Friday, June 21, 2013

Sony M10 Pocket Recorder - Nice!

The Sony M10 came out in 2010, or so. It deserves continued attention. It's a little thicker than an iPhone and comes with 4GB internal memory and a microSD/Memory Stick Micro™ (M2™) slot for expanded memory. It fits comfortably in the hand. 

I was able to work it immediately. After inserting two AA batteries and holding down the power button, the M10 sprang to life, indicating the sample rate and bit depth, amount of recording time left and that it was in STOP mode. Hitting the REC button put the M10 instantly into record-ready with the yellow back-lit PAUSE button flashing and meters showing level. I tapped the PAUSE button, and was recording. Nice.

Fast Facts
Applications: Recording audio anywhere.
Features: Dual, on board condenser omnis, discrete record level, easy access to most controls, multiple sample and bit rates of MP3 and .WAV
Price: $329

It like that the M10 has a dedicated record level knob. The caramel backlit LCD display has horizontal metering that shows -40, -24, -12, -6, 0 and OVER. There are also LEDs next to each of the two mics that indicate -12 and OVER, so when the backlit LCD panel goes dark, you can still check metering. Excellent.

Because there are no moving parts, such as in a spinning hard drive, in the M10, the small omni condenser mics mounted in the top corners of the case don’t pickup HD noise. Separate 1/8” TRS jacks for external mic and pro level line in populate the space between the mics. The 1/8” TRS out can be switched between headphone and line. In addition to the usual controls the Track Marking button can be used during recording to drop flags that you can use during playback with the FF and FR buttons to jump to those points. 

A small USB port allows connection to any computer where the M10 appears as a standard drive. A hardwired remote can stop, start, record or drop track flags and has a red LED that remains lit when recording. A 3 VDC wall wart power supply is included. There’s a very small utility speaker mounted in the base of the M10 and in most normal situations it’s loud enough to let you hear what has been recorded. You may need to put it to your ear in noisy environments or use headphones.

My first recording effort was a snap. I used the threaded socket on the back of the M10 to mount it on my old 35 mm still camera tripod and positioned it so the right mic was pointed up and the left mic down. That let me plug my Sony MDR 7506 headphones in without the cord draping over the M10. I grabbed my acoustic guitar and slid the rig into place so that I was singing into the right mic and the left mic was picking up my guitar. I had to restart once because I got too close to the mic and popped it. Note to Sony: Consider a small foam pop hat like the Zoom H2. Second take was fine and sounded good when played back on the Sony headphones. An easy-access front panel Delete button plays back the selected file so you can hear the track you’re about to blow off. Another good idea.

Connecting the M10 to my Mac NoteBook with the supplied USB cable, I dragged the take to a Garage Band timeline, trimmed, tweaked and published the clip to a blog page on my iWeb site. From recording on the couch to playback on the Internet in about eight minutes.

After double recording 58 minutes with my Canon XL2 MiniDV and the M10, the M10 was 6 frames fast. There is a five-second pre-record buffer, but you have to be in record stand-by for five seconds to fill the buffer. Battery life with the M10 is phenomenal. I never drained the two AA I used, and saw one report claiming forty-three hours of constant record. The digital limiter, along with over 10 dB of analog headroom, allows a wide spectrum of input levels to be successfully recorded.

When I loaded files from my Mac to the M10 for playback. It worked for my MP3 files but not for all of my .WAV files. The basic PTLE stereo files played back, but some I had brought into iTunes and added metadata to would not play. Sony was able to open my files in Sound Forge and resave without metadata. For Macs, opening the files with Switch software and saving them as standard .WAV files allowed the problem files to play.

The M10 feels and acts like a solid toy. I like the feature set. 


Product Points
Up: Phenomenal battery life, excellent headroom/limiter design.
Down: Clock is not quite accurate for long double system recording.
Score: I own a Sound Devices 744T and still want one of these.

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1 comment:

  1. I heard these accept Sony ECM BMP type lav's. Sony wires their BMP lav's for their UWP series wireless systems so their not standard 1/8th. Seems like this could be a handy tool for people with some ECM-77 bmp lavs.