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June 2017 Giveaway

Marantz PMD661 Reviews

4.5 stars based on 6 customer reviews
  • from United States April 10, 2012Music Background:
    Professional independent video producer and musician

    Superb field recorder!

    This is the latest from Marantz, and after using a Zoom H4N for a few years (it died recently), and a Tascam HDp2, I replaced it with this. The addition of a true line in was one of the features I wanted. The quality of both the build and the sound of this device is superb. I think that if you are using it in the field, the optional case by Marantz, while expensive is worth it. Size wise it's really small, ergonomically it's wonderful, and the simplicity of the unit makes it great when under pressure. Other than going to Sound Devices high end gear, this is the new standard for us in the middle price range.

  • from Minneapolis, MN USA May 6, 2011Music Background:
    Electrical engineer with recording and live sound background, keyboard player

    my new go-to field recorder - wow...

    I have been recording for 30 years - mostly acoustic stuff - recitals, small ensembles, piano, flute, strings, guitar, organ, vocal, choral, school events, and the occasional rock band. I have some great microphones - particularly love the Neumann KM184 and the TLM127. I have used these in X-Y, ORTF, A-B spaced omni, mid-side, and Jecklin disk configurations for live recording, depending on the situation. Up to now, I have been running Protools with a rack-002 hardware interface and MacBook Pro in a rolling ATA case. While this is not extremely portable, I like the quality of the recordings I can capture using 24/96 sampling - and I have 8 channels on the rack...

    But a few times recently, I have had Protools 8 freeze-up on my mac, and had to re-boot in the middle of a performance - not good! So I began looking at portable field recorders. The Sound Devices look really good, but I can't justify the $4-5k price, so I started looking at the Tascam, Sony and Marantz products. In addition I recently got a Canon EOS 7D which shoots HD video, but the internal audio interface is quite weak. So I had yet another use for a small but high quality field recorder.

    My main criteria were external XLR Mic inputs with a good low-noise mic pre, 48V phantom power and switchable attenuation before the pre input, and the ability to record 24-bit, 96 kHz stereo. That pretty much narrowed the field to the Marantz PMD661. I was a bit nervous because I had the perception that the Japanese pro-sumer stuff from the likes of Denon, Marantz, Tascam and Sony was decent for home stereo kind of applications, but not really at the pro level I was looking for (especially concerned about low-noise).

    Well - I was blown-away by the very first test recording I made: I had the KM184s set-up ORTF in the studio. I made my first preset (thanks to the other reviews on this site) with no automatic gain control, and set the record level halfway, and hit the button. I walked around the mics talking for 30 seconds, then went to listen to the result. I plugged-in my favorite Beyer DT 770 headphones, and hit play. At first I thought I must have something muted because there was no sound - but then I heard footsteps (my own on the recording). The stereo imaging and detail was so real, I could swear there was someone else in the room walking around! The noise-floor is lower than my Digi Rack. I really couldn't believe how good the recording sounded - I listened to it half a dozen times on different headphones.

    I have recorded an acoustic piano and flute audition also now - the sound is flawless. I love this recorder! The supplied 2 Gig card is good for about an hour of 24/96, but I can of course get much bigger SD cards for longer recordings.

    The instruction manual is still in its plastic bag, where I expect it will remain for eternity, because the unit is so intuitive and easy to use. The display is great - highly visible in all kinds of conditions. I haven't even tried using the built-in internal microphones - I really don't plan to use them.

  • from San Diego, CA June 30, 2012Music Background:
    Professional Double Bassist

    Great mobile recording

    Solid Construction , decent internal mics (comparable if not better than than many of the other handheld recorders), however excels greatly when you plug in some external mics (mono or stereo - phantom power available as well) . Great preamps. Perfect for recording great sounding tracks to-go: Recitals, Concerts, use for Broadcast/TV/Film on location. Presets are quite nice to use when you have a setting you use often. Has the 1/4"-20 mount on the back for ease of mounting to a tripod/fig rig or mic stand with the proper screw adapter.

  • from Austin, TX USA May 18, 2009Music Background:
    Musician, Composer, Recording Engineer

    As good as (even better than) you can hope for considering the price!

    I've had the PMD661 for roughly a month now and have been able to play with it in a variety of applications since the day I received it. The unit went on vacation with me where I recorded sounds from the airport, airplane (yes, I left it on when they asked us to shut off "devices with a power button," live shows, spoken word, nature sounds, urban sounds, and drunken chats (during which I thankfully remained silent). I used a single AKG 1000S in mono, a PAIR of the same mics, a couple of other random dynamic mics, as well as the internal mics all the while testing the different audio sample/bit rates; here's what I found:

    Internal mics- As can be expected, they are really great for a "Quick, grab-that-sound," application. For outdoor sounds they are actually quite nice but in all applications they have a bit of the "canned" sound which is not so overt as to make them non-useful. Sounds that will be tucked into a mix for music will be fine using the internal mics. As one would expect, if you need pristine quality, you should use your favorite mic(s) and ought to consider external A/D conversion. DO NOT USE THESE FOR RECORDING A LIVE SHOW-unless you are far away from the mains. My levels were not clipping at all when I used these to record a live band, but the mics definitely suffered from overloading. I got all kinds of low-mid distortion even with the levels set well below clip.

    External mics- This depends on your microphone, so I'll focus this review on my interpretation of the A/D conversion. It's not bad... Not bad at all. I really couldn't expect much better for the price. The connectors are nice, and the fact that it even *has* both an external and an internal microphone option is wonderful!

    Audio conversion- I love the presets...love them. There are three total presets available which the user can set to provide easy access to any combination of ext/int mic(s), stereo/mono config, bitrates, filetype (mp3/WAV), and sample rates. MP3's sound, well, MP3ish, but should be fine if you're recording something that's not important to you (someone else's crappy band, a lecture that you want to look like you care about) or for effect. I really focussed in on the WAV recording at 16 and 24 bit settings. I'm really pleased with the sound quality- REALLY. Both settings have their uses, and if you've read all this drivel so far, you already know when to use which.

    Build/firmware/software/notes-

    1. ALS (compression) feature- When you turn on the unit for the first time the FIRST THING to do is to disable this feature, unless you're after a poor dynamically compressed sound. The unit ships with this feature on and it's unfavorable for anything important other than the effect itself.
    2. SDHC card- Prices are cheap on these and I was really happy to see its inclusion on this model from the PMD660.
    3. Chassis- It's pretty rugged and well built. The buttons are intuitive and nothing seems to be in the way or poorly placed. The external mics are nicely protected.
    4. Software- I really wish the software would have some sort of mass file naming option- a batch feature or a spread sheet(ish) layout would be VERY welcome as this unit sounds so nice and is small enough that I take it everywhere and record everything. The onboard naming features are easy to use, but are a bit cumbersome and it takes quite a long time to change the name of one file, let alone a few hundred.
    The PMD661 is a great unit, and I'm very pleased with the value for the dollar this piece offers.

    Matt Emmick (ext 1249) is my sales rep, and he's always done a great job for me making great recommendations and always giving good advice.

  • from Washington, DC June 6, 2011

    Marantz PMD661

    This is a superior voice recorder. I used it to record an oral history. I had no problems whatsoever. The internal mic is fine, but for interviews it is best to use an external mic. I recorded in WAV. format and the sound quality was terrific. It is very easy to transfer the auto files to a PC. The display is bright and easy to read. I spent a few hours reading the instructions and testing the device (because I am a novice); but it was a snap once I got going. Use the AC power if you are interviewing. The device is all that it is advertised to be. Easily a 4, and maybe a 4.5.

  • from Indiana June 23, 2010Music Background:
    stuff.

    PMD661

    Ive been using the 661 for live band recordings and for demos from practice. This recorder has been invaluable to our band and myself outside of the band. The internal mics are not horrible. I tend to call that setting "cassette tape sound." For some things this is just fine. The inclusion of external mics is what makes this unit shine. I have used a variety of mics and everything sounds great. I would recomend this unit to anyone in a band that is tired of messing with 8 tracks or someone who does alot of idoe work to improve the sound of thier work. I fully recommend this item.

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