm jack at the top of the remote instead of the proprietary connector! So back around the loop again I go - I am going to record the same CD album (Queen's 1980 Album "The Game") to MD using my main deck and optical connections only, and then I will have a set of A-B comparisons available. I shall try my existing headphones vs the Sony ones and see which works out best. The only downside of the included headphones that I can see is one of comfort of fit, as never been a fan of in ear buds, but hey ho! Thanks again for the help and guidance. Mark.
  13. Thanks - was having a bit of a bad day yesterday, so apologies. I shall buy one of those and see what happens!! thanks again. Mark.
  14. Yeah, and when I looked into the manual for the part (cable) these can be bought still, but at £30 a pop, and I only paid £20 for the MZ-R35!!! I took the R35 for a ride in the car and relistened to the recording I made earlier with adjusted EQ settings from the source, and it sounds pretty good to me. The acid test will be with the cans on. has everyone found that direct digital copies (optical to optical) sound a bit soulless? cheers, Mark.
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