Friday, 22 March 2013

Remembering Mini Disc

I have been upgrading my stereo set-up, replacing my old Arcam Alpha amp with a new Denon multichannel receiver. I took the opportunity to upgrade the cabling between all the units as well. Delving at the bottom of the rack I came across this black box. A bit dusty but rummaging for its remote control I switched it on and it sprang into life. It was my old Sony MDS JE-530 mini disc player. I then routed around for some discs and played David Sylvian's "Everything and Nothing" compilation. My how good this sounds! Not just the music but the reproduction. Mini Disc was good! Even though it did use ATRAC compression, I found compared to MP3 it sounded much better. As an alternative to the age old cassette, mini disc was a fantastic upgrade. It was robust, portable and sounded much better than tape, which suffered from wow and flutter and channel drop out. I also hated having to clean those pesky capstan rollers and recording heads.

I had a portable Sonynplayer and the Sony JE as my main deck. I remember hours of fun making up compilations on blanks, putting titles on all the discs. So what went wrong for the mini disc? Well, just the same as what is happening to CD, downloads via MP3 players killed it. I had a MP3 player for a while but I just couldn't be bothered with the time it took to put stuff on the computer and then onto the device. It also got full and i knew one daynthe whole thing would stopmworking and imwould lose everything. I just want to listen to music I don't want all the faffing around! I also like the physical look of the mini disc and its packaging. It was aesthetically pleasing to me.

It' a shame the mini disc died a premature death. I for one will now pay a bit more attention to my long forgotten friend and take pleasure in what it has to offer again. I have even tracked down a new copy of Apollo Four Forty's excellent electro rock classic "Electro Glide in Blue" on mini disc. So there is still life out there for the old format!


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