A MiniDisc from Philips?

from the Eindhovens Dagblad
by Nico Koolsbergen

This is a translation of some fragments of an interesting article that appeared in our local paper (all copyrights are acknowledged by me - Jac Goudsmit)

Will Philips be making a MiniDisc player soon? Chances are good, according to a Philips employee who doesn't want his name in the paper. "I wouldn't be surprised if Philips will be having some talks in Japan". By the way, Philips already has the necessary licenses.

Around the same time, a rumour from Japan says Marantz (a Philips daughter) has serious plans for an MD player. Time to ask for an official reaction. An Eindhoven spokesman says that indeed studies are going on about the subject. "But it won't happen in the short term and if it will ever happen, it probably won't happen in the Netherlands but in the Far East." In other words, those rumours may not be far from the truth.

[Although everyone agrees DCC's sound quality was better especially when MD and DCC first started out, neither of the systems are doing well internationally - local markets (The Netherlands for DCC and Japan for MD) are booming.]

In Japan MD players are as usual as CD players or walkmen. And Sony hasn't been the only one to produce MD players for some time [unlike DCC which Matsushita stopped making a while ago]. MD players in Japan are now in their third generation and there's nothing wrong with the sound quality anymore: a copy now sounds just as good as a CD.

The rest of the world are still using analog cassettes. A breakthrough in Japan doesn't mean there's a 'winner'. But chances of MD becoming the new standard are increasing. In the world of radio and TV, minidisc has been appreciated for some time, because it makes it possible to edit sound with millisecond precision (I didn't know that, and why is there no mention about the excellent DCC audio editing capabilities? - JG).

Minidisc is also getting cheaper. Technology has improved and where a handful of expensive chips used to be required, only one suffices now. Sony will release an MD-player for 699 guilders ($400 - JG) this fall: a "full size" (43 cm wide) device with every possible editing capability accurate to 60 ms and copying capabilities from CD player and DAT recorder (why is that special? The old ones can do copying just as well - JG). For the freaks: it will work with 20-bit technology - better than Compact Disc. Blank discs - that remind one of floppy disks - have become cheaper as well: 14,95 guilders ($8,50 - JG) for an hour, [17,95] ($10) for 74 minutes (no mention that DCC cassettes have been that price for at least a year - JG).

In a big product show from Philips, DCC was parked in a small corner. Jan Timmer (former CEO of Philips - JG) said a while ago that DCC is a "niche" product for a small specific group of customers. "We will keep supporting DCC", the anonymous Philips-employee says with a sad undertone, "the customers who already bought DCC can keep counting on us".

Translation (and comments) by Jac Goudsmit jac(a)xs4all.nl.

In 1998, Jac adds: The ``rumour'' that Philips will make MD recorders under the Marantz name is obsolete now: Marantz carries a CD-player/MD-recorder combi (CM1040) and an MD-recorder (MD2020) in the SlimLine series.

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