Sony MiniDisc MZ-NF610



In my search for a portable music player with the features that I wanted, I was coming up short of getting what I wanted so I had to take a sort of leap backwards. I went onto e-bay and got a portable minidisk player/recorder. I wanted an AM/FM radio so that I could listen to my favorite news/talk station while on the bus ride to work and during lunch break I could listen to my tunes from my computer. I ended up getting a Sony Net MD Walkman MZ-NF 610. Net MD is Sony’s method of taking audio files from computers and loading them onto MiniDiscs.

Sony introduced MiniDisc in 1992 in an attempt to get people to dump the analog cassette for portable and in car use. At that time portable CD players were extremely prone to skipping and offered poor battery life. Automobile CD players were still prone to some skipping too. Consumer uptake was considered to be very poor due to the high cost of Minidisc players and recorders. There was very little prerecorded music sold on Minidisc also contributing to the early failure of the format. The early 1990’s was also the time that Sony was also entering into the prerecorded music industry with the acquisition of Columbia Records a few years before and there was a lot of fear from the rest of the recording industry about having an all digital format that allowed the end user to record copies without generation loss.

Sony pushed on through out the 1990’s selling the MiniDisk format and for a while the format enjoyed niche success in radio field production. In the early 2000’s Sony introduced NetMD as a way to invigorate the format with consumers. Sony found themselves competing against the iPod juggernaut and could not make the MiniDisc popular with consumers.

Using NetMD is lot more like using a regular MP3 Player than burning regular Audio CD’s. Using Sony’s SonicStage software the desired audio files are transferred to the NetMD after first converting to Sony’s ATRAC audio compression. While many audio engineers will tell you that the traditional CD has better sound quality it would take expensive test equipment and a highly trained ear to tell the difference. The sound quality I’ve heard from MiniDisc is just as good as any other CD player and slightly better than any MP3 Player that I’ve listened to.

When loading songs onto the unit it is required to plug it in before transferring. Adding songs while on battery power will lead to failed transfers because the player draws a lot of current, the low battery warning will flash on just before the unit shuts down.

When songs are on the MiniDisc they can be deleted, rearranged, and new songs added provided that there is enough space on the MiniDisc. Having interchangeable disks means the number of songs available is only limited by the number of disks on hand. Interchangeable disks also allow for custom mixes and compilations of a certain band or artist although high end portable music players allow the user to create custom plays lists on the players themselves.

My new minidisc player allows me to do what modern music players do and play AM and FM radio which most high end lack AM radio or have no radio at all. I was able to get what I wanted at a much lower price than what new modern music players cost. Minidisc may not be the portable audio solution for everybody but, it’s the perfect solution for me.

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