The MiniDisc system was
introduced in the consumer audio market as a new digital audio playback and recording
system. The introduction time was just ten years after the introduction of the
Compact Disc (CD). As is known, CD has effectively replaced the vinyl LP records
in the audio disc market. CD technology is based on 16-bit quantization and 44.1-kHz
sampled digital audio recording. The CD sound quality was fairly improved compared
to any consumer analog recording equipment.
starting the CD business, many engineers engaged in the development of the CD
solely for its improvement in sound quality, but after the introduction of the
CD player into the market, we found out that the consumer became aware of the
quick random-access characteristic of the optical disc system. The next target
of development was obviously to be the rewritable CD. Two different recordable
CD systems were established. One is the write-once CD named CD-R and the other
is the re-writable CD named CD-MO.
of cassette tapes had been decreasing since 1989. Even if recordable CD were to
be accepted by the consumer, it would still be difficult to break into the portable
market. Here, portable compact cassette dominated because of its strong resistance
to vibration and its compactness. Clear targets for a new disc system were to
overcome these weaknesses. Sony was able to achieve this by introducing a disc
system called MiniDisc (MD).
The name, MiniDisc (MD), comes from its size.
MiniDisc was developed by as an audio media that combines the merits of both CD
(supreme quality) and Tape (recordable). The disc, with a diameter of 64 mm and
thickness of only 1.2 mm, is placed inside a cartridge of 72 X 68 X 5 mm.
cartridge protects the disc from exposures and withstand forces eliminating problems
that connects with CD (scratches) or tape (tangles). The Minidisc is based on
Magneto-Optical technology, which is essentially a method of recording information
by using a laser to alter magnetic information on the disc. In order to alter
the information, the disc has to be heated to a high temperature, meaning that
if left on a desk near a magnet, it should remain unaffected, unless you heat
the disc to the required 180°C.
Premastered MiniDiscs are used most commonly for music and
are sold in record stores just the same as compact cassettes and CDs are. Minidiscs,
just like CDs, are manufactured in large volumes by high-speed injection molders,
and the music signals are recorded during replication in the form of pits. Moreover,
the discs are encased in a cartridge, so there is no worry about their being scratched.
The design of the premastered Minidisc cartridges is special. Prerecorded music
packages require a label, featuring the artist's picture or other information.
Therefore the top face of the cartridge is left completely free for the label.
A window for the laser beam to read the disc
is only necessary on the bottom face. Both a CD and a Minidisc can store the same
amount of music. The difference is that a Minidisc uses a digital compression
technique called ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) to compress audio
data in 1:5 ratio by eliminating inaudible frequencies and faint background noises.
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