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Fun with PCM on 74min Hi-MDs

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Russell Ault

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Just thought I'd share this here in case anyone else is interested:

Several months ago I re-discovered my old MZ-RH10. I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do with it, though, because I mostly listen to full albums from beginning to end. Then, I noticed something: the PCM runtime of a 74 minute MD is long enough to hold one side of a vinyl LP.

I started copying albums off of CD onto pairs of MDs (side A and side B) using EAC and SS, and what I've "discovered" (it was news to me, at least) is that the "intermission" in the middle of an album caused by the need to flip the record (or change the MiniDisc) can reveal things about the way an album is put together that are totally missed when listening to the CD from beginning to end. I think the best example of this is the first song on Side B which, instead of being just another tune somewhere in the middle of the album, transforms into a secondary lead-off with almost as much importance as the first track on side A.

Anyway, it's something I've been having fun with, and I thought other people might enjoy it too.


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8 hours ago, PhilippeC said:

Ok Russ, but what about the PCM quality sound you got versus SP standard or HI-MD 256-352 kbps sound  ? 

Honestly, it's not something I've experimented with at all. For me, one of the real selling points of this exercise is that I can use the uncompressed audio copied bit-for-bit off of the CD, which (at least on paper) should result in the highest possible sound quality.

Basically, in my mind, using PCM means one less thing to worry about. :-)


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I have said this many times before - from the POV of the best audio experience, playing the exact bits from 16-bit CD may not be exactly what you want. There are a significant number of people who have observed that ATRAC encoding actually makes the sound "better" however that is defined. Remember that ATRAC is a 24-bit (logarithmic) format, and a real CD in a real CD player is slightly better than the 16 bits nominal (somewhere between 18 and 20 bits). You only get the best performance from an actual CD if you have oversampling. I don't think Sony ever did that with their PCM (honestly, it was IMO a "mere" selling point to use LPCM) on MD.

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Nice to see you too, Philippe.

Yes, 352 might be ok, but a. it's unusual b. it uses a bit more space c. not sure it makes that much difference

I like AAL especially because it's well set up to be transferred to legacy MD (LP2).

But plain 256k HiSP is a particularly good choice because now it works with VLC (and ffmpeg) right out of the box, EVEN IF ENCRYPTED (protected).

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