Q & A

Back Some common Questions and their Answers


Is the MZ-R50 available in my country?

Yes. Probably. Since the start of April 1998, the MZ-R50 has been available in the United States, the Netherlands and the UK. Not forgetting its native Japan - in either the domestic or International model - for nearly a year. It is probably available in most other countries, too.

For more details contact your local Sony Centre or stockist.

Blank Discs

What blank discs are the best?

The age old adage of you get what you pay for applies. It's when you find a supplier offering somewhat less expensive that you might think what differences there could be.

A major Mini Disc manufacturer has stated that there is virtually no difference in the surface coating between brands, so the only place to look for quality difference is in the casing. Here we find that some cheaper brands feel a lot 'looser' than others, but even these can withstand a fall to the floor. I think it depends on your budget and the relative importance of the disc contents when deciding what blanks to buy. I have used several brands, and have never suffered a disc failure.

See the Mini Disc Community page for more details, and Oscar's Mini Disc Media page for information.


How can I link my MD equipment to my computer?

This largly depends on what connections your computer has: analog or digital? inputs and outputs? Some methods will allow transfer of sound in both directions, whereas other may not. Also, if you have NetMD then there is that method also. The following page explains the various types of cables and connection methods you can choose from: http://geraldtomyn.tripod.com/cables.htm


What options are there to record digitally?

The MZ-R50 is equipped with a 3½mm optical mini jack. This can be connected, given a suitable cable, to a multitude of Hi Fi equipment. These include a CD Walkman, dedicated Hi Fi stack and another Mini Disc unit.

Sony offer two types of optical cable:

Of course, it may be easier or more appropriate in some circumstances to record using standard analogue methods.


What problems are there with the firmware on my unit?

The firmware of a unit is a program used to carry out the button press functions of a unit. It is hard coded onto a ROM chip. Obviously, there may be unexpected 'features' in this program.

MZ-R50: You're playing songs in Repeat Shuffle mode. Now when you edit a title, the unit automatically goes into Repeat 1 mode. When you finish editing the unit goes back to normal play mode, not Repeat Shuffle.

MDT-515: You have to finish editing before the track ends, so you decide to Repeat 1 the track. Good idea, but you have to do it before you start or all your editing gets erased.

Do you know: How to get around these problems, or have any extra information about the firmware? Tell me


Can you tell me more about the LCD?

The LCD on both the main MZ-R50 unit and the remote control give you sometimes vital feedback on what is going on. The remote is obviously more limited in the amount of information it can show, but the basic elements are still present, with its smaller scrolling display. Neither LCD has a back light.

Look Here

Why doesn't my MDT-515 look like the one in the catalogue picture?

The fact is that this picture is of a pre-production model, or a mock-up prototype. There are various differences, the main one being the darker colour of the prototype. Take a look at a real picture of the system.

MD to MD

Can my MDT-515 record an MD to another MD?

Probably not in all likelihood, but it would be nice if it could. There are three MD slots, but there's only one MD mechanism. I doubt there's enough memory in the unit to store a MD worth of music data. Maybe test mode will give us some clues?

Do you know: How to enter test mode on the MDT-515? Tell me


How much different is the MZ-R50 from the MZ-R30?

The MZ-R50 was the successor of the MZ-R30, so it is obviously a step forward. Features that are new and improved are its:

Both the R30 and R50, use version 4.0 of Sony's ATRAC, technically comparable with version 5.0 of Sharp's ATRAC.


How much different is the MZ-R50 from the MZ-R55?

The MZ-R55 is the latest addition to the family of Sony portable Mini Disc recorders. As successor to the MZ-R50 (and MZ-R30), it moves forward technologically in a number of areas. However, unlike the MZ-R55, it moves backwards in other areas.

Features that are new and improved are its:
  • Smaller size
  • Backlit remote and main LCDs
  • Longer character display on remote control
Features that the unit lacks compared to its predecessor(s):
  • Jog dial
  • Battery life
  • Easy to use button layout
  • Ability to use the unit whilst charging
This section is only here for completeness, and will only be changed if it contains incorrect information or is missing vital information. For more information on the MZ-R55, see the links page or the Mini Disc Community page.

On Location

What other opportunities do I have to use my MZ-R50?

As well as using it as your normal Walkman, albeit with recording capabilities, you can use your R50 with other audio equipment to great effect.

Some ideas might be using it with:

Another car kit that can be used is the DCC-E26CP. You can also get a CPA-9, the cassette adapter. Word says the charger works fine, charging with no problems at all.


What power adapters/converters are needed in different countries?

I use my MZ-R50 in the UK. This means that the power adapter supplied with the Japanese unit will not work straight off. Other equipment is needed, for me this is:

Apparently, the PSUs from a Sony CD Walkman will work as long as the power ratings are compatible. The AC-E60HG is compatible and available from Sony Centres around the UK.

A buyer of the MZ-R50 in the USA told me that the PSU is the AC-MZ60 that may have automatic voltage selector (100 to 240V AC / 50-60Hz) and a 6 VDC / 800 mA output. Parts Express in Chicago sell a suitable non-Sony adapter for $3.95, so shop around.

Martin Clinton has successfully used the AC-E60LA adaptor (100 to 240V AC / 50-60Hz) with his R30, and there's no reason that it shouldn't work with the R50. It includes a European two-prong convertor, so another or different two- to three-prong converter is still needed for the UK.


Why won't the disc eject any more when I open the lid?

You've got to look after your MZ-R50, after all it's a sophisticated piece of electronics.

The most common problem encountered after mistreatment of the unit is the disc not ejecting from the lid when you open the unit. This is a result of closing the lid with too much force, so after getting your unit replaced remember to close the lid delicately. If the lid is bent out of shape, it is possible to bend it back at your own risk. It's better to return the unit if it's still under warantee/guarantee.

You don't have to wear mittens when using your MZ-R50, just show it a bit of love. Baby.

Do you know: Any other hardware problems and their cause and/or solution? Tell me


What option do I have after my LIP-8 rechargeable Li Ion battery has run out?

If it is impractical to recharge the battery, which can take up to 3 hours, you can attach the external dry cell case, which will give you more hours of use. You don't have to wait until the Li Ion battery has run down before charging it again as the LI-series have no capacity loss or memory effect. You can also use the unit whilst charging.

Battery life rankings are (best to worst):

  1. LIP-8 and 2xAA
  2. LIP-8 and BP-DM20
  3. 2xAA
  4. BP-DM20
  5. LIP-8

Remote Control

Are remote controls interchangable between Sony portable Mini Disc recorders?

Usually, but you will not be able to use some button functions. Using the remote from the R50 on an R30 will mean those functions that involve simultaneous button presses on the R30 will be inaccessible. However, the LCD function will work correctly. The R55 remote can also be used on the R50, with everything working correctly except the back light.

Part Number: RM-MZR50.

RF Interference

How can I stop hearing a high pitched screech when I use my MDT-515 in Tuner mode?

There must be another electrical appliance nearby. If moving either unit is out of the question try pulling the white FM lead antenna out of the coaxial socket by couple of millimeters. The interference will stop (but stereo reception will continue) and the antenna can be fixed in the new position with sticky backed plastic. You could also try the easier option of switching to Mono reception whilst using the other appliance.

Do you know: Any other, better methods of stopping RF interference? Tell me

TCR vs. Richer Sounds

Where's the best place in the UK to buy an R50?

A while ago I would have said the best place to get an R50 was Tottenham Court Road in West London. That was before Richer Sounds ( a very reputable chain with numerous branches around the UK) started selling the unit at £200. So here's my revised price guide.

A recent visit to TCR and some small sellers on Oxford Street found ample stocks of the R50, at a reasonable £230, the R30/R35 at a relatively inexpensive £190. Other good buys would be the Sharp MS-722 at £230 and the Aiwa-FM5 at £200. However, the best buy still has to be the Sharp MS-702 at £180, possibly making a better buy than both the new MS-722 and, perhaps, the R50. Richer Sounds also sell the Sharp MS-702 for around £170!

The same can't be said about stocks of the MDT-515, which can only be found in a few shops on TCR, with a fairly average price of £600 - maybe slightly cheaper in one or two places. Hi-Spek Electronics (see What Hi-Fi?) still seems to be the best place to go for one, at £540.

Some retailers offer a price match guarantee, which is worth remembering. See the links page for a link to Richer Sounds.

Note: Reports suggest that Richer supply third-party PSUs with their R50s, possibly cutting costs. This is due to the fact that they import their units from France. Most units on TCR are reportedly imported from Asia.


Why should an MD player be marked with ATRAC Type-R support? (eg. MZ-E909)

ATRAC Type-R units use a higher resolution DAC (Digital Analogue Converter), which supports calculations in 24-bit precision as opposed to the 16-bit of all previous models. This means that recordings, especially those originating on a Type-R recorder, can be played back without losing data in the DAC.

So, in short, Type-R provides higher resolution recording and playback.


What are all these different -515 model numbers about?

The MDT-515 is a stack system comprising two different sections, the CD/MD unit and the optional Tape deck. This is an easy equation to remember what's what:

stack system=CD/MD unit+optional extra
I may have been a bit lazy and referred to it as the MD515 on some of these pages, it just makes things easier.

Do you know: What ATRAC version the MDT-515 uses? Tell me


Any feedback welcome.