MZ-R50 (Japanese Edition) Mini Review
As a past owner of an R3 and R30, I have to say this is the best
version yet. All the benefits of the others with many new pluses:
And I for one am very happy with it all.
- Handy stick remote - just the right size (on which you can do
everything that you could on the old remote as well as change play
mode and display mode).
Using it takes a little getting used to but I'm sure I'll manage. I've
already had all sorts of looks from people on the Underground. The
scrolling display will show - time elapsed (not time remaining), track
title, MD title and time recorded (not date recorded). The rest of the
display shows the track number (alternating with total tracks on the MD),
the little flashing disk image, play mode, battery level, and REC for when
you are recording.
- Smaller, lighter. I was quite surprised just how much smaller and
lighter it actually was when I took it out. Frankly I'm amazed.
- Better button layout. All the playback related buttons (most used) are
on the top in a happy cluster along with the titling buttons. More
dangerous Erase, End Search and Track Mark buttons are on the front next to the
REC button. The Erase button is even kept away from the rest by a little
wall so you can 'feel' where it is. The REC light is now on the top above
the cluster of playback buttons (more visible). The volume buttons are
also on the top below the playback buttons. Very useful.
- Proper mini-jack on the remote. No more micro plug stress.
- The option of titling your tracks in Japanese. You're never to old learn
another language. (Not available on Export Edition)
- From what I remember my R30 used to give regular
intermittent `clicky' sounds all the time when playing back. Well, the R50
seems to read the disc for ten seconds (where you hear very very quiet
motor sounds) and then absolute silence for a full 40 seconds! Also, the
spinning motor and tracking motor sound more `plasticky' to the R30 (very
much my opinion and I'm not entirely sure I've used the best adjective).
- The upper part of the 'clamshell' feels just a little bit more solid than
the R30 (more like the R3).
A few new features have occurred to me since writing my review.
Several people asked me questions about the unit. Here are my answers
(in the order received).
- Included with the R50 is an optical mini jack to optical TOSlink
cable! 96cm long from tip to tip. No analogue cables, though. (Not
available on Export Edition)
- As you know, when you put an MD in and shut the lid, it takes a
few seconds for the machine to read the TOC before it gets going with
the first track. Well, if you are in a rush to record and you put a
blank in, shut the lid, and press record right away, it will store
that 7 seconds worth of music and actually record from when the record
button was pushed (right after the door shut) and not from the point
when the machine was ready to record (7 seconds later - after checking
the TOC). I tested this a few times and it's brilliant - you don't
have to wait for the machine to register the disc before it will
record the data. It even works for an MD that's already got music on
it. Just put the MD in, shut the door, press END SEARCH right away,
quickly followed by REC and the machine will store music right away
and stick it at the end of the disc.
- When recording in battery mode, the motors are only active for about 10
seconds every 35 seconds (like in playback). If you stop recording while
the machine is in one of it's quiet memory storing 35 second gaps, DATA
SAVE will come on to the display before you see the familiar TOC EDIT.
- When plugged in to a power source, the motors whirr constantly for both
playing back and recording. After pressing stop, the display remains
active and the sound is ready to start instantaneously for a good few
minutes. In battery mode, this is for 10 seconds.
- Can you please tell me whether the R50 has a date-time stamp feature?
Yes, just like the R30, it will note the exact time and date of each
recording. (note: the remote will only display the time of recording)
- "How noise-free is the headphone output?"
Here's a tricky one. I recorded 20 seconds of nothing (no mic or line
source plugged in) and turned the volume to the maximum. Yes, in a quiet
room, I heard hiss. As I never really listen to my MD with headphones on -
at a high volume - in a quiet place, I had never noticed this before. I
assume that this noise wouldn't be any less on the R30 or R3. I can assure
you that this headphone hiss is not immediately noticeable (unless you are
looking for it) but I couldn't say if it was any louder or quieter than the
- "I would like to know something about sound quality of the new
recorder. Is it better than MZ-R 30? Which ATRAC does it use? Are there any
new functions over than MZ-R 30?"
I can't say I can hear any difference in recording or playback quality
compared to the R30 (but then, in a blind taste test, I can't tell the
difference between MD and CD). I assume the ATRAC version is Sony 4.0 as I
am unaware of any newer versions. As for new functions, every difference I
have found is in my review.
- "Do you know if I can get it in the U.S.?"
I don't know for sure but I highly doubt it. I read somewhere that it
won't be available until well into next year. And then will there be an
international version like the R30? Your guess is as good as mine.
- "If I wanted a MD player now, should I just buy the R30 (the
lowest I've seen it advertised in the U.S. is for $399)?"
Who am I to say. If it was me, I would weigh up the advantages of the
new machine (listed in this review) with the
disadvantages (6 dollars more, need to import it from Japan - possible tax
and duty implications, and no real warranty cover - although it is covered
in Japan for a few months I think). It is a sexy little machine, though,
so I would go for the newer R50.
- "... did you have to pay import duty/vat on your R50?? How much did it cost?"
Yes. 6 weeks after my machine arrived I received a bill from UPS for
Import Customs Duty, Import VAT and an Ancillary Import Charge amounting to
78.55 ukp. I understand these charges are normally paid cash on delivery
but as I wasn't here when it arrived, the bill has taken a few weeks to get
to me. I don't really mind as this machine won't be available here for
many months and it's a terrific bit of equipment.
- "Was the price that Nic quoted all inclusive?"
Yes. The product and delivery by UPS Express.
- "I would like to know if on the R50 you still have to push End
Search before being able to record without overwriting your disc ?"
Yes. I'm used to this now, though. I get the feeling Sony are doing
this on purpose.
- No one's asked but yes, Dolby get a mention on the back.