Sony PCM-D50

THE SONY PCM-D50 ($599 RETAIL/$499 STREET) sports many of the same features as its celebrated big brother the PCM-D1—but at about a quarter of the price. It has a large display, is capable of up to 24-bit/96kHz recording, has a built-in adjustable stereo condenser microphone with both X-Y and Wide pattern settings, provides optical digital I/O, and comes with 4GB of internal flash memory (as well as supporting a 4GB Sony Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo card, $49, which, when combined with the PCM-D50’s internal memory, provides 8GB of storage at an affordable price). The unit may be powered by the included AC adapter or by four AA batteries.
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The D50 plays back in either mp3 or WAV formats, but only records to WAV, adding an extra step for podcasters. You can, however, drag and drop WAV files onto your desktop or into nearly any audio software (such as the included Sound Forge Audio Studio LE). You can also record at 22.05kHz, 44.1kHz, and 48kHz—and Sony’s Super Bit Mapping crams 20 bits of information into a 16-bit word. Also, an onboard limiter records a parallel audio stream at -12dB below the primary stream, and substitutes the lower signal into the main recording should the limiter encounter an overload.

I used the PCM-D50 to capture jam sessions and make various field recordings, and it sounded great in all applications. While there are currently lots of small recorders to choose from, the D50 is among the best I’ve encountered.

KUDOS Great sound. Large display. Generous feature set.

CONCERNSMemory slot requires costly Sony cards. Doesn’t record to mp3 format.

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