MZ-N510, picture by Nick Jarman

The MZ-N510 was an entry-level model in one of the earlier ranges on Net MD models. Net MD added the ability to transfer music data to and from a home computer digitally, making the MiniDisc format similar in feel to the MP3 players of the day. Music data could either come from Compact Discs loaded into the host computer or from Sony’s internet music store which was known as “Connect”. The software package that was used was called “Sonic Stage” which as well as being a database for a music library could also be used to convert other music formats (MP3, WMA and WAV) into ATRAC for transfer to MiniDisc. Sony were very restrictive over what could be done with early Net MD machines, for example existing Minidisks could not be transferred to the computer, although this did become possible with later models such as the MZ-RH1. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

As well as the Net MD features, the MZ-N510 also functioned in the same way as a normal, if basic, MiniDisc recorder. There was no microphone socket but recordings could be made either from analogue or digital optical sources. The only output provided was for headphones. A simple remote control, in-line with the headphone lead, was included but unlike with some of the more expensive models this had no LCD display. On the unit itself all the usual features were there for recording, titling and editing material, in addition a rather unusual digital sound preset mode allowed the treble and bass sound of the playback to be adjusted and stored, two memories could be used to store the settings. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The MZ-N510 was powered by a single “AA” battery. If a rechargeable type was used this could be charged in the machine using the AC adaptor. The ATRAC3 formats (LP2 and LP4) were both supported, as well as the original version. The ATRAC Type-S Digital Signal Processor that was used was claimed to give improved performance over the earlier types, even when used with the original 80 minute format. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Although the 320 minute capacity of the LP4 format seemed limited when compared to the flash memory and hard-drive based MP-3 players of the day Net MD still retained the advantage of removable media, making the true capacity of the machines virtually limitless. The ability to record easily from analogue sources such as tapes, records and radio broadcasts could also not be matched by other personal digital music players. Finally, Sony’s famous attention to quality and detail in both performance and design served to keep the Net MD desirable and relevant. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.