In this video you’ll see the first machine and the last machine as well as some in-between. There’s talk about MD-LP, Net-MD and HiMD. It’s a personal retrospective of a format that was loved by many people around the world but one that is all too often is judged purely on its lack of performance in the US market.
Great video by a great channel.
I’m one of those MiniDisc people. MiniDisc was fairly successful in The Netherlands, and quite a few people around me were MiniDisc users as well. I’ve had countless machines over the years, and I was still using HiMD well into the smartphone era – and carried both a smartphone and my HiMD player for quite a while. Even though the world had long ago moved on to MP3 players and then smartphones, I was still using MD.
I’ve long wondered why, and this video finally made it dawn on me: rituals. Since prerecorded MiniDiscs were rare and incredibly expensive, you copied CDs onto MiniDiscs instead. Especially before the advent of NetMD and later HiMD, you did this without the help of a computer. You’d get a new album, listen to it, enjoy it – and then, to make sure you could listen to it on the go, you plugged one end of an optical cable into your CD player, the other end into your portable MD recorder, and copy the CD in real time. Once it was done, neat freaks like me would even enter all the track information using the little dial on the recorder, track by track, letter by letter. Painstaking doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Even listening to your MiniDiscs – they were satisfying to hold, the loading and unloading was deeply mechanical, the spring-loading trays were a delight. It was just an endless array of rituals that, while pointless and cumbersome to others, were deeply enriching and soothing to me. I guess it must be similar to people still using vinyl today.
To me, MiniDisc was one of the greatest formats – not because it was better or more advanced (even though during the 90s and early 2000s, it actually was), but because it was full of little delights and rituals. Just one of those irrational things that only few of us will ever fully understand.
Too bad my mini disk software contained the Sony rootkit, making it very unusable now.
What I liked the most – the long battery life – with around 50-55 hours of playing time on a single AA battery at a time when the flash memory based music players needed to be recharged after 12-16 hours of playing time.
Next – the capability to record from a live, analog, or digital source without needing a computer. Unfortunately, the capability to record from a sound source rather than via a download from a computer eventually became restricted to the higher end (price) models.
I wished that data could have been recorded on regular MDs. This became feasible much later with the Hi-MD generation.
Conversely, there were a few sound recording units based on the technology but requiring the super-rare MD-Data discs to record multi-tracks.
I thought about you Thom when I saw this the other day, because I remembered your fanatic love of the MiniDisc.