Before There Was Ipod

Before There Was Ipod

In 1992 Sony launched the​ MiniDisc (MD) as​ an​ attempt to​ replace audio cassette technologies. the​ MiniDisc was developed based on​ magneto-optical storage media that allowed for writing and rewriting of​ stored information. the​ fact that the​ data could be quickly accessed without the​ need to​ scroll through an​ entire tape made this technology very promising for ease of​ use over the​ cassette. the​ data compression format known as​ ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) was used to​ allow the​ audio files to​ fit on​ the​ MiniDisc. in​ fact,​ at​ the​ SP compression ratio of​ 292kbps,​ 60 to​ 80 minutes of​ music could be stored on​ a​ single disk. Even at​ CD quality,​ 20 to​ 28 minutes of​ music could be stored on​ the​ MiniDisc.

The first MiniDisc based machine was the​ MZ-1 recorder. the​ problem with this machine was mainly that it​ had a​ cost of​ more than $750.00. it​ had an​ optical line input,​ audio line input,​ and microphone input jack. it​ had an​ audio output. Some of​ the​ earliest versions had an​ optical line output,​ but this feature was discontinued. Sony licensed MiniDisc tecnhology to​ a​ variety of​ companies such as​ Sharp,​ Panasonic,​ and Kenwood. it​ was only a​ matter of​ time before all of​ these companies had released their own lines of​ MiniDisc players and recorders. MiniDisc players were also developed by Sony for use in​ the​ home and car in​ 1994. All of​ these efforts yielded no results in​ North America and Europe,​ where people seemed content with cassettes for recording and CDs for music purchases. But in​ East Asia,​ the​ MiniDisc took hold and reigned as​ the​ top audio format medium through the​ rest of​ the​ 1990s.

In 2000,​ Sony launched the​ MiniDisc Long Play (MDLP) format. in​ the​ form of​ LP2,​ the​ MiniDisc player could compress audio at​ 132kbps for up to​ 80 to​ 160 minutes per disc. in​ the​ LP4 format,​ the​ audio could be compressed at​ 66kbps for up to​ 320 minutes of​ audio per disc. But a​ big difference existed in​ how the​ stereo channels were recorded between these two MiniDisc Long Play formats. the​ LP2 used the​ same discrete left and right audio channels as​ the​ original MiniDisc SP format,​ while the​ LP4 began the​ use of​ joint stereo encoding.

To keep up with the​ new MP3 players hitting the​ market,​ Sony developed its NetMD for launch in​ 2002. the​ NetMD featured a​ USB connector for exchanging music files with a​ personal computer. However,​ in​ order to​ use NetMD on​ your computer,​ you would have to​ install their SonicStage (SS) software. Many people found that SonicStage was problematic. in​ some cases,​ it​ froze their computer systems. in​ other cases it​ used up a​ lot of​ system resources,​ had file transfer errors,​ and put restrictions on​ how often files could be transferred. Though Sony quickly came up with an​ update called SonicStage CP (SSCP),​ which was more usable. Their reputation was so tarnished by the​ original SonicStage that many former NetMD users still won't purchase Sony products.

Other people don't use Sony products anymore because of​ deceptive claims Sony made about NetMD on​ the​ NetMD product boxes and on​ the​ Sony NetMD website. Sony claimed the​ NetMD would be able to​ play MP3 files. What they didn't bother to​ mention was that the​ MP3 files would not be played natively but would have to​ be re-encoded by SonicStage into ATRAC format during the​ file transfer process. This not only meant that the​ sound quality of​ the​ MP3 files would be tarnished,​ but also that file transfers to​ the​ NetMD could take several hours.

It didn't help that Sony did not provide good product information to​ NetMD retailers. All during this time NetMD retailers were telling their customers that files could be transferred from the​ NetMD to​ their personal computers. Many people ended up deleting their original files on​ their computers after transfer only to​ find out later that they couldn't copy their NetMD files back onto their computers.

In 2004,​ Sony made a​ variety of​ fixes and upgrades to​ their MiniDisc product line with the​ release of​ the​ Hi-MD. Things such as​ USB two-way file transfers could now be done. For the​ first time,​ recordings could be uploaded from the​ recorder to​ the​ computer but only files that were recorded in​ the​ Hi-MD format. But for many former MiniDisc customers it​ was too late,​ as​ too much damage had been done to​ Sony's credibility. in​ addition to​ Sony,​ only Onkyo even bothered to​ make mini-component systems and home stereos using Hi-MD. But Kenwood,​ Teac,​ and Marantz still have MDLP systems on​ the​ market,​ even though Hi-MD is​ backwards compatible with the​ previous MiniDisc formats. Hi-MD contains 1 gigabyte of​ memory and records in​ PCM,​ otherwise known as​ WAV.

In April 2006,​ Sony came out with the​ MZ-RH1 portable Hi-MD recorder. This recorder went the​ extra step,​ not only could Hi-MD recordings be uploaded but also recordings made prior to​ the​ introduction of​ Hi-MD could be uploaded. Without blatantly admitting it,​ Sony was giving MD users the​ chance to​ upload all their MD recordings to​ computer so the​ files could be transferred to​ other formats as​ the​ MD-age was now coming to​ a​ close.

A whole generation in​ East Asia has now grown up using the​ MiniDisc formats. Many people have become hardcore fans. Many people haven't found a​ viable alternative for making real-time copies of​ music for replay without requiring the​ clunky intervention and use of​ a​ computer. Many people now collect MiniDisc systems just as​ a​ hobby. But the​ MiniDisc systems live on​ in​ popular usage because many people just want to​ be able to​ grab whatever they hear to​ hear again later.

Before There Was Ipod

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