Gramaphone Magazine Review of MDS-JE500 (excepts)

The April (1997?) issue of Gramaphone (subtitle: The Best Classical Musical Magazine in the World) carried a review of Sony MDS-JE500 by John Borwick. The magazine is primarily devoted to review of classical recording releases, but in each issue includes many serious equipment reviews also. Below are some interesting excerpts from the review.

Contributed by Ashok M. Dhareshwar ([email protected])

Straight A/B comparisons with the original CD source invariably showed the MD copies by the digital input to be virtual `clones' having practically no significant change in sound quality other than a whisper of ambient dryness. ...

Copies made via the analogue input were perhaps a shade drier still, pulling centre soloists slightly forward, but again most of the sonic detail and excitement were well in evidence, outperforming the majority of budget cd players [Emphasis mine. -Ashok]. Test measurements reinforced the impression that the recorder is the best consumer MD machine I have come across. Frequency response was dead flat from below 20Hz upto 20kHz and the noise floor fully 94dB down as claimed. Mechanical noise was very low, shock-proofing was excellent, and access time to any track no more than two seconds.

From the few commerical MD issues available, I have tended to use ``The Three Tenors In Concert'' as my reference because, to its eternal credit, Telarc has issued it in all audio and video formats. Again, the MD matched the quality of the CD very closely, only yielding a little in terms of unveiled resolution and warmth.

... The sound quality (of the Sony sampler MD) helped confirm that fourth- generation MD processing, and the design of the MDS-JE500 deck in particular, have advanced the potential of MiniDisc to the point where it merits serious consideration by anyone on the look-out for trouble-free high-quality sound recording.

At around 300 pounds for this home machine, one might reasonably extend one's budget to the purchase of an MD portable or in-car system. Then the analogue cassette would really begin to show its 34-year old wrinkles by comparison. MD's only real rivals as consumer recording media are DAT and CD-Recordable, which may just reach better performance standards, but cost very much more.

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