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Patina: Sony PCM-D1

Audio Technical

Let’s get it out of the way. The Sony PCM-D1 is expensive and discontinued. So why are we writing about it? Allow us to explain in this edition of Patina.

Justifying the idea spending two large on a discontinued hand-held audio recorder — especially in the recent proliferation of budget-recorders and smart phone apps — can seem downright crazy. But the Sony PCM-D1 is one serious piece of gear, engineered by serious people for serious reasons. Everyone from professional recorders, to musicians, to dedicated concert bootleggers have come to appreciate the D1’s industrial build quality, intuitive layout, and most importantly, impressive results. X-Y pattern condenser mics, large (and gorgeous) analog VU meters for at-a-glance metering, the D1 could record up to 24-bit audio files on its internal flash memory or memory stick and transfer via USB to any device. Constructed of scratch-proof pressed titanium, the D1 is bluntly robust — a brick of a device — and an all-in-one solution for capturing stunning stereo, anywhere.


A descendent of Sony’s “Densuke” series, which helped give birth to the live-recording craze of the 70’s, the PCM-D1 is the creation of Hiroki Oka and Junichi Nagahara, who conceived the D1’s design. Today, the PCM-D1 has been universally regarded as one of the finest portable field recording devices created. But more than that, it’s a hallmark of Sony’s golden era of over-engineering. Despite its price, it can compete with today’s multi-component systems costing thousands more. None of which look half as great as the D1 — particularly in our guest photographer Jonas Elmqvist’s carry shown here. But hurry, if you’re looking to brandish a D1 on your next sonic adventure it’s worth noting that stock is quickly dwindling.

Buy Now: $1,999

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