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Sony Stop Making Mini Disc Players.


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Old 02-02-2013, 16:12
occy
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Sony has announced that it is ending the production of the MiniDisc player - over 20 years after it was first launched.

http://www.itv.com/news/update/2013-...sc-production/
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Old 02-02-2013, 16:43
treefr0g
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I'm stunned that they're still making them.

I thought they had died a death a long time ago.
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Old 02-02-2013, 19:35
Soundbox
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I bought a Sony portable recorder from Amazon early last year (200) but noted shortly after I took delivery the stock was exhausted.

At least I have a few machines to see me into the future. I like my music too much to give them up.
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Old 02-02-2013, 20:54
Nigel Goodwin
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I'm stunned that they're still making them.

I thought they had died a death a long time ago.
I thought so as well - it was a format that seriously flopped, although perhaps not quite as badly as ElCassette (not sure of the spelling on that?).

I suppose it was perhaps a nice idea, but modern technology quickly made it obsolete - cheap SD cards etc. and MP3's soon made it fairly pointless.
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Old 02-02-2013, 21:55
mooghead
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When I turned 18 (I am 36 years old now!) I spent 180 quid of my first ever credit card on a minidisc recorder from Argos.

I still have it and it sounds great.

Sad that it never took on... stupid Napster spoiled it all....


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Old 02-02-2013, 22:11
Orbitalzone
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I thought so as well - it was a format that seriously flopped, although perhaps not quite as badly as ElCassette (not sure of the spelling on that?).

I suppose it was perhaps a nice idea, but modern technology quickly made it obsolete - cheap SD cards etc. and MP3's soon made it fairly pointless.
Elcassette? never heard of that one.... did you mean DCC that Philips tried in vain to compete against Mini disc?

I must say that there's something very satisfying about Mini discs, the way it slides into my MD deck and pure quality and even my 14 year old portable MD player feels like a top quality product in build quality...shame I never use either of them !
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Old 02-02-2013, 22:13
edEx
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Another decent sign that Sony Electronics is finally turning itself around. Their product line is well overdue a bit of streamlining, and their industrial design team finally appears to be stepping up a notch and realising they have to actually compete with Samsung.
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Old 02-02-2013, 22:37
Soundbox
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I think Sony have forgotten what it means to be Sony. Compete with Samsung? I never thought I would read that. Why has this happened - cheap tat versus more cheap tat. Blow moulded shiny plastic, cheap components, no pride. Just look at any Sony product from the 1980's and 1990's - even the 'S' sticker was nicely made. People need not trouble to look anywhere else - just pick a Sony - even the cheaper ones - and it would have a product to take pride in. The 1990's range portable MD recorders were metal cased and just like jewels really. What is there like that now from them? Nothing at all, just rebadged tat that is the same as all the rest of the tat for sale and painful on the ears. Sorry for the rant but as someone who has worked as a MD repairer and saw the quality that was close up it is just more salt in the wounds.

Here are a few I have picked up over the years http://gallery.photo.net/photo/16856513-lg.jpg
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Old 02-02-2013, 22:40
JamesBsheppard
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I have 3 Sony MD machines, 1 walkman (play only) & 2 full size HiFi decks, great machines loved the way you could edit on them, but I have to say I don't use them much now,as MP3 on I pod, P.C, & NAS are more handy.
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Old 02-02-2013, 22:41
Kodaz
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I thought so as well - it was a format that seriously flopped
AFAIK, it *was* very popular in Japan, but did little elsewhere.

That said, IIRC they enjoyed a *very* brief- and minor- popularity surge here around the millennium (i.e. the immediate pre-iPod era). Strange, as they'd already been around for several years by then and done nothing.

Maybe the prices had fallen enough to make them affordable to the teen and twentysomething markets? I also heard that Sony had a marketing push around that time.

Still wasn't enough to get them established, especially once the iPod came out.

I suppose it was perhaps a nice idea, but modern technology quickly made it obsolete - cheap SD cards etc. and MP3's soon made it fairly pointless.
Not that quickly- they first came out in 1992(!), years before most people had even heard of MP3, 9 years before the first iPod (*) and a long, *long* time before large-capacity SD cards were dirt cheap.

The underlying MiniDisc technology had a lot more potential, but Sony hobbled it to some extent for their own reasons. (**) They restricted digital copying via SCMS and (AFAIK) only allowed copies to be made by real-time dubbing, except on much later models.

In theory, it could have been a more powerful file-based system. Now- to cut them some slack- that wasn't how people consumed music back then, and most computers wouldn't have been powerful enough to do anything worthwhile with ATRAC files anyway. Still, they could easily have made it more flexible in the way that songs could be transferred between devices (i.e. as fast as the interface allowed, not forcing real-time dubbing).

The point is that Sony *did* have the technology to create something akin to an MP3 device (rewritable disc with lots of storage for the time) years before all that came along- but they turned it into little more than a random-access audio cassette.

Then, when MP3 did come along, they ignored and resisted the trend, and let Apple grab the lead. Given Apple's subsequent success, it's easy to forget how ludicrous that would have sounded at the end of the 90s.

But remember, this was the company who had defined and led the portable music market with the Walkman, who had the technology and the experience. The market was theirs to lose... and they were upstaged by Apple- who up until then had only been a personal computer manufacturer (back in the days when there was far less crossover than there is now) with no real audio experience!

After dragging their heels for years, Sony finally released some crappy devices that required one to convert their MP3s to ATRAC (a pathetic example of NIH, particularly as by this point MP3 had become the de facto standard and it was too late for them to impose the latter). They eventually released "true" MP3 Walkmans, but it was way too late- they'd lost their position in the market, and it was no-one's fault but their own.

tl; dr version:- MiniDisc actually came out years before even the first iPods, had a lot of potential but was hobbled, then when MP3 came along they resisted change and let a PC manufacturer(!) steal the portable audio market from them.

(*) MP3 players had been around since the late-90s, but most of those early devices were too limited, expensive and finicky to be anything more than geek toys.

(**) Sony by this point had investments in the music and film production industries, leading to conflicts of interest
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Old 02-02-2013, 22:51
Kodaz
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Elcassette? never heard of that one.... did you mean DCC that Philips tried in vain to compete against Mini disc?
No, Elcaset was Sony's attempted "Hi-Fi" cassette format from the late 1970s that was apparently a total flop. (I'd never even heard of it myself until a few years ago).

Apparently- from what I've read- the problem was that improvements in ordinary audio cassettes (better formulations, noise reduction etc.), along with Elcaset's large size killed it off.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:37
Nigel Goodwin
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No, Elcaset was Sony's attempted "Hi-Fi" cassette format from the late 1970s that was apparently a total flop. (I'd never even heard of it myself until a few years ago).

Apparently- from what I've read- the problem was that improvements in ordinary audio cassettes (better formulations, noise reduction etc.), along with Elcaset's large size killed it off.
It just never took off - essentially (just like reel to reel recorders) the faster the tape moves the better the quality.

ElCaset doubled the tape speed, giving a much greater increase in quality - obviously in order to do that, you need twice as much tape, hence the increased size of the cassettes.
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:59
Peter the Great
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I take it that the Mini Discs themselves are still being made?
I still have a Sony Mini Disc walkman from 1999 which is still in working order despite being dropped a few times. I remember the in ear earphones that come with it sounded amazing. After they stopped working properly I had to use Headphones because I could not find any earphones that sounded anywhere near as good. Mini Disc was a good format but was not marketed very well by Sony and obviously MP3 Players killed the format off in the end anyway.
When it comes to personal audio Sony used to always lead and it is sad that they don't anymore. If Sony made high capicity MP3 players that used good software I would certainly buy one but they don't so I have no choice but to have an ipod classic. It's 5 years old and has been reliable but I am sure if there was a comparable Sony MP3 Player the sound quality would be much better.
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:01
Kodaz
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[Elcaset wasn't "killed", it] just never took off
Yes, I should have phrased that better. "Killed" suggests that it had enjoyed *any* level of success, which of course it hadn't(!)

I'd have thought that metal cassettes were part of why Elcaset was rendered redundant, but apparently they only arrived in 1979, and Elcaset came out in 1976.

As you suggest, increasing the tape speed (everything else being equal) will always give better quality. (*) I'm surprised that more regular casette recorders didn't allow increased tape speed at the expense of playing time; perhaps the fixed speed was a legal requirement imposed by Philips (who owned the patents) wanting to keep their system easy to use and compatible.

(*) Though, of course, noise reduction, better formulations and all-round better construction will also work... as they did for cassettes!
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:34
Nigel Goodwin
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(*) Though, of course, noise reduction, better formulations and all-round better construction will also work... as they did for cassettes!
The problem was that people didn't want quality, they wanted 'cheap' - even the best cassette recorders weren't that great a quality. I've still got a three head Kenwood/Trio one somewhere (not used it for many years), that gave exceptional results because the three heads meant you could easily adjust the bias for individual tapes whilst listening to the result.

But basically 1 7/8 IPS is just too slow for HiFi performance.

Reel to reel needs a minimum of 7 1/2 IPS, with 15 and 30 common professionally.
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Old 03-02-2013, 14:59
scruffpot
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The mini disc has gone the same way as the dat.. i.e sony killed it off..
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Old 03-02-2013, 15:29
noise747
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The mini disc has gone the same way as the dat.. i.e sony killed it off..
The DAT is still used in some smaller audio studios. A mate got two of them, the only problem was with DAT is reliability.

I like the minidisc, i know it was compressed, but the quality was pretty good, certainly better than some of the MP3s that are shoved onto people.

i still prefer buying CDs, but still use my Minidisc player.
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Old 03-02-2013, 15:33
Nigel Goodwin
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The DAT is still used in some smaller audio studios. A mate got two of them, the only problem was with DAT is reliability.
Expensive to maintain - hence the trend to using HDD's instead. The studio my daughter did her recording NVQ qualification at used three 'DAT type' 8 track recorders for 24 track recording, and a 'proper' DAT machine for mastering to.


I like the minidisc, i know it was compressed, but the quality was pretty good, certainly better than some of the MP3s that are shoved onto people.
Then don't over-compress your MP3's

Didn't the same problem apply to mini-disc?, as there were variable compression rates - including speech only.
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Old 03-02-2013, 16:35
fat controller
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Shame - I got my first MZ-R30 when I worked in a Sony Centre, as part of a promotion for staff on the run up to Christmas time, that was followed by another one for my mum, then an MDT-313 for my mum, a couple of MD decks for myself (can't remember the models now, but the last one was one of their QS range), and Mrs C had a wee blue personal player that she loved (MZ-E50??)

I sort of have to agree with Soundbox that Sony seem to have forgotten how to be Sony - I understand why/how its happened with the ever cheapening of consumer electronics, tightening margins, competition from the likes of Samsung and LG (maybe not in quality terms early on, but certainly in the 'bang for your buck' department), and of course the global financial mess.

Still, it is disappointing to see that Sony appear to have abandoned much (if not all) of their real quality kit (ES range being the prime example) in favour of trying to compete in the plastic box stakes.

I'm not even convinced that their TV's are as good as they once were - time was, I wouldn't have had anything other than a Sony TV in the house, whereas nowadays our main TV is a Panasonic plasma, we have a 37" LG upstairs and a 19" Samsung in the wee ones room.
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Old 03-02-2013, 17:05
Nigel Goodwin
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I understand why/how its happened with the ever cheapening of consumer electronics, tightening margins, competition from the likes of Samsung and LG (maybe not in quality terms early on, but certainly in the 'bang for your buck' department), and of course the global financial mess.
Sony, like Panasonic, are in serious financial difficulties, losing money on every TV they sell.


Still, it is disappointing to see that Sony appear to have abandoned much (if not all) of their real quality kit (ES range being the prime example) in favour of trying to compete in the plastic box stakes.
Dropping massive loss making ranges is only one of their attempts to try and save the company.


I'm not even convinced that their TV's are as good as they once were - time was, I wouldn't have had anything other than a Sony TV in the house, whereas nowadays our main TV is a Panasonic plasma, we have a 37" LG upstairs and a 19" Samsung in the wee ones room.
Sony and Panasonic still make the best TV's, far above the others - that's the problem, they can't compete with the much cheaper made LG's and Samsung's.
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Old 03-02-2013, 17:12
neo_wales
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I've a few MD's I've accumulated over the years and very good they were in their day. I must get some blanks now and put them away in my grand childrens 'history box' they can open in a couple of decades time.
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Old 03-02-2013, 17:27
Nigel Goodwin
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I've a few MD's I've accumulated over the years and very good they were in their day. I must get some blanks now and put them away in my grand childrens 'history box' they can open in a couple of decades time.
And how would they read them?

Or is it just for the visual appeal?.

We've got a portable recording minidisc 'somewhere', that we bought for our daughter.
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Old 03-02-2013, 17:42
Pepperoni Man
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When it comes to personal audio Sony used to always lead and it is sad that they don't anymore. If Sony made high capicity MP3 players that used good software I would certainly buy one but they don't so I have no choice but to have an ipod classic. It's 5 years old and has been reliable but I am sure if there was a comparable Sony MP3 Player the sound quality would be much better.
Indeed

I've got a 64gb Sony A series MP3 player and it knocks spots sound wise off anthing Apple has produced.

I think that was the largest capacity that Sony ever came up with but I don't think even that size is available any longer
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Old 03-02-2013, 20:39
nvingo
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ElCaset doubled the tape speed, giving a much greater increase in quality - obviously in order to do that, you need twice as much tape, hence the increased size of the cassettes.
I don't know how long ELCaset lasted, but Sony did have an alternative format in 1985 in the form of Video 8 PCM audio mode.
I am now in possession of my uncle's Sony Video 8 VCR which he also used for audio, it could record 3 hours of PCM per track - six tracks per tape (five of those in the area normally used to store the analogue video) written/read by the rotating head helical scan hence the virtual increase in tape speed.
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Old 03-02-2013, 21:35
noise747
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Expensive to maintain - hence the trend to using HDD's instead. The studio my daughter did her recording NVQ qualification at used three 'DAT type' 8 track recorders for 24 track recording, and a 'proper' DAT machine for mastering to.
My mate records straight to the computer these days, using Cool edit for multi track stuff, ok it is old, but he prefers it to Audition.

Then don't over-compress your MP3's
I don't, it is the ones i pay for that seems to be over compressed, from companies like Amazon. I rip pretty high.
Didn't the same problem apply to mini-disc?, as there were variable compression rates - including speech only.
Yes, but normally commercial content was fine.
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