Test Drive: Denon DN-M1050R Professional MiniDisc Recorder

Room to maneuver

The DN-M1050R’s front panel is made for big fingers. The brightly back-lit “soft rubber” buttons are large, with plenty of room between them (see photo). Transport controls include STOP, STANDBY/CUE, PLAY/PAUSE, RECord, CUE SEARCH, and LEVEL START. The PLAY/PAUSE will pause audio during playback, resuming playback with another push. The STANDBY/CUE will cue the deck to the last time playback was started. Denon uses its famous stepped infinity knob to choose which track to cue up, with each click moving to the next track. Pushing the knob in and turning it jumps ahead by 10s (up to 255 tracks), just like Denon’s CD players. LEVEL START (just above the RECord button) sets the deck to automatically record by detecting audio at a preset level. More on CUE SEARCH later.

A PITCH function is controlled by the PLUS and MINUS buttons (-9.9% to +9.9% in .1% increments; very smooth!). Of course, the PITCH button lights up when engaged. In the “Wow, this is cool” department, you can store a PITCH adjustment for the disk on the disk itself!

PLAY MODE chooses continuous or single-track play. PLAY MODE also determines which time display (track length or disk length) will be shown. END MONITOR is also a great CD-type feature that has moved into MD territory with the ability to preview the end of the track in increments of 5 seconds up to 35 seconds. In addition, there is a EOM (End Of Message) that will blink during playback when preset, also up to 35 seconds before the track ends.

Two buttons, A and B, set in and out points for A-B Play, allowing you to pick a section of track to listen to (over and over again if necessary). Setting A and B can be done on-the-fly, as well as by cueing up with the JOG/SHUTTLE wheel. REPEAT will seamlessly loop the section you’ve chosen in A-B Play, a single track, or the entire disk.

Just above the infinity knob are the controls for “programmed play,” an ON/OFF and a PROGRAM button. Up to twenty-five tracks can be programmed with additions and deletions to the list a simple matter of using the PLUS and MINUS buttons. Programs for three disks can be stored in memory. When you insert a disk that has a stored program, the deck goes into programmed playback automatically, ready to play the tracks in the order you previously programmed in.

The display shows the name of the disk on insertion, then the name of each track when selected. (MD can store up to a hundred characters for the disk name and each of the tracks, up to 1,700 characters total on the disk.) The current track number and the next track number are always displayed, along with the time elapsed/remaining (selectable by a button to the left of the display). The time is shown in minutes/seconds/frames (there are 86 frames).The sampling rate, metering, and the percentage of pitch change run across the bottom of the smoked window.

The ¼” headphone jack comes with a volume knob and a powerful little amp (louder than any other headphone output I’ve heard).

Separate LEFT/RIGHT analog input controls are on the front panel, and there are adjustments for the analog output on the back.

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