There are three types of Minidisc players:

The only advantages (that matter to me) that Minidisc has over MP3 players as DigitalRecorders are...

  • Battery life (questionable compard to newer MP3 players?)

  • Recording Quality (crucial difference)

The major drawback that Minidisc has over MP3 players is the format that music is recorded/stored in. MD uses a proprietary format created by Sony, and this encrypted format cannot be unencrypted except by Sony's closed source, Windows-only software. So the only way to get live recordings off of an MD player under Linux is to pipe it out the headphone jack and directly into the soundcard, ie digital->analog->digital. Not cool.

One source says to wait until April for the next generation of Hi-MD.

UPDATE: So the Hi-MDs come with software for converting ATRAC (the proprietary format) to WAV, but it's still Windows-only. I think I'll still go with a different DigitalRecorder.

Places to Buy

But Wait!

Maxwell on SDF gives the MD a good review based on actual fieldwork:

TACKER: august (Maxwell August Croy)
SUBJECT: .. MD is on its ..
DATE: 22-Jul-05 04:12:43
HOST: ukato

I will admit that MD, in all it's proprietary glory, is a bit of a bitch sometime, especially when attempting to remove data from an md player/recorder at high fidelity. With the exception of some software for the PC (I'm a OS X user) the only other way I know of to keep data digital is to use optical cables, and even then you need an external player of some sort. Granted, these are readily available in Japan where I live but still, sending data has to occur in real time, which is/can also be a severe setback. That said, I still stand by the technology. I do plenty of field recording and personal recording for my various music/experimental projects and with a good recorder (preferably a Sharp which allows the adjustment of recording levels whilst recording, unlike most Sony's), md is robust, easy to edit, convenient to lug around, easy to trade/copy, cheaper and more durable (in my experienc) than DAT, and just plain cool. Sonys new hi-md isn't exactly life changing news, but I'm glad to see the medium kept alive and will be using it for some time in the foreseeable future.