MiniDisc Multitrack Recorders

Sony MDM-X4MiniDisc Multitrack Recorder
Intro: 1
MSRP ¥118,000
in: XLR (mic/line) X 2, phone plug (mic/line) X 2, aux 1 & 2, return(L/R) 1 & 2, out: phone plug x 4423x104x381mm

Features: ATRAC 3.5 Uses MD Data discs. Each channel has: Trim pot, Line/Mic selector, Aux -10 to 10 pot, high, mid, and low eq pots, assign push buttons, one for chans 1&2, 2nd for 3&4, a stereo pan pot, a trim fader from 0 to 10. There's also a 5&6 vertical column with all of the above single channel stuff, plus some extras, and a "Master" vertical row. Inputs are XLR for channels 1&2, 1/4" for the rest (prototype had 1/4" for all inputs), plus 2 for AUX, outputs look like 4 X 1/4" for Disc1 to Disk4, two stereo inputs for return1 and return2. On the back there are MIDI in, out, thru connectors for MTC and MMC. The deck can be controlled with MIDI sequencer software. To the right of the Sony, there is an electronic display, power on switch, top, left, right, play, and stop buttons, and red record button, plus about 20 white buttons for record channel select (1-4), 8 locate buttons, then there's a jog/shuttle wheel. Has digital copy (bypassing ATRAC codec) between tracks. Can bounce 4 tracks down into 1 or 2 on the fly. -Ted Matsumura


Bugs: One user has found that Sony's MDM-X4 units have a glitch that causes track delete to frequently malfunction.

Dale Greer ([email protected])

For those of you who purchased early production runs of the Sony MDM-X4 4-track portastudio, you may have discovered a few firmware bugs that 1) won't let you eject stereo discs under certain circumstances and 2) prevent track deletion under certain circumstances.

These units all seem to have an EPROM chip inside with a decal that identifies it as firmware version 1.20 (part no. 759-467-95). Sony U.S. will fix the unit if you send it to a repair center, but they will charge you $150 for shop time. If you are fairly handy with srewdriver, though, the EPROM upgrade to Firmware version 1.30 can be had for free, and the new chip has fixed all of my unit's bugs.

To check what version your deck has, remove the two black screws above the output jacks on the rear panel and the 10 or so screws on the bottom of the unit (Caution: remove only the bottom srews that have arrows pointing at them). The top then lifts off like a clamshell (do this carefully so as not to unplug jumper cables), and you can read the deccal on the chip. I reccomend you wear a static strap while doing this, as the inside is loaded with surface mount devices and quad flat packs.

To get your upgrdrade (part no. 875948693), call Sony U.S. Professional at 1 (800) 686-7669 and ask to be transferred to a support engineer or technician in California. (I say this because they seem to want to charge you for the chip if you talk to someone at Sony's repair center in Itasca, Illinois, or Teaneck, New Jersey.) The guys in California consider this a "software" upgrade and will ship it out FedEx at no charge.

Notes: Sony has updated this unit with the MDM-X4 MKII. According to the new Musician's Friend catalog (, the MKII model has "improved compression (ATRAC 4.5), linking capibility, instant start, and 20-character titles (7 in the older model)." Musician's Friend sells the MKII model for $749.94. Available elsewhere as low as $700. Phil Gartman points out Sony's MDM-X4 MKII page.


User Manual: MDM-X4

Service Manual: MDM-X4

(1.0MB) (1648x1426)
Tascam 564MiniDisc Multitrack Recorder
Intro: 1
MSRP ¥129,000
in: mic/lin x 4 (XLR & 1/4"phone) insertion x 2 (1/4" phone), stereo x 2 (1/4" phone), stereo sub x 2 (1/4" phone), 2tr in x 1 (RCA) out: line x 1 (RCA), monitor x 1 (RCA), track out x 4 (RCA), effect send x 2 (1/4" phone), cue out x 1 (1/4" phone), head phones x 1 (1/4" phone), digital out x 1 (S/PDIF RCA). MIDI in, out, thru.444 x 403 x 126mm 6kg


  • Records up to 4 tracks simultaneously on MD-Data disks. Can play and record normal MD audio disks in 2 track (stereo) mode.
  • 11.6ms editing accuracy.
  • Up to 5 songs can be set up, which can each have a title and up to 20 index marks.
  • Digital domain segment copy (bypassing ATRAC codec).
  • Jog dial "rocket search" function gives 2-32X playback speeds.
  • Can seek directly to index marks in songs.
  • Loop playback mode repeats a segment continually with 0 to 9.9 seconds delay each iteration.
  • Index program mode allows up to 99 patterns to be marked and played back in any sequence, including repetitions of groups of sequences (e.g.: intro/chorus/lead/chorus/lead/ending)
  • Up to 5 new takes can be made of a section of a recording and tested in place without destroying the original take.
  • Pitch control +/- 9.9% in .1% steps.
  • Can bounce 4 tracks down to 1 or 2 on the fly.



Yamaha MD-88 track MD recorder
Intro: 1
(see below)484x102x412.3mm, 6.4Kg

Features: ATRAC 3.5 . Records up to 18 minutes of 8 track audio. Also records in 4 track, stereo and mono modes. Fast playback at 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x and 32x speed. Editing functions: track copy, track erase, part copy, part erase. Pitch control: +/-12%. Punch I/O, Midi In/Out/Thru.

Links: Yamaha's page for the unit. An additional Yamaha page with more information including close-ups of the front and rear panels. Martin Frischherz's comparison of the Yamaha MD4 and MD8. A ProAudio-Web review of the MD-8. Mark Mattson writes a review for this unit. Charlie Jones finds a colorful MD8 brochure.

Frequency Resp: 20-20kHz +1/-3dB, S/N: 96dB, THD: 0.02% or 0.012% (Yamaha brochures are inconsistent on this point).
Inputs: Mic/Line Ch1,2 (-10 to -50dB, TRS Phone Jack, XLR). Mic/Line Ch3-8 (-10 to -50dB, TRS Phone Jack). Line Ch 9-12 (-10db, Phone Jack). 2TR In L,R (-10dB, RCA Pin Jack).
Outputs: Stereo out L,R (-10dB, RCA Pin Jack). Monitor out L,R (-10dB, RCA Pin Jack). Track Direct Out 1-8 (-10dB, RCA Pin Jack). Aux Send 1,2 (-10dB, Phone Jack). Phones (100mW+100mW, Stereo Phone Jack).


User Manual: MD-8

Yamaha MD-4MiniDisc Multitrack Recorder
Intro: 1
MSRP ¥99800, Street ¥90000
in: Line/mic X 4 (1/4" phone), L/R stereo sub in X 2 (RCA), AUX Stereo Return x 2 (RCA). out: Direct track out X 4 (RCA), Stereo out x 2 (RCA), Monitor out x 2 (RCA), Aux Send x 1 (1/4" phone).376 x 72.3 x 364mm 4.8kg


  • Records up to 4 tracks simultaneously on MD-Data disks. Can play and record normal MD audio disks in 2 track (stereo) mode.
  • 11.6 ms positioning accuracy.
  • Pitch control +/- 6%.
  • Has pots on each channel for gain, high, mid, low band eq, aux, and 2 buttons for group assign, a pan pot, a line-mic push button and level slider from 1 to 10.
  • Can bounce 4 tracks down to 1 or 2. Signal degradation from ping pong: "almost nothing"
  • Prior to mixdown, "Song Copy" function allows entire song to be copied digitally (bypassing ATRAC codec) to another section on the disc as a "backup".
(Thanks to Ted Matsumura for help.)



Yamaha MD-4SMiniDisc Multitrack Recorder
Intro: 1

in: Line/mic X 10 (2 X bal 1/4" phone/jack, 6 X unbal 1/4" phone/jack, 2 X XLR), L/R 2-Track input X 1 (RCA/phono X 2), Insert X 2 (RCA/phono). out: Direct track out X 4 (RCA/phono), Stereo out x 2 (RCA/phono), Mo nitor out x 2 (RCA/phono), Aux Send x 2 (1/4" phone/jack). MIDI: in, out, thru413(w) x 109.5(h) x 388(d) mm; 5.2kg


  • 4 tracks simultaneously record/play on MD-Data disks (up to 37 mins). Also standard stereo (74 min) and mono (148 min) record/play
  • Auto and manual punch in/out accurate to 11.6 ms
  • Pitch control +/- 10%.
  • Balanced phone/jack and XLR inputs plus insert jacks on channels 1&2; Phone/jack inputs on channels 3&4.
  • 3 band EQ, trim, pan, fade, 2 X aux send on all four channels.
  • Unlimited ping-pong in the digital domain, without degredation.

Links: Yamaha Japan's English MD4S page. Yamaha Germany's MD4S page.


User Manual: MD-4S

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