Marantz PMD660 Solid-State Digital Audio Recorder

The Marantz PMD660 records 16-bit 48kHz uncompressed linear PCM audio to Compact Flash memory cards. The solid-state storage medium allows for faster media acquisition via direct file-transfer to any computer, using the USB file-transfer protocol. The audio files can be imported to any NLE system, such as the Department’s Final Cut Pro, iLife, or Logic software suites.

The Marantz PMD660 connects to audio equipment via mic-level balanced XLR or line-level unbalanced stereo-1/8″ inputs. It can record up to about 180 minutes in mono setting, or 90 minutes in stereo.

Hardware Description

The Marantz PMD660 Solid-State Digital Audio Recorder Kit includes:

  • 1GB CompactFlash Memory Card
  • XLR Cable
  • Neck Strap
  • USB Type A-B Cable
  • AC Adapter
  • DA660PMD Power Cable
  • NiMH AA Rechargeable Batteries (8)
  • Kodak 1-Hour AA Rapid-Charger
  • External Cardioid Condenser Microphone
    • AKG C535EB Cardioid Condenser Microphone

– or –

    • Sennheiser K6 ME-64 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Technical Specifications and Settings

The PMD660 is designed for the following audio connections:

  • Balanced XLR with Phantom-power option (+48V) for mic-level inputs
  • Unbalanced stereo-1/8″ for line-level inputs
  • Unbalanced stereo-1/8″ for line-level outputs
  • Unbalanced stereo-1/8″ headphone output, for monitoring the recording

The PMD660 is preset to record in PCM 48K Linear audio, optimally configured for import into Final Cut Pro. The F&DM Checkout Lab does not recommend altering the format setting, as the other options will not integrate into the Department’s Editing work-flow seamlessly.

Setting configurations are accessible via menus on the PMD660. There are two menu groups: Input/Recording configurations, and System configurations. The F&DM Department does not recommend modifying the latter.

Input Configurations:

The PMD660 allows user to customize three “Preset” input configurations for interchanging setting combinations quickly in the field. The F&DM has preset them as follows:

  • Input: Mic (Microphone)
  • REC Format: PCM-48K
  • RecChannel: Mono (Presets 1 and 2) / Stereo (Preset 3)
  • Manual Trk, AutoPowOff: On
  • Auto Trk, Auto Mark, SilentSkip, Beep: Off
  • LevelCont: Manual
  • MeterMode: Normal
  • Mic Atten: 0 dB
  • Battery: Alkaline
  • MachineID, Default: – n/a –

For more details on what these settings do, please refer to the User Guide

The PMD660 has many different combinations of input settings available. For this reason, it is important to be aware that the channel-setting and the connection-setting can be set independently of one another. If both settings are not taken into account, the user’s recording may wind up with unintended and undesirable results.

Channel Configurations:

In summary there are two channel-settings to consider:

  • MONO: The Left Channel XLR input functions as the primary input — not the Right Channel.
  • STEREO: The Left and Right Channel XLR inputs function as a discrete primary input, recording the left and right signals into a respective stereo track.

In summary there are three connection-settings to consider:

  • INT MIC (Internal Microphone): The mic built into the PMD660 (not recommended).
  • MIC (Microphone): Any external microphone via balance XLR mono or stereo mic-level signal.
  • LINE: Any external device via unbalanced stereo-1/8″ line-level signal.

If a user wishes to use an external microphone, make sure to set the input connection-setting to “MIC” and not “INT MIC” — a common mistake.

Other Details

Users should be aware that the PMD660 will default to its external speakers if no headphones are plugged in. Overlooking this detail may result in feedback.

The unbalanced stereo-1/8″ headphone input is very flimsy. Users should talk great care to avoid straining the jack laterally, as it may cause the internal contact to deform or break away from the circuit board, resulting in intermittent or no playback.

The Phantom-power option (+48V) for the XLR connectors should only be used for microphones requiring this feature. Engaging the Phantom-power option in conjunction with a self- or battery-powered microphone may result in hardware damage due to voltage overload. Users should take care to confirm that the proper settings correspond with the type of microphone(s) they are using accordingly. It is also recommended that the Phantom-power be switched off before connecting or disconnecting a Phantom-powered microphone from the audio recorder, so as to prevent any potential damage from voltage spikes and drops.