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ThoughtPhreaker

Minidisc is awesome

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So up until 2009, almost everything I recorded was on an old MZ-R37 recorder. It's not a bad format, but if you've got one of the cheap, consumer grade recorders like I do, it kinda shows it's disadvantages. The track indexing kinda doesn't work (when it hears ~4 second of silence, it'll consider whatever it hears next to be a new track), the amplifiers kinda suck, there's no usable meters to check your levels, and there's no way to transfer media without a long, realtime transfer.

So with that in mind, I got a Tascam DR-07 and the minidiscs gathered dust until about now. Being able to hear the stuff you did every day gives really interesting perspective. If you happen to be early in your phreaking life, do yourself a favor and record anything and everything you find interesting. Make good recordings too - not "good enough", but completely free of distortion or noise.

Anyway, so every so often, I'll pick up a disc, and just record the output from start to finish for archiving. During one of them though, the servo motor started making unhealthy noises, and the player kept spinning the disc up and down. Sure enough, it wasn't reading anything I gave it.

So I picked up the service manual, and found the function to automatically recalibrate the lens. A few tries later, it read everything without a problem. I've got to say, I'm impressed (there's also a milliwatt generator in the test menu. Even if it's a perplexing seven dB below full scale, it makes setting levels *so* much easier without any readable meters on the player itself). At this rate, it'll probably be running just fine in another eight, nine years.

Yeah. Even with all it's problems, minidisc is awesome.

============ Moderator's Note ============

Some posts previously in this thread moved to: http://binrev.com/forums/index.php/topic/47477-phreaking-waor-was-minidisc-is-awesome/

Edited by scratchytcarrier
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I've been a minidisk user off and on since the format first appeared on this side of the Pacific about 25 years ago (jeez, has it been that long?) and have mixed feelings about them. It was an amazing step forward for its time (too bad the record industry fucked it up like they have everything else) but these days is pretty dated as far as a music recording format goes-- I use a PDA with a 128 GB compactflash drive as my MP3/FLAC player. Though I agree it is a decent format for field recording, certainly better than having to rely on cassette tapes, and I still use it today for that. I pretty much gave up on magtape for that purpose when MD became available.

I had to drive a ridiculous distance to get blanks back then, nobody in Hood River or The Dalles started carrying them until some time after I came out west. White Salmon to Portland (the most convenient outlet was the Silo store at Hayden Island) isn't exactly like heading to the grocery store down the street, but at least there is easy access to I-84 and then Marine Drive, because highway 14 through the gorge gets kind of ridiculous in spots. Basically for a while they were hard enough to come by that I was copying them to HI-FI VCR tapes (my parents had a stereo VHS machine for at least a couple years before I first got minidisks) then erasing the disks and writing over them.

It's too bad the tech wasn't available in the 60s, the Bernay recordings could have sounded scores better than they did with that old Craig. (I hear they did Slurpcast on MD. What goes around comes around...)

So with that in mind, I got a Tascam DR-07 and the minidiscs gathered dust until about now.

That's odd, all of the DR07s on Amazon appear to use some form of SD memory, not Minidiscs.
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That's odd, all of the DR07s on Amazon appear to use some form of SD memory, not Minidiscs.

 

Yup, When there's no more local Minidisc sources and there's $20 32 GB SD cards at drug stores, flash makes a lot more sense. Though I think Tascam made flash versions of some of their older, high end Minidisc gear.

 

too bad the record industry fucked it up like they have everything else

 

Was that not just Sony being Sony? From what I read, it sounds like Sonicstage was pretty painful to use.

 

It's too bad the tech wasn't available in the 60s, the Bernay recordings could have sounded scores better than they did with that old Craig. (I hear they do Slurpcast on MD. What goes around comes around...)

 

It's strange - around the mid to late Seventies, a lot of the stuff recorded in studios started to get really good. It seems like what you hear recorded on cassettes in the eighties went the opposite way, though.But yeah, between the mic and the noisy tape, it definitely leaves some room for improvement.

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Was that not just Sony being Sony?

Partially, though the other half of it (2/3?) was the RIAA/ASCAP/SESAC/etc. I think Sony's insistence was the reason for the serial copywrong management clusterfuck. (because their record labels and their electronics division would otherwise end up competing against each other, or something convoluted like that.)

From what I read, it sounds like Sonicstage was pretty painful to use.

Sonicstage is asininely cranky software. I can't believe Sony has let that gross violation of the Geneva Conventions continue for as many years as they have. (Guess it can't be worse than KKKupertino forcing everybody to install and try to use Shittunes.) For the most part it had to be used because it supports SCMS, and of course Minidisk hardware doesn't actually support MP3 (surprise!- all the reports you may have read about Net-MD machines supporting MP3 are inaccurate or flat-out wrong!) so everything has to be converted to proprietary ATRAC, which Sonicshit does. Oh yeah, and some earlier versions are also known to install the controversial Sony rootkit (naturally), so really the safest way to use it (if you have a masochistic side) would be to do so in a virtual machine.

I have had to use it on other peoples' installations, but I can never run it on any of my own machines because it's such a dangerous software. It's just scores easier to drop a directory of files to a compactflash and slip the cartridge into a PDA than to have to deal with that proprietary Sony crap.

Although it can be pretty time consuming, probably the best way I can think of to retrieve audio from MD would be to capture the optical SPDIF stream to a PCM file using Audacity or something like that. Then save to the lossless audio format of your choice (I like FLAC.)

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I can't believe Sony has let that gross violation of the Geneva Conventions continue for as many years as they have.

 

Heh! Sony to me is like the endless story of good ideas being screwed up by bad management.

 

MP3 (or at least the Fraunhofer implementation) is closed source too, right? I dunno how good it is, but for whatever it's worth, it looks like there's an open source ATRAC decoder out there. Aside from the prospect of having to use more then one generation of lossy codec to get it to people, I've never really had too much of a problem with ATRAC itself. Some of the netMD models support linear PCM though, right?

 

Oh yeah, and some earlier versions are also known to install the controversial Sony rootkit (naturally), so really the best way to use it (if you have a masochistic side) would be to do so in a virtual machine.

 

Wow, they stuffed that in there? I'm kinda glad I don't have a netMD model now.

 

Although it can be pretty time consuming, probably the best way to retrieve audio from MD would be to capture the optical SPDIF stream to a PCM file using Audacity or something like that. Then save to the lossless audio format of your choice (I like FLAC.)

 

Getting another sound card has been on my list of things to do. I had an Emu 0404 card for several years until that decided to break. I've been trying to hold out for a decent PCI-E card again (though that doesn't seem to be happening). If for no other reason, just on the principle that it's way more efficient to be using up my PCI slots rather then crowd my desk with more wall warts and USB boxes. With my future in any sort of recording industry being uncertain, I might just settle for some hacked up optical -> coaxial -> molex converter; apparently the on-board sound on this motherboard has S/PDIF pins on the plug for front panel doohickeys.

 

Anyway, I like FLAC too :) .

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MP3 (or at least the Fraunhofer implementation) is closed source too, right?

Yeah, but there are better open-source implementations out there *cough*LAME*cough* that are more well-suited for music (and, well, audio in general). These days I would consider FHG to be a "last-resort" encoder, though (unfortunately) their decoder seems to be just about everywhere. (Why?)

Some of the netMD models support linear PCM though, right?

HI-MD, not Net-MD. (Hi-MD is really more closely related to the DVD-like UMD format that the crappy Playstation Portable used than conventional MD, although it comes packaged in the same type of cartridges as standard MD.)

Wow, they stuffed that in there?

Actually I don't remember if it was that specific one, but my understanding is that there was some sort of malware in there that did damage ranging from interfering with normal audio CD playback (so maybe it was that same one?) to destroying an otherwise functional Windows installation to corrupting entire file system partitions beyond recovery. I'd rather not have to install it and find out.
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I haven't checked in on the forum for a while... 

I have a 4 track MD recorder that uses multi-track MiniDiscs... 

 

it no longer reads the disc(s) that I have, and was wondering what if anything can be done to recalabrate the lens.

Its been sitting in the top shelf of my closet for a while (had it since the end of the 90s), I took it down last summer to fuck around with it when I discovered that it no longer read discs...

 

If you think you might be able to help. Just did a google image search and it looks like its this one Sony MDM-X4, but I could always pull it down from the top shelf of the closet if someone thinks they can help me figure out how to get it running again.. 

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