Audio enthusiasts among you will feel a pang of nostalgia for this one. There was a time, believe it or not, when Sony’s MiniDisc format looked set to replace the humble cassette tape. It offered the same sort of functions, but it was just a bit better at it – CD quality sound, selectable tracks, even nameable tracks. Also, you could record straight onto MiniDisc from pretty much any source, which meant for me at least that all those late-night Peel Sessions went unmissed on school nights. Ah, memoriesâ€¦
But we digress. If you saw the MiniDisc and its assorted players in their early stages, you would be forgiven for thinking that they were leaden, clumpy and not especially user-friendly, but they got better. I had (and still have) a whopping great MiniDisc hi-fi complete with CD, tape and RDS radio, and combined it with a portable player, both capable of recording in MDLP. MDLP, to the uninitiated, allows the user to record up to 8 times the amount of music usually available onto just one 80-minute MiniDisc. That’s a whole lot of music, non-MP3 Player-owning readers!
So I would record things from everywhere – the radio, cassettes, CDs, I’d even plug in my turntable – all in an effort to make the greatest travelling mixtapes imaginable. The variety was incredible. 70 tracks? In my pocket?! This is incredible! Ah, the folly of youthâ€¦
Of course, the MiniDisc player was not so much a failure in itself, more a victim of lagging behind the times. It was effectively killed stone-dead by the arrival of MP3 Players that could effortlessly store far more than a whole pocketful of discs could ever dream of, a sad end to a beautiful product. Its fate seems even more sealed by the increasing number of gadgets that will allow you to transfer all your old media to the unified digital platforms (in fact, we sell most of them). My task 3 years ago was to put all my tapes and records and radio recordings onto MiniDisc – it’s now to subsequently put EVERYTHING onto my iPod.