ode to the minidisc

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ode to the minidisc

Post by shedshrine » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:51 pm

Originally intended to replace cassette tape, their day has probably come and gone, jumped the shark, etc.

But I was in Japan when they first came out, and how exiting was it to have a thing in your palm that you could record and edit digitally on. Here then is my ode to the minidisc..

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 started 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 that would soon be 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.

I still remember showing the MZ-1 to folks at home the first summer I came home to visit and their stunned reactions. "Wow, what the hell is that? Japan must be amazing.." Once after leaning my bass against a wall it fell with the headstock coming 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.

By the time I left Japan after five years I had accumulated four portable recorders.
When I finally came home for good I found a Sony JA3ES deck that 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 iPod playlists, but I still use a minidisc deck for mixdowns and editing of works in progress. (along with a daw and a masterlink..)
The HI-MD thing came along after my minidisc honeymoon, but if they come out with a home deck I may be tempted.

My collection:

Sony minidisc forum

Sony minidisc reviews/pictorials forum
Last edited by shedshrine on Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:17 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Post by AstroDan » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:25 pm

The only downside was you and I were the only ones who had one.
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Post by Scodiddly » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:56 pm

I've got a couple Sony portables. Amazing for recording shows/rehearsals, especially (compared to analog) because they didn't change the pitch between decks.

Still come in handy for when I don't want to waste CD blank on a short demo for the car or whatever, and still getting used for field recording.

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:45 pm

I remember for a few years when a lot of hip hop/indusrtial/solo acts were showing up with those for their backing tracks. It was kind of a weird period of time when CDRs hadnt become universally cheap/easy to do and the ipod hadnt really hit yet.
I was still coming out of my analog purist shell at that point so I hated them.
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Post by newfuturevintage » Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:07 pm

Timely post!

A few days ago I finally decided to get rid of my sharp 722 after years of it getting no love. Was wonderful for rehearsal recordings though. That + the sony ecm-ms907 stereo-mini-plug mic setup got a ton of play back in the day. Will hang on to the home deck in the unlikely event I have to do a transfer.

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Post by inverseroom » Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:30 pm

I still have one of the Sharp portable 24-bit jobbers. Will probably get rid of it, though--I never use it anymore. Useful little device!

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Post by Trick Fall » Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:41 pm

I actually had to buy one for my wedding ten years ago. My uncle is a dj in Ireland and he was coming over to dj the wedding and he had all of his tunes on minidisc. I also used it for a mixdown deck when I got my first adat. Enjoyed it so much that I even had a car stereo that played cd's and minidiscs. The first time I mixed something down and listened to it int he car on the way home was awesome!

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Post by Brian Brock » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:37 pm

I replaced a great Sony WM-D3 "pro" walkman with a portable minidisc in the late nineties. I never could get as happy with it as the walkman, but it had its charms.

I keep finding weird skips now as I try to transfer them to computer...

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Post by Jitters » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:39 pm

I still use mine to document gigs occasionally. :wink:

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Post by Brett Siler » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:09 pm

I still use my Sony. Its great for recording shows and getting samples off the TV

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Post by Dr Rubberfunk » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:38 am

InvalidInk wrote:I still use my Sony. Its great for recording shows and getting samples off the TV
Yep, I still use my portable for exactly this - very handy for spoken word samples of all those old re-runs of Quincy ME that daytime is filled with in the UK. And the Rockford files, love that stuff :)

10 years or so ago I mixed down my first single to a 'pro-sumer' Sony deck - before I knew about the hugely lossy compression.
The mastering engineer was horrified when I arrived with a minidisc to do a 12" cut from, but was very gracious in his explanation about why I should NEVER DO IT AGAIN :shock: :lol:

Got tons of mixtapes on MD that a friend and I did - 4 turntables, a cheap sampler, and then extra edits on the minidisc afterwards. Great fun - must get some on the computer and online for posterity!

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Post by Lumin » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:30 am

i still use mine. i think they sound great. doesnt tascam still make a minidisc recorder? i am curious to know if it is lossless.

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Post by DJ_LBP » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:06 am

I bought a Sony portable right after high school graduation in 2001. I was going to Australia for two weeks, and the fact that you could fit 3-4 CDs worth of music on each disc was very appealing to me. I cashed in about 200 bucks in change and bought a 6-pack of MDs and the walkman. Then spent the next week filling them with music. Then before starting college later that summer, I got a Yamaha MD4s to do recordings in my dorm. Then at some point that year, I lost ALL my MiniDiscs. I had 10 or 12 discs full of full completed songs, starting points, ideas, etc. It broke my heart.

I still have my walkman, but it gave up the ghost a few years back following a hard fall.

Maybe it's just nostalgia for that time in my life, but MD was really important to the beginning of my home-recording bug. I would give any piece of gear I own to have those MDs back.
Why not?

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Post by sears » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:48 am

I used the Yamaha MD8 for a couple of albums.

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Post by kayagum » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:59 am

Not only are they great for theater work, I found that they make great loopers and instrument beds.

Just program a loop for under a minute (maybe longer- I didn't go that far), and it loops seemlessly... there must be a buffer to help it along.

I've had 2 (both Sony JE5xx series), 1 still works.
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