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Why not adapt Minidisc technology to something more modern?

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I love minidisc and am very thankful for HiMD and the RH1, however, it's evident that minidisc is on its way out with all the stuff available now. But Sony should take the strong points of minidisc and adapt it to a next generation recorder/player.

What's the main, practical advantage of mindisc? It's the phenomenal recording ability in such a tiny device. That's it. The other stuff is mainly superficial (such as the cool discs, the sound quality of the player, ability to exchange media, etc.) We all know that recording ability is what has kept minidisc around, period.

So, why doesn't Sony build on that? Take the same electronic guts of a mindisc recorder, and instead of reading/writing onto a mindisc, let it use flash cards, or hard drives, just like the ipod line.

I know we all are nostalgic to the mindisc medium, but I would still love to see this as the next evolution of this technology, and I don't see why it can't be done easily. After all, the recording capability of minidisic recorders has nothing to do with the minidisc, but with the electronics inside it.

This would open up to market beyond our little minidisc cult here, it's more practical, and it could potentially put Sony as the market leader in portable recording technology. And you know all of us RH1 users would easily convert also!

Oh, I forgot to mention the other great strength of mindisc recorders. Not only is it a great recorder, but it can be used for playback also with great sound quality. Yes, it would be no good if it were simply a recorder. The fact that it can do both extremely well is the main draw to it. Again, it's nothing that can't be easily adapted by Sony into a flash or hard-drive based device.

Edited by superboy
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Yes, I wholeheartedly endorse this! I've been thinking along the same lines..

Take out the MD drive and put in a Memory Stick Pro Duo drive, I say!

That way, you pop in a MS Pro Duo card, record your music. Take out the card and pop it in a PSP or PS3 and play your music. With 1GB flash memory very close to the $10 mark now, I think the time is ripe!

If you don't like swapping cards, you could always go for the 8GB card and make it similar to the Nano in capacity!

The recording and editing of tracks is the key ability that I would miss when MD is no more.. I would happily convert to a Memory Stick Walkman Recorder.

C'mon Sony!

Edited by jillako
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You're right, it shouldn't. I edited the post to avoid confusion.

I don't think Sony sees this as an opportunity though, seeing how they dropped support for ATRAC. Can any other codec give you the same ability - split, join, edit tracks on the go and then upload to computer?

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Well, again, I don't think the ability to split, join, and edit tracks has anything to do with ATRAC. ATRAC is just a compression format, like mp3. I think whatever the minidisc is doing with the ATRAC file, it can do with an mp3 file if it were programmed to do so.

And, here's another question. Is it really that important to do so much editing with the mindisc unit itself? I don't know how the majority of users do it, but I upload everything raw (wav) into my computer after I've recorded, and I do all my editing on the computer, because it's infinitely easier and more flexible. Why fiddle around with the tiny controls and display of the minidisc when you can do it with the comfort of your computer? All of my compression, cutting, joining, sound editing, and processing is done on the computer with me.

But back to the topic, I don't think you can do anything with ATRAC that you can't do with mp3 or any other compression format (or uncompressed formats for that matter). I would assume that most serious recording enthusiasts would prefer to record in uncompressed formats like PCM rather than record and compress (unless it was absolutely necessary, like taping a long audio lecture).

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Yes, you're right, there are many units that record and playback. But none of the audio PLAYERS also record with the quality mindisc records to, which has always been its strength. There are also very good flash recorders out there like the Edirol that can also playback, but their playback quality is weak. You see, none of them combine the quality of both functions as well as minidisc, but the focus is mainly on the recording quality. Whatever electronics mindiscs use (their mic preamp, or whatever it is) produces very high quality recordings for something that small. That is what makes minidiscs so special, because they can also play back in superb quality. the ipods record like crap from what I've heard, and the same goes for the zens. If the recording feature is just an afterthought or only intended for things like lectures, it's not going to be the same quality as the minidisc recorders.

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Don't dozens of brands of portable audio units do just this ? I have a RadioYourWay that records to SD cards. IPODs record, ZENs record etc. I guess I am missing what would be different. Recording to removable flash cards of various types seems to be very well established.

BobS, yes there are plenty of other units that play music too. The MD recorders appeal like no other though because of the compact size, stellar quality and long battery life. I'd like to see Sony take this market to the next generation and use flash instead of MD. Certainly it would fit in with other Sony media products such as the Walkman phones, PS3 and PSP.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Behold, the PCM-D50.

Specs - 4GB internal memory, directable mics built in, Memory Stick slot for expandability. Unit records to WAV, and has ability to split, join tracks on the unit itself.

Here's the official site http


Independent thoughts from Brad Linder here.

I think it's great! It pretty much does everything I want. The only thing that I need is a smaller unit, the inbuilt mics would not be necessary for me. A smaller device would make it useful for "stealth" recording.

It looks like Sony is on the right path though. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...


I'm down with that.

I "Spinal Tapped" an old analog Tabletop CD player. I recorded directly from its D/A converter, dumped the white noise to an MD as analog. I Discovered that ATRAC doesnt affect the sound, when listened to through a regular MD machine, its just white noise, just like recorded, but when hooked up to the D part of the converter to the line out on the MD, and much to my amazement, the Tabletop was idle, but Still read out the time from the MD display and the audio was fine, through the headphones it was noise, but once sent through the D/A it was converted back to audio... which means that the D/A turned the compressed binary noise back into CD quality audio...

Ive tried recording it onto the PC, compressing it to a 64kbps MP3 and sending it back, I still have CD quality sound coming out of the CD player, but the tracking is off a bit according to the display on it.

In other words, I took an 80 minute CD, recorded it as analog binary noise. Compressed it to a fraction of the actual rate, and returned it as Digital binary noise, recorded as Digital ATRAC, which was interpreted by the CD player as Digital noise, which was turned into analog sound.

Weird how this trick still works, I did it back in the day with a tapedeck and a CD player, but it got slightly corrupt, essentially I turned my cheap CC into a DAT tape with PCM noise on it.

Ill go pick up another old deck and do this on video for all you to see, Its not quite usefull, but its fun to mess with, Also, it works with microphones, if the noise is played through a loud enough system the D/A will pick it up and will play it with some fragmentation. Ive been trying sending CD noise through FM and seeing if the D/A would be able to transmit CD quality audio over the air and replaying on a radio, it seems to work quite well, but I was using 2 different converter types so the sound always dropped out.

CD over FM, PCM on MD, and MPEG-PCM on MD.

It seems CD over FM is a viable technology and may be useful to Radio stations, Digital audio over an analog source ^_^

Edited by WalkDude
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  • 2 weeks later...

Yeah, I think it would be great if Sony could do that. However the only reason I would agree is because of flash memory's faster read/write speed and higher capacities. Carrying a bunch of MDs in my pocket is not very practical anymore. Even if you carried 5 PRO Duos its not going to take much space.

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