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minidisc deck and portable collection, first post


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#1 shedshrine

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 09:55 PM

Hello fellow minidisc fans
My minidisc journey began while I was living in Japan teaching English. I had just begun making my way into cassette four track recording of my musical efforts and a mix down deck was a must. I'd been using a funky boom box and saving up for a DAT deck when I saw an article in a recording magazine about a new format soon available, the minidisc. Digital mixdown with editing, yeah! I waited and waited for this new miracle to show up in the stores of Japan, ignoring the Phillips digital cassette offerings that had come out around the same time, and grabbed an MZ-1 off a stack of about 40 or so for around 60,000 yen or $600.

I completely loved using it, and the editing was incredible. It felt so modern and futuristic. I did find out a short while later that the sound quality was not as perfect as I had expected digital to be. When I'd listen to the original cassette track of a slightly overdriven fender rythym track and compare it to the MZ-1 recording, a lot of the subtle detail and tonal quality was missing. Regardless, I loved the format and Sony, Kenwood, Aiwa et al were in a race to come out with the newest, best sounding, best designed and best featured units. Every few months or so I'd hit Akihabara and stalk the electronics stores to see what was new and improved.

By the time I left Japan after five years I had accumulated four portable recorders. I still remember showing the MZ-1 to folks at home in the SF bayarea that first summer when I came home to visit and the stunned reactions. "Wow, what the hell is that? Japan must be amazing.." A couple years later my bass fell over while leaning against the wall and the headstock came down full force on the MZ-1's lcd display, completely shattering it. While it was no longer my main mixdown deck, I still had it repaired though the face of the unit still bears the scars I couldn't pound out from the inside of the faceplate.

When I got home I wanted to get a deck and a Sony JA3ES was on sale as a demo in a Good Guys store. It had L and R mic inputs in the front and I just had to have it. Later I bought a JB940 and enjoyed still better sound and the addition of the keyboard input for labeling all the individual mixdown takes.

I spent a lot of time making cassette mix tapes as a kid, and that was taken to a whole new level with minidisc. They could make the train commutes around Tokyo and Kanagawa something to look forward to.

At this point I just use apple lossless and an iPod playlists, but I still use minidisc deck for mixdowns and editing.
The HI-MD thing came along after my minidisc honeymoon, but if they come out with a home deck I may be tempted.

Mike

(pictured:<b> Portables</b>: Sony MZ-1, Kenwood (blue) DMC-E7R, Aiwa AM-F1, Kenwood (silver) DMC-G7R, Sony MZ N707, Sony MZ-N505; <b>Decks</b>: Sony JA3ES, Sony MDS-JB940) See Aiwa 5-disc minidisc carousel deck in post #14 of this thread..Posted Image

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#2 shedshrine

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:30 PM

QUOTE (the wizard of oz @ Jul 1 2009, 08:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi Mike, welcome to the forums.

Sorry for tempting you, but you might want to check out the community's Hi-MD equipment browser, and Facebook's Hi-MD page, which is more complete on the decks and bookshelf systems that Onkyo has issued.


Great, yeah those look nice. I'll look around that part of the site. Specifically for a hi-md deck with a keyboard input as that would be ideal, backwards compatible and everything.

M

#3 Abby Normal

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:38 PM

Sadly, there are no HiMD decks except the overly expensive ones that Onkyo has issued. You are stuck daydreaming of kludging one together out of a portable (like I do). wink.gif

QUOTE (shedshrine @ Jul 2 2009, 04:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great, yeah those look nice. I'll look around that part of the site. Specifically for a hi-md deck with a keyboard input as that would be ideal, backwards compatible and everything.

M

Edited by narp, 02 July 2009 - 03:39 PM.


#4 shedshrine

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:50 PM

QUOTE (narp @ Jul 2 2009, 01:43 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sadly, there are no HiMD decks except the overly expensive ones that Onkyo has issued. You are stuck daydreaming of kludging one together out of a portable (like I do). wink.gif


Too bad. I've been using an Alesis masterlink for the same kind of thing, and while 24 bit and all that, it's a slow and cumbersome interface. This is all the more apparent once you've experienced the ease of use a decent minidisc deck offers..

#5 sfbp

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 06:13 PM

You can have the equivalent of HiMD playback in your car, though. It's called making an ATRAC CD. Amazing... equivalent to 4 std MD's on 1 CD at the same data rates.

#6 bluecrab

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 11:42 PM

QUOTE (sfbp @ Jul 2 2009, 07:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can have the equivalent of HiMD playback in your car, though. It's called making an ATRAC CD. Amazing... equivalent to 4 std MD's on 1 CD at the same data rates.


What will actually play an ATRAC CD? I know there are a couple of Sony portables that will. Anything else?


#7 sfbp

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 12:06 AM

QUOTE (bluecrab @ Jul 2 2009, 09:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What will actually play an ATRAC CD? I know there are a couple of Sony portables that will. Anything else?

Most Sony head units. I just got this one, a CDX-GT510

#8 kino170878

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 03:02 AM

QUOTE (sfbp @ Jul 3 2009, 06:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Most Sony head units. I just got this one, a CDX-GT510



I've read that the car units with Atrac CD compatability do not offer gapless playback, to the fury of their owners. Can you confirm or deny?


#9 sfbp

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 09:00 AM

Haven't tried that, I admit. There's certainly 100% seamless operation with the 6-MD changer. No gap whatever. You can even (iirc) go from first track of a disk back to last track of previous disk with a single button press. This sort of thing was noticeably lacking from the 3rd-party (non-Sony) interface. When you reach the end of a disk, the next one is IMMEDIATELY playing.

Honestly for me this would never create fury. I have never even looked for it, but I am sure I can try in a couple of days.

I have the strong impression that there are no gaps whatever. Actually I may have even noticed this and found it quite annoying. I put a bunch of tracks on the CD, and thought that really they followed each other way too quickly. I'm on Sony's side, if this is the case!

l8r

#10 stormtrooper

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 09:03 AM

QUOTE (sfbp @ Jul 3 2009, 07:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can have the equivalent of HiMD playback in your car, though. It's called making an ATRAC CD. Amazing... equivalent to 4 std MD's on 1 CD at the same data rates.


IMHO its just not the same with dedicated MD deck to play HIMD.


#11 sfbp

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 09:28 AM

QUOTE (kino170878 @ Jul 3 2009, 01:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've read that the car units with Atrac CD compatability do not offer gapless playback, to the fury of their owners. Can you confirm or deny?

I have been thinking about this.

Aside from my own preferences, are you sure this isn't some sort of technical issue? ie. the reason for the 2-second pause being to do with how the player seeks to find a track? I know, you can set Nero to do it with 0 gap. But originally the specification corresponded to some standard (I suspect it may be because 2 seconds is pretty close to 1 revolution of an LP). Since we don't really know how ATRAC CD's work, could it (if a problem) be built in?

I get furious for the opposite reason - announcers who have been given orders to speak until the absolute last millisecond before something being broadcast, or in some cases over top of it. I would prefer to have some silence before or after any piece of music.

I have just made a mega compilation of different types of music onto an Atrac CD and I will see if I have any opinion as to how it sounds, can be navigated etc.

Breaking up long tracks seemed silly, but one upload of a live recording I did seemed a good test. Interestingly the FIRST track of that could not be sent to ATRAC. I wonder why??????

Added: just coincidence. The ATRAC CD-maker seems incapable of compressing WAV or 1411khz OMA. Sigh.

#12 sfbp

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:31 PM

The problem I had with making Atrac CD's appears to relate the same problem I have seen many times with WAV or PCM files in SonicStage. The symptom is: the track will play, but cannot be transferred. Deleting it from the DB (ie not the file) and re-adding the file always fixes the issue. (There is a secondary issue when the DB knows about more than one version of a track, ie two or more at different bitrates).

So the same here. Delete the offending track from SS (but not off the HD) and re-add, and they compress and transfer to Atrac CD quite nicely. The odd part was this happened where SS was pointed at imported WAV files. So clearly something amiss in the db.

The big problem with Atrac CD writing is there is little or no feedback. If it works then you can look at the disk created by reinserting it after burning. However if it doesn't you have a blank screen and must re-add all the files you wanted to transfer to it. Yuck.

However the results are stunning. It truly is like having HiMD in your car - the equivalent of 4+ CD's on a single disk. I listened to something in my car yesterday on Atrac CD at 256kbps and I can honestly say it was the best reproduction I have ever heard in my vehicle. New head unit from Sony, of course, but the speakers are the factory-installed ones.

#13 shedshrine

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 10:47 PM

Had forgotten I had this in a closet. It's an Aiwa XR-H66MD, a tuner/3 cd/5 minidisc carousel unit. It's not really meant for editing as far as I could tell, far too tedious. But for playing 5 md's nonstop it pretty much rules..


(click to enlarge)




Edited by shedshrine, 15 July 2009 - 11:31 AM.


#14 Abby Normal

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 10:49 PM

QUOTE (shedshrine @ Jul 14 2009, 11:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Had forgotten I had this in a closet. It's an Aiwa XR-H66MD, a tuner/3 cd/5 minidisc carousel unit. It's not really meant for editing as far as I could tell, far too tedious. But for playing 5 md's nonstop it pretty much rules..

(click to enlarge)


OMG, Aiwa made some pretty cool stuff before Sony bought them, didn't they.

#15 gabgar

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 09:11 AM

I had never seen anything like that...
Pretty awesome!

#16 sfbp

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 09:58 AM

If you read the review (here) you will see the limitations. They appear to be quite considerable. And this is a pre-MDLP unit, sadly.

#17 Abby Normal

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 10:31 AM

QUOTE (sfbp @ Jul 15 2009, 11:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you read the review (here) you will see the limitations. They appear to be quite considerable. And this is a pre-MDLP unit, sadly.
Oh--but that's hardly the point. True--MDLP would be better, but this more than makes up for any shortcomings with its geek chic looks. Besides, I think he's nitpicking just a tad. Edit: after going point-by-point, I decided he wasn't nitpicking all that much. But I still think it is important to distinguish between the excellent hardware design and the crappy software design. Realize I'm making my comments in the context of "what's done is done--let's have the most fun we can with it"

QUOTE
It has a 5 disc changer, but multi-disc shuffle play only shuffles ONE DISC AT A TIME!
I'm pretty sure my 7-disc CD changer does the same thing. Shuffling between discs would put a lot of wear on the disc changing mechanics. If you want more of a shuffle that varies album and not just song title you just have to simulate it by prerecording a "shuffle".

QUOTE
I'm also disappointed that there is no sound when the MD changes from one disc to the next. It's got a 10 second buffer, so it could easily be playing the end of the last song while it's seeking the next.
This is no surprise since shuffle doesn't work the way he expects either. Besides, if it did start seeking the next disc while playing the end of the last song he (or someone else) would complain about the noise (my 7-cd changer makes a racket when switching discs) while it's playing music!

QUOTE
There is no "next disc" button on the remote, either for CD or MD. You have to select a specific disc by pressing "MD (or CD) Direct Play", then the disc number you want to change to. Not easy to do in the dark.
I must be getting old. So much of this seems petty.

QUOTE
The automated CD-MD digital copying is sort of lame. It only copies one CD onto one MD, or 3CDs onto 3MDs. So I can't automatically (for example) record two 35 minute CDs onto 1 MD. It will make 2 35 minute MDs. You may be able to get around that, but I was never able to figure out how.
I'll have to agree with him here. That is MEGA lame. I put the blame squarely on the software designers.

QUOTE
Many functions only work with the remote, others only work with the front panel. So you generally have to work with both to get anything complicated done.
Another pet peeve of mine. Total agreement.

QUOTE
The display is very bright and busy. It has 3 modes: the default, full-on psychedelic mode, and 2 more muted modes, but it still lights up my bedroom at night well enough to see by. Even when it's turned off (it's got a clock).
I've got enough clocks--I'll put a power strip on it and turn it off entirely.

QUOTE
Labelling, deleting, splitting, combining, etc.are almost impossible to do without the manual nearby.
I entered MD after the golden years, so I'd be more inclined to do all of this on the computer. Although I just acquired a wonderful Tascam 301 MkII that I'm going to explore this world with. Keyboard input, too.

QUOTE
If it's designed well, you shouldn't need a manual, let alone a "XXXXX for Dummies" book!
I think a lot of the problems are due to the software design. That IS a shame.

QUOTE
I just received information stating that you can't record the radio for 6[12] hours straight. Recording stops after the first disc is filled. (This doesn't apply to the specialized CD->MD recording modes, however). Maybe this user just couldn't figure out how to do it, but from his email it sounded like he tried pretty hard, because he was pretty disappointed that he had to return it to the store for a refund.
Argh--good hardware, bad software.
What a shame that such an excellently engineered product from a hardware perspective was completely trashed by poor software design.

#18 shedshrine

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:10 PM

Here's the manual if you want to check it out..
http://www.nodevice....r3/xrh66md.html


Ha, the amazon page for it is still up. Check out those reviews.
http://www.amazon.co...m/dp/B00001P4PR

#19 sfbp

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:19 PM

I have no idea what the protocol for manuals is here. Do we ask our webmaster to link to it on the equipment page?

Or do we pay for a copy, or what?

#20 shedshrine

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:58 PM

After taking the collection pictures I thought I'd plug in the MZ-1 and check it out. I hadn't played a disc in it for over 10 yrs. It sounded great and I was happily reminiscing when I suddenly remembered a particular issue it had. I tried to eject the disc. Not happening.

The MZ-1 has 2 slot covers that slide in place over the opening. One says "insert disc" and one says "disc inside". They jam up from time to time on mine and prohibit the eject function.



But hey, taking it apart was a great excuse to post some more pics. Watch out for the invisible laser radiation!

Edited by shedshrine, 16 July 2009 - 11:10 PM.





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