2004 update - TC-D5M still better than digital?

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Most of the posts I've read in this forum are from the late 1990s, so before I splurge on a TC-D5M, I just wanted to find out if this is STILL the way to go for recording your voice when practicing, or if digital technology has caught up yet? A James Boyk post from 1999 says "the digital age is coming but it hasn't arrived yet..". Has it now?

-- Susan-Marie Stedman (smsted@juno.com), June 10, 2004


There's maybe good news. Sony is introducing a new version of MiniDisk called Hi-MD. This does what previous MD machines do---record a lot of material on a tiny disk by virtue of omitting some parts of the sound(!)----but it also will offer straight digital recording with no omissions. I presume that the new models will have built-in mike preamps, too, like the previous models. Probably they will have "AGC -- automatic gain control" as a default setting. This compresses your dynamics; and to avoid this, you'll have to press a few buttons every time you record. This is a pain, but you get used to it. Or maybe Sony will have seen the light, and will allow you to set "AGC off" as your default.

Please remember that for much of the work in my book--which is what this forum is about, so I'm assuming that's your context---you do not need the highest-quality of sound reproduction. Of course we always to produce beautiful sound; I'm just saying that we can often do without the machine's confirmation of it. If it's a question of using the techiques vs. not using them, begin with whatever's to hand in the way of equipment, and only improve it if you must.

(Further comments: The TC-D5M is not made any more, however. So let's ignore cassettes. No cassette recorder can give highest-quality reproduction of voice, anyway, because of a coarsening of sound due to "scrape flutter." And the speed instabilities--"wow & flutter"--in most cassette machines can give an incorrect picture of your vibrato.)

(Until I heard about Hi-MD, I would have tended to recommend a hard-disk digital recorder like the Masterlink, made by Alesis; but *it's more expensive; Froogle shows lots of vendors selling it at $1k, and one at $800. *In addition, it has no mike preamp nor level control; so you'd need to provide these, and I'm going to assume you'd rather not.

(So much depends on how sensitive you are to various kinds of defects.)

-- James Boyk (boyk@caltech.edu), June 10, 2004.

I forgot to say that yes, MD and Hi-MD are digital. Some musicians will still find even the very best digital not acceptable (and Hi-MD and the Masterlink are not the very best); but you have to hear and decide for yourself.

No matter what machine you get, remember that the microphone is crucial!

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), June 10, 2004.

Thanks for your quick response. I have your book on order and look forward to reading and using it.

Excessive vibrato is one of the main things I need to work on, so the "wow and flutter" issue is a big deal for me. You can still get TC-D5Ms on e-bay (please, fellow readers, don't go there right now and out-bid me) so I thought I'd see if I could pick one up for a few hundred dollars. ANd yes, I plan on making sure I have a good mic. Is your "Musician's Ear" being sold retail right now?

-- Susan-Marie Stedman (smsted@juno.com), June 10, 2004.

From your answer, I suggest you avoid cassette. First run of Musician's Ear sold out; I have one left but keeping it as reference for the next run.

-- James Boyk (boyk@performancerecordings.com), June 10, 2004.

I have a Sony tc-d5m for sale. Offers to email address please. If you get a non delivery report back, the email address is cancelled because the unit is sold. Shipping from The Netherlands will cost about 30 euro's (insured shipment)

-- Bas (tc-d5m@xs4all.nl), July 01, 2004.

The tc-d5m is sold.

-- bas (tc-d5m@xs4all.nl), July 20, 2004.

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