Sony Minidisc access from Mac

Whilst digging around and tidying up the home office over the New Year period, I found some SONY PSP devices (some articles coming on that a bit later on!) and my "old" SONY Net MD Walkman MZ-N910 portable minidisc player and an assortment of minidiscs.

Naturally, the original rechargeable internal battery (that can be replaced!) was dead and wouldn't hold a charge, no surprising as it was the original and the last time I used this device must have been around 2003-ish....

Anyway, I was working away for a bit and thought I'd take it along with me to do a bit of investigation work whilst in the hotel.  As you are aware, I've been using a Mac for a couple of years and I recall that the original SONY software only ran on Windows.


After reading on quite a forums that the Minidisc will not connect to the Mac, I found a way to do it.


I found some mention that other people had used some software to detect the Minidisc via USB, called USB Prober.  I got hold of this and I can say it works, but it just tells you information, albeit it does show that the Minidisc "is" detected and available:

The other software mentioned was "qhimdtransfer":

As you can see, with a quick bit of searching via DuckDuckGo, you can find the software that is needed:

Running the USB Prober app, you can see that the Mac can detect the Minidisc being connected:

The "qhimdtransfer" app also connected to the device as shown in the drop-down box and lists the tracks that have been detected on the minidisc itself:

Whilst it appears to give the ability to highlight tracks and to "upload" them to the Mac, this actually fails:







.....and then I stumbled on the "gold", there is actually an open-source project that was for linux, but it also seems to work for Mac:

I went through the wiki pages and it seemed like I needed to download the code and compile it locally:

To start with, you have to download and install MacPorts:

 then once you can run "port" from the command line, you can use MacPorts to download the following libraries that are needed:

After doing this, I then discovered "NetMDPython", which is a collection of Python scripts and C-code that allows control of the NetMD devices.  Again, you need MacPorts and some extra libraries:
Remove the git-core library and replace with just git, as git-core is no longer valid.


Download from this git repo: git clone git://github.com/glaubitz/linux-minidisc.git


Then, you'll notice there is a sub-folder named "netmd", this is where all the Python scripts are located. You can use the >./lsmd.py command to show the list of tracks that are currently on the minidisc:

There also seems to be some commands to "upload" the tracks from the NetMD - the catch here is that you need to install some more libraries from the Mac Port.  The other gotcha is that this script doesn't actually do what you think.  It actually plays the track.  If you have the Minidisc player plugged into speaks it will play the tracks and the Microphone on the Mac will pick this up and record the sound.  Now, this sounds okay, but as it is the Mac microphone it WILL pick up every other noise in the background too and, well, the quality will not be as good, naturally.  Maybe there will be some other mechanism to do this.... I'll get back to you on this one:

Apparently there is also a >./downloadhack.py script that will allow you to download tracks to the minidisc, there isn't much info on this and I didn't scan the Python code too much, but I'm sure we could get something working here:



As you can see here, we have the output of using the above commands:
Ah, long live the MiniDisc player!

I couldn't resist playing through a few minidiscs and I must admit, the quality is awesome.  Now, that isn't just old person biased/nostalgic-ness, it is actually genuine.  The digital download MP3s really do not have the quality of the original audio sound, they are just elements of noise, that is okay, but really do not contain the "depth" that you get from a minidisc track.

Whilst listening to a few songs, I also did some searching and there is a site minidisc.org that contains quite a bit of information:
digging through, I note there is some C code:
hmmmmm:


and here is a minidisc that I found that contains a load of tracks....yep, this was definitely made back in 2003:


We'll see how this pans out in the future, I'm sure there is more to come from me.




I really should get out more :-D


......seriously though, I'm pretty miffed that SONY stopped with the MiniDisc format and didn't allow for it to be used for computer file storage.  Hey, who knows....someone, playing around with some C code, time on their hands and an eye for hooking up modern day electronics to retro hardware, might get something up & running during 2017......



UPDATE:
I found a "bargain" on eBay...35-odd Minidiscs for £30, random content, but current owner found in attic/loft with no way to play the minidiscs.  I thought I'd take a gamble.  You never know...and for that price, I couldn't argue.

I put the first minidisc in and pressed play.......Limp Bizkit from 1999.  That set the tone perfectly.



I also found my "old" SONY music station that just had the TUNER and CD player with a sub-woofer and some funky speakers that connected to it.  I think I bought this stereo back in about 1997-ish when I bought my first apartment.  At the time, I recall it was about £800 just for the base-unit and they wanted more £££ for the TAPE PLAYER (yes, cassette tapes) and they also had a MiniDisc player for another £800.  I remember, really wanting it, but could not justify it.  The logic was, well, these are separates, I can buy that extra part later on...... guess what...never happened :-)

Well.....whilst cruising good old eBay, I stumbled over a Buy-it now for the exact correct unit.  Looks to be hardly used.  Quizzed the seller and they admitted it had hardly been used and operated like new...  I took the gamble...for £40!
It took me 20mins to get it all plugged in and "working"....well, I put a couple of Minidisc's in and they appeared to play but there was no sound.  I originally thought, "Oh great, been sold a dud?!".
After getting more audio/phono cables from the attic/loft, I tried again....I also tried different Minidisc's..... ah!ha!  We have sound!


It works absolutely fine! Crystal clear and like new.  Superb!  I now have a proper MiniDisc deck that not only plays, but also records....now where are those 500+ music CDs (that I put up into the loft last year?) that I can now selectively record to Minidisc.


Whilst I was at it, I also obtained a new rechargeable battery for the portable SONY Net MD MZ-N910 Minidisc player, along with one of those FM thingies you connect to the microphone jack.
You know, like the one's that you get for adding DAB to your car, you plug it in and pick a frequency like 87.5 and it transmits to that frequency and you can pick it up on the car radio, saves having to replace the car stereo for a DAB one (lots of ££££) and means you can swap out into other vehicles....

Well, yep, I got one of those and plugged it into the portable Minidisc player and it works a treat!  I can get the music played through the stereo and now from within the car too.  cool!


BTW - battery life for the portable is days....and days... and days.... of continual use, so unlike an iPod I won't be running around looking for a charger half way through the day.  You can also plug in the "dry battery" pack too, that is just a normal AA battery that runs the device for 5-6hours on a single battery.  Keep a couple of batteries spare in my bag and I'll be good for a whole week of travelling away.  Listening to 90s retro music too.   sweet.

 Here's the battery pack attached to the "other" portable SHARP MD MS722 Minidisc player that belongs to my missus - yep, she rocks too!


Now that's setup nicely, I can get back to doing some "work/work" whilst listening to the "good old days"....


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