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I've been using minidisc players for the last decade. Since that technology is as good as dead, and so will by my last player soon, I'm in the market for the latest and greatest portable music player with at least the same functionality as md.

  • records form line in/mic in to wav/mp3
  • built-in mics is abonus but not required
  • plays wav/mp3 to headphone/line out
  • decent uncoloured output stage
  • removable storage like SDHC cards or else huge capaicty like 500G
  • it has to remember last play position after power off
  • battery life of at least 20/30 hours on one set/charge
  • hold function
  • portable, eg max 60*10*20mm or so
  • actual harware buttons is a bonus
  • bookmark function is bonus as well
  • I'm willing to pay a lot for something great as I use the device like an hour a day

So far I tried the Tascam DR08 and Roland R05, and while close to what I'm after they didn't gave me that 'wow what a fantastic device' feeling I got from my md players. Tascam felt a bit cheap but sound quality was good. Doesn't remember play position (likely because it's mainly a recorder and not a player). The R05 feels and looks much more sturdy, but the playback sound quality was lacking (too much high mid, not much low end) and also does not remember play position. Menu organization was not all that either.. Recording quality on both of them was pretty awesome for such small devices though.

update two days ago I found a PCM-M10 for only 190euros which is a gooe deal here in Europe. And it was love at first use:

  • coming from a one-line MD screen the display is outstanding, and the ui is very responsive (not so much on DR08 and R05). I have no problem with the menu structure at all, nor with the folder structure
  • build is solid, buttons are solid, placement needs some getting used to (well, after 2 walks of an hour I could already play/pause/forward/volume without getting it out of my pocket so no complaints there. Try that with a touch device :]) Only con so far: the device is not exactly small, it's like today's smartphones but twice as thick. I can live with that though.
  • recording quality is really, really good for a device most would not consider 'pro' and with not a huge price tag. Only tried with the built-in mics, which pick up everything in a good way. Line-in is also very good. Pretty sure it beats any of th MD devices I owned.
  • then for the most important matter as I'm going to use it as a player 90% of the time: playback sound quality is simply outstanding. Again better than any MD I owned, and I'd even say it comes close to audiophile players like HM-801 (only one I heard in those regions, but costs 3 or 4 times more and does not record)
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Glad you like your M10! A major difference between the M10 and any MD player is that you can record and play uncompressed audio on the M10. You can also record at 24 bits, so you can set your record level low enough to have plenty of headroom and still get lots of detail. –  ObscureRobot Dec 11 '11 at 0:35
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Give the Sony M10 a try. Battery life is insane, particularly on a pair of Eneloops.

The manual is available here.

I just ran a test on my M10 - after a power cycle, the M10 remembers which track you were playing, but not the position within the track. The Sony has very good battery life, so you could just slide the power button to "lock" mode and keep it in on/standby mode until you are ready to continue. That won't work very well if you go weeks between listening, but may not be too bad for a few hours.

Another option to consider is an iPhone or iPod Touch and TASCAM / Chris Randall's PCMRecorder. And if you need better recording quality, add the Tascam iM2 that PCMRecorder was designed for.

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+1 I already had been looking at the Sony site but not in the 'pro' section. I looked through the manual and it seems this device does inherit a lot of the md functionality. Definitely going to try this one. –  stijn Dec 7 '11 at 11:31
    
btw do you own one? If so, do you know if it remembers what track it was playing after a power cycle? –  stijn Dec 7 '11 at 16:39
    
answer updated. –  ObscureRobot Dec 8 '11 at 2:15
    
took this for an answer, see update –  stijn Dec 10 '11 at 18:10
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Check out the Tascam DR40.I just got one and love it more than my Zoom H4N. You can name the file ont the device... that is a great feature.

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I already looked at it in the store and it is simply too big to be portable for me, it should fit in the pocket of my pants.. –  stijn Dec 7 '11 at 11:12
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We use a Sony PCM-D50 at work and I can't recommend it enough. Sound quality is good enough for our engineering (automotive sound quality) use and the built quality is top notch. It's a bit more pricey than some of the others, but I would consider this "professional"-quality equipment.

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IIRC, the main differences between the D50 and the M10 are: cardioid mics on the D50 and omnis on the M10; optical digital input on the D50, analog only on the M10; Memory Stick Pro HG Duo on the D50, MicroSD and Memory Stick Micro on the M10; Four AAs in the D50, two AAs in the M10. –  ObscureRobot Dec 9 '11 at 0:10
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