"Head to head" internal mic recording test of Sony M-10 vs. D-50.
I have owned a D-50 for about 8 years, purchased the moment it came out and used about twice a week. I did have a period of non-use but stored it with fresh batteries and did not get the "dead" problem I've read about. I've owned an M-10 for about 2 years and used it occasionally.
I'm considering buying another Sony as backup, so I tested the two recorders yesterday. I set them side by side almost touching on a pad on a raised surface - hard to get two tripods close enough. I spent awhile adjusting the recording levels to hit "over" at the same volume.
I then stood in front of them and talked and played a bit on a high end Martin guitar.
I downloaded the recordings to my computer so I could compare through the same electronics. I listened to the M-10 first, since that is the one I wanted to buy. Sounded very good. Then I listened to the D-50 and at the first spoken words I heard I was amazed how much more natural I sounded. Wow, I guess I need to fork over for another D-50.
Unfortunately, Sony stopped making the D-50. I remain unconvinced that the D-100 adds anything I need at it's higher price. Well, perhaps the mics might be better, but I don't have one to try. So I'm afraid I need to look at the used market, always a gamble and no warranty.
By the way, as a side thing I tested with two identical low quality external "T" mics from a couple of M-Audio Microtrack recorders. Both Sony's asked about PIP (mic power) and I chose to use it (needed with those mics). Then I repeated the test after switching mics just in case the mics were not identical.
I found that the recording levels had to be turned up quite a bit. The two recordings on the D-50 sounded the same - muffled and noisy, poor quality. For some reason the recordings on the M-10 would not play. Perhaps I made some error (twice). Just tried a quick talk recording and it played this time, so inconclusive.
Other comments: I particularly noticed that the D-50 offered a switch for both limiter and low filter, no menu scrolling needed. Importantly, the record level knob had contrasting color numbers that could be easily read from a distance, looking down. The M-10 had the record level numbers on the side, stamped, very hard to see, and the limiter etc. were buried in the menus. I record our own performance and other's, when I need to tweak the record level I want to see if I'm going the right way. Hate the M-10 stamped/cast dial numbers.
The D-50 track marks are really there, with no noise or pauses, and when downloaded they show as separate files.
The M-10 track marks are flag markers that only show on the recorder unless you go through the menu and upgrade them. This to me is a minus but for some it could be a plus - you can adjust the track marks later but it requires editing on the machine. I'm sure I remember in the past being disappointed that the track marks had a skip in the sound, vs. the D-50 sonically invisible track marks.
Minor thing but the D-50 headphone volume control has a rotary dial (I prefer it), vs. the rocker on the M-10. A minor negative on the D-50 is the mini USB inserts upside down, with the wide side towards the screen instead of away from the screen. Both models use the mini USB format, which in my experience (not theory) is much stronger than the micro.
Somewhere on a recording I made yesterday on the M-10 there was a digital fluke, some waver in the recorded sound. I don't like that. I do like that it will record for an incredibly long time with a 16GB card, I ran it all night once outdoors recording coyotes while I slept, still going strong in the morning with battery power still available.
Edit: After posting this I ordered a "buy it now" used D-50 from eBay, I noticed Amazon had some as well, but mine had a lower price. Hope it's a good one.
I'll also mention that I tossed a valuable recording on the M-10 because I used the automatic recording level - it sets way too low of a level, giving a terrible signal to noise level. I'll never use the auto level "feature" again, set your level manually and rely on the limiter for spikes.