Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Minidisc with MD compiling

Okay some people may not know what that is being brought up on that age of the I-pod and Music Server but that thing is a home Minidisc recorder.
The discs are small about 5 cm square and have a capacity of 177KB.
I've been with them since February 1997 when I bought my first home minidisc recorder because of the difficulties arising from my industrial injuries made using open reel tape which I loved for editing and reliability impossible.
As someone who has a keen interest in things Japanese, I had see them in the early 90's where they had been launched and the idea appealed greatly.
The great features of this format is the fact you can through deleting and combining portions of a recording do pretty much everything you used to able to with 1/4 inch tape with the splicing block. Also it is very reliable providing the same quality of performance played on different machines something as fun as the cassette tape was it couldn't be counted on and has an accurate system to finding individual tracks.
Although it uses 'data compression' reducing by 1/5 the size in file between that of a cd enabling it to squeeze it all in, there is very little quality loss. Moreover something is just 'right' about that codec as is very tidy sounding in practice outperforming Mp3.
The featured machine is a Sony MDS JB940, the second best machine they made back then with better electrical components fitted and 'tuned' for the UK market.
That machine came out in 2000 offering long play modes that built on the 80 minute (160 minutes in mono) by adding x2 and x4 playing times in stereo at some loss in absolute quality plus a 'scale factor edit' function enabling fade in and outs to be added after making the recording.
It has co-axial digital and optical digital inputs for digital recording or use with an external digital to analogue converters together with analogue sockets for record and replay.
I have three portables - a circa 1997 MZ-E20 playback portable, a Sharp M270H recorder that has the best ergonomics of the lot from 2001 and a Sony MZ-NH700 Hi-MD from 2004 that can use 1GB discs to record up to 45 albums to one disc using Atrac 3pro compression (they won't play in a regular player).
MD Compiling
I've been busy slowly converting some of my minidiscs to regular as with this new deck it rather shows up the losses on the recordings I made in long play mode several years ago.
An associated thought came to me when doing this was "As some of these albums have a little filler why not take the odd track out" as that was taking them just beyond the 80:59 minute restriction in standard play? After all this was done in the days of pre-recorded tapes.
So with a bit of thought some Rollings Stones discs fitted nicely two per minidisc without losing much of the 'flow' of the originals.
Next up was Queen On Fire - it's a full double cd which didn't lend itself to being chopped up and as it happened a guy on Ebay was selling awfully cheap some used blanks of the 74 minute length so I decided to redo them as two discs.
They sound much better for it!

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