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Rugged, Compact Unit For Wild Sync

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I'm looking for low cost recording to accompany my silent film movie cameras. I shoot 8mm and Super 8 home movies strictly for my own pleasure. I'm not a pro. A synced Nagra and camera setup is way out of my league. I want to shoot with wild sound and sync in post.

If I could afford it, I'd go for the Marantz PMD-670, but it is about double what I want to spend. I think a minidisc or Hi-MD recorder would be a good alternative and would serve my needs, but which one?

I need one that is physically rugged and also not overly susceptible to jolts caused by walking with camera and recorder. That is a key characteristic for me, because I'm often shooting handheld and on the move.

As long as sound quality is good, upload to PC speed is not really a factor. I won't normally be recording more than about 30 minutes of sound at a time.

I want a recorder that can I use with a good quality microphone. I don't know much about microphones either, but I think I need a unit with mic-in and not just line-in. I don't want to have to lug about a separate pre-amp.

I don't know much about audio recording, so I welcome the collective expertise of the people on this board.


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Hi-MD should work fine for you. You'll get quality as good as your mics with PCM--uncompressed digital CD-quality sound--and even basic binaurals will give you very realistic sound. Listen to some of the things in the Gallery (top of the page) on this site or in the mail.yahoo.com mailbox livefrommd (password 1minidisc1).

Anything except the MZ-NH600 or 600D (those are players) will have the mic input you need. It's going to depend on what's available when you're buying. Look at the Browser tab on the minidisc.org homepage for detailed comparison of features. But the recording capability of all of them is essentially the same; the differences are in display, battery, and playback.

They're all plastic, unfortunately. But they're also all pretty shockproof, and if you're holding a camera steady you should also be steady enough for MD.

See this thread:


I am very happy with my first-generation Hi-MD from last year, the MZ-NHF800, which runs on a regular AA battery (or rechargeable) for a very long time. You can snap one up at www.minidisco.com right now for $229. Sony's not making them any more.

The NH1 only runs on its rechargeable gumstick, so you might have battery-life problems with that one. Others have the gumstick plus an outboard battery pack, which is bulkier. That's why I chose the NHF-800 although the NH900 had some more bells and whistles.

I don't have a second-generation model, and I don't see any reason to get one while my NHF800 is still working, but they may be the only ones available to you. The RH10 seems to have the best display (lighted) for recording use.

For more ruggedness, you could also check out older MDs, like the Sony MZ-N900 or MZ-R900 or various Sharp models. But they only record in compressed formats and don't upload, and you'd have to take your chances on a used one.

The annoyance with Sony for live recording is that if you want to set the volume manually, you have to go through a bunch of menu clicking. But for recording dialogue, you could probably use the default setting of Automatic Gain Control and be perfectly happy.

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Thanks very much for the info, A440. After reading on the equipment browser, it seems like the RH10 would be a nice HiMD unit.

What about older MZ-R50 and similar? They are often available pretty cheap on ebay. Do you lose anything going that route compared to the RH-10 in terms of sound quality and microphone support? One thing that appeals to me about the R50 is that it is magnesium, which seems like it might be more rugged than the newer plastic units. On the other hand, all R50 will be old and possibly worn out...

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the only thing with the r-50 is that it is an older unit, u can't use 1gb hi-md discs, only the older 80 min. ones, so u get less recording time. there is no upload capability to your computer, only the line out on the unit, and the line in on your comp. (which will degrade sound quality)

the nh1 is magnesium, iirc. its an older hi-md unit and you can upload to your computer, has mic support and is probably pretty cheap on-line by now

rh-910 or rh-10 might be your best route

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I came to MD after the R50 generation, but old-school MD'ers swear by the R50 and the R37: tough build and possibly less finicky about sound.

Here are the caveats:

First, they're used--they were made back in the 20th century. They're also bigger than current units.

They only record in SP, the original MD compression format. It's very good sound, but it is compressed and not as hi-fi as PCM. You can only get 74 or 80 minutes on a disc--later generations would double and quadruple the recording time with more compression, LP2 and LP4.

Also, there is no USB connection to the R50. To use your recordings, you would have to record them out of the headphone jack into your computer, in realtime, with the inevitable quality loss.

If you wanted to have one MD for recording and another for playback/recording, you could get an R50 along with anything from the NetMD or Hi-MD generations--the NH600D is available new on eBay for under $100. But you still can't digitally upload any of the old MD formats--SP, LP2, LP4--to the computer.

On a NetMD or Hi-MD unit, however, you could play back your recording through USB with SonicStage and record it digitally to the computer as it plays with TotalRecorder--a recording program that makes your computer think it's the soundcard. That would give you a cleaner digital recording. But it's still realtime.

Hi-MD is a lot more convenient for manipulating your recordings, and PCM is a serious upgrade in sound.

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Hi There,

For ruggedness I don't think you can beat the MZ-NH1, although the NH-900 may come close, and you have the bonus of the batteru pack, but I would go with the NH1 and extra battery. I've had one for a few months, and it is tres solid.

You should be able to find one for reasonable money in the seel out stock of any major retailer.

Good luck,


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Hmmm. Bigger price difference between the MZ-NH1 and the MZ-RH10 than I would have thought, considering that the MZ-RH10 is newer.

The MZ-RH10 can be had for $226, whereas the cheapest I've found an MZ-NH1 was $449. Heck, for another $50 you can get a Marantz PMD-660 1GB compact flash recorder and have dual XLR mic inputs with phantom power.

The main appeal of an MD or HiMD for the sort of live recording I want to do compared to a flash recorder is price. That distinction sort of disappears when comparing the MZ-NH1.

I'm thinking the MZ-RH10 or MZ-RH910 is more what I'm in need of.

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Well, I got my RH10. I can't get the darn thing to record from a microphone.

Do you have to have a certain type of mic? I'm trying to use a Realistic 600 ohm cardoid mic model 33-992D. It has a 1/4 inch mono plug but I bought a 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch adaptor. I can't even turn on the record function on my minidisc though, so I don't know if the mic is the problem.

Any ideas how I can record with this mic?

Edited by wildsound
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  I can't even turn on the record function on my minidisc though, so I don't know if the mic is the problem. 

You don't just push the Record button, you have to push the red Record button and the Play (>) button together. (Obviously with the Hold slider off.) If that doesn't start recording--it will say Line Recording if you don't have a mic plugged in--then it's defective and should go back to Sony.

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I was able to record from my computer over the USB connection. I transferred some WAV files of voice recordings I'd made a couple of years ago. That worked fine. They play back beautifully on the minidisc.

The very first time I tried to record, the REC status indicator came on and it appeared to be recording. But there was no sound on playback. Then I erased the disk and tried to record again, and it wouldn't even go into REC mode.

That's when I decided to download some audio tracks from my PC. That worked. So I plugged my mic back in and, strangely enough, I was able to start recording again, but like before, no sound on playback.

Maybe it is defective, then.

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Since you can play back transferred music, your playback head and headphone jack are obviously working. The question seems to be whether the sound is getting into the minidisc from your mic.

Are you sure the mic works? Do you have the mic plugged into the Red mic jack (not the white Line-in jack). Are the level meters moving when you record? Does it Data Save and System Writing to Disc when you press Stop (it takes a while)? Does it show that there are tracks recorded when you push Play?

Since you know the USB works, connect it to SonicStage and see if SonicStage can play back the recording through your computer. If your mic is working and connected correctly, it could be a bad mic jack and should definitely go back to Sony.

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