spiff Posted November 14, 2006 Report Share Posted November 14, 2006 I may be a newbie in this forum, but I´m a 45 year old geezer living in Valdivia, Chile (I dare you to find it in a map...). I realize that my slow decline towards inevitable senility and my relative geographical isolation might color my judgment, but I would like to share my crusty point of view on what makes the Sony MZ-RH1 the best piece of portable audio yet. Things were easy when I was in high school. Your choices in portable audio were simple then, you had none. Only during my first year of college I was able to buy a small and simple FM receiver with stereo headphones. Man, it was cool! However, you were always at the mercy of the dubious musical taste of the local DJ. I thought I died and went to heaven when I purchased my first Walkman tape player. It was as big as a brick (with a weight to match) and sucked really hard on four AA batteries. It had a hissy sound and only a few hours worth of electrical juice. Things slowly improved through the years with smaller and lighter machines, better endurance, auto-reverse and various Dolby filters. However the tape limitations put a hard ceiling on audio quality and linear track search was a real pain in the behind. Years later, the availability of portable CD players largely overcame these shortcomings, but the size/features cycle began all over again. My first portable CD player (a Magnavox unit) was as big as a brick and sucked really hard on blah, blah, blah. On top of that, it had no shock protection, no oversampling or digital filtering. It skipped really bad when you walked and couldn’t even read some commercial CD´s. It thought it was a real step backwards, despite better sound and random search ability. Even worse, since recordable CD´s were a laboratory curiosity then, carrying a day´s supply of the music you wanted to listen, implied carrying a lot of commercial CD´s (half of the tracks on average are just filler junk) and a lot of disk swapping. Finally, when recordable digital units became available, my problems were finally solved, or so I thought. But the choices... I quickly discarded recordable CDs because of low capacity and large size. So, minidisc or solid-state memory player? I agonized for weeks between an early Sony R-series unit (I forgot which one) or the Diamond Rio mp3 player. In the end, I decided real-time transfer of my entire CD collection was too painful to contemplate and settled instead for a Creative Labs Nomad I unit. With a slot for a Smartmedia card, it also theoretically allowed for “unlimited storage”, but the price of removable memory at the time made it a crazy proposition. After many memory players, including the infamous iPod Nano, I rediscovered the minidisc at my local electronics store three months ago. It was a NH700 unit on sale for less than US$ 60 in local banana currency. To my delight I found that the HiMD format addressed all my previous objections. The sound quality! Unlimited storage! All the lost years! Now, three months later, I own several MD recorders, including an MZ-RH1 and I began to ask myself what makes it so desirable. Granted, it is not perfect (it badly needs an optional AA battery module IMHO) and while SoundStage is in no imminent danger of being elected Software of the Year, it is a perfectly serviceable program. Before any of you shows up at my front door with a sawed-off shotgun, I dare you to first try the Nomad Music Manager over a parallel port connection… Yeah, it hurt that bad! I also dare you to do a proper double-blind test and try to pick-up the RH1 from the rest of the HiMD units. I think without an oscilloscope, bat hearing or spider-sense, mere mortals cannot readily identify it, despite of all the loud (and subjective) claims over improved sound quality over previous HiMD recorders. So why is it so appealing? Because we are all attracted towards quality, especially mechanical quality. Take a careful look at the RH1 and you will realize what a diminutive and complex marvel it is. Compared with an all-electronic player, even an expensive one, the RH1 shines as a mechanical engineering show-off piece. People have always put a premium over mechanical complexity and precision, as it is far more difficult and complex to achieve than pure electronic accuracy. That’s why people are willing to pay a relative fortune for a Swiss mechanical watch, instead of a Casio full of bells and whistles, despite the latter being inherently more accurate. Anyways, I apologize for the long rant and thank those of you with the patience to read it. Maybe the younger readers of this forum will find this concept a challenging one to expand upon. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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