Initial Impressions of the
Sony MZ-N707 NetMD Portable Recorder

Matthew Milley
([email protected])
March 2002


I debated whether or not to get the Sony MZ-N1 or the Sharp IM-MT880, but when I saw Sony Canada was releasing 3 NetMD units I was impressed and decided to get the MZ-N707. I was very excited when the little box from Sony finally arrived, and I must start off by saying that I certainly got my money's worth.

In the box is the following:

Just in terms of the included accessories, Sony has given good bang for the buck.

Main Unit

As for the main unit, I previously had an MZ-R70 and the body shape is more-or-less identical, although maybe a shade thicker. The buttons are easily accessible, and the control pad is also easy to use. Pressing the edges of the simple four-way pad selects the FORWARD, BACK, STOP and PAUSE functions, and pressing its center selects PLAY. As for the jacks, these are also nicely done, and everything except power is on the right side; from top to bottom: USB, Line In/Optical In, Mic, and Remote Control/Headphones. There is no Line Out mode selectable from the unit's control menu (as with the MZ-N1), only the standard Headphone output is available.


The remote control is quite small and has no LCD. If you are used to having one this is quite a noticeable difference. The main control button moves up and down, moving it up once is PLAY, after the unit begins to play, Up becomes FORWARD; Down is always BACK. Below are STOP and VOL+/-; to the right are T-MARK and DELETE; to the left are PAUSE and EDIT. This is a somewhat different layout than the older remotes, but it soon becomes second nature. It has the standard shirt clip. In the past I have noticed Sony's shirt clips to be rather weak, this one however is quite strong and able to hold on tightly, so no worries there.


The headphones are among Sony's better Fontopias. They are incredibly comfortable, even after extended periods of listening (and with 5 hours of music per disc, this is easily possible). They also offer excellent sound, almost comparable to my enormous CD-480's. The cord is short, but not too short (I had Sony's D-EJ915 CD Player, and its headphone cord was barely a foot), the MZ-N707's are just the right length with the remote.


The cradle is convenient. There is no real "clip" or anything holding the MD unit in, it just drops onto the charging rod and will slide in or out without force. Conveniently, the AC adapter plugs into both the charging stand and directly into the MZ-N707 (both are equipped with the same jack). This is a good idea, because while the cradle is useful and allows you to easily read the machine's display without holding it, being able to travel with your machine and AC adapter sans cradle is also nice.

OpenMG Jukebox

OpenMG is a well organized piece of software that makes it easy to rip music and send it to the MD. It's a straightforward system with no hassles. This is the same software that is released with the MZ-N1, and the same limitations apply: no checking-in non-secured music, no more than 3 check-outs of any protected song, no deleting protected music from an MD away from the computer, all the same hassles. Otherwise however, it is well done.

One of the things that bothered me was that everything takes painfully long to convert to ATRAC3. If you do not do it before recording to the MD, then the software will do it song-by-song as you are downloading. Also, I have yet to find a way for the sofware to re-optimize ATRAC3 recordings to a different bitrate. What this means is that if you want to record to your MD in LP4, you had better record from your CDs in 66kbps, because the software will not let you change it afterwards. However, if you simply record MP3s straight to your MD, you do have a choice of ATRAC3 bitrate (this, the benefit of delaying the conversion). The other bothersome limitation is that there is no way to take audio from your MD back to your PC. This could have been a really useful tool, especially for lectures and concerts; record it, upload it to your computer, and boom, you are done. Nonetheless, NetMD still has its strong points.

Download Speed

Ther person who said it only takes 3 minutes to download 80 minutes of music must have been running a dual processor 2.2Ghz P4 with 3 Gig of RAM, because even on my 1GHZ P3 with 512MB RAM, it takes longer than this. I attribute the slowness to the TOC edit that is occuring after every song is written. On my MZ-R70 the TOC edit happens once, at the end of the entire recording, so these extra TOC-writes must be related to the steps taken to enforce copy-prohibition.

PC Based Control

You cannot control the MD unit with the remote while it is plugged into the computer -- to listen to MDs while connected you must control it from OpenMG Jukebox.


The leather cases are nicely made. The one with the belt clip fits snugly on your pants but does have a tendency to slide off if jostled too much (I nearly slammed mine in the car door without knowing it, so be careful). The other case is interesting; it has two velcro sticky pads that are surely meant for your car dashboard and they hold on fairly well.

Car Connection Kit

Although I have not had much time to test this out, it seems to work well. There is little sound degredation (though your mileage may vary, depending upon the nature of you car stereo). This is something that really did not have to be included, but is a nice addition from Sony.


I feel the MZ-N707 is a really good deal, the only noticeable difference from the MZ-N1, feature-wise, is that the MZ-N707 lacks an LCD remote. To me this is not worth spending an additional 100-150 bucks for. [The MZ-N1 also has a jog dial and a selectable microphone sensitivity setting. -eaw] The only real difference between the MZ-N707 and the MZ-N505 is the remote and the car connecting pack, which I knew I would make full use of. [The MZ-N505 also lacks a microphone input jack. -eaw] The MZ-N707 is a light and compact unit with a good remote, nice sounding headphones, and easy to use software. All-in-all a very good buy.

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