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MiniDisc Players

In the world of audio electronics, few formats made less of a splash than Sony's MiniDisc players. Part of the problem was that while the format had technical merits, it entered the market at a price that kept it out of the hands of most consumers. Add in the confusion of introducing them at the same time as digital compact cassettes, and it's no surprise that for many the format simply never made enough of an impression to get market traction.


No discussion of MiniDisc players is complete without discussing Sony's ATRAC format. Like MP3, ATRAC is a compressed music format designed to store music in less space. The basic idea is that you can save storage space by only storing the sounds that people can actually hear and ignoring the rest. One interesting element of ATRAC is that unlike other formats, it's designed be played without decompression, reducing the playback overhead.


To the casual eye, there is nothing special to the MiniDisc. Much like a floppy disk, it comes in a plastic case 5 millimetres thick, with a sliding door for the read/write head. The cartridge itself is rectangular, just large enough to hold the 63.5 millimetre diameter disk. Like a CD, it uses a laser to read data, but it stores it magnetically, so all discs are recordable. Using blank MiniDiscs many users were even able to recreate the cassette experience of recording music straight from the radio.

The MiniDisc Experience

The small size of the media makes MiniDisc units very good portable players, even as digital audio has become more popular. The one thing to remember, though is that without good portable audio headphones, you can't enjoy the medium to its fullest extent.

Enjoying MiniDisc

Even with the plethora of current options, it can still be worth your while to have a MiniDisc player, if only to play your existing MiniDisc collection. As a format, it was available for over twenty years, so there is still a lot of music available for discerning listeners.

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