The Sony Minidisc

December 18, 2008 by Derrick Faw · 3 Comments
Filed under: Equipment, Filming, Sound 

MinidiscOne of the most valuable items in our equipment bag is the Sony Minidisc Walkman. These handy little gadgets hit the market in 1992 and have come a long way since. They were originally intended to be the replacement of audio cassettes as a recordable CD. They never caught on with record companies, so consumers never really had a chance to experience the advantages over other technologies. Only a few albums were ever printed for the Minidisc. Where the Minidisc did succeed though was in its ability to capture sound. The list of uses for recording sound on Minidisc are almost as big as your imagination. With a microphone you can record live music, dialog, sound effects, background noise, conversations, take notes, etc, etc. Optionally you can record directly through the line in port from any device outputting sound: computers, tape decks, radios, scanners, soundboards, VCRs, DVDs, Video Games, etc, etc. A headphone port allows you to listen in real time as you record. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and yet delivers amazing sound recording capabilities. Not only does it record, it does so at near CD quality if not arguably higher depending on the model you use. Recordings can easily be split into tracks for later review and handling. Tracks can even be edited straight from the recorder. What is even better about Minidisc is that they can be reformatted and used over and over again. Though we use the Minidisc for recording only, todays Minidisc recorders have the ability to not only play mp3s, but can be used as a USB mass storage device as well. The Minidisc offers a very small medium, it measures 7cm x 6.75cm x 0.5cm (2.75” x 2 21/32” x 3/16”). They are known to be virtually indestructible. A good resource for all things Minidisc is minidisc.org (The Minidisc Community Portal). The website is a bit hard to navigate, but filled with a lot of useful information and stories of people and their Minidisc.

We currently use the Sony MZ-RH10 Minidisc Walkman, introduced in 2005. If you plan on purchasing a Minidisc Walkman, be absolutely certain it is a Hi-MD model. which replaced and greatly improved on earlier models. According to Sony, Hi-MD is: Hi-Capacity, Hi-Battery Life and Hi-Quality Combine to Create Ideal Digital Music Solution sonyminidisc Features:

  • HI-MD WALKMAN with large 5 line LCD display
  • MP3 / Atrac3plus direct playback
  • SonicStage for easy music management and unlimited check outs of your favourite tracks
  • Supports all popular digital audio compression formats: ATRAC / MP3 / WMA / WAV
  • Remote control
  • Record from multiple source: USB-in / Mic-in / Analogue-in / Digital-in
  • Extremely fast music transfer from and to PC: 1 CD in less than 40 seconds
  • Capable of storing audio, video and data files on your HI-MD disc (Word, Powerpoint, ATRAC, MP3, JPEG, MPEG, etc)
  • Rechargeable battery, Charging stand, AC Power Adpater
  • Long battery life of 25 hours
  • G-PROTECTION Jog Proof
  • Transfer up to 45 CDs onto a single 1GB Hi-MD disc (with Atrac3Plus compression).

Recording Modes:

  • Linear PCM: (16bits/44.1khz, i.e. CD format) Over 1 ½ hours of recording time on a 1 GB HiMD disc.
  • Hi-SP: (Sony ATRAC3plus encoding at 256kbps) Almost 8 hours of recording time on a 1 GB HiMD disc.
  • Hi-LP: (Sony ATRAC3plus encoding at 64kbps) Approximately 34 hours of recording time on a 1 GB HiMD disc.

ECM-D870PIt is powered by a High-Capacity Nickel-Metal Hydride rechargeable battery. Our model also supports an attachment that allows it to run off a single AA battery. There are several other accessories available, making the Minidisc even more versital and practical than anything else on the market. We often use a Sony ECM-DS70P stereo microphone with the recorder. It captures very clear and crisp sounds, though it is a bit sensitive. Fortunately enough, the Minidisc Walkman has a variety of recording settings, such as mic sensitivity. As a music player it also has lots of features and abilities, but for our purposes the recording is the most important. I leave the mp3s to the iPhone. The only real drawback is that Sony software has to be used on your computer to process recorded tracks. However this can be done with a PC or Mac. If you need a method of recording sounds on location, this device can serve as a primary or at least backup recording system.

Before purchasing a Minidisc Walkman consult the Minidisc Community website to find out about the differing capabilities and characteristics of each model.

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