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minidisc appropriate for middle of nowhere

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Hi minidisc people!

I used to use minidiscs a lot for recording my music lessons and long, epic histories in West Africa. None of the units are working any more so I am looking for advice on what model to look for, guess I will be looking for second hand on ebay or cash converters. I have heaps of discs I need to get into CD format or whatever so I can edit them and listen to them, so wondering what is a good one that it is easy to download from. I got stuck with the newer ones they didnt seem to want me to put my stuff onto my computer.

I am still keen to use minidiscs to record onto if I go back to Africa cos they take batteries and I end up with a hard copy. When I am there, no access to electricity usually, cant be putting things on computers, well no computers, and SD cards seem too tiny and unsafe, and a zoom recorder's good but too big. It is good to have something small and portable. And my husband is a musician from West Africa and loves to record himself so go through the batteries a bit, the recharge lithium makes it too hard. Long time between access to power and charging. So a model that can take AA battery is necessary.

They are also a relatively cheap option and I dont have much money, so I am looking for something affordable.

I think I have owned 4 minidisc recorders over the years, and I liked the old ones more, but I am not very gadget or technologically minded so need a bit of help! Can anyone advise me what to look for please?

Thank you, and happy days, Molly

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For a new recorder get a Sony PCM-M10. You can find one in the US for about $200--more in Europe, unfortunately. It takes two AA batteries and records for something like 20 hours or more. It uses microSD cards but also has 4GB of storage by itself--that will hold a lot of music if you record mp3 at 320 kbps. If my math is right, one 16GB microSD card will hold more than 100 hours. And you can copy files directly to computer, no weird Sony formats.

For your old discs, if they were not Hi-MD the only thing that will directly upload them is the MZ-RH1 which is at least $300 if you can find one. Otherwise you have to figure out if they were Hi-MD (formats Hi-SP, Hi-LP or PCM) or regular MD (SP, LP2, LP4). Hi-MD will upload to computer from a Hi-MD unit. The NH700 was a great unit. But they are all old and used now.

Regular MD only uploads with the MZ-RH1, or needs to be recorded out of the headphone jack in realtime--maybe to your PCM-M10.

Edited by A440

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Hi Molly

There's also a wonderful flash recorder called the ICD-SX750, made by Sony. It should cost between $100 and $200 depending on where you buy it. It has 2GB memory.

It's pretty good at recording from its own mics, and uses AAA batteries (it will recharge NiMH rechargeables if you can get mains current, too). Is that of interest? The two responders so far will yell at me because they love the PCM-M10 but there are several reasons that I disagree with them (that is very far from saying they are wrong: they are right, I just disagree, for the purposes you have stated). The SX750 has its own speaker for instant playback (this machine came from the dictation product line but is way better than that, believe me), and can use external microphone(s) if you need better quality than the inbuilt ones.

1. The PCM-M10 weighs almost 1lb; the ICD-SX750 clocks in at about 2oz.

2. There's no SD card (you said you didn't like them), it has its own internal memory. Although the M10 has internal memory, It has lots of crevices (such as where you open it up to put in the SD card) and if you are in anywhere with sand, I should think the SX750 will be better suited.

3. The PCM-M10 only records in MP3 and LPCM (the latter is same as CD). The SX750 has a whole variety of codecs to choose from ranging from LPCM and MP3 to something Sony calls LPEC, which can give you hundreds of hours depending on the quality setting you choose. The best of these LPEC codecs, dubbed ST-HQ is really very decent, and you get the same number of hours as 128kbps MP3 but with much better quality for music. 34 hours to be exact.

4. Another diehard MD fan, ozpeter (as the name suggests also from "dahnunner") did a comparative review of the two (SX750 and PCMM10) . One of the things he commented on was that the mics and stereo separation are probably better on the SX750. Granted, the frequency range may be a little bit cut off on bass noises below 100Hz, but it may well be that is irrelevant for your purpose).

For archiving, you will have to get data off it in the end with a computer (standard Mini USB), though it has a perfectly good headphone socket which doubles as line out, so almost anything including standard headphones will allow you to review your recordings properly. There are 2 nice pieces of software included for free, by Sony, Digital Voice Editor, and Sound Forge LE. Both allow you to convert formats to your heart's content, and burn CD's quite easily if you need to (assuming you can get access to a 'puter at some point). It has no restrictions on uploading that make MD a nuisance at times.

It also has a big brother (I have both, and I consider myself an MD fiend) with 8GB (again built in), that should be no more than the PCM-M10 no matter how discounted that product may be. I ordered my SX950 from Japan, and it was about $250. There's one here (I couldn't find it on Ebay USA just now, probably the Japanese merchants are in difficulty with the current ongoing crisis in Japan). With 12+ hours of LPCM or 136 hours of LPEC-STHQ you really can only run out of battery.

Hope this is of use (especially since I am about to get yelled at!)

Stephen

PS your charging options might well include some large dry cells in a portable box with a mini-USB output, I imagine that these are readily available if you look. This might be even better than using lots of alkaline AAA's.

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Stephen....the OP can't keep uploading to a computer, and said so. So the 2GB limit of the recorder is going to be a problem. Removable media--microSD cards are really not so bad--is the solution.

Also, if she's recording music, that 100Hz cutoff is way too high. I believe the PCM-M10's mics cut off around 80 Hz. But since she was recording with MD, she must already have mics, which make the whole internal mics question and stereo-separation difference irrelevant.

The PCM-M10 also has its own dinky little speaker, just to do a quick check if you got the recording.

I don't know what kind of battery life the 750 gets with its AAAs, but the PCM-M10 goes just short of forever on two AAs. Good metering too. Why try to make a dictation stick do the job of a music recorder?

Edited by A440

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I told you I would get yelled at. But I am unrepentant. More later, maybe.....

I've recorded a symphony orchestra and it sounds fantastic. Yes, you can listen to it on the little inbuilt speaker of the SX750.

Specs say 50-20,000.

What use is a microSD card *without* a PC?

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For your particular needs I say stick to traditional MD. It's still very easy to find second-hand MD units, you could easily buy 10 for the price of one PCM-M10 and you're good to go.

Despite all of its negatives, nothing - and I mean nothing - can ever replace the specification of Minidisc. You know it and I know it. Other people here I guess have moved on with computers and their tiny sized gigabyte storage. That's fine for them, but for others it is wholly irrelevant. For certain professionals in the field, out there in the desserts of Africa minidiscs would seem the obvious choice. The things are indestructible and the audio quality is certainly up to the job.

I really wish people would start to read what people are asking for, rather than what they see as being the right way of doing things.

Hope this helps.

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HI to you all, and many many thanks for your detailed responses. Sand is an issue, but if I am extremely careful it is probably less of an issue than it being impossible to upload whatever I have recorded and so therefore needing a hard copy, no good filling up an internal memory, I just have to carry either lots of minidiscs or lots of sd cards. I do want to get that music off my old minidiscs, and the RH1 sounds the best but I have looked and they are just way too expensive and hard to find. I will keep my eyes open and maybe get lucky. Did they only do that trick once with letting you get stuff off the discs to your computer? Are the later models back to being stuck with everything on the disc? Silly. The music I record is often very loud drumming. I don't think it is possible for me to get aaa batteries where I go, aa are more available. though they usually last about 5 minutes! it doesnt look like i can go for a long time, but i only wanted to buy one thing, so thought i should get one that will do both jobs, i.e. record my music from old minidiscs to cd and record well if i can get back there.

Thanks again fo rall your replies, I am reading them with great interest and appreciation and will keep checking what you have to say!

Best wishes, Molly

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Molly, the first thing you should do is download SonicStage 4.3 to your computer. Use Avrin's Ultimate Edition

Earlier versions of SonicStage did only allow you to upload once, but later ones removed that limit and allow quick conversion to .wav, which will play anywhere. Unfortunately, the material you uploaded on earlier versions still has that one-upload limit--this will only apply to new uploads.

It sounds like you were using Hi-MD if you were running into that limit. That's good. That means you don't need the MZ-RH1. You could get any Hi-MD unit, including the cheap MZ-NH600D--which does not do realtime recording, D is for downloader--to upload the rest of your Hi-MD recordings. Make sure the unit you get is not NetMD but Hi-MD. There aren't many choices, and they all have H in the model number. [Edit--except the MZM200, same as the MZ-RH1. Sony loves to confuse things.]

As long as the format you recorded is Hi-SP, Hi-LP or PCM, you don't need the MZ-RH1. The RH1 is only necessary to upload SP, LP2 or LP4.

I'm sorry to contradict the other poster, but let's not get into a sound quality argument over the greatness of minidisc. Unless you were using PCM--same as .wav--on a Hi-MD unit, your sound was being compressed upon recording. Hi-SP was 256 kbps. New digital recorders, like the PCM-M10 or the Edirol R-05, can do .wav or 320 kbps .mp3, and they have enough internal and removable memory to handle the bigger files. There is no way 256 kpbs is better than .wav, and if there is any difference between Hi-SP and 320 kbps .mp3 I would expect that only Martians and dogs can hear it.

Wingfield Audio found that two AA batteries last 43 hours--yes, forty-three hours--in the PCM-M10.

http://www.wingfieldaudio.com/sony-pcm-m10-review.html

Stephen, your 750 model does not have removable media and is full at 2GB (or 8GB). The PCM-M10--like MD--does have removable media. Yes, microSD cards do eventually need a computer, but MDs eventually need either a player, which is now headed for obsolescence, or a computer. Molly could be out in the field and record mp3 for a long time--a very long time, like 100+ hours--with a 16GB card, not even touching the 4GB internal memory of the PCM-M10. She could then swap it out for another 100+ hours with a second card. Double those for 32GB cards. She and her husband could each use their own microSD cards for different groups of recordings.

We all like our personal toys, but I'm really trying to be practical here.

Edited by A440

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The PCM-M10 has bigger batteries, so they last twice as long. Whoopee! You really haven't checked this out, Jon.

8GB microSD cards are $40 or so, at least here, and may be easily twice that outside NA (we tend to forget this when quoting prices to strangers). They could easily spend more money on SD cards than the value of the machine.

Why would someone travelling around a desert want to lug something weighing 1lb if they can take something that's 2oz?

And surely 136 hours (at my preferred Codec, LPEC-STHQ) will be enough? Admittedly this means buying the 8GB model.

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Stephen, you know I love ya, but au contraire. Bystanders, if this post is too long, skip to the surprise ending.

Molly said she can't find AAA batteries but does have access to AA.

You can find 16GB cards here in the discount-happy USA for $25-$30, on Amazon, Newegg and elsewhere. That is way better than $7 per GB for Hi-MD or $3-5 per GB for 80min MD. Molly can get 54 hours of 320 kbps mp3 on an 8GB card, and if you're worried about weight and bulk, well...that would be 8 Hi-MDs vs. one tiny microSD. (And yes, she could get the same on the 750 if she could find the 8GB model but...see below.)

Maybe Molly has friends here who could send some microSDs. Hope so, because she could also get a much better price on the PCM-M10.

The PCM-M10 weighs 6.6 ounces with batteries, not a pound.

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-audio/cat-recorders/product-PCMM10%2FB/

She's recording drumming. Drumming is one of the most complex waveforms. Doing it in a super-compressed format would be just a shame for an irreplaceable field recording. I can see using the little recorder and high compression for oral histories--probably from jali, or griots--because those are just speech, but African drumming is incredibly intricate, and you really want to hear each individual part. Compression is going to blur those nuances. If I were going I'd stock up on microSDs and use .wav and the best mics I could afford to get clarity.

Finally, I was looking around for a price for the 8GB model. Couldn't find it at Amazon or, frankly, anywhere. One page on the lovely disorganized Sony site said the SX750 was no longer being sold--after being dropped to a discount of $49.99! Should've got one!-- but that was the 2GB

But then I found this baby:

http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666322565#specifications

Sony ICD-SX712D. Lists for $199 (half the list price of the PCM-M10). The model number is between the SX700 and the SX750, so I don't know if it's newer or older. It's also an AAA unit, and it lists its frequency response as 40-20000 Hz (not 20-20000 like the PCM-M10, so it loses an octave of bass from the fidelity on the djembe. )

But--IT HAS A MICROSD SLOT. So it can take extra cards. And it's little and affordable. If she can score some AAA's, maybe this would be Molly's choice.

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But then I found this baby:

http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666322565#specifications

Sony ICD-SX712D. Lists for $199 (half the list price of the PCM-M10). The model number is between the SX700 and the SX750, so I don't know if it's newer or older. It's also an AAA unit, and it lists its frequency response as 40-20000 Hz (not 20-20000 like the PCM-M10, so it loses an octave of bass from the fidelity on the djembe. )

But--IT HAS A MICROSD SLOT. So it can take extra cards. And it's little and affordable. If she can score some AAA's, maybe this would be Molly's choice.

Agree. The manual is dated 2011.

As I mentioned, probably the thing to do is to get a battery assembly that will REcharge AAA-rechargeable. I am certain they are available, or someone knowledgeable could hook one together before you leave on the trip, Molly. (and the same thing goes for simply running it off the USB port by which it will charge them anyway, you can run off the "external" supply, which needs to be something close to 5V)

The reviewer at amazon says the mics are better than the SX750. I recall ozpeter saying that the stereo separation (at least) was better on the SX750 than the M10.

They have it on for just under $120 http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ICD-SX712-Digital-Flash-Recorder/dp/B004M8ST2W . The difference in price is probably due to the fact that this model does not include Dragon speech recognition software.

How you purchase that from Oz may be more of a problem. But maybe there's a way, now we know about that model.

It's also on Ebay and they will ship to you in Australia:

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Sony-ICD-SX712-2GB-Digital-Flash-Voice-Recorder-/230609486153

Nice find, sir!

Stephen

The only part I feel sad about is the loss of ST-HQ, which is an amazingly good codec especially for the human voice. Pavarotti sounds amazing on it, I converted some complete operas. MP3 at any rate I tried doesn't come close. However.... it sounds like that codec, like ATRAC has simply got lost in the noise.

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The PCM-M10 weighs 6.6 ounces with batteries, not a pound.

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-audio/cat-recorders/product-PCMM10%2FB/

I apologize, you're right about the weight. Numbers I usually recall, maybe this mass was from one of its predecessors (the PCM-D50???)

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Molly wrote: " I do want to get that music off my old minidiscs, and the RH1 sounds the best but I have looked and they are just way too expensive and hard to find. I will keep my eyes open and maybe get lucky."

New RH1s may be expensive, but they're not hard to find. I ordered one last week for A$285 incl shipping, from HK (located via Google). It arrived a few days later (in Melbourne, Australia), all perfect, just like my other ones. I'm not sure how many constitute a lifetime supply, but am pursuing it.

David Rollo

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Thanks David, that is cheaper than the ones I had found, but will still require a bit of saving on my part. I will keep my eyes open. Yes, a lifetime supply would be good!

Molly

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