Feature Design PCM-D1

Toward a tough body that responds to users' affection

photo-Hiroki Oka

Oka: If you have a chance to see the PCM-D1, please try holding the unit in your hand. You will be able to feel its very unique casing material, which is actually titanium. My goal was to create something that can be used for a long time and something to which people become more attached to as they use it. This material is one that I've always wanted to use, but the problem was that it was too hard to be processed.

We were able to overcome this issue, thanks to our engineering team, who in collaboration with the titanium raw material and molding processing manufacturers, repeated their efforts on a trial-and-error basis. They analyzed the metallic composition and jointly developed a new material that enabled us to deep-draw 1-mm thick titanium. This enabled us to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. A unique method of surface treatment called ion plating was used to increase the material hardness, resulting in the appearance of this PCM-D1. Try to scratch the surface with a 10 yen coin. Don't be shy. You can scratch it hard. See. It's your coin that grinds down, with no scratch at all on the surface of the PCM-D1! You can use the PCM-D1 outdoors with no worries.

To prevent resonance, this titanium plating is wrapped around the magnesium alloy. However, it isn't easy to combine metal materials, since doing so generally affects the accuracy of the device. We have to give our engineers credit for overcoming this obstacle. I feel very privileged as a designer.

Developers' thoughts lodge in details


Oka: The PCM-D1 is a fine specimen of "a recorder that is the ultimate result of the pursuit of sound quality and ease of use." Its microphone unit was exclusively designed for this model. A block of brass is carved, and the surface is coated.

The arch-shaped protective guard for the microphone is made of stainless steel and is brazed and polished in the same way as jewelry. This is real craftsmanship. It is easy to come up with a conceptual drawing, but when it comes to actual designing and manufacturing, things are not that simple. "How should we make this?" We, with the help of engineers, repeated a trial-and-error process. Then, one day, a female engineer found a bracelet manufacturer. We requested this company to make a prototype with the hope that "this company would be the one that might make it." The prototype made by this company had in fact a beautiful finish. Not only did it look beautiful, it also passed a 1.2-meter drop test.

This model is not only beautiful in appearance. Try operating the dials and buttons. This product has been designed for one-hand operation. The volume dial allows you to actually feel stable torque when turning it. The buttons convey a clicking feel to the user without making a sound, which otherwise, the high quality microphone would pick up. For the same reason, the tripod (accessory) was also designed to look like a simple cylinder when folded. If you hold this tripod while recording, it will prevent you from making the noise you usually make when holding the unit directly. This was Sony's original idea, but recently other companies have also begun adopting the idea of attaching a small tripod to their recorders.

I would be delighted if users could appreciate our considerations given to sound quality, comfort and functionality, and grow in their attachment toward the PCM-D1 as they use it.

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