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MiniDisc: an appreciation
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-03-21 00:02:19

In this video you'll see the first machine and the last machine as well as some in-between. There's talk about MD-LP, Net-MD and HiMD. It's a personal retrospective of a format that was loved by many people around the world but one that is all too often is judged purely on its lack of performance in the US market.

Great video by a great channel.

I'm one of those MiniDisc people. MiniDisc was fairly successful in The Netherlands, and quite a few people around me were MiniDisc users as well. I've had countless machines over the years, and I was still using HiMD well into the smartphone era - and carried both a smartphone and my HiMD player for quite a while. Even though the world had long ago moved on to MP3 players and then smartphones, I was still using MD.

I've long wondered why, and this video finally made it dawn on me: rituals. Since prerecorded MiniDiscs were rare and incredibly expensive, you copied CDs onto MiniDiscs instead. Especially before the advent of NetMD and later HiMD, you did this without the help of a computer. You'd get a new album, listen to it, enjoy it - and then, to make sure you could listen to it on the go, you plugged one end of an optical cable into your CD player, the other end into your portable MD recorder, and copy the CD in real time. Once it was done, neat freaks like me would even enter all the track information using the little dial on the recorder, track by track, letter by letter. Painstaking doesn't even begin to describe it.

Even listening to your MiniDiscs - they were satisfying to hold, the loading and unloading was deeply mechanical, the spring-loading trays were a delight. It was just an endless array of rituals that, while pointless and cumbersome to others, were deeply enriching and soothing to me. I guess it must be similar to people still using vinyl today.

To me, MiniDisc was one of the greatest formats - not because it was better or more advanced (even though during the 90s and early 2000s, it actually was), but because it was full of little delights and rituals. Just one of those irrational things that only few of us will ever fully understand.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-27
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Comment by dark2
By dark2 on 2017-03-21 03:31:33
Too bad my mini disk software contained the Sony rootkit, making it very unusable now.
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What I liked and wished for with MiniDisc
By BlueofRainbow on 2017-03-21 04:00:24
What I liked the most - the long battery life - with around 50-55 hours of playing time on a single AA battery at a time when the flash memory based music players needed to be recharged after 12-16 hours of playing time.

Next - the capability to record from a live, analog, or digital source without needing a computer. Unfortunately, the capability to record from a sound source rather than via a download from a computer eventually became restricted to the higher end (price) models.

I wished that data could have been recorded on regular MDs. This became feasible much later with the Hi-MD generation.

Conversely, there were a few sound recording units based on the technology but requiring the super-rare MD-Data discs to record multi-tracks.
Permalink - Score: 5
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I thought about you
By mikesum32 on 2017-03-21 05:05:31
I thought about you Thom when I saw this the other day, because I remembered your fanatic love of the MiniDisc.
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Still got my MD
By Worsoe on 2017-03-21 07:59:20
I still got my midt 90s Sony MZ-R30, with a lot of discs. Haven't used it for many years, but last time I tested it, it worked fine.
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Comment by p13.
By p13. on 2017-03-21 08:41:53
I'm glad you found techmoan.
Great channel indeed.

I wish MD would have been developed further as a generic storage medium.

The CD/DVD/BR form factor is just too scratch prone and you can't carry it around in your pocket.

IF MD storage would have been standardized, then there wouldn't be a need for external drives on smaller form factor devices.
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RE: Comment by p13.
By daedalus on 2017-03-21 08:59:34
Unfortunately it looks like it would still have been outpaced long ago by USB flash storage, which is even more compact and far more convenient. While optical storage capacity has gone up over the years, it hasn't done so at the same pace as flash, so popularity as a storage medium would've just extended its life by a year or two rather than opening up a whole new life for them.
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Comment by daedalus
By daedalus on 2017-03-21 09:09:39
I still have mine, still working perfectly. It's a Sony MD-750 or something along those lines, had an FM radio in the remote (something else missing from most phones these days...), an incredible battery live, and despite being mechanical, was incredibly resilient, having survived more than one trip bouncing down a metal escalator as I ran for trains.

For me the feel was a big thing too, but the editability was so important as well - it was the spiritual successor of the cassette tape, with the ability to rearrange and delete tracks as you went, easily swap albums with friends etc. (They were fairly popular in Ireland too).

My wife had a very serious one - still portable, but very high end which she used mainly as a recording device as part of her singing career. The quality was pretty excellent and it served her well until she got an Edirol SD-card-based recorder.

I must dig my player out and play with it again...
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RE: Comment by p13.
By Kochise on 2017-03-21 09:23:56
Seriously...

https://www.google.fr/search?q=ma...

Proud owner of several MO drives (5.25" and 3.5")
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Love it
By arsa on 2017-03-21 10:23:01
I used my Sony MZ-RH1 actively for years until 2013. It remains in good shape and I keep it well. I am looking forward to see my kids' opinion about it, once they grow up :-)
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Re:
By kurkosdr on 2017-03-21 10:35:56
MiniDisc's problem was that it occupied that cursed middle ground of not being compatible with CD, but not being as revolutionary as solid-state players. Plus the draconian DRM that neither CDs nor MP3 solid-state players had.

I was thinking of getting an MiniDisc player, but when I looked at the price of players and recordable discs, I just bought a pack of CD-RWs instead, and by the time my music needs grew I bought an MP3 player.

However, back in the days solid-state players were an experimental technology, if portable CD players were too big for your pockets, then you were the niche market MiniDisc occupied.

Edited 2017-03-21 10:44 UTC
Permalink - Score: 5

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