home | hardware | software
Mini Disc Titler

minidisc digital audio system When the time came recently to purchase and new portable music player the decision to go with a Sony mini-disc walkman was an easy one to make. The latest range of units are very light and small, have a good battery life, are easy to operate, feature MDLP giving up to four times the audio storage rate on a single mini disc, accept either analogue or digital recording signal input, allow text titling of tracks/discs and finally the mini disc media is relatively cheap compared to other current storage formats. Whilst the mini disc system has not had the effect of superceding CD technology as Sony had first hoped, it has achieved a good cult following and user base.

the Sony MZ-R700 minidisc recorder with remote and minidisc The Sony MZ-R700 recordable mini disc walkman was the choice of player made. It featured an inline cord remote, Sony rechargeable battery, mains power supply/charger which allows for battery re-charging in the unit, bud style headphones and finally a carry pouch. Also purchased was a Lifeview Catchsound USB to digital adapter which acts like a second sound card within a PC thru which digital music can be recorded to the mini disc unit without quality loss.

Only two problems became clear soon after using this setup -

  • Mini disc track titling using the inline remote control can prove to be very tedious and often inaccurate.
  • Automatic track marking was not 100% in sync, since minidisc recorders detect gaps of silence in the audio input for marking. Therefore, hit a very soft/low point in a recording track and the player may mistake it for a new track start.

Luckily a solution was at hand in the form of a mini disc titling and track marking interface for the PC, which forms the basis of this website. The solution consists of two components as follows -

  • A hardware interface making the connection between the MZ-R700 recorder and the PC's parallel/printer port. The interface connects into the recorders remote control input and simulates the depressing of the inline remote buttons. The interface was developed by Mironics, who since its creation have gone on to produce a commercial version alongside their own software utility package. They still provide details of the DIY interface on their website in addition to the sale of the commercial product.
  • To drive the hardware interface I have developed a small utility program for Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP which provides the function of track titling and track marking. Since all my music is in a digital mp3 format, the utility works in conjunction with the popular audio/mp3 player Winamp. In summary it automates the process of getting a full winamp playlist of mp3's onto a recordable mini disc correctly titled and track marked.

Since I only own a Sony MZ-R700, I can only verify the solution will function correctly with this model Sony recorder. The hardware interface is in fact generic for all the current range of Sony recorders, but the software has been written to work solely with the MZ-R700 set of walkman menus. It may work with other models, if the menu system employed by the player is close enough. If this is the case be sure to e-mail me the success, otherwise if someone provides enough details of the menu system for a specific Sony recorder I may consider implementing support for your Sony minidisc recorder into the software.

Anyway, best of luck if you decide it give the titling system a go yourself - you will not regret it. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding either the website itself or my titling software utility package send them through via email since I value the feedback.

projects @ magnetikonline dot com