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Simple Guide to ATRAC CD Players

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A simple guide to ATRAC CD players, I'll break them down by generation to generation:

NOTE: The recently released D-EJXXX series, most notably D-EJ005, will not be included in this guide, as they do not offer any ATRAC file playback functionality. D-EJ005 provides MP3 playback however.

First Generation D-NE players:

Flagship Model: D-NE1

Other Models: D-NE9 (Others Unconfirmed)


D-NE1 and D-NE9

First generation of ATRAC CD players (I believe the D-NEs are the first ATRAC3plus devices). Supported bitrates of 132kbps (ATRAC3), 105kbps (ATRAC3), 66kbps (ATRAC3), 64kbps (ATRAC3plus), and 48kbps (ATRAC3plus) along with full MP3 support (44kHz only), and REDBOOK CD. Supports CD-TEXT, ID3 tags.

Nothing fancy SoundEQ wise, you get Digital MegaBass 1 and Digital MegaBass 2.

Notes: While undocumented, all first generation models can play back 256kbps ATRAC3plus files. SimpleBurner 1.0 only facilitates transfer of ATRAC3/plus bitrates listed above.

Seamless or Gapless playback of ATRAC files are not available for these units!

D-NE1 boasts battery life of 135 hours (48kbps) when using 2x Gumstick batteries and 2x AA via Battery Pack Attachement. Certain number of the 2x AA Battery cases were recalled for overheating.

Second Generation D-NE players:

Flagship Model: D-NE10

Other models: D-NE900, 800 (Japan-only model?)500, 300, various S2 models (plus various PSYC and LIV models).


D-NE10, D-NE900, D-NE800 [Japan only]

Second generation of ATRAC CD players features smaller and lighter players, this partially due to re-designing of the players from the classic puck to a design reminiscient of UFOs. These units are the first to incorporate official support for 256kbps ATRAC3plus files, along with legacy ATRAC3/plus modes, MP3, and REDBOOK CD Support.

Additionally, the 2nd Gen ATRAC CD players have the ability to play ATRAC files gaplessly like its MD Cousin. This, along with player size (high end) and ergonomics, makes this a viable alternative to MD players (should one be not easily accessible, or as it was during its release, outclassed MD in capacity).

Also, all second generation units feature Parametric Equalizer, which allows users to shape the sound output to their preference. This works equally well for all audio files (MP3, ATRAC3Plus, REDBOOK). Comes with SonicStage 2.0, which allows for burning ATRAC3plus CDs, MP3 CDs, and Audio CDs.

Another addition to 2nd generation units is the auto-ranking playback. The unit keeps track of how many times a certain track is played on a CD, and can perform a top-10 countdown of sorts, or shuffle those top 10 tracks. A unique twist on auto DJ feature.

Notes: D-NE900 features a 5 line LCD for navigation, but lacks the backlighting to be useful. Likewise, D-NE500 also features LCD and Jog-Wheel for navigation as well.

Third Generation D-NE players

Flagship Model: D-NE20

Other Models: D-NE920, 520, 320, etc. (plus various PSYC, LIV models).


D-NE20 and D-NE920

Third and current generation of ATRAC CD Players. Higher-end models (510 and greater) offers much of the same features as the 2nd generation players, but with DIGITAL AMP. Sound Quality isn't dramatically changed by this Digital Amp, but the omni-present noise associated with other models seems to be less apparent for units with Digital Amp.

Also, all of thse units feature the return of Digital Megabass, now dubbed ClearBass. ClearBass can be applied in conjunction with the Parametric Equalizer, a boon to bassheads everywhere. There are three levels of ClearBass vs two levels of Digital MegaBass on the first generation of ATRAC CD players.

The LCD navigation has been improved dramatically with the addition of backlight. Higher resolution LCD allows for multilingual use, including Italian, Spanish, and Russian out of the box. (D-NE520, 920)

Notes: Sony claims D-NE20 as the smallest and the lightest CD Player produced. Sony's World Tourist Model overview

The D-NE20 is the 20th CD Walkman (aka Discman) Anniversary model!

They also feature completely redesigned remotes. Until now, all ATRAC CD Players have been bundled with either Non-LCD remotes, or the now discontinued RM-MC33EL/K.

These units are the first to have the ATRAC CD logo. Until this changes, this guide will refer to all ATRAC3/plus capable CD Players as ATRAC CD players, and such discs as ATRAC CDs.

Some of the 3rd generation units (D-NE329SP) and its LIV variant comes with a speaker dock. It is unknown at the moment whether or not the dock can accomodate other ATRAC CD units, though it is unlikely that other units will support the speaker dock.

Sony has started to offer the D-NE320 and possibly other PCDPs along with the Puck styled Network Walkman and accessories in pink. They are brick and mortar items only, as they are not featured on either Target.com nor Sony Style's Online store. However, they are featured prominently on endcaps of electronics section. It is unknown whether or not other large brick and mortar chains such as K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sears are offering such similar exclusives.

Conjecture: While this function has not been enabled in the current SonicStage (3.3), one can easily assume that the D-NE units are certainly capable of playing the new ATRAC3plus bitrates. However, until this is verified one way or another, we'll go with the standard "Time Will Tell" / "We'll see" answer on this.

"4th" Generation PCDP Models

Flagship Model: D-NE30 (Presumed to be at the moment, unreleased)

Other Models: D-NE830, 730 (Japan Exclusive at the moment), 330/330liv, D-NF430 (includes Digital AM/FM/TV/Weather tuner) (Released in the US)


Pictured:D-NE830, D-NE730.

These look to be the "4th" generation of AtracCD player released. Features include the usual AtracCD/MP3/Redbook CD Playback, Digital Amp, Parametric Equalizer, ClearBass, etc.

Additions include a third clearbass level, Clearbass 3.

The D-NE730 uses the Walkman Bean pack-in Ear-buds whereas the D-NE830 uses the E931 Earbuds that are usually included in highend/flagship models.

D-NE330 and D-NF430, the lowest end of the 4th generation model, has a claimed output of 15mW+15mW. It is currently unknown if all 4th generation models (x30 series) will support the same. It is available now at your local Target (of all places) for $49.99 plus your local sales tax if any.

This unit also lacks any software bundles, and poses an interesting question (was Connect supposed to be bundled with this unit but as axed at the last minute?).

-Thanks to Pata2001 for the links on these units.


Not all of the units have a remote port. For instance, some D-NE3XX Models lack a remote port, and all D-NE5XX (and D-NE3XX with remote ports, such as some PSYC unit and Car Ready units) units do not work properly with LCD remotes, in that the LCD display displays nothing.

Of those units that work with LCD units (D-NE1,9,10,900,20,910 amongst others), there are some limitations.

RM-MC33EL/K works without problems.

RM-MC40ELK works, but with the jog-scroll replacing group +/- button, you only have the ability to step backwards through a group/directory. The Jog Scroll function does not work with any of the models.

RM-MC53EL and RM-MC55ELK works with all units. Search Button function only works with 3rd Generation units (D-NE20/910). Furthermore, the search button function does not work with any Hi-MD or other remote capable units.

All remote capable units should work fine with non-LCD remote units.

Tips and hints

D-NE series are notoriously finicky about media, but the first gen units aren't as finicky as 2nd or 3rd gen. To achieve maximum compatibility, make sure to burn at 24X or lower speed. Also, keep those grimy fingers off the CD Surface!

When burning MP3 cds with other burning utilities, burn the CD in CD-MODE 2 (XA-MODE) for slightly faster boot-up/read time associated with initial read.

Gapless playback of MP3 files are not available for any ATRAC CD players. Hi-MD units with MP3 playback is probably your best option for unadulterated "gapless" mp3 playback.

If you want your unit to be anything but silver/platnium white or black, and you're unfortunately stuck in the US, then your only option is to import it from Japan.

Missing: More information on the S2 units and the boomboxes are required.

Added 7/26 - Gapless ATRAC playback, thanks Pata. Added pictures of flagship models of all three gen.

Added 7/27 - ATRAC CD terminology.

Added 7/30 - Digital Megabass, Clearbass.

Added 8/5 - D-NE20's small tidbits, including its 20th anniversary status.

Added 10/29 - Brief blurb about "4th Gen" items.

Added 11/06 - Target exclusive Pink Players added

Added 2/5 - D-NE330 information added.

Added 5/25 - Slight update info on D-NE330liv/430. Clearbass stepping 3 added

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Nice to know that 830 existed, at least for our British compatriots. As far as I'm concerned, the PCDP is dead (outside of low end D-NF430s)...

It's a shame, but I'm glad that I have one of each ATRAC CD Generation models (D-NE1, D-NE910, D-NE20). It was an interesting experiment, and should've continued onto DVDs (as they are now reaching CD-R prices). Alas, it is not to be.

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I thought I'd add to this: the wide range of automobile head units also plays ATRAC (and ATRAC 3+), at least a dozen models. I use the MEX-BT5000 (with Bluetooth support). They don't show up in the Minidisc Equipment Browser because there's no MD - however you can add an MD changer via the Sony Unilink device cable that most units have at the back thereby having your cake and eating it.


My pet bugbear is that none of the third party softwares support ATRAC/+ CDs. Only SonicStage. Another example of a wonderful technology Sony was frightened to use because of the piracy implications if it was too easy to copy disks.

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