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Old April 10th, 2005, 08:57 PM   #1
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Recording Audio Using a MiniDisc Recorder

Does anyone do this? If so, does anyone have any suggestions as to a make and model that records well. It would need to have a mic jack. Also, can someone explain to me what the optic input is? All comments and replies will be very much appreciated.
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Old April 10th, 2005, 10:17 PM   #2
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The optical input is a way of making digital recordings that bypass the minidisc's internal preamps by way of a fiber optic cable. It lets you connect the minidisc to the optical output of a CD player (which encodes the recording with copy protection) or to an A/D converter, which often does not. That's how we do it. We have a Sony MZ-N10 which sounds pretty good on its own, but with the A/D converter I'm comfortable leaving a lot more headroom, since there is less internal noise. We capture in real time using a desktop unit with optical outputs (consumer level portables only have analog outputs).

It works for us, but minidisc is a dying technology. Sony has moved on to HiMD, which has much higher capacity (allowing uncompressed recordings), and allows faster than real time digital transfers, but there's no Mac support and I believe recordings made with an A/D coverter are restricted. Also, you can apparently only transfer digitally once with Sony's software, but there are hacker workarounds. These same workarounds will also let you capture recordings made with an A/D converter. So it's one step forward and two steps back.

There are a host of hard disk recorders that are really breathing down the format's neck, given Sony's continued bullheaded behavior. Minidisc has the advantage in that you can add to your audio system incrementally. We bought the minidisc first, and it was a big improvement over the camera's audio, even with the analog transfer. Then I bought the desktop unit, and that was a big improvement because it eliminated the second analog stage. Then we added the A/D converter, and there was less distortion and noise. After that, we added a three channel mixer and as far I'm concerned we have a very compact, flexible system that lets us archive our recordings very cheaply and conveniently. But if you add up all the cost -- $300 (minidisc), desktop unit ($285), A/D converter ($300), mixer ($1,200) -- there are a lot of other options in the $2,000 range. Not everybody has that much money up front though, and with all the pieces together, it's still a very elegant solution that isn't awkward at all. Also, I feel like the mixer, which was the single most expensive component, will still be useful for any other future format we care to adopt.

Would I have gone with minidisc if hardisk technology had been as advanced when we started? That's a tough question. I can only say that we're very happy with the setup that we have now, and I expect it to last us for a good five years or so.
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Old April 11th, 2005, 05:15 AM   #3
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Thank you for the quick reply. So would you advise the use of MiniDisc, or HiMD. I have been looking into HiMD but none of the recorders seem to have mic jacks, which really bothers me. Our price range is limited to about $300 maybe a little more. I was looking at the Marantz PMD670 last night, and it seems to be what I need, but the price is almost too high. Any suggestions?
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Old April 11th, 2005, 07:35 AM   #4
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It's a very personal decision. You haven't mentioned what camera you're using. Some of them have pretty good preamps. I think I'd rather have an external preamp with a limiter and record direct to camera before I went out and bought a minidisc or the Marantz. If you've got the money, I don't think there's any question that the Marantz will give you better results than HiMD. I'd take that $300 bucks and get an MM1, and expand from there.
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Old April 11th, 2005, 11:49 AM   #5
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We are shooting with a Canon 1CCD camcorder that we turned into a mini35. I am not sure the exact model, I would have to ask my filmming partner. He is incharge of the camera.

You say to expand, what else would you suggest investing in. I see what you have invested in, but what is necessary to begin with besides just the MiniDisc recorder. All of our work is digital and will be uploaded to computer for further editing.

I will look into the MM1 and see what all it has.
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Old April 11th, 2005, 09:01 PM   #6
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The minidisc will have a higher signal to noise ratio, letting you leave more headroom. But with a limiter, you can record a hotter signal so the minidisc's advantage isn't as pronounced. If your camera has a meter and manual gain settings, I'd get a preamp with a limiter like the MM1 and just record to camera and save yourself some trouble. You can always add the minidisc later, or other recorder. In either case, you will need an XLR adapter, like one made by Sign Video or Beachtek. The Sign Video adapters are designed for active mixing, and last I heard the Beachteks are not. With the Beachtek the knobs click into place, so you can't make adjustments on the fly. Some people like that because the knobs won't shift on you, but if you go with minidisc over the MM1, you'll need to be able to make mic fine adjustments while recording.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 11:55 AM   #7
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Before buying MD, take a look at the new Marantz "walkman" style recorder that can use CompactFlash non-volatile media and hard disks:http://www.d-mpro.com/users/folder.a...9&SubCatID=180

There is also a larger product capable of higher resolution audio:http://www.d-mpro.com/users/folder.a...9&SubCatID=180
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Old April 13th, 2005, 06:35 PM   #8
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Thank you Marco, we already have an XLR adapter from our previous film ventures that we hooked up directly to the camera from our exernal mic. We were looking into the Marantz PMD670, tried to grab one on Ebay, but apparently they are pretty popular. I looked into the Sony MZ N1 the lower model of the one you have I believe, it seems to be what we need and in the price range we are looking at. Have a bid in now, the auction goes off in three days, so we will keep our fingers crossed.
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Old April 13th, 2005, 06:38 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ignacio Rodriguez : Before buying MD, take a look at the new Marantz "walkman" style recorder that can use CompactFlash non-volatile media and hard disks:http://www.d-mpro.com/users/folder.a...9&SubCatID=180

There is also a larger product capable of higher resolution audio:http://www.d-mpro.com/users/folder.a...9&SubCatID=180 -->>>

I was looking at it, we are leaning more towards MD for it's ability to cheaply archive recorded audio. With the Marantz "walkman" style. and the previously mentioned PMD 670 you have to back up to the Compact Flash cards, which while not extremely expensive, are still pricey to keep replacing, where as MD is a cheap and reliable format. Thanks for the advice though.
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Old April 13th, 2005, 07:41 PM   #10
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> Compact Flash cards, which while not extremely
> expensive, are still pricey to keep replacing, where
> as MD is a cheap and reliable format.

Archiving to CD or DVD is even cheaper. But of course you have to copy the stuff... takes a little time, yes. I know.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 05:08 AM   #11
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Well the MiniDisc looks like the way to go. You just got to think of it as experimentation towards a better product. If we don't like it, we try something else.
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