How can I transfer minidisc files to my Mac?
January 20, 2008 1:44 AM   Subscribe

Really want to transfer files from MiniDisc to Mac and it's really not working...

I've called the support centers of all equipment involved in this situation and no one has an answer for me, nor do older ask.mefi questions provide any answers, so I appeal to you for help.

I want to transfer recorded files from my minidiscs to my computer. I have a Sharp MD-MT90 portable recorder, optical cable, Sound Blaster Digital Music PX, accompanying USB cord, and PowerBook G4.

When I hook up the Sharp MD to Sound Blaster (optical line out)--->Sound Blaster to PowerBook (USB cord), my computer recognizes that there is a USB Audio device present in the "Sound" section of System Preferences, but neither GarageBand or Audacity recognize that there is anything hooked up to the computer.

In Garageband, I opened a "real instrument" track, enabled recording and turned on monitoring, then pressed Play on the MD.

Am I just dealing with antiquated equipment? Is it a problem with the settings on my computer or do I need to buy different equipment to get the songs on my minidiscs onto my Mac?

Thanks so much in advance.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Are you connecting the MD to your computer via USB, Optical, or the stereo mini-jack? I can only record in real-time via the stereo mini-jack with my setup (I use Audacity on XP with my Sony MZ-R37). may have some useful information for you:

It's worth noting that despite the ambiguous terminology in product descriptions, the USB connections on the small portables, including Sony's "Net-MD" models, only support moving audio from the computer to the minidisc, and not the other way around, as most sound-recordists would like. This could change, but for now the way to get sound from a small portable minidisc to the computer for editing, is via the analog outputs, in some cases the headphone out. That analog output is connected to an audio-in on your computer, either built-in to your sound card or on an external interface.

It seems counter-intuitive: you've recorded digital audio onto the minidisc, and want to edit digital audio on your computer, you should be able to just move the files over, but it's not that smooth. Even the HHB can't just transfer the files, it plays the audio out in real time. In effect it has a built-in USB audio interface. Even in making an analog transfer, you still have the sonic advantages of recording to a digital medium, with less noise and wider bandwidth than cassettes. And when done carefully, the analog transfer can be done with minimal negative impact on quality.

posted by sambosambo at 4:18 AM on January 20, 2008

For testing purposes, can you hook the MD directly to the Mac using a 3.5" stereo cable (from MD out to computer IN)? Yes, it's analogue but it takes some of the complexity out so you can see if the MD actually works ok!

If that works, then you need to troubleshoot why the soundblaster device doesn't work.. Does the MD actually support optical out to feed into the SB optical in?
posted by ranglin at 4:59 AM on January 20, 2008

Yeah I think the issue is there is only digital in (originally for recording CDs onto your minidisk-how cool was that in 1998?). No digital out. Which, in case you were wondering, is totally effing stupid. It was an early copy protection measure, and it is totally lame.

You can still make great recordings on them. For some reason minidisc recordings always sound really warm to me. I've made some really great ones without trying very hard. You just have to play them through the headphone jack into an audio in on your computer. I used to have cable that patched a 1/8" jack to a pair of RCA jacks and put that into my soundcard. You might do 1/8" to 1/8".
posted by sully75 at 5:27 AM on January 20, 2008

At a previous job, I used to have to edit mini-disc-recorded audio on my Mac. What I did was connect the Mini-Disc player (a Sony model) directly to the audio-in analog jack. This allowed me to use Audacity to capture the audio.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:08 AM on January 20, 2008

Thanks sooooooo much!!

I connected analog to the headphone jack in the MD and got it with Audacity. Quality is fine.

Thanks again!
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 7:28 AM on January 20, 2008

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