Damaged Gears

Evolve your Gears

Verbal Damage: MDs, it’s not about the technology.

with 4 comments

Let's face it, technologically speaking, Minidisc and its successor, the HiMD, is a technological Dodo; it must be true, everyone of the unteemed masses seems to think so on the internets. Yet, of all of my DAPs (which includes MP3-CDs, Flash, and HD Based, so I know what I'm talking about), nothing gets my emotional juices flowing like a good MD player/recorder combo. Every great debate about the superiority of one type of player vs. another always focuses on the hardware or the techonological underpinnings of the item at hand. Great battery life this, great sound quality that, easy UI over there, great software integraion over here. Despite all of its perceived (and real) weakness of the MD format, it still remains one of my favorites right along side the practically extinct CD format. So why hasn't yours truly gotten along with the times and move forward with the great iPod/MP3-player?

I'm convinced that in the end, it's not the technological underpinnings that lure me. It's the emotional connection to my music and the primitive wants of owning something physical that drives me to the MD than anything else. Never mind the battery life and the UI. I wants my music on something tangible, and I wants it physical. CDs and MDs provide this on a very visceral level that no MP3 player could provide.

Let's face it. A mass directory of MP3s, burned to a CD, uploaded to my iNano or Rio, or haphazardly burned to the MD, really doesn't get the emotions going, even if the said directory has a song on the radio that I liked the other day. There will always come another pop single of the day that the record companies will say "You must like," the lyrics get stuck for a while, but move on and dissapear into the recess of my HD. There, it'll gather virtual dust, until I'll just delete it out of pure ignorance. C'est la vie.

On the other hand, the CD Albums that I keep in the case logic keeper trapper, and some of the MDs that I keep in my shoebox (well, Sidekick box), I still love to flip through, put one in the unit, and be surprised by what's inside. What mood was I in when I made that CD purchase, or that MD burn? If I can, I'll drag out the cover liner, the lyric sheets, and get lost in the music. There, I've made some emotional connection to the music, that my feelings at one point or another, had a deep connection with that particular song. Whatever the real reason that song made that connection with me is lost for ages. However, there is that connection, however remote, was made.

Unlike the majority of the internet, I still look forward to buying that next CD, complete with the jewel case, cover liner, liner arts, lyric sheet, and the actual, physical CD. For some of the MP3s or tracks that I can not own (out of print, hard as hell to import, bootleg recordings), the MD in part, imparts that physical ownership that is missing in the music download and listen to on your iPod or Zen. Sure, it's easy to find and all, but there necessarily isn't that physical connection between you and your music. After all, you can lust over your iPod and all, but you're lusting after the unit itself and not the music. Is there that connection between you and your music if all you did was download it and listen to it on a random basis?

Like the mixtape before the MD, and the Mix-CD that came after and lives along with the MD, that physical copy gives you, the listener, a physical connection with the music. Much like the way that the entire album package from the liner notes and CD Art gives you a bit more emotional and physical connection with the music and the artist, the music on the MD, with handscrawled notes on the label, gives that needed physical connection with your music and yourself. It's rather hard to have the same connection with the iPods and the Rios where your music is there, but isn't granted its own unique identity, rather buried inside the shell of the player that you happen to use. MDs, with their translucent, transparent, or unique, blanks, gives that extra connection to your music, even if you can't (or won't, as the case maybe) find the original source.

Occassionally, I like to touch my music. I think the CDs and MDs do provide a way of making that extra connection or contact that otherwise is denied to the listeners. Eventually, music and video may become a virtual product, where no physical copies exist. When that day comes, I'll still hold on to my CDs and MDs. It's just a bit more… Physical.

Not that I'm advocating man to disc relationships mind you, that's wholly un-natural.

Ah, and as for my brain, I guess it was too infested with Marmite to be appetizing to the undead's palate. Go figure.


Written by Damage

04/2/06 at 11:31 pm

Posted in Soapbox

4 Responses

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  1. I disagree with your “technological dodo” line. For me it’s quite simple: a device that cannot record in high quality from multiple sources (optical, line-in, mic) sucks.

    MD can and does record well. So it doesn’t suck. It can quite happily be used away from a PC and you wouldn’t even think it needed one for anything. Ever. Because it doesn’t, when it comes down to it.

    Removable batteries and removable media simply make sense. The recordings are NOT tied to the unit. Neither is a single power supply. Flexibility.

    Sure, we can all make back-ups to optical disc, but guess what? MD *is* the back up.

    Embedded HDs and flash will always have finite storage limits, but removable media is flexible.

    Offload what you want. Put back in what you want (at relatively low cost). Without ever touching a PC, if you want. It’s a true consumer electronics device. As opposed to a computer electronics device 🙂

    MDs are made to be touched, shared, felt, swapped, handled. Like CD. Like DVD. Like vinyl before that. It is made to record from multiple sources and play back. It does. It’s flexible. I like.


    04/3/06 at 8:16 am

  2. Remember, if the internets say the iPod is better than the MD (real or otherwise), then it’s got to be true.

    Why, because the unwashed masses said so, that’s why!


    04/3/06 at 9:10 am

  3. “MDs, with their translucent, transparent, or unique, blanks, gives that extra connection to your music, even if you can’t (or won’t, as the case maybe) find the original source.”
    Couldn’t have said it better myself.


    04/4/06 at 10:15 am

  4. Hi, I am compiling several articles/rants/raves about Sony minidisc player. I like your posting. May I include it in my blog. I will also add the original URL link at the top, as I have done with other articles I’ve collected.



    04/11/06 at 12:22 pm

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