Customer Review

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Using external mics, February 1, 2010
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This review is from: Sony PCM-M10 Portable Linear PCM Voice Recorder with Electret Condenser Stereo Microphones, 96 kHz/24-bit, 4GB Memory & USB High-Speed Port - Red (Electronics)
Somebody finally got it right. This recorder sounds great, with very low self-noise and wide frequency range from the internal mics. It is easy to setup, and super-easy to use.

Other reviews cover general features. Here are some remarks about stereo recording in particular:

Stereo recording:
The two built-in omnidirectional condenser mics give you nice stereo separation when the recorder is in the midst of a sound field. I was a little surprised, as you wouldn't expect to get decent stereo imaging from omnis so close together, it's why stereo recorders/mics typically use two cardioid pattern mics. The downside of cardioids is less sensitivity for low frequencies, whereas an omni will capture those lows. Sony has a neat trick here: the omnis are set into the body of the recorder, shielded from each other, so each effectively sees its own half of the room (plus reflections of the other half). You get a nice stereo separation (though not the kind of imaging that lets you pinpoint sound sources). And you get the wide, flat frequency response of omni microphones. If anything, the bass can be a little boomy when you're too close to a sound source -- and the recorder has a low-frequency cutoff you can switch on if you want to lose some of that low-end rumble. They are nice-sounding mics.

Using your own mics:
If you want to use your own microphones, you will need a female XLR to mini stereo cable (Hosa 2' Right Angle Mini Stereo Male to 2 XLR Female Breakout Y-Cable) to plug them into the recorder. The recorder is advertised as having plug-in-power (eg, phantom power) for external mics. But that's the 2V variety of phantom power for little electret condensers, not the 48V you need for your nice condenser mics. You'll have to power them separately, either using a phantom power box like Rolls PB223 Dual Mic Phantom Power 48 Volt Power Supply or an external pre-amp. The recorder will accept both line-level and mic-level inputs.

A case!
The recorder does not come with any sort of protective case. It's an odd size, but I've found that a PSP Go Soft Carrying Case works beautifully, will also fit the official Sony windscreen, and has an extra pocket for the remote control.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 26, 2010 5:02:10 PM PDT
If you plug a pro-level three-pin mic directly into this recorder -- using your idiotic "female XLR to mini stereo cable", you will have an impedence mis-match that will sound awful.

That's why the machine gives you 2V phantom power -- to power the kind of mic it was designed to use ... the consumer-level mics which use the 1/8" TRS plug that fits into the 1/8" TRS jack on the recorder.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2010 1:07:56 AM PDT
Let's see if I can clear up a misunderstanding about input impedance matching. Electricity and input specifications can both be complicated things, and if Pennywhistle is confused, then perhaps others are too.

First, google Bruce Bartlett's impedance FAQ for a well-written explanation. For now what matters is that there are two ways an impedance mismatch can go: A high-impedance mic/instrument into a low-impedance mixer/recorder input, or a low-impedance mic/instrument into a high-impedance input.

The former (eg, plugging your electric guitar into a mic input) is bad, will yield a muddy sound, because high-frequencies are rolled off. This is probably what Pennywhistle was referring to.

But the latter (eg, plugging your mic into a higher-impedance input) does not alter the signal spectrum. It can often be a problem, eg, if you are plugging a mic into a high-impedance line or instrument input, because the overall signal level will be too low, and turning up the gain increases the noise from the amplifier.

Which brings us to the M10, and a whole raft of other portable recorders. Although its inputs are moderate impedance, right between what's considered low and high, its sensitivity is well-suited for standard microphone output voltages. It is a microphone input, not a line-level input, and it is happy with either electret condenser mics or pro-level mics. And frankly, as good as the built-in mics sound, this recorder sounds even sweeter with good external mics. The great news being that the M10's preamps do a fine job (rarely the case with recorders at this price point). You don't need an external pre-amp, just some phantom power for your mics. Field recordists have been using little battery-powered phantom boxes like the Rolls for years in just this setup.

So, why bother with this external gear, besides improved sound quality? Control over your stereo image. If you're a field recorder, maybe you're using high-end binaural mics placed on the sides of your head. If you have mic stands in a venue, maybe you want to set them up in a geometry that gives you a wider image. You don't have that choice with the built-ins. So, for a coupla cigarette-sized boxes on top of whatever bulk your mics add, you've got a first-class live stereo recording rig.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2015 7:24:06 AM PST
Xgenei says:
What John said. Phantom power is not plug in power. Plug in power is generally 1.5 to 4 volts and is for electret condensor mics that don't have a built-in battery. The large diaphram condensors require upwards of 40 volts, as I recall. They don't use much power though. The "battery boxes" use a 9V battery and may also have a booster circuit but I'm not sure he's right though - you can't run "studio" mics without a phantom source - a battery box may not supply enough voltage for a studio mic. LOOK IT UP for your mic. The "plug in power" will let you run mics JUST LIKE THE PAIR BUILT IN (lavaliers and binaural) except via a cord - and also receivers - which no doubt have their own power.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2015 11:35:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 28, 2015 11:36:22 AM PST
The MZ10 is designed to work with stereo mics such as the ECM-MS907 and the ECM-MS957. The 10 does indeed give out "Plug-In-Power" to make them work.
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