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Minidisc players and recording

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Apr 14, 2004.


  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Folks, I'm hatching a little scheme here and thought I'd pass it by the board for the old smell test.

    I'm quite seriously looking at picking up a minidisc player and decent microphone for recording purposes: for just about everything short of making stuff for commercial release, although I'd like to get the best quality I can. Something for demo-ing, recording rehearsals and practice sessions. A colleague of mine -- a professional sound tech and gear head in addition to damn fine harmony singer and guitar player -- has been using one for some of our rehearsals and I like what I see and hear. Seems reliable, simple, and affordable...

    I've come to a tentative conclusion that, if I'm using a good mic with a power-boost (something to get it over the 3v supplied by a mic input's onboard power), I don't need a unit with a mic input -- straight into the line in should work out OK. Is that sensible?

    Anyone out there have any MD thoughts, experiences, ideas they'd care to share? Any alternatives to MD that I'm missing? For decent portable recording the alternatives I'm thinking of are cassette tape (ick) and laptop/USB audio interface (pricey and flakey and I'd have to use the laptop issued to me by my employer.) I don't know anything about DAT machines or these newer portable digital multitrack units.

    What's your ideal unit for portable functional recording?
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I LOVE my mindisc. I don't know about the powered mic/line in scheme, maybe DURRL will have some input. But, the quality of sound is great, I've been able to A/B some sessions that I've recorded with my MD and the drummer has recorded with his Sony Recording Walkman with our mics side by side and the differece in quality is astounding. The MD is clear, airy, 3 dimensional, the cassette is flat, compressed sounding with no clear separation of sound, very one dimensional.

    I don't think that it's any better sounding than DAT or direct to hard drive, but it's definitely a damn sight more portable. And the medium is portable and easy to work with. DAT tape, you have to still cue up to contuinue recording, MD you can move stuff around, erase tracks, erase the whole thing OR just punch RECORD and it starts recording, you don't have to look for the next "open" space.

    Me like.
     
  3. SleeperMan2000

    SleeperMan2000

    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    Look over at the BG side in recording section. Lots of MiniDisc discussion, including

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=103920&highlight=minidisc

    Just don't stay too long, ok?
     
  4. Well, there are some MD references here, here, here, here, and here, and the MD portal is full of many related links…

    There - aren't you sorry you asked ;)

    - Wil
     
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I've used mini disc for recording of rehearsals, my gigs, other peoples gigs and got great results as everyone has indicated. I sold my mini disc recorder on Ebay. Why? I bought a Nomad Jukebox. It's an MP3 player with record capability and a whopping 20 Gig hard drive which translates into hours of recording time. It also comes with firewire connectivity which means very, very fast transfer to your PC for editing of WAV files with a program like CoolEdit. Since it can record directly to WAV, there's no compression. The only downside is that the unit needs a microphone pre-amp. I have a small one that I got from The Sound Professionals and I couldn't be happier with this set up because it gives me higher quality and saves me loads of time transferring to CD since I don't have to process the recording in real time.
     
  6. SleeperMan2000

    SleeperMan2000

    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    Can you record in stereo with the Nomad? I was under the impression it only had a mono input jack.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Can you post a link to the unit you have? It sounds really impressive! The links I came up with said nothing about live recording capability.
     
  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Phil, you astonish me. The Nomad Jukebox seems a little too good to be true.

    There are a few things about the minidisc scene I'm not thrilled about, one of which is the fact that, for a digital medium, MD seems a little archaic and limited because of that. If it's digital, why not just a little box with general purpose storage and the right interface elements?

    From a brief perusal of the Creative website (makers of the Nomad Jukebox), it seems as if the Jukebox 20GB can record in stereo direct to WAV format. For less than 300 bucks!

    They don't seem to tout this recording ability on their website. No details, for example, on the WAV encoding options. Sampling rate, word size?

    The line-in/need a pre-amp thing doesn't faze me. At first blush the Jukebox seems like a wonderful idea...
     
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    According to an article posted April 2002 on Tom's Hardware Guide, the 20GB "Jukebox 3" unit under review can record directly to WAV (16 bits; 32, 44.1 or 48 khz) or MP3 (64, 128, 192 or 320 kbps).

    Very interesting...
     
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    This page at amazon-dot-com can fill you in on or connect you to details...
     
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It's because the recording feature is an afterthought, as it is on all hard disk portables that support recording (the iRiver unit is another one). Maybe the next generation units will be better in this regard. It's not too much to ask for a mike jack and some level meters! These units also MUST be used with your computer (eventually you have to take the music off the hard drive to free up space) unlike MD which is an actual audio media format (i.e. I actually listen to the MDs of my gigs and rehearsals rather than transfer them to CD-R).

    Marantz now sells a high end unit that records to Compact Flash media, it can record uncompressed or compressed, mono or stereo and has serious pro audio features. It can be connected to a computer for file transfer but need not be, since you can just use a CF reader to transfer the files onto your computer. It's larger than an MD or Nomad and costs about $700. They also make a similar unit that records direct to CD-R.

    In another month Sony is bringing out HiMD which is a new MD format that supports uncompressed recording and allows high speed transfers to PCs. They are more compact and have much better battery life than any HD unit. Using new high density MD media they can record up to 35 hours on one disc. You can find more info at http://www.minidisc.org.

    Because of the new MD format I'd suggest hanging on a month or two before buying if uncompressed recording or high speed transfers to your PC are important to you.
     
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    MD was introduced in 1992, long before multi-GB hard drives, 500 MHz+ CPUs, CD-R, mp3, USB or FireWire existed; it was designed to replace cassette tape. In that sense it IS archaic, it was designed from the ground up as an audio recording and playback medium. Outside of CD players or DAT machines there was no digital gear to interface the early MD units to.

    Because many people only discovered it in the last 2-3 years, they compare it to computer based technologies that came along much later. Meanwhile MD fans have been enjoying highly portable digital recording for over a decade.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That looks great! Any idea how much the blanks are going to cost? I couldn't find any prices. Keep us posted on this, if you don't mind.
     
  14. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I use my laptop and N-Track studio for live scratch tracks and for my home studio. There are plenty of nice firewall or USB portals out there for simultaneous multitracking, but for one stereo or two mono tracks, you can plug any preamp straight into the PC with a $5 radioshack adapter. I do this all the time with great success.

    If you consider how inexpensively you can get a laptop these days and its utility in other areas of your music and life, it may not be that unreasonable.

    Shoot, with wireless, if you are in the right coffeehouse, you can check out TB on the set break.
     
  15. frankosaurus

    frankosaurus

    Feb 27, 2002
    San Jose
    I got a minidisc recorder last year for purposes of recording band practices and musical ideas.

    pros:
    The sound quality is great, it's really portable. Great for field recordings, bootlegs, etc. Also, if you listen to it while your jogging/running, it never skips.

    cons:
    The only way to get the audio onto my comp from the MD is analog transfer (so 60 mins of audio takes 60 mins to transfer). I think most all minidisc players are like this. NetMD allows digital USB transfer from comp to MD, but not the other way around. Kind of dumb since MD uses a digital format. Of course, they want to lock you into the MD format.

    If I had to do it over again, I would get one of the digital hard drive recorders mentioned in some earlier posts... though it sounds like that technology might need to mature a bit. HiMD sounds cool also. But I think it's a lot easier to organize stuff on a computer hard drive than a big stack of MD carts.

    For me, I was hoping the MD would serve as a temporary place I could keep recorded audio before transferring it to my computer, where I do most of my recording and music stuff. Sure, you can edit track names and whatnot in a MD player, but the interface is like 100 times easier to use on a computer.

    btw, here's a great microphone that I use with MD, would probably work with any hard drive/flash recorder that could do stereo.:
    http://www.minidisco.com/sp-spsm1.html

    --Frank
     
  16. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Hmmm. That's the same mic that The Sound Professionals will give you if you buy an HiMD player, due out any day.

    From what I've read so far, the only reason Sony has made it a hassle to get stuff up from the MD recorder to the PC is for purposes of digital rights management. I'm all for decency and everything, but I'd just as soon Sony didn't get into my business. I can't tell whether this issue has gone away with HiMD. Why would Sony open the door to bootlegging just to make life easier for the tiny part of its market that's interested in making its own original recorded content? Have they come up with some other software scheme to do the check in/check out hassle?

    This could be the factor that sways the decision. From what I've seen researching it today, I can get the Jukebox3 or the Sony HiMD unit for about the same bucks.
     
  17. It may not be the latest in audio gadgetry, but I'll still take my Sony M-1 DAT recorder over anything mentioned so far. Digital or analog input with S/PDIF in and out, choice of using SCMS (copy protection) or not, No audio compression, small size, 2-3 hour recording time on one tape and 2 AA batteries.
     
  18. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    chris, blanks are to retail at $7, but will probably come down. I saw something about reformatting old MD's- of course you can just dump them to your hard disk or a cd, so you only need a few
     
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Alex,

    Thanks for the info. My new iMac has Firewire, so if the new HiMD can upload that way, and the sound quality is good, I'm there. Man how cool would it be to upload quickly into Sound Studio or iTunes, then rip to CD and distribute to all the players? Damn, I'm drooling already.
     
  20. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    That's because as someone else indicated it was done as an after thought. To Creatives credit they have come out with a number of software upgrades that enhanced the recording capability like input metering, the ability to break up a recording by using and pause and next track.

    For me the Jukebox beats a mini disc hands down if you can handle the external preamp requirement. You record straight to WAV and a single battery charge can get you 3 hours of recording in stereo easily. Then there's the blazing fast firewire transfer to the PC for editing and burning to a CD. In addition to all of that, I must have about 30 to 40 CD's in MP3 format on this thing too!