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Any experience with Kenwood?

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My Sony MDS-JE510 is starting to show some signs that is in need of repair regarding its loading/unloading mechanism. I plan on maybe trying to do some repairs, but I also purchased a supposedly refurbished Kenwood DM-5090 on ebay. It supposedly has new laser, belt and caps. I have not received it yet but really curious to see how it performs. One selling point is that it is equipped with ATRAC 4.5, while my Sony is ATRAC 4 (although I have no complaints about the Sony's sound quality). In doing some research, I've discovered that the Kenwood DM-5090 is actually equipped with a CXD2652AR (ATRAC 4) chip by looking at its service manual. I found a couple of old blog posts stating that for whatever reason, Kenwood lied about the ATRAC version in its marketing materials. I'm not too worried about that as this is just a hobby for me and obviously better lossless quality is easy to find these days but just curious if anyone has dealt with old Kenwood MD decks? If the deck I ordered is a solid ATRAC 4 performer and truly refurbished, I'm hoping it can be a light workhorse for me for years to come and I can tinker with my Sony at some point (maybe during the next pandemic). If anyone has any Kenwood experience or thoughts, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

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Whilst the ATRAC1 v4.5 and Type R are revered, I think in practice ATRAC1 v3.5 and up are likely to be more than adequate for us common souls. It seems ATRAC1 v3.5 was considered "near CD quality", so anything beyond is bonus. I can understand you are more than happy with your ATRAC1 v4 Sony and as the Kenwood uses the same DSP, on the digital side you're bang-for-bang. So it will come down to how well Kenwood implemented their power supply, analogue circuitry - and for practical purposes how well their user interface is designed and how their machine looks.

Unless the seller has a known track record I'd take the refurbishing claims with a pinch of salt. Personally I'd avoid any machine that claims to have had a new laser fitted because you have no clue if the seller knew truly what they were doing and if the machine is now calibrated correctly to get sensible performance and usage before the laser goes pop - or wipes your treasured MO recordings.

Good luck and let us know how you get on and how you feel yourself about the Kenwood!

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"If anyone has any Kenwood experience or thoughts..."

I had a Kenwood MD-2070 deck. I have no reason to think it wasn't 4.5. I thought it a very good unit for playback, maybe even outstanding, but I was never convinced that recordings I made on it matched those made on my Sony Type R decks. (I used it mainly for playback, in any case.) Further, while it was nice to look at, I felt that the UX was less smooth than any of the various Sony units I have owned...including, way back when, the JE510.

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Thanks bluecrab, good to know. The nice thing about the Kenwoods is that they have both optical and coaxial inputs/outputs and my JE510 doesn't. One source in my stack I would like to do some recordings from only has a coaxial output so I thought the Kenwood might be a nice option to open up more opportunities for digital recordings. I recently grabbed a Sony Walkman Type-R NetMD recorder to record FLAC files from my home server and I have been very impressed with the sound quality.

RE: the Kenwood ATRAC versions, if you Google the service manuals for the 2070, 3020, 5090, 9090, etc. they all list CXD2652AR as the ATRAC chip, which is only ATRAC 4. I have been unable to figure out if Kenwood just flat out lied about its ATRAC version in marketing materials, or if there is another explanation?

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2 hours ago, Trumie35 said:

Thanks bluecrab, good to know. The nice thing about the Kenwoods is that they have both optical and coaxial inputs/outputs and my JE510 doesn't. One source in my stack I would like to do some recordings from only has a coaxial output so I thought the Kenwood might be a nice option to open up more opportunities for digital recordings. I recently grabbed a Sony Walkman Type-R NetMD recorder to record FLAC files from my home server and I have been very impressed with the sound quality.

RE: the Kenwood ATRAC versions, if you Google the service manuals for the 2070, 3020, 5090, 9090, etc. they all list CXD2652AR as the ATRAC chip, which is only ATRAC 4. I have been unable to figure out if Kenwood just flat out lied about its ATRAC version in marketing materials, or if there is another explanation?

Oh right, forgot about the coax. Good feature. Sony, at least once, got the ATRAC chip wrong in the SM. I believe that was for the JA20ES. Someone here opened up their 20ES, took a pic, and lo & behold...Type R after all. As I did not peek into the 2070 and no longer have it, can't verify.

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Interesting, I

3 hours ago, bluecrab said:

Oh right, forgot about the coax. Good feature. Sony, at least once, got the ATRAC chip wrong in the SM. I believe that was for the JA20ES. Someone here opened up their 20ES, took a pic, and lo & behold...Type R after all. As I did not peek into the 2070 and no longer have it, can't verify.

Interesting, I may have to peek into the unit when I get it

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UPDATE (if anyone cares): I received the Kenwood DM-5090 a little while ago and it's in pristine condition and works great. It's hard to know how much of a refurbishment has been done because the guy put a seal over one of the screws with a note that breaking this seal voids the one-year warranty on his workmanship. So, I guess I'll wait a year to open it? haha - Until then hopefully it will suit my needs better than the Sony MDS-JE510 which is beginning to malfunction. I am listening to Blur: Best Of pre-recorded MD and it sounds lovely over a Marantz 2216 connected to vintage KEF bookshelf speakers and a Cambridge Audio Minx 201 sub in the home office. I have not recorded anything yet to test the audio quality on recordings. Also, kinda funny the guy included a minidisc head & lens cleaner at no charge! :)

20210507_134513_HDR.thumb.jpg.74626158ae58a9fbd42e9814f779f631.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, kgallen said:

We're all listening and we're all interested. Keep talking!

Big display. Unusual front panel layout. Interesting!

Thanks! I think the MD slot looks a little better in the middle and the Sony is a little more intuitive but this seems a pretty solid, well-built machine. I had seen a couple of negative reviews on the Kenwoods' sound but I would say for a mid-tier deck the sound quality is excellent. I'll post once more once I get a chance to record a MD or two.

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8 hours ago, Trumie35 said:

Thanks! I think the MD slot looks a little better in the middle

I think what freaks me is the slot has a wide margin to it’s left but then it’s hard up against the display to its right, like they squeezed it in. Are there other components that use this same overall layout so they’ve maintained what would be a vertical alignment? Can’t quite see how a CD player would work in that schema though!

I’ve got a new addition to my ‘family’, I’ll post later. 
 

Keep it coming!

Kevin

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8 hours ago, kgallen said:

I think what freaks me is the slot has a wide margin to it’s left but then it’s hard up against the display to its right, like they squeezed it in. Are there other components that use this same overall layout so they’ve maintained what would be a vertical alignment? Can’t quite see how a CD player would work in that schema though!

It does look like the loading slot was something of an afterthought :-)

Did a bit of Googling and it looks like there was a graphic equaliser (KE 7090) that seems like it might match?

@Trumie35 let us know how you get on once you've had a chance to try recording a few things.

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13 hours ago, kgallen said:

There’s not that much info on minidisc.org so if you have other info or other photos (close-ups, rear panel detail) then that would be good. Also if you happen to take the lid off (in a year!) then we’ve recently been adding to our library of data on This Thread.

Great, will do later this week. So far I've listened to these MD's - Blur: Best Of (prerecorded), Daft Punk: Alive (recorded on Type-R Walkman via WebMD FLAC 16-bit 44.1khz), and Eric Clapton: Unplugged (prerecorded). These are three really well produced albums in my opinion and all sound good on MD. I listened to those three MDs earlier this week on the Sony MDS-JE510 so it's just an unscientific ears-only comparison, but I enjoyed the sound of the Kenwood more. With regard to recording, I'm only able to record analog right now due to some technical difficulties on the digital side. I'll try an analog recording later this week and hopefully get my digital side worked out. I'll snap a few more photos as well.

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