Sony MDS-JB930 Review

Dave Chambers ([email protected])

Having acquired a JB930 from the Sutton Sony Centre this week, I thought it might be helpful to prospective buyers if I gave some insight into my experience with the unit to date, since information on this home-deck seems rather hard to come by at the moment.

I have deliberately included a lot of description of controls, connections and functions since the official Sony brochure entry for the 930 has a number of inaccuracies and a picture of an entirely different deck (I believe another contributor identified it as the earlier 920). Not helpful Sony! I have also tried to keep it simplistic and non-technical so that newbies don't feel intimidated.

What's in the Box

The 930 comes beautifully packaged with

First Impressions

As you might expect from an item in the SONY QS range, the finish and fit on this unit (all black in this case) is superb. It feels solidly constructed and conveys an immediate sense that this is a quality product which has been built to last. All of the front panel controls operate smoothly and effortlessly, and once loaded with an MD, recording and playback is very quiet with no distracting mechanical noises which are the curse of some portable units. One of the Sony catalogue errors is immediately revealed. The catalogue says it has ATRAC version 4.5, but smart gold lettering on the front panel reveals the truth that the 930 has the very latest ATRAC DSP Type-R, as well as Current Pulse D/A Converter. There is also a natty little red plaque on the front that reads ``UK Special Edition''. All that's missing are the ``Go-Faster'' stripes. The overall dimensions are in keeping with Sony's traditional sizing of large hi-fi separates vis. W 430 x H 110 x D 287 mm. Appearance is a very subjective thing, but I think this unit looks simply gorgeous and is a perfect visual match with my Sony ST-SE700 tuner and CDP-337ES-D CD. The IR remote control unit is a bit on the big side, but since it does so much I can forgive it for having been fed on steroids. There are no discernible ventilation holes, but with a rated power consumption of just 18 watts, I presume Sony felt it was unnecessary. We all know, however, that with continuous recording use, the laser can generate a significant heat build up, and my discs felt pretty warm straight out of the deck after recording. I think it would be sensible to position the unit so that the outer casing benefits from a reasonable airflow.

What's On the 930

FRONT PANEL (from top left to bottom right): BACK PANEL (from top left to bottom right):


This will obviously vary according to individuals' circumstances and requirements. For me it was a simple matter of connecting the Toslink optical fibre cable between the OPT 1 input of the 930 and the OPT Out on my CD deck to enable digital recording from CDs. Then the two phono leads were used to connect the Line In / Line Out sockets to the equivalent sockets on my Sony Amplifier (TA-AX360 Receiver), to allow me to make MD recordings from my other analogue components i.e. turntable, cassette tape recorder (yuk! washes mouth out with soap and water), and radio tuner, as well as facilitate playback of the 930 through my hi-fi. All that remained was to program the 930's internal clock with date and time which is so simple even a hamster could do it in 30 seconds. Unfortunately, I don't own a hamster, so it took me 3 minutes.


How Does It Sound

As I've always maintained, no matter how many bells and whistles an MD's got, if it doesn't deliver on sound, you've wasted your money. Well the good news is that the 930 delivers Big-Time. The DACs in this unit are simply superb, and have been giving my old Sony amp a real work-out. All the discs previously recorded in either my MZ-R35 or 821 portables play perfectly (possibly of interest to those in this NG who were recently asking about player compatibility) and they sound so much better, not just through my KEF speakers (designed and made them myself) but also through the headphone jack. Yesterday I did some test recordings off air from the tuner. A stereo play on Radio 4 recorded on location played back with breath-taking clarity and a perfectly placed and spacious ``stereo stage''. Tracks recorded from my old LP collection also recorded faithfully but, and others have commented on this, somehow those old LP tracks sound so much more vivid and fulsome on MD, why I don't know. The very first minidisc I ever bought was pre-recorded ... Jean Michel Jarre 's ``Images'', a compilation of his best works ... and this electronic music has a very wide dynamic range with outrageous transient peaks. All I can say is that playing it on the 930 has to rate as one of my all-time mind blowing experiences.


Is the Sony JB930 good ? NO ... good does not even begin to describe it. In my humble opinion, there just aren't enough superlatives in the world to describe this gem. Sony may not always get it right, but this time they get Ten Gold Stars.
--Sgt. Pepper (aka Dave Chambers, Epsom, England)

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