Review of the Pioneer MJ-D707 UK model by "AJ"

Dated February 1999

I recently bought the relatively new DECK: Pioneer MJ-D707 UK model, and it is generally the best player around in the UK at the moment. (Feb 99) It is newer than the only player I am able to compare it to - my (permanently owned) trusty SONY JE500, bought in Dec 96! (I am MD old skool!) The 500 is far from perfect, although it records well, in ATRAC 4.5 of course, and has the bonus of SONY test mode (STOP for 10 secs to cancel TOC update) which allows me to beat SCMS protection. The 500's jog dial - you have to turn it too far to get another click - but the 707 is the opposite - too sensitive.

The 707 has a nice big (horizontal) bouncing level meter, twice the size of the SONY, and has DOLBY Digital NR which I admit does improve the sound slightly. The 707 is obviously far better built than the 500, with a proper cold metal aluminium front (not plastic) and nice gold edging. I can't be sure, but I think it sometimes plays the track before the one it says it is playing! The most noticable difference between the two is that the 707 sounds much better on playback. It is obvious why - the 707 being a Pioneer has a pretty good DAC inside, which kicks out more detail and bass than the older, notoriously tinny SONY DAC. I guess SONY use pretty much the same DAC in all it's entry/mid-range CD/MD players. SONY players are of course generally very good, but you will notice the improvement if you plug the optical out into a decent 500+ ($700) DAC (I hear Cambridge Audio are good and ARCAM are excellent).

The 707 licks up any disc you begin to insert, whereas the 500 needs a firm push to engage the loading mechanism. If you are looking for a sub 200 MD deck then the Pioneer may well be the best choice - although I have heard that the KENWOOD DM3090, (available from the same small shops in the UK - you know who!) has more advanced features.

The 707 makes discs very hot, when you eject them it is very noticeable. The 500 does not. Counter to intuition (and SONY convention), the control for input (coax, opt, analog) is rotary and runs in this order: analog, coax, opt. Wishing to bunch together the two digital systems, they have separated the two most commonly used ones, analog and optical. People say coax is superior but since they have chosen to use a rotary control, why not include them all next to each other (at 120 degrees) and allow us to change input, with no brief loss of sound, so we can hear the difference between using any of the connectors and choose for ourselves. The 707 does not have direct DAC mode, (press REC with no disc in on a SONY) allowing one to use it's DAC for other sources. This is a serious omission and (when present) reduces the need for interconnects and re-cabling when re-configuring the setup of separates.

The unit was 179 UKP from Richer Sounds. www.richersounds.com

I currently (as I write this) have four (yes, FOUR) pieces of MD equipment in my posession-

SONY MDS-JE500 and
PIONEER MJ-D707 as mentioned.

and

KENWOOD playback-only MD walkman
- fantastic sound - KENWOOD DACs are the best to my ears.

SONY MDX-C670-RDS in car front loading unit - very good, the DAC is OK, it gets very HOT and the display is too dim, but I expect they have rectified the disp on the new 7900 and 8900 models which look INCREDIBLE - also check out the CDX-C90R CD/MD file control and DAB player with blue screen! Yum. It is bound to get hot with that 35x4 amp inside though isn't it - esp the vol I play it at! ;-) Also, it often refuses to play discs which have got really cold in the car overnight.

just a final thought - maybe SONY will invent an even more dense material for MD surfaces - one so good that ATRAC 5 or 6 will be NO COMPRESSION AT ALL! (Very small CD-RW's!)

And aren't you fed up of people telling you MD is dead - don't believe it - you may not know many people with them, but certain shops I have been in, have people clamouring for them all day. Have and spread confidence in the format - use MP3 downloads, and when everyone's CD's stop working after 15 years (for that is their lifespan) and they have to buy them all again. Then we will have the last laugh!

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