Marantz claim their PMD660 to be a "miniature"
portable solid state stereo pro-recorder and it is certainly a more
sensible size than its bigger brother, the PMD670 (from which it is
derived), although compared to most other handhelds we would have to
call it 'a bit of a brick' rather than miniature.
The PMD660 is a contender, though, if you only need WAV and MP3. It is
quite rugged and has some good features, and reasonable audio quality.
For many years Marantz has produced cassette and MD field recorders that
are well proven, and the PMD660 now joins this list. It is fine for many
field applications like electronic journalism (no MP2 or BWAV, though),
technical investigation, and documenting legal proceedings.
Solid State Technology
By storing audio data on Compact Flash (CF) media cards
all of the mechanical hassles of tape recorders are removed, as are the
costs of servicing and maintaining them. Solid State Technology makes
solid state recorders less vulnerable to bumps, vibrations, and sonic
deterioration over the long haul. Not only that, but CF storage allows
you to choose from several recording formats, and makes transfer to
computers quick and easy.
Long Battery Life
Tired of lugging around six extra D-Cells just so you can
interrupt your recording to change batteries half-way through an event?
The PMD660 will run for four hours on four AA cells. You can carry an
extra set around and not even notice they're there - in case you need
Long Record Times
No more flipping tapes! A single 1Gb flash card can hold
nearly 36 hours of uninterrupted non-broadcast quality audio (monaural
.mp3 at 64 kbps). For music recording, the same size card can hold over
17 hours of compressed stereo (.mp3 at 128 kbps). If you need high
quality, uncompressed audio (PCM or WAV), you can get more than one and
half hours of stereo 16-bit linear PCM audio at 44.1kHz on a 1Gb card,
or over 3 hours in mono.
The PMD660 offers two balanced XLR mic inputs with +48v
phantom power. And just in case you don't have the time, space or budget
to use external microphones, the PMD660 includes a stereo pair of
electret condenser mics onboard (although, in our experience, these do
need to be used quite close-up to get a reasonable result).
Editing and File Transfer
Once back from your assignment you'll probably want your
audio to be used for broadcast, or burned to a CD for evidence,
documentation, or just for convenient playback. You'll probably want to
edit out dead air and irrelevant information. Whilst the PMD660 has a
simple on-board cut-and-paste "Copy Segment" mode, you might want to do
your serious editing back at the studio (for instance with Sony's Sound
Forge Audio Studio software - see our Editing
Software page) having
downloaded your recordings via the PMD660's USB port.
Exclusive "Virtual Track" Mode
For a little more sophistication the PMD660 features a
"Virtual Track" mode whereby you can create up to 99 virtual
tracks-internal play lists of audio segments. You simply tell the PMD660
what segments of a file to play, and in what order, and it does
it-without altering the original file in any way, and without using up
more card memory. If you need 5 and 10-second sound bites and a
two-minute interview segment, all from the same file you can use virtual
Optional Wired Remote
It would be great if every recording situation had a
field engineer running everything behind the scenes. Unfortunately, all
to often it's just you, wishing you had more hands. The RC600 wired
remote control enables you to start and stop recording, and to mark new
track-starts on the fly. It has a peak meter right on the remote, so you
can keep an eye on your recording, without taking your eye off the ball.