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Newbie question - understanding MD transfer / playback

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Hi everyone, I've signed up here so that I can ( hopefully ) get an answer to a pretty simple question ( or two ).


My car has a Minidisc head unit ( Japanese car, imported to New Zealand ) which is part of a rather nice ICE system. I do not want to rip the dash apart to try and install a system which plays MP3 or has USB connectivity for say an Ipod. I currently use an FM transmitter but it's crap, so now I'm exploring making my own Minidiscs......


I am an IT engineer so I'm comfortable with the technical aspects of Windows / USB / TOSlink etc etc, I just want to understand how MD stores and plays back tracks. Am I correct in thinking that tracks have to be 'played' on a PC and 'recorded' by the MD recorder, rather than transferring them as you would to say an Ipod ? I'm pretty sure my in-car MD player won't play the MP3 file as-is, so basically creating an MD would be like creating an audio CD, correct ? I will end up with 70-odd minutes of play time, like a CD ?


Sorry if this sounds like a real noob question, I just want to understand what the limitations of the format are.



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Before we give you all the "probably"'s, how about telling us exactly what make and model of unit? If you can't tell that, then the year of manufacture of the car will tell us a lot because MD changed quickly and although certain standards apply, we know what could have been made at time X.

Does the unit have the letters MDLP on it anywhere? I totally understand if everything got rubbed off :)


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Hi there and thanks for the welcome. The player is a Mitsubishi branded unit ( I will try and get the exact model number if I can find it ) and it is in a 2002 car. I have already acquired a HiMD recorder for free from a family member ( it's an MZ-NH700 ) complete with all accessories ( including some disks ) so I'm just waiting for it to arrive from the UK.


Is it likely that the Mitsubishi unit would be able to play HI-MD recorded material, or more likely it will need to be recorded in the original lower capacity format ?


Any help and info greatly appreciated, cheers !

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It's unlikely that the car head unit will play HiMD, I don't believe any HiMD car units were ever manufactured and I think Sony only ever licensed HiMD to Onkyo.


It will definitely play ATRAC3 SP recordings which sound fantastic (292Kbps), but as you say, in the car, you can just as easily swap CDs with up to 80 minutes of music on them as you can recorded MDs.


You may be fortunate and have a unit capable of playing ATRAC3 LP (which includes LP2 and LP4).  LP2 ATRAC3 is more compressed (132Kbps) and sound pretty darned good, especially in a noisy moving car.  You can fit a little over 160 minutes on a single disk recorded in LP2.  LP4 is even more compressed (66Kbps) and can sound a little flat, but can be used at lower volume levels. You can fit over 320 minutes of LP4 on a single 80 minute disk.


You can use the MZ-NH700 to record in all of the ATRAC3 and ATRAC3plus formats, the latter being the newer CODECs created for HiMD.

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Agree with everything Azureal says. Most unlikely it will record anything and impossible that it will do HiMD (ATRAC3+) formats.

Another sìlly sounding question: is the unit single DIN or double DIN? If it's double DIN and NOT marked SONY, could it be this one?


You will see that there's a huge resource at the base of that link, enabling you maybe to identify what you have.

The major hurdle you have to overcome with the NH700 is getting the driver for NetMD installed assuming you have 64 bit Windows. That driver is here for download. With it and Sonic Stage you can now churn out disks using USB for the car without too much problem. LP2 and even LP4 may be good enough for listening on the road, giving you up to 320 minutes of playback from 1 disk.

The issue of MP3 is a little more toxic. Car units are not known to play MP3 directly. And converting mp3 files is definitely possible but you may not like the result.

Let's hear some more details so we can steer you in the right direction.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Markoneswift, you seem to think you have to record in realtime to MD. You don't. Sony made a program, SonicStage, music library software that worked more or less (actually quite a bit less) like iTunes for iPods, transferring music from computer to MD.


Download it here:



If you have 32-bit Windows, you're mostly ready. Install and open SonicStage, connect the NH700 (with an old MD, not Hi-MD,  in it)  and see if it's detected. Then you have to choose to transfer the music in one of the older MD formats, not the Hi-MD choices.


If you have 64-bit Windows, you'll need this:



SonicStage is kludgy and unintuitive, but once you install it and start getting error messages, folks here can help you.  


I hope you have some old-school MD blanks. 

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