Can anybody tell me how they sound?

D50 seems to be the best… not much said about the 661. I wanted to record quiet ambient atmospheres.

How many channels does the Optical in take? 1 or 2?

People seem to have lots of troubles to connect the D50 using the optical in, the same with Marantz?

I am truly in love with the MixPre D and it would work great with the D50 but not sure if it’s a good audio interface and right now I am looking for something that can do both. Anybody?

13 Answers 13


I've got Marantz and absolutely love it. Optical In takes 2 channels and I use it as much as XLRs, in cases when I need to rip something from web, or as Save as... function with demo software.

D50's microphone would be slightly better I think, but convenience and inter-transferability of SD card storage format makes Marantz a winner straight away (or at least it made for me).

But it eats batteries like nothing.


I have just purchased a D50 as an replacement and upgrade for my broken H4n. I have first considered using a Sound Devices MixPre D as front end going into the digital in of the D50, too. But after some research on the net I have learned that:

a) this would require using a separate box to get the signal from the AES out of the MixPre into the SPDIF in of the D50; if it was a coaxial SPDIF in on the D50 the above mentioned cable with matching resistance would be fine, but unfortunately the D50 has an optical in ...

b) most likely the Sony would not be able to handle the digital signal of the MixPre even with a proper physical connection; I have read several negative reports on this, which is caused apparently by the Sony expecting any digital signal coming in to be in a specific data format (containing bit depth and sample rate in the header) which many digital devices do not deliver, including the MixPreD. Sound Devices kind of confirmed this issue in their user forum, and recommended the USBPre2 instead as a front end, as this device is able to deliver the required digital data format (and it has optical outs). They might consider updating the firmware of the MixPreD as well some day, but it didn't sound as if you should hold your breath for it.

This is all based on internet research and hearsay though without any hands on experience, so maybe somebody managed to use a MixPreD as digital front end for a D50 and can share his experience.




I have the d50, I've never used the optical but, the mics it has are great and totally worth the price. I know that's not exactly what you wanted to know but I hope it helps a little.


As a previous owner of a Marantz PMD recorder and current owner of a D50, I can tell you that the D50 wins in:

  • battery life (I leave a set of batteries in there for weeks at a time)
  • build quality (it's a heavy hunk of metal)
  • internal mic quality
  • storage (internal 4GB without an cards added)
  • size (it's incredibly portable, hide-able, and unobtrusive in your backpack)

What it lacks:

  • XLR inputs (unless you buy the optional attachment, which is expensive)
  • convenient media slot (sony's memory sticks are easy to get, but a bit obscure)

I have made an incredible number of very useable recordings with my PCM-D50. The interface for recording is perfectly user-friendly, but I would certainly practice with it before you take it out into the field (read the manual). The MixPre-D would be a great companion with it. I personally have not used the optical input either, but I have sent a line level signal in and I suspect the setup is virtually the same.



I found some test audio samples, somewhere on the web, of both ambient and vocal recordings using the internal mics on both of these. The noise floor on the Marantz is far higher. Having owned several handheld recorders, including the very nice and compact Olympus ls-11 I recently purchased the Sony and finally I can get the quiet ambiences I want with low enough noise.

You can get the XLR-1 attachment to provide two XLR mic-ins and phantom power.


A good compromise is to get the Sony PCM-M10 which is fantastic value, not as good as the D50, but not that far off given the difference in price and the 661 when you need a larger rig.

That gives you both portability and flexibility. I like the 661 but only with an external mic, the internal one is just for emergencies. One warning with the Marantz, I've found that with a Rode NT4 the transients will often clip on sounds with a fast attack unless you use the internal pad to reduce the gain.

A 661 with the NT4 is a great combination for recording ambiences.


Woowww thanks to everybody. Well seems that I will fo for a Sony then... since what I want is to be able to get decent recordings with the internal mics. I have been using H4n and it's been quite impossible to record decent ambients. Interesting thing about the M10, anybody can say anything about the internal mics? should I still go with the D50? I don't mind spending twice the money if it's worth... but I want something that I don't have to replace in the future. So...

Thanks to everybody again.


Take a listen of these examples at a fairly high volume, so you can hear the hiss that is present in different recorders due to lousy preamps..The Sony D50 is the winner for me, in overall sound quality and the absence of noise. http://www.wingfieldaudio.com/portable-recorder-sound-samples.html I am in the same ballpark as you my friend, I love the SD Mix-pre D and I'm currently looking for a quality recorder with a digital input, so I can bypass the AD converters and preamps in it, and use the digital signal from Mix-pre D. The only thing you have to consider is that Mic-pre D has an AES/EBU digital output which is 110 oms resistance, and spdif connectors are 75 ohms. The missmatch in impendances will cause errors, pops and clicks if you don't encorporate some kind of impendance matching cable or adapter. Let me know how the quest is going for you! :)


Thanx for the info Felix. Did you consider a Tascam DR 100 mkII which has an digital input through an TRRS connector (TRRS to RCA cable is included), or will this input cause the same problem as in Mix-pre D/Sony D50 scenario?.. Cheers!


I have no hands on experience, but from the specs that shouldn't be a problem; the only drawback is that the digital in on the Tascam shares the jack with the input for the RC wire - so if you use the digital in, your remote control does only work in wireless mode. The SPDIF data format issue seems to be D50 specific anyway from what I know.


Thnx Felix, I'll look into th DR-100 and let you know what are the results, if you're interested, that is :) Cheers


Hi. I have the D50 and love it, it's been with me in all sorts of places and always accompanies me both with my full sound recording rig and in my personal life. It's so easy to just get out and hit record and the results are incredibly good, many recordings have been used in features, short films, commercials etc. I have used the optical inputs from my mac and I have to say it's a bit hit and miss but when they do work the recordings are great, as you'd expect. I would do a test with the normal analogue output of the MixPre-D into the line in of the D50, you'll find that the recordings are excellent and not much different from the Digital in. If you do a search online you'll find many people using this method with excellent results. Digital does not necessarily mean it's better, if you get the levels correct with the analogue input you may not notice the difference.


Well I was going to go for the D50, but I had a chat with Sony and they confirmed that is discontinued, and I ask myself what's the point getting a product discontinued. Does anybody recomend any other gear? I want it for fild recording and I would like some decent internal mics. D50 seemed it was the choice to go... but not any more. Tascam DR100Mkll? Marantz? Anybody? I would love de M10 of Sony but the Omni mics patern won't give me a real stereo image so... THanks to everybody for you time and help!! : )

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