A Conversation for Minidisc

tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 1

no soap

i beg to differ. as you said yourself mini disc loses 80% of the information. high frequencies become tinny, mid-range frequencies lose definition and colour, and bass frequencies can disappear altogether.

a good quality tape in a good quality tape deck can make an excellent recording. of course, there is not random access, but then i like to listen to an album end to end any day.

mp3, while suffering some of the same digital nastiness as minidiscs, are excellent because they are so convenient. you can email them, download, upload, splice, mix... the only limits are the software really.

even a cd suffers in comparison to a 12-inch 45rpm vinyl, though, with its lovely analogue continuous feed. although 33's don't scrub up quite so well.


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 2

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

I would disagree. Good quality minidisc recorders record perfectly. I haven't noticed any loss of sound. The Minidisc is also random-access so you don't wear it down by going back and forth the whole time. And finally, it's magneto-optic so once recorded it won't change unless you edit it.

And may I just ask, couldn't someone have edited my DCC article into this?


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 3

Azimuth

Well, they don't record *perfectly*, but the idea is that they're recorded using techniques where any loss of sound information can't be picked up by the human auditory system.

My big problem with tape is that the medium itself isn't stable; tape stretches and warps, and with every playing the quality degrades a little more - especially if you're using a Walkman-style player.

I've no experience of whether vinyl can sound better than CD given a suitably large sum of money and a well-stocked hi-fi retailer, but I imagine for most people (with midrange amplifier and decks, standard 'whoops, I've just dropped it' dexterity and optional animals / children) CD will win out due to its durability, ease of access and consistency of sound.

Holy war, anyone? smiley - winkeye

Azimuth


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 4

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Ok! If you're up for it smiley - smiley.

But I've noticed that the people who complain about MD are the same people who complained about CD. They are normally audiophiles and claim that records have a richer sound. But I don't want a richer sound if I have to have crackle or cannot change tracks without accuracy. I don't think my ears are any less sensitive but I have no complaints about MD or CD. I found many tape players are often more trebley and I refuse to agree that they are better quality than the digital formats smiley - smiley.


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 5

Azimuth

I was initially concerned about MD, I have to admit. The early versions of the ATRAC data reduction system did have serious flaws, but those were steadily improved over time. I bought one as a portable player, to replace my Discman which was rather impractical, so ultimate sound quality wasn't one of the initial factors. I expected it to be better than Walkman-tape, which it is. I can't tell the difference between the MD and my old Discman with digitally-copied source, apart from the fact that the batteries last at least four times as long, it's smaller, it doesn't skip as often, and I can record to it. I'm happy smiley - winkeye

I've posted this Minidisc-FAQ URL in another forum here but it might be of interest - has a comparison of the different ATRAC versions, and might clear some points up or dispel a few myths:

http://www.minidisc.org/minidisc_faq.html

But I'm trying to figure out which DVD player I should buy, now smiley - winkeye

Azimuth


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 6

no soap

i accept the point about many of the anti-minidisc heads are the vinyl purists who are also anti-cd, but not i.

my format of choice is the cd, because the sound quality is ace, if inferior to a 12-inch 45rpm played on a decent record deck with the right needle. but how much record time can you get on a 12-inch 45? 30 minutes?

but if you actually hook up a minidisc to a decent sound system you will notice that you have an inferior copy to that made on a good quality chrome tape. yeah, degradation of tape *is* an issue, but the purist wiull be willing to re-copy when needs-be.

minidisc is a great alternative for on-the-move listening, what with the random access. and with in-ear headphones, you probably won't notice the degradation of frequencies that i was talking about in my last post. but superior to a tape?

ok, lynch me now, but if you're making a master, the highest quality tape is actually a better recording than a cd. of course you probably need an £800+ tape deck to do it justice, plus a £100 walkman...

ah well...


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 7

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Yes, the way MD's ATRAC system just chops the 'excess' sound of is a bit harsh. But it does it well outside the human hearing range. Now, I have a very neat set up going here. In a sense I am an audiophile but more one that needs things like DTS and Dolby Digital. I agree that listening to the music live is different to having a magnet and a piece of card replaying it for you, but I would disagree about MD. Now, I have not tried to copy a MD to a MD again and again. Why? Because I don't need to. That's why I don't loose quality - I make one recording and that's it! Now with tape, deterioration will come into effect and so you need to backup it and then eventually copy the backup etc.. So I see MD as the superior format as it has all the access advantages - random access, easily editable, durable and small - and I would not believe that people would be able to tell the difference between MD and CD. Has any test been done? To get a hundred people to listen to different types of music recorded and original CD and see if most can feel a difference? If so, what are the results? smiley - smiley


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 8

no soap

no, your average person can't tell the difference between md and vinyl. the point about repeatedly recording from minidisc to minidisc is important as noticable degradation occurs. therefore degradation *must* occur with that first copy from cd. sure most people won't notice it with crappy headphones, but hook it up to a decent amp and some hefty wharfdales and i promise you anyone with working ears, an ear for music, and a concentration span will be able to tell the difference. (although i guess that rules most of us out.)

i agree that for everyday usage the md is more practical for high-definition recording.

my point is merely that a decent tape in a decent tape deck can produce a superior sound to minidisc and even cd.


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 9

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Well, "decent" seems to be expensive. And I say that if you are prepared to spend that much you might as well go for the DVD-Audio, recording a much greater range of frequencies. Just because if you copy a MD to a MD many times some degration occurs doesn't mean that there noticable degration occurs on the first copy. I have no idea what MD deck was used for the copying as normally one doesn't copy MDs to MDs (was it done with an analog link? Are you sure?). And I promise you that even on fair (not decent smiley - winkeye) systems, if you copy a tape to a tape to a tape many times, you will get deterioration as each time you go through that analog stage you get deterioration. So I would disagree that if you copy digitally with MD you get noticable deterioration. I have a 75ohm coaxial cable going from my hifi in my room, through the wall and outside, back in to the house and down through into the living room hifi. I decided to try plugging it in to the digital coaxial output and input of my MD decks. I recorded a MD onto a MD, digitally. Even though the cable is long and goes outside and I am using MD, nobody that heard the copy would be able to tell it was not the original. smiley - smiley


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 10

no soap

agreed, decent certainly is expensive. and with an expensive system you will notice the inferiority of md compared to cd, just as you will cd when compared to a vinyl 45. in both cases the sound is noticably richer, fuller, and more colourful.

of course noone really copies from md to md over and over, i thought i explained that that was just an illustration of the degradation that must occur on the first recording from cd to md.

clearly on a "fair" tape system, recording over and over will cause serious degradation in quality. but i'm talking in terms of the music purist, who will fork out for a "decent" tape deck, just as he will a decent md deck (which also, believe it or not, vary in quality). my only point is, if you're after the best possible quality recording possible, it would have to be with a tape.


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 11

Azimuth

Here's a question for you, then - which is better, tape or vinyl, and why? Do you have any detailed technical information on the processes involved in recording / playback for these different forms of media?

Azimuth


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 12

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Is minidisc a suitable answer to the above question? smiley - winkeye


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 13

no soap

lol


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 14

Azimuth

I'm trying to avoid the standard 'analogue is better than digital' arguments so that we can attempt to figure out just what it is about analogue that those people prefer, by comparing two different analogue-based formats... I'd honestly like to discover any scientific reasons behind the level of sound quality that some people say analogue provides.

Personally, I don't like vinyl, I don't like tape, and I'd much prefer to have a CD any day of the week - but I'm trying to keep an open mind here... smiley - winkeye

Azimuth


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 15

no soap

i intend to answer your questions asap!


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 16

Spruce

I like to listen to music while on the move. I always had nothing but trouble with tapes, not to mention the 'rolling' problem. So I tried a portable CD player. It kept skipping and scratched my discs. I finally got MD and wow! It's small and light, doesn't skip, doesn't roll, and has a great sound. It records too, which can be very handy. So I think the main strengh of MD is in it's portableness.

Spruce


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 17

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

Yes, and durability. I have only had one MD get ruined out of the many used in the past few years. Yesterday was the first time in the past few months that my MD stopped due to constant motion. A second later it was back where it lost itself. And I am a quality phanatic. If I thought I felt worse quality in a MD than a tape then I would definately return to tape. But so far I am much more satisified with the quality of a MD. I think it is more psychological - you believe there is a quality loss on the first digital recording and so you feel it. I don't and so I don't smiley - smiley.
But you never answered my question back then - when you were going on about proof that if you copy from MD to MD again and again you loose sound, are the MDs copied analogly or digitally?


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 18

Spruce

Sorry, I replied to the wrong message, so that wasn't me you were talking to. Anyway, MDs are generally copied analogue, because there's a built-in copy protection that means you can only make one digital copy. At least that's what mine does. I should think that repeated copying would be like continually loading and saving an MP3... it would create audible "artifacts". The same thing happens with JPEG. Incidentally, I think MD sounds far better than MP3. I'm also a quality freak and MD satisfies me, so it must be fairly good. I think they've found a great "middle ground" between quality and compression. MP3, however, is not quite good enough.


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 19

Azimuth

The problem with MP3 is that there's no real standard for quality of compression; different algorithms will produce MP3s with different characteristics. For instance, if you read the compilation and installation instructions for an MP3 encoder named BladeEnc, the author warns that using different compilers to create the DLL can greatly affect the overall quality of the MP3s produced.

Analogue recording on Minidisc shares the problems of analogue recording on anything else; background hiss is evident and recording level becomes all-important (the auto-level features of MD recorders aren't to be trusted; you get a much better result if you set the level manually). The neat trick of being able to record around 150 minutes of mono on one disc is quite useful if you want to record speech, though.

Azimuth


tapes not as good as minidiscs?

Post 20

Alon (aka Mr.Cynic)

I agree about MP3. But that's what I was saying about MD copying. If you professionally copied MD to MD digitally, you wouldn't have this quality loss occuring each time you pass the ATRAC system and the D/A and A/D converters. So I disagree that MD are lower quality than tape - as you (not you! smiley - winkeye)said, if you by a 'decent' deck, MD could reach the same quality smiley - winkeye.


Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more