Mini Disc or DAT player?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Maestro, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    I am thinking about getting a mini disc, bit someone mentioned that it might be better to get a DAT player. Any ideas which would be best please?
  2. Dave1

    Dave1 Member

    Depends on what you want to use it for. These days DAT is old, mini disc is limited and MP3 seems to be the way forward. I use an ARCHOS MP3 player for pleasure and work and it is very good. Great memory and easy to use with the PC.
  3. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    I've got a minidisk recorder for school which you can use with the PC as well which is very nifty! The sound quality is good with a decent microphone, well decent enough to record coursework. As Dave says, it depends on what you need it for.
  4. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    It's horses for courses (as usual). DAT is better quality (I think the BBC etc use it for hand-held recording 'in the field'), but much dearer and (these days) harder to find. Bit like Betamax. MD is pretty good, I have one for the car, plus we use one to tape runthroughs at rehearsal and the quality is plenty good enough. The only limiting factor is the length of the discs, 80 min normal and 160 min compressed is as much as you can get in stereo, although you can get 320 min on in mono. I have heard that Sony are bringing out some fancy new MD recorder that will store 30+albums per disc, but it's a while off yet. Their "Net MD" players will transfer from PC to MD, but not the other way round 'cos they're scared of piracy (unless you can get the dodgy software!).
    MP3 is the 'latest thing', because of the ease of transfer to PC's and the high storage capacity, but I'm not sure what the recording is like, all of the ones I've seen were purely players.
    What ever you choose, if you're planning on taping rehearsals or anything else you want to be looking at spending nearly as much on the mike(s) as you do on the recorder, get the best you can afford, it really does make a big difference.
  5. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    DAT without a doubt in terms of quality. :wink: :wink:
  6. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I'd use MD for convenience sake. I always found DAT rather fiddly.

    Interestingly, I did some work for YTV/Granada not so long ago and all their OB recording was done onto Minidisc. The idea that MD isn't broadcast quality just isn't true.

  7. Dave1

    Dave1 Member

    I work in the acoustics industry, with sound level meters and recording stuff like that. We have a system that uses a precision microphone and archos MP3 player for recording nuicance neighbours and the like. The quality is excellent and has to be so for court purposes.
    :oops: Don't tell my boss but I use it to record band sometimes too.
  8. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    I have an Archos Mp3 player/recorder, although not recorded anything on it yet! :wink:
  9. bagpuss

    bagpuss Active Member

    As has already been stated, MD is a great format to use (depends on what you have in mind though). It's got great sound quality, it's easy and it's cheap. I've had no direct experience with DAT although speaking to a friend of mine who is an audio/visual technician, it IS still used but most people go for the convenience of recording onto a hard drive now and then burning what they want onto a cd.

    Having been meaning to get an MP3 player for some time now, I listened to a friend's mp3 player a few days ago and I have to say I was distinctly underwhelmed. I'd heard that due to the compression, some sound was lost at certain wavelengths but I hadn't realised just how much. Yes I realise you can change the bit rate at which it's compressed but that makes the file bigger and therefore defeats the object somewhat. I was not impressed at all by the sound quality compared with my MD player (with the same album). I know that some people say that it makes little difference, but it was too noticeable for me to part with my cash to get one of these when I've got a BETTER MD player already.

  10. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    I must admit, more and more Brass Banders are using Mini Disc Recorders.

    And although my recording training and experience has been quite extensive, I would recommend Mini Disc recorders for the average musician. The quality is subjective, but to be completely honest, it isn't good enough for commercial release on CD. If your ears are trained you'll probably be able to tell the difference between MD and CD. mp3 compression is different from that of MD; the high frequencies go haywire and the noisefloor tends to get risen up (because it uses compression and alot of it!). But will be good enough for any amateur recording.

    Mini Discs use a compression technology but the sound quality is adequate for any amateur use, although watch ur meters, MD's have a lower dynamic range than 16-bit 44.1kHz.

    You might find it useful to read the 'Complete Guide to Audio Mastering' that I wrote in the Devilish Publishing V-Library as a related subject.
  11. bagpuss

    bagpuss Active Member

    I am NOT just a brass bander

    And yet I prefer the sound of MD to the sound of CD, I find the clarity better and the dynamic range better too. It is much easier to hear the full range of sounds on a MD than a CD
    See above

    So can you tell me why so many MP3's are going about at the moment, if they are only good enough for the amateur???

  12. Fishsta

    Fishsta Active Member

    I would personally reccommend one of those CD-based MP3 players. You can fit more than just one album on one CD at whatever quality you like.

    Great if you just want to have one CD with you with over half a gigabyte of music.

    I'm looking forward to them bringing out one that can read not just MP3, but WAV, WMA, OGG, XM, MOD, S3M, and everything else.
  13. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    You may prefer the sound of MD, but James is right CD quality is better. Basically the quality ranges from CD as the highest thru MD then down to MP3 as the lowest. If you're not hearing the full range on CD then I'd be looking to get better equipment. Without wanting to get into too technical a discussion it's basically down to two factors - sample rate and frequency clipping. CD is sampled at a high rate with minimal frequency clipping, hence the reason you can only fit maybe 12 to 15 tracks on a CD. ATRAC (MD) and MP3 are sampled at a much lower rate and employs clipping of the very high frequencies which humans cannot hear meaning that it cuts out a lot of the bandwidth, resulting in a much smaller size for the track. The high frequencies clipped off do however add to the overall tonal quality of the recording meaning that the resultant track sometimes sounds less "bright". Sony, the developers of MD, have some nifty algorithms in the software for recalculating some of the lost noise at playback time which is why it sounds much better than MP3. Some styles of music get away with it better than others.

    Because they're cheap and easy. If you've ever visited an online store selling MP3 and wondered why they're so cheap, part of it is to do with the quality of the product. No professional or serious amatuer I know regards MP3 as a quality medium. It is useful in it's own right and I do use it a lot myself mainly due to the fact that I can squeeze tons of tracks on a memory card and not have to carry a CD wallet about with me.

    Do you wish me to go on about SACD and DVD-Audio standards?
  14. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

  15. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    The chart speaks for itself, does n't it! :wink:
  16. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    definately with James on this.
    Yup its true the bbc use dat... they bought up a load of minidisc equipment and media when it first came out, believing it to be the way forward, but found the audio quality nowhere near that of the dat, which in terms of quality, is the best recordable media out there.
    Dat's are just as easy to use as MD if you are going to do it properly.. just not as widely publicised.
  17. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    It's like the old Betamax/VHS debate. Betamax was widely regarded as the better format and found it's niche in professional studios. The consumer however went for the lower quality but more widely supported VHS format hence it rose to ascendancy.

    DAT is easily the best quality format but it suffered from low uptake and high prices. Before you know it Sony had launched MD and Phillips the short lived digital compact cassette, both of which were much cheaper than DAT. MD survived because Sony had a stake in a lot of the big record producers and it's only in the last few years that it's started to rise to prominence as a quality recording medium to take over from cassette tape.
  18. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Bagpuss, my thougths that you prefer the sound of MD more than CD, lie within it's compression technology. What some don't realise is compression in MB per track reduction also relates to dynmaics.

    In MD, the compression allows things to be automatically tighter, similar to the sort of soft-knee compression, whereas CD has nothing, it's bare, it's a cleen working pallette. The engineer must be in total control of every aspect of the recording. when u start using high-tech 24-bit processing plug-in's like that of the acclaimed Waves plug-ins (that I use) the holes start to appear big time, especially with contant dithering processes in and out of plugins and outboard effects.

    Although, I speek within a professional capacity as a sound engineer and having worked in studio and worked as an engineer and producer, never I would I use MD, but again I say this within a professional capacity.

    If you're gonna go digital there's only one way to do it - 16bit 44.1khz REAL AUDIO (or .wav in Windows terms) or higher and certainly no lower. As an enginneer, that's all I can recommend.

    It might be worth while consulting someone in the industry, I can give you a few contacts of ppl I trust in sound engineering, who taught me all I know. just pm me, if ur interested. :wink:
  19. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    mp3 compression is huge!!!!! it basically demolishes the track in terms of the technicalities. Unfortuately, music equipt is much more sensitive and a hell of a lot more unforgiving.

    The mp3's on my site are 192Kbs, 44.1Khz stereo and even still u can hear the destructin of the mp3 - mainly the courseness and added noise commonents on the xtreme top end. You can definetly tell that the mp3's on my site are mp3, try it for yourself and see if you can spot it. And I used top quality conversion, none of the crappy free-ware mp3 concerters than u can pick up on the internet.

    It's one thing to listen and record BASIC sounds in mp3, when u start recording complex waveforms, like a full brass band, and then put it through it's processes, it starts to really get demolished.

    mp3 is a good end-user format for a stereo mix only, it will cope with voice pretty well since it will not be effected much by the dogy high frequency compression. Recording in mp3 with intent to mix and master and put on CD is disaterous.

    Sorry if it's not what you wanted to hear, it's just the physics of it don't work in real-life multitrack recording/mixing and subsequent mastering.

    For recording to listen to it in ur own home for fun is another story altogether.
  20. bruceg

    bruceg Active Member

    DAT = expensive but excellent quality
    MD = inexpensive but still good quality (not CD quality though)
    MP3 = cheap and cheerful (good enough for the bus or the train but don't kid yourself that it's anywhere near the other two)

    Besides the eventual recording medium, the quality of the source equipment (e.g. mics, mixers, filters, etc) will have a huge impact on the end result. No use investing in DAT if you're gonna wave a cheap mic in front of the sound source...

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