Sony MiniDisc: The (Not) Forgotten Audio Format That (Never) Failed 

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By the early 1990s, the humble compact cassette was starting to show its age. Electronics giant Sony developed what it believed to be the best successor to tape -- but so did a former business partner.

Special thanks to: Viewer Asaf for loaning several MiniDisc portables and accessories; V-Sync Co. Ltd. for providing archival photos; and to fellow USliftrs LGR, Geek Therapy Radio and Computer Clan for video clips.

Due to USlift video description character limits, I've posted the complete list of media credits, sources, and additional research material on my Patreon page -- it's freely available for all to access:



Please consider supporting my work on Patreon: www.patreon.com/thisdoesnotco...

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Music by
Birocratic ( birocratic.lnk.to/allYL ), Epidemic Sound ( www.epidemicsound.com ), Lakey Inspired ( www.soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired ) and Dan Mason ( danmason.bandcamp.com ).
Intro music by BoxCat Games ( www.box-cat.com ).

Published on


Jun 4, 2021




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Comments 3 658   
chrmanlovhum 19 minutes ago
Hi! It never took off here in Canada that much, those were very rare and Sam the recrdman had a small collection only, here in Eastern Canada We were still using cassettes and then plunge with CDs, mini disc was small niche and expensive and with the taxes here in Canada, it was prohibitive I think. The Copyright Industry here in Canada is very powerful, maybe that is why. Excellent video, the minidiisc was so rare around Canada that I do not remember the format that much, maybe in bigger Cities or in British Columbia where there are big contingents of Asians. Take good care and have a nice day and God bless.
Harold Ishoy
Harold Ishoy Day ago
Thanks for presenting this video, it is informative and very well written. Makes me glad I hung on to the many MD player/recorders, discs, cables remotes and other related items I have.
Chloe Hennessey
The microphone input was a nod to law enforcement. What better way to up your sales than offer the clearest taped testimony or the clearest audio from an informants worn wire? I remember going through the sheriffs station and in storage are a bunch of those Mini Disc recorders with the microphone in option.
The Butler
The Butler 2 days ago
I had a MiniDisk car stereo, a base unit with keyboard remote, optical cable ... and the Kodac DC4800 camera in the add at 30:51 q8)
J W 3 days ago
I can't recall what happened to my MD player that I had in high school back in the 1990's.. I remember it being being a blue Sony. I really liked it.. I wonder if it is my Mom's basement somewhere. I don't recall selling it.
corey Babcock
corey Babcock 3 days ago
Gloss 4 days ago
Who else thought of the psp too after seeing that mini disc
Gaétan Brisson
Gaétan Brisson 4 days ago
still have mine (mz-ne410)
Steger 13
Steger 13 4 days ago
I love those mini disc. I use to run with mine it never skip. I can store like 4cd in one mini disk. I still have it ater 15 years and still work. Funny they were worry about copying and now copying digital is everywhere.
mpd 4 days ago
I enjoyed this interesting video. I had MD players. Unfortunately the sound quality is not as good as CDs which are not great to begin with considering the limited resolution. This is why I ditched them in the 90s. The saving grace was that they didn't skip . . . which was the problem with portable CD players replacing the walkman cassettes. Skipping CDs due to vibration was a real problem for me in my car and when walking back in those days. The minidisk used a lossy compression format that was very noticeable when A/B'd vs a CD or vinyl . . . Sound quality was really lacking. Then the iPod came out and that changed everything
SuSmallville 5 days ago
what is the exact song in the background at 36:25?
Antun Katona
Antun Katona 6 days ago
A fantastic video, thank you! I am quite fond of MiniDisc. I've been wishing for one since 1998 when it first appeared in the shops here. I still have all the catalogs! Finally, I was able to get one in 2004 and I still have it. It was a fortune for a struggling engineering student but I had to have it. I think it instilled a sense of quality and reliability in me. I can safely say that modern-day consumer electronics can't approach what those Japanese manufacturers did at the time. Sadly, I don't use MD any longer but still, the idea of something really excellent has stayed in my mind and to this day I haven't been able to relive the experience, no matter what I try or buy. Cheers, mate!
Diego Mendes
Diego Mendes 7 days ago
Didn't know about DCC, amazing video.
Hari Seldon
Hari Seldon 7 days ago
Thanks so much for this video-I really liked my minidiscs in the early 2000s and I thought Net MD was excellent.
Pinoy Po Ako
Pinoy Po Ako 7 days ago
I go backwards, using my Alexa connected to my Technics 630T cassette deck and ripping music from Spotify to cassettes. I love it!!!
Moutton Noir
Moutton Noir 7 days ago
I still own 2 portable mini disc players and play them now and again. I liked the format, it was certainly a better portable solution than CD walkman! I also loved the convenience of being able to record at double speed- for the first time we had moved away from real time recording which was a real time consuming chore.
alexs87 7 days ago
i used MD to record my livesets at the club. Best way to do it
con fuzz
con fuzz 7 days ago
dcc was such a error ridden format , if you wanted to play standard cassettes on it your error rate on the digital readout (same read head) would go skyhigh , md on the other hand was much tougher
TheLostBoy1974 9 days ago
I loved the simple but useful editing function on MD.
Mark Rutter
Mark Rutter 9 days ago
If only they had not crippled mp3 playback with proprietary MD format. It was the extra bit of greed that held this back from mass adoption, fair prices and a longer product life.
One Hitter Quitter
I'm an 80s baby an miss a lot of this. My parents had cassette tapes an went to cd. Never saw anything else.
Arend van Campen
Arend van Campen 10 days ago
Thanks, this gives a die hard md user hope.
David Lees
David Lees 10 days ago
I love my Sony mini disc player and all my MD album's I bought it new in 1996 and it's got a remote and a leather pouch and I've got a nice pear of senhizer headphones whot I use with it nomatter wot I play wether it's rock classical trance reggae eneything the sound is stunning
David Lees
David Lees 10 days ago
In fact it was Philips that bought out the first laserdisc player in I think it wos about 1996 but the format diddent larst long and was took over by dvds in 2002 the laser disc was just to big so that maid it smaller hence the dvd was borne dispite the size of the laserdisc it could onley hold the same stuff wot the smaller dvd could hold so that's why thay maid it smaller
David Lees
David Lees 10 days ago
It was Phillips that bought out the first home cd player in 1982 and it was a top loader meaning like the front loading players you could not stak ather equipment on top of it the first front loading players I think was about 1988
David Lees
David Lees 10 days ago
How remembers the lasor disc from pioneer
David Lees
David Lees 10 days ago
I've still got my Sony mini disc wolkman in amakulat condition I've also got a lot of MD album's I use mini senhizer headphones when ime out and the sound quality is stunning
YONG CHEN SENG 10 days ago
now no more lol
ZONAVELHA 10 days ago
still got it still good
Quest 321
Quest 321 11 days ago
Best thing to take to a rave back in 99. All the DJ's wanted me to bring it cause it was a simple plug in to the PA system and boom. Got your set in CD quality. Miss my MD Recorder.
Buster Smith
Buster Smith 11 days ago
Eh I was really interested in this topic but this person presented it in a really boring way. Stopping 6mins in yo find a different video on this topic
Brian Korsedal
Brian Korsedal 11 days ago
I loved mini-disc!
pastoo25 11 days ago
Bringing back the memories.... Here, have an upvote.
Coach Alps
Coach Alps 11 days ago
I bought my first Minidisc back in 2001. It was a Net MD MZ N707. 20 years on, and I'm still using it to this day to record and play music. Despite the ease of copying/playing songs in an iPod (and eventually smartphones), nothing can replace the feeling of having a physical media that you can record and pop into a deck or player. Just a sight of my MD collection in front of my work desk brings nostalgia and simple joy. Choosing just a few of your favorite songs, transferring them into MD, then popping the disc into my Net MD at work or my MD stereo deck at home is something I'll never get tired of. Despite its limitations, it's the perfect format for my listening pleasure, second only to vinyl.
I still have both models MDS-101 and MDS-JE480 at home. I'll never get rid of those. I'm not the one converting myself to the all-exclusive digital era and tools. Yes, they're handy, but when the technology fails, you lose everything if you only store online or on clouds. The analog technology never fails.
Sure Thing
Sure Thing 12 days ago
VetteD SiN
VetteD SiN 14 days ago
i miss my sony md.
Fernando Martinez
Fernando Martinez 14 days ago
I always wanted a MD, but it were way too expensive in Latin America. In 1996 I ended getting a CD recording (external SCSI one). My copies were 1:1 from original. So it was *NO* point getting a MD anymore.
TS 14 days ago
I had an MD car stereo hehe.
Delassa 15 days ago
Man I would have loved those kiosks to be available. Loved my MD player and would have used the hell out of that.
Tiberiu Nicolae
Tiberiu Nicolae 15 days ago
Flash memory killed all the cool stuff. It was inevitable and for the better... But not as cool for sure
DezFoto 15 days ago
I still have a home component version kicking around here somewhere. I loved the MD, but just like the narrative in the video, I completely dropped it once the iPod came out.
Sam Sharpe
Sam Sharpe 15 days ago
Yeah its an mp3 we know this man
Nicolas Martin
Nicolas Martin 16 days ago
I spent far too much time and money on this bridge format. It's well forgotten. I think Sharp made superior devices. When I switched to CDs for recording music, about 90 percent of the discs, then expensive, went in the trash due largely to crap software. I never saw a DCC recording unit or pre--recorded product in a store.
ImDino 16 days ago
Man I miss MD, I had several units throughout the years
Rambo431 16 days ago
Can I put it in my psp?
A Todaso
A Todaso 16 days ago
I remember when my friend got one in high school, it was pretty cool until the ipod came out.
Mark Allen
Mark Allen 16 days ago
24Bit/96k is what we want today. Where is that format? I would love to see that on a buyable disk. But, I remember Sony buying out the American music, that's when I decided that I would never buy a Sony product again, this is a big part of Sony's failure.
masterscott555 17 days ago
Great video! I got one in the past and I was really happy with it. Sometimes I'm thinking "why don't we use them anymore?". The split second I forgot about streaming and MP3 for a moment.....
ixnine 17 days ago
I had the Sony MZ-E40 and damn did I love that thing! I wish I still had it, can’t say for the life of me what happened to it and my discs.
Fredrik Mårtensson
I'm a bit late to the party - Bought my 1st MD-player 5 yo, it´s now 4 portable players (2 of which are recorders), and 100-110 MD's. I really love the format, mostly because of the size, but also the retroside of it all. Yeah and it's also kinda neat that many have never seen one ^^
Master_Misanthrope 17 days ago
We've lost something in the last 20 years... technology used to have soul... now everything is a souless, attention sucking, plain slab with a screen... I hate 2021, can we go back?
BIGWillie Wilson
BIGWillie Wilson 17 days ago
The best digital format ever....I used to have a collection of about 14 Sony portable MD Players...I'm still using a Sony MZ-E32 as my walkman when most are using their mobile phones...
Alister Voltaire
Alister Voltaire 18 days ago
If Sony had let the computer be used to it's maximum extent they could have turned the minidisc into the same standard as the floppy disc but they didn't. It was great in the car, as you didn't need to worry about the discs getting damaged.
Blue Azure
Blue Azure 18 days ago
When I was a kid, I thought that I could play psp games on my gamecube by removing the plastic case :'l
RomanceR • 19 years •
i had a Sony portable mini-disc recorder back then. My dad got it from his credit card points, he said it cost 1000 points equivalent to $1000 and it couldn't be bought anywhere in America. There was also an equipment distribution and retailing problem with mini-disc. At the time the big electronics retailers like circuit city and radioshack didn't even stock equipment or blank media until a year after since my dad gifted me the recorder and player I was 15 y/o back then all my friends were impressed and asked its price and where they could get one. Mini-disc failed in America in awarness, price and distribution.
lois gages
lois gages 18 days ago
fuck sake this was boring... still watched it tho
This Does Not Compute
yeah I probably should have thrown a few random explosions in there just to spice it up
Johan Bunde Kondrup
Early 90's? Wasnt it more like early-mid 00's
MattIsLoling 18 days ago
gamecube was on that gangster shit
Trevor Madsen
Trevor Madsen 18 days ago
I am happy that MD couldn`t be dominant at the time in US and Europe instead CD. Rewritable medium could be dangerous for music market, and CD was not.
Styreta X
Styreta X 18 days ago
My dad is a gadget freak and had this in his car. I loved playing with the little cassettes while driving. Growing up I dont think ive ever heard of anyone else using the format though, such a shame.
misterclownface 18 days ago
Wow, i didn't know MiniDisc's lasted through 2011-2013. I thought it died around early 2000s.
HalfBreedMix 18 days ago
14:20 " Type-R ", so we all know this unit could play faster :-)
Curry Chips
Curry Chips 18 days ago
Still better than CDs.
Andy 18 days ago
One of the kids in my Scout troop had a MD player in the 90s, when most of us still had tape players. When we saw what it could do (sound quality, song skipping, small size, etc), we all wanted it! While MD might not have become the dominant format, it definitely helped to set expectations for what the next generation of music players had to be.
Carlos G
Carlos G 18 days ago
Was the Sony psp UMD an offshoot of this?
Baptiste 18 days ago
Back then, I was SO angry on the iPod for shading the capacities of MD: the quality was bad, and it was absolutely impossible to record anything on the go like it was possible with the MD. I could ABSOLUTELY NOT understand why people would prefer the iPod…
Marc Browne
Marc Browne 18 days ago
I always wanted a Minidisc player. The rich kids at my school all had them. I think their flaw was not embracing the storage potential earlier on. I remember thinking how much better they were than floppy disks in the early 90s, but Sony failed to make them the go-to replacement, then Zip came along and stole their chance. Also, they could hold a lot of music in MP3 format, they should have supported that format much earlier on.
Richard Fear
Richard Fear 18 days ago
I still have my MD recorder component and a 6 disc MD changer for car audio, though it's not hooked up. Loved the format, shame it never went anywhere.
David Gann
David Gann 19 days ago
I loved fact that you could get 40 hours of listening off of one AA battery!!! It was great for me in the military. I even jumped it a couple of times. Loved the format, hated the Sony software that it used.
Rob Higham
Rob Higham 19 days ago
A minidisc player is still part of my audio setup
Thomas Madman
Thomas Madman 19 days ago
Around 20:00 minutes in, this guy waffles so much
str1xt 18 days ago
No, you have zero patience. Probably a gen x or whatever you snowflakes are called.
Dr Rhomboid Goatcabin
Loved my mini disc players. Being able to make a big mix “tape” on a skip free small (for the time) device was just awesome.
John Thornhill
John Thornhill 19 days ago
I owned 4 different minidisc players and something like 500 disks. I loved these little things and miss them now.
frank doster
frank doster 19 days ago
My sony md player was great. Loved the format
The Wandering Albatross
I had a MD player back in 96, 97. Never heard of DCC. I remember having a limited selection of new albums being sold at Best Buy on MD.
Leo carvalho
Leo carvalho 19 days ago
I honestly expected nothing then I saw my dude put in a hitomitoi cd and I was just not expecting it
MC Save
MC Save 19 days ago
Blu-ray або HD DVD?!?
Giovanni van Haaren
This is awesome. If you own disc's that don't work anymore; bypass the sensor that stops the minidiscplayer when opening the disc compartment. Take of the metal plate of a working minidisc with 74min of sound on it. Put it in, let it read the index of the disc and than quickly change it for the broken minidisc. Voila, enjoy lost music.
simon harrison
simon harrison 19 days ago
Man, I had about 200 MD's. All laboriously named using the remote on my Sony recorder. Nearly broke my heart when I eventually emptied them into the a skip at the local dump.
Kevin Olson
Kevin Olson 19 days ago
I had a minidisc recorder and portable player. Ultimately I gave up on it. Great video!
Patrick Bailey
Patrick Bailey 19 days ago
Omg, had a Sony auto reverse walkman, then an anti-shock CD walkman and fell in love with the MD walkman and later on the NetMD walkman... But the ipod vídeo was a no brainer.
Fabio Zuluaga
Fabio Zuluaga 19 days ago
This is so nostalgic
Tim Monta
Tim Monta 20 days ago
I had mini disk and was very nice. Never ever heard about the dcc.
RetroLux 20 days ago
I installed a Sony minidisc deck in my 1988 Toyota Hilux Surf (aka 4Runner) in 1998. I still have both the vehicle and the MD player however a few weeks ago my MD deck stopped powering on. I love it so much that I found the exact same MD model with a different fault on eBay and it's currently being shipped from Germany all the way to me in New Zealand. When it gets here I'll hopefully make one fully operating deck out of the two. My local car stereo business think I'm mad, but after more than 20 years, any other stereo in my truck would just be wrong.
Paul Barker
Paul Barker 20 days ago
I loved my mini disc player
John Brown
John Brown 20 days ago
If they made it a 24bit audio player I think would taken off better
Valcor 20 days ago
32:10 poor Sony just when it was finally looking good in comes the ipod 😂😂 Makes sense why I never hear of MD devices
Valcor 20 days ago
30:00 literally my childhood downloading songs from limewire
Valcor 20 days ago
11:35 I mean the labels had a point 😂😂 Everyone had a cd burner music basically became free
Youtube Emperor of Mankind
I loved the MD. My old player was stolen by a drug addict.. for years I always thought of my awesome MD player that I loved so much because of its awesome quality.. even the MP3 players simply werent as awesome. And 2 months ago I got a used MD player (Sony (Walkman(but its a MD player))MODEL: MZ-R500) that uses only 1 normal AA battery (rare, they usually use those weird flat square rechargeable batteries). The quality is amazeballs. Even better than I remember. But the best part by far is that I only had to pay 40€ and 3 discs included. AMAZING. So happy!
Tavpanda 20 days ago
Had one of these in middle school before the zune came out lol and then apple took over
Ten0chtl1 20 days ago
Concerned for copyright infringement Napster: Hold my beer.
Shane Day ago
Metallica has entered the chat...
Jung K
Jung K 20 days ago
Wokemans were awesome
GobiCanuck 20 days ago
I loved my mini disc. I backpacked across China for two years with it.
g metz
g metz 20 days ago
I missed this Walkman
Channel customization
I dream about Sony MZ-M200!
Isma Linkin
Isma Linkin 20 days ago
I still use my old solid state Walkman and convert every song to atrac3 plus, the quality is amazing
NorMac384 / Cam Magee
I still have mine!
Lubomir Vatchkov
Lubomir Vatchkov 21 day ago
Very nice watch! 👍