Elcaset and Minidisc

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I use a reel to real tape deck and also a DAT Walkman. I am considering adding both an Elcaset and Minidisc. What are the most desirable home and also Walkman sized machines? I’m not averse to a bit of bling, direct drive motors, anything Sony/Technics and solenoids. Thanks.

Thank you. Now then, a bit of a compulsive gadget hoarder are you? You're in good company here! Howard collects 1970s American super-preamps. Anyway, the 1977 Sony EL7 was of course the favourite Elcaset machine of its day; a vast three head, dual capstan behemoth with build to put a Revox to shame. They're rare now, and most don't work, so expect to get the screwdriver out when you wrest one from the clutches of an eBayer! The slightly simpler, but physically almost identical Sony EL5 is the preferred choice.

MiniDisc wise, it's a case of the later the better; the ATRAC processors improved dramatically over the years. Decks before ATRAC 3.5 (circa 1996) are best avoided; ATRAC 4.0 really kicked off things nicely. The Sony MDS-JE500 was the first machine with this; I remember hearing one in '97 and was amazed at its sound; very close to DAT, and much less fussy. These are now peanuts on eBay and are a great first step into MiniDisc.

As far as the portables went, the Sony MZ-R55 was the Rolls Royce of that time; it's a fine sounding device and beautifully made with an all-metal case; the then brand new iPod Classic looked cheap by comparison. These go for around £20 second-hand, and made in Japan, they've aged well.

There's also the Sony MZ-RH1; this is still current and available new for £230 approx. It's a Hi-MD, so plays old MDs plus newer high capacity ones; this one will do full uncompressed 16/44.1 digital recording in extremely high quality; it's a brilliant outdoor recording tool.

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