A MiniDisc early adopter reflects on portable digital music trends

[Updated] David Ing at Coevolving writes a post about where portable audio media is going. His perspective is primarily as a listener to music, but he also uses MiniDisc to record.

I’ve been researching audio hardware lately (equipment guide coming soon!) and the footnote of David Ing’s post has a jaw-dropper that needs further research: SonicStage (the software to transfer recordings from Minidisc to computer) has been updated for Windows Vista, but not all capabilities will be provided under the version that works on the new Operating System—the WAV Conversion Tool:

It is also important to note that MD Simple Burner along with CONNECT Player, WAV Conversion Tool and MP3 File Manager will not be supported under Windows Vista [emphasis mine, sorta]

I don’t use SonicStage (have a too-early version of SonicStage for my generation of MiniDisc player), so I’m not familiar with what WAV Conversion tool does. A little reading here and there tells me that there’s a digital rights management [DRM] software enclosure—called OpenMG—that’s created when you transfer the audio file to the computer (don’t know yet under what circumstances tho). The WAV Conversion Tool acts as your DRM get out of jail free converter that make the audio file a plain-ole WAV file.

Like I said, it bears further scrutiny.

[update: David Ing dropped by the comments and added more info here. Plus, he updated his post, too, to reflect further research. Thanks, David!]

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 24, 2007 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
3 CommentsPermalink

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Thanks for the trackback.

Just to clarify ....  Recording in Hi-MD format creates an .oma file, which is ATRAC, a Sony proprietary compressed format.  I record primarily lectures, so I record at 64kb.  The Sonicstage software transfers the .oma file to the PC, and then executes the WAV conversion.  (I’ve had occasion when that automatic conversion fails, e.g. for lack of disk space, and I’ve had to initiate the WAV conversion manually from inside Sonicstage).

To convert the WAV file to MP3 (usually at 64kb stereo, rarely at 48kb mono if it’s a telephone recording), I use Total Recorder (an inexpensive shareware program that has many uses).  I trim the beginning and end of the recording with MP3DirectCut, and then write the ID3 v1 information using Taggin’ MP3.

If I didn’t have the Sony RH-910, I might bypass the whole postproduction procedure by getting an Edirol R-09 or a Zoom H4.  Why would I stay on the current technology?  The answer is rechargable battery life.  I can record a day of lectures (8 hours, plus) on one charge.  I actually plug in the charger during breaks for a little bit of a boost during the day.

I have multiple AC adapters (because I have so many Sony products, and also bought one that works in Europe and Asia), and really try to avoid recording while plugged into the wall.  The adapters introduce a hum onto the recording.  It’s really bad with the European adapter, and I’ve just used Audacity with the notch filter to remove a mild 60 kHz hum in a recording I did in California.

I’m definitely looking at the Edirol R-09, and it’s a question as to whether I will just lock in to the current model, or whether I can wait for a follow-up model.  Roland doesn’t seem to change models every year, so it could be a wait, but technology is ever-improving, and battery life is one thing that improves a lot with each generation. 

The decision to jump may be driven more by when my laptop (a company-issued Thinkpad) gets upgraded to Vista.  I don’t like being locked into technology (i.e. operating system), but the Sony Hi-MD recording has been the best alternative circa 2004-2006.  My migration on digital audio playback could soon be followed by a migration on digital audio recording.

David Ing  on 05/25  at  05:05 AM

Susan, I’ve amended my post on the dropped support for WAV conversion, based on some intelligence gained on the minidisc.org forum.
The WAV conversion was integrated into the Sonicstage product, which is supported in Vista.  It’s the support for the separate application that has ended.

David Ing  on 05/26  at  10:06 AM

Cool. Thanks for the clarification on the WAV conversion. That’s helpful.

As you might’ve gathered by your visit to this site, I’m interested in using portable audio media for recording and recording in as high fidelity as possible (unlike your lecture to minidisc to WAV to MP3), I’m talking about tools you use now to create recordings that will go into your personal family attic. wink

Lots of options abound, and I’m trying to get a handle on all of them. But ultimately, for me, the question is what form will they take 30, 40, 50, 80 years hence when some descendent wants to listen to “what life was like for my great-great-great aunt back at the turn of the century.”

Susan A. Kitchens  on 05/26  at  12:09 PM

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