Besides great specs, featuring quality Analog Devices signal path components, what really makes the PCM-D1 so exciting is the fact that Sony managed to pack all this power into an attractive titanium housing that weights less than 19 ounces. That's with batteries; regular, find'em anywhere AA batteries. Sony includes 4 recharcheable NMH batteries with the PCM-D1 but you'll want to keep an ample supply of Duracells on hand as the PCM-D1 is a little power hungry. Considering everything the PCM-D1 that's not a complaint. And with any field audio gear that's nothing new. I don't know any engineers that travel without a full box of batteries for all the goodies.

Over the years I've used a variety of portable equipment to capture audio in the field for radio and television broadcast. I started with the classic Marantz cassette deck of PDM430 lineage, moved through several incarnations of DAT and MiniDisc and more recently a PC with any number of I/O options. Each format has its pros and cons. Cassettes: an incredibly ubiquitous format with hiss and lower fidelity. DAT: superior sound but fragile. MiniDisc: portable high fidelity but compressed. PC: superior fidelity and non-linear but not so portable.

The PCM-D1 combines the best traits of these various formats with only one obvious downside, the cost of storage. Flash memory, especially professional grade that's fast and reliable, is relatively expensive in terms of total available minutes, TAM, compared to tape, disc, and hard drive storage. However, the advantages of non-volatile memory, instant access and the elimination of a mechanical transport and motor noise, more than make up for its increased cost.

Overall I really enjoyed using the PCM-D1. It does a lot of things very well and is a powerful tool for journalists, musicians and audio engineers alike. It's not often that you get to test serial No.1 off the production line. The PCM-D1 should be on the short list of anyone considering a portable, professional, solid-state recording device. Yes, It's a Sony!

Rick Spence

To read Rick's complete review pick up the July issue of Mix Magazine.

Visit Sony for more information and all the specs on the PCM-D1.