Solid state recorders

Anyone try something like this:
Marantz PMD 580
How does the sound quality compare to CD? I'm guessing playback is just like CD's where you select the track and hit play? Is it time to retire my CD recorder?
I don't have any experience with that recorder and am basing these observations only on reading the specs.

I don't think sound quality would be an issue but there are some other things to think about.

One is cost. From what I can tell it uses only Compact Flash cards or microdrives as the storage medium. You can get a 32 Gb Compact Flash card for around $100 dollars these days and if you're going to use an uncompressed format that means each card would hold 60 to 80 CD's worth of music. That means it would cost the same to store 80 CD's as if you bought a 1TB external hard drive for a music server that would store more than 1,500 CD's.

A second thing is the interface. You'd want to be sure it was as easy to find and play the cut you want as is possible with a CD player.

Third is the issue of cataloging. How will you know which CD's are on which Compact Flash cards and how easy is it to update it? Maybe there's a music management application with the device that works for a large music collection but I couldn't tell from the description.

I would think a PC or Mac based music server would give you all the advantages of this device without the disadvantages.
Thanks for the observations. The technology looks like it has promise but maybe not there yet.
The better flash-based audio recorders, which certainly include many at that price level (and less), are wonderful performers. They also represent mature technology, having been introduced about 6 or 7 years ago, when flash storage was vastly more expensive than it is now.

However, the question is whether or not they will be useful in a home audio system, and in many or most cases, the answer will be no. Their main target application is professional or semi-pro sound recording, with the captured material subsequently being digitally transferred to a computer (via ethernet, usb, or firewire) for editing, post-processing, and/or for assembly with other material into compilations, which then may be burned to cd.

The flash cards themselves are typically not used for large-scale storage, although they can be, within their size limitations. The computer to which the files are transferred does that, in typical applications.

Probably the majority of these kinds of devices are made in compact, portable form, which makes them ideal choices for on-location sound recording. Many have high quality built in mic amplifiers.

That said, whether or not they represent a good choice for use in your system is your call. Along the lines of Sfar's second comment, note that with the unit you have linked to there is no hand-held remote control (and that is the case with most comparable recorders). There is remote control capability via a connected computer, for what that may be worth.

And keep in mind that this device could most likely be connected to a computer wirelessly, via an inexpensive external wifi bridge. And while I haven't looked at the description of this unit in detail, it could very well be that audio files can be transferred both to and from a computer via that link.

I would think twice about getting this particular model, though, if you decide to get such a device, because while it can provide 24 bit resolution, its maximum sample rate is only 48kHz. The better units these days can do 24/192.

If you still want to consider such a unit, I suggest browsing through the listings at B&H Photo Video, which is an excellent dealer in terms of price, selection, and customer service:

Among professionals, I think that the most highly regarded units at prices which are half-way sensible are those made by Sound Devices. Although most or all of them are made in portable form, and part of their price goes toward very high quality mic preamplifiers which you may not need, and their connectivity is typically via firewire, not ethernet. Their model 702, at $1875, I know to be an excellent performer, which is capable of 24/192.

My own experience has been with one of the earlier Marantz portable models, the PMD-670, which I've used extensively over the past 6 years to record spoken voice (not music). It has performed very well in that capacity, even though it was their earliest model. It is limited to 16/48, though, and its mic preamps are less than the best (which doesn't matter to me because I feed its line level inputs with the output of a high quality mixer).

Hope that helps,
-- Al
Yes, flash memory storage is being used more and more widely and has big advantages over hard drives. It's silent, uses much less power and is less prone to mechanical failure. For now, though, it's a lot more expensive per megabyte and uncompressed music takes up a lot of space.

In the iPod line, all the units up to 64 Gb have flash memory but the biggest one, the 120 Gb Classic, still uses a hard drive.
I spoke with Marantz and they now have an R-C 600 remote control for their PMD560/570/580. Also you can put in track markers and be able to skip from track to track.
They rate their 2 gig flash (not SD) at 3 hours for standard 16 bit CD quality.
Wonder when the audiophile industry will take hold of this. Sounds like the way of the future IMHO.
Marantz's top of the line, $1,500 PMD 580 has pretty poor signal / noise ratio and dynamic range. Much worse than an average CDP.

# Recording MP3 Bit-rate (Selectable)
# Mono: 160, 128, 96, 64, 32 kbps
# Stereo: 320, 256, 192, 128, 64 kbps
# Sampling Frequency: 44.1/48 kHz
# Number of Channels: 2 (Stereo), 1 (Mono)
# Audio Frequency Response: 10 to 20,000 Hz ñ 1.0 dB
# Signal-to-noise Ratio, IEC-A Weighted: 91 dB
# Total Harmonic Distortion at 0 VU: 0.01%
# Dynamic Range; 94 dB

PMD 580
Yes, that's pretty poor especially considering that it is intended to record with up to 24 bit resolution. The portable Sound Devices 702 that I mentioned, costing just a few hundred dollars more, has WAY better signal-to-noise and other numbers, and can also do 24/192 as opposed to just 24/48.

-- Al
There are several choices now using several different types of solid state storage. Look at the Tascams too. The Marantz is aimed more at broadcast/news markets. The use for home audio is to have a convenient and high quality recorder sitting in your main system, then bring the cards over to your computer for editing and/or saving copies on a HD and CD/DVD media. Reuse the cards except for really important/irreplaceable stuff.
I use a Fostex:

I use it mostly for production, but sometimes use it to digitize vinyl.
Just like we all talk about DACs endlessly, well, the more you pay the better A/D chips you get. This one is low end, but has balanced input and i've been happy with it. It's interface could be more intuitive, but it's decently built.

I wouldn't recommend any of these as playback devices.

Also, I'm not an audio pro, but I'd expect microphone inputs to have lower S/N ratios than line input/outputs.
The new Denon DN-F650R has better specs (closer to the Sound Devices) and uses the newer SD cars or USB, not the compact flash which I was told will be going obsolete.
The big question, though is how does it SOUND?