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Sharp MD for live recordings?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by JPJ, Mar 2, 2003.


  1. JPJ

    JPJ

    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I would like to get a Minidisc recorder to tape band rehearsals and gigs, but really don't know much about the tecnology or the process. Recording live music is all that I would use it for, and basically need a quality unit with a phantom power mic input and the "adjust levels on the fly" option...although a remote would be nice, as would an extended record mode. Of the models that Sharp is currently making, it looks like the MT877 would be the only one to fit the bill, but it seems to have more options than I need and might also be a bit pricey for my needs. Any thoughts here from those who are familiar with and use MD recorders??? Any recommendations on players based on my needs, what to stay away from, or are there other Sharp models currently in production that I'm not aware of?
     
  2. i've been looking at the Sharp MDMT-80S.
    it has a mic input, but I'm unsure as to whether it has phantom power- I've downloaded the manual and the mic requirement specs don't make any sense to me (ie. they've been badly translated).
     
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I doubt that any portable MD player has phantom power. If you definitely want to use a condenser mic, some come with internal batteries.

    One problem I've encountered with recording to MD is setting the level. Most have automatic level setting capabilities (like a hard-knee compressor), but if you have a loud intro, it will automatically attenuate it, then increase the input gain when the volume is lower. This sounds fairly sucky. Most also have a manual setting, but you have to be careful not to let your input gain exceed 0 dB, or it will distort the instant you exceed it. Some of the newer devices may have remedied these drawbacks. The good news is that, once you get the levels set correctly, the recording sounds bitchen.
     
  4. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i have an old school MD702 and with my little sony stereo mic it makes some really great sounding recordings. no phantom power though, and munji is correct that you have to be real careful with the levels - anything that clips a teeny bit sounds like crap.
     
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I've been using a Sharp MD722 for over 3 years now and have made a couple hundred recordings of gigs and rehearsals with it. It's a great unit and allows you to set the input levels while recording which is a must IMO, if you're going to get a decent recording.

    As for microphones, I'm using an Audio Technica ATM35 clip on microphone, it's a little pricey, but I have it to mic my DB mainly and it doubles as a good recording mic though I do want to replace the unidirectional element with an omnidirectional one.
     
  6. JPJ

    JPJ

    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Phil (and others),
    I'm trying to decide which type of mic would be better for taping practices in close quarters and gigs as bars and small clubs. A lot of people seem to be using the omnis, but cardiod pattern mics also seem to apply here. I've been looking at sub-cardiods as a compromise, but am hesitant to go with them, as I fear that a compromise would neither get me a good ambient sound nor a good focused sound. Why are you switching to omnidirectional vs. what you're currently using?
     
  7. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I've got a couple of Sony MD units, both of which I use with the Sony ECM-717 (I think) stereo mikes - these get their power from the MD, but we're talking small amounts here, not 48V as in 'phantom power from the mixing desk'.

    They don't have the ability to set the levels on the fly but, when it comes down to it, how am I meant to play around with the levels while still providing the bass groove in a rehearsal room or stage that is probably poorly lit and short on space?

    My normal tactic is to set the manual recording level fairly low and leave it running. I'd rather have the recording a bit quiet than marred by distorted peaks - because the sound quality is very good, even in LP4 mode (about 5 hours per disk!), I can always boost the levels up once I've transferred the tracks to PC without having to worry about extra noise.

    Wulf
     
  8. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I use a Sharp MDMS722 with Sound Professionals binaural mics. The recorder DOES send power to the mics but it's only like 5v or something. It can make fine recordings with that but I prefer running the mics through the 9v battery box which can also be purchased from www.soundprofessionals.com. There is marked difference between recordings with and without the battery box. The bass wall is often hit without and rarely hit with. The mics perform very well when given the full 9volts.

    Since the mics are stereo binaural (meaning they pick up and record what your ears hear if placed in the proximity of your ears) I usually end up wearing a hat and clipping one mic to each side (another option is clipping them to your collar). Later on when I listen to these recordings on headphones it will often cause me to turn and look over my shoulder when it plays some crowd noise or sounds of someone talking because it really does come darn close to recording just what your ears hear. I've really enjoyed the recordings that I've made with these. The only drawback is when you're recording a concert and someone right next to you rips out a scream. Ugh...

    One more thing about the MD 722 is that if you have the powered battery box and don't need the phantom power then you can plug the mics into the line-in instead of the mic input. I prefer this because it's a little less sensitive and I have more "microcontrol" over the recording level. I love the volume adjustment on the fly using the remote control capability. I just wish it showed the rec. level on the remote's display screen instead of just on the unit display.

    If you have any more questions just let me know.

    brad cook
     
  9. JPJ

    JPJ

    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    As far as purchasing an older model, I'm a little worried about two things. First, some of the reliability problems I've read about with the older ones, and also the usual risks of buying a used piece of electronic equipment...reliability with no warranty. However, if I could find a seller that I trusted, and who had a recorder in good shape that would hopefully give me hours of trouble-free recording, I might go for an older/used model. It's a tough one to call...
     
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    If you go with an older Sharp I would recommend the 722 over the 702. The 702 was plagued with TOC error problems, the 722 is better in that respect.

    Your question about ominidirectional:

    I just wanted to try it out to see what difference it would make to the resulting recording. After hearing the difference I may decide to stay with the unidirectional element.

    I also have the Sound Professionals Binaural mics which mount on the end of a pair of glasses (great for stealth recording) and I've gotten great results with it, but not in high volume situations. In high volume situations the mic got overloaded and the resulting recording was distorted, despite the input levels never peaking. For acoustic gigs and gigs where the volume levels aren't going to be high, I use the Binaural which gives you that great stereo effect. For everything else I use the ATM 35 and just record in mono and get twice the record time.
     
  11. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    So true, Smash. That battery box greatly improved performance. I would recommend to anyone to invest in the battery box if you're going to get Sound Pro binaurals or something equivalent. They really perform well with the extra 4 volts.

    brad cook
     
  12. JPJ

    JPJ

    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    I'm just "thinking out loud" here, as I haven't had a chance to talk to the folks at soundprofessionals in person yet, but if I go with a battery/controls pack, I'm wondering if I really even need to limit myself to a Sharp. Based on what I've read here and the research I've done at SP, it looks like I can assemble a compact little unit that would allow me to run the microphone(s) through the line in (bypassing the MD unit) which is supposedly sconically superior, I could boost the power to the mics, thus increasing headroom and performance, would have more contol over the input level, and could get a separate, more detailed control over the bass response of the unit, with more finite levels of bass cut.

    While I'm not sure how much this package would cost, if I go this route, it then seems like I could get any entry level recorder (as recording level, mic input, bass response technolgy, etc.) are all irrelevant as long as I use the SP "aftermarket" package. This set-up should also give me superior performance and flexability. Any thoughts?

    And on a related note, do you have any opinions as to the reliability of Sharp MD recorders vs. Sony products (SMASH-no need to reply to this one!;) ) I really don't have a predisposition, but if the only reason why Sharps are so popular over Sony units is becaus of their mic inputs and ability to adjuct recording levels (as opposed to being higher-quality units), I might want to go with a Sony if the above-described package works out. Opinions on this??? Thanks for all the great replies so far, as it is extremely helpful.
     
  13. This is sort of relevent to the original question, and it came up in a recent discussion with some other musician friends, so here's my original reply:

    quote...

    The tiny MD recorder which I use at the Sahara is a Sony MZ-N707, and the record-level on it can be set to auto-level, or can be adjusted manually. The microphone I use with that recorder is a Sony ECM-MS907 - it's fairly small, and is a electret-condenser stereo microphone, and the pickup pattern can be varied from narrow to wide. I think I paid about $80 for the microphone, and I'm sure they're now available for less than that.

    I've been quite happy with the setup I use. My prime objective was getting a recorder which was very small, but produced fairly good recordings. I was surprised when I started using the MD format - traditionally it had always been slammed on the fact that because it uses compression (making the files smaller) the quality of the audio suffered enormously. The compression on the one which I use can be changed - I use it on the highest quality, and get about 74->80mins on each MD (depends on the brand - I've only used the Sony (74mins) and the HHB (80mins) so far - there may be others...), and I've been quite happy with the quality - I think both of you have CDs I've made from MDs recorded at the Sahara.

    I think I would tend to go with a small, electret mic, as it sounds like you're looking for portability - also I always record in stereo - you can record in mono, but unless you're recording a talk/lecture it's not worth the hassle to change it - although you do get more time per MD, especially if you change the quality (more compression) of the recording. I don't bother doing that with mine, as I'm recording music mostly, but it might be worth considering if you're looking for long-recording times.

    The SM57 is a great general-purpose mic - but for casual recording, I've found it much easier to use a small mic - the MS907 is about the size of my thumb, and comes with a tiny clip/stand which makes setting it up a cinch - the problem with an SM57 is that you would need some sort of stand for it - yes, I know you could get a table-stand, but now you're starting to clutter everything up with stuff which has to be carried around... then there's the cable plus special adapter which would go from an XLR connector (on the back of the SM57) to a 1/8" mini-stereo jack... etc. etc.

    The other question, which has not been addressed, is what do you want to do with the recording, or how will it be used? Do you intend to put it on your computer? or will it be burned to a CD? The software which came with the Sony, is fine for controlling the recorder, copying music from the computer to the recorder and keeping track of it, but is somewhat deficient when it comes to taking stuff I've recorded with the MD recorder, and getting it into a form from which I can burn CDs. This seems to be a (slight) limitation (could be something to do with the copyright fiasco which has been on-going for the past 5-years between Sony (plus others) and the rest of the music world). I avoid the problem by re-recording (dubbing) directly from the optical out on another recorder I have (HHB MDP-500) to an optical (digital) input on any of my CD recorders - these are stand-alone CD recorders, that is to say not CD burners attached to a computer. Of course, you can always record from the analog outputs - the copyright protection stuff is only a matter of concern when making digital copies. There may be software available now which allows you to do what I had difficulty doing with the Sony MD recorder - I bought mine getting on for a year ago.

    Er, um - I think that's it for the time being - longer than I'd intended, but I hope you find at least some of it useful.

    end-quote...


    Hope this helps -
    - Wil
     
  14. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I've got the Sony MZ-N707 - I use the track mark on the MD to divide into tracks, the Sony MD software to name the tracks (a keyboard is MUCH more efficient than up, down and enter buttons!) and WinNMD to get the songs onto the PC (it records via the line in socket in real-time, but respects the track marks). In some ways, it would be nice to have all the functions in a single package but as a frequent Linux user, I'm not unfamiliar with 'piping' commands together to achieve the results I'm after.

    I own two Sony MD units, and have found them both very reliable (although that's only based on about 9 months experience).

    Wulf
     
  15. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    true about the TOC errors - my 702 has hosed a few of my discs to the point where they are unrecoverable. :(


    my only experience with sony md units is my roommates unit which can't make a good mic'd recording no matter what you do. with the same sony mic that i use with my 702 his sounds staticy and distorts even on the lowest setting whispering into the mic whereas mine sounds incredible.

    but his is probably broken. i shouldn't talk - mine doesn't work unless you plug it in to the outlet, and that is the suck!
     
  16. safebuster

    safebuster

    Sep 5, 2000
    NY, NY
    has anyone tried the Sony MZ-R37 MD? I want to use it for rehearsal recording as well .... any feedback on them?