You may be too young to remember this, but...
It was Big In Japan, but never widely embraced on the global stage. And ultimately, the MiniDisc was beaten by cheaper CD-Rs, dirt-cheap portable cassette players, early MP3 players, and ultimately, the iPod (among others).
And of course, the CD, the proud driver of a 90s music industry boom and now the last-standing relic of a physical dynasty (with vinyl its nostalgic sidekick.)
And with that, Sony just announced that its last MiniDisc stereo system will be produced next month, with the discs themselves and support continuing for a few years. Other manufacturers will also lend support, including Onkyo. Smaller, portable players were quietly retired by Sony in 2011.
(pictured: the Sony Net MD Walkman NZ-N707 MiniDisc player/recorder; the Kenwood MDX-JP MD-compatible boombox.)
wallow-T Tuesday, February 05, 2013
MiniDisc was popular with some musicians I knew for quick and dirty live recordings.
I played with the format for about two years. Eventually I gave it up. The problems: Blank discs cost about $2 an hour (my recollection) as opposed to MP3 and CD-R which became essentially too cheap to count. And, the copyright-defense provisions in the MiniDisc system made it extremely difficult to extract the music from the MiniDisc -- even when it was your own recording of your own classical vocal performance. (Does anyone still implement SCMS?)
Also, the sound was notably "brittle," though we were willing to put up with that for the convenience and the shiny new-ness.
Most missed MiniDisc feature: the ability to trivially add track marks to an existing recording.
alexbhlz Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Wait a sec, companies were STILL producing MiniDisc players? Who runs these companies?!
QSDC Tuesday, February 05, 2013
VIz Wednesday, February 06, 2013
@QSDC, Since you are living in March of 2012, here's a hint: Bet on Obama in the general, Romney for the GOP nomination, and stay out of New Jersey and New York when that hurricane with the innocuous name "Sandy" hits.
Zachary Wednesday, February 06, 2013
There must have still been money to be made. You forget that a technological lag exists in certain parts of the world.
Take the ringtone for example:
hippydog Wednesday, February 06, 2013
someone might want to fact check me.. ;-)
but if my memory is correct.
The "MP3" codec came from the research that was used to make the MiniDisk..
so, in an indirect way, The Sony MiniDisk was a major stepping stone to our new digital era (IE: without it, we might not have had the .mp3 that became so common)
Peter Bogdanoff Wednesday, February 06, 2013
I'm at a university department that loans out portable recorders to students. At one time I had 8 or more of Sony and Panasonic mini disc recorders available. They filled a gap between DAT (great quality but bulky and extremely expensive) and the digital recorders available now.
Mini disc sound was pretty good in spite of the compression they used (5" audio CD data compressed to fit a mini CD) when recording with external mini binaural mics. We used them for live music, voice, and ambient recordings. The portable player/recorders were relatively small and handy to use. However, we had to move the audio off the recorder using an analog cable in real time. Also they tended to break. Something would go wrong and you would end up with a unusable brick.
These devices definitely had their place at the time for inexpensive, portable, low-detectability recording (surreptious recording at concerts--when you attached the mini-mics to your headphones it looked like you were just listening to a Walkman).