Calum TsangThis morning when I got off at Bathurst Station on Toronto's subway system, there was a man playing the violin: This is not unusual, as the TTC, the Toronto transit system, not only allows but holds auditions for buskers and street musicians to play in its stations. The musician was accompanied by a small stereo. This isn't unusual either, as a few musicians often have a drum track or similar playing off tape, or plug their keyboard into a small amp. What was different was that it was driven by a small MD recorder-a Sony R3 I think, and he had recorded what sounded like an entire symphony and was playing along with the music from disc. I didn't really hear that well, as I had my own R55 playing. Anyway, thought it was kinda neat to see yet another use for MD technology.
MiniDisc as an Aid to Transcribing Music and Lyrics
For musicians, transcribing complicated music or difficult-to-understand lyrics from a recording used to mean repeated stopping and rewinding of a very short segment of tape, which, combined with the concentration required to do the actual transcription, made this a challenging, often frustrating task. I just had the pleasure of using my Minidisc recorder to work on a transcription, and it was much much easier. I put track marks at the beginning and end of short sections, then put the player in single-repeat mode. Once the phrase was written down, I could go ahead to the next section.
Sam BrownA rather good Multitrack can be made up using two MD recorders - I have a Sony MZ-R3 and a Sharp MD-SR50 and using just an analogue cable, I can multi-track with extremely high quality sound. After more than 20 sweeps, interference is almost zero, and recorded sounds don't degrade noticably. (I play back with MZ-R3 and record to the SR50) - to mix the sounds I am using a cheap $60 home video sound mixer and play the MZ-R3 through one input, have a microphone or other sound source plugged into the other input, and output to the SR50. I am most pleased with the results.
Thatcher FurgersonI'm a musician and have found the MD a very useful tool. Often we spend hours practicing and go through several iterations of the way we want to play a song. The old way would include recording the entire session on tape and practicing with that tape all week. The tape would include lots of talking, irrelevant tangents, and old "versions" of a song. With the MD, I can record the whole session, divide out the non-needed junk in the middle and have much more efficient practices all week long. Another help is to be able to record a whole set list (put in order before or after recording) and then listen to it all week at work while practicing to it at home. This helps me improve my transitions by having my head thinking about the next song automatically.
Transcribing Songs to Sheet Music
Gary WhiteI use the capability of Minidisc to transcribe songs into written music notation (sheet music). First I record the song (either live) or from a CD source. Then I break the song into very short phrases using track marks. This allows me to repeatedly and quickly listen and hear the melodic and rhythmic detail of the phrase. This would be much more difficult with an ordinary cassette because of rewinding inaccuracies.
Al JonesThose who do puppet shows for young people could record the entire show on MD, making the job much easier for the folks who are actually working the puppets. Script changes could be incorporated easily with the MD's editing features. Sound effects could be inserted as well. Also, the show could then be repeated precisely each time.
FroderickI've found the perfect practical application of the MiniDisc deck. I run the theater tech crew at a high school in San Francisco, and am president of the school Stage Club. We're the crew that hangs the lights, solders the wires together, and hooks up the sound board and light board for the theater operations.
When putting on plays, we used to always record to an analog tape for sound effect cues. Usually we had one sound cue per tape. However, this had a large error potential (that became a reality): the timing was imperfect (if the tape was not ready to start at the exact right second), the sound quality was low, and other problems due to the imperfections of analog tape. Thus, when MiniDiscs came out, our cries for help were answered.
One idea we floated around was to get a CD-Burner and burn all of our sound effects, but that was deemed costly, inefficient, and really hard to re-do if someone made a mistake, or if a sound was later removed or added. Thus, we found the MiniDisc deck to be perfect. It enables us to record a sound effect of ANY length (if it is over ten minutes, I record it to tape anyway) at good quality, and with instant accessibility! If we decide to add another effect, the features of MD allow us to put it wherever we want! If we decide to remove one, no problem. The MiniDisc is completely perfect for recording sound effects for a play or production of some sort in a theater. It's pretty much my best friend. And of all the components in the theater, it imposed the fewest technical problems in terms of rewiring and re-snaking sound board cabling.
Matthew Petty, UK
Following up Froderick's comments, I'm involved with a theatre group in Wimbledon, London. When a play needs sound effects, it's usually possible to find what you need on the Internet -- try searching for multimedia resources sites (failing that, recording sound effects live is good fun -- except for thunder!). Then create your MD by recording your downloaded WAV files through your PC's soundcard. You can also put in incidental music, ambience, etc. (as long as you have a license).
In the theatre we use, there is a DENON pro MD deck with `one-shot' playback. This means you can cue up the effect ready to play, and when you press the play button, it plays the effect, and then stops, ready to play the next. Very easy! Always keep a backup copy though -- you don't want a TOC error on the night of you performance! -You don't need a pro-deck to get this `one-shot' feature: modern consumer MD decks such as the Sony MDS-JE640 and Sony MDS-JB940 will do this also, it's called "Auto Pause" mode. -eaw
Daniel Kouvo ([email protected])I love making music mixes that sound like the ones the professional DJ's do. First I plan a music set. Then I start mixing. I use an audio mixer to which I've connected 2 CD-players, a portable MD-deck and my synthesizers. The output of the mixer is recorded on another MD-deck. But my point with this is that if I screw up somewhere on the way and the beats start going out of phase or a track starts too late or something similar, then I divide somewhere before the "screw up", for example at the beginning of a beat. Then I continue mixing from somewhere before the "screw up" and afterwards I divide THIS track just after the point where the previous track was divided. Then I combine this tracks and the "screw up" is gone!
David M BrancatoI format my MiniDiscs for live recording ahead of time by recording null input audio on the entire length of the disc in however many channels I'll be using. This gives me a TOC of one 74 minute song when I begin recording my gig. If the power cuts out during the show or I forget to eject, the previously written TOC lets me play back everything that was recorded.
Most portables handle battery exhaustion during recording gracefully by stopping and writing out the TOC while sufficient power remains to do so. However, if the battery is removed or for some other reason power is cut suddenly, the TOC data in memory will be lost.
Headphones as Emergency Microphones
Mark StringerRegular earphones can be used in a pinch as microphones. Just plug them into the microphone socket and presto, usable quality stereo recording without having to carry around your microphone!
Mike HarmanRadio Shack sells condenser mic capsules for $1.99 that work perfectly with my Sony portable MD recorder. All you have to do is solder the leads to a stereo cable/miniplug and you're in business, for a total cost of under $10. The sound is really amazing, very wide response and fidelity.
David WrightI am a chairman of an international engineering committee that often has long conference calls by telephone. I record these (in mono) so I can then revisit some of the points and write up the minutes off line.
(JK Audio sells the QuickTap and THAT-1 (among other telephone audio interfaces) that provide high quality recording from telephone lines. Using the JK Audio adapters, non-Sony portable recorders with an analog synchro-start feature can be set to automatically record phone calls. -eaw)
Yota Yoshimitsu adds: As you may know, recording phone conversations without the consent of all parties is illegal in many jurisdictions (including Australia, where I live). Perhaps you should add a disclaimer warning of the possibility that you might break the law by doing this?
Backing up telephone answering machine recordings
Simon WardI use my Sony Minidisc recorder to "backup" my answering machine so I can replay messages when I want since my answering machine deletes the message after listening to it once. The other day a man phoned me and left his telephone number but he spoke so quickly that I couldn't catch the number. So I just recorded it to Minidisc using a telephone tap and then played it back slower using the pitch control. It worked great.
Bournemouth England, September 2002
Bootlegging from Listening Booths
Shade, Fairview Tn[Leaving ethics questions aside...] The Camalot music stores in Tennesee have demo machines that can play a whole CD (the CDs are pre-loaded into the machine). I don't know if its like that everywhere else but I found a way to get songs from the machine. The line out from the machine into the headphones is most of the time a standard miniplug, so I got a male-to-male cord and hooked it up to my Minidisc recorder and recorded whatever songs I wanted!
Daniel Kouvo ([email protected])I often record music from music videos that are shown on TV. Almost all music videos are played from the beginning to the end with no interference of other sounds and the like. Therefore I get the whole track, free. But please note that the sound quality is not always as good as CD/MD-quality sound. For example, on MTV I get a low background "humm"-noise, but it is so low that it almost cannot be heard. But that has a lot to do with your TV, satellite or video equipment. If you for example have a digital satellite receiver with digital audio output, it should give you perfect quality sound.
Mark Canada ([email protected])I enjoy using my MD recorder/player (Sony MZ-R50) as a movie audio player. I have recorded some of my favorite movies' audio tracks on MDs, movies such as Animal House, Better Off Dead, GoodFella's, Rambo, Star Wars Trilogy, Godfather Trilogy and many more.
I just hook up my MD player to the audio out of my VCR, set the MD player to Mono in order to get twice as much audio on one disc, and then record away. I really enjoy taking it on trips, or just driving in the car back and forth to work playing my favorite movies. My friends really get a kick out of it also.
Do you mark tracks for favorite scenes, or use the titling feature at all? -eaw
Yes, I do. While I am listening to the movie, I will make track marks that start at my favorite scenes and then title them. Just to give you an example, here are the tracks I made for the audio movie "Goodfellas":
Track 1 Introduction Track 2 Jimmy Conway (scene where Henry meets Jimmy Conway) Track 3 How Am I Funny? (scene where Henry says that Tommy is a very funny guy) Track 4 Air France Heist (scene where they steal the money from the airport) Track 5 Billy Batts (scene where Billy Batts returns from prison) Track 6 Spider..Spider (scene where Spider forgets Tommy's drink and shoots him in the foot. Track 7 The JFK Heist (scene where they steal the 4 million dollars) Track 8 They Wacked Him! (scene where Tommy is killed) Track 9 Busted! (scene where Henry is busted for drugs) Track 10 The Rat (scene where Henry is going to rat on his friends) End of Movie
The other neat thing that I did a few months ago was take my MD recorder to the movies and record the movie "Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me!". I attached a small clip-on external microphone and recorded the entire movie. I didn't care too much for the movie (thought it was lame), but to listen to the audience laugh as well as myself and my friends really cracks me up.
Recording Railroad and Aircraft Radio Transmissions
Juan ChaparralNifty little Sharp MD-MT15 MiniDisc player/recorder makes a great scanner - radio recorder! I wanted to capture some radio transmissions of railroad and aircraft but was trying to figure out how I could record radio traffic only when signals came over the air. Naturally, I did not want to just turn a cassette recorder on and leave it-- scanning through hours of tape to see what I wanted was just not an option. I picked up the MD recorder on a whim. It was an excellent buy! The sync-record feature meant I could go away and do other things while the little MiniDisc recorder recorded only when signals were recieved on the scanner. Not only that, but the recorder put each new radio signal on its own new track so scanning through and deleting what I did not wnat was very quick and painless! I highly recommend this type of unit for HAMs!
Steve BommaritoMy favorite part of attending car races is the sound! I took my Sharp MD-MS200 and a Sony stereo microphone to the 2001 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis and was able to record some great audio. Listening to the cars while looking through the pictures I took makes a great multimedia slideshow.
Recording Videogame Music to MiniDisc
Steve Winters ([email protected])One thing I want to share with your readers is the idea of recording videogame music (scores) to MiniDisc. This can be done with either a Playstation or Nintendo64. All you need to do is buy a mini-plug adapter, and then connect the left/right audio cable that comes with your videogame console to the mini-plug, then connect the adapter to your minidisc recorder. It's simple. Recording can be time consuming however, especially if you have to play the game in order to reach certain songs that you wish to record.
Do you use any of the MiniDisc features when doing this? -eaw
Yes I do. I use track-marks when necessary, often in the middle of scores where the music gets intense - like in Final Fantasy Seven or Eight. I also title songs, usually just labelling them as "Battle Music 1" or 2, etc. If I know some of the songs "belong" together, I sometimes combine them, or move them so they are more melodic. You know, slow songs with slow songs, or fast ones with fast. If there's a particular game with exceptional audio, I won't switch to mono, I'll keep it on stereo, but it's gotta be real good to do that. But if the songs are available on MP3, like most Final Fantasy scores, I'll just record them from my computer using WinAmp and an audio cable coming out of my sound card - I find this the quickest way to record MP3's from a computer to a MiniDisc player/recorder (without special software/hardware ). You can also record from a GameBoy or Super Nintendo. Essentially anything that has an audio out jack can be used as a recording source.
Phil PorteusI use my Sony MZ-N505 NetMD recorder for listening to audio books. I download the files from the web or rip them from the CDs onto MP3s and then download them onto the Minidisc via USB. With the LP4 feature you can get 4 CDs worth of audiobook onto one Minidisc, and LP4 quality is sufficient for an audiobook. Of course all the cool Minidisc features can be used. When you have to step away from the player, just hit pause and when you come back the track is exactly where you left it. Then when you finish the book simply erase and burn another title. No need to lug around a five or six CD set when a couple of Mindiscs will do the trick.
Daniel Kouvo ([email protected])Sometimes when there is a special program with cool music on the radio I record the whole program on MD. Afterwards I cut out all the speeches and leave just the music on the disc. Often on radio shows the hosts talk over the music and many songs aren't played to end. But, what I do is that I "mix" the tracks. I cut them so that the beats continue in another track or I put a cool sound effect between two tracks etc. This is very tricky in order to make it sound good and I often have to erase some of the tracks when they don't "match" with the others. But if you have patience and maybe some knowledge in music making, you can end up with a cool sounding mix which may even sound as if it was mixed by a DJ. I have sucseeded in this (after hours of editing).
Unattended Radio Recording with a Portable
Russ JohnsonOne of my hobbies is AM radio DXing, which means I like to identify and log stations on the AM (medium wave) radio band. Stations usually identify at the top of the hour. The best times to DX are around sunrise, sunset and throughout the night..times I am usually asleep or otherwise busy!
Thanks to my MD recorder (Sharp MD-MT200), I can make unattended recordings and play them back when it is convenient for me. I set my radio in the "on" position and connect it to a digital timer which turns the radio on/off for as many top-of-the hour segments (3-4 minutes worth) as I program in.
The MD recorder sitting the synchro-record mode is connected to the radio output and it records a new track for each on/off period. It is an easy matter to replay the tracks and to know which track corresponds to the time of recording.
My logging results are much better as the MD audio quality is noticeably better than from cassette tapes. It is also easier to locate what you want on an MD recording vs. a cassette. Retrieving and replaying a segment is a breeze with MD. The Sharp MD-MT200, a decent radio and a good digital timer is definitely the way to go for unattended recording.
Can Berk GüderI live in Izmir, Turkey and my girlfriend lives in Istanbul, which is 600km away. The only time I can see her is on summer holiday. As we cannot spend the rest of our time talking on the telephone, I record her voice on a Minidisc to listen to when I miss her. I take advantage of the small size and light weight of my portable recorder (a Sony MZ-R91) which I can carry in my pocket all night long and record to whenever I want (imagine trying to manage this with a tape recorder!). We asked him if he used the track mark feature to allow him to mark and easily return to his favorite murmurings. He replied ``Of course I do have favorite tracks'', but wisely avoided a discussion of their contents. In any case he will have a good family keepsake to pass down, should they marry.
Daniel Kouvo ([email protected])My brother has a 5-year old son who talks alot. Sometimes I sit down with him and put my portable MD on mono record. Then I ask him all kind of questions, for example what he has done today or something else and he tells me. I do this because when he grows up it will be fun for him and others to listen to these recordings. I got the idea from my girlfriend. Her parents used to do this when she was little, but they of course used a normal tape recorder at that time.
Richard Reid ([email protected])I made numerous audiocassette recordings of the older members of my family. These tapes contained precious recollections of the past, explanations of family connections, stories, songs, and the cadence of regional accents. After buying an alligator clip mic from Radio Shack, I was free of the noisy cassette built-ins, and made wonderfully clear recordings of my grandmother and others.
We've all had experiences of cassettes being devoured while playing by an errant pinch roller and take up. We know about pre- and post-echo (print through) on cassettes. We also know how unbearably tedious it is to random search on a cassette. MiniDisc made all of this obsolete. I dubbed these precious cassette recordings to MD. Each change of subject that Grandma made became a new track with title. Most of the discussions about MD revolve about music. This is as it should be, but MD can also serve to document a family's history in a way that may be less intrusive than videocams, and done far more conveniently than by audiocassette. After a while the mic is forgotten, and rich conversation rules the day. My grandmother in particular (who lived to be 100 years old) was always pleased that someone cared to hear and to record the stories about her fascinating life.
Recording Children (Date-Time Stamp Records their Age)
Tom ChmielinskiWith an MD recorder that adds date and time stamp, you will know EXACTLY what age the child was when they said what they said. Also, for babies or those barely able to speak, you might have to record 2 minutes for 10 good seconds. Very boring stuff, but when you divide and delete, you can create quite an action-packed MD.
From an Epinions ReviewMy marriage was in a lot of trouble and I wanted to see if my wife was cheating on me with her bowling instructor, Ramon. Every week Ramon would pick her up and off to the bowling alley they would go. I put the Sony MZ-R900 in the station wagon to see what the conversations were about and whatnot. Well let me put it this way, there was not much conversation if you know what I mean. It turns out she was cheating on me, and in my own station wagon no less. Thanks to the Sony MZ-R900, I caught her.
Perhaps this should go in a section entitled "Uncool Things People are Doing with Minidisc." -Ed
Pre-recorded Cassette Preservation
Russ MatthewsI'm a bargain hunter, I love yard sales, sale tables at bookstores etc. This summer I was in Cape Cod at Borders Books and Music and ran across a YES boxed set for $9.98. Being a YES fan, my heart skipped a beat until I noticed that it was a four cassette boxed set, not a CD boxed set. After my disappointment had subsided. I began to think about my Minidisc recorder and how I could record all the tapes onto Minidisc, thus preserving the music in a digital format.
The result is that I now have an ``MD boxed set''; all the inserts that came with the CD boxed set, plus the music in an easy to access and virtually indestructible format. To my delight, I also discovered that the tapes were all about 74 minutes long and fit perfectly on Minidisc. The sound quality is not quite CD level due to the tape source, but to the non-audiophile, it is very good. And since I do most of my listening in the car, it serves me well. I used the level sync to track mark the songs, and where that didn't engage I manually divided the songs. I titled the tracks and, finally, scanned the cassette box labels and labeled the discs with the appropriate art work.
Since summer, I have also found a four tape boxed set of the Monterey Pop Festival and am at work on my next project. In the interim, I have recently preserved an 8 track version of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band and the mono LP version of the same. I have also resurrected an eight track of Crosby Stills Nash and Young's 4 Way Street and recorded it.
If I wanted to be ambitious and had the time, I could also record the tapes into a program like Cool Edit, remove the tape hiss and have a very good approximation of CD quality sound. (I recently recorded an album track off an old album, cleaned it up with Cool Edit, made it into an MP3 file and sent it to a friend. He later told me he thought it was a CD recording.)
So, if you are into yard sale-ing and bargain hunting don't ignore the tapes that can often be picked up for a "song". One of my next projects is to preserve a copy of the No Nukes concert which I found on eight track. I am not sure if that is even available on CD at all.
Old Home-recorded Cassette Preservation
Simon MackayA good use for MD, and one of the aces it has over CD-R, is to preserve old cassettes. A common situation for people who started out on cassettes was to "mess around" with those old "shoe-box" cassette recorders. Some of the activities included doing "acoustically-coupled" recordings off TV with the recorder's built-in microphone.
Invariably with these recordings, they are often recorded in mono; so you could transcribe them to MD in mono. You can then fit the whole of a C-90 or two full C-60s onto a 60 or 74 minute MD.
By doing this, you are salvaging the sound from the "print-through" problem and other problems that affect tape.
Removing Hiss from Cassettes when Recordng to MD
[email protected]If you are looking for an excellent way to reduce tape hiss when recording from tape to minidisk, invest in a Behrenger Denoiser. This unit removes unsightly hiss, but doesn't kill the "highs". It can be found at most musical equipment stores for a couple hundred bucks. The unit is 1 space, rack mountable... see SKB racks while you're at the store.
NOTE: This unit and other products by Behringer seem to be VERY well designed. Use the suggested setting for basic noise reduction in the manual, it seems right on the money.
Rick Kahl, Quality Audio, San DiegoA more economical way of restoring cassettes or LP's and preserving them onto MD is through your computer, although it is a bit more time consuming. There are a number of audio editing packages on the market, my favorite being CoolEdit. Use this to copy your cassettes or vinyl through the PC's sound card onto your hard drive. You can then use the features of the editor to easily remove unwanted noise, pops, etc., before copying onto MD. With a multi-track plug-in, you can get perfect mixes with smooth segues from track to track. CoolEdit also opens, edits, and saves MP3's, Windows Media, and Real Audio files too. It's easy to use, gets great results, and it's free for a limited function version (all functions work, just not at the same time), or under $50.00 for the full version.
Cassette Mix Preparation using MiniDisc
Jill CarterI've become so terribly spoiled recording onto Minidisc that when it becomes necessary for me to make a mix cassette tape for a friend the prospect is a bit overwhelming. Mix tapes are certainly an art. I've found the construction much easier by incorporating my MiniDisc Recorder in the process. I record several songs onto a disc and then take it to work with me where I'll play it back and switch the tracks around for the best continuity or edit out the songs that just don't blend well. Then I can check it for perfect time for one side of the cassette I plan to use. The spacing and levels are generally taken care of and any odd sounds that make their way onto a CD track can simply be edited out. This is also a great way to incorporate other sources onto your mix tapes such as sound clips from TV or movies, a prospect that may have seemed a bit too ambitious using only cassette recording.
Plus you end up with a nice MD copy of what you made for your friend! -eaw
MD Makes Creating Tape Mixes Easier
Jill CarterI've become so terribly spoiled recording onto minidisc that when it becomes necessary for me to make a mix cassette tape for a friend the prospect is a bit overwhelming. Mix tapes are certainly an art. I've found the construction much easier by incorporating my MiniDisc Recorder in the process. I record several songs onto a disc and then take it to work with me where I'll play it back and switch the tracks around for the best continuity or edit out the songs that just don't blend well. Then I can check it for perfect time for one side of the cassette I plan to use. The spacing and levels are generally taken care of and any odd sounds that make their way onto a CD track can simply be edited out. This is also a great way to incorporate other sources onto your mix tapes such as sound clips from TV or movies, a prospect that may have seemed a bit too ambitious using only cassette recording.
Josh TaskerCheck out Josh's page for a comprehensive explanation of LP->CD-R recording, as much of his advice applies to LP->MD recording as well. Quoting from his site:
This page of notes is a distillation of my experiences in transferring LPs to CDR. I offer it as hopefully unbiased advice to others wishing to do the same thing. I have attempted to address the whole process at a reasonably deep level... My standards are high. I have a stereo system which all but a small minority of audiophile extremists would regard as "very high end". I'm not interested in putting anything onto a CDR unless I can get fairly close to perfection. The advice contained in these notes is empirical, and results from my own personal experiences.
Al JonesI was thinking the other day about a possible neat use of the MD. Anyone who has the Bible (Old or New Testament) on tape or CD might find it useful to copy it to MD. Recording in mono mode, since it is spoken word, would provide good long recording times. The entire New Testament, for example could be put on just a few MD's. Track marks could be used to break up the recording into chapters. That would give quick access to specific portions of text. I'm planning to try it soon and on the disk label, I'm planning to identify the chapter number along with the corresponding track. If there is room for more than one book on a disc, I'll probably mark it as follows: MT 1 - Matthew chapter 1, MT 2 - Matthew chapter 2, ....., MK 1 - Mark chapter 1, etc. Additional track marks could be used to subdivide chapters or to identify specific verses if desired. This would be very useful for group discussions, devotionals, lectures, etc., providing for easy access to just the sections one would be interested in.
Stretching MD Capacity with Monaural Mode
Bert BouwmeesterI'm a big fan of Minidisc. What I like the most is the posibility of making mono-recordings. I'm a big fan of standup-comedians. I have several double CD's of them, and among the speech tracks are also a couple of songs. Speech is fine in mono, songs are nice in stereo. What I do: First I record a complete double CD in mono on a Minidisc. Then delete all songs, and record them in stereo! In that way you can have a double CD on one single MD without hearing the difference!
Glenn MitchellAs a teacher, I sometimes wish to give a personal explanation for my absence from class. I may also want to explain a certain concept to my satisfaction in my absence, rather that expecting the substitute teacher to do so. My minidisc player comes to the rescue. The day before my absence, I record my messages. Then I simply connect my computer's powered speakers to the MD line out, give the sub short written instructions for activating the deck and resetting the start point.
As part of your music-education program, do you let students, especially children, play music recordings themselves? Due to many different hands handling the equipment and media; your recordings or equipment may be subjected to abuse, which causes it to end up out of action.
MiniDisc, due to the fact that the disc is sealed in a hard plastic cartridge, is more rugged than records, CDs or cassettes (which are often used as part of your music education program). As part of your music-education program, you most probably will have obtained blanket music-copying rights which would allow you to clearly and legally record the music for your course.
What to do would be to record all the music onto MD and deploy sturdy decks like the Sony JE520 for each playback station. These decks can even be used as part of private playback stations due to the fact that they have their own headphone jack with its own volume control; which works with headsets or listening stations that have an 1/4" stereo phone plug or 1/8" stereo phone plug (when used with the headphone adaptor). The remote control is best used for teacher-controlled playback and kept well away from students.
Make sure that all the recordings are protected (with the tabs set to RECORD PROTECT) before you release them to students. Also the recordings can be titled by track and disc and this information will appear on the deck's display.
DFDI study at Melbourne University and in my first semester I missed all of my lectures for one subject due to a timetable clash. Fortunately the lecturer taped her lectures. Unfortunately, this meant going to the library and listening to the tape, handwriting notes (which would blow a 1 hour lecture out to about 1.5 hours) and THEN going home and typing them up. So I got the idea of unplugging the headphones from the tape player and then connecting it to my Sony MZ-R700 with a male-to-male plug, which allowed me to tape the lecture, occupy myself for an hour with some other study, and then I could go home and listen to the lecture whilst I typed notes on the computer. Another bonus was having greater reward/fast forward capability than that given by a tape player.
DFDBefore finishing high school I had to complete some very difficult exams which are the most crucial factor in getting into a good course at a good university in Australia. As all of my subjects were humanities, I had to remember huge volumes of information, full of names-dates-definitions-quotes-events-places etc. (for example 'What were the economic crises facing France in 1788?') - verbatim.
It gets EXTREMELY tedious reading and re-reading this stuff over and over and over; in fact it is so tedious that concentration is frequently broken and nothing gets learnt. Furthermore, some people are more 'aural' than 'visual' learners - that is, they are more able to learn something if it is read aloud than if they read it on a page. So with a mic I recorded all of my study notes onto minidisc - and you can fit a hell of a lot onto an 80min disc in LP4.
Whenever you feel like you can't read any more and you want to still keep learning in a relaxed fashion, or you really need to remember something word for word, just listen to it recorded onto minidisc.
Incidentally, my exam scores were extremely high and I got into the course I wanted at the best university in Australia (the University of Melbourne).
I am a Psychology student and needed a way that I could study while on the go (bus, subway, etc.). I already had the idea to make cue cards, but these are not suited for use while walking, and it is labor-intensive to create them as well. I then got the idea that my beloved MZ-N707 could do the job.
Here is the method I used: For each question you want to learn, create a new track starting with the question, then wait 2-3 seconds and record the answer on the same track. When your MD is full of questions and answers, play all your tracks in shuffle mode. You'll then hear all your questions, followed by the answers. Finally, you can push the thing a little further. When you study, take note of the questions you know very well and those you don't know too well. You can then delete the tracks you know well and you'll only study the ones you don't know.
A word of caution: Make sure you always delete the tracks with the highest numbers first, because if you delete i.e. track #3, the track which was previously #6 will then be #5. E.g. Delete tracks in this order: #123, #45, #7, #2; rather than the contrary, or else you won't delete the right tracks/questions.
Scott SilvaUse your MD to record directly from cable or a satellite dish to listen to these broadcasts in the car for those long commutes.
I have used it to record various television broadcasts that don't require video. For example, stuff off the History Channel, the political talking head shows (Hardball, Crossfire, Equal Time), VH1s Behind the Music, etc. Also, I'm sure any stand-up comedy shows that are on HBO or comedy central would be fine. Plus you can skip through the commercials.
Also, off the dish you can record from the 15 different music channels that you have access to.
Chris CarpenterBeing accustomed to cassettes in my car and the delay in music after a side ends, I found it weird that, upon reaching the end of a mix MD in my car player, the 1st track would just start up immediately. Some people may like this feature, however I found it to be disconcerting, never really locking into my head what the first song is. A simple solution that everybody has probably thought of, but, if you haven't, here goes: Record about 25 seconds of nothing on the last track, giving an "ending" to the mix, and a beginning.
MD Portables for Cheap and Secure Car Audio
Dan FisherA few months ago my wife had her CD deck stolen out of her car, along with 25 CDs. (This was not the first time!) She had just bought a Sharp 702 portable MD recorder. I decided that instead of going out and dropping $200 on another head unit I'd try to use the MD instead.
I installed an Alpine 4 channel 30W AMP (with gain control) under the seat of her Bronco II and bought some patch cables. Now all she does is plug the the patch cables into the remote on the MD player and she has an excellent sounding stereo. The best part is she never even takes the MD player out of her purse. When she gets out, she unplugs it and nothing is left in the truck for thieves.
I thought it worked so well I went and bought a Sharp 722 and another amp for my truck. I drive an old beat-up Ford that I never lock. I just leave the MD player in my jacket pocket and use the remote.
One note: I tried using an AIWA (don't recall the model #) but it seemed to pick up interference and distort when used with the amp.
MD as Add-On to Existing Car Radio
Laszlo LieszkovszkyI have a 90 Buick LeSabre with a good built in sound system, and an "oversize" factory radio (tuner/cassette deck). Although there are a few "oversize" commercial radios available out there, they are expensive and often still stick out, attracting thieves etc. So I thought maybe I could hack the original factory radio, make it take the input of a portable MD deck! It turns out it is possible to do this without too much trouble!
The end result: I now have a simple switch on the dashboard, and a 3.5mm stereo female socket coming out of my factory radio - flip the switch and the radio amplifies the input from the 3.5mm socket instead of the tuner! I simply plug in my Sharp MD-MS702 to play my music. And the cassette deck still works too!
How to do it: Although this might not work with newer radios, and if you aren't careful you can mess things up easily, with a bit of persistence it can be done. It may be different on your unit of course, but for mine, I found that the radio (which has a built in cassette deck) consists of two parts, the radio itself (with amp and everything), and the cassette deck. The 8 wires going from the deck to the radio include all that needed to be played with. After listening in on several of them while the tape player was playing (with some headphones) I found the 3 that sent the sound to the radio portion. Then I checked how the deck instructed the amplifier to take its source from the aforementioned 3 wires instead of the tuner - it was a simple 5v "high" on one of the wires. Here's where the switch mentioned in "the end result" comes in: the switch operates a 4 pole relay. Three of the poles switch the audio signal (L/R/Gnd) from cassette deck to "aux input - the 3.5mm socket" and the last applies the "high" voltage to the control line of the amplifier. It took me a few nights to do it, but now I have the same old factory radio I love, and an aux input through which I can play my Minidiscs, all controlled by a simple switch!
Simon Mackay had this to add to Laszlo's trick outlined above:
The trick outlined in modifying the OEM radio in Laszlo Lieszkovszky's 1990 Buick LeSabre can apply to anyone who has a setup which consists of a separate stereo car radio and cassette deck where the cassette deck is amplified via the radio. This setup is implemented to my knowledge in the following cars (years specified are "model-years"):
Nissan / Datsun
A similar modification using a relay can be done for systems that use a radio/cassette unit and separate graphic equaliser; but, in most setups, this modification can only switch the audio signal between the radio-cassette and the MD. It would require the relay to be wired prior to the equaliser so that the MD audio as well as the radio / cassette audio can benefit from the equaliser.
Also this setup can be achieved with OEM setups consisting of a radio/cassette and a separate slot-in CD player -- as long as the CD player can either provide a signal voltage or "make to ground" to wake up the radio-cassette unit for amplification duties.
For cars where you have separate sound adjustment for radio and tape, you may have to use a buffer-amplifier and adjust your MD-Walkman's volume at the Walkman device.
This information may be useful for cars made from model-years 1976-1993.
Making the Most of a Portable's Versatility
John CrawfordI have a Sharp MD-MS702 Minidisc portable that I use at home and in the van. I transfer MP3's from my hard drive to the '702, for later transfer to my Sony MDS-JE510 deck to make compilation mixes for use in the vehicle. When I'm in the van I send music from the '702 to my Pioneer cassette unit by inserting one of those special adapter cassettes into it and connecting to the MD unit. It sounds great, and a lot better than cassettes. All from this little portable! I sit the '702 on a console that sits in between the seats. When I leave the vehicle, I take out the mini plug and stuff the MD into my pocket. That means no chance of theft from the vehicle, since I bring it back into the house for its other duties. These include transferring tunes to and from the Sony deck, and voice recording, with or without the computer. It's not only versatile, but saves a little money by avoiding the purchase of an MD unit for the van.
Listening to Email While Commuting
Ked TidwellI 'listen' to e-mail, in the car, on the way to work, thanks to MD.
The MD is hooked to my Mac, and the mail is 'read out loud' by OS9 text-to-speech capability… no need to convert to an MP3 file for uploading first, for those that are saying they can do the same with their portable MP3 units)… if it goes to the speakers, it can be directed to any audio recorder you can connect as well. A small AppleScript drives the message/text/audio handling. The recorder is set for sync'd recording, so it starts by itself. I simply keep a disc with room in the recorder, and the rest is timed and scripted. Pop out the MD and hit the road.
The MD is connected to the car's stereo (I have a cradle for my MD units on the console), and away we go :)
Poor Man's Cockpit Voice Recorder
Eric WoudenbergStudent pilots in particular can often benefit from a review of their radio work after a flight. Generally however, the radio conversations over the course of a flight are fairly sparse. This is where the analog synchro-start feature of Sharp and other non-Sony portable recorders becomes invaluable, because it strips out all the dead-air time in between each radio contact.
I made a simple aircraft intercom (i.e. headphone level) to line-input adapter with a 1k trim-pot (set roughly in the middle) and a 1/4" and 1/8" phone plug (I think you can probably buy the equivalent adapter from Radio Shack however). I adjust the Sharp's recording level so that the intercom background noise (with the mic squelched off) is below the syncho-start threshold. I recommend setting the recording level with the engine running and extraneous noise sources from things like the beacon lamp present, so that you don't end up recording constantly due to added noise once you're airborne.
The recorded audio comes out great, allowing me to listen afterwards for things I missed while flying (``Gosh, the tower really said "FOLLOW THE TRAFFIC" to me after all!''). I have also titled a few of the recordings, allowing me to pinpoint interesting segments. The only problem I have with the arrangement is that the syncho-stop time for the Sharp is about 12 seconds, leaving a long tail after every audio event (even things like clearing my throat). Fortunately MD makes it easy to delete the tracks without content. Still, it would be great if the synchro-stop time were settable.
Cessna Minidisc In-flight Audio Entertainment
Bob LocherI am a private pilot and own a small Cessna, a 172. On longish VFR cross country trips I love to listen to classical music. I have a built-in intercom in the airplane, a PS Engineering PM 1000. I always fly with noise-cancelling headphones, which include active noise reduction (done by adding signals out of phase with the cabin noise to cancel it out. They help a lot). The headphone system is monaural, and since my MD deck, a Sony MDS-JE510, has a mono recording mode that puts twice as much music on each MD, mono mode recording is the perfect choice.
The intercom I use has an entertainment audio input, and is designed so that whenever a signal comes through the communications radio, the entertainment input is silenced and the communications overrides it. When communication is finished, the entertainment audio ramps back up.
To play Minidiscs in the air I wired a cable to go from the headphone jack of my Sony MZ-E40 to the input of the intercom. But there was one problem, I found that the intercom was not getting anywhere near enough signal to drive it. After playing around with several possible solutions, I ended up buying an impedance transformer from Radio Shack for about $2.00 that goes from low impedance to high impedance. I put the low impedance side to the MZ-E40, and the high impedance output to the intercom. That has largely solved the problem, and has the additional benefit of being entirely passive, with no power source required.
I'd still like a little more output, but I guess it really wouldn't make any difference - the intercom has an input limiter so that if an input signal exceeds its threshold limit it clamps it for a second or so and this is very annoying. So instead I turn up the volume on the intercom, and rebalance the navigation and communication inputs as appropriate. The whole setup works very nicely indeed and pleases me greatly on long cross country flights.
SCMS elimination using your Soundcard
C.U.If you own an computer and an MD recoder (what is obvious, since you wouldn't be here) there is an easy way to eliminate the copy protection and generation bit in digital recordings. Everything you need is a soundcard with digital input and output.
Connect the CD/MD-Player to the Optical/Coaxial digi-IN.
Connect your MD/Dat-Recorder to the digi-OUT.
Take a look at the mixer settings of your Soundcard. Digi-IN and OUT must be enabled. Adjust your Volume.
Since the digital data stream is passing through your computer, the SCMS copy protection bit is ignored. Copy away!
Digital Recording from Computer to MD without Digital Output
Todd LynchMy workaround is simple, and has a small advantage. What I do is get all of the audio that I want on MD into *.wav format (44.1k, 16 bit, stereo) and record an audio CD with my CD burner. It helps to have a program that was made to do this, like Sound Forge with the CD Architect plug-in. However, most CD burning applications will have some sort of rudimentary way of recording an audio CD in relatively the same manner. I then take the Audio CD that I just created and record it to MD via the optical digital outs on my audio system's CD player. The advantage I mention is that I now have a CD of the content, in the event that the MD is damaged, recorded over, or lost. In addition, I can use the CD for semi-critical listening at home where the small anomalies in MD would be more obvious.
Jeremy WilkerHere's a tip when recording a playlist of MP3 songs onto your MD recorder. The trick is to make a silent 2-3 second MP3 song and insert it between every MP3 file, that will let your MD recognize a new track automatically. Just watch your playlist time (keep it just under your MD capacity - 60, 74, or 80 minutes) and then let it go! Custom MP3 mixes to go!
Here's an amendment to your MP3 Track Mark trick. Get the (free) program Unreal Player Max from www.303tek.com. It will automatically insert a delay of any number of seconds you choose between songs. I've found that 2 seconds works fine for my Sharp MD-R2 in sync mode to get it to insert a track mark. I just connect it via Toslink to my pc and create a playlist in the Unreal player, and play them.
You can as well use WinAmp (AFAIK the most widely used MP3 player on Windows, http://www.winamp.com) to record MP3s to Minidisc. In my humble opinion, WinAmp offers more (and better) possibilities for creating playlists than the Unreal Player, and since I usually use it to listen to MP3s at home, why shouldn't I also utilise it to make custom music mixes for my portable Minidisc player?
To enable your player to automatically place track marks between the songs, you can use the WinAmp plugin "Pause Between Songs 2.3", which can insert a pause of user-defineable length between the MP3s in your playlist, so that your player's music-sync function recognizes the gaps.
Another neat feature is the Nullsoft Crossfade plugin (http://ftp.winamp.com/components/P/out_xf.exe). It automatically crossfades between the songs in your playlist, thus creating one continuous track with no disturbing gaps. You'll just have to set the track marks manually.
So, that would be all you need to create custom MP3 mixes for your Minidiscs. All you need now is a soundcard with TOSlink output... ;)
Quickly getting a Sony MD portable back to the beginning of the disk
David W. TamkinThere are two ways to quickly get your machine back to the first track on the disc without pushing "<<" over and over: 1) Eject and reinsert the disc (works on every machine) or 2) on Sony portables press END SEARCH, PLAY, STOP, PLAY (this works even if you've reset Rec-Posi to "from end" instead of "from here.")
Wireless Keyboard Use with MiniDisc Decks
Matthew FellowsI recently bought a Sony MDS-JB940 for home use. When considering this model one of the features that appealed the most to me was the PS2 keyboard input for editing. I have since bought a Logitech Cordless iTouch keyboard. I do a lot of dubbing from computer to MD. I run all the audio through my receiver. The end result is that I can do all my recording and editing from across the room at my desk. I really like the set-up and recommend it to anyone who wants to save time going back and forth between your computer and deck. I would assume that these keyboards will work with all Sony products that are outfitted with the PS2 input.
Undoing the effects of service mode
KarstenI have the Sharp MD-MS701 and I tried the test (aka "service") mode for fun. Suddenly, the recorder couldn't read the TOC. I tried it over and over, but I seemed nothing would fix it. Then I had a brainstorm. I thought if the Minidisc Recorder is like a RAM in my PC it would forget all adjustments if I switched off the power. So I did it, I pulled off the recharge-cable and then the rechargeable battery. After I applied power and switched it on again it ran! Now a stone has fallen from my heart. This might be important information for some other Sharp 701 owners.
Eric FeinsteinShortly after I bought my Sharp MS702, I put four round clear self-adhesive plastic feet on the bottom. Now when I place it on a surface, I don't worry about the unit sliding onto the floor, or just sliding around on the surface when I push a button. It's true that this raises the height of the unit slightly, but I can still fit it in a shirt pocket. You can find these feet at most hardware stores.
Digital CD Recording from Playstation 2
Bill GrahamIf you have a Playstation 2 (a possibility, since Sony has sold over 40 million of them as of this writing) you can use it to dub anything it can play onto a Minidisc! This includes audio CDs, DVDs, and, of course, game sounds.
Make sure that Optical is set to On in the system preferences. Run an optical cable from the optical jack on the back of the PS2 (by the power switch) into your MD Recorder, and proceed as you would with any other digital hookup.
What's cool is that the PS2 can output to your MD and whatever speakers it's hooked up to at the same time, so you don't need headphones to monitor. The PS2 also outputs track data onto the TV screen while it's playing, and if you have PIP, you can watch TV while you record.
I've found that the PS2 does very clean dubs to MD, without the extra track marks and other hassles I experience when dubbing from a PC.
Fastening MD Slip-cases into "Book-like" Storage
Grant SlevinI have made some very handy Minidisc cases by simply fastening MD slip covers together. I connect a block of 5 or 10 by taping across their spines with a couple of pieces of 2" wide poly tape. It's easy to get the discs out or look for labels because the covers can be separated like the pages of a book. The discs don't seem to slip out, but if they did a rubber band could easily be used to keep them in.
Scott HoffmanMy name's Scott and I use my Sony MZ-R37 to copy my favorite classic rock songs to MiniDisc. I am in the U.S. Marine Corps and deploy frequently. Not only is space at a premium while packing, the general conditions of some of our venues are less than desirable for portable electronics. MiniDiscs are not only durable, but they save space and keep my hard-to-find CDs at home and damage-free! He adds: I think I started a trend at my squadron! I bought my MZ-R37 over a year ago. I was the only Marine in a unit of over 90 Marines to have one. Now, there are four of us, hopefully with more to come! I asked Scott if he was an aviator: No, I don't fly 'em I just work on 'em. I am a helicopter mechanic stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. I work on the CH-46e Sea Knight helicopter. It's a rather funny looking jobbie if you're not familiar with them. It's got two main rotor heads, mounted in tandem.
AndreMy name is Andre, I have been in the Navy for about nine years and we often go on deployments that last up to a six month period. For a music fanatic like myself this can be deadly because the latest music is out on the streets and I can't hear it. Luckily I now have my Minidisc portable which enables me to have a compact audio storage device that I can take to my office on the ship and plug into speakers and also take and plug into my audio rack. The best part of it all is that now when I get my music magazines and want to hear the latest sounds all I have to do is email my wife and ask her buy it. She copies the tracks as wav. files and E-mails them to me. Once I have the .wav file I just plug in my nifty MZ-R50 and record each track. In addition, now I don't have to bring any regular CD's out to sea because I always have access. Minidisc is a great toy!!!!
Jason WardI've been in the AF for about 8 yrs now and I can really agree with my Marine Corps and Navy Brethren about not having a lot of space for things while on deployments and such. I flew Airevac for 4 1/2 years and although space wasn't really a problem for me, I just had too many things to carry on board. Between my pubs bag [a backpack or bag that you keep your regulations regarding your job and the aircraft that you are qualified to fly in] my luggage, my "goodie" bag, and my "box nasty" [flyer's term for a premade boxed lunch purchased from the inflight kitchen (think of it as a cafeteria for the aircrew members)], I never had room to carry my big CD case, my CD player and my big headphones. My old boss (who just happens to be my best friend) turned me on to MD. He had one and he loved it. It didn't take up too much space and it never skipped!!! Well, to make a long story short, I left that unit and headed west to Travis AFB, CA. I didn't have a car at the time, so I rode a bike to and from the hospital (which was 2 miles from the dorms!!) After about the 3rd month of being here, I decided to plunk down $200 for my MZ-R37 and went to town on recording my CD collection. It fit perfectly in my windbreaker. I would go over some rough terrain to get to the hospital and it never missed a beat!!! After I bought my car I decided to get an in-dash MD player. Ever since that day I bought my portable MD player, I have been one of the BIGGEST advocates for MD to all that I know.
Jake Ackman, Montreal Canada.If you have a parrot, or a bird that repeats anything you say, and you don't want to spend hours training it, just record some choice phrases on to an MD, put long spaces in between (a couple of seconds at least), and then just set it on repeat-random. Leave it for an afternoon and by the time you get back, your bird will be reciting Shakespeare!
(From something I recall reading long ago on the 'net. -eaw)Record a poem onto your MD, put a track mark at the end of each line. Play it back in shuffle-play mode.
Jeff BrownA colleague of mine has recorded 25 minutes of silence followed by a selection of music on one disc. After a night shift he catches a train home. As the train leaves the station, he starts the disc playing. It takes 28 minutes to reach his station, so around three minutes before the train arrives at his destination, the music kicks in and if he's nodded off, wakes him up! Ed: Many MD players now have this feature since both trains and Minidisc equipment are so prevalent in Japan.