the ShortWave Signals
Mini Disc (MD) vs Compact Cassettes
home Mini Disc home deck, the MDS-JE480 (discontinued in early
Sadly....Sony no longer sells a "Mini Disc" home deck in the US market.
However it's NOT all doom and gloom for "Mini Disc" decks.
Teac offers the feature loaded TASCAM MD-CD1MKIII MD / CD model (see picture below)
As I indicated on the
AR7030 page, I very much like to make recordings off my shortwave
receivers to enjoy the good catches again. When I first started
doing this back in 1977, I was just using the good old "Compact
Cassette" to archive on. How it has all changed.
Shortwave Radio Recording......Hit that "Record" button....
Just about anytime I'm hearing a signal that even sounds remotely interesting on my receivers, I automatically switched on a Reel to Reel tape deck . Most of the time was nothing, but I have had too many times where I have said, Darn..missed that. So its a natural reflex now to just hit the record. Reel to Reel had worked great to make the "Catch" off the air. Then I edited this (if needed) down to the Mini-Disc, to really save into my archives. But now I use mini-disc or a flash audio recorder in place of the Reel to Reel to even make "the catch" and sounds even better . No real degrade at all of the orginial reception. I can make one digital to digital copy with no problem, so now edit from the one mini-disc deck (or flash recorder) to another MD deck where I make the master to keep and archive.
The lousy "Compact Cassette"
Just as the title says, and it sure is. Oh, I have used it over the years to archive onto as it was the most easiest and smallest package that you could have used. But, as anyone knows, that uses the compact cassette format , it has way too many problems. Jammed tape in the housing (from fast fowarding and rewinding), stretched tape, dropouts (caused by the stretching), pressures pads that go sour. Cassette's are very sensitive to head alignment..and can sound wavy real easy. And of course the MAIN real problem is the actual audio quality...hiss...hiss....and more hiss. Dolby I have never liked, and does not work on SW signals well anyway. Making any dubs from Cassette to Cassette are a bad deal...quality of the recording only goes down hill. We could go on...but the point sticks, cassette's stink for any audio archiving.
recordable "Mini Disc" format is pocket small and has
more protection over a standard CD.
Mono mode doubles the time (non LP modes).
What is this "Weird" looking thing ??
In a nutshell, its a digital format, uses a laser to record and pick up the data off the disk. Using standard mode (74 min on older discs) 80 mins can be recorded (Stereo). If you don't mind a bit of "degrade" of the recording, new "LP2 / 4" and Hi-MD modes that will give you hours and hours on ONE disc. Most newer Decks have a "Mono" mode which double the recording times (cannot be used with the new LP or Hi-MD modes however). Being I use Mini Disc for recording shortwave signals this is what I of course use, and can get up to 160 mins of recording time on just one disk using the standard mode. Access is just like on a CD...so no more Fast Forward and Rewinding to hunt down a segment as much. Just like a CD, you can have tracks (any way YOU want it).
You can also put alpha tags on each one of these track's . Again, you are able to make one Digital to Digital dub (Mini-Disc's have a copy protection for digital to digital copies , you can make one), so a back up sounds just as good as the first. As far as storage goes, you can put 16 of these in some 3 by 5 index card boxes.
So why not (CD) CDR / CDRW or even MP3's ??
First is the
fact that CD's (CDR-CDRW's) are not very well protected.
They can still get scratched, fingerprints, dust, hair.....peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches...you get the idea, they can
still get damaged fairly easy.. MD's are in a protective
shell, and with a damp clean cloth, general
dirty-ness can be cleaned off without touching the actual
surface of the disc at all.
You can get
160 mins of MONO recording time on a single MD without
heavy compression (even more with the LP2/4 or Hi-MD
formats). Try that with your CDR-CDRW in a non compresed
"Digital" Media (perfect for audio archiving) .
Mini Disc's can cost less than $2 each. Try and purchase
a static memory device for that even today ?
features. WITHOUT USING A COMPUTER, you
can cut, move, delete tracks etc, with the "Mini
Disc" format (home decks and better portables). And
this can be done well after the disc has been recorded.
On the newer units you can even correct the recording
level after the fact.
for each track...yep another one that CD-R's lack.
And of course
the great small size which makes for the nice small MD
portable units that exist.
Again MD has a much less compressed format (non LP modes) when compared to MP3 , so MUCH better quality. Perfect for audio archiving,
Update : Don't
Say It's a Dead Format !!!....It's NOT.
OK, the format has taken a back seat to the latest and greatest (iPods, MP3 players, flash memory....etc). So it's a bit on the back burner these days even for me. I even use digital flash recorders to capture the audio off the air now (but not always). However, I still use and archive to the "Mini Disc" format and listen just as I have always been doing. I will admit that at the same time I also archive to a CD-R (using WAV files) when I have enough to fill one up. I normally do not use MP3 files for transfer of my own "off air" recordings to a CD-R. But with CD-R's having no "mono" mode, it takes TWO CD-R's to transfer the audio that would fit on ONE 80 min. mini-disc (high quality standard mode). MD is still a excellent format for storage of archive radio audio. Teac / Tascam are still selling a NEW MD /CD Player combo deck (at time of writting). Of course there is always the used market, A.K.A. "ebay". Do some general internet searches too. Yes, of course blank MD's are still being made. One may not be able to purchase blank MD's at a local level anymore (again the internet / mail order).
The (Teac) Tascam Combo MD- CD1MKIII Mini Disc / CD Player Deck (not tested).
(click on photo above for more information)
(ATRAC) MD Data Bit Rates
LP2 (Long Play 2)
LP4 (Long Play 4)
comments from Ken Pohlmann
Roll Your Own
literally thousands of commercial recordings available
there should be a recording to meet even the most obscure
taste. Add in new releases, re-issues, retrospectives,
and collections and the selection is infinite. But even
with all that is currently available in the pre-recorded
format, many folks still feel compelled to roll their own.
Simply by using that red record button, you can have
Zappa, Beethoven, Everclear, Led Zeppelin, Boys II Men
and Bach jamming together. Hey, why not? For legal,
private use, copying can increase your music collection
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