- Larger MD Capacities. Sharp
and Sony have both said they will have a
~650MB MD-data drive ready
by 1997. Sharp is rumored to be further developing 980MB and 3.6GB
MD-data drives for introduction in 1998. (Maxell's ``Mammos system''
shows one method of achieving the densities needed to record multiple
gigabytes on an MD sized disc). These formats are intended primarily
for computer data storage but would also allow the development of new
devices, such as a MiniDisc Camcorder (imagine a pocket sized version
of the NEC Disk
Cam, which could make video editing
as simple and easy as MD audio editing), or a professional,
non-compressing audio recorder. There is no indication that these
developments are intended to obsolete the existing MD-audio format
- Solid State Recording.
Eventually, moving audio storage media with its concomitant
readout problems will give way to fixed, solid state media. NEC has
begun showing a prototype of this in something it calls Silicon Audio that uses a 32Mbyte solid state card to store
24 minutes of MPEG Layer 2 compressed audio.
And according to a patent
announcement, Norris Communications has developed CD
quality audio storage on a postage stamp-size flash memory card. Both
these systems are still a few years away from economical
Saehan (in Korea) is about to release MP Man, a $300 portable MP3
player offering 16 minutes (upgradable to 64 minutes) of solid state
audio playback, it does not use removeable media though. Something
along similar lines is being created at Audible Inc. where
they offer two hours of solid state voice playback on a $200
- Audio Delivery by Wire.
Physical media, no matter what its form, cannot provide us with an
open ended choice of music. The ideal home audio system would dispense
with the need for keeping permanent physical copies of music and
instead provide music on demand from a remote server. An
experimental system along just such lines was created by Ken
Thompson, the father of Unix. Similar ideas are being pursued in
Europe in projects such as Eurodat and MODE. The
MODE system will deliver music over ISDN using MPEG Layer 3 and
employs an interesting Multi
Media Protection Protocol (MMP) that would even allow music rental
(by way of expiration dates) over wire.
The consequences of such wire based systems are explored in Robin
Whittle's paper on music
marketing in the age of electronic delivery.
Emils Rode and Tolga Yaveroglu also tackle this subject and have
written an Analysis
of Recorded Music Markets that discusses the future of
pre-recorded music markets and delivery methods.
In fact, a few commercial systems such as Cerberus and Liquid Audio have already been
developed that allow you to buy mainstream music over the net, these
developments are discussed in excerpts from a report entitled Music on the Internet by Iconocast.
And any coverage of this topic would be incomplete without mentioning
the Internet Underground Music
Archive, that has provided free music on demand for several
years now. These systems represent a movement that may bring on the death of [pre-recorded] discs.
I predict however, that this dawning age of music
delivery by wire will actually spur recordable MiniDisc use, since
a convenient audio medium for temporary storage and
portable use will still be needed.
It could be argued that recordable/erasable CDs will fill this niche,
but the MiniDisc's editing capabilities, portability and ruggedness
cannot be matched by CDs of any kind.
- Media on Demand.
There is also the possibility of a ``half fast'' music on demand system,
whereby you could order a CD (or MD?) at a record store and have it made while you
wait. Two systems that intended to do this, the IBM/Blockbuster
system and the Personics system, both seem to have fallen through, as
indicated in these 1