Product Type: Sony MD players
Newest Review: ... in the actual machine, in case you were confronted by the two names and were confused. To sum up the Sony MDS JE-530, in one sentence, i... more
MiniDisc player, now at a mini price
Sony MDS JE530
Member Name: schmams
Sony MDS JE530
Date: 10/03/02, updated on 10/03/02 (4491 review reads)
Advantages: Good Value For Money
Disadvantages: Hassle creating track titles
After having a portable MiniDisc recorder (Sony MZ-R70) for some months I decided to go for a deck as well. One may ask, why bother spending all this money on a deck, when a decent portable recorder has all the necessary functions, plus it's much smaller. Well, there are few things that decks generally do better:
Better sound quality - here we are talking mainly about the DAC (digital to analog converter). A top of the range MiniDisc deck would have more sophisticated DAC and hooked to a analog amplifier will sound better than a portable. MDS- JE530 sounds considerably better than the MZ- R70 hooked to the same amplifier, although I couldn't find any quality difference in the ATRAC sound (4.5 vs. DSP type R). (ATRAC= Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding for MiniDisc, to find out more see http://www.minidisc.org/aes_atrac.html)
Ease of use - editing minidiscs is much easier on a deck than on any portable. However the MDS-JE530 is not the best example, but more about this later. Finally, even the most expensive portables don't have things usually found on most decks, like digital output, good sound level indicator and display, custom functions etc.
Now, about the unit. It feels well built and sturdy, weights 3.4 kg. All the knobs and controls on the front panel are logically positioned and operate smoothly. The MiniDisc insert slot is in the center, which I like more than the side slot design found on Sharp decks. The display is large and bright. The level control indicator has 19 cells, not as good as on some tape decks but good enough for me at least. It can even be customized to hold the peak levels. The only bad thing about the display is that you cannot set the deck to scroll continuously the song title during play. Instead, when you want to see the whole song title you should press the scroll button on the remote.
The MDS JE-530 comes with all types connections one needs. Switching between them is done easily wit
h the switch on the front panel. There is optical, digital IN and OUT coaxial digital IN and of course analog LINE IN and OUT as well as phones output with level control. No microphone input though, but if you have a portable this is not a big problem. However this may be important for some people.
Talking about features, MDS JE-530 has more than enough. All the usual ones (editing, play modes etc.) plus pitch control, timer, fading in and out, smart space and auto cut, (useful when recording from analog sources), digital recording, level control and some customizing possibilities. Perhaps the most useful function is the one allowing you to set the sound level at which a track mark is added. When recording from a noisy analog source, the input level never goes down to – infinity dB and track marks are not added properly. With this function you can actually set the input level say to -40 dB and the deck will count everything below this level as silence- very useful if you plan to record a lot from LPs and tapes. When dividing and combining tracks, MDS JE-530 offers a very fine control over the position (1/83 of the second I think) which is not bad at all.
The sound quality is pretty good. I did some A-B listening tests against my Technics SL-PG 490 CD player (see other op) both hooked to my Marantz PM-57 stereo amplifier and could not hear significant difference in quality, and if any I'm sure this is due to the different signal path through the amp rather than ATRAC loss of quality. In any case, the sound quality is extremely close to the original. Concerning sound artefacts and coding problems (reported by some people) I have had no problems so far.
Now, the remote control RM-D29M was my biggest disappointment. It is much smaller than on the other 5xx series Sony decks. Adding track titles is much slower, since one button holds 3 letters and the cursor has to be moved after each letter by pressing the search button. This make
s up to 4 pressings per letter, which can become annoying if trying to add a long song title. Other than that the remote is OK. Most of the functions can be performed from the remote. If you own Sony CD player, you can control and synchronize the play and recordings from the remote. (I had already bought my Technics by then, otherwise I would have gone for the highly recommended Sony CDP–XE330).
I bought my MiniDisc player for £150, back in 1999, (From SevenOaks Hi-Fi, Ipswich, Suffolk) but that was soon after it had been released, now however, if you can still find this machine, I would say you should be able to pick it up for around £100 – 120, as newer models command the market today. Also on an additional note, the MiniDisc Deck is available in two finishes, either Black (MDS JE-530 B) or Silver (MDS JE-530 S), but there is no difference in the actual machine, in case you were confronted by the two names and were confused.
To sum up the Sony MDS JE-530, in one sentence, it is a feature packed MiniDisc deck, with great sound and reasonably priced, shame about the remote though.