AfterDawn: Glossary


MiniDisc is a magneto-optical disc developed by Sony Corp. It was announced in 1991 and made its international debut in 1992. The MiniDisc gained a lot of attention (and still has a considerable amount of attention) in the Japanese market. The small disc was designed to store digital audio originally, marketed as an alternative to the bigger and less durable CD discs used with the CD-Audio format, but keeping the same quality. The first discs, which are enclosed in a cartridge (68x72x5 mm) with a sliding door (that cannot be pushed aside as easily as a floppy disc even though it looks similar) and offered up to 60 minutes of audio content.

The 60 minute discs were phased out long ago however, replaced by 74 minute and 80 minute discs instead. For audio compression, MiniDisc uses the ATRAC format. ATRAC stands for Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding. It represents proprietary compression algorithms created by Sony Corp. and used with many of its digital audio electronics and until recently, was used with Sony's web-based Connect music download service. ATRAC strives to keep the same quality as CD-Audio with much lower bitrates.

With ATRAC3, MiniDisc got a blessing with MDLP, which added LP2 mode stretching the amount of audio per disc from 80 minutes possible to 320 minutes with medium quality. MiniDisc is not just used for audio either, MD Data and the more recent Hi-MD format allow the MiniDisc to be used to store data and not just audio.

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Here are some news items in the AfterDawn archives that relate to this item..

Sony to dump Connect music service - (August 31st, 2007)
Sony acknowledged that its proprietary ATRAC music format was a market flop by shutting down all its Connect music stores and making its devices compatible with other formats.

Sony kills off ATRAC and SonicStage with latest MP3 player - (April 28th, 2007)
The Sony B100 series of portable MP3 players killed off the ATRAC format.

Sony admits ATRAC was a mistake - (January 23rd, 2005)
Ken Kutaragi has stated that Sony has missed out on the sales of MP3 players and other gadgets by sticking to proprietary formats such as ATRAC.

Multiformat 128kbps public listening test - (May 13th, 2004)
The brief results of a listening test that pitted the most popular digital audio formats of the time against each other. ATRAC3, used with MiniDisc, was found to be second last.


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