Marantz PMD 660

March 22nd, 2005 | by Jeff Towne

Marantz PMD 660
Marantz PMD 660
There’s been understandable excitement about the Marantz PMD660, a solid-state recorder that seems designed with the reporter in mind. It’s small, it’s not too expensive, yet with enough professional attributes to give it some tangible advantages over the smaller, cheaper consumer recorders many of us have been using.

Solid-state “Flash Media” recorders in general offer a few advantages over conventional recorders, especially the lack of moving parts, elimination of expendable media, and easy transfer of audio to a computer for editing and archiving. But they also require some shifts of paradigm: we no longer record onto a master tape or disc, which will then be saved in an archive. Instead, audio is recorded to a memory card, then transferred to a computer, after which the card is erased and used again. One needs to have enough storage: large capacity compact flash cards, and perhaps multiple cards. Prices for these cards are changing all the time, in the spring of 2005, they have dropped below $100 per gig. Each gigabyte will give about 90 minutes of stereo recording, or three hours of mono, when recording 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sample rate, .wav files.

The Marantz PMD 660 with a Tascam DAP-1 DAT recorder and
Shure SM-58 for scale.
The Marantz PMD 660 is a smaller, more streamlined version of their PMD 670, the latest in a long line of recorders designed for journalists in the field. The 660 is missing a few options that its big brother has, but it seems that the relative convenience of the smaller, less-expensive version is a decent compromise.

The 660 is very light, and fairly compact. It’s not quite small enough to casually toss into a pocket like a little consumer minidisc recorder, or a reporter’s digital voice recorder, but it’s pretty reasonable for something that has XLR inputs and a speaker. It feels a little fragile, because it’s plastic, so I don’t have lots of faith that it would survive a drop too well. It does not come with a case, and there is not presently one offered by Marantz, which is too bad, it probably could use some padding. The ergonomics are good, with controls in fairly convenient locations, meters easy to read when the unit is hung from its shoulder strap, the mic inputs conveniently on the bottom.

Marantz PMD 660
Looking down at the PMD 600 hanging from its shoulder strap.
Marantz is frequently criticized for the noisiness of their mic preamps, but the 660’s are fairly clean when used with condenser mics, which the manual recommends, saying that dynamic mics will work, but are not ideal. The unit will provide phantom power for condenser mics. With fairly loud condenser mics there’s still a very low hiss, but it’s so low it’s unlikely to cause much of a problem for most users. With a dynamic omni such as the Electrovoice 635 or RE50, or Beyer M-58, the hiss is much more prominent. So this might be the deciding factor whether this is the recorder for you. If you really like using a relatively low-output mic, such as an RE50 or Beyer M-58, there really might be some hiss issues. But if you use a louder mic, like a Sennheiser K6/ME66 shotgun, the hiss probably won’t be an issue.

Marantz PMD 660
Marantz PMD 660 bottom view.
The Oade Brothers company offers an analog input modification to the larger PMD670. They were kind enough to lend me a unit and I felt that that their modifications really do noticably improve the input stage. They may offer similar modifications to the 660 in the future. Even with these modifications, they say they still get the best results with louder condenser mics.

Analog line-level in and out are available on stereo mini jacks, made active by a menu setting.
There are two built-in electret mics flush mounted on the top of the unit, but I found them pretty useless for anything but dictation-level recording. There’s an obvious high frequency whine on the recordings, and any hand movement on the case translates to very loud scraping sounds.

Mic Tests

There are not nearly as many recording options as some recorders, and many of those that remain are buried in menus. But there is a clever concept: three presets that store input configuration, recording format, automatic or manual gain control, and many other settings. So you can have a preset for “external mic/mono/44.1 wav/AGC” and another that’s the same but with manual record level, and another that’s “built-in mic/stereo/mp3/AGC” or many other combinations. The individual settings can be changed with a few button combinations, but there are almost no hardware switches for the things we’re used to switching, like Automatic Gain Control, or for the mic pad, or for selecting built-in mic, external mic or line, these are all menu selections. But the presets let you have your most common set-ups ready to go, and that’s a pretty good trade-off.

The 660 does NOT offer MP2 recording, only 16-bit PCM (wav files) at 44.1khz or 48khz, or fairly low bandwidth MP3, (128 kbps stereo or 64 kbps mono.) It does NOT have a limiter. It does have Automatic Gain Control, which has all the usual problems: some pumping as the levels shift, and possible clipping if the AGC can’t pull back fast enough when recording something suddenly loud. I feel that the overall level is a bit too high with the AGC on, but I generally prefer the sound of recordings with record levels set manually.

Marantz PMD 660The metering is pretty easy to read, except in very bright sun, it’s a light-ladder rather than an LCD. The gradations are fairly coarse: seven “signal present” lights and then a clip. I have lit the red clip light a few times without audible distortion. There is a clever record-indicator light to the left of the meter: solid red means you’re recording, a blinking red means you’re in record-pause, no light, you’re not recording. There is a 20dB pad for reducing the input gain of the mics if recording something very loud. When in manual record mode, the input volume is adjusted by large nested knobs that move together, but the left and right inputs can be adjusted separately. The 660 does not have the 670’s recording mode that automatically records a mono mic to both channels, with a lower signal on one. Recording in mono mode gives twice the record time of stereo recordings.

You can also see if you’re recording by watching the display on the top of the unit, which has a bright momentary backlight for dim environments, and a display mode that can show elapsed time in the track or remaining time left on the memory card. This better than most old fashioned tape decks, but it might have been nice to have some kind of counter on the same edge as the meters.

The 660 comes with a power adapter, but for portable recording, it runs on 4 standard AA batteries. Battery life is pretty good, but you’ll want to invest in some good rechargeables, or battery costs will build up pretty fast! With phantom power off, I was able to get over six and a half hours of continuous recording on one set of standard off-the-shelf alkalines. Using a condenser mic with the 660’s phantom power took about an hour off of that record time. Using a condenser mic with its own internal battery would likely be the most efficient. The battery display is a little ambiguous, I ran for over an hour on an empty battery icon, so you might need to develop some additional battery life estimates. I filled an entire 2-gig CF card, recording a mono 44.1 wav file, so I know to change the batteries when the card is full. The good news is that just before the batteries run out, the PMD660 will write table-of-contents data, so even if you run the machine until the batteries die, you should not lose any recordings. The machine will also emit a loud beeping sound about 15 seconds before it shuts down. This can be turned off, and it’s a little too close to the end of battery life to be really helpful, but at least it’s some kind of warning.

Marantz PMD 660
Side view
There’s no digital in or out, but using the USB connection, or just reading the CF card in an external reader, should obviate the need for digital out. You can’t just play a small section of your recording out digitally (although there is a way to copy sections of your recording internally, so you could transfer less than the entire CF card to your computer.) The data transfer is easy, there’s no proprietary software, just plug up the provided USB cable, and power the unit on while holding the “copy/USB” button, and the memory card will appear as an external drive on your computer. There aren’t drivers for some older operating systems, but the compact flash cards can be read by an external card reader. It’s plug-and-play under Mac OSX and Windows XP. The interface is the older USB-1 standard, and therefore not too speedy. It takes about 15 minutes to move an hour-long stereo .wav file (660 megs). Using an external USB-2 card reader is MUCH better if your computer supports USB 2, the same file copied in less than 5 minutes.

Individual tracks, or the entire card, can be deleted with a few button pushes on the 660, but be careful: it does ask twice, but there’s no undo.

Many of these recorders can save files as smaller “compressed” files, usually in the MP2 or MP3 format. This can dramatically increase recording time, but a word of caution is in order. The convenience of compressed files is undeniable, and in many cases the sound of an MP2 or MP3 is of sufficient quality for many uses. But there’s a larger issue. “Lossy” compression like MP2 and MP3 is a cumulative process, and while one or two compressions are often barely noticeable, more can lead to highly unpleasant audio artifacts. MP2 is a very common delivery format in the broadcast world, and also a popular storage format in broadcast automation systems. Other types of compression are more common on the internet, or in satellite broadcast. So if you record to a compressed format in the field, it might sound just fine playing back, but if it’s recompressed for delivery to you r editor, and then recompressed for satellite delivery, and then again on the way into a storage system, your audio might “break” and start sounding metallic and gurgley. If your recording will be used in such a way that you’re sure there won’t be additional transcodings, you can likely use a compressed format with few negative consequences. But for broadcast or delivery over the internet, it is highly recommended to record in an uncompressed format, such as .wav. Be careful, you CAN record compressed MP2 files with the “.bwf” file extension, which stands for “Broadcast Wave File” but does NOT always indicate an uncompressed format. Make sure you are recording a 44.1 khz or 48 khz PCM file to be safest.

The Marantz PMD 660 has a street price of about $500, but comes with only a 64 meg Compact Flash memory card, which only gives you about 6 minutes of stereo .wav recording, so you’ll need to add a larger card. One and two gigabyte Compact Flash cards are readily available for a little under $100 per gig. Larger capacity “microdrives” are compatible, but reportedly draw more power and can be succeptible to bumps and vibration, although we have not had a chance to test any microdrives yet. The compact flash media seem impervious to movement of the recorder and even moderate bumping and shaking. The cover over the card slot, on the front of the unit, below the meters, feels a little flimsy, but if using the 660’s USB interface, the card would never need to be removed. The door can even be screwed shut for greater security for the small but expensive memory cards.

frontIn short, the PMD 660 has a few shortcomings, but provides a good balance of price and features. The XLR mic inputs, phantom power and large input volume dial are real pluses, and the preset recording modes make it easy to use. The mic pre amps are decent quality when used with condenser mics,a little hissy with dynamics. Ergonomics are pretty good, with well-positioned, easy-to-read meters, and logical mic-jack placement. Transfer of files to a computer is fast and easy, although large file do take some time to move over USB. Although it’s not quite as small or inexpensive as consumer minidisc recorders, the professional inputs, easy file transfer, and good input volume control make this an attractive option.

The Marantz PMD 670 is larger and more expensive, and while it offers more recording options, such as recording to MP2, and a limiter, the 660 does most of what its big brother does, and provides a simpler, less intimidating interface and more convenient form. The Edirol R1 is a little smaller and less expensive, but does not offer XLR mic inputs or phantom power. The Fostex FR2 is about twice as expensive and much larger and heavier. The Sound Devices 722 is more than 4 times as expensive, but offers a large dedicated hard drive and superior input sonics. Any of those recorders will do the job, and might fit someone’s specific needs better, but the PMD 660 is a well-designed tool, especially for remote interviews and other newsgathering-type activities.

377 Comments on “Marantz PMD 660”

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Nagra/ Sounddevices

    Hi Miguel,

    Sadly I haven’t gotten my hands on one of the Nagra digital recorders, but I have heard good things about them.

    I’m curious, do you have a link or reference for reports of the Sounddevices 722 being unreliable? It just that they’re so new, they really have barely started shipping, I’m surprised there’d be reliability problems yet. The 744 has been out a little longer, and so far I’ve only heard raves. I had a 744 in my hands, and was impressed with the apparent build-quality, but of course that doesn’t say anything about how they really do in the field. But that company’s stuff is generally pretty sturdy and high-quality.

    but thanks for the heads-up, we’ll have to keep an eye out.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    the downside

    I really like the idea of a smaller, cheaper version of the 670, which has the look and feel of the factory trying to figure out what to do with all those old cassette recorder bodies they had left over….

    And the fact that the smaller 660 still has XLR mic inputs is very nice, phantom power even better (both things that are missing from the Edirol)

    I can finally see that it has input volume controls, I was worried about all the references to the Automatic Gain Control, which is fine for basic news gathering, but not at all good for many types of documentary sound collection. I’m guessing that if it has input volumes you can turn the AGC off and set your levels manually.

    It looks like it should be fairly ergonomic, with the mics plugging into the bottom/back depending on how you hold it, and decent metering on the top/front.

    The only pause I have is, once again, how it sounds. One still needs decent mic preamps and A/D converters…

    Anyway, this looks promising, thanks (again) for the links, Alan.

  • Alan says:

    I suspect the preamps will be similar or the same as those on the PMD670. For many users (like me) those seem to be more than adequate and for others they don’t cut it.

    Maybe they should come out with variations to meet the needs of different users given that third parties like Oade are doing custom mods to meet demand. It will be interesting to see if the new PMD671 will have improved preamps? Why would they support 96/24 recording if the recorder doesn’t also come with high quality preamps? Or maybe they expect that those type of users will run the audio in through the optical input from a high quality external preamp.

  • Jay Allison says:

    and the price? I like that these all run on AAs. How big and reliable are the compact flash cards and much uncompressed audio can they hold?

    Thanks, Alan, for keeping us up to date.

    Jeff, we gotta get one of these to test.

  • Alan says:
    Price, CF Cards

    Well, The price is less that the PMD670. Based on the European prices I’ve seen posted, my guess is that it may be around $450 to $500 (Note that you can find the 670 for as little as $600).

    They have record times for the PMD670 on the Marantz Professional site ( A 1GB CF card will hold just under 3hrs of 48kHz/16 bit mono or half that for stereo.

    The cost of CF cards has fallen and continues to fall rapidly. I just checked Amazon and here are some smaple prices:

    SanDisk SDCFB-1024-A10 1GB CF Type 1 Card

    SANDISK SDCFX-1024-7 Sandisk 1GB Extreme Cf Card

    The Extreme has faster write times. Not sure there is any benefit for this recorder given that the write rate of a regular card is sufficient for 48/16 PCM.

  • Tom Koetting says:
    looks like a winner!

    I’m very excited about this product and would switch from my Oade-modified 670 in a heartbeat if the performance is there. This new unit looks easily wearable and only keeps the key features I use (XLR’s, 48v power, WAV, CF). After using the 670 for some time, this 660 is exactly what I would’ve designed.

    The PDF doesn’t point to options for MP3 bit rates, which I’m hoping is a misprint. (I don’t use MP3 often, but when I do it’s 160k MONO).

    I’m guessing things like ALC, filters, and limiters addressed in menus rather than hard switches like on a 670. That’s fine for me as I never change those controls (low filter and limiter on 100% of the time).

  • Alan says:
    Press Release

    Some more details. Apparently does have a USB port.

  • Alan says:
    PMD660 online manual coming soon

    Marantz now has a folder online for the PMD660 and are promising "Full Product Specifications & Manual Coming Soon!!!!"

  • Jay Allison says:

    as soon as this is available, we’re going to get one here at Transom for Jeff to test. It sure looks promising… if the mic pres are quiet, battery life is reasonable, file transfer works, etc. etc.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    eager indeed

    This is looking like a very strong contender as a field recorder, not too big, not too expensive, but still with XLRs, phantom power and decent meters.

    The file transfer will work, I’m confident of that, the 670 that I borrowed banged files over flawlessly, just like a digital camera.

    The big question mark for me is mic preamp sound quality. We’ll see! the 670 that Oade Brothers modified sounded pretty darn good, but it was optimized for loud condenser mics.

    Watch this space!

  • Alan says:
    PMD660 and Oade

    If you you at the recording technology discussion forum on Oade’s site, Doug Oade is hoping to be able to do mods / preamp upgrades to the PMD660 preamp as well. He hasn’t gotten one yet so it is not clear what he will and won’t be able to do at the moment. From what I’ve seen from previous posts he’ll do mods to match the user, type of mic etc.

  • Alan says:

    Official data sheets for the PMD660 and PMD671 are now online at the European D&M Pro site:

  • Jay Allison says:

    Transom is now on a list to receive one, with shipping date set, theroetically, for March 3.

  • Richard James says:
    DOes anyone have a PMD660?

    I have read all I have found on this device. If anyone has hands on experience they care to share, I’m all ears.

    I am considering purchasing a 660 and have purchased items from B&H Photo in the past with no complaints. Does anyone have suggestions on where to get a better price/availability/service?

    Thanks to all for your posts. I am learning much here at Transom.

  • Alan says:
    Does anyone have a PMD660?

    Don’t think they are shipping yet but apparently very soon.

    I bought my PMD670 from Saul Mineroff. They were and I assume still are an authorized Marantz dealer and service center. They were and still are much cheaper than anyone else. PMD670 is $589 but typically $699 from elsewhere. There is nothing on their rather disorganized web site about the PMD660 so I think you’d have to e-mail or phone them regarding availability and cost.

    In any case I’d wait for Jay and Jeff to give us a report on the PMD660 they are getting for review.

  • Alan says:
    Available now

    A number of big reytailers (e.g. BSW) are showing the PMD660 "in stock" and available for immediate delivery. Hopefully that means Transom will get their review unit soon…

  • Jeff Towne says:
    660 on the way!

    It’s shipped! Should have it any day now!

  • Alan says:
    First user report

    Someone is reporting on that they had a unit arrive yesterday:

  • Jay Allison says:

    Ours is on the way. Jeff will be testing it pronto. They have them now at Sweetwater, B&H, et. al.

  • Richard James says:
    Can someone describe a pad and its function?

    I read the discussion on and the term "pad" was referenced with respect to mics and the unit itself.

    Could someone offer a brief explanation of what a pad is/does, pros and cons of it etc?

    Thanks in advance

  • Jeff Towne says:
    First Glance: PMD 660

    I’m not going to take too much time going into detail, we’ll have a full-on review here on transom very soon. But here are some quick thoughts:

    It’s very light, and fairly small. It’s still not quite small enough to casually toss into a pocket like a little minidisc recorder, but it’s pretty reasonable for something that has XLR inputs and a speaker.

    It feels a little plastic-y, (probably because it’s plastic) so I don’t have lots of faith that it would survive a drop too well. But presuming that one treats it with the same care as one would any piece of electronics, it should be fine. It does not come with a case, and I don’t see an optional one offered by Marantz, which is too bad, it probably could use some padding. Maybe someone will make one, or some existing bag could be refitted. A camera bag would probably be good, but with the mic cables quite logically attaching to the bottom, something custom with a hole there would be better…

    It’s pretty easy to use, and sounds fairly good. I was a bit concerned about the mic preamps, but they’re fairly clean when used with hotter condenser mics (which the manual recommends, saying that dynamic mics will work, but are not ideal.) The unit will provide phantom power for condenser mics.

    Fairly loud condenser mics, (I’ve tried my handheld fave, the AKG C-900, and the Rode NT4 stereo mic) sound very good, pretty clean. There is a very low residual hiss, but it’s way down there. I might not try to record a quiet classical music performance for release on a record, but for day-to-day interviews, it’s barely noticeable.

    With a dynamic omni (I had an EV 635 on hand) the hiss is more present, actually rather obvious to my ears.

    So this might be the deciding factor for you. If you really like using a relatively low-output mic, such as an RE50 or Beyer M-58, there really might be some hiss issues. But if you use a louder mic, like a Sennheiser K6/ME66 shotgun, the hiss probably won’t bug you.

    There are not nearly as many recording options as some recorders, and many of what remain are buried in menus. But there is one very clever concept: 3 presets that store input configuration, recording format, etc. So you can have a preset for external mic/mono/44.1 wav/AGC, and another that’s the same but with manual record level, and another that’s built-in mic/stereo/mp3/AGC, whatever.

    These specific settings can be changed with a few button combinations, but there’s not a hard switch for AGC or for the mic pad, or for selecting built-in mic, external mic or line, these are all menu selections. But the presets let you have your most common set-ups ready to rock, and that’s a pretty good trade-off.

    It does NOT have MP2 recording, only 16-bit PCM (wav files) at 44.1khz or 48khz, or fairly low bandwidth MP3, 128 kbps stereo or 64 kbps mono.

    I think this is just fine, my feeling is that if you care about the quality of your sound, you should be recording wav files anyway, but if you are just recording a something for transcription, a low-rate MP3 is fine.

    Even though the MP3s sound OK, they shouldn’t be used for serious audio production, you’re bound to start hearing bad audio artifacts. Without the MP2 option, folks won’t be tempted to record to that format, which can get you in trouble down the production line, even if it sounds fine played right out of the machine.

    It does not have a limiter. It does have Automatic Gain Control, which works fairly well, but with all the usual problems, some pumping as the levels shift, and possible clipping if the AGC can’t pull back fast enough when recording something suddenly loud. But this is typical for AGC, and it works fine in most situations.

    It does have a 20dB pad for reducing the input gain of the mics if recording something very loud and/or with very hot mics.

    The built-in mics are pretty useless for anything but dictation-level recording, there’s an irritating high whine present at all times, and any hand movement on the case is picked-up very obtrusively. They might be OK for just recording a lecture, or making audio notes, but even then, I think listening back to that whine would drive me out of my mind.

    I haven’t used it enough to say anything about battery life yet, but I’ll try to let it run for a while. It takes AA batteries, alkaline or NiCads (with an internal menu setting to match each) but it does not come with a rechargeable battery.

    The metering is OK, it’s an easy-to-see light ladder, not an LCD bar, but only 7 dots before an over, so it’s not incredibly fine gradations, but not bad.

    The ergonomics are pretty good, things generally are in logical locations, metering is easy to see if it’s hanging from the shoulder strap, with the mic cables hanging out the bottom, headphone jack facing up. On a table top, it’s almost as good, the main display and control buttons would be on the top, the meters on the front aren’t perfectly located, but you should still be able to see them.

    You only really see if you’re recording by watching the display on the top of the unit, which has bright backlight if you want to pop it on from time to time. This isn’t ergonomically different from old tape decks, probably better, but it might have been nice to have some kind of counter on the same edge as the meters.

    OK, that’s as far as I have gotten for now. Short version, for the size/price, it’s a good unit. It’s sonically better suited for high-output mics than low-output mics. The unit itself doesn[‘t seem to make any noise, and there are no moving parts. It’s missing 24-bit recording and MP2 recording that some decks have. There’s no digital I/O, but the USB connection, or just reading the CF card in an external reader should obviate the need for digital out. But you can’t just play a small section of your recording out vis SPDIF (although there is a way to copy sections of your recording internally, so you could copy less than the entire CF card to your computer.)

    You can’t use an external high-end preamp and bring that audio in digitally, as there’s no digi in. Still, overall, it’s good balance of features considering the price limitations.

  • jr says:

    Mine is arriving tomorrow, being used mostly for group/individual interviews. I am thinking of using a Crown PMZ 185 for group interviews… is there a better match for the 660?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Crown PZM mic

    That Crown boundary mic ought to be a good match for the 660, in theory…. tell us how it works in real life! I’m sorry to say the built-in mics aren’t a viable option,

    PZMs are a good solution for a group sitting around a table.

  • Alan says:
    built-in mics

    Jeff, thanks for the quick review.

    I wonder if the internal mics on the PMD660 are different from the one they use on the PMD670. I use the 670 to record interviews for transcription and the internal mic works fine in situations where the interviewee and I are sitting round a table with the recorder between us. There’s no "irritating high whine".

    Are you sure they wasn’t some type of feedback problem? I had an issue like you describe happen the first time I used external mics on the 670. I didn’t have a headphone plugged in to monitor and I guess it was playing back the recording through the speaker. I got a really nasty whine. To fix the problem I had to turn the speaker volume down to zero. Later I just plugged in a plug (without headphones) into the headphone jack to disable the speaker.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    mic whine

    Good thought Alan, but no, it wasn’t feedback, I had the headphones on, not brutally loud, and it was also very steady and higher-pitch, not like feedback. And it’s not a sound the machine itself is making, when one plugs in an external mic, there’s no evidence of that sound, even at painfully high gain settings. It’s something the internal wiring is picking up.

    The 660 has an interesting mode, which could be cool, or a major pain in the neck: there’s a menu setting for output, either phones/speaker or line out. So if you want to turn off the speaker and not use phones, no need for a dummy plug, just switch it to line out. But if you want to play out of the line-out while listening on headphones, you’re out of luck.

  • Alan says:
    mic whine

    I think it is worth your time asking the people at Marantz about the whine (maybe send them a sample). This is presumably their initial production run so I guess it is possible that this is one of those initial manufacturing / quality control issues. (I know with the 670 they had some initial issues with Nicad battery recharging in the unit,which they fixed.) It would be interesting to get their response on whine issue. My experience with Marantz had been that they are quite responsive–far better than any of the other tech companies I buy stuff from–so it is worth talking to them.

    Here’s the link to their tech support contact info:

  • Barrett Golding says:
    phantom lack of power?

    thanks for that First Glance at the 660,quite comprehensive. when you get around to your Second Glance, one ?: how much does phantom powering mics reduce battery life?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    phantom power re battery

    I haven’t had a chance to make a comparison, but my initial guess is that is won’t make a huge difference. I just tried to kill the batteries by recording for as long as possible, coincidentally with a condenser mic. With phantom on, I got a little over 3 hours of recording, with 4 standard Alkaline AA batteries. Interestingly, the last hour was rolling with an empty battery icon, which would make me a little nervous, but I suppose that’s better than it suddenly dropping off.

    Here’s the hippest part: you can turn this off, but the machine will start beeping at you when it’s about to run out, and I mean really at the end, about 15 seconds later the machine just shuts off. But before it dies, it writes track info. So we shouldn’t be confronted with lost recordings from batteries running out.

    I’m going to give it a run with dynamic mics and with rechargeable batteries, that will be in my full review which will appear here soon.

    Hopefully the rechargeables will do as well, it’s good to get 2-3 hours on a charge, I could never get close to that with the DAP1 DAT recorder, but it could get expensive with alkalines.

  • Mathew Mitchell says:
    mics to use with 660


    Thanks so much for the "preview" review!

    I am considering getting the 660 as an extra recorder when I’m traveling and to be able to lend to my students. (I already have the HHB Portadisc that I’m happy with, but am reluctant to lend out to students or take on long trips when I only go using carry-on bags.)

    I have both the Sennheiser MD46 and EV RE50NDB mics. Your preview indicated the EV RE50 would not work well with the 660. I would want to use a mic similar to the MD46 or RE50 (i.e an interview mic). Any that you could recommend that have similar sound quality but higher output so one doesn’t get hiss?

    Thanks for any suggestions you can provide,


  • Steven Herman says:
    PMD660-first thoughts

    I just received my PMD-660 today. I ordered it from the U.S. as, ironically, it is not released here until next week.

    I agree with most everything posted so far. My first thought is that it should have been built out of a more solid material or have an optional case. It does come with a strap but I decided to forego putting that on.

    I tested with a dynamic mike (EV 635) and found the noise level acceptable at 48k .wav with no padding. I agree that a condenser mike would be better but I think a dynamic is acceptable for ENG, although I plan to use a condenser for sit-down interviews (any suggestions?)

    I will be testing in the field later in the week.

  • Alan says:

    I suspect you might get more juice out a quality set of NiMHs. NiMH technology seems to be constantly improving. I’m using a set of 8 Sanyo 2100 mAh NIMH to power my 670 and they work well. When phantom power is off you are supposed to be able to get 6 or 7 hours I think although I’ve heard that some people have gotten much more. I never record a couple of hours at a time so it’s never been an issue. The latest Sanyos are up to 2500 mAh now.

    Some places that sell NimHs and rechargers:

  • Henry says:
    PMD660 with AT825 audio-technica microphone?

    I´m thinking to buy the PMD660 with an AT825 Audio technica Microphone – I´m not realy sure
    if the mic is loud enough to get rid of the hiss.
    Is 200 Ohms loud enough? Or which other things I have to take care off? I want to use it for environment sounds and concert recordings – so if somebody can help me out – I would realy appreciate it – thanks

  • leveille says:
    mp2 joint stereo 44.1 encoders

    Hi Jeff-
    Ok lots and lots of good info on PT and recorders here. Thanks!
    I typically bounce mixes out of PT into .wav files or .mp3. Where do I get a simple plug in for PT so I can export file as or bounce to the format conforming with the new Content Depot:
    44.1 joint stereo layer 1 .mp2
    For example the PRX encoder handles this (almost) using a .mp2 48khz sampling rate default.
    I want to save directly out of PT.6.2 to .mp2 so I can conform to NPR… Can I do it? Is an extra utility required?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    mics with the 660

    I’m trying to concentrate on finishing my formal review of the unit, but basically, condenser mics work better with the 660. So if you like an omni, try the Beyer MCE-58, or something similar. For a cardioid, I’m loving my AKG C-900. Modular mics based on the sennheiser K6 module are good choices, get the K6 and then add an omni, or cardioid, or short shotgun capsule. There are plenty of choices, but the general rule is that the hotter output of condensers will sound better with the Marantz preamps.

    The AT 825 should work just fine, that’s got a pretty hot output. My Rode NT4 sounds great.

    I’m doing some more tests, I suspect my methodology might have been flawed for my first battery test, and I’m trying again. I just got over 6.5 hours on 4 standard Alkalines recording with no phantom to a 2-gig card. I’m sure running the phantom for condenser mics will decrease battery life a little, but not by that much, so I’ll try again….

    Hang on, more complete report coming in a few days, and I’m happy to fill in the blanks after that!

  • Jeff Towne says:
    mp2 encoders

    this probably isn’t the right place for this, but I don’t know of any way to bounce or save directly from ProTools to MP2. I think it’s a better idea to bounce to .wav anyway, save that for your archive, and then encode your bounced file.

    The PRX encoder is good. if you want more flexibility or batch handling, etc check

  • Alan says:
    Oade mods…

    Sounds like the audio quality is fine for many purposes when matched with an appropriate mic but for anyone interested in custom mods:

  • Dual mono in?


    If the 660 doesn’t have a limiter (bummer), does it have the dual mono input like the 670 (where a mono mic is recording two channels, one 15db less than the other)? Then if the main channel clips suddenly, you’ve got the other -15db channel to grab the sound from. I’ve been using that on the 670 and like it.

    Thanks for the early comments. I look forward to the full review.


  • mike rosenlof says:
    I’ve got one

    I received a PMD660 two days ago.

    It does not have a dual-level dual mono like the 670.

    It does have a 2 second pre-record buffer (switchable).

    I recorded my son’s high school jazz band last night. Sitting near the front, with a dynamic mic (audix i-5), the input gain (rotary control) was set at about 10 to 11 o’clock min is at about 7:30, max is at 4:30.

    The resulting recording sounds very uh, … musical. The ‘over’ LED lit up occasionally, but didn’t seem to sound as bad as my Sharp minidisc does if overdriven.

    The level display does not have separate left and right indications. Actually, don’t hold me to that one. I was recording in mono. (I only have one mic) But I don’t think there was a second row of LEDs.

    The USB is only 1.1, not the higher speed 2.0.

    You have to plug in the external power supply to do a USB file transfer. This one seems really goofy to me.

    The external power supply is 5 volts 2 amp.. I believe it was universal input (100 – 240V 50-60Hz).

    Compared to minidisc, I had the performance copied to my computer, into audacity, cut the intros, added track fades, and had a CD written in less time than minidisc would have taken to just do the transfer to the computer.

    I have not done tests of voice levels with the dynamic mic I have, or how noise the mic preamp is.

  • Steven Herman says:
    mics with the 660

    I’ve purchased a Shure Beta 87A and it seems to drive the 660 just fine with no discernable noise.

    I field tested the 660 yesterday for the first time, recording a news conference using 48k mono .wav with a line input and riding the gain manually. The playback sounded wonderful. No complains whatsoever.

    I have decided to use Ni-mh batteries in the field and will report here how well they hold up using phantom power.

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • Barrett Golding says:
    excellent revu

    thanks so much for the 660 breakdown. lotsa insight.

    not having a way to know you’re recroding while looking at meters may be a deal-breaker for me, as manytimes i’ve thot a recorder was out of record-pause when it wasn’t. i’m pretty habitual about checking often that time is ticking away. and the place to see that should be the place you’re looking at most often: the meters. other than that, seems quite the chine.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    record rolling?

    I hear ya Barrett, but it’s really not too bad, the machine is small enough that it’s not too hard to see both edges, even when hanging on the shoulder strap. In fact if it’s sitting on a table, it’s really easy to see. But you’re right, even a simple indicator of rolling would be cool, even if there’s no room for a full display. I’ve only neglected to roll tape once, and then I had some bad glare on the DAP-1 displays (although that’s probably a lame excuse for just spacing out….) This machine is just new enough that it’ll be hard to say how easy it is to make mistakes like that, until a bunch of us have been using them for a while.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    internal mic noise

    In an ironic development, I discover that the MP3 file of the internal mics that’s included in the review doesn’t really display the dramatic whine that I can hear in the original. This is the first time that I’ve ever noticed the act of compressing to a lossy format actually improve the sound!

    This does indicate that the whine could likely be filtered out, but there’s always some negative consequence to dramatic EQ. The built-in mics are likely to be very handy in casual circumstances, but I had hoped that maybe they’d provide a good, quick way to get on-site demos or quick location ambience, but I think they’re a bit too tinny and noisy for that.

  • Paul D. Mathis says:
    Vice President – D&M PRO/Marantz Professional

    Please email us or call us anytime at 630-741-0330 – ask for Tech Support to discuss PMD660 technical issues or behavior. We love hearing from you guys and thanks for the great forum.
    I’ll ask someone here to quickly respond to the issues you have posted.

  • mike rosenlof says:
    A little more testing

    So last night, I did some voice recording. I was in a very quiet room of the house, using a single dynamic mic (Audix i-5).

    With the input gain at the mid point (12 o’clock), hiss was pretty noticable between words. Got worse as I increased gain.

    Recording off the internal mics, they definitely run hotter than the dynamic. There was also an added whine to the recording.

    Haven’t tried the line input yet.

    I’m still liking this device (a lot!) compared to minidisc and tiny (but decent quality) electret mics. But it’s not perfect.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Welcome, Paul D. Mathis from Marantz

    Hi Paul, welcome! We’re very happy you’ve checked in with us here! As you could probably tell, there has been a great deal of anticipation about this kind of recorder in general, and the 660 in particular.

    Just as a point of reference, in the guise of an average civilian, with no mention of an on-line forum or website review, I DID email Marantz tech support asking about the internal mic whine and did NOT receive any response. It’s only been about 3 days, but in this electronic world, that feels like a long time.

    But we’ll all take you up on that and drop a line or email. I presume techsupport (at) is the right address.

    Note to all: we should probably move future conversations over to the 600 topic here that is relating to my larger review of the unit which will be live in transom tools VERY soon.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    mic tests

    and thanks, everyone, for the mic tests, keep them coming! This really is the best way to fond the right mic for the machine, try some! I have a bunch, but not everything…..

  • Scott Anger says:
    Pre amp issue?

    I purchased a 660 a couple of days ago and was disappointed to hear the poor sound quality using a Sennheiser ME-66. Monitoring a test through good headphones, the audio sounded clipped regardless of the input gain or value indicated on the level meters. Even the waveform of the test audio was looking clipped with all the peaks truncated. I tried another mic, phantom on and off, mic pad on and off, different headphones, cables, settings but nothing seemed to help. Everything improved dramatically once I bypassed the XLR inputs and fed audio from my mixer into the line-in input. The recordings from the mixer sounded great and the waveforms looked normal in my editing software.

    Although as helpful as they could be, D&M Tech support was initially stumped. Today, they told me that there were other users having the same problem with condenser mics. Tech support has asked me to give them a week or so to consult with technicians in Japan.

    I’ve concluded that the mic preamps are not working properly for the XLR inputs on the two units I purchased – and returned one – from B&H in New York. Has anyone else had a similar problem? I’m open to suggestions for a solution.

  • Jeff Towne says:

    Scott, that’s a disturbing story! I can say that MY unit was not displaying this behavior, I used a few different condenser mics, and nothing was clipping, the volume controls and meters seemed to correlate with the waveforms I’d look at later, and I wasn’t hearing or seeing clipping.

    I DID think that the levels seemed a bit too hot with condenser mics when the Automatic Gain Control was on, but I wasn’t getting outright clipping. Is that what you were seeing? Did you get the clips when you were in manual level control? (It’s a menu setting.)

    I’ve always preferred to set levels manually, I’ve just never liked the sound of anybody’s AGC. But it would be handy to have a reliable AGC for those times when you need it.

    We’ll have to do some more testing here, I don’t have a K6/ME66 handy, plenty of folks do, so we’ll try a few things.

    And if the folks at Marantz have any advice, please feel free to chime in!

  • Scott Anger says:
    more on clipping


    Thanks for the reply. Yes, it is very disturbing and frustrating. I conducted all my tests using manual level control. Even when I kept my levels down as low as -40db on the meter, I still got clipped audio with odd looking waveforms. I can’t figure it out. I did test the built-in mics using AGC (as per instruction from Tech Support) and they passed without clipping.

    I even double tested all my mics and headphones on other recording equipment and all passed.

    The only conclusion I can reach is that my 660 (and the one I returned to B&H) is from a different production run and has bad preamps. I don’t know if the unit uses seperate preamps for the XLR inputs and the built-in mics, but there is an audible difference between the two.

    Let me know if you find anything else out. Cheers.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    there IS a record-rolling indicator…

    OK, sorry Barrett, I feel like an idiot. There was so much interest in this machine, I wanted to get my review out ASAP, and I hadn’t had much chance to use it in the real world. just some test situations.

    But tonight I was recording a live concert, and as I was setting up I realized that there IS indeed a very logical, efficient indicator of record status. If you are recording, there’s a clear solid red indicator light on the left, right next to the meters. If you’re in record-pause, it blinks. If you’re not recording at all, no light.

    So it couldn’t be easier, solid red, you’re good. Blinking, you’re not rolling. No light, you’re not in record at all, you won’t be hearing anything in your phones either (you ARE listening on phones aren’t you?!?)

    It’s a good solution.

  • Barrett Golding says:

    solid red, you’re good. Blinking, you’re not rolling

    I think you’ve just sold another unit. thx, jeff

  • cause i can’t decide

    thanks so much for the review. i’m so anxious to replace my minidisc with this machine…praying that the TOC writes properly after years of use is starting to wear me down.

    about the CF cards. i’m thinking i’ll want 2 GB of space. any opinion on getting 1 2GB card or 2 1GB cards? any chance that a CF card will fail and having a second card around would be a good idea?

  • John R says:
    PMD660 and boundary Mics

    I do interviews and focus groups for social science research. I have used Olympus digitals for the past few years, but I have upgraded to the 660. Using the built in mics is pretty good, but I have a project upcoming that will be group interviews in meeting rooms. I am getting a Shure MX390/O for use with the 660. I will post how it works out….

  • Alan says:
    PMD660 and boundary Mics

    John, I also do social science research so will be very interested interested in your experience with the Shure MX390/O. As a matter of interest, aside from it being an omni, was there a particular reason you went with that particular model from that manufacturer?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    boundary mics

    boundary mics are an overlooked tool for getting the sound of groups, especially if they are all sitting around a table. It’s not always the most immediate, rich, broadcast-announcer type of sound, but at least you can hear everybody.

    I don’t find an MX390 anywhere, maybe that’s an older model, I see the 391-393 series, which have different types of connectors, so just make sure you get one with an XLR output.

    Audio Technica, Crown and a few others make boundary mics. The idea is that you mount or place the mic on a flat surface (a table, a wall, a floor, a car interior, etc) and the boundary mic will pick up all sounds that arrive at the surface at the same time, giving a more universal pick-up pattern.

    It’s kind-of odd to call the pick-up patterns "omni" or "cardioid", given that the mic will be on a flat surface, so it’s really "half-omni" or if directional, it’s still picking up differently because it’s grabbing sound from the surface.

    Please do tell us how the Shure works!

  • Jeff Towne says:
    memory cards

    I’m not sure there’s a "correct" answer to what memory card(s) to get.

    I’d lean toward getting the biggest one you can afford. Spares are always good, but I think you’ll be happier to be able to keep rolling, rather than swap-out cards if you’re in a long session.

  • John R says:
    PMD660 MIc

    Sorry the MIc model is the MX391/O for the Shure mic. I chose the Shure for several reasons that may nor may not make sense: XLR connector; omnidirectional to pick up all around the table; small inline preamp; and, size (not too Obvious). Other possible choices — Audio Technica AT841a;and, Crown PZM 6D. There are some other good choices from EV (90b I think is the model)Senheisser,and AT, but they do not seem to have an omni pickup pattern option. The Shure has these inter-changeable pickup cartridges so I can ge a cardioid if I later need it. That was ultimately the seeling point. I first bought a shure beta 91, ran it on phantom power PCM at 44 khz until I filled up a 1 gig card (over 3.5 hours) and batery life was still good. I plan to use two I gig cards, just in case…. I use the same strategy in my camera, two I gig cards, just in case.

    The Mic may seem overkill like overkill "just for recording mettings" as the salesman said to me. But, when you hve to listen to hours and hours, the quality makes a difference. I was with a colleague last summer collecting data on St. Lawrence Island. She used a cheap recorder and a cheap mic…. She did not check the audio enough in the field and on returning she found it very painful to hear all the necessary detail, esepcially with those speakers who had a slight accent. A quality recording is worth the cost.

    I expect the 660 to make a difference in my work, or at least I hope it will. I skipped the mini-disc approach because of past transfer problems….

  • Nancy Updike says:
    660 v. minidisk

    does the 660 let you put down track marks, like a minidisk player? so you can jump straight to the good parts of an interview? how easy or difficult is it to download short bits from the 660, rather than dumping all of whatever you’ve recorded?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    marking tracks

    Hi Nancy,

    yes, pressing the record button while rolling drops a new track mark. There’s also an auto mark function if you just want it to drop tracks at regular intervals. I think it would be more helpful to do manually, maybe drop a mark at the start of every question or response.

    They even sell a little remote that can velcro around your mic, so you could be dropping marks with your mic hand, (although that might put some thumps on the audio from pressing on the mic…)

    Then when you mount the card on your computer, each track shows up as a sequentially numbered file. I would imagine the best workflow for this will be different for different people. You might want to just fly them all in and decide later which ones to keep in your session, or only copy over the parts you want.

    The thing to keep in mind is that you will want to erase that card eventually, so I would imagine that in most cases it would be good practice to make a copy of the entire recording to your computer, perhaps burn it off to CDR as wav files as an archive, just in case you change your mind about the direction of the piece, etc.

    But for quick access, or if you just know that you would never want to use most of what you recorded, indeed you can copy only the tracks you want, as long as you can keep track of which file numbers they are.

    There is also an in-machine function where you can copy tracks, or even make basic edits on tracks and save those "Edit Decision Lists" to play out or export later. I tend to think those things are more easily done on a computer, but I suppose if you’re doing breaking news in the field it could be handy to organize or trim-up some clips right in the machine to play down a phone coupler or something. I’d prefer to do editing, even basic trims, in a computer if possible!

  • David Anderson says:
    Marantz 670 & 671 info available?

    I have learned a lot from this list on the 660, but have some concerns about durability, limiting, etc. Living in a small town in Alaska we have no where to actually lay hands on a unit before purchasing. Until I heard about the 660 I was working up a grant for the 670. The 660 in intriguing, but now I see there’s a 671! Is there a source for this level of user/reviewer interaction on these two models? Thanks

  • Jeff Towne says:
    670 & 671

    I did have a 670 for a while, generously loaned by Oade Brothers. I was most interested in hearing their preamp modifications, which I did think made an improvement. I had hoped to have two units side-by-side, but I had to return the Oade unit before I could arrange this. However, I have an offer to borrow a stock 670, and so i might be able to do a similar rundown to the 660.

    Many of the issues are the same, the main plusses of the 670 being: the 670 has a mic limiter; it has a recording mode that sends a mono mic to both channels, with the level reduced on one, to help avoid overs; it can record to high-rate MP2 format, used by many news and broadcast organizations; it has more hardware switches for recording settings; it has digital I/O; it can use an (optional) rechargeable battery.

    The main minuses are: it’s bigger, in fact it feels a little silly, like it’s mostly air; it’s more expensive; all the switches and buttons are a bit intimidating and confusing; it requires 8 AA batteries or an optional rechargeable.

    The 671 is pretty much the same as the 670 but more expensive because it is able to record 24-bit soundfiles, for better quality (but less record time than 16 bit on a flash card or microdrive.) And it has a listen-after write capability, which is nice, you can monitor the actual recorded file as you record. I used to think this was absolutely crucial for cassette recorders, and always wanted (but could never afford) a "confidence head" on my DATs, but I wonder how crucial it is on a machine like this. It’s nice to know for sure you’re "printing" the audio you think, but at what cost?

    For convenience and price, the 660 is pretty good. I personally would be reluctant to get the 670 or 671 just because they’re so big. They’re actually smaller than the older cassette and DAT decks I had been using quite happily, but they somehow just seem too big for their purpose!

    Hope that helps…

  • Richard James says:
    660 pre-amp question for Mr. Mathis


    I am collecting data on various recording technologies prior to making a purchase. The PMD660 is a likely candidate.

    It appears that it is quite a nice device, with one issue apparently known to many. The questionable quality of the pre-amp.

    Here is part of an answer provided by Doug Oade to someone on the forum at the oade website.

    "…If the PMD660 sounds lie (sic) the 670 and the specs indicate it does, it has a rather poor mic preamp that needs to be modified to be usable.
    my 2 cents worth…Doug"

    Oade provides a "fix" to the pre-amp of the 670 for $125.

    Has anyone from Marantz spoken to the folks at Oade and considered rolling their "fix" into the 660 before it goes out the door? (I realize it is out the door at present)

    I am a neophyte collecting data and trying to get the optimal solution for my money.

    Does having the Oade "fix" done change things such that a new mic would be desired? Or would the old mic work fine after the "fix"?

    My application would be ENG, interviews, diary, ambient sound collection and anything else I can think of.

    Thanks to all, this is a very informative group of people.


  • Ben A says:
    Oade mod 670

    Okay, I know everyone here is all hot on the 660, but let me tell you this: I have been *heavily* using my Oade-modified 670 for about four or five months now and it is, without question, the best sounding deck, easiest-to-use deck that I’ve used. I mean, I can barely listen to my old DATs now, recorded on a D-8, which I thought was the shit for the two years I used it. Also, I cringe whenever someone sends me MDs and I see that totally limited-out waveform on the computer. Ugh. So crunchy, those MDs!* In fact, there’s so little hiss on this deck — no matter the mic that’s used — that recording too low just isn’t a problem. Ever. I’m very, very enthusiastic about this deck!!!

    "I love you PMD-670. Let’s get married."


    * PS: I remain completely unconvinced that listeners can hear any difference between sound recorded on CF decks, DATs, MDs or Cassettes. And furthermore, I went back and listened to some of those old docs we all know and love, which were recorded on cassette oh so long ago, and I actually found the sound to have this nice, ovalish warmpth to it. Like the light projected from a campfire. Good sounding stuff.

  • Wayne Kelso says:

    Hello all. Just had my first session with my 660 today, and was finding similiar issues with an added twist. I tried to to some closing mic’ing using a pair of Neumann U-87’s, and was experiencing clipping on manually set levels using the internal preamps. Clipping was audible at all set levels. I then tried the pad and just got a whoosh of soft white noise, and no real audio signal.
    Travelling from my board via line in was pristine.

  • Jeff Towne says:

    This is pretty wild… you certainly have a problem there, and it seems to not be unique.

    (I’m willing to bet the Marantz people never anticipated 6 grand worth of mics plugged up to the $500 recorder, but you ought to be able to do it if you want!)

    I haven’t plugged any U87s in yet, but I did try several other mics, including some large-diaphragm condensers, and other than being a little edgy in AGC, they worked fine on my unit.

    I just had a report on another list that said the internal mics sounded fine. Mine make a very obvious high-frequency whine. Is anyone else experiencing this? I’d be thrilled if it were a quirk of my unit, I’ll send it back and get it fixed, and hope my main mic preamps still work!

    BTW if any Marantz folks are still checking this list, any information would be welcomed about any of these issues!

  • Omar G Boulds says:
    Cheaper Storage Options

    I am new to digital recording. Just getting started. I came to this site and also read Jeff’s review to get info to help me decide on which recorder to purchase.

    On this forum I noticed some concerns about the cost of storage media. I thought I would share some things that I have learned.

    I purchased my first digital camera, a Sony 717, last December and began buying memory sticks for it on Ebay. After spending about $400 on memory I found a devise at Frys Electronics that could have saved me a few hundred dollars.

    I purchased a Wolverine SixPac 6040 Portable Data Storage devise. The 6040 model holds 40GB of data and has slots on the front to read six different memory card formats. It is a palm sized stand-alone unit that doesn’t require a PC. You just plug your memory cards into it and transfer the contents to its hard drive It runs on batteries and comes with an AC adapter. You connect it to a computer with a USB cable (USB 2.0).

    When I bought it Fry’s had it on sale for $150. Extremely cheap for a card reader and 40GB of portable storage. If there is no Frys near you, you can get it on the web. B&H Photo of NY has them too.

    I hope this is helpful to someone.

    Omar Boulds

  • Glen Clifford says:


    Hi all,

    I got my PMD660 on the 6 March – and in Australia… It’s serial is 618 – So it was very early off the final production-round conveyer!

    I have used 2x Shure KSM 109’s for stereo recording and it’s absolutely brilliant, EXCEPT in MP3 format. Here I hear lots of typical MP3 compression clipping.

    I have also used an Electrovoice RE20 – Again brilliant in WAV, terrible in MP3!

    Finally, I have used a Shure VP64AL interview mic… Some background noise on this mic, but just a little. Again, the MP3 is terrible! Not ‘broadcastable’.

    So considering that THREE well known mics sound great in WAV and terrible in MP3, I’d say Marantz needed to test the unit before releasing it! :)


    The unit won’t take any more than 1,800 mAh NiMH batteries – and even this sends shocks through the units system. It would probably be safe to say that the unit prefers 1,400 mAh. Try putting any more than 1,800 mAh into the unit, and she’ll cut off on overload. The big problem, is that there is absolutely no information about this in the PMD 660 manual.

    The broadcasting sector has waited a long time for a reasonably priced professional CF recorder. This unit is a beauty, but at this stage only in WAV format…. This suits me fine, as my digital audio workstation also loves WAV!



  • Jeff Towne says:
    storage and MP3s

    Omar, thanks for the tip on the portable storage, that really could be handy, especially on a long trip.

    And Glen, I think you’re right about the MP3s sounding pretty bad, they are a pretty low-rate encoding level. But as I said in the review, I think it’s actually OK, hopefully people won’t be tempted to use this for broadcast. wav files are really the best way to go for broadcast quality.

    But it’s nice to have the MP3 option if you just want to record hours and hours at a conference or lecture or dictation or something that you just need to save, but it’s OK if it’s got some MP3 gurgling.

  • Alan says:
    battery issue


    Just a thought, have checked to make sure the battery setup was set to NIMH and not Alkaline? I know on the 670 you have to tell it what type of batteries you are using. Only recorder I’ve ever come across that one has to do that…

  • cstifter says:
    back up and transfer worries

    Thanks for the review and esp. the pictures. Good to see the ergonomics are about right. I know folks have the willies about backup on these flash recorders. Isn’t this the same transitional angst that we had going from cassette to DAT? Or is the danger real? Granted I’ve never bought or used a mini-disk since I turned editor about the time that MD was getting around. Last summer I used a Nomad Jukebox hard disk recorder for a 3 week teen project with lots of outdoor use: dirt/water/heat and we didn’t lose a bit or byte or whatever. But we did transfer within a day or two to our iBooks. So how real is the lost content danger with these Flash Recorders?
    Another observation: We dinosaurs worry about not having knobs to turn or buttons to push, but next gen isn’t having that problem at all. We did those pre-sets for mono and stereo recording of .wav files and had zero probs with mistakes moving from mono to stereo mic. It’s all about training. Even for us dinos. We’ll learn. Or die.
    And another thing. Why do you have to transfer the whole card to the computer then delete? Doesn’t somebody make software like that of digital images where you can choose which files to download and either erase the card, erase specific images or just leave them on the card even after you’ve downloaded?
    Thanks for entertaining questions from this wannabe.
    Do you discuss diff. between hard disk recorders and flash card recorders elsewhere on the site?

  • Alan says:
    Boundary mics

    John and Jeff,

    Thanks for all the info on boundary mics. I’ve been getting by using the internal mic on my 670. For transcription that seems to work fine provided the interviewee and I are sitting close to the recorder. I’ve actually recorded some meeting with the internal mic and gotten intelligible results. I did one recording a while back where we were all seated round a long table so some people were quite far away from the recorder and there was an air conditioner going. I was expecting the recording to be awful. It wasn’t great but I could actually hear what everyone said. I don’t think I would have gotten that with my previous minidisc gear. It was probably helped somewhat by having the low/high frequency filter on–another feature that was also cut from the 660. Anyway, I’m very interested in your results with the Shure mic as some type of PZM/Boundary mic setup seems to be the way to go for those type of situations.

    It always surprises me that qualitative researchers will use such junky equipment. People I used to work with commonly used $40 Sony portable tape recorders with no external microphone and no understanding of recording technique. I’ve got transcripts from these interviews and the most common word in the transcript is "inaudible". If you expect to do a lot of interviews, then there really is no point being economical unless you are a grad student or someone with limited funds. $500 is trivial compared to the transcription costs. That $40 tape recorder probably adds two plus hours and $50-$100 to the transcription cost of a one hour interview and the data is messed up with inaudibles and difficult to analyze. Ten interviews and you’ve easily paid for the $500 recorder. And, I agree that you probably want higher quailty that merely intelligible. If the audio quality is good it will be so much easier to listen to and complete the transcript efficiently.

  • Wayne Kelso says:

    I called Tech support this morning, and they told me that people were complaining that the internal pad was set way too low. He hoped that there would be a fix for that down the line. He also suggested that I use the pads built into the U-87’s. I tried this and it cleared up the problem.
    I asked him about the chatter on this message board about units out in the field with defective pre-amps, and he said that was totally untrue. All the units are working to spec, and that the pre-amps
    were just having problems with hight SPL’s with hot condenser mics, such as the Neumanns.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    mic input clipping

    I guess we’re getting into semantics about whether there’s a "defect" in the mic preamps if they can’t handle the input from a U87 at any gain level. A 20dB pad, as supposedly implemented by the 660, ought to be able to tame a hot mic, 20dB is a BIG pad!

    But then, this is the real world, and much of what we do involves work-arounds. So it’s good to know that the mic’s internal pad helped in your situation, Wayne.

    If you’re having troubles with this, try padding down your mic output if it has a switch, if it doesn’t, you can by in-line XLR pads at various settings. This might be the easiest solution, rather than waiting for a fix.

  • Alan says:
    mic input clipping

    Sounds like one needs to be careful about mic choice. Hopefully they’ll start addressing this and other issue on the 660’s FAQ section on their web site soon.

  • John R. says:
    Boundary Mics, Battery

    Hello Alan/Jeff

    I have tested the built in mics on the 660 for use doing person to person interviews and they are acceptable. If I have to listen to hours and hours I would prefer another mic but it is better than the recorder I used before with an external mic, so no complaints.

    I put 2300 NIMH batteries in the recorder and had no problem with it working for the battery test I did. I am not sure if I missed something, but it seems fine.

    I have a slew of group and individual interviews coming up in the next month so I will let you know how things go.

    I need to sort out the work flow using either track marking or EDLs. IN the past I just used an "index" mark on an Olympus digital and those marks show up in the playback software. It made finding marked passages easy. The 660 operates a little differently, so I have to see how that will work for keeping track of key points in the interviews.

  • Michael Ames says:

    Excellent information for this old analog cassette recorder user.
    Many thanks.

  • Frank E T says:
    Pre Amp Problems

    I purchased a PMD 660 last week and also found the pre amps not to be up to professional standards. Speaking into a shure sm58 at loud vocal volumes produced clipping regardless of where the level controle was set. I tried a variety of mics and setting to no satisfaction. The -20db pad makes so much hiss that it is as well, unusable. The dealer I purchased from has a no return policy but was nice enough to switch me out with another unit; but it did no good. The new unit sound just as bad as the first.

    I am really disappointed. This unit shows so much promise if only it could live up. Other wise the unit is very cool. The line input works fine although 1/8 minis are far from pro. It would have been nice to put a +4 line level via the existing XLRs. The built in mics are a nice feature. I was quite suprised with how full the low end sounds.

    I’m still waiting from tech suport to respond to my email from last week.

  • tim cumings says:
    Dynamic Mics with higher impedance and output?

    Hi, Jeff.
    I really enjoyed your review and audio samples for the pmd 660.
    I noticed that among the dynamic mics you used was the Eletrovoice 635, which according to the specs, has an impedance of 150 ohms and an output level of -55 dbm. Do you think there would be a much better signal to noise ratio in using a dynamic with a higher impedance and output, such as the audiotechnica at 804 dynamic omni, which has an impedance of 600 ohms and an output of -49 dbm?I own this mic, and in my research it seems to be one of the hottest dynamic omnis, along with the shure vp 64, which has an output of -52 dbm and an impedance of 330 ohms.
    I listened very carefully to your recording of the internal mics but couldnt hear the highpitched whine.
    I own two minidisc recorders, the Sony mzr 37 and the mzb 100. For now they suit my purposes, but if I upgrade in the future it will be to something like the 660, especially since I think the price of flash cards will keep dropping. The ability to do a quick transfer either via usb or card reader prevents any audio degradation and eliminates the whole digital to analog conversion going from the line out of a minidisc recorder to the line in of a sound card.

  • mike rosenlof says:
    microphones, batteries

    I’m still quite happy with my 660.

    I don’t think the Audix dynamic mic I have is an ideal match. But I think it’s an acceptable match. I’m going to try an A-T condensor mic 3032 next week. I’ll report on that.

    I’ve mostly recorded uncompressed, but did a quick and very informal mp3 test. It sounded fine, no major obvious bad problems, but it wasn’t a really critical test.

    I’m using 2300mAH NiMH batteries – Panasonic from Costco. No problems. I am guessing here, but it would not surprise me if that battery setting does nothing but change the battery _display_ based on some voltage characteristics. Only a wild guess here.

    Still have not used the line input. I bought this thing largely because it handled XLR mic inputs, but I may also use its line in to transfer minidiscs I have into a computer readable format.

  • Alan says:

    You may be right about the battery display. Maybe it needs to know the type of battery to accurately determine how much juice is left–although the visual indicator is so limited that doesn’t help the user very much. In the 670 there is also the option to use their NiCad battery pack which you could recharge in the recorder…

  • Ben A says:

    One more thing from me about recording compressed formats: I record everything in compressed mp2 format on my 670 because it turns my 2gb card from 2 hours into 11 hours (stereo). But when we started podcasting my show — in an incredibly compressed mp3 format — the artifacts were immediate and in some cases overwhelming.

    I would warn people NEVER to record in mp3 format with this deck. As it turns out mp2 is still broadcast quality, but it might not be "podcast quality". ha ha. Anyways, have fun! Thanks Jeff, as always, for being such an incredible resource for everyone.


  • Steven Herman says:
    PMD660-audio sample

    Below is a link to a :45 audio clip from my first real test in the field using mic input. Setting were 48k .wav using a Shure Beta 87A sitting in a mic stand about 10 inches from the speaker’s mouth. No post-processing has been done except to convert to .mp3

    Comments are welcome.

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • Gordon Glass says:
    Disappointing Unit
  • Gordon Glass says:
    Dissapointing Machine

    I bought the 660 primarily for getting song ideas down without worrying about mics and headphones and for doing interviews for on-line broadcast. Whilst unquestionably a massive improvement on an Olympus dictaphone, I had high expectations and feel let down by the background whine you get using the internal mics.Basically the mics appear to be faithfully recording a whine which is present in the unit as soon as you power it up. Stick your ear to the unit and there it is whining away.It’s annoying that Marantz didn’t think to isolate the whine from the internal mics. I’m half thinking about opening up the unit and stuffing some foam into it.

    I’ve tried the unit with the line in at 48 wav. This gives good results – somewhere between minidisc and DAT. Fingers crossed, the results with an external mic will be impressive – I’m encouraged by the australian correspondant above who seems to have got pleasing results with Shure KSM 109s.Is such a shame that the internal mics and speaker aren’t more up to the job.I guess I should have gone for the Edirol R1, but I really wanted the built in speaker aswell.The other features of the unit are really great – the ease of editing and transfering to computer for example.This could have been a real stormer, but I guess Marantz felt they had to cut corners.

    Anybody else go for the Edirol R1 instead?

    Gordon Glass

  • Jackson Braider says:
    The 660 with various mics

    To start with: a 1 gb Kingston compact flash memory card for $64 including S&H. At some point, this will all be cheaper than tape.

    A not-so-good visit to an indoor work environment — a Rode NT-4 stereo mic. MP3 auto levels and I used the power in the mic itself. Almost crunchy mid-ranges. NOTE: It seems you cannot use LINE input while recording a 48k WAV file. (UPDATE: I read the comment above about line recording at 48k. I’m assuming you’re setting the record format before you choose the input.)

    An Electrovoice RE-50 was not bad, which is what you basically get with that mic.

    The lesson is to practise with the machine — the defaults I guarantee will not be your defaults. The first few minutes of any recording experience will be devoted to menu-browsing. It will take a while to hit automaticity with the 660.

    But that’s okay. At least there’s none of the agita of the minidisc system!

  • Eric says:
    Batteries/External power

    We have had our unit for about a month now. Very happy with the results using an EV635 – doing onsite interviews for pieces bound for web and AM radio.

    My concern now is that without an internal charger, the battery door becomes a potential mechanical failure point, and an item that my wife (the reporter who uses this unit), would prefer not having to deal with during a hot series of interviews.

    Has anyone else looked into external portable power?

    Maha Powerex ( has a lot of good press, but they are designed around digital camera applications – which operate at 6v(NiMH) & 7.2v(LiIon). They have a step down adapter to 5v(for the 6v unit)that spills power through a resistive load (wasteful). Marantz engineers (through tech support) said they "do not recommend" any overvoltage into the 5v external power socket.

  • Glen C says:
    NiMH follow up results

    NiMH follow up results:

    Hi – this is Glen again…. I posted the comments about the NiMh problem….

    At the suggestion of this board, I tried Panasonic brand 2300mAH NiMH batteries. These worked just great, while other brands (I won’t mention them) would not go at past 1800mAH.

    Then I tried Duracell as well – no problem at 2050 mAH.

    BTW: The PMD660 settings were set to NiMH in all tests, original and recent.

    The battery investigators might have some fun, trying to work out this one.

    I guess the bottom line is that you should go for a big international brand like Panasonic or Duracell.

    Best wishes, G.

  • Eric says:


    What kind of life are you getting out of the NiMH batteries?

  • Molly Peterson says:
    660 v. 670

    Thanks for the review…it’s great that there’s someone out there who’s keeping audio standards high. All the snobbery I had at NPR about clean sound is getting beaten out of me at the member station.

    We’re using the 670 at KQED and boy, is it nice to not worry about the two problems we’ve had with MD recorders — the hhB (the "big purple thing") sucked down batteries like it was going out of style and consumer grade MDs both Sharps and Sonys, you worry about the TOC writing properly AND the minijacks going out.

    Speaking of, I notice the 660 has minis for lines in and out. That seems like a compromise…the 670 has RCAs at least. you think that’s a weakness in the long run? I always worry about the robustness of the stereo mini connection.

  • ifoundasound says:
    PMD 660, a very limited unit.

    The following are my experiences and opinions of the PMD 660, after a rather frustrating experience.

    Knowing that the 670 is at least the 3rd generation in the series gave me a great deal of faith in this unit. The ergonomics are great, other than the so-so jack placement. The led metering is more convenient than the backlit meters on the 670. The 3-preset input/algorithm design is awesome, and the 671 is apparently going to incorporate presets in a big way.

    I started pluging various mics into it, and got clipping before -0 all over the place. Live club sound was a complete mess – the meters were fine, but the files were horribly clipped. Even full chords on an accoustic guitar could clip from 3 feet with my SM81. The bass rolloff helped a tiny bit, but not substantially. The internal pad is HUGE, and my s/n ratio was pitiful. When I say the meters were fine, I mean while monitoring the sound live, I placed the signal peak at -12, -8, and -6, and could get clipping at all 3.

    I thought I might have a bad unit, and went back to B&H in NYC where I purchased it. The salesguy was great, we tested my mics, and plugged in a couple more.

    Mics tested:
    SM57 dynamic
    SM81 condenser
    beta87 condenser vocal
    AKG C414 B-XL II variable pattern condenser
    AT 4033 SE condenser
    Rode NT-2000 variable pattern condenser

    The only mic that worked perfectly was the beta 87. Why, I don’t know, but it was totally immune as far as I could see. The 414 and Rode were virtually useless. A bassy reader at 6" could distort both of them.

    We ran the unit off batteries, tried an AC adapter, and also ran the SM81 through a Mackie board to supply the phantom. No dice.

    Paired with the Beta87, or even two of them, it would be a killer interview setup, but that’s as far as I would trust it.

    Now I have a 670, and love it, end of story.

  • mike rosenlof says:
    condensor mics

    I tried the 660 with an Audio-Technica 3032, omni condensor mic. I can confirm clipping pretty easily. I cannot confirm clipping without the ‘over’ LED on the level meters lighting up. This mic runs considerably hotter than the Audix I-5 that I also have. I used the 3032 mostly with its 10dB pad switched in, and the low end rolloff activated also. The mic’s 10dB pad out and the 660’s 20dB pad on was not a good combination.

    I recorded spoken voice and solo flute. I want to do a little more testing with a little tighter control over both recording levels and sound volume.

    I’ve moved to this unit from consumer grade minidisc, most recently a Sharp DR-7. So far I’m happy. Not convinced this unit is perfect, but I think it’s going to work for me. I would consider the 670, but at this time, its size and weight don’t make it a viable unit for me.

  • Miguel Macias says:
    Nagra Ares PII+

    Anyone out there has had in their hands a Nagra Ares PII+?
    I have not had the opportunity to try them but I am extremely curious about it especially given the amazing reputation that nagra has. It is , of course, expensive, around $2000. I do have feedback about the Sound Devices 722 and was not as good as I thought it would be. Sound Devices seems to be the way to go for portable mixers (not that you would ever need one for radio) but the 722 seem to be somehow unreliable.


  • mike rosenlof says:
    More info on mics

    Talked to tech support at Marantz. I was recording with an AT-3032, a pretty hot condensor mic. It was definitely clipping with the input meters reading no higher than -12dB. They told me a few things…

    The microphone preamps will clip at about 3.3V Turning down the recording level does not change this.

    The microphone preamps of the PMD-670 clip at about 5.5V.

    They have used a Shure KSM-44 with a 15dB pad and it works very well for them.

    The so-called 20dB internal pad in the 660 is more like 35dB.

    They stress this recorder more as a news/data gathering device more than a music recorder. I, of course, want it to do everything, and perfectly. :-)

    On the other hand, I recorded fireworks with a dynamic mic over the weekend. Those loud sounds were reproduced _very_ well.

    I’ve got to decide in the next couple of hours if I’m going to keep this unit. (exchange period from the retailer) I probably will keep it. If I understand the nature of its limitations, I think I can work within those limits.

    I might go buy a 10dB inline attenuator.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    mic clipping

    Mike, thanks for those numbers, this clarifies (a little) some of the problems folks have been seeing. As most folks have reported, the 60’s 20dB pad is pretty useless, unless you’re recording a marching band or race cars or gunshots, or other very loud sources.

    But there’s a window of mic output voltages that the recorder seems to like, some dynamics too low, some condensers too high. Some of the problems reported here are surprising, and makes me wonder is there’s some variation from unit to unit. For instance, I recorded with a dynamic SM58 and a condenser Rode NT4 had no clipping problems, but others have had serious problems with either those mics or others with similar outputs.

    I’m not THAT surprised that a U87 might overdrive those inputs, that’s an extremely hot mic.

    In the end, this is a bit annoying, and perhaps a fatal flaw depending on your particular taste in mics and willingness to devise a kludge. Hot condenser mics used to clip the inputs of our DAP1 DAT recorder too, but its input pad usually actually helped.

    So here’s the deal, if you have a very high-output mic, if it has a pad switch on the mic, switch it on, it will probably help. If you really want to use that mic, but are getting clipping at all input levels, buy an external mic pad, there are simple XLR barrels with switches, or with fixed pads that can be placed in-line with the mic cable. I’ll try to find and post an exact link, but I’ve seen them at Markertek, and other broadcast supply houses.

    In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to worry about this, but it’s not a perfect world….

  • mike rosenlof says:

    I’ve found that an Audix I-5 dynamic works well with the 660. In quiet environments, hiss is evident from the preamp. In actual use, it’s been pretty good. It’s output is specified pretty close to that of the SM-58. Similar price too.

  • Miguel Macias says:
    Re:Nagra/ Sounddevices

    Hi Jeff,

    My mistake… I was actually attributing to the 722 comments about the 744. A leader that carries Sound Devices told me that they had to return a unit that froze a few times while shooting on location (film shooting) and then froze again back in the office. Sound Devices didn’t find anything wrong with it. I assume that considering that the 722 is the younger and cheaper brother of the 744 we could expect similar problems with the 722.

    The Nagra seems like the perfect device for radio producers with high audio demands and wanting also a small recorder but… the $2250 price tag seems just too high…

    On the PMD 671… I talked to one of the staff members at Oade Brothers who confirmed that… until they actually get to see it, it seems that the PMD 671 is $200 more expensive than the 670 for no good reason. And all 660, 670 and 671 have a pretty disappointing signal to noise ratio that brings us back closer to the old cassette recorders…

    I was ready to buy a 660…. Now I am completely confused…
    One last thing… O Brothers are offering the modification for the 660 as well…


  • j.b. says:
    Line-in test

    Hey guys,
    Anyone here conduct any line-in tests from loud sound sources? I’ve been considering this unit as a live taping upgrade from my Nomad JB3 recorder…seems to have a lot of useful features, except the mic pres which i wouldn’t be using. I’d be running a pair of hot omni condensers; I don’t see that there would be any problems with this. Any input would be appreciated.


  • Jeff Towne says:
    Line-In quality

    I haven’t done any super-careful analysis, but I ran my 660 much as you’re planning to, as a back-up to a DAT recording of a live concert mix. (Good thing too, the 002r multitrack recording crashed, thanks digidesign!)

    But my spot-check listening to the 660 sounded fine, so the line-ins seem good.

    An earlier post asked about the stereo mini connectors, and while it is true that they are my least favorite kind of inputs, I figure I won’t be using them all that much, so I’m not going to worry too much about it. If you are using a line-in all the time, it could be worth getting a good right-angle adapter cable and just leaving it plugged-in, connecting and disconnecting the plugs at the other end of the cable instead. Cheaper to replace that cable if it goes bad than having the 660 fixed if that jack fails on you.

  • Alan says:

    It’s a lot cheaper than $499 here:

  • Gregg Sutter says:
    Newbie Podcaster gets a 660

    I want to start podcasting from the website I run, ( so I shopped for a portable flash recorder and quickly settled on the 660. The Edirol R1 was not available so the decision was simple. I want to do as professional a job as possible with my limited experience. The good thing is I don’t think the technology is limited – especially with the right microphones.

    I noticed right away that the internal mics pick up everything within a city block and are pretty much useless to get the isolated sound I need. Microphones, after the 660 itself, are the biggest point of debate among members of this forum who know a whole lot more than me.

    I am dividing my mic needs. First, I want to a set up for one on one interviews that isolate background noise as much as possible. The two mics can be identical or the subject mike can be a bigger desktop model while the interviewer (me) wears a headset. I assume, since my voice will be part of it, this will have a lesser quality and not be recommended, True?

    Then secondly, I want another seperate mic I can take into the field and do impromptu stuff moving between interviewer and subject.

    I want to spend in the $150 range for a mic. I was quoted on a AUDIO TECHNICA – AT-2020 CARDIOID CONDENSER MICROPHONE for a discounted $99 by The sound Professionals so I figure I can get something decent in that range.

    I would appreciate any advice greatly, and in term, help some other newbie looking to go pro.


  • Balthasar Jucker says:
    good plugs

    Neutrik produces since a short time good right angeled minijack plugs. If producing Your own cables, use this ones. Suddenly, minijack becomes a trustable system . . .
    Something else: The "line in" on the PMD 660 is a "-10dB" input. Whenever You take the sound from an XLR device (+4dB), the input of the PMD becomes overloaded and distores the sound, even when the lights aren’t in the red aerea.
    Thatfor, I bought a pad from RDL ( to adjust this. Didn’t try it yet, but I think this makes the link to use the PMD in a "professional" surrounding.
    Is anybody in the situation to own the plans of the mic input circuit? I would like to manipulate the XLR inputs to a better standard, kind of what the Oade brothers do. But they do it just in the US, nothing for us european people!

  • Andy Higginson says:
    Put off the 660


    Reading through all of the comments here, I’m not going to be recommending the 660 for purchase this summer at work.

    I work in a Uni in the UK, and we ended up buying 18 670s last August for the 3rd year BA journalists to use. The results with a Shure SM64A mic on the 670s are good (based on the fact that getting a student to produce good sound is hard), and once they have been preset, there seems to be no major problems. However, with all of the problems mentioned here about the 660, I’m inclined to stick with the 670 when we buy some more next summer.


  • adam norman says:
    Something good to say about it

    I’d like to put in a good word for the 660. I just bought one, and it seems to work quite well.

    I’m using an AT897 shotgun mic. It’s a nice mic, and yes, it seems to run too hot with phantom power turned on. Like others, I get clipping. But when I turn phantom power off and use batteries, man it sounds sweet. Batteries make the AT897 a little ‘cooler’ and it there is little preamp hiss and a lot of nice sound.

    So, I guess Marantz boned it up with the clipping preamps. That is truly a shame. And it’s a pain that it takes a little work around. But damn, it’s still a very nice machine at a quite good price, and it kicks the bananas out of the minidisc recorders I’ve used. The ergonomics alone make me glad I won’t have to use them again. And then there’s the XLR connections. And the lack of moving parts. And the (relatively) good preamps.

    Now, a few questions:
    1) does an inline pad reduce audio quality in any way? Do they have flat deadening?
    2) Is an inline pad a better idea than just turning the PP off?

    Jay Rose has a few attenuators you can make posted on his website:
    (The rest of the book is fabulous, too.)


  • Joel Moors says:
    How much love?

    Hi ifoundsound,

    I wonder how you find the preapms on the 670 compared to the 660? I’m finding the same clipping problem on the 660. I use a sennheiser MKH416, and have found that running it through a portable phantom power supply into consumer MD is giving me a lower noise floor than the 660 and a sweeter sound all round.

    I love the sound of the 416, but just need something decent to plug it into! Maybe I should just opt for the FR-2?

    So for someone else looking for an ‘end of story’ sense of completion, how good is the 670?

  • Alan says:
    660, 670, 671

    "…how good is the 670?"

    I think someone had some information from technical support that suggested that there were differences in the preamps on the 660 and 670. Read the messages above.

    Also, Marantz just posted the manual and other information for the 671 on their site so I guess the next question is how the preamps on the 671 compare to the other two?

  • Alan says:
    PMD671 preamps

    On their web site Marantz states the 671 "mic preamps have been dramatically improved."

  • Lothar Solle says:
    CF-Cards in 660

    I’m going to buy a 660. But I’m frustrated by the lots of cf-cards! I need 2 GB of space, that’s what I really know, but when you have a look onto SanDisk, you will find very different types, concerning the transfer rate. This varies from 1 to 20 MB/sec! Does anyone have any experience, which rate is sufficient? I did not find any hints at Marantz or in the user manual.

  • Alan says:
    CF Cards

    Here’s what Marnatz has to say about CF Cards the PMD670:

    Depending on your application, you’ll want to select a proper compact flash or microdrive memory card to use with your PMD670 solid state recorder. Typically standard cards with faster read/write speeds are best. You’ll want to stay away from cards marked as "ultra" or anything else other than standard. If your application is one where the machine is constantly moving or subject to vibration, then you should buy a compact flash card as opposed to a microdrive. Some recommended brands of flash cards are: Lexar, Viking, Hitachi, IBM, and PNY."

    I think a standard CF card should work fine in the PMD670 and PMD660. The new PMD671 may be a different story given that the data write speed required to record 24/96 audio is substantially greater.

    If you look at this discussion thread here (from March 2005)
    one of the posters states that s/he got these figures from Sandisk (which are actually sustained rather than burst write speeds):

    1) Standard CF = 1.1Mb/sec (6.6X)
    2) Ultra CF = 2.9Mb/sec (20X)
    3) Ultra II or Extreme = 9.0Mb/sec (60X) [10MB/sec READ]
    4) Extreme III CF = 18Mb/sec (120X) [20MB/sec READ]
    In the real world actual write speeds might be different. See

    If you are recording 16 bit 44.1 kHz stereo you need to write data out to the card at 176.4 kb/sec (assuming I did the calculation correctly) so you definitely want something faster than a 1x card (150KB/sec) but I’m not sure they even sell 1x cards any more. Any standard card should be fast enough. 6.6x is actually pretty slow. And I see that the cheapest Lexar 1GB cards are actually only 4x. I think if I was buying a card I’d want to look for one that was 8x to 16x. I don’t see that there is any advantage to shelling out the extra money for a 40x, 80x or one of the premium super fast cards.

  • Wayne Kelso says:
    NiMH issues

    Read some of the posts and went out and bought a set of Energizer 2100 mAH batteries, and they do not work in my unit. These are 1.2v batteries.

    Called tech support and they said that they were getting good results with 2300 mAH batteries at 1.5V.

    Just wondering if everyone out there is using 1.5V batteries. They don’t seem to be as common.

  • Alan says:

    I don’t think what they told you makes any sense.

    Alkaline AA batteries are 1.5V. NiMH AA batteries are 1.2V. In practice there isn’t much difference. NiMH tend to maintain there voltage as they discharge. The voltage of alkalines batteries drops i.e when fully charger they have a voltage of 1.5V but the voltage may be as low as 1 by the time they are nearly depleted. More information can be found at

    I don’t know why some users are reporting trouble with some NiMH batteries. It may be that the batteries are faulty or need to be reconditioned. Buy a decent brand and a good quality recharger i.e. one with a microprocessor to control charge rate and a discharge/reconditioning option.

    You should be okay with the Energizer NiMH batteries. I think Energizer may actually be rebranded batteries made by Sanyo, which is the biggest and most respected NiMH battery maker.

  • NiMH?

    i’m not sure what the hell the deal is with NiMH batteries and this machine. i tried a set of sanyo 2500 mAh and had the same problem other people reported…the machine would start up and kick off after just a few seconds. a cheaper set of duracell 2300 mAh batteries worked perfectly. i emailed marantz but haven’t heard back yet.

  • Wayne Kelso says:
    NiMH issues

    Yeah, I went online after my post and saw that there is so such thing as a 1.5V NiMH battery. The the guy even went and asked the "battery specialist".Yikes.

    The Energizer batteries I have are brand new (as is the charger) and my DVM shows them reading 1.4V, (albeit under no load).

    I’m really hesitant to go out and spend more cash on these expensive little critters till I know what works and what doesn’t.

    Guess I’ll call D+M again tomorrow.

  • Chris T. says:
    Anyone have experience with the iRiver H300 series?

    I’ve been working in radio for many years now – as an engineer at NPR, as a show host at WFMU and as a DJ at Sirius Satellite Radio – and I’m in the market for an MP3/WAV recorder that will allow USB transfer. I’ve narrowed it down to the Edirol R-1, the Marantz 660 and – a dark horse – the iRiver H340. The H340 is not a recorder per se – it’s an MP3 player with a 40 gig drive. But you CAN record into it in a number of formats. Anyone have experience with this machine?

  • Alan says:

    Electronic Musician did a review of the H120 last year. You can read it here:

  • Jeff Towne says:

    I came across this too, the review is raving about the unit, then starts complaining about a clunky interface, and occasionally taking 15-20 minutes to start up?!?!

    This review doesn’t address the recording side, but I’d be concerned about the interface issues and slow-boot phenomenon.

  • Jeff Towne says:

    Alan, thanks for that link, if you want to skip reading the article, I wouldn’t recommend the device after reading about it, it dropped samples, creating clicks in the soundfile, and when using the analog (line) in there’s only Automatic Gain Control, no manual controls at all. So, like recording to an iPod, fine for dictation, or recording a lecture or something, but not for sound-quality-critical functions.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    batteries, CF cards, pads, 671 quality etc

    It’s hard to keep up with you guys!!! But seriously, I’m glad there’s this much interest, and thanks for all the contributions, the real-world data is handy.

    I too am having some problems with rechargeable batteries not working, still trying to sort it out.

    I got a 1-gig CF card from Sandisk, and a 2-gig from pq1, which have been working just fine in my 660. Neither of them listed their transfer speeds, just "fast" but they’re not "ultra" anything. So as Alan said, you’re probably fine with anything currently available, just stay away from the ultra fast ones, although, who know, maybe those are fine too….

    And as for mic-pads, theoretically a good external inline pad shouldn’t negatively impact your sound quality much, although by the nature of the beast, you’ll increase the noise floor a bit, by having to turn the gain up that much more, but hey, it beats clipping!

    And as for the 671’s "improved mic preamps" we’ll just have to wait and see. One would think the noise specs would be better, but that could be an oversight in revising the manual, I’m sure they just tweaked the 660 copy. The 24-bit recording should theoretically allow better sound quality, but it doesn’t help much if the mic preamps are iffy. And it depends on what you’re doing: high bit depths and sample rates are kind-of overkill for field interviews for on the radio or internet, and will chew through your storage space pretty fast too, but for certain critical applications, it’s nice to have the option. But if you’re THAT concerned about sound quality you might just want to save up for a Sounddevices 722.

    Keep your experiences coming, we’ll figure this scene out!!

  • Miguel Macias says:
    on the expensive side

    For those as confused as I am… here is another great candidate on the high end/expensive side of this whole scene:
    Nagra Ares BB+ (no, I don’t work for nagra but… they are just good!)…
    This one is also very light and fairly small (6x6x2).

    Miguel Macias

  • Ben A. says:
    CF Cards

    I’ve been heavily using regular SanDisk 2.0 gb CF cards in my 670 for six months with absolutely no problem.

  • Joel Moors says:
    Preamps, mics, Nagras

    I should have said in my first message – thank you Jeff for the site. It’s an amazing resource, and always fun and informative.

    A colleague spent some time yesterday plugging the 660 and various mics into an oscilloscope, playing tone into it and pretty much baffling me along the way.

    But I could understand what it showed about the preamp in the 660 being the weakest component, and the point at which the waveforms had flat tops as they met the preamps headroom limit. We were trying to find out how much attenuation a Sennheiser MKH416 would need to work well with the 660, and we settled on -10dB, but even then there’s clipping before well before 0dB.

    Dynamic mics worked better, but as you say, then the noise floor is raised.

    What’s amazed me is the sound clip of the AKG C-900 posted on the review page, which to my ears is the best sound I’ve heard yet from the 660. Sounds like a very impressive (and well priced) mic.

    I’ve been on the quality audio odyssey for a few years now, and while I’m sure there’s no such thing as perfect, there must be something close. Priorities for me are…

    - Uncompressed .wav quality.
    - Phantom power & XLR ins.
    - Decent preamp.
    - Reasonable battery life.
    - USB transfer.

    So it looks like the Fostex FR-2 would be my best bet, but the battery life is disappointing, though I read there’s a cure on the way.

    I think the 660 is a great machine, good value for money and perfect for newsgathering, but I’m after something with slightly better audio. Something I could plug a decent rifle or stereo mic into and get the best out of the mic.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve worked at two stations that use the Nagra Ares P for news, and I’m not a fan of the sound. I know there’s the option of an external mic (via DIN) but even then there’s still no phantom power (as far as I can see) and at £2000+ it seems pricey to me. But the Ares-BB looks quite tasty!

    I’d be really interested in people’s thoughts on Sound Devices units – particularly the MM-1 and MP-1.

    I wonder if one of those into the line input of the 660 would be a good (if clunky) combination?

  • Miguel Macias says:
    Re: Nagra Ares P

    Hey Joel!

    I am actually very interesting in knowing whether you used a Nagra ares p or an ares pII.
    The one they sell now is Nagra ares PII+ which is a third generation of the product. The PII included recording in Wave and a small speaker. The PII+ has also FAT32 filing and 20 bit recording. The BB+ has the exact same specs as the PII+ but different connectors.

    Now… I have to say that after saying mean things about the sounddevices I am thinking twice of the 722. It really looks good and it has a couple of features (such as the internal 40 Gb drive) that makes it superior to the Nagra Ares BB+, which we could consider the competitor.

    And of course… the Fostex FR2 is so much cheaper than all these expensive nagras and sounddevices that it makes you think twice.
    Conclusion: I am getting more confused by the minute.


  • JohnR says:

    I have had the 660 lock up completely a couple of times. I had to take the batterys out to get the machine to work again. It happened during tes recordings so no information lost.

    Call Marantz and they said that it can be caused by the SanDisk Ultra Compact Flash card I am using — they say inconsistent card speeds and the machine will lock up. They recommeded using Lexar any speed, 4x, 12x, etc…. FYI

  • Tom Koetting says:
    Thank you all

    I’ve enjoyed reading the 660 posts a great deal. My jaw dropped when I read they left off a limiter.

    Perhaps Doug Oade can work this into his mods – FYI I still love my Oade/670 (1970’s form factor issues aside).

    Location Sound in L.A. makes custom attenuated cables. They made a custom cable for my PD170 Camera (Sennheiser output was too hot for the AGC). Everyone in Hollywood uses them, so they know the fixes for most standard gear. I told them my mic and camera and he muttered back "10db pad"

    I have used almost all of the PZM mics, and my current bag is an AT851a. It’s a nice contrast to a something like a Sennheiser 416 and can be mixed in later if you want room sound. I really like the 851 for group recordings, but bring your gaffer’s tape as the best spot for it is often hanging on the wall.

    I hope Marantz sells a lot of these 660’s, encouraging others to join the market.

    Keep the good info and user reports coming.

    Tom Koetting
    (who still uses his TC-DM5 often for legal work)

  • Eric says:
    NiMH experience

    Just competed testing on the Powerex (Maha –, 2300 MaH rechargeable NiMH batteries that arrived two days ago. Set up the 660 to record from Line In, and let it run to battery exhaustion. Got approximately 9 hrs of recording time!

    Good enough for me!!

  • Jugi says:
    Recording in Mono with 670

    I’m a relative newcomer to this machine, but I find that when recording in stereo, I’m getting some beautifully clear sound. When recording in mono, however, I get a bizarre distortion effect, almost like a flanging — especially when the letter ‘S’ is uttered. (I did mention this was bizarre, right?) Any way to curb this issue in mono, or is this the 670’s way of telling me I have to record in stereo (for a 1/4 of the time I could in mono)? PS. The mic I am using is a Shure Beta 87C condenser — got the same distortion when I tried recording with a Beyer M58.

  • Steven Herman says:
    CF-Cards in 660

    I have been using the SanDisk 2.0 GB SDCFB with absolutely no problem at 48k .wav both stereo and mono.

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • Alan says:
    Sonosax MINIR2

    Another interesting CF recorder coming soon from Sonosax. They say the two cahannel version is afforable but based on the prices of their existing products I suspect one may only feel that way after a big lottery win. See

    SONOSAX MINIR82 a miniature 2 to 8 tracks Hard Disk and CompactFlash Card recorder that fits in a pocket ! Despite its reduced size – only120 x 80 x 28 mm (4.75” x 3.15” x 1.1”) for a weight of approx. 450 gr (1/2 pound) with 4x AA batteries, the MINIR82 will fullfill all the different requirements commonly found in mobile recording.

    With Recording capabilities from 44,1kHz up to 192 kHz at 24bits, it provides with 2x microphone pre-amp with Limiter and LF Cut, 2x Line inputs at fixed level, 8x AES/EBU Digital Inputs and Full Time Code functionalities including HDTV format ! Its intuitive menu allows users to freely configurate tracks and media assignement.

    SONOSAX MINIR2 build in the same housing and based on the same technology as the MINIR82. This 2 tracks CompactFlash Card recorder is designed to offer journalists and reporters an affordable robust, compact and easy to use recorder thank’s to its advanced Automatic Gain Controller. Numerous factory presets will help users to rapidly and easily sets the 2 microphone pre-amps according to microphone type and recording environnement.

  • Alan says:

    A company that services Marantz digital recorders and which also does equipment mods. Not sure if that means they will do mods to PMD660 or PMD670.

  • Alan says:
    Doug Oade on possible PMD660 mod

    From Oade recording forum:

    Well, the first one never even made it to my shop before it got opened up. I disassembled it on the shipping table. Glad I did, I have very high hopes for making this one sweet little 16 bit box. By removing both the internal mics and line input then rebuilding the mic preamps it should be a winner.

  • Wayne Kelso says:
    NiMH issues update

    Thought that this may be useful to anyone having problems with certain brands of NiMH batteries.

    I had bought a brand new set of Energizer 2100 mAh
    batteries and charger and found that the 660 would not power up. Not even a blink.

    I left the batteries in the unit, (I liked the weight) and about a week later I had unplugged the unit while powered up, and it stayed powered for a few minutes with the batteries.
    I charged them back up again, put them in and the unit would not power up. Put the batteries into a CD player, wore them down a bit, and put them back into the 660 and they fired up. Ran for a while longer than the first time.
    After running them down in the 660, I put them into the CD player and ran them right down. Each pair played for another hour or so in the CD.

    Charged them up again overnight and they worked in the 660 right out of the charger! I plugged a pair of U-87’s into the unit and used phantom power and recorded an MP3 that lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes.

    That’s sounding like decent performance. I plan to cycle the batteries a few more times this way and see what happens.

    No idea why it would behave this way, but I’m happy that it’s working.

    Hope that this is some use to anyone who has shelled out some cash for batteries that don’t work.

  • john hudak says:
    CF-Cards in 660

    i was trying out microphones with the 660, and noticed, with an old electrovoice ds35 microphone, there was a high pitched regular ticking sound every few seconds. i wrote it off to the microphone being old. then just today, i went over to a friends house and tried three different condenser microphones, and all had the high pitched ticking. i had recently bought a hatachi 2gb microdrive for the 660, so i thought maybe that was the cause of the ticking, and lo and behold, it was (i replaced it with the 64mb cf that comes with the 660, which proved silent). if anyone is using this particular microdrive, please let me know if you have the same problem, as this particular microdrive may be defective.

    other brand suggestions would be appreciated.

    thank you!
    john hudak

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Recording in mono with the 670

    I don’t know for sure whether the flangy sound you’re getting while recording ion mono is related to this, but make sure that you’re actually in a mono record mode, and plugged into the correct mic input. When i first started poking around the 660, I was horrified at the sound quality of a single mono mic, until i actually read the manual, and discovered I was doing it wrong. (I always like to mess around a little without reading the manual to see how intuitive a piece of gear is.)

    The only other thing I can think of is that low-quality compressed formats (MP2, MP3) can put that flange on, make sure you’re not using a really low compression setting if you care about sound quality.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    microdrive noise

    Hi John,
    What will you be playing on "Directions in Music" tonight? Oh wait, sorry, flashback…

    Anyway, please do tell us what you discover about that microdrive, if it’s jusst that one, or microdrives in general that make the clicking. I had been avoiding them because marantz warned about some possibility of trouble with vibrations or shocks, and the greater battery drain. There are 2 gig flash memory CF cards readily available now for lass than $200.

    But be careful, as reported here the "ultra" rated ones can lock up the machine.

  • Eric Leonard says:
    Nagra ARES PII+

    Miguel –

    Outstanding. It’s the first news-gathering-oriented recorder I’ve looked at that makes no compromises on audio quality, build quality, power efficiency, and features:
    excellent mic preamps, thorough manual level control, low cut filters, limiters, a more user-friendly "scaled" VU meter, etc. The PII+ also has a 15-hour-plus battery life (5 rechargeable AAs).

    I spent some time using it at NAB in Las Vegas this week – and ordered one immediately. I should have it in the next few weeks and I’ll post some information. I’ve been using a Marantz 670 since it was available.

    FYI – Nagra is introducing a less-expensive flash-memory recorder, I think called the ARES-M. It will be available later this year for about $1000 USD. They had a mock-up at NAB.

    It’s cell-phone sized, runs on two AA batteries, has a detachable electret condenser mic on one end, but is limited to the internal 1-gig flash memory (no removeable cards). Nagra reps said they designed it, but it’s being built China with low-cost parts. The case is cheap plastic. I’m sure, however, it will sound good.

    Eric Leonard
    KFI AM-640
    Los Angeles, California

  • Eric Leonard says:
    Re: Nagra ARES-PII+

    I should add…

    The first versions of the ARES-P had some shortcomings: compressed audio only, limited manual control, poor battery life.

    The PII+ records 16 AND 24 bit PCM to 48 KHz, and it will also compress MPEG Layer II (better quality) at a variety of bit rates.

    Way better than the early models.


  • Mathew Mitchell says:
    Nagra ARES recorder


    Could you let us know where you bought this recorder? I was surprised that I have not been able to find a U.S. distributor. (Probably my mistake in googling.) I found several European sellers, but none in U.S. I don’t know if I want to end up buying the one you have, or the new one you speak about. (I’ll have to count up my pennies later this year.) But I’d love to know of a reputable place to buy Nagra recorders! Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • Lothar Solle says:

    I would like to tell you that I tried lots of mic’s and up to now I’m not satisfied with the results. Using famous mic’s like AKG 391 or 414 B-ULS I tried to record a piano from a distance of about two meters, the PMD showed a level of his second (!) LED, gain at 7 clock – but the signal was already crashed, when the piano played little louder. Using the attenuator of these mic’s did not help: the hiss increased dramatically and it was still possible to have a level too loud for the mic-input(gain at 10 clock). I found one mic that worked very clean, no hiss and with a level, you certainly have to handle with a piano in a distance of 2 to 3 meters: BPM CR 95 (this worked best of all with mic’s attenuator -10 dB!!)
    I tried other mic’s with poor results:
    MBHO 603 (the cleanest sound, but only with lowest levels of music, has a very low impedance!), 648 (level of music little better), beyerdynamic Opus 51, MCE 5.11, M101, M201, AKG C 451 EB, D19, C3900, BPM TB100, Strässer CM 507, Neumann KM100 (not at all),IMQ DM-055"Elvis" (worked okay),

    This just to show, I tried hard. Is there any way to solve this problem in a nice way? (Very small attenuators with -12dB and -20dB, or change of the preamp-resistors during a recall-action? For ENG we use a Sony ECM-MS957. I soldered some resistors in the XLR-plug with about 520 Ohms – that works fine now.) But this is not helpfull for condenser-mic’s, I think.

    All the other features are great – I like this PMD 660! I always have it on my side!

    If only we could solve this Mic-problem! I’m working on it!

  • Doug Kaye says:
    Another PMD660 Review

    I recently posted my own review of the Marantz PMD660 at I’m somewhat less-favorably impressed than Jeff.

  • Daniel Goodson says:

    I owned a 670 but got tired of padding my Schoeps ORTF mics to keep the pres from clipping. . since then I’ve gone to the Sound Devices 722 and love it! I’m thinking of getting a 660 for lecture recording. I’d feed it with a Sennheiser Evolution 100 series G2 wireless portable receiver. Do you think I’d need to pad that one? The 20 db pad on the 670 was horrible! Maybe they fixed that on the 660?

  • Alan Faye says:
    Hawaiian Heritage Sounds

    Hello Jeff –

    I have been reading of the weakness "reports" by Transom, of the pre-amps for the 660.  Received my 660 yesterday and ran some mic tests.  Three different mics were all were disappointing, except for the internal mics.  They (internal mics)weren’t so noisy.

    Am I wrong to attempt musical "field recordings" of some "backyard" musicians using the 660?  I’ve used, successfully,  the Marantz CDR 300 CD recorder in the field with several XLR Mogami Gold cables, and condenser cardioid mics with phantom power. This has been quite satisfying.  But with the 660, a major disappointment.  Same mics, cabling and so forth.  Major background noise and hiss.  And somewhat muffled sound.

    I like the quickness of the 660 and tolerance to movement (CF =  NO "drop-outs").  And the fact that it should be so easy in the field.  The CDR 300 requires 2-minute "finalizing" between CD changes, plus "reading time."  Plus it has a very bulky lead- acid battery power supply.

    So .. what can I do for mics for the 660?  Or should I just opt for something later that comes along and send this unit back?  Or … any chance Doug Oade might come through with better pre-amps in place of internal mics?

    One recent discovery. Some reports that the Shure KSM 109 might be workable with the PMD 660. Any comments?

    Oh, one major caution ….  one does not want to have the AC power cord next to mic cabling.  Even with shielding, the 60 cycles came bounding through.  The pre-amp seems to like 60 cycles.

    Many thanks from sunny Hawaii.

    Alan Faye

  • Connor Walsh says:
    Maycom Easycorder?

    Have any of you tried the Maycom EasyCorder? It has ISDN and GSM options which make it appealing to people who do news as well as documentaries, to help make ends meet! It’s also interesting to people involved in community radio (that’s me!)… but I’ve never seen a review, anywhere! It does cost 2-3 times more than the 660, it has to be said, but all these comments about disappointing sound quality have really put a damper on the high expectations I (and I think a lot of us) had for the 660…

  • john hudak says:
    marantz, transom, mics, and microdrives

    hello folks.

    about the hatachi 2gb microdrive: i haven’t exchanged it yet, since i’m not quite sure what to say, as the company i bought it from has a no-refund policy, and it doesn’t seem that the drive is malfunctioning, it reads and writes fine…it just makes noise when recording.

    a friend sent me this link:
    which led me to buy a regular 2gb sandisk cf (not microdrive), and it makes no noise whatsoever. i did notice that the speed of the hitachi microdrives were rather slow compared to the sandisk.

    in regards to the pmd660 itself: its pre-amps, and built-in microphones being less than perfect (which is important to most people buying it…i think most people probably bought this recorder because of its possiblilty of recording direct .wav files with no machine noise while recording and the ability to immediately connect to usb and download the files). unfortunately, the built-in mics, while being okay for recording non-broadcast material, are near useless for making high quality recordings due to the high frequency whine they impart on the recordings. it can, more than likely, be removed via eq, but then why should this have to be done, when better mics in the first place would eliminate the need for eq.

    if marantz is monitoring this board (which they should, since more-or-less we who have bought this recorder seem to be beta testing it), i would think, since this thread is so easily found via anyone googling "pmd660," that they might generate invaluable publicity by doing a recall and swapping the offending pre-amp and/or the sub-standard built-in mics. i don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t noticed the high pitched whine with the built-in mics…and if the pre-amps are so bad that only two or three microphones will produce useful recordings out of however many available microphones there are in the world, then something needs to be adjusted or replaced. i don’t think marantz would have included xlr inputs if they didn’t think this recorder was going to be used for close-to-broadcast-quality recordings.

    maybe marantz will make the less-than-happy customers reporting to this list, more-than-happy spokes-people.

    john hudak

  • Dennis says:
    preamp for the preamp

    Reading this thread concerns me. I recently bought a pmd670, which sounds like it has similar preamp issues of the 660. Mostly I want to use it to record in the field under mixed conditions and do interviews onsite for broadcast. I have an RE50 that I like because it’s a tough piece of equipment.

    Would a separate mic-pre to the 670 clean things up? There are some pretty small ones made by Sound Professionals (or really cheap ones made by Art) that would fit in my bag. It’s not a small machine to begin with so wouldn’t add much bulk or weight–though it would be an awkward setup. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Lothar’s mic problems

    I don’t mean to speak for Marantz on this, but I doubt they ever expected folks to plug really high-end mics directly into it, it was intended more for the news-gathering crowd. That doesn’t excuse the narrow window of mics that work well with it (too low-output and it’s hissy, too high-output and it distorts….)

    The real crime is that the built-in pad is so useless, I just can’t figure out what the point of even including it is, it knocks the inputs back WAY more than 20dB, doesn’t fix the clipping, and makes everything hissy. So forget about the 660’s pad.

    But an external in-line pad that knocks 10-20db or so off of the mic signal (or if your condenser mic has a pad switch on it, engage it if you’re getting clipping). Shure makes one, the A15AS, and there are more around. The Shure is switchable between three settings, which is nice…

    Whirlwind makes cheaper ones, but preset to a certain amount of attenuation.

    Oade Brothers is doing an input modification, which might not solve all of the problems, but I tried their mod to a 670, and I thought it sounded great.

    I guess I got lucky, the mics I like to use, an AKG C-900 as a mono interview mic, and a Rode NT4 as a stereo ambience mic, both work pretty well with the 660 as-is.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    external preamps

    Of course, using an external mic preamp and going in the line-in inputs of any of the Marantz recorders is probably going to improve your sound, it’s just whether the extra expense and bulk is worth it. If you need to be portable and battery-operated, good preamps are not cheap. If you can plug into AC power, there are lots of relatively inexpensive preamps that are pretty good, from Presonus, ART, Studio Projects, etc…

    Many pro sound recordists go out with external preamps from Sounddevices, or the Grace Lunatek, or Sonosax, or other boxes of varying expense. But they end up with all their gear in a big heavy bag, or on a cart. But if that’s practical, there are very few recorders that have anything approaching that level of quality in their mic input stage.

    That’s why dropping over 2 thousand dollars on a Sounddevices 722 recorder doesn’t seem quite so crazy: it’s got good ergonomics, long record times, solid construction, and really good mic preamps.

    Be wary of really inexpensive cheapy portable preamps, there are some that can get a mic up to line level if your recorder doesn’t have a mic input, but they can be every bit as noisy, or worse, than the Marantz.

  • adam norman says:
    Recall for the 660

    I just dropped Paul Mathis, who is listed above as a VP for Marantz, a line about the preamps. He said "please call our technical support line to register your problem and let me reassure you that they will certainly address it." That sounds pretty encouraging to me.

    The toll-free number is 866.405.2154. Again, the number he gave is 630-741-0330.

    I suggest that we all give tech support a call and see what they can do about fixing these preamps up. Marantz does seem like a good company, so maybe they will. It’s certainly unsatisfactory, and I suspect that the reviews on Transom carry a lot of weight. I’ll call tomorrow.


  • Dennis says:
    Preamp your preamp

    I’d send my 670 to Oade but I heard they only do the mod with equipment bought originally from them. Or is that not the case anymore? Can anybody recommend a decent small preamp that would beat the one in the Marantz? The Art Tube MP Studio isn’t too big or expensive. Anybody have any experience with it? Thanks a lot for all the advice so far.

  • Gordon Glass says:
    Another way round 660 pre-amp problems

    I bought the 660 to acoustic record song ideas aswell as interviews. I didn’t have a mic and hoped the internal mics would suffice. This is what I discovered:
    * the internal mics record noise inside the machine – a whine – which makes them useless for anything but dictation. Interestingly they did cope well when I put the machine under a djembe and started drumming – the bass note was warmly distorted but not bad at all – explain that!!!. This encouraged me, but when I tried recording loud music out of a set of speakers using the internal mics the results were rubbish – distorted and noisy. No good for recording live bands then although far superior to an Olympus dictaphone.
    * I borrowed a standard shure SM58 mike to get the benefit of the pro XLR mic inputs. I must confess I suffered none of the distortion problems other people have mentioned. It produced quite a warm sound with voice, but still too much noise for broadcast quality audio – that’ll be the pre-amp, which let’s be honest, is RUBBISH.
    * So I decided against buying a condenser mike and opted to by-pass the pre-amp altogether. I went for an external 9 volt pre-amp at $139 and a stereo pair of miniature cardioid stereo mikcs at $99, both available from This combination reduces obvious noise, especially when recording loud sources, but does not altogether kill it for a situation like interviews where there may be silence between comments.I found this set up more satisfactory than the SM58 through the XLR input for voice. The noise is less obvious during the silences and won’t be an issue in edited down material… unless you are interviewing a doormouse that is.

    This set also proved to be suprisingly good for recording acoustic guitar (and therefore probably any stringed instrument) – so good in fact that noise isn’t audible at all during playing. This set up is also better than the SM58 for loud music and would probably be fine for band rehearsals provided you tape the mics up on the wall out of the way – a cheap PZM might be even better for this application – try it if you’ve got one – and a preamp in your mixer).

    The only downer in terms of my own multiple needs is that these little mics create a rumble when touched so I think they’ll only work for sit down interviews where they can be placed out of harms way. You could, of course, clip one to yourself and one to the person you are interviewing but if either of your move your audio will make it sound like you are both busy groping the mic!

    I guess the ideal solution for everyone’s issues is really for Marantz to fit the machine with the preamp it deserves.I’m sure most of us would have prefered to pay the extra $100 rather than endure all this painful trial and error. Whilst Marantz get there (mmmmmmmmmm…how long?), the Oade Brothers modification sounds like an affordable fix for anyone out there who wants to use it primarily for the journalistic purpose for which it was intended… and who lives in the USA.You won’t much miss the internal mics Doug Oade talks about stripping out above.

    If you are reading Marantz, make a disappointed Brit happy and contact me in response to this posting.If you’ve got a decent pre-amp, I still want one IN the machine.

    For anyone who likes the sound of my set up (which may suit a semi pro musician or music recordist), there’s more info below.

    Gordon Glass

    Miniature Cardioid Stereo Microphones – MM-MCSM-4 – Black
    List Price: $104.99, Sale Price: $99.99
    These miniature cardioid stereo microphones (MM-MCSM-4) are the ones to get when you want to focus more on the stage and less on the surrounding crowd.

    Stereo Microphone Pre-Amp w/ Microphone "Plug-in Power" (9 volts D.C.)
    List Price: $190.00, Sale Price: $139.89
    Enables Sony 500-Series, MZ-S1 and other non-mic input MD portables to record live music and lectures with a microphone!!! Supplies optimum microphone power for all "line-level" inputs, including Minidisc, DAT, MP3, Cassette Tape, VHS, and Camcorders!! Your microphones will sound their absolute best!!

  • Richard James says:
    What mics work with this thing?

    I’d like to use the 660 for ENG work.

    Has anyone found a shotgun mic that works well with the 660?

    I have tried an AKG D230 omni dynamic that was recommended. It is very hissy. I hope to return it.

    This thing has XLR inputs, yet people seem to find the best sound by bypassing them and using line in.

    Is anyone from Marantz reading this? Your FAQ for this device on your website is still non-existant. HINT: a list of suggested mics and batteries to use with this thing would likely help your efforts to sell more of these things. A fellow in your tech support department some weeks ago told me it (the FAQ) was being worked on.


  • adam norman says:

    I use an Audio Technica AT897 shotgun mic with my PMD660, and it seems to work reasonably well. It hits the sweet spot in the preamps, I think.

    I put a sample mp3 online:

  • Alan Faye says:
    Marantz PMD660 Compact Digital Recorder

    Hello Adam (Norman) -

    Did you record the original on PCM 48k and then compress to mp3 for your sample? Or did you record mp3 to start with? Phantom power or battery? ALC or manual? If manual, what setting on the mic gain? Was this monaural or stereo to start with? How far were you recording from the mic? Voice sounds good. And have you tried recording any music?

    Many thanks,

    Alan Faye

  • adam norman says:
    PMD660 w. AT897

    I recorded 44.1k, then compressed it to high-bitrate MP3. I used phantom power, with manual levels (there is a fraction of a second of level (not preamp) clipping at the beginning) at about 10 o’clock on the dial, and right in the yellows on the lights. It was mono to start and recorded about 8" away at 45 degrees. I agree; it doesn’t sound that bad to my ears, making me think that this machine might well be useable if–and it’s a big ‘if’ if you already have a stable–you have the right mic. I think I might have a good one, but I still favour a recall for the poor people who didn’t get so lucky.

    And no, I haven’t recorded any music.

  • mike rosenlof says:

    I’ve had a 660 for about a month or so now. I’m not gushing over it, but I think I’m learning to use it well for what I want to do. I’ve posted some of this info here before…

    I’m recording ‘soundscape’ type stuff. A little bit of instrumental, and a little bit of ENG/Diary type stuff.

    In any quiet environment, hiss gets intrusive somewhere around 11 or 12 o’clock on the input level setting.

    An Audio-Technica 3032 (hot omni condensor) is working pretty well over a range of situations. Except for very quiet sources, the built in 10dB pad must be used. I suspect I would still clip the mic preamps with a loud source. This one has worked for recording a single speaker, and for the bird sounds early in the morning in my not very quiet (1 mile to freeway) neighborhood.

    In loud situations, an Audix I-5 (card. dynamic, fairly average output level) is also OK, but too much hiss if the sound level is soft. This one worked well for recording the ambiance at a local coffee shop, and recording a high school jazz band concert.

    The internal mics are useless, loud whine.

    The internal 20dB pad is a lot more than 20dB. I consider it useless.

    One of these days I’ll get one of those XLR microphone attenuators. 6dB would probably be perfect to give me more flexibility in recording. 10dB is easier to find.

    I wish there was an actual switch for the speaker/headphone/line output. I’m switching this one all the time via the user interface. I’ve started keeping it on speaker/headphone and turning the volume all the way down when I’m not using phones. Basically, I’ve never wanted the speaker on. I consider the internal speaker useless as well, very low quality.

  • adam norman says:
    No recall

    I just checked in with Marantz Customer Service, and they were discouraging. They said that it’s a basic recorder and the preamps are cheap. (I had kind of thought that it is an advanced recorder, but I suppose I’m just a rube.) The fellow said that there’s no recall in sight, as a result. I suggested that they might like to post a FAQ to answer questions about what mics would work; he said he has no idea if there’s one in the works. Oh well.

    On the upside, he recommended that those people who are looking to buy a mic and a PMD660 together should look for mics with an output between 3 and 3.5 volts. I don’t know if that’s been said already, or even what that means, but I suppose it could be used to match mics with pads. Does anybody know how that math works?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    The Oade Mod

    Thanks for that link Alan.

    It’s still early days, I don’t think Oade Bros has actually finished any modifications, but the jist of Doug Oade’s post on his forum is that there’s not much room inside the 660, so in order to put in some better (bigger) components, he’s got to tear-out the built-in mics (no big loss) and line-input (kind of a loss…that line input can be pretty handy.)

    So doing an Oade Brothers modification is a compromise: pay extra, lose the built-in mics and line-input, void your warantee. But although I haven’t heard the 660 mod yet, Oade Bros. did loan me a 670 they had tweaked, and I thought the mic preamps sounded very good, way better than stock.

    Tough call…

  • Jeff Towne says:
    external preamps

    Sadly, it’s one of those things, I do not know of any secret-weapon really nice portable external mic preamp for a low price. Most of the very affordable ones are built more for simply getting any kind of mic-level signal amped-up enough to use with a recorder that only has line-level inputs. And those MIGHT be "good enough" but are likely to have all of the problems we’re already complaining about with the built-in preamps on the 660: noise, clipping, grittiness.

    Please do post here if you have an external preamp you like, but as of now, the only ones that I know of that are much of an improvement are not cheap. Sounddevices makes several really nice preamps and field mixers. Sonosax makes some. Shure actually has decent ones, although I don’t love them…

    If you are recording in a situation where you can plug-in to AC power, you don’t need to be mobile or battery-operated, there are lots of pretty decent mic preamps for affordable prices at your local music store.

    Also, Core Sound sells some good preamps, but sadly some of the affordable USB-interface kludges seem to be unavailable now. In any case, carrying another preamp, then you need to add a battery to run the preamp, your rig is getting pretty bulky, but maybe it’s a good solution for you. Check here:

    Core Sound

    They have a couple of nice mic preamps with digital out, but the 660 has no digital in, so that’s no good….

    Again, let us know if you’ve found one you like, that’s quiet, and reliable…

  • Eric Leonard says:
    660 mic preamps – milivolts

    Hi all.

    After violating the warranty, my tests (as Marantz said) found the 660 sounded best with 3 – 4 mv/PA mics. This is an unusual spec as most reporter-type dynamic mics (like the re-50, beyer 58, etc.) have a much lower sensitivity – more like 1.5 – 2 mv/PA.

    Beyer makes two mics that fit the 660’s specs – I can’t find anything else close from other manufacturers:

    The MCE-58 is listed at 4mv/PA – it’s an electret condenser omni. I’ve never used one.

    The M59 hypercardioid dynamic is listed at 3mv. From experience it’s a terrific sounding mic, but its pattern may be a problem for some users.

    The electret condenser mics you’re most familiar with have a 6+mv sensitivity rating – that may account in part for all the clipping issues.

    Continuing to tinker in Burbank…Eric.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Output level/sensitivity

    Eric, thanks for those numbers, please keep us updated as you find more!

    Some mic manufacturers list this spec as "sensitivity". Interestingly, I had good luck with an AKD C-900 cardioid condenser mic, which AKG lists as having a sensitivity of 6mV/PA, but I’m not getting clipping. I was only recording basic speech-level signals though… and it DID sound a bit edgy with the AGC on. And Rode rates their NT4 as putting out 12 mV/PA! It sounded good with my deck, no pads…. Again, I wasn’t trying to record a loud band, just speaking voices, and similar-level ambience. But I wasn’t getting clips.

    The trick is that I think that mV/PA measurement can shift depending on the reference level. Audio level measurements are so freaking confusing!

    The Beyer MCE-58 (condenser) is a nice mic, with the same long-handled form-factor as the dynamic M58, and a similar omni pattern, but a hotter output. It might be a good match for the 660, I’ll try to match them up sometime and see.

  • Paul Mathis says:
    VP D&M Pro – Americas

    I’m sorry this took so long to address.

    We’ve identified a problem with the Mic Pre circuit on some early PMD660 and now offer an update that addresses it. If you are using a condensor mic and are not satisfied with the performance of your PMD660 call us toll free at 866-405-2154.

    Thank you for supporting Marantz Professional!

  • Jeff Towne says:
    A response from Marantz

    Paul Mathis wrote:
    "I’m sorry this took so long to address.

    We’ve identified a problem with the Mic Pre circuit on some early PMD660 and now offer an update that addresses it. If you are using a condensor mic and are not satisfied with the performance of your PMD660 call us toll free at 866-405-2154.

    Thank you for supporting Marantz Professional!"

    Mr Mathis, thanks for replying to us within this forum, it seems to be pretty active with 660 users!

    Is there a particular symptom that this update fixes? Is it the clipping with high output mics? Hissiness with low-output ones? Whine on the internal mics? Is there a serial number range that qualifies?

    I just so happen to have mics that match well with the machine, or mine was not an "early" PMD 660, or whatever, mine works pretty well.

    Of course, if users are dissatisfied with the preamps, do call Marantz at the number mentioned and work it out directly.

    Again, thanks to Marantz for responding to our concerns in this forum.

  • Eric Leonard says:
    Mic sensitivity

    Jeff and all:

    Yes! Mic makers measure the response of their products in inconsistent ways so sensitivity figures can be misleading. Since I have nothing but time this week, I’ll try and calculate an accurate, across-the-board comparison between a few mics.

    I mentioned before only Beyer products — the Shure KSM-94 electret condenser cardioid (my favorite field mic) is rated around 3 mv. I used it today for some field interviews and it sounded very good. Nice, clean recordings with little noise.

    Also interestingly (having opened the 660 manual for the first time today) Marantz says the inputs are 1.2mv/PA. Go figure.

    BTW – I think it’s outstanding Marantz is listening, er, reading! Another fine audio equipment maker, Sound Devices, monitors the motion picture audio recorders group (RAMPS – rec.arts.movies.production.sound) and responds immediately to concerns and problems.


  • Andrew Meissner says:
    4gb Whine

    I wondered if anyone else had experienced the whine issue. I had a 4gb card installed and noticed the whine while on rec pause, which then increased once recording started. Going through all the trouble shooting steps I finally installed a 512mb card and the whine ceased. I attribute this problem to the fact that the 4 gb card is an actual microdrive with moving parts. Not sure how big is too big, but a 512 compact flash card will offer you many hours of mono mp3. I had wanted to record 48k WAV, but I only get about 10 minutes on the present memory and that short amount is useless in the field.

  • Steve Herman says:
    Serial #’s

    Can you let us know the serial # range, if possible?
    I had my 660 shipped from the States but I won’t be back in North America for a few more months.

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • internal pad

    just got off the phone with marantz tech support. i was told that it’s the internal pad that they’re looking to address. that some machines are pulling back at much more than -20db and the fix they’re willing to do is to reign that in. so test your machine w/ pad before you call.

  • tim cumings says:
    660 mic preamps millivolts

    Eric another microphone to look at is the audiotechnica at804, which is a dynamic omni with a sensitivity of -49 db at 3.5 millivolts and a nice high impedance of 600 ohms.

  • john hudak says:
    4gb/2gb whine

    thanks for posting this message andrew. i had the same problem with a 2gb hitachi microdrive. when i put back the 64mb cf the pmd660 ships with, and it went away, so i ordered a 2gb sandisk cf, and it works great, no whine.

  • Mike OConnor -- says:
    Micro Drives vs flash in the 660

    Having tried both, I’d recommend NOT using a micro drive in the 660 — it makes the recorder very noisy. ‘seems to be an artifact of all the little mechanical widgets, and is especially bad during the periodic "write" cycle.

    I noticed it as a background whine in all recordings (presumably the drive spinning), punctuated with a nice sharp chatter every once in a while (my guess is that’s when the drive is actually having material written to it).

    Switching back to a 1 gig flash card got rid of the whine AND the chatter.

  • Eric Leonard says:
    660 software crashes…?

    Hello again.

    Another day of field-frustration with the 660. I’m curious if anyone else has experienced software freezes or crashes during recording or playback. I sure have.

    Also – I’ve seen a few posts re: rechargeable batteries. None of the NiMHs I’ve used in the 670 seem to work in the 660. Maybe we can put together a list of batteries that work (Maha 2200mA & Rayovac 2000mA don’t for me).

    Thanks all.


  • Steve Herman says:
    660 software crashes…?

    I’ve probably done about 20 hours of recording in the field now with the 660. The only problem I have had involved a problem with the unit saying the flash door was not properly closed. I turned off the unit reloaded the card and switched it back on and it got hung up loading the flash card. Same hangup several times trying to reboot. Removed the card and when I put it in a reader later it appeared the card was unreadable. (A 2gb SanDisk). Not sure to blame the unit for zapping the card or if it was a failure of the card.

    Fortunately I had a spare and that is lesson I learned — always carry extra cards.

    I’ve switched over the normal Toshiba 1gb and carrying a Lexar 256 mb as primary backup.

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • mike rosenlof says:
    660 mod and crashing

    I also have somewhere around 20 hours of recording by now. No crashes. The machine keeps running.

    Also just got off the phone with D-M. All they’re addressing is the pad. Say it’s cutting much more than 20dB, which I can easily believe.

    If that’s all they’re addressing, I may or may not send mine in.

  • john hudak says:
    660 mod – to send or not to send…

    i wonder what the modification is actually going to be…an adjustment or replacement of the pre-amps.

    how would one go about checking/measuring the amount of dBs the pad currently cuts.

    if one hasn’t gone and bought a microphone quite yet, then what should we do? i think marantz needs to offer to replace the pre-amp on all of them (if that is what they are doing). if they are just adjusting them, then i don’t know.

    by the way, radio shack 1.2v 1600mAh AA rechargable nickel-metal hydride batteries work fine.

    best future,

  • Balthasar Jucker says:
    accus, -20dB pad and modification

    Hello All
    To the question of accus:
    Here is one of the best links to all the questions around accus (in german. . .)
    It shows very good, that some accus run quick under the 1,2Volt, and there, the PMD wount work any more. So we have to choose accus with a long period OVER 1,2Volt. All around this is explained in this article.

    We tested out the -20dB pad on the PMD 660 and came to the mesure of exactely -40dB! Thats then nearly line level, and why there is suddenly so much hiss.

    I hope to get the service manual of the PMD, then we will for shure manage something like the Oade brothers, but for us here in Europe (Oade don’t sell out of US)
    If somebody is interested, please let me know. I will post soon some examples of our experiments.

    Lets bring the PMD to what we expected it to be!

    Good time


  • Jr., Alan E. Faye says:
    Marantz PMD660 Compact Digital Recorder

    Hello PMD 660 friends -

    I am into music group & training session recording mostly. So at a recent ukulele training session, I recorded the 28 songs at: PCM-48k, internal mics, manual control set at around 11 o’clock, SP/HP into quality earphones to monitor. Result was no whines or screetchs, fairly clean, crisp sound; albeit the whole room was recorded. I tried ALC and I say forget that. Do the 660 built-in mics use the kind of pre-amps that are what is needed with "MIC-in" with XLRs? My pair of XLR Nady SCM 950 studio mics don’t work with the PMD 660 but are winners with the Marantz CDR 300. Now why can’t Marantz install nice pre-amps in PMD660 like those that must be in their CDR 300?

    Could someone please come forward with an acceptable pair of studio mics that I can use for music recording? I am hoping I can
    avoid having to mod the 660 pre-amps and be able to record music NOW at often remote sites, but with recordable environments.
    Or …. has anyone been able to do music recording with the 660? My Marantz CDR 300 is a CD recorder and does not like vibration or
    motion. The solid-state feature of the PMD 660 is a winner.

    Many thanks and aloha,


  • JJ says:
    PMD660 "not intended for expensive microphones"

    Got a PMD660 and connected it to ME66 shotgun mic, running off of phantom power from the PMD660. Unacceptable clipping and distortion at normal conversational levels-turning down the input does nothing. Same problem everyone else has been having with the -20dB pad: it helped with the distortion but had to turn up with input to the point that we got a crazy hiss. Tested microphone with DAP-1 and Beachtek DX-4 connected to camcorder. The microphone is fine. Called Marantz and directly referred to this thread and the -20dB pad problem. They advise that the PMD660 was intended to be connected to cheaper microphones and the ME66 is overwhelming the pre-amp. Solution: if you are going to use better microphones try the PMD670.
    Before I attempt to swap them out, does anyone have experience with both the 660 and the 670? Will the 670 really perform that much better?

  • john hudak says:
    pmd660 and sony ms957 microphone

    hello folks. on the recommendation of lothar solle, i purchased a sony ms957 microphone mostly for ambient recordings. the only problem was that the adapter wire from the microphone only went from a 5 pin xlr to a stereo mini plug (the microphone was designed to work well with minidisk recorders…i tried it with my sharp mini disk recorder and it picked up perfectly). i tried it with the pmd660 line in, but there wasn’t much sound. so i ordered an adapter to go from the 5 pin xlr to 2 – 2 pin xlr (made by sennheiser), and it arrived today. the sound of the microphone is excellent with the attenuation at 0db. i get no sound whatsoever with the 20db pad. should i be getting something with the 20db pad? otherwise, i would highly recommend this microphone, and will post some links to test recordings as soon as i make them (lots of birds around my house).

    best future,

  • post repair

    for anyone considering sending in their machines…my 660 was one of the ones afflicted with both the pad problem and clipping issues. marantz said they were only addressing the pad problem, but i figured i’d send it in anyhow and see what happened.

    it was returned within days and i’m happy to report that everything seems to be working perfectly now. on test recordings, with the internal pad set to 0 db, i’m getting sound that actually correlates with what’s happening on the meters. it’s not clipping prematurely and works the way it should.

    and even though i’ll probably never use it, the -20 db pad seems to be doing it’s job properly as well.

  • Carl Warner says:
    Mauratz PMD 660 for film production

    I am considering using the Maurantz PMD 660 to record the dialoug for motion picture production. I assume that this unitwill produce sync sound when the ccameraas a crystal sync momotor.s this correct? Anyone see any problems using this unit for film production?

  • Jeff Towne says:
    Synch sound

    Carl, the PMD 660 does not read or generate timecode, so it can’t really be considered to record in real locked-synch to anything. In practical use, different sync sources drift very little, so it would work as well as any "wild-synch" device would, it will not drift very far, and could likely just get nudged back into place every now ant then. But if a film’s sound editors are expecting sound in perfect time-code lock, you’d need a pretty heavy-duty (expensive) pro recorder with a timecode input.

  • Jeff Towne says:
    differences in input quality between the 660, 670, 671

    I haven’t been able to line up all three machines to tell you anything concrete about the variance in input quality of the three units. From some reports here, it seems that the 670 and 671 have a wider range of tolerance of input voltages before clipping. If one is having that clipping issue with the 660, I think it would be worth contacting Marantz and sending it back for the pad fix, assuming you’re within the range that they’re accepting (I’ve asked for a serial number range, but have not gotten an answer). That fix seems to make the pad actually useable, and perhaps does some good to the entire input circuit, according to at least one report.

    I’d do it and report back, but my 660 is not suffering the input clip issue with the mics I’ve tested.

    As for the overall quality of the inputs, of course clipping is a big problem, but aside from that, the stock inputs on 670s and 671s are not exactly super-clean audiophile quality. These are designed as journalist decks, and provide very good quality, but I don’t think any of them are ever going to be all that satisfying for recording very quiet, or dynamically-varied music or environments with high-quality microphones. So as reported above, recording at 24 bit at high sample rates seems like a bit of a waste, as all that low-level detail that high-resolution recording provides is lost in preamp noise.

    Using external preamps and using these machines to record line-level or digital signals (the 660 does not have digital in) might give better results but adds expense and bulk and remote powering issues.

    Of course it’s frustrating that these are not perfect machines, but they do offer some very useful features, and good sound with the right mic, and maybe an external input pad, at a decent price. If you’re really interested in audiophile sound, the Sounddevices recorders will do the trick, they just cost a lot of money. This is not a new equation! The more affordable Marantz units are still pretty good, but require some compromises.

    Please keep posting your experiences, your user input has been the most valuable part of this whole exploration.

  • Charles May says:
    Sony 2500mAh NiMH batteries do not work in PMD660

    I have installed three varieties of NiMH batteries in my PMD660. Two varieties work and one variety does NOT work.

    One set is the 1800 mAh, green-colored AAs from Radio Shack. These work fine.
    Another set are the 2300 mAh Duracells. These work fine.
    Today I installed my Sony 2500 mAh batteries (NH-AA-B4E) which DID NOT WORK. Now I am entirely comfortable with a voltmeter in one hand and a soldering iron in the other, I know which direction the batteries are supposed to go, and I know how to check power sources and connections. Here is a mysterious serious of experiments — I’m mstified why I can’t use the Sony batteries in the PMD660:
    1) I used my voltmeter to test the Sony batteries to verify their polarity and charge, which was fine.
    2) I put two Sony batteries in series on the floor and checked the combined voltage. It was correct (around 2.5 V).
    3) I put each Sony battery, one at a time, into the PMD660 to verify that each was making good contact with the PMD660’s battery compartment terminals. They were (which I verified by checking the voltage on the battery compartment terminals rather than on the batteries themselves).
    4) I put two Sony batteries in series (in adjacent positions with polarity matching the diagram) in the PMD660, and measured the voltage across the two batteries. It was ZERO. I repeated this test with two Duracell batteries and got the expected voltage for two batteries in series.
    5) I put the two Sony batteries in again and measured the voltage across one battery to the other. I got a NEGATIVE voltage (I’m certain I had the meter and batteries configured correctly, as verified by checking the individual batteries and by repeating the test with the Duracells without the mysterious behavior). The negative voltage was about 0.7 V. If I’m correct this is the amount that a protective diode may let through in the event of a problem.
    6) I put the Sony batteries into a remote control car which houses the batteries in series, and the car works just fine.

  • Charles May says:
    PMD660 obvious editing feature omitted

    I am generally please with the PMD660, but I would think one feature could easily be added with a software patch from Marantz.

    Here is the desired feature: When creating virtual tracks, the user should be able to use markers to set in/out points. Currently the shift- and shift-<< keys which normally allow the user to navigate between markers are disabled as soon as an "in" point is set. This makes it impossible to use a marker for an "out" point. How annoying. So, Marantz, what about it?

    My features wish list could also include a "scrub" feature, or at least a "slow forward" and "slow reverse" for more precisely establishing marks and in/out points.

  • Richard James says:
    Batteries and the 660

    I have read several posts about certain NiMH batteries NOT working in the 660.

    What I have not read in any of these posts is how people have set the 660 in terms of type of battery chemistry installed.

    Nor have I seen a single post from Marantz pointing people to a relevant setting.

    The user manual refers to batteries in the table of contents on the following pages:

    6 installing them
    38 what the indicator on the LCD screen means.
    53 how to set the battery type

    That’s right, there are two settings, Alkaline or NiMH.

    OK, so I get a "C" in manual reading, but, why the heck does Marantz not tell us on page 6 that we need to set the type when we install them?

    They (Marantz) refer us to page 53 when we go to learn about the blinkin lights and whatnot.

    I returned my NiMH kit and bought a brick of Alkalines which I will take to the local recycle center once they regurgitate the power they have so kindly been holding for me all these months.

    And while I am ranting, when is Marantz going to put an FAQ up for this product?

    Hint: include the need to set battery settings

    Include tips for selecting a compatible microphone.

    BIG HINT: have the person that may some day (hopefully) create the FAQ read this forum thread, the threads on the Oade web site and any other place where actual users are attempting to use the 660 (novice and seasoned pros alike)

    Happy recording folks!

  • Charles May says:
    Battery setting irrelevant to functionality

    In response, all three types of NiMH batteries I tried to use on my PMD660 were installed with the battery setting on NiMH. Duracell’s and Radio Shack’s batteries worked either way, and Sony’s didn’t work either way.

    A guess only, but my suspicion is that the NiMH setting regulates when the "Beep" feature is triggered, which is probably set to go when the voltage from the batteries goes below a certain threshold. If one has NiMH batteries installed but doesn’t use the proper battery setting, the ill effect would be that the "Beep" would be triggered early because in normal operation the NiMH batteries deliver less voltage than alkalines.

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    Battery setting irrelevant to functionality

    I think your guess is probably correct about the battery settings. NiMH AAs have provide a fairly constant voltage of 1.2v. In use alkalines start at 1.5 and then drop gradually down to 1.0v (so they avergae around 1.2V). I guess the unit needs to know the type of battery so it can accurately measure remaining power and trigger the beep at the appropriate point. (I also suspect that The fairly constant nature of NiMH voltage may make it more difficult to assess remaining power than for alkalines.)

    I do agree that it would be good if they’d address the battery issue and other matters discussed here in their FAQ.

  • akayup says:
    so far so good

    I’m a newbie with audio but these mics work for me so far with the Marantz PMD 660:

    1. Sennheiser ME-66 with K6 capsule (1 AA battery)

    it’s a short length condensor shotgun (think of it like a telephoto lens in photography meaning it magnifies the target) that is loud when connected via a 6 foot balanced XLR cable to the Marantz PMD 660. have not tested phantom power yet.

    only did one interview so far by setting the recording level manually with the dial set at about 11 o clock position. that’s when you are looking straight on the recorder’s shortest side.

    2. Beyerdynamic M-58

    it’s a dynamic omnidirectional — think of it like a wide angle lens for photography meaning it picks up/shows more of the surroundings/context. getting good manual recording levels when the record dial is set at about 2 o clock position during average interview.

    The PMD 660 was set to 48khz recording to a PCM .wav file using manual recording levels with input from the mono (left) channel XLR input.

    Mounting the compact flash memory card to drag and drop the .wav files into Pro Tools sure is nice and quick. It beats DAT needing to playback and re-record into the Mbox.

    hope that helps somebody

  • Peter van Veen says:
    PMD 660 and AT849


    I have been reading this forum with great interest and am still interested in getting the PMD660. a couple of questions. I intend to use it for interviews (group and one to one) and already own a audio technica AT849 stereo condenser boundary mike. Does anyone know of any reason why this would not combine well with the PMD660?

    Another small question, could any of you who have bougth one in the US tell me if the mains adapter works with 220-240v as well as the US 110-120v? Prices here in the UK are around the $750-$900 mark making an import worthwhile.



  • Richard James says:
    PMD 660 mains adapter (ac adapter)


    I purchased my 660 in the US and the adapter will accept as input from 100-240 volts. Looks like a physical adaptor is all you’ll need.

    I wish I could help with your mic question, I am but a rank amateur when it comes to mics.

    Best of luck,


  • Jeff Towne says:
    660’s power adapter

    Just to be clear, the 660 does ship with an AC power adapter, and it does seem that it will accept 100-240 volts as Richard posted, so it should be pretty useable around the world with simple prong-adapters.

    I think we’ve been so interested in batteries here that some have gotten the impression that there’s no AC power cord.

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    Mics, M-Audio

    You can read some other mic recommendations for interview work here:

    Also, there’s another cheap flash recorder supposed to be appearing in a couple of months from M-Audio. See: Alan, "M-Audio CF Card recorder" #, 22 Apr 2005 9:24 pm

  • d-- j---- says:
    mic specs

    In doing some research, it seems that two mic characteristics are important:
    (1) sensitivity – the higher the mV/PA the better. Too low, and the much-talked-about hiss becomes too apparent.
    (2) power draw – the PMD660 only provides 5mA on its 48V phantom power. Plenty for some mics, but not enough to power, say, Earthworks (which draw upwards of 10mA). Less than this drops performance (e.g. max SPL)


  • Eric says:
    Mic for field interviewing

    Looking to move from the EV635 to a condenser mic. Anyone use an ATM10a with the 660?

  • John Menszer says:
    Microphones with PMD 660

    I am new to audio. My question: what mic to get with the PMD 660. Can someone suggest best buys in the $100 $200 and $400 price range? In the Jeff Towne review only the Shure SM-58 appears to be currently available. To my ears the AKG C-900 has a "magnified" hot sound. The EV 635 sounds more natural but less present. The Shure SM-58 sounds in comparison muffled and noisy. I intend to do interviews some with hand held and some with the microphone on a stand.

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Clipping Redux. . .

    On the 660 clipping issue I was wondering if the problem could have been exacerbated by a low phantom voltage. I know that a low phantom voltage will cause clipping of the output peaks. Has anyone checked that actual phantom voltage with a mike attached to make sure it meets specs?

    I would have hoped these machines would have had much more robust mike preamps considering the ultimate quality of sound they are capable of capturing. Even the cheapest of the PMDs are a good chunk of change and mike pre-amps with wide dynamic range are common place in good gear.

  • adam norman says:
    4 mics

    I’ll give it a shot. I have not tried all of these mics myself, but they look good on paper. Oade thinks the first two are good–and that’s good enough for me. Feel free to rip up my recommendations, though:

    For $400 or so: The Audio Technica AT897. It will work well for interviews but not ambiance since it’s a shotgun.

    For $400 for a pair: The Studio Projects C4.

    For $200 or so: The Sony ECM-MS957. I haven’t tried this, but it looks very good on paper, with XLR connectors, a switchable pattern, and the right output. I would probably save some money, though, and get the mic below, however.

    For $100 or so: The M-Audio Aries. Again, I haven’t tried it, but it looks right. M-Audio gets good reviews, generally speaking. It’s a mono mic, however.

  • Jeremy Bass says:
    Compatibility Issues with Compact Flash Cards

    Can anyone advise of a brand of compact flash card which offers a 4 GB card which is definitely compatible with a PMD660/670?

    I just bought an Expansys 4 GB CF card (actual brand appeared to be Dane-elec) which caused the PMD 670 to hang during card formatting, and which claimed to be full all the time, rendering it useless.

    Clearly not all CF cards are equal, so the question is, which work with this unit? Am I safe with a SanDisk 4 GB card?

    Thanks for any advice!

  • zumbi50 says:
    16 bits or 24 bits and other questions

    I put down half the price of the Marantz PMD 660 at my local music store and it’s there awaiting pickup next payday. But all the stuff I am reading about mic clipping problems, mic fussiness and crappy pre-amps, is giving me pause.

    My project calls for the production of a series of ten and fifteen minute audio spots for free distribution on CD, mostly voices with music for intro, outro and transitions. Some of the content will be streamed or podcast but that is a secondary means of distribution. Of course I have no experience at any of this, except for writing. I now understand that the Marantz’s 16 bit recording is fine for broadcast but already at the default for CD. If my end product is CD mightn’t that be a problem?

    I think I might send the thing back unopened and ask for the Edirol R-1. No XLR inputs, rechargeable batteries or phantom power, but the built-in mics are good and it’s 24 bits. The $70 difference might pay for restocking fee and overnight delivery, if it ain’t on back order. And the Edirol comes with a case too.

    Bruce A. Dixon
    Marietta GA

  • Jeff Towne says:
    16 bit vs 24 bit

    I really think that 24-bit recording is overkill for most broadcast applications, regardless of delivery format. More to the point, even if you get a well-matched microphone, the preamps on ANY of these relatively affordable decks are going to be a bit noisy and gritty, to the extent that the increased resolution of 24-bit recording is fairly moot.

    There is indeed an increase in sound quality when recording at 24 bit, but it really only makes sense for recording sounds with a dramatically wide dynamic range, with very good gear. If you are recording music performances that are sometimes soft in volume, and have good mics and external preamps, 24 bit is probably the way to go. But for Electronic News Gathering, even narration in a booth that will be layered with other sounds in a final production, it’s probably a waste of bits.

    The Edirol R1 looks like a cool recorder, but I am very skeptical that you’d find a dramatic improvement in the sound quality of its recordings by virtue of its 24-bit converters. If it happens to have fabulous mic preamps, that would make a larger difference.

    And it should be noted that some folks are having problems with clipping or noise with certain mics, but not everyone. The biggest problems seemed to be with some early models with an improperly designed mic pad, which Marantz will fix. But they do admit in their FAQ that some very high-output mics might overwhelm the input stage. They claim that the properly-functioning mic pad will compensate for that. Not all condenser mics create this problem, mine don’t, with my 660. And if you have mics you love that do seem to clip the preamps, you can always add external hardware input pads.

    That’s not to say that the 660 is necessarily perfect for you, maybe it’s not, but you shouldn’t assume that you’ll have problems with the mic inputs just because some of us have. Some of us have had no big problems.

    If you’re concerned enough about quality to be thinking about a 24-bit recorder, I’m surprised that you might consider a machine with a minijack mic-input and no phantom power. There are some negative reports about the 660, but I’ve found no reports at all about the R1,beyond first impressions from a show floor, so you’re kind of flying blind.

    The M-Audio recorder Alan mentioned above looks pretty cool, but it’s probably a little ways away. It could have the same problems as most of these machines, it’s hard to fit good components in tiny packages, but I’ve been more impressed with M-Audio mic preamps than with those from Marantz or Edirol.

    It’s a little too early to say….

  • zumbi50 says:
    Flying blind

    Your points are all well taken Jeff, and thanks. Given my utter lack of knowledge about gathering and processing sound, I am flying blind in more than one way, I guess.

    I have been able to find some more discussion stuff on the Edirol R-1, and will post links to those where I should have started this thread, in the "Best Compact Flash Recorder" discussion.

    With a deadline to produce demo material for my project looming I will have to decide one way or the other this weekend, and have the box in hand Monday.

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    Edirol R-1 etc.

    There’s a lot of discussion about the Edirol and the Marantz on the Oade Recording forum:

    There’s also conflicting info there about the M-Audio unit, which may be available shortly or may never be available depending on the source.

  • pdxthom says:
    Marantz Doin AT Mods

    I too just called customer service and they are taking my 660 back for a new pad mod. I asked about the pre, and their answer was that it was a problem with the atten.

    We’ll probably still have some pre noise, but hopefully that ungodly hiss will be gone when using the pad.

    I must say that customer service was cheerful and helpful. I’m hoping for the best.


  • John Ryle says:
    Marantz 660 Mic / Playback noise problem

    I have a Marantz 660 recently purchased in the United States. It has the mic noise problem discussed in various posts. I live in London, England. Is it possible for the problem to be fixed by Marantz in the UK?

    John Ryle

  • Cal Donly says:
    Marantz 660 – recording time on 4 AA’s

    One of the key factors in my decision to buy a 660 was the four hours of recording time promised in promotional materials. In practice I cant get more than two, max, recording mp3 mono (if that makes a difference.) Anyone have any ideas on what I’m doing wrong. I’m new to this stuff.
    Cal Donly

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Recording time. . .

    At first I thought you were talking about card limits, then I reread your subject.

    What is your AA power source? Are you using name brand alkaline AAs? Another option is the newer higher-capacity NiMd rechargeables. At 2500 maH they should out-distance even the best Alkaline batteries. There are also a lot of older and/or cheapo NiCd and NiMh batteries, some with less than 1/2 the capacity (and operating time) of current products,

    Or maybe the battery life is exaggerated :-(

  • zumbi50 says:
    Not quite 3 hours

    Using brand name EverReady Energizer alkaline batteries — at $12 plus tax for a brick of 36 at the local Home Depot they are probably a loss leader, I have got 2 hours 40 some minutes recording mono, no phantom power. Didn’t try to go longer than than, since I only had a 1 GB flash card which the unit said was good for 2 hours 57 minutes.


  • blackecho says:
    rechargable problems

    hi all!

    my new 660 will not work with my rechargable batteries. yet it works fine with alkaline and plugged into the wall. my digital camera works fine with both. anyone have any ideas?


  • Steve Gersh says:
    Noisy sound with PMD 670

    I’m using both SM-68 and and EV RE20 to record directly into the XLR jacks. I’ve tried to come out of my board, both into the XLR and the RCA jacks and STILL experience noticable noise in all my recordings.

    I’m well past the return date on the unit, but since I’m going out to do my first "official" ENG with this unit at the end of the month, wondering if there’s anything I can do before the fact to decrease the noise level?


    - Steve

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Hotter mike an option?

    I thought I saw in one of these discussions mention that the Beyer MCE58 was a hotter mike that was a better match for some of the pre-amp shortcomings of the Marantz units. I don’t know how it compares with the SM-68 or the EV RE20.

  • lawton says:
    Marantz PMD 660

    How do I record a phone conversation with this?

    also, when I record, I get a lot of hiss, even though I am using the sure broadcast mics.


    Lawton .

    i have a tec phone jack converter that plugs into the receiver and to the side of the phone and it has a line that you can put into the line In or the Line Out on the Marantz. I still get only the room noise when I record, not the phoen conversation.


  • Maureen McGuigan says:

    I’m new to this recording thing but I recently purcahsed this product for a radio documentary I’m involved in. I have a question concerning transferring material to the computer. I would like to transfer sound to my Apple ibook, but it looks like I need an external card reader. Can you tell me what I need to buy and also recommend any software for editing. I will probably be buying a new computer soon as I’m not sure my laptop can handle this, and I’m wondering what your thoughts on Macs vs. PC’s for sound editing are. Any help is greatly appreciated.

  • mike rosenlof says:


    Your iBook is probably fine as is for file transfer at least. The 660 comes with a USB cable, plug that in to the computer and the 660, hold down the ‘usb’ button when you power on the 660 (must be plugged int to the wall for this), and you will see a PMD660 drive appear on your Mac desktop. Drag files to your hard disk and you’re set to go.

    If you’re running Mac OSX, the mac is a fine choice for sound editing. Audacity is free (find it with google), and can certainly handle the basics. I believe Audacity runs on windows also.

  • SJ KIM says:
    You may want to take

    a closer look at whether your rechargeable batteries actually make contact with the unit. The same thing happened to me, and after many attempts, I realized that the tip of my rechargeable batteries is actually shorter than normal alkaline batteries, thus failing to make contact to the unit.

    …Silly, ain’t it?!


  • SJ KIM says:
    Question… Can I use PMD660 like a normal MP3 player?

    I tried to copy some of MP3 files for playback. It did not work. I suspect some type of copy-protection is in place… or not.

    I am not sure…

    Did anybody try this and make it work?


  • Balthasar Jucker says:
    MP3 Player

    The PMD only "sees" the files with the original name You give in the recording menu. Something like PMD0001 etc. As soon You rename it for example on the connected computer but leave the file on the PMD’s card, it will not be shown anymore on the PMD-display. But the file is there! So if You want to play any MP3 songs, You must rename them as the PMD would. But these are not very practical names . . .

  • adam norman says:
    M-Audio’s 660 killer

    Hey all.
    M-Audio’s CF recorder is out now. It looks pretty promising.

  • Molly Peterson says:
    NIMH compatibility for the 660

    I’ve had my unit in-house for a week and I’m having serious compatibility problems with rechargables…Alkaline works fine, AC adapter, and I’ve set the battery setting to NIMH.

    I’ve bought 1.2V 2000s, 2300s, and 2400s of various brands. They’re all brand new, and they all work in other machines (MD recorders, walkmen, etc.)

    Jerome at D&M says they’ve been having good results with 1.2/2100 Panasonics and Duracells, which is nice, except the Duracells I see everywhere are 2300s like the ones I’ve already tried.

    I don’t understand enough about mAh to understand why this should be making a difference at all. And I have no idea where to get 2100mAh batteries, though I could find them on line and wait another *@$!%* 5 days. Anybody with battery compatibility issues out there who’s resolved them?

  • Molly Peterson says:
    NIMHs and the 660, part 2

    Turns out that NIMH batteries tend to have slightly longer bodies than Alkalines, and shorter contact points at the top (the protruding postive contact). So it was appearing that the battery was fitting snugly while actually the contacts weren’t touching — though it’s mighty hard to see that problem, even with a magnifying glass. Sony, Panasonic, Duracell, Sanyo and Radio Shack rechargables of various miliamp hours all were problematic at first; only Energizers were shorter, more Alkaline sized. Liberman Sound in El Cerrito, CA, added copper strips at the positive contact points to bridge the gap between the battery top and the metal brackets bracing the batteries; all is now solved.

    BUT I learned that the miliamp hours had nothing to do with the problem, and that, contrary to Marantz’s recommendation, the brand of battery was nearly irrelevant. Marantz was fascinated to hear about this, of course.

  • About noise removal


    I’m freelance and I do text, audio and photo.
    Noise in digital photo is a huge problem that can be solved sometime at the cost of degrading the picture quality
    The main problem with noise in photography is the it is for a big part random and or linked to contextual situation (CCD have a different behavior in different temperature conditions for example).
    I’ve been said that noise in audio is not random.
    So first question : is it true ?

    If the answer is yes, would not be possible to get clean records even with a slightly noisy recorder (like the 660 seems to be) by processing the files in an automated standardized way.

    If the noise is always the same i would probably be possible to use a software that allows to save the settings and process the file for example in ProTools when doing the mix, it would be just a simple additional step among a lot of other (compresion and so on).

    I this view wrong, stupid ?

  • Nancy Updike says:
    PMD overmodulation

    what is the mic pad equipment i can get to stop the 660 from overmodulating? someone mentioned a fix for that…

    also, has anyone else had trouble with the shure A95UF mic cords for the MZ-B100 minidisc? i bought two and both worked fine for awhile, then they started cutting in and out, and finally were useless. i like the boost the shure gives to the input, but is there a more stable version of this mic cord out there?

  • bobsacha says:
    any luck with the MCE-58 and the 660

    I’m hoping for a great mic match for my Marantz 660 and noticed your post. Did you ever check out the Beyer MCE-58 and the 660? What did you think?

    I’m looking for a hand held cardiod condenser for this unit. Any suggestions? I’m recording mostly ambient with about 25% interviews.

    Thanks in advance

    Bob Sacha

  • Jan Knutzen says:
    The problem with NIMH cells inside 660

    Most NIMH batteries I tried is different in size than Alkalines. The contacts inside the battery housing are rather loose. And you are right, there are no connection at plus (+) when using ordinary NIMH cells. For my part I solved this problem simply by putting thin sheets (0.3 mm) of isolating plastic behind the the four plus (+) contacts. And then 660 was able to play – as expected. If you do not know what you are doing, this method is not recommended.

    It is funny, however, that those who designed the 660 could not see the upcoming problem. How did you come in contact with Marantz?

    Jan Knutzen – Oslo – Norway

  • Jerry Middaugh says:
    Unerase Track accidentally erased ?

    I just accidentally erased a wav file of a performance I really want to keep. Is there any way to unrease it? I thought that erasing just makes the remainder of the memory available to be written. If there’s a way to remove the erase mark, I could still save it. I hope.


    Jerry Middaugh

  • John_Y says:
    Cyclical Redundancy Check Error

    I’m using the 660 with a SanDisk 4.0 GB CF Card and recorded 3 sets of music the other night and when uploading the sets to the PC I received a Cyclical Redundancy Check Error on the 3rd set. This happened to me one other time a month or so ago, which translates to about 1 in times times using the recorder.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

    Does anyone have any idea why this is might be happening?

  • John_Y says:
    Unerase Track accidentally erased ?

    just accidentally erased a wav file of a performance I really want to keep

    You may wish to look at the following software, it may help:

  • John_Y says:
    Cyclical Redundancy Check Error

    While trying to determine what is causing my CRC problem, I have learned a few important things that I did not see covered earlier in this discussion group and thought I’d share.

    Using the "Format" feature in the 660 does not actually format the CF card, it only erases all tracks. To give Marantz credit, the manual does state all this, it’s just too bad that it’s labeled "Format" on the menu, a better label would be "Erase All".

    To properly format a CF, you can connect the 660 to a PC via USB as you would to transfer files and then using Windows explorer, actually format the CF card. I assume that a card reader would be easier, but I don’t have one.

    I think the Cyclical Redundancy Check errors that I received were due to a corruption of the file allocation table (FAT) on the CF card. I certainly did some dumb things with the recorder right after I first received it, like turning it off in the middle of recording. I hope that this is what caused the FAT corruption and it’s now corrected. Initial testing leads me to believe this to be the case

  • Wayne Munn says:
    I don’t think the Format issue is at fault. . .

    "I think the Cyclical Redundancy Check errors that I received were due to a corruption of the file allocation table (FAT) on the CF card."

    Unfortunately I don’t think that is the case although it would be a nice answer. (Or would it since that would require every 660 owner to externally format their CF card! BTW, how the heck is a 660 owner supposed to format a CF card? Through the USB connection?)

    The FAT is just a ‘pointer’ system (directory) that keeps track of what is where on the storage device. I don’t see how that could trigger a CRC error. Here’s my explanation of CRC, but there is lots more detail on the web.

    CRC is not a file structure monitor, it is a data integrity monitoring technique. It relies on files being made up of small internal ‘blocks’ of data.

    When writing data to a file, at the end of each small block an extra bit of data is added that is based on a complex mathematical ‘hashing algorithm’ processing of the contents of the preceeding data. When data is transferred each block’s contents is read and the hashing is calculated to compare with the value stored in the each block. If all the preceeding data is correct then then ‘on-the-fly’ CRC value will match the one stored with the data. (This guarantees data integrity.)

    If the CRC values do not match it means that the data read has changed. This is most typical in the old days of floppies where a bit of the data in a block was misread and you get a warning. You can also get them with tape backups, data CDs or DVDs. CRCs errors are most normally associated with magnetic or optical media. I’m baffled what would lead to a CRC with CF media.

    In any case a complete reformat of the card is called for in any case. I have been known to be wrong at times :-)

    You might want to look for a utility that will allow you to fully check the integrity of the CF card. However, it seems that if this was a card problem the issue would occur during the recording when the written data is also being checked on the fly.

    If you can get a card reader ($30 or for a SanDisk that reads 9 or more different type of cards!) you can use a PC to run a complete error check on the media. I’ll be glad to give step by step clicks on how to do this from Windows XP if it helps.



  • John_Y says:

    "BTW, how the heck is a 660 owner supposed to format a CF card? Through the USB connection?"

    Yes, when the 660 is connected via USB to a PC, the CF can be formatted with windows explorer.

    I would really love to pin the problem on a badly formatted CF card because the alternatives aren’t pretty; either the CF card needs to be replaced or there’s a more basic problem with the 660.

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Similar experiences with 671. . .more on FORMAT

    "Yes, when the 660 is connected via USB to a PC, the CF can be formatted with windows explorer."

    I was an owner of the 671 for 60+ days. (I also publish hands-on reports on digital technology. See "Latent Images" at I’ll mention behavior I saw with the 671 since there may be some commonalty with the 660. Frankly from my experience with the 671 and what you are reporting I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a deeper issue within the 660. I assume you read that the 671 problems are requiring more than a firmware update. The machines need to go back to the repair centers for a ROM replacement.

    The 671 had some very weird problems with the USB interface when hooked through ANY of three different PCs running the latest Windows XP (SP2) with all patches. Larger cards (1 GB) on which I had recorded were always seen from Windows Explorer as unformatted! (I tested by giving Windows Explorer the OK to format the card and the format would always fail at the end, after erasing all data and making the card unusable. Ouch! I could have really been screwed if I had done this in the field without a PC handy! Put the CF in a card reader and you could properly format it.

    Pop the card (that was unreadable through the 671’s USB interface) into a card reader and the files are all visible and can be copied to the PC/DAW without issue. It didn’t matter if the CF was formatted in the 671 or in a card reader attached to the PC.

    BTW, the 671 actually formats the CF and says it follows Windows standards. While the manual says formatting "Will erase all files on the card" it later mentions that it formats FAT16 for cards smaller than 2 GB and FAT32 for larger cards.

    I find the text of the 660 manual ambiguous and similar to that in the 671 manual. Are you sure they really aren’t doing a format. I can’t paste from the protected PDF manual for the 660, but it does say that it "erase(s) all files and prepares it for use in the 660." It seems unlikely they would design a device where is was mandatory to have a PC.

    Good luck.

  • John_Y says:
    Similar experiences with 671. . .more on FORMAT

    Thanks again for your feedback. Your right, the "prepares it for use" statement is ambiguous, but the second sentence "…format it in your computer…" really leads me to believe that it does just erases all the files. (Instruction text below)

    I spoke with Marantz yesterday and they suggested formatting from a PC via the USB, that’s another reason I don’t believe this is an actual format. Formatting was also the suggestion from SanDisk tech support.

    Whatever the issue, the data on the CF card was indeed corrupt because not only did it error while uploading to the PC, but it would also error during playback, directly on the 660.

    I did see that the 671 required a firmware replacement, but haven’t followed it closely. I thought is was to correct support for wav-e type files. Also, the problems I’ve heard of with the 671 have been associated with using it with higher resolution levels.

    After talking with Marantz, I recorded another 4 hours on the card before trying to format it. These files also errored on upload. I then formatted it from the PC via USB and am going to go through cycles of; recording, uploading and formatting until the error pops up again or I become comfortable that error goes away.

    My gut tells me this isn’t a deeper issue since no else has reported this here, I hope I’m right.


    "Format lets you erase all files on the CF card and prepares it for use in the PMD660.
    If the CF card is formatted other than FAT16 or FAT32 (FAT=File allocation table), please format it in your computer."

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Hope you are right too!

    On the 671 firmware you will find the latest at the end of the PMD671 thread. Here’s the first user word on D&M Pro addressing the problem:

    "I just was told by my dealer that I need to send the deck back to manufacturer and have a rom swapped to fix the file header issue. I am also having power management grief. Switch on the 48vlt power, and the batteries, even fresh 2300 nimhd, the low bat light goes on… "

    Yeah, that wording is pretty poor. I don’t know why they would do it one way on the 671 and a different way on the 660. And I wonder what sort of format, "other than FAT16 or FAT32" they are referring to?

    BTW, there are utilities that will do repeated writes and reads to media like CF to see if they get an error. Might check that out. It is very disconcerting that the error would also effect the 660 playback. Little chance of recovery in that case. I did experience the same thing with the 671 where a coule files that should have been perfect made the machine hang if I tried to play them. Required pulling the batteries to get it to restart.

    Also, the issues with the 671 were more serious. It could not create compatible file formats in the 24-bit/96 kHz mode and that was the reason I held out for the 671 over the previous model. So much for patience :-)


  • John_Y says:
    File Recovery

    I was able to recover most of the file, but not all of it. Although the 660 errored on playback, it did allow me to make a copy of the track (why it would copy the track, when it couldn’t play it is beyond me). I was able to upload the copy. At the same points in the track where I was previously receiving errors on playback, were a set of "digital hiccups"… about 10 seconds of a 1/2 second of sound repeated. This started to occur about 50 minutes into a 1:15 track of music. There were about 8 of these hiccups, all but about 2 were gracefully editted out.

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Good job!

    Excellent thinking on making the copy! Was that using an internal 660 function or a file copy using the USB interface?

    I hope you can document this to D&M Pro. Which office are you dealing with?

    Where the sound was repeated was there still the original sound following or did that repeat replace some sound data?

    Considering how long the take was and this repeating thing it sounds like it could be an issue with the caching-chain of data being written to the card. That could be fun for Marantz to figure out! Also the repeat might just be an artifact left when the file was copied and the error correction kicked in.

    I wish I still had one of my files that was corrupted to check against.

    BTW, the 671 allowed me to be in record mode continuously and to tap the record button and have the current file close and open a new one. Great for breaking up sessions. I was recording a performance and one out of 8 or so tracks where I used this technique, one in the middle, was the one that was corrupted. Now that made NO sense. Go figure.

  • John_Y says:
    More Recovery…

    At risk of beating a dead horse…

    Was that using an internal 660 function or a file copy using the USB interface?

    …the internal function

    Which office are you dealing with?

    …no idea which office. I called the tech support number on their web site

    Where the sound was repeated was there still the original sound following or did that repeat replace some sound data?

    …I believe it replaced, as opposed to inserting. (ex: instead of the original "abcdefghijk" i got "abccccccijk", cutting the hiccup left me with "abcijk"). These hiccups looked like they occured at regular intervals until the end of the track.

    Another reason I believe it’s FAT related is; this was the 3rd track and the 660 errored on the copy until I erased tracks 1 & 2. Only then did it allow the copy. This tells me there was a large bad spot on the card (2nd half? just about at the 2GB mark on a 4GB card… hmmm, the SanDisk has a switch that was originally set to 2GB and is now set to 4GB and the card may never have been properly formatted since switching it). Erasing tracks 1 & 2 freed up enough space to copy track 3 to a good spot on the card.

  • Crater1 says:
    NiMH batteries do not work in PMD660

    It appears that the positive posts of some NiMH batteries are shorter than normal and don’t make contact with the associated terminal. For these batteries you can place a business card thick spacer behind the terminal and compensate.

  • mcq says:
    what about the Microtrack?

    The M-Audio Microtrack seems to be available, maybe it’s a good alternative to the 660… Did some of you test it already? A discussion is taking place in the Tapers’section forums but most of the people there use it for recording live concerts, not for radio field recording. So it’s not exactly the same needs… maybe a new topic on could be useful?
    Another promising tool is the Nagra ARES-M, though pretty different. I don’t know when it’d be released.

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    what about the Microtrack?

    I don’t think the Microtrack is available yet. The user reports have been coming from beta testers, I think. I’ve seen good reports about the Oade-modified 660s but the mods put the price up.

    The NagraAres-M is listed at 1200 CHF which converts to 939 USD.

    HHB also has a new flash recorder, 1GB built into a microphone:

  • Andrew Simpson says:
    Phone Interveiws?

    Can interviews over the phone be recorded on this? How?

  • adam norman says:
    Phone Interviews

    It doesn’t record phone interviews, but we’ve had a brief discussion about how one can:

    Rich Halten, "Good recording quality over the phone" #, 22 May 2001 3:45 pm


  • adam norman says:
    Phone Interviews

    Nuts. Here’s another link on phone interviews, with no new equipment needed.

    Alex Parker, "How to record high quality phone calls on mac for free" #21, 26 Aug 2005 7:17 pm

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    what about the Microtrack?

    Apparently it is shipping. But it appears, based on what I’ve read, that there are a bunch of bugs and other issues being worked out still though. That seems to be par for the course on these recorders.

  • Eric Leonard says:

    I’ve been using one for a couple days. A bit clumsy, but decent results.

    I’ll post some more detailed info over the weekend. I may write a mag review comparing the Microtrack with the AES recorder and the Nagra ARES-M.

    Eric Leonard
    KFI AM-640
    Los Angeles

  • Steven L Herman says:

    Just got mine today here in Tokyo. Will give it a heavy field test in the next couple of weeks and will report any problems here.

    Steve Herman

  • Wayne Munn says:

    I’ll be interested in your opinion. I’d still like to see some specs on s/n etc. It should be excellent since they offer 24-bit/96kHz PCM files.

    I see the balanced inputs have phantom powering. I would sometimes use this with my R0DE NT-4 or other XLR connector mikes, but I don’t see any XLR connectors in the pix. Does it have some sort of adapter or would I need to use an XLR to 1/4" TRS adapter? (I already have those for other purposes.) I see the included stereo mike uses a 1/8" TRS connector.

    Does this also have the auto start feature to start recording when a certain dB threshold is reached? I loved that about the PMD671, especially with the buffer so I could capture full thunder claps by using the 10 second buffer to go back in time.

    Also if they have a manual PDF somewhere I’d appreciate a pointer. I haven’t been able to track much down.

    BTW, I see it can be recharged using the USB cable. Just so you know, somewhere I have seen a USB cable that doesn’t need to be plugged into a PC, but is designed for devices that need to be recharged via the USB port. Might prove to be a useful backup way to charge. I also find those inexpensive ($17US) adapters that plug into a auto cigarette lighter and provide 70 watts of 60 Hz 120v AC a handy backup for low power AC devices for which I don’t have a 12v adapter.


    Wayne Munn, ASPP

  • Miranda Kennedy says:
    Marantz PMD660 problems

    I recently bought this nice machine and was having a great time with it here in Afghanistan until it started occasionally giving me an "Err card" message and simply not saving the last track I had recorded. Its happened four or five times now and Ive lost precious material. When I bought the machine the guy at B&H told me they had problems with SanDisk cards which is why I am using a Lexar card. Could it be the card? or is it the machine?
    Any ideas would be appreciated.
    Miranda Kennedy
    Marketplace Radio

  • Steven L Herman says:

    You can find the pdf manual here:

    You can tell this manual was written in English and not a translation from Japanese, a la the Marantz manuals. Also unlike Marantz, you can tell that the folks who designed the unit appear to be people who would actually use the equipment in real life rather than being pure engineers.

    Very preliminary impressions:

    Initial caveats…the firmware is version 1.00, so I think anyone with a unit right now is a real early adopter and should consider themselves a beta field tester. Also, my evaluation is based on being a broadcast reporter for nearly 30 years — I don’t claim to be an engineer despite an FCC First Class license and I’ll leave it to others to post jpg files of wave forms off their oscilloscopes.

    First off, I took me about 30 seconds to figure out how to work the menu. Unlike the Marantz machines you won’t need to carry around the manual with you for a month.

    The included little stereo mic with the 1/8" plug is neat and actually is not a total piece of crap. You could certainly use it in a crunch to record broadcast acceptable sound bites. I compared it to my Sennheiser MD-46 on a 48k .wav 16-bit playback and while the MD-46 is more robust, of course, the little stereo mic did not sound unacceptable.

    For some reason I could not get my condenser mic (Shure Beta 87A) to work using either the 1/4" or 1/8" inputs. I’ve had troubles with this mic in other situations (bad connection to the XLR cable?) so not blaming the Microtrack just yet.
    But the designers have given much thought to users working with a wide range of levels coming from input devices (see the manual). But, sorry Wayne, no XLR’s on this machine. I almost didn’t buy it because of that but thought, what the heck, I’ve got enough cables to handle this sort of conversion.

    Levels on record and monitor are much easier to adjust on the fly than with the PMD-670/671.

    I have not tried to record line inputs yet.

    Most disappointing for me is that there is no mono recording option — although this is promised in a later version of the firmware which M-Audio claims we’ll be able to download from the internet. (It’ll be interesting to see how we are supposed to flash it into the unit.)

    There does not appear any way to store presets. Not a super big problem because unlike the Marantz units, this one is very intuitive and it takes about ten whole seconds to make the switches for format, compression, bit rate, inputs, etc.

    After monkeying with it for about an hour, I can see using it for ambush sound bites in a standing scrum, utilizing the included tiny stereo microphone.

    I can also see using this in the field when I don’t want to carry a bulky machine and am recording wild sound (parades, traffic noise, etc.) using a shotgun for audio that is going to be mixed in a news piece or in the background.

    Until now, I’ve had the two Marantz units in my bag (the 660 and the Oades-enhanced 671). From now on, for most assignments I’ll probably be leaving one of the Marantz units behind. Either the 660 or the 671 are fine for recording events where one is taking a feed off the mult box, but the unmodified 660 is a non-starter for interviews because of its mic-input level troubles.

    I know that in some cases when you show up with the bulky 671, it says to your interviewee "I’m a serious professional." The Microtrack fits snugly in the palm of a teenager’s hand. I suspect some interviewees will think you are somehow interviewing them with the latest version of an iPod!

    That’s it for tonight…

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • I’ll post some more detailed info over the weekend. I may write a mag review comparing the Microtrack with the AES recorder and the Nagra ARES-M.

    I’d be very interested especially by the comparison with the Ares-M that hold a prestigious name and a rather correct price tag (for the name)

  • Alan Stockdale says:

    More reports here:
    See in particular Len Moskowitz’s report in on Sep 21 at 11:19 pm.

    Also see:

  • Jay Allison says:
    Anyone have a Nagra?

    The Nagra digital machines look very interesting. I saw a Ares-PII and it was quite impressive. Ditto the BB. And, the new Ares-M is tiny! Check it out:

    Anyone seen one? Where are they for sale? They’re supposed to be under $1000, cheap for a Nagra. No removeable media though, and only auto gain control.


  • John_Y says:
    Marantz PMD660 problems

    I also encountered "Err Card", but when using a SanDisk 4GB card. I talked with both Marantz and SanDisk and both felt it was a problem with the card. I worked with SanDisk to exchange the card for a new one and am testing this one and so far no issues with it.

  • Wayne Munn says:
    CF card errors

    I ran into similar situations and so did at least two other users of the 671. The cards in question were different brands 1 GB or larger. All tested fine on the CF card confirmation utility of the 671. My cards also checked perfect with a PC utility that walks through every bit/byte of the card. (I’ll give a link to the freeware utility if anyone wants it.)

    I did run across similar issues with one model of Nikon digital camera a couple years ago. According to some folks at Viking, (This was during a published hands-on review for a magazine.) It appeared that the camera interface was optimized for certain cards and did not strictly follow the interface conventions of CF cards. So they could tweak a bit more performance out of some cards at the cost of true compatibility. I don’t know if that is the case here. I think the Viking card relied on an industry standard Toshiba ‘controller’ for the memory chip.

    Your results will be of great interest. Miranda is using a high performance Lexar CF card specifically recommended by D&M Pro and Marantz.

    Please keep us in the loop on your progress.

  • John_Y says:
    CF Card Errors

    I get two differant stories from Marantz when it comes to CF cards. The web site FAQ specifically states Lexar as a recommended CF Card, which i interprept specifically as a high performance card (can you get a ‘normal’ performance Lexar in a 2GB or 4GB size?).

    But when I talk to D&M customer service, they say to avoid the high performance cards, like those labeled "ultra". The highest resolution the 660 will do is 16/48, which isn’t going to push the limits of a regular CF card.

    I’m left confused. I’d love to see actual part numbers, not just manufacturers.

    SanDisk – Not Recommended on FAQ
    PNY – Recommended on FAQ and Cust Service, but was told by SanDisk that they are unreliable.
    Kingston – Recommended on FAQ, but not by Cust Service
    Lexar – Recommended on FAQ, but Customer Servive says avoid high performance
    IBM & Hitachi – Not very common?
    Viking – recommended on FAQ and maybe the most promising from I can tell.

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Gotta love it :-)

    You just gotta love the info they send out. The two larger cards I had continuous problems with were a 1 GB Viking and a 1 GB Kingston. Neither card was the ‘super-performance’ versions although their measured continuous transfer rates were in excess of what was needed for 24-bit / 96 kHz recording. (Which of course is broken on the 671 so I guess it doesn’t matter.) Again I mention this relative to the 660 since it is highly likely that Marantz would want to have relatively consistent code for CF carf access between their machines.

    I hope the real brains in Japan will get these machines working 100%. I really could learn to love the features of both the 660 and 671, but they only worked on paper. We need technology on which we can rely at least as much as we could an old Sony cassette recorder beater :-)

  • Jr., Alan E. Faye says:
    PMD 660 storage (CF)

    Marantz PMD660 Compact Digital Recorder

    My take on the San Disk 2 GB is that it has served me totally well since I took delivery of my PMD660 back in March 2005.

    I love the internal mics and the line input. I still would like to know what studio quality mics will work with the PMD 660 without any mods. As in … out of the box.

    It is a very handy and portable device. Goes well with my Marantz CDR300.


  • Paul R says:

    Hi, I just found this board, I have a 660 and have a review up:

    The PMD660 isn’t the greatest recorder in the world but every single unit of this type seems to have some idiocy or other, and the 660 has the fewest really intolerable ones by my criteria.

    I did lots of recording with a Dane-Elec 1GB card and recently got a Kingston Elite Pro 4GB card (yeah that’s a "high performance" card, with Samsung memory parts). The Kingston card appears to work fine but I haven’t yet done extensive tests with it.

    I’m thinking of getting a Rode NT4 mic for it, for live acoustic music recording. Any thoughts on this? (Joke: I like to call that mic the "Rodent-4" because that’s what its make and model spell out.) Right now I’m using a Sony camcorder mic but I think something with higher output level could be a little quieter.

  • Paul R says:

    A couple other remarks:

    From the criticism of the mp3 recording it sounds like the thing is using a bad encoding algorithm. 128k mp3’s are capable of sounding pretty good. Mine don’t sound so hot but I assumed that was because of the lousy mics I’m using. This is unfortunate, I need to record in mp3 format to not use huge amounts of flash card space (I record music conferences and basically want to record a whole weekend on a reasonable amount of cards).

    Re the Microtrack: it has an iPod-like internal lithium ion battery which is a total dealbreaker for me. You can’t change it except maybe by taking the unit apart on a workbench. In my book that makes it a useless toy as far as portable recording is concerned. The PMD660 has flaws, but it’s powered by AA batteries. When they go flat, put in fresh ones and keep recording. When the Microtrack goes flat, you’re completely out of commission until you can find a place to spend a few hours recharging them. The problem might be cureable with an external battery pack, but that removes the Microtrack’s compactness, so they could have just made it bigger in the first place, so it could run on AA’s. Whatever other bugs or virtues it might have are (for me) completely overshadowed by this issue.

    The R-1 according to its instruction manual corrupts its CF file system if the batteries go flat while you’re recording. The 660 doesn’t have this problem (I’ve tested).

    I’m using Sanyo 2500 mAH cells in the 660 and yes, I had the intermittent contact issue, which took me a while to figure out. I stuck some shims made from a business card under the battery contacts and it works just fine now. I can record in mp3 for about 8 hours on a charge. I think it’s likely (haven’t measured) that the mp3 encoder uses more power than WAV recording, so WAV time would be even longer (but you’d need an 8GB flash card to record that long).

    I’m a little annoyed, as my review said. The R-1 is Edirol’s first recorder and they did some dumb stuff that reflects their inexperience. I chose the 660 partly because Marantz had already made the 690, 690 II, 670, and 671, so I thought they’d have the common bugs ironed out by now. And with all those decades of making professional cassette recorders you’d think they’d understand about mic preamps and shielding. (My cassette deck is a Sony TC-D5M which doesn’t have any of those issues). But the 660 again seems like a first generation product, like they’re making all the mistakes from scratch.

  • Jr., Alan E. Faye says:
    PMD660 "Quickie" CF Download

    The "quickie" alternate to downloading the PMD 660 files.

    When connecting to the computer (mine: Mac G-5), it must be via the slow USB. And you must download all the files, which can take an hour or more. I create big WAV files for music recording.

    I am now using a CF card reader plugged into the Mac and I can then "choose" which files I want to download. I can use "Quicktime" to review first, then download. Maybe I want to download only one
    file …. not the whole hour’s worth as in the USB method. What a difference this makes.

  • mcq says:
    PMD660 & MicroTrack

    Thanks Paul for the review. In which you

    Somewhat surprisingly, I found that the
    four AA’s in the 660 are connected in
    2S+2S series-parallel, so the internals
    run on 2-3 volt power, rather than 4-6
    volts as I’d have expected. I haven’t a
    clue why they might have done that.

    This configuration may be the only way to
    allow a "live" switching of the batteries.
    While recording, you might be able to take
    a AA apart, replace it, then take another,
    etc., whithout any power loss. Am I wrong?

    About the MicroTrack, there’s many many
    posts from new users on:

    Obviously, you can use an external powerpack
    with 4 AA batteries pluging into the USB port
    of the MT. Not really compact, but lighter
    than a PMD 660.. and really cheaper…

  • Paul R says:

    The 660 is not set up for hot swapping the batteries the way you describe. I thought about it and maybe you could do it with enough dexterity, but keep in mind you’d be putting a fresh set of batteries in parallel with a drained set, and they’d have different voltages, so the charged set would momentarily be dumping a ton of current into the drained set, etc.

    If you want to hot swap, I think it makes more sense to use the external power jack. You’d plug a small battery pack into the jack and run the recorder from it, and change the internal batteries while running from the external jack. Then unplug the external pack. The external pack could be very small (like four AAA NiMH) since it would only be in use for a minute or so at a time. I haven’t gotten around to testing this scheme yet (I don’t have a suitable plug). I’ve been thinking about it but I’m not that motivated. The 2500 mAH NiMH cells run the recorder for long enough that I can usually find a convenient time to change them out. I have a dozen of them (3 sets @ $2.50/cell) dedicated to the 660 and might add one more set, which gets me my whole 30 hours (instead I just carry a 4-pack of alkalines as a backup–haven’t needed them yet).

    I think I’ll let them work the bugs out of the Microtrack before I think about it more. I also intensely dislike any devices with nonstandard and/or non-removable batteries even if there’s a workaround. I still have a Sony TC-D5m cassette deck from the 80’s that is a classic piece and still works fine on two D cells. Later DAT machines (Tascam etc.) from the 90’s that ran on nonstandard rechargeable packs are doorstops now because you can’t get the packs any more.

    If they really had to run the Microtrack on a lithium ion cell, they should have used a standard, removable cell phone battery. What they did instead was they made an Ipod-like consumer toy, not a serious device. Also, the Microtrack isn’t THAT much cheaper than the 660 ($399 vs $499). The one thing interesting about it is its 24 bit capability and SPDIF input, but for that high a bit rate it really needs a hard drive. Given that you can get a 40GB Ipod clone for $200 or so, they should be able to make a $500 Microtrack-like recorder with a similar hard drive. So I think I’m holding out for something like that, or else a big price drop in flash memory (which might happen because of the Ipod Nano).

    (Heh, I just took a look at that tapersection board and they are bagging on the Microtrack over the same issues that I do).

  • Wayne Munn says:
    Battery charger- excellent experience

    I’ve used tons of AA and AAA batteries over the years in all kinds of devices. From GPSs to the latest Marantz recorders. The world changed when there were inexpensive NiMh cells as an alternative to the expensive Nickel Cadmium with their ‘memroy’ problems. Recently I found a charger that is far and above the best I have ever owned. It is the Maha MH-C401FS. A good charger is at least as important as the batteries.

    Early chargers would apply charging current to the cells for a fixed period of time assuming a common charge rate and capacity. These are still in common use and all you are likely to find in hardware and electronics stores. The next generation actually understood how a cell reacted when being charged and shifted to a trickle charge when the cell was topped off. However, until this latest charger, the cells were always charged as a pair, in series. If one cell had slightly different characteristics you would always end up with a charge mismatch. This was true even with cells of the same capacity, age, and manufacturer.

    The charger I mention above takes 1 to 4 batteries and they can be mixed AA or AAAs. Each cell has a separate charge circuit. This charger also has two rates, fast and slow, and if you get the International version (black case)the ‘wall wart’ power supply is a cooler running auto-switching 100-240 model. The charger also comes with a car cord for plugging into the 12 VDC APO (auxiliary power outlet aka cigarette lighter) of a car.

    Each cell position has a LED that lights red when charging, green when charged, and blinks red in fast charge mode when a cell is not taking a charge properly. This last feature alone has helped me track down problem cells that were always the first to discharge leaving three other cells with a lot of charge left.

    I had two of the earlier model Maha chargers (C204F) which were very good and still available, but now have migrated to these even smarter units. IMHO, this charger has allowed me to better leverage all the AA and AAA cells I have, regardless of capacity and provided me much greater reliability in the field. There might be other manufacturers with a similar model, but I have never found one. I’ve looked a lot, so please let me know if you find an alternative.

    I got all my chargers from Thomas Distributing ( although my latest 2500 mAH Energizer AAs came from Sam’s Club at $18 for 8 cells. I found the AA/AAA battery holders these folks sell to be useful when packing a bunch of backup cells. They protect the cells and the equipment with which they might come into contact. The worst thing about the website when buying is figuring out all the options. Usually I don’t need any batteries so I have just bought the chargers and accessories. Take your time. I have spoken to the folks at Thomas and they were both friendly and cooperative.


  • Alan Stockdale says:
    Sony also…

    Apparently Sony also showed a new portable digital recorder based on solid state memory at AES…

  • Jay Allison says:
    and then there’s this from HHB…

    HHB Digital Flash Recording Microphone

    I want one.

  • Miguel Macias says:
    HHB Mic goes for…

    $1200 I read. So this competes with the Nagra Ares-M that I believe goes for about $1000.Looking forward to Eric’s review of the Ares-M especially on the quality delivered by that small stereo mic.
    Where is all this evolution going to end?!!!!

  • Paul R says:

    The HHB flash mic looks clever, but the media is not removable and there’s not even a way to upgrade the capacity? 6 hour battery life is useless if the thing only has enough memory for 3 hours. Even with audio compression, there’s still applications where you’ll run out eventually. Finally, it’s a mono microphone, which can be a bit limiting.

  • Miguel Macias says:
    That Sony UFO

    I read somewhere that is going to go for $2000 and that it holds 4gb of memory. And based on the pic… it records at 96khz and 24 bits. Anyone touched it at the AES convention?

  • ImAcoustic says:

    Hello Alan,

    The HHB FlashMic was intentionally designed so that the media could not be removed – this will prevent broadcast journalists, podcasters, etc… from being on-site without any way to record. How many times have you taken your digital camera or MP3 player with you only to find that you left your media in the card reader?? This also ensures that the media cannot be "borrowed" and used for another device (e.g. A Palm, MP3 player, cell phone…). As for the record time – the FlashMic will record 3 hours of 48kHz linear broadcast WAV and up to 18 hours of 128 kbps MPEG 1 Layer 2. This allows for a wide variety of acceptable audio quality which can be adjusted as needed. You are correct in saying that the battery life for this digital recorder with omni-directional Sennheiser condenser capsule is 6 hours.

  • Ian Gray says:
    Atlantic Public Media Mike test on Marantz 660

    This past week at Atlantic Public Media Emily Sapienza—Salt grad extraordinaire—and I rounded up all the mikes lying around and put them to the test on the Marantz 660. Years of accumulated microphone equipment in various states of effectiveness combined with a cutting edge solid-state recording body: a good time for any bored radiohead. Mikes included dynamic omnidirectionals, stereo mikes, and cardiod condensers with phantom power. I broke the results up into two sections: the good and the bad.

    A few things to know before reading through on the various mikes. The Marantz takes only mikes with XLR jacks attached. There are, however, three different input settings in the marantz’s menu (1-internal mike, 2-external mike, 3-Line-in for mini-plugs). We did try a mike (the AT R55) with a small single-line output, and although we could record with the gain turned way up, the sound was dim, muffled and unusable. We also tried the internal mike, reviewed below. Another thing to keep in mind: the manual record level control is set by two embedded knobs on the front of the machine. There are no numbers indicating levels on the knob (there is a light meter indicating dBs while recording), so I refer to gain levels like I would the face of a clock. Keep in mind neither of us are technical gurus, but we know what type of sound we want in our recordings. We recorded our voices in the upstairs conference room of the Cape and Islands NPR station. If enough people would like to hear the actual recordings we did I’ll post them on the site based on response Read on!

    And Please, if you’ve toyed around with the Marantz or other solid-state recorders post your reactions to your favorite or most hated mikes in response.

  • Ian Gray says:
    The Good

    [Check previous post for description of The Good and The Bad]

    The Sennheuser K3U body (condenser mike with various capsules) with the cardiod capsule was the best mike we tested. It gave awesome sound with manual gain on the record level dial at 11 o’clock and phantom power coming from the microphone. We miked all the mikes about 4-6 inches away from our mouths (unless otherwise stated). When we shifted to phantom power from the Marantz at the same gain levels, the sound was much hotter and bassier. The Marantz phantom sounds like it provides a bigger amplification than the power coming from the body of the mike. With power coming from the Marantz, control of the mike was less sensitive.

    The Sennheuser K3U omni capsule clearly gives better atmosphere than the cardiod, but loses out on the honey thick focus the cardiod gives to a speaker’s voice. Great mike if environment is essential to your recording.

    Sennheuser K3U shotgun capsule is a little softer on the Marantz and needs the gain turned up an hour or two more than the other capsules. When we ran phantom power from the Marantz, it actually helped out with this capsule because of the volume boost.

    Beyer MCE 58 (omni directional condenser mike) with gain at 11 o’clock. I thought this mike performed the best out of all the mikes besides the K3U, but only with phantom power streaming from the mike body. Mikes hotter than the other condenser mikes, and we could not get this mike to operate with phantom from the Marantz. For some reason only gave hissing feedback (both with battery left in and taken out of mike body). Don’t count on running this mike with phantom power from the Marantz. We also tried this mike on Automatic Level Control (ALC in the menu for RECORD LEVELS). Gain levels were too high even with mike at a good distance from the face (12 inches). I would not recommend this setting if nuanced recording is desired. A final test we ran with the MCE 58 was the Mike Attenuator setting in the 660’s menu options, which cuts your sound by -20dB, but adds a distracting hiss. It was necessary for us to speak in violently loud voices to even get the sound meter up to 20dB. This setting would only be useful in extremely specific settings, like interviewing a jackhammer. We recommend this mike.

    The classic EV RE50 (dynamic omnidirectional mike) gives a bassy sound that losses some upper ranges of voices, not as reactive a mike as the MCE 58 and more sensitive to the gain setting and mike placement, but did not have any hiss issues. Also handled plosives well. Recommend this mike as well.

  • Ian Gray says:
    The Bad


    SHURE VP64, flattens and narrows voice, but no hiss, significant handling noise. Not very reactive. Better however than AT822.

    Beyer M 58 has slight hiss sounds. The Marantz needs (as jeff towne notes in his TOOLS COLUMN) mikes that don’t require much preamping once the sound gets into the machine. SO, without any phantom power, the M 58 just isn’t loud enough once it enters the 660. Not recommended.

    The Internal Mike had minimal hiss but no direction to the voice and gain jumped all over. Gain set at 3 o’clock. Serviceable, but not recommended

    AT822, too sensitive to mike distance and gain, some hiss, didn’t handle plosives well, too much handling noises. Not recommended.

    Sennheuser K6 mikes VERY hot when phantom power coming from the mike. We had to turn gain way down to around 9 o’clock and held the mike at arms length from our mouths. And still was really tinny sounding. We also ran this mike with power from the Marantz with gain still way down, and made big enough difference. I would insist on using Marantz power. Not a good mike to use with the Marantz.

    We also tried the AT R55 mike, which we had to run as a LINE-IN in the menu settings because of its small input jack. Insufficient sound coming from this mike. Marantz can only run with XCL settings.

  • mike rosenlof says:
    My Microphone Experiences

    I have three microphones that I use with the PMD 660. I am not producing radio content, but I have done some interviews for other purposes. None is perfect, the 660 isn’t perfect either, but all have their place – as does the 660.

    My thoughts:

    Audix i-5: this is billed as an instrument mic. Output is too low for good voice and low hiss. I have used it successfully to record a couple of high school jazz band concerts. Dynamic, cardoid, cheap. I can hand hold this.

    Beyerdynamic M88TG: I’m not quite sure what this is billed as. It’s my all around favorite, but a poor choice for soft sounds. Its output is higher than the Audix, but still fairly low and best for loud sounds, or very close to the source. Dynamic, Cardoid, about 2.5x the price of the audix.

    Audio Technica 3032: Very sensitive to low level sounds, the only one I can use for very quiet sounds. Omnidirectional, Condensor. This one has a 10dB pad, and together with the 20dB pad in the 660, can handle a wide dynamic range of sound. This is a hot mic, and can easily clip the mic pre-amp in the 660.

    The 660 itself has been getting a lot of bad reviews, mostly for the mic preamp. There’s a fairly narrow range of sound levels that are loud enough to drop the hiss levels of the mic preamp, but not too loud to clip the same preamp. A user of this thing needs to be well aware of that range. I think a couple of XLR mic attenuators – 6db and 12dB would be good to have along with the 20dB internal to the unit.

  • mike rosenlof says:
    and just a bit more…

    The AT mic is much more sensitive to handling noise of this trio.

    Beyer calls the M88 a vocal mic, this is musical vocals, of course. It just works well for me.

    I recorded my voice with all three of these mics on one occasion. Like the shootout here on Transom, I was more impressed by the similarities of the sounds than by the differences.

    Similar comment about recording a flute solo.

    I like the handling and portability of the 660 a lot. I have one with a modified mic preamp on the way from

  • Jan Knutzen says:
    660 needs to be phantom powered

    The Marantz 660 is indeed not a bootleg recording instrument. It seems to be a tool for radio and television production, specially on a low budget. The funny thing is that 660 works!!

    The MP3 option inside 660 let you record a lot more on a Compact Flash compared to the WAV-format.

    In any case, 660 needs to be powered by microphones that can communicate with the preamplifier. Classics like ElectroVoice-R10 and a lot of Sennheiser dynamics will simply not work with 660. The signal/noise ratio will be quite disturbing.

    There are two stereo mikes which has to be commented in this forum. Roede NT4 (from Australia) and Shure VP88. They will probably give more gain with 48V phantom from 660 rather than than the the built in cell boxes.

    The 660 works perfectly with all professional phantom powered microphones I tested, (Sennheiser) and even tube mics whith it´s own power supply. (Neumann, Schoeps, Telefunken)

    Jan Knutzen – Oslo, Norway

  • George Kenney says:
    A note on Automatic Gain Control

    I’m not an audio engineer — I got one of these just for a small podcast. Before I got it I’d read about its high level of hiss, and also other sources who claimed the hiss was negligible and the unit was very useable.

    When I got it my initial tests with two AKG mics (a lavalier and a handheld) produced extremely noticeable hiss — very disturbing! But after fiddling a little more I discovered that if I changed the default setting of ‘AGC’ Automatic Gain Control, to manual, that almost all the hiss went away. Perhaps it’s just with these mics, but I have a hunch that more than a few of those who’ve reported high levels of hiss didn’t get to the point of adjusting the default software settings.

    Just my two cents, but overall it’s a very nice unit — people thinking of getting one should take the hiss reports with a grain of salt.

  • Gareth says:
    Marantz Recording

    I have a recording on a Marantz PMD670 recorder which has become corrutped with a eraneous noise overlaid on the whole card. This was not audible whilst the recording was taking place, as heard through the headphone and speaker output. The card was okay for the first seven idents lasting over 5 hours and then after playback of the 8th and 9th the noise had overlaid. A further recording subsequently also had the same problem. Therefore the card became corrupt during the recording. The FC used was a 1gb Sandisk. The card had been used previously and reformatted correctly. I have been using these machines and cards for over 4 years and this has never happened before.

    Any suggestions? I know if the power is pulled whilst in record mode the card will say full but it is because the ident is not closed, from which a quick fix is to do another recording on the same card, closing that ident.


  • Jean Claude Dubois says:
    New to PMD660

    I am trying to record telephone conversations using the 660 and a JK audio remote mix C+ and a Beyer Headset.
    I can dial the number on the key pad and get the person I am calling to answer. I can record my voice and theirs but they cannot hear me. Any advice?
    This is the first time I have used a telephone mixer.I think I have not used the proper setting on the PMD or I’m not using the correct output from the mixer to the PMD,but have tried many combinations. Just not the right one! I tried the XLR from the mixer into the stereo of the PMD but the feedback was way too hot. Help!

  • Willis Kern says:
    PMD 660 battery power

    We purchased two of these this past summer, and one completely quit using batteries. Any fresh batch installed will not work! The other unit is exhibiting similar tendancies, but can be "tricked" into working, for a short time.

    Anyone else ever experience these problems? any advice about what to do?

    you can email me at
    Thanks, Willis Kern, News Director WGLT Normal, IL

  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    Some First Steps Toward Solving PMD 660 Battery Problem

    I’m a brand-new 660 owner (just a week) and have experienced no battery problems, but here are a couple of suggestions based on fairly reliable sources:

    Doug Oade (very reliable source) warned me prior to purchase that some less-than-ideally performing NiMH battery sets don’t supply enough voltage to fire up the 660. If you’re using nickel rechargeables, try exercising them in another piece of equipment, or try a different brand, or try alkalines. I believe the Battery: Alkaline-NiMH preset determines the voltage at which the recorder assumes failing power and shuts down, so make sure that’s set correctly.

    I’ve seen forum messages from a few people who had a problem with some rechargeable AAs not making good physical contact on the positive side because the little knob on the battery was too short to reach the contact in the battery compartment. Personally, I found that one set of alkalines I tried were an oddly tight fit and that the NiMHs I use popped right in and worked fine. So it may be worthwhile investigating the physical fit of your battery set(s).

    Others on this forum might have more useful advice, especially if you were to specify (a) what kind(s) of batteries you’ve been using and (b) exactly how you’ve been able to "trick" the other unit into working on batteries.

    Good luck.

  • John_Y says:
    Maha Powerex NiMH

    I just purchased 2 sets of Maha Powerex NiMH 2500 mAh batteries and experienced the issue with poor (or no) contact. The batteries appear to be in the unit nice and snug, but it would not turn on. I tried the work-around with the paper shims (posted earlier) and that made all the differance… working fine now.

    Anyone find a more elegant solution?

  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    More Elegant Battery Contact Solution

    As a neutral observer (so far the batteries I’ve used with my 660 have worked fine) I’d say the paper shims are pretty elegant. Maybe something non-flammable would be even more so, but it’s hard to imagine a situation where it would really matter.

    If you prefer lowering the river instead of raising the bridge, you could shave down the plastic ridges in the battery compartment that the "shoulder" of the batter rests against, thereby allowing the positive battery post to move closer to the contact. I hope that makes sense without a picture.

  • John_Y says:
    2500 mAh NiMH

    Record times with Maha Powerex NiMH 2500 mAh batteries increased from 4:25 with standard alkalines to 7:02 with the NiMH’s. This is a bit longer than the 6:27 I was hoping for (based on capacity of a 4GB CF card recording stereo 44.1 WAV). The 7:02 was on the 2nd charge cycle, so I expect a slight increase after a couple more cycles.

    Record times were tested with a pair of AKG 460’s, phantom power on and -20 db attenuation on.

    As stated in an earlier post, these batteries had contact problems that had to be corrected with shims behind the + contact.

  • Dianne Finch says:
    Microphone for reporting with PMD660


    I am about to buy a new recorder – possibly the PMD660. Can anyone suggest a microphone that would be appropriate for reporting/radio story production? I have been in print news for over a year – and would like to get back into radio with some nice equipment. I had a Sony MD player and a Shure SM58 – and of course that setup wasn’t ideal.. Would like to move a few steps up without spending too much money.

    I also hope to find something for recording telephone conversations – also for radio stories.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Dianne Finch
    Rockport, Massachusetts

  • Steven L Herman says:
    mics with the 660


    I’ve used a number of mics in the field with the 660. My favorites, so far, are the Audio-Technica
    813A and the Sennheiser MD46.

    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • adam norman says:
    RE: Microphone for reporting with PMD660

    I use the AT897 shotgun mic. It sounds great, but it’s not extremely cheap.

    For recording telephone conversations, go to this:

    Alex Parker, "How to record high quality phone calls on mac for free" #, 17 Mar 2005 9:41 pm

    It’s about Macintoshes, but the principles are the same for a PC.


  • Dianne Finch says:
    Thanks Steve and Adam – I’ll look into both..Much appreciated!
  • Scott Koue says:
    NiMH Issues

    The problem might be the battery package. Alkaline battery tops are all metal, many NiMH batteries have a plastic ring with a metal center. Battery holders that "grip" the whole top may not touch the center post. This was a problem with the Sound Devices MixPre and the fixed it for free by replacing the battery holder.

  • lars pomara says:
    PMD660 speaker

    Hi, i´m actually interested in the quality and volume of playback that the little built-in speaker in the PMD660 is capable of, something that hasn´t been mentioned in the reviews i´ve read so far. For that matter, i can´t find out the size/amps of the speaker from the specs list provided by marantz or anywhere else….What do you think of the speaker: would it be at all useful for, say, someone who needs to play a bird song back at a reasonable volume immediately after recording it?
    thanks a million,
    lars pomara

  • Steven L Herman says:
    PMD660 speaker

    The 660’s speaker is OK (at least it has one, compared to some of the other small CF units on the market) but I suspect that you would want to monitor on headphones unless you are trying to play it back for other birds (maybe what you had in mind). I don’t know if the volume would suffice in a noisy outdoor environment.


    Steve Herman
    VOA News

  • rainforestinn says:
    using the marantz 660

    I would like to play sounds with my ipod into the input on the marantz and at the same time listen with the headphones and talk over the sounds with a mike in the mono input. This doesn’t work. Perhaps the only way to do this is record in stereo and make an adapter that goes from the mini stereo plug on the ipod to an XLR jack?

  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    Re: using the Marantz 660

    When recording in stereo on the 660, the active inputs are selected in pairs in the "Input" sub-menu of one of the three preset menus–"I Mic" for the internal mics, "Mic" for the two XLR inputs, or "Line" for the 1/8" stereo input. Only one stereo pair of inputs is active at any time. If the "RecChannel" sub-menu is set to "Mono," the possible inputs are the same, but only the left channel is metered and recorded.

    You need to either connect a mic and the I-pod to the line inputs (with an external mic preamp for the mic) or connect them both to the XLR mic inputs (with a bunch of attenuation on the I-pod before it goes into the mic input). In either case, you’d need to use adapters or special cables to combine both output channels of the I-pod into a single mono channel and connect it to the appropriate input of the 660. The external preamp arrangement would probably sound better, assuming a halfway-decent-sounding preamp, The latter could be done with nothing more than the right cables (assuming you get one cable with attenuating resistance built in).

  • saaronson says:
    Marantz PMD660 with Rode NT-4 microphone?

    You said you got good results with Marantz PMD660 and Rode NT-4? What were you recording? I just bought both units and tried NT-4 as overhead on drums, as well as in middle of large room with rock band. Can’ get rid of heavy distortion and clipping, even with in-line attenuator pads (Audiotechnica, set at -10db). Help please! –Steve

  • regz says:

    When using the condeser mic,on the right xlr connection,as the result of it sound come out mono or stereo when u listen to the speaker or head phone?

  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    Re. Mono or Stereo

    With "RecChannel" set to "Mono" in the selected menu preset, only the left input channel is recorded (left XLR, tip of 1/8" line input, or left built-in microphone). A mono WAV file (about 5 Megs/minute) or MP3 (64kb/sec) is produced. When monitoring the recording or playing back the mono file, both channels of the headphone or line outputs are fed with the same mono signal. The 660 has only one speaker, so that’s always mono (L+R if you’re recording or playing a stereo signal). Note that the built-in speaker is live during recording as well as playback.

    Hope this helps.

  • Christophe says:
    PMD660: my experience with distortion and solutions

    As a HIFI and audio enthusiast, who is also frequently travelling for the work, I was also very much interested in the PMD 660 because of its performances (uncompressed CD compatible stereo sound recording via integrated pic preamp etc.) and reasonable size. I bought a few weeks ago a 2nd generation device (post May 05, recognizable by the suffix /N2B on the box) for which possible background noise problems would have been solved. From that point of view, it is OK and a brief look at the electric diagram of the 1st and 2nd generation devices shows that there have been some changes. Interestingly, the OP AMPS used since the very beginning are from the type "very low noise".

    I also do experience like others very early clipping and distortion at moderately louder sound pressure levels (my favorite test is a schrill whistle) even when the meters remain in the green area. This problem does not really occur with the internal mics and one needs to speak very loudly to overdrive the input section. I happened to have bought the Rode NT4 (which has a rather high nominal sensitivity of about 12mV) used successfully by Jeff and others, and I then tried a couple of cheap (but good) Sennheiser ECM8000 which have a sensitivity which is more in line with that of the PMD (around 1mV). The problem remained. Having spent a lot of time trying all the possible harware and settings combinations offered by the menu of the PMD, I concluded that the internal -20dB is totally useless and probably badly designed or affected by a construction problem (a very high hiss and a strange background noise on the right channel on all recordings). Interestingly, recording via the analog line input directly from a CD player output generates no problems at all (and sound is comparable to the original!).

    This led me to buy a few days ago a couple of good external, switchable attenuators (Shure A15AS) which allow for settings at -15, -20 and -25dB and can be used with the phantom power of the PMD engaged. The PMD does not clipp anymore with either of these settings and the input adjusting is now fully usable. I confess I have not tried with a live band yet or a friend of mine playing piano but sound produced by my HIFI equipment playing jazz, rock or classical music at loud levels, my own vocal songs etc. just sound great. Hiss is negligible.

    The PMD660 which is originally able to record very low sound levels with little noise (birds in my garden) and an averagely loud conference or church concert from the distance, has now become thanks to these attenuators a versatile tool able to record also music and higher sound levels. Also, the internal mics are really not too bad.
    I will now send my PMD to the customer service to check/fix the possible internal -20dB pad problems.

  • naomi uman says:
    marantz pmd 660 and the electro voice 635a/b


    I was curious if you know if the problem between the marantz pmd 660 and the electro voice 635 a/b regarding the signal/noise ratio has been resolved yet
    and if not, would someone be able to tell me if i can use this microphone and/or the audio-technica at831b (lavalier type)with another small, lightweight recorder (such as a sony minidisk recorder)
    is there a connector that works well from XLR to mini?

    thank you for your response

  • pmonk66 says:
    Problems With CF Card

    I have the PMD660 with a 4GB CF card which worked fine then all of a suddan I am getting an unformat error code every time I start the PMD660 and I am unable to access the menu to try to format the card??

    Any suggestions??

    FYI – I tried to use Energizer NiMH 2500 mAh batteries and the machine doesn’t in fire up!

  • merle.dieterich says:
    what microphone is best with PMD660

    I am considering buying the PMD but do not possess a condensor mic. which is the best, affordable mic to buy that works well with the PMD660 and can be used for field recordings. I am a radio reporter

  • zumbi50 says:
    I use the AT-897 from Audio Technica

    The AT-897 is not the cheapest, but for radio stuff in the field, it has the characteristics you would want. It’s a short boom mic that picks up mostly what is directly in front of it, and its electronic characteristics — impedance and all that which I studied up on a little bit on before selecting the mic, but no longer remember well enough to explain — are a good match for those of the 660 in a field reporting situation.

    The bottom line is that it gives clear copy of the person right in front of you, even when working areas full of traffic and human noise.

    It’s not the cheapest thing, but you might find one for around $200 -$220 on eBay. Maybe less if you get lucky.

    Bruce Dixon

  • Steve Brown says:
    Marantz PMD660 review

    I have been using a Maranzt for about 5 months, and the headphone jack recently went bad (unsure why). When I asked a colleague if I could borrow his recorder, he said his wasn’t working (also unknown). The audio quality has been outstanding, and the software is a cinch to use, but I am dissappointed in the durability problems I’ve experienced.

    Steve Brown
    Columbus, OH

  • Balthasar Jucker says:
    CF card

    CF cards can something like crash. Then, they are no more readable by any device. The solution is, to reformat them with a PC program, but I don’t know the name of it. . .
    But normally, in the shops where they sell them, they also know about this problem and can help you immediately with re formatting the card with a PC and an extern card-reader.
    Or ask the fabricator of the card by mail. They for sure have a solution.
    I dont think that the card definitively has gone!

  • mal716 says:
    Audio Quality


  • Paul McCarroll says:
    To buy or not to buy that is the question?

    I got one from American Musical Supply and they have a very good return policy. After listening to you guys I think I am going to run the other way like a scared chicken and return it. It is easy to operate and sounds good but I am a novice and only have a surface understanding of the issues mentioned here. Durability is a concern. My guess is that one drop from a couple of feet and that will be end of story and it won’t matter what kind of preamps it has. I have Neumann mics and want to record musicians, lectures, interviews and capture high quality sound. That old Sony cassette is sounding better and better but it seems like it would be best to stay digital. Maybe if high portability is not so crucial something else would serve better. I just want something for gathering sound outside my Mbox home studio, easy to operate, dependable and sounds great.

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    To buy or not to buy that is the question?

    "That old Sony cassette is sounding better and better". You’re joking, right?

    I think you are going to find it hard to beat the PMD660 in this price range.

    I’ve found Marantz units to be very reliable. I’ve used a PMD670 since the time they were released (several years ago?) and never had a problem. I have read accounts of people using them under extreme conditions and they’ve done pretty well. I don’t think you are going to find anything else in terms of reliability and durability in this price range that competes.

    There seem to be a few issues with the PMD660 such as battery contacts and the preamps but if you use an appropriate mic and follow some of the workarounds and usage tips above with regard to batteries you won’t have a problem. And if you want to get a PMD660 with better preamps, buy one of the various modified units from Doug Oade. There’s a a review of the ACM mod unit here:

  • Jo Rees says:
    Re: Focus Group Recording

    I’ve been given an extremely last minute assignment to buy the equipment to record a focus group (10-12 attendees, small conference room, seated around a table) for tomorrow evening. After searching this message board – I am clear that someone here will have the answer – and I add that I have no experience of working with recording equipment – and so a basic foolproof set up would be excellent. I am interested, of course, in quality and cost could run to $300-$500. Something that can be purchased (I work a few blocks from B&H in NYC) tomorrow would be excellent.
    Thank you

  • Philip Graitcer says:
    MAchine for your focus group

    I’d buy a Sony MZ-B100 minidisk recorder. It has built in microphones and is a snap to use. Records minidisks that can hold 160 minutes in mono. Also has built in speakers for playback or transcribing. This machine was/is a standard for newsgathering. Costs about $325.00.

  • Alan Stockdale says:
    Focus Group Recording

    A little late as you wanted this yesterday…

    The Sony MZ-B100 is a good idea (there’s also a cheaper model MZ-B10). The downside is that there is no easy way to transfer the digital file from the minidisc; you’d have to re-record the in real time. But it will keep you within your budget even if you add a set of stereo mics.

    The other option is to go with one of the better quality digital voice recorders such as Olympus WS-320M. The WS-320 will record stereo WMA files at 64kbps–good enough for transcription of a focus group discussions. You’ll also get to transfer the audio via USB to computer for transcription.

    In both cases I’d add a stereo microphone setup so you can have a two mics positioned at different points around the table. You could try a couple of cheap Audio Technica ATR97 PZMs. You’d need a cable to hook them together into the stereo miniplug jack so each feeds a different channel. I’ve used binaural stereo mics (e.g. Each mic is on a 6ft cable and both terminate in a stereo miniplug. Crude but gives you lots of flexibility. The radio guys here will probably be horrified but the goal isn’t broadcast quality; it’s getting a good enough recording for transcription that doesn’t involve a lot of messing around and expense.

    So, what did end up using?

  • Brock Meeks says:
    Can’t get stereo recording

    Brand new 660 user; had it for just a day. I can’t seem to get a stereo recording from any input other than using the internal mic.

    I’m using an M-Audio Nova mic. I have the 660 set to stereo and .wav recording format, but regardless of the L or R XLR connector I plug the mic into, I’m ONLY getting audio on that L or R channel.

    Any thoughts about what I might be doing wrong?

  • locust5 says:
    me too

    Have you gotten any replies? From other techs, or Marantz? I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this noise burst issue for quite some time. I’ve had it occur on Kingston and Viking media as well. Marantz hasn’t given me a straight answer yet.


  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    Can’t get stereo recording

    The mono/stereo settings in the 660 menu determine whether the recorder creates a monaural file from the left mic or line input, or a stereo file from both left and right channels of the selected input (mic or line).
    There’s no setting to lay the signal from a single mic onto two channels. You could do it with an adapter cable, but why would you want to?
    Look at the available recording time figure that comes up when you power up your 660 with, say, a freshly erased 1GB CF card. Set to record at 44.1kHz in mono, it’s 3 hours, 13 minutes and change. Switch to stereo and it’s cut in half to less than 97 minutes.
    If you need to come up with a "stereo" recording with two identical channels you can do it in a wave editor on your computer after you’ve recorded with the 660 in mono. Because the two stereo channels are interleaved in the same WAV file, the redundancy of "recording the signal twice" isn’t going to save you from catastrophe if the recorder fails.

  • Brock Meeks says:

    Thanks, Dan.

    So, if I’m reading you right, the "stereo" setting is only really recording in stereo if there are two mics (on the left and right channels) plugged into the XLR inputs, or the internal L+R mics or used or the line in is used.

    Or in other words, a single mic is only going to give you a single channel of audio. Correct?

  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    Single Mic Stereo

    You read me right.

    You may have been confused because you’ve had the experience of plugging a small stereo mic into a single plug in a consumer camcorder or a minidisk recorder and recording in stereo. But a stereo microphone is really two microphones in a single housing, and you were actually plugging the two microphones into a tiny two-channel input connector (like the line input, but not the mic inputs, on the 660).

    As I suggested, with a simple Y-cable you can record the signal from one mic onto two channels, but that’s not stereo. I suppose you could call it a mono channel and a backup, but unless your left channel input suddenly fails somewhere before the A/D converter, it’s not going to be of any use to you.

  • Evan Kubota says:
    SanDisk 2GB problem…?

    I just received a SanDisk 2GB card for my PMD660 and it doesn’t seem to work properly. At first it gave ‘Err Card’ so I restarted it, at which point it allowed me to record. I turned it off after making a test file which I verified on my computer using a flash card reader. Upon turning on the unit again, it gave another ‘Err Card’ and won’t work at all with this card.

    I realize Marantz doesn’t ‘recommend’ brands other than those listed (somewhat surreptitiously) on their site, but it seems absurd that a widely used, common brand refuses to work reliably with this device.

    I’ve also tried two fairly old ‘Mr. Flash’ 64MB cards I had lying around, and these result in an ‘Unformat’ message. I’m on a G5 running OS 10.3.9. I’ve spent some time searching for some kind of program capable of ensuring FAT16 or FAT32 compliance for Mac, but this has been unsuccessful.

    What can I do to get these cards working (I have a project this weekend and really need more than a single 64MB card)?

    They both read fine on my Mac using a USB flash reader but I can’t see how to reformat them. The Marantz can’t do it, apparently.

    And what about the 2GB SanDisk? If I return it, what are some other brands that are recommended? It seems like people have had problems even with the ones recommended on the site.

  • dougw says:
    case/battery recommendation for PMD 660?

    Dear PMD 660 gurus,

    Does anyone have a case recommendation for the PMD 660? Or do you think a case is even necessary?

    The case Marantz makes (MA-PRC660) goes for over $60!



  • Dan DeHainaut says:
    Re: Case for PMD 660


    It depends on what you want to use the case for. My 660 gives me the impression that it’s made of reasonably thick plastic that will wear fairly gracefully. I keep mine in a little padded nylon camcorder case that keeps the dust out and holds extra batteries, CF cards, and a couple of key cables. When I’m using it, it’s uncovered.

    If you want more serious protection during transport, get a Pelican hard case–watertight and extremely rugged, at a discounted cost of $30-50 in various smaller sizes.

    The Marantz "case" seems more like a little rain poncho, nice for keeping the machine dry if you’re using it in the rain (presumably with mics that can stand the wetness) but not much use otherwise. Personally, I’d spend my money on the clever Marantz wired remote control and a poncho for myself–keep the 660 hanging inside the poncho and use the remote to keep you peaks below 0dBFS.

    You also mentioned "battery" in your subject line. What did you have in mind?

  • dougw says:
    Re: Case for PMD 660

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your reply and all of the good info! I think we’ll go with the camcorder case you mention. I work for a university, and the recorder will be available to faculty for checkout, so we’re just looking for something that will protect the device somewhat and carry all the extras.

    Also, thanks for reminding me about my battery question. I was wondering if anyone has tried using CR-V3 rechargeable batteries with the Marantz. Seems like they might give a little bit longer life.

    Thanks again!


  • Chuck Russo says:
    PMD660: Re. my experience with distortion and solutions

    Hi Christophe, I have been trying to solve the clipping distortion problem you mention when using the Rode NT4 mic also. I discovered, as you and other have, that the meters do not accurately reflect the levels related to use of the NT4 to determine clipping (or what ever the distortion is caused by). I have very good results by recording at very low levels with the NT4 by keeping the meters at or below -40dB and boosting the levels later when dubbing to CD. I will try your "patch" in the form of switchable attenuators.

    I did have very good luck using a pair of AA battery powered Sony ECM23F condenser mics to record a rock band using amplified instruments in a large family room. In that instance, the meters were more useful and appeared to be relatively accurate in displaying the sound levels. Playback was very good at several different levels as I experimented with the volume control manually. I didn’t check to see what the results were if the ALS was engaged.

    Did you return you recorder to Marantz to check the operation and calibration of interal -20dB pad? If so, was was the results?


  • Matt Donovan says:
    Chronic PMD670 error: "You Need Format on PC"

    I have a PMD670 Recorder, which I am very happy with, except for the fact that I my recording is chronically hindered by, "You Need Format on PC," nearly every time I turn on my recorder, even if I have just erased the files while connected (via I/O) to my Mac G5.

    I am not terribly computer savvy, so I apologize if this is an obvious problem. In fact, I hope it is easy for you to solve.
    In addition, when I attempt to format the CF card internally, using the editing path prescribed by the manual, the "Executing" process stays at "000%" and the recorder will be frozen like that until and unless I remove the power source. The only way I can ever format a card is by improvising absurd and inconsistent combinations of turning the machine on and off, turning off the phantom power switch, removing or inserting an XLR mic, sometimes removing the CF card, etc. But although I have tried to memorize or write down whatever ridiculous pattern happens to work in an instance, it is never a reliable solution.

    Perhaps I am a nincompoop. Again, I am sorry if this is a ludicrously simplistic dilemma, but I hope that there is nothing severely wrong with my recorder. I have been experiencing this problem, however, since I first began using the PMD670, and although I have studied the manual again and again, researched the problem on the internet and even wondered about and attempted to find some new or updated driver that my computer may be lacking, I am at a complete loss for a solution.

    Please help me out. I really love this product, but I have hardly been able to use it.

    matt donovan

    P.S.–This may be a related problem: I have not been able to record on any CF cards except the 64MB card that came with the recorder. This makes it very difficult to record anything, because the 64MB card really only holds a few minutes of content. I’ve tried with two different 256MB cards (Kingston and Viking) and two different 1GB cards (Sandisk and Viking) and have not had any success. These are not "ultra" cards, either. How do I format these cards?

  • Thomas Kim says:
    Any other good suggestions for portable field recorders?

    Hi all-

    It seems that just a short time ago, the number of portable digital recording devices was limited to just a few entrants. But now, the field is crowded with many choices with seemingly subtle differeces between all of them.

    I am looking to pick up a portable digital audio recorder that:

    * doesn’t break the bank (I’d love to pick up a SoundDevices 702, but I don’t want to spend +$2K)
    * uses solid-state storage (CompactFlash for good cost versus capacity, and fewer moving parts to break down;)
    * is solidly constructed with practical features (clear and accessible level monitoring and functional peak-limiting;)
    * and that offers decent input sonics. I don’t need a ton of channels — two would suffice. But if I need to pick up a box with more, for quality’s sake, I’d consider it.

    Can anyone advise between the Edirol/Roland R4, the Fostex FR-2, the Marantz PMD-670, and the Tascam HD-P2? What about other manufacturers like Nagra and Sonifex? Any news on them?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Ian Howell says:
    PMD 660 Mic Pre’s–Crappy talk with tech support

    Hi everyone. I’ve read as much on this message board as possible, can someone advise?

    I purchased a 660 this week and was REALLY disapointed in the external mic inputs. I tried a Rode NT1, a pair of Neumann KM100’s and even an SM-58. all produced distortion even with the led’s in the green. I’ve been informed by tech support that I just need to put on the -20db pad and that this is an entry level machine and that I shouldn’t expect much (way to stand behind your product!) I have yet to try the pad, but I wonder… if something as low output as an SM58 dynamic mic clips this thing, what doesn’t? I’ve also read enough on this board to be weary of the sonic compromise associated with the pad. I’m considering returning it to the store and ordering another one from Oade with the mic pre upgrades. Any reason not to???



  • pmonk66 says:
    PMD660 Concert Recordings

    I used the PMD600 to record several rock concerts and with the -20db pad and using SP-CMC-2 I’ve been getting very decent recordings!

  • audioguy says:

    Where can I find information regarding this mic pre upgrade? I have the same problem with clipping at the "0" attenuation level. -20 just isn’t an option with all of the noise introduced as a result. I bought a Rode NT4 stereo mic to use with the 660 and have been unable to find a working solution. It would seem that this product is really for table top meeting recordings and not pro audio.

  • audioguy says:

    I’m also interested in the in line attenuator option. How would it affect quality? (i.e. Sure’s -15 instead of the Marantz -20) Or is coming out of a mixer into the line ins really the best solution?

  • madhanpatel says:
    field recorder for tv/film

    please email me the best and cheap field recorder for tv serials and film

  • liz says:
    Dead battery = corrupted file


    I hope someone out there can help…and also wanted to pass this along so no one makes the same stupid mistake I did.

    I didn’t shut off my PMD660 in time once the low battery beep started and the deck shut itself off. I got home just now and discovered that the last track — the one I really need — doesn’t appear in the file list. I called D-M Pro and they said that’s a known issue, the file header wasn’t written and the file is corrupt. My only hope is that some disk recovery software will retrieve the file. I’ve had some some luck with disk recovery in the past, but for audio files that were accidentally deleted…not quite this same scenario. Anyone out there run into this problem and recover the file? Please, please let me know if you have any advice.

    Feeling sick to my stomach in Seattle,

  • liz says:
    headerless .wav file

    Well, I was able to retrieve the file with a data recovery program but can’t find any program to read the data since the file is missing a header. Running the recovery software brought out a .wav file that’s 150 MB, but it’s header appears to be corrupt, so it only reports its length as about 4 seconds, and plays no sound. What I need, I think, is some kind of tool that will ignore the header on the file and use the actual data in the file to create a new header. Anyone ideas out there?


  • dougw says:
    re: headerless .wav file

    This is a complete guess, but you might try Audacity ( Open Audacity and then from the "Project" menu choose "Import Raw Data." We’ve used this at times to try to open audio files that other programs can’t seem to open. It often doesn’t work, but occaisonally it does.

    Good luck!


  • Rachel Thompson says:
    Ditto on the request for other good suggestions

    I’m looking for a recorder to take on a horse trek where there won’t be any AC. Previously (in general, not on a horse) I’ve used a Sony DAT (TCD-D100) which I quite like, but tape always makes me just a little nervous so I thought maybe now’s a good time to look into another machine.
    So, being an intermittent recorder (me, that is, not it) I was thinking perhaps the bugs are worked out of minidiscs. So I went to Washington Pro Systems in Wheaton MD (they call themselves a Sony house) and heard that in their view, minidiscs are more or less obsolete. Plus the one they had (Sony) has a proprietary battery and that’s just $#@!! in my view.
    So … they showed me the Marantz 660 about which there’s so much good discussion here. And I have to say that after browsing through it all, I’m wondering when the next model will come out that will fix some of the known weaknesses of the 660, and when the memory will drop in price.
    I’m curious what people think: Is this format going to stay around for a while and will others bring out competing machines (not Sony, I hear)? And will the cost of memory drop rapidly as it has for, for example, digital cameras? How soon?
    This is a Buy Now/Later/Fahgedaboudit? decision.
    Thanks much, sorry this is so long…

  • Rachel Thompson says:
    P.S. Ditto on the request for other good suggestions

    Clearest re: the Marantz 660 is that it wants a condenser mic, and I don’t want to deal with that if I don’t have to because mine has shown some signs of being a lemon. Thanks.

  • km says:
    How to wipe the card?

    I have been using the 660 for field recording of interviews. When I downloaded approx 6 hours, I named each interview on my laptop. Unfortunately I was working from the 660 folder and not, as I thought, my docs. Now, these tracks appear to have been permanently saved on the memory card, although they do not register at first, they are clearly using memory space and re-appear when I download the new set of interviews.

    How can I fully wipe the card (track erase doesn’t seem to work)??

  • Christophe says:
    Hy Chuck! (on saturation/distortion at higher levels)

    Sorry for the late reply and thanks for your thoughts and personal experience.
    The meters are not the main problem I think. The PMD was manufactured to be able to record very low levels of sound and it is thus perfect for nature sound recording, interviews, ambiant sounds in general and music of course, as long as the sound level is not too high (acoustic music recorded not too close). I believe the saturation/distortion problem at loud levels has something to do with the high amplification factor of the circuit design (that’s why the PMD has such a high resolution at low levels – scratch your hand gently at one meter, even the built in mics would capture it…), combined with the limited voltage supply of the amplifying section (2,5V max).
    Regarding the ALS, it did help a little but but it is not a good solution for the recording of music IMHO. I have not returned the Marantz to have the internal -20dB attenuation sorted out since I wanted to test the Marantz in various situations and learn how to use it before I can complain on what is really problematic (I have not found anything else apart from the att pad). But I will do so before the 1 year waranty elapses. Increasing the level of the soundtrack when editing is a good idea. I haven’t tried it yet.

  • Flawn Williams says:
    RE: How to wipe the card?

    Changing the name of a file puts it outside the recognized set of parameters for the file structure, but doesn’t free the space on the card. Best bet is to use the Format command to completely erase everything on the card.

  • Charles May says:
    Virtual Track convert segment bug

    I recorded three tracks with my PMD660 in different formats: stereo PCM, stereo MP3, and mono PCM. Marked multiple virtual tracks in each real track. Then attempted to use the convert segment to track feature. Although the virtual tracks continue to play back perfectly, the real tracks created from them have incorrect start/end points. I get the same result if I convert the virtual segments to tracks one at a time or all at the same time. The stereo PCM files seem to be correct (they were first).

  • Leigh Hanlon says:
    Use line-in for mic?

    Is it possible to use the PMD660’s line-in port with a miniplug stereo mic? Just wanted to ask.


    Leigh Hanlon
    Chicago, USA

  • jennifer Leonard says:
    PMD660 + phone interviews

    Would it be wise to use the PMD660 device if I’m primarily wanting to record live phone interviews (which will be later radio broadcasts/podcasts)?
    I’m trying to find the right digital voice recorder with high-quality sound for this reason…Please advise. Thank you!

  • Salome Harris says:
    PMD660-which compact flash to use

    Just wondering if I can buy any kind of compact flash card? I’m told they come in different speeds, eg. ‘extreme 3s’

  • Denise Badger says:

    I was listening to Leo LaPorte and he mentioned this item. All I’m trying to do is find a way to record my tons of cassette tapes and get them on my cocomputero I can put them into itunes and listen on my ipod. Any ideas?? Can these machines be rented?? I would very much appreciate any ideas.
    I’m not to techno so enEnglishlease.

  • tuni says:
    Marantz PMD 660 vs DAT recorder

    Can anyone give me some good advice between these two? I am shooting film and video and plan to edit in FCP. I am concerned with cost (of course!) but I am also concerend with durability and ease in transfer. will I have a difficult time transfering from the DAT to computer? And what about ease of use? I will be traveling and moving around alot. Which will have more versitility?
    Thanks so much!

  • Tony Beltran says:
    How is the PMD660 working out for you now?

    After reading through the previous threads on the earlier versions of this recorder, I am wondering how people are faring now, whether having gotten the eariler models "fixed" or using a later serial numbered model.

    I just purchased a PMD660 last week, serial number 20020627xxxxxx, and tried someof the things that there were early complaints about (i.e. overloading with Nuemann and other quality condensor mics and the whine accompanying internal mic recording). The external mics I used were a pair of KM-184s, and they worked just fine, with or withuot the -20db pad. Also, I did not experience the whine with the internal mics. It appears to me that Marantz may have addressed these issues in later production runs, or else I got a "good" one. I am using the PMD660 quite successfully with Energizer 2500 mAh NMiH rechargeable batteries and either PNY 2 GB CF cards (currently on sale for $49 at CompUSA) or Lexar 1 GB CF cards. I have experienced no troubles with the PMD660 so far.

    My primary use for this machine is as a tool for quickly arranging instrumental fingerstyle guitar solos of Christmas, standard, and pop tunes for solo acoustic/classical guitar. I sit a ta table with the PMD660, a fakebook of the tunes being arranged, blank book of staff paper and pencil, and work out the arrangement a little at a time, recording it and immeidately listening back over and over as I go.

    For this, I much prefer the ergonomics and particular feature set of the PMD660 over anything else I have looked at, and there is an increasing number of competitors coming to market. I simply prefer the ergonomics of those older smaller portable cassette decks to these newer handheld units. I can sit the PMD660 on a table and reach out to simple button pushes to do everything I need to do, rather than having to hld it in my hand or mount it on a tripod.

    I really appreciate having found this site and all the information gathered on it. Hopefully, this post will get some more positive posts on the later production of the PMD660 alongside discussions of some of the newer competitors (which I am sure are perfectly fine for other uses than my particular application).

    Tony B

  • Thomas Devlin says:

    Anyone had problems with the headphone jacks breaking on this machine?

    tom d

  • Thomas Devlin says:
    PMD 660

    Anyone have a problem with the headphone jack breaking off internally with this machine?

    tom d

  • Leigh Hanlon says:
    Jack fine, so far

    No problems with the headphone miniplug jack on my PMD660. However, I would probably not be alone in stating my opinion that the plug isn’t seated with much assurance and the receptable appears to be simply a hole — lacking the collar or rim that many jacks have.

  • Joey P says:
    What mics work well with the 660?

    I’ve heard that dynamic mics don’t work well with the 660.

    I’m looking at handheld mics: the Electrovoice RE50 or 635A, the Shure SM63, the Heil PR20, the MCE58 (though really too expensive).

    Thoughts are more than welcome.

  • John Ryan says:
    PMD 660 — "unformat" message

    Hi, our station has a Marantz PMD 660 that will only say "Unformat" and does not respond to any button-pushing except the ON/OFF button. It gives the same message with different CF cards (of different brands). Since the machine doesn’t respond, I can’t reformat the card. It’s used by our high-school journalism program, so I don’t know what horrors may have been visited upon it by the teenagers. If there’s a way to reformat a CF card via Windows and my PC’s card reader? Other advice??

    John Ryan, KTOO-FM
    Juneau, AK

    • Karen Schaefer says:

      I’ve had the same unformat error message on my 660. I solved it by formatting the card in my laptop by using a universal card reader. Works fine now.

      • Kelcey says:

        Hi Karen,
        I attempted to reformat the CF card on my Mac using a universal card reader- and the display still reads ‘unformat’-

        Which format choice did you use when reformatting your card for PMD 660?


  • VivekM says:
    would Marantz be the right one?

    Hello, I am an absolute beginner when it comes to recording. I am a photojournalist mainly doing documentaries and I needed a recording device to capture the ambient sounds of the places I work at. I intend to use them during slide shows and may also be needed to record interviews as well. Could you please suggest a decent device for this? Would I need to use external microphones? I could afford to spent around 300$. Thanks!

  • Linn Davis says:

    Thanks very much for putting so much effort into this (and other reviews). An immense help and time-saver!

  • Juan1 says:
    stereo sound from PMD660

    I have a PMD660 and have used it up to this point for phone interviews. It does the job well and is very convenient. I would like to start podcasting however and can’t seem to figure out how to record to both channels. Can someone help me out here? Your review was very helpful in my selection of this tool as well as in making the best use of its features. Thanks in advance.
    Juan Avila

  • Leigh Hanlon says:
    Stereo sound from PMD660


    Someone with more technical knowledge will probably chime in with some better ideas, but there are several ways I get stereo and/or dual channel sound:

    In some situations, I find the internal stereo mics work just fine. I’ve recorded a number of podcasts in a vehicle by setting the PMD660 to record stereo using the internals and it works pretty well. A lot of folks really dislike the PMD’s internal mics, but I like how it balances voices and background ambience — and usually manages to mask the slight bit of pre-amp whine.

    Example in stationary vehicle:

    Example in moving vehicle:

    Once or twice, I’ve plugged two Shure SM58 mics into the PMD660’s XLR inputs. This wasn’t true stereo, since three people just shared the two mics. During editing, I brought the extreme separation in closer, so the result is a faux stereo.

    Example of three people sharing two mics in a moving vehicle:

    For this podcast, I just plugged one Shure SM58 mic into the PMD660. During editing, I duped the mono track onto two channels. The challenge in this case was preventing the interview subject from grabbing the mic and holding it too close during the early part of the interview. This was recorded in a noisy bar.

    Example of single mono track duped to two tracks:

    Hope this helps!

    Leigh Hanlon

  • Jennifer Szweda Jordan says:
    pmd670 problems

    Can anyone recommend a good site for diagnosing — or better yet, solving — recorder problems. Specifically interested in marantz pmd670 with "broken edl" message.

  • Joe Nick says:
    recording telephone interviews

    I’ve no problem doing phone interviews with a Radio Shack Telephone Recording Control and my old Sony MZB100 minidisk recorder. But for some reason (likely tech-challenged me) I can’t get a telephone call recorded without picking up the ambient sounds, as if the internal mic is still on and not picking up the phone jack feed, which I’ve tried plugging in to both the remote plug and the in the line plugs in back.


  • Deb says:
    pmd 660 "click" at end of phrase

    the PMD 660 is making a sort of "lip smacking" sound at the end of spoken phrases. Any ideas? How can I correct this. Send an e and I’ll send a sample

  • whit says:
    Display has crapped out

    The display on my PMD660 is not working. I can’t make out any of the text/numbers. Even when I light it, nothing. It’s not the batteries since I’ve tested with brand new ones. Anyone have the same problem? What’s the solution?

  • Steve says:


    I work at a radio station I’m the West Midlands, England and have this Marantz. It’s great but unfortunately someone at work stole my USB and DCM power cable. Either that or it went missing!

    Anyway, I’ve been searching the Internet for a replacement lead for ages without much luck. Does anybody have any advice??

    Many thanks,


  • Sandra says:

    My Marantz PMD-660 has received very light use in the 3 years that I have owned it (bought it new), and it has been adequate, up until now for the purpose of recording board meetings. However, with my most recent meeting, the recording was so corrupted, I could not use it for transcription. There is a constant loud humming noise that drowns out the voice recording. I use the Int Mic and ALC for level control. I’ve put in a new CF card, new batteries, made sure the electrical hook-up was seated properly, but still get the humming sound in my recording. Is there any way to fix this? Or, should I just consider my recorder dead at this point?
    Thank you for any help you can offer,

  • French food says:

    First of all thanks for the detailed description,I especially appreciated the review on sound quality with different micros and the samples.

    I have been using the PMD-660 for two years now and this device is just perfect for me being a good compromise between quality and price.

    Event though I’m fully satisfied with this recorder I would like to improve the quality of my recordings and the samples presented in the review will be of much help.

  • Sound Quality is excellent for recording band rehearsals in the .wav recording mode. 4GB Compact Flash cards hold about 6 hours of uncompressed .wav files. Internal microphones are adequate for voice but you’ll want to use external microphones for studio quality input. Phantom power is available on the XLR inputs which power my 2 CAD mikes beautifully. It has a warm, rich, full bodied sound quality which translates to DAW without the need for re-leveling in most cases. Phantom power will drain the batteries quickly so plug it in for extended sessions. I recommend getting 2 large CF cards. Once you read the manual the buttons are pretty intuitive. It has programmable setups that you can store. I use one program for internal mikes with auto level control and another for my external CAD mikes and manual level control. All-in All….it’s awesome and thank you

  • Terry Moore says:

    I have a marantz pmd 660 recorder and I have run into the unformat problem that I’ve never experienced before. I purchased a new flash card and put it in the recorder and it still is reading unformat. Can anyone give me any ideas on how to correct this problem?

  • Aaliyah Lee says:

    Hi from this article this recorder seems like a good option for almost everyone but I am still wondering about the batteries, you are saying that it is important to invest in good rechargables but I don’t understand why since you said batteries last for a pretty long time…

    Really good review anyway, thank you.

  • T Ehtasham says:

    I’ve had a marantz pmd660 for over a couple of ears now and recently it just died on me. i was running it on AA batteries and when i turned it on location the screen got stuck at LOADING and wouldn’t proceed. i turned it off and it hasn’t turned on since. no batteries or power cables have been able to turn it on. although interestingly, if i turn it on on AA batteries, for the faintest moment the backlight turns on and off again. my local engineer can’t figure out what’s wrong and says it’s a dead one now. Am i really screwed?

  • William says:

    Hello, can someone please help me learn how to record to both channels? I am trying to learn how to record using my one xlr microphone and then either 1) recording to the second channel using my other xlr microphone OR 2) recording to the second channel using the internal mic. I just can’t seem to figure out how to record to both channels. It seems every time only the left mic is recording. I do have my preset set to stereo, but I just can’t figure out how to actually record to two channels…

  • billy ross says:

    Hello, thanks for this page. Please: do you know where i can find the software that permits connect the Marantz pmd 660 to the computer?
    Help me please.
    Thanks a lot.

  • adambemma says:

    I’m a radio journalist living in Tanzania. My Marantz PMD 600 doesn’t work any more and I need to fix it. Every time I turn the recorder on, it flashes “Door Open” and shuts off automatically. I’ve tried everything to get it working again. Has anybody had this problem? And if so, how did you fix it? Thanks

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