Sony MDS-JE500/S37

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Sony MDS-JE500
Sony MDS-S37
Home MD Deck
Intro: 6/1996
MSRP $600 (MDS-S37 ¥49,000)
in: line, optical. out: line, optical17 x 4-3/4 x 11" 7lb. 12oz.
(11 x 3-1/4 x 10-5/8" 5lb. 4oz.)

Features: ATRAC 4 (IC: CXD2650R). 20 bit A/D converter. Sampling rate converter. "Wide Bit Stream" (18bit digital i/o?). Stereo and Mono recording. 2 second time machine. Hybrid-pulse DA. Included remote: RM-D8M. Can be used with RM-D10P remote commander. TOC cloning not possible (machine ejects disc when power applied).

Specs: Freq resp: 5-20kHz +/-0.3dB, S/N: > 96dB (digital rec/play), > 92dB (analog rec/play), Dynamic Range: > 97dB (digital), > 92dB (analog), THD < .004% (digital), < .006% (analog), Wow/flutter: less than 0.001% W-Peak.

Comments: from German Stereo Magazine, 10/96:

  • The slight improvements in coding complex music weren't audible to the testers (and ATRAC 3.5 already scored well against DAT).
  • Sounds very good (transparent sound, no coloration).
  • Very low noise DA converter, even with small signals (approx. the level of DAT DTC 790, a little bit better than the MDS-503).
  • At normal record levels the AD converter is very quiet too.
  • At small analog signal levels has more noise than the '503 and noticablely more than DTC 790.
  • The converters are far from Sony's claim of 20 bit resolution, the 18 bit converters of the JA3 were much better ("a few grades"). The reason for this seems to be the bundling of ADC / DAC into one chip, whereas the JA3ES has separate AD and DA chips.
  • For most users completly satisfying (esp. for this price 600,-DM)
  • Music-synchro feature (works with any digital input): starts recorder if the SPDIF input has a signal above -60 dB
  • UNDO function
  • New slot in mechanism
  • Freq. response up to 18kHz
  • Evaluation: excellent ***

Variants: Different versions existed for the JE-500.
Part numbers (taken from the service manual):

  • 4-983-660-1: US model
  • 4-983-660-2: Canadian model
  • 4-983-660-3: AEP, German model
  • 4-983-660-4: UK model
  • 4-983-660-5: Singapore, tourist model
  • 4-983-660-6: Hong Kong model
According to the May '97 German Stereo magazine, a modified version called the MDS-500 PRO is available for 1000 DM from Karches Media in Augsburg, Germany (+49-821-514140). The unit has balanced inputs, 19 inch rack mount and no SCMS. Options are pitch-control (+449 DM), AES/EBU inputs, and cable remote control.

There are at least two different versions of the MDS-JE500: `older ones' and `newer ones'. The differences are a few changed values of capacitors and resistors in its analog section ([email protected]).

Links: Sony's page for the MDS-JE500, for the MDS-S37. Sony press release announcing 4th generation MD units (MDS-JE500). HiFi World magazine's review of the MDS-JE500 gives a good critical review of Sony's mainstream MD deck. A user's review of the MD Bundle3 (which includes the JE500). HiFi World magazine's review of the JE500. A What HiFi article dicusses the relative merits of the Kenwood DM-7090 and Sony MDS-JE500. A user reports on a problem and solution related to line out signal strength on the JE500 (and other HiFi equipment). A snapshot of the inside of a Sony MDS-JE500 (prepare to see some air).

Differences: between JE500 and S37: JE500: Headphone and analog phono input and output connectors are gold plated. 1/4" headphone jack.
S37: Audio bus connector. RM-D10P titler cannot be used when audio bus is connected. Miniplug headphone jack. No timer recording function, timer recording can only be done when connected to Pixy system with audio bus. Audio bus connection is not required for normal operation.


  • It appears there may be a firmware problem on the early machines that happens mostly (perhaps only) just after you start titling while recording. A "Retry" and "Retry Error" can sometimes appear on the display while recording. The "Retry Error" one (more severe) can cause a problem such as a drop out. To experiment: soon after a song starts recording, hit "name" on the remote and start entering a title. One user got the error a couple of times upon first hitting a letter key. Workaround: enter titles after waiting at least 10 sec. after pushing RECORD.
  • If you stop recording DIRECTLY after a song, then it will cut off a 1/2 second of your song. Probably the record buffer is not fully written when the STOP key is pressed. Workaround: Press PAUSE, wait and then press STOP.


User Manual: MDS-JE500

Service Manual: MDS-JE500

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