Sony MDS-JB940 Review

by Alejandro León (, March 2001

I just sold my JE520 last December to get my hands into this unit, but I had to wait 3 months till somebody brought one from Miami. They're hard to get everywhere these days; maybe because they're selling CD player-MD recorder combos like the MDX3 (?). I also had a JB 920 and I have to tell that unit is GREAT! It doesn't have the PC keyboard connector, but now that I have one with that feature, I see it's not very useful...I have a Pioneer Cd recorder with the same connector, but you can control EVERY function the machine is able to perform with the keyboard... I kind of had the same expectations with the Sony 940, but the KB is not able to do that. I just wanted to get rid of the remote control for once in a lifetime: I hate remotes like this! (No backlit keys, small letters, etc.)

About the missing "rec-it" I never used it at all in my older units. This unit has Control A1II connector, but it is not compatible with my Pioneer CD burner, or my Pioneer DVD player or my Sony 550 DVD player: they all have the same kind of connector, but all of them only work with gear of the same brand (Sony with Sony, pioneer with Pioneer only, etc). So, what's the use of that S*t?

Pitch adjustment? What do I need that for? I’m not a DJ anyway, but if I was, it wouldn’t work for me ‘cuz sound gets interrupted every time you make a pitch adjustment.

The distribution of controls is different from the 920. I don't really care about that since I never use the buttons on the units faceplate. I always use the remote (or the keyboard when it's possible) to edit.

Something I like is that it has only one knob to control recording level: digital or analog. It's the same knob for both, and now you can select the "source" with the touch of a button and don't have to go to the unit's front panel to move a switch. You can do it from the remote now... hurrah!

Some buttons are smaller than before in the 920. I don't like that 'cuz I don't see very well. I wear glasses. Again, I never use the front panel, but for US$500 I have the right to complain...

I like the surrounding illuminated led in the filter and Scale Factor Edit buttons on the faceplate: they let me know what adjustments are working and what the machine is doing. I like the green and red led. They're cool to me.

The Display is almost the same of the 520-920. No difference to me... they should have made it bigger, but it's ok. I guess it looks slightly better.

Scale Factor Edit-. It allows you to adjust the volume level of a track in steps of 2dB. Fade in/out a track within 1 to 20sec. I think Scale Factor Editing it's a great feature, but it takes as much time as recording the track again. Fading in/out will take you the same time you've chosen for the fade, and sometimes a little more. That's normal and it doesn't bother me. I like this feature cuz I use this unit to record from SKY digital broadcast. It allows me to edit easily the endings of the songs.

MDLP. Mmmmm....

I don't like MDLP so much since it compresses the music so much, it begins to feel like MP3... low quality (and I really hate MP3). I don't have a portable MDLP unit: I have an MZR37 I just bought about six months ago, and I don't have plans to get rid of it. So I won't be using MDLP recording capabilities of the 940 for quite a while...until I get a MZR900. The thing is, I hate MP3 (I already said that, is just that I hate it so much! ;-))and I don't want my favourite music to sound like that, even though there's people who says that "you can't tell the difference between the original and MP3 file... well... maybe I got cat's ears, but I can tell the difference!

I'm not sure if tic cloning is possible with this unit (I haven't tried yet... I got this unit two days ago) but test mode is the same of 520 - 920.

About the sound filters... is that a joke? They won’t work with the digital outs, only analog, and those filters don’t make a very big improvement in quality if that's what you're expecting. It has the same limitation you find in Pitch control… the sound gets cut when you change the adjustment from STD – FILTER 1- FILTER 2- FILTER 3.

Facts and ratings:

List price - MSRP: US$480

Price paid: US$500 (including shipping and taxes)

Rating: F! You can get this unit new (open box) in for US$249 !!!! But Sony Corp. of Colombia doesn't care about users and won't bring this unit to Colombia (South America) where I live, until it's old and no one wants it!

Connectors: 2x optical in - 1x coaxial Digital in (RCA style connector)

Control A1-II; analog out/in,

1x optical out

1x coaxial (RCA) digital out

PS/2 keyboard connect Rating: A+

Construction: It weights like a war tank compared to the 520 and it feels rock SOLID. I like that and the aluminium front panel. The on/off switch sounds better than my previous 520. It's about the same of the one the 920 had.

Rating: I’d give it an A.

Keyboard control software: it has to be improved to get rid of the remote controller...

Rating: B

Remote control: the same old thing, with a few more buttons. They weren't able to make backlit!

Rating: C+

Reliability: I'm still testing, but it is working ok.

Rating: A+

New Features: Scale factor edit: Rating: A (it could be faster) MDLP: Rating: C+ (very noticeable quality loss in MDLP 4 mode and recordings made in MDLP 2 or 4 aren't compatible with older MD units.

Ease of use: I didn't have to read the manual except for the new features. Very easy to use and the manual is clear enough (you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand it!)

Rating A+

Sony service: I never needed it before for technical purposes, but it needs improvements.

Rating: B

OVERALL RATING: A... because anyway it's a great machine, it does everything I need and I just like it...

If anyone wants to talk about this (and other Sony MD units), CD recording, DVD recording, write to me now!

May the force be with you... always!

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