Sunday, 4 November 2018
12:53 am
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Posted by: Fluteboy
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Gone but not forgotten

In 1992, in the race to replace the humble compact cassette, Sony launched the MiniDisc format. This was in competition with Philips and their Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) format, whose players were back-compatible with the good old analogue cassette. Trouble was, these DCC decks were pretty sizeable, even in comparison with a standard cassette deck. That just put me off. Even in 1996 when DCC was dying out, and its decks and prerecorded media were being offloaded cheap, I was still not interested. In 1997 Sony decided to give their minidisc format another push, and this time it was a very attractive proposition.

In 1998 the cost of a minidisc deck fell to £150, and I was persuaded. I was now convinced that the cassette could be replaced. The discs were smaller, had instant access (ie. no winding or rewinding) and sounded terrific. What could possibly go wrong?

The new millennium then brought us recordable CDs at an affordable price, which could play in almost any CD player. Solid-state technology then brought us the MP3 player, and these advances in music storage technology only served to hurt the minidisc format, which would eventually be declared gefrunk by Sony in 2013.

A couple of days ago I took delivery of a Sony MDS-JE510 minidisc deck. The very model I owned between 1998 and 2000. Well worn and missing its remote, it was still a pleasure to own one again. There were a couple of issues with the deck. The audio contacts on the back needed a good clean, the disc-loading mechanism is a bit tetchy with cheapo disc brands like KAO, and the display is a bit dim after all these years. The record head was also getting stuck, but I managed to free this up. The fact that it records and edits without any trouble is a triumph in itself.

All that is missing from this audio system now is a pair of speakers. Trawling eBay for a suitable pair is thoroughly amusing. You see a pic that shows a yummy-looking speaker at a wonderful price, only to realise the person is selling just the one speaker. WHY SELL JUST ONE SPEAKER?!? Others offer ripped woofer cones, blown tweeters and chipped veneer for unreasonably steep prices. Many people expect you to collect in person. Come guys! We don't mind paying £20-30 for delivery on top of the price - just put them in a fricking box and offer postage! My original choice of Mordaunt-Short MS10i speakers is proving hard to come by, and I was highly tempted by their very radical-looking MS812 models, though they probably would be a slight too radical for Her Ladyship! So I am currently watching some Gale 3030 floorstanders. There is the option of postage, but let us hope the bidding doesn't get too steep.

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