My Hardware

This page is an inventory of MiniDisc hardware I own. It's a permanent work in progress because as of the time I started writing this version of the page (2024-04) I've been accumulating machines for the better part of three years.

This page is a part of the greater MiniDisc Project/Info area.

For each major group, I'm going to list everything I have ever had from the oldest to the newest hardware. Under each machine, I'll list when I got it, if/how I got rid of it, and include some other notes and info.

All of these machines are Sonys unless I specifically mention otherwise.

Portables

I'm going to start with portables because for so many English-language minidisc hobbyists, portables are the core part of the format.

MZ-R50

This model was introduced in 1998-01. I got mine in 2022-10 in a direct deal with another community member, who cleaned and lubed it as part of what i paid for it.

Uses the ATRAC1 v4.0 codec, the oldest codec version I personally have on hand.

I don't currently have either the LIP-8 lithium battery or the EBP-MZR50 battery pack, so I use it at home on a DC 6V power supply.

I recently (2024-03ish) got a USB hydra power adapter for my Nintendo 3DS and Gameboy Advance. This supply also includes the correct barrel connector for the PSP, and the R50 does appear to run fine off this supply, but I'm doing so sparingly for the time being.

This model is primarily a refinement of it's direct predecessor, the MZ-R30, but it also introduces important new features and enhanced features, such as sync recording and the 40-second buffer (up from 10 seconds on most previous hardware).

I believe sync record is critical to the minidisc format being "finished".

Panasonic SJ-MR100

Got this unit from a friend as part of a small bundle. It plays SP only audio fine, but isn't able to record. It uses normal gumstick batteries, but I don't have the unique power supply, sidecar, or a remote. But, it works fine with normal headphones as well.

Sharp MD-MT821

Got this unit from a friend as part of buying a couple other units. Recording and playback do work. It includes the sidecar. It uses a custom lithium battery, but runs fine off an AA.

MZ-R70

The R70, introduced in 2000-xx, is a new cost-reduced model using an AA battery. Across from it's predecessor the R37 (which stayed on sale underneath it at an even lower price) it swaps line-level output for a second headphone jack. It lacks the R90's real-tme-clock for timestamping recordings, and shipped with an editing-oriented remote that didn't have a screen.

MZ-E77

MZ-E77 is a slim player-only unit introduced alongside the R90 in 1999/2000. Mine is the green model.

MZ-R900

The R900, introduced in Japan in 2000-10 and globally shortly thereafter, adds MDLP (sometimes called ATRAC3) to the format. The R900's codec is at the ATRAC1 v4.5 level, although it and the R500/700 are reported to contain Type-R circuitry that, for Reasons Unknown, Sony did not enable when initially introducing the machine.

I got my R900 in 2022-09 off of US eBay. It was the "DPC" bundle, including a Sony-labeled MD-PORT DG2 USB toslink sound card, meant for dubbing audio off of a computer onto minidisc, before the launch of NetMD.

I have cleaned and lubed my unit as of 2023-xx, however it's still most reliable while recording, and can sometimes have trouble advancing the optical sled during playback, which means I almost certainly need to clean it again.

Aiwa AM-F90

The Aiwa AM-F90 is a re-badged MZ-R900. Most of Aiwa's minidisc machines were badge engineered Sonys and this is one of the most direct and obvious examples.

I got mine in 2023-10 via Yahoo Auctions Japan and Buyee.

Mine does play, but

MZ-R700

This model was introduced in 2001-XX, a couple months after the Japanese MDLP launch with the R900, E900, and a few decks.

My R700 is the first MD machine I got. I bought it from a long-time online friend in 2021-09, along with it's RM-MZ4R editing/titling remote, and twenty unused Memorex "Cool Colors" discs.

The R700 shares the R900's ATRAC1 v4.5 + ATRAC3 codec, a somewhat unique configuration shared byonly a small handful of portables. It has line and microphone input, so it's good for dubbing music as well as field and voice memo recording.

However, it does lack some advanced features from the R900 such as timed auto trackmarking, a real-time-clock for timestamps, and a line-level output mode.

MZ-R909

The MZ-R909 is a last-minute update to the R900 introduced ahead of NetMD. It advances the SP codec to the Type-R version.

The lower end machines got similar updates in the form of the R701/G755, R501, and in some markets, the R410.

The R909, from the R900, remembers when you swap it's output port to line-level mode, has a three-line display, uses a 5-way d-pad for transport controls, and use a jogwheel (rather than a joglever as on the R90/900) for navigation.

My R909 is a Japanese domestic model which was for sale on US eBay, inclusive of all of the most important accessories.

It worked fine and then the optical sled seized. I serviced it along with the R900, but as with the R900, it's reliable at recording but unreliable at playback, so I think I may need to re-service this unit, as I probably missed something while cleaning.

MZ-B100

The MZ-B100 is nearly the same machine as the R909, with a couple major and minor changes to accomodate the "Business" voice/meeting recorder use case.

I have two MZ-B100s. One is a JDM example I bought from a fellow member of the community as part of a bulk lot they imported. The other is a very clean, complete, USDM example I bought from a personal friend, who had bought it, we think, from it's original owner.

I use the USDM one mostly in the house, but it's the one that's easier for me to set the clock on so it sometimes does field recording.

 

MZ-N1

The MZ-N1 is, aside from NetMD and removing the connector for the RK-TXT1, very similar to the R909.

I got mine off of US eBay in 2022-03, along with the docking station, an AA battery sidecar, and a handful of discs.

Originally, mine's write head broke, although then the write protect detection switch became misaligned. A friend clean'n'lubed it for me. At some point in 2023, mine's write head cable failed.

The N1 is a personal favorite. I believe they are unfairly maligned due to the "N1 write head failure" -- so called because it only happens to the N1 (and also the R500, 501, 410, 700, 701, 900, 909, N505, 707, and S1, and possibly others).

Even with a broken write head cable, they are excellent players, and with the modern homebrew software do make good, if slow, rippers.

 

MZ-R910

The MZ-R910 is a Japanese exclusive model meant, as far as I can tell, to serve as a cost-reduced alternative to the MZ-N1. It lacks bot NetMD as well as the connector for the RK-TXT1, and the visual design is updated, but it's otherwise nearly identical to the R909.

MZ-N505

The MZ-N505 is an all plastic international NetMD recorder introduced to sit at the bottom of Sony's portable NetMD stack in ~2002.

It has a smaller LCD screen than the R700 or it's siblings the N707 and N1, but it still has digital/analog line input, a remote port, and a3v DC port, so it makes a competent and flexible recorder, burner, player, and (slow but steady) ripper.

I've had two of these:

My first, a silver N505 I got in 2022. I gave it and a few blank and mixtape'd discs to some of my online/in-person friends as their launch into the format.

My second, a gold example, I got in 2023 from the same friends. This one produces no audio output, and although it will claim to record, it can never finalize whatever you record.

It still works for ripping, but I need to do a clean'n'lube and see if I may be able to get it to someone with a soldering iron to repair the headphone jack.

I hate the gold coloring on this model so if I can get it working, it will rise to the top of the pile to either be returned to my friends or given away to another friend I'd like to get into the format.

MZ-10

Introduced in late 2002, the MZ-N10 is the first Type-S portable recorder, and inarguably Sony's flagship of the whole MDLP and NetMD era. It is also one of the 10th anniversary models, alongside the MZ-E10.

This model moves away from the gumstick battery to a built-in gumstick battery. It does retain an AA sidecar, but unlike on previous models, the sidecar is almost twice as thick as the thinnest point on this model, at the bottom where it attaches.

The "successors" in the form of the MZ-N910 and N920 have similar featuresets but more traditional builds and are to be considered cost-reduced options.

I got my MZ-N10 in 2024-03 from a friend who saw it on his local Facebook Marketplace. It arrived complete save for the original power supply and in very good physical condition, however it needs a clean'n'lube.

MZ-NE410

The MZ-NE410 was the initial result of yet another splitting of the portable minidisc product stack. This cost-reduction of the N505 resulted in a machine with an even smaller screen, no remote port, and critically, no line-level input for dubbing from any external sources. So, this unit can only burn via NetMD.

My MZ-NE410 was my second minidisc machine in 2021-12, and my first foray into NetMD. The NE410 and it's siblings N420D, DN430, and NF520D are available very cheaply on North American eBay. They make good players, burners, and because they use the Type-S codec, modern NetMD homebrew is better tested and faster on them.

MZ-B10

The MZ-B10 was introduced after the MZ-B100 as a measure of extreme cost-cutting. The two sold side-by-side for some time as a very large number of arguably important features are either missing or significantly worse in the B10.

Many marketing pictures of this model show it with a Type-R logo, however as shipped, it implements the Type-S codec.

Despite it's all-plastic build and other shortcomings, it's energy efficient Type-S codec as well as room for two AA batteries means the thing runs forever on batteries. The B10 also makes an excellent computer-connected recorder. It's one of only two recorders I have that correctly catches the end of tracks from the built-in digital output on my 2012 Mac mini, running Apple Music. (Although: this is easily worked around by using a modern TOSLINK adapter.)

The B10 sold in Japan at least through 2008, possibly longer.

I have two, both from Japan, bought off of YJ/Buyee in 2022-11. One came to me nearly pristine and working, except with no pictures of the battery bay. The other has a pristine battery bay, but is otherwise nonfunctional. So it's a static display and potential future spare parts.

MZ-E620

This is a Japanese, all-plastic, Type-S, player-only unit.

I bought this unit from a friend who had imported it from Japan and maintained it.

Mine is blue and gets very good battery life, so it's a very frequent daytripper companion.

MZ-E520

I have two of these, one in blue and one in orange, both of which "work" but need a clean'n'lube. Both have bad battery contacts so I may not end up using them often, unless I can get a few more of the AA sidecars, at which point they may make sense as giveaways.

Aiwa AM-HX100

This slim player-only unit is one of the times Aiwa diverged from Sony's design. Aiwa advertised this unit as being uniquely thin and having uniquely good battery life, and as with some of Aiwa's other "house design" units, has a unique remote control port as well.

Purchased along with the E77 from a personal friend.

MZ-NH1

I purchased the NH1 from a personal friend in 2023-02. I have the dock, a modern reproduction USB adapter, and the RM-MC40ELK.

From what I can tell, the NH1 is the best executed HiMD hardware that exists, however, I still don't super love the vibes on the HiMD format.

MZ-RH910

This is my very newest minidisc machine to date. (Alongside my 2005-build MZ-B10, I suppose). The RH910 is a second-generation HiMD recorder introduced in mid-2005, and is extremely emblematic of Sony's cost-cutting. Despite being a "9" - the machine has 7-series features and 5-series all-plastic build quality.

That said: It's one of the nicer HiMD portables to have in the modern context, because it's traditional 5-line LCD display still works fine.

The machine was co-sold into the pro market with Mac transfer software as the MZ-M10, and, my take is that it's fairly unsuitable for that use case. The control layout is very clearly optimized for "MP3 player" first and "recording" second, and there are very few onboard affordances for recording or editing.

I got mine with 1x1g disc in 2022-06. Later on, a rando on the Internet sent me an AA sidecar, which is good because while this unit is supposed to run on gumsticks, and mine has clean contacts, it never detects the battery is there.

It gets abysmal battery life compared to years-older machines and as such mine almost never leaves the house.

I use mine every now and again as an "analog hole" when paired with my computer, for recording up to 90 minutes of stuff on a 1-gig disc, but I'm trying to move away from that usage as it appears to potentially be unreliable and/or the unit may be reaching the end of it's functional life.

 

Decks

MDS-DL1
1999 (2024-04 to current)

The MDS-DL1 was announced in 1999 as a compact companion to a satellite receiver with a music purchase and transfer service. In service of this, it has a 200-megabit IEEE1394/Firewire/i.Link connection, which can connect to the satellite receiver as well as some computer software for Windows.

the DL1 has ATRAC1 Type-R, a combo optical/analog 3.5mm line input, an analog 3.5mm line output, an analog 3.5mm headphone port, and also works with most Sony MDS minidisc remotes, so it's a flexible compact recorder/player.

There's no matched CD player, but CD Walkman players do sit fine on it.

I got mine from a personal friend along with the NT1 and a portable CD player in 2023-04.

MDS-JB940

The MDS-JB940 is a high end minidisc deck. It features Control-A1II for computer control and integration with Sony's other audio components, and can transfer memo text or CD-TEXT from CDs to minidiscs.

It has digital and analog in and out. Above and beyond some other decks, it features dual TOSLINK inputs, a coax input, and both TOSLINK and coax outputs.

I got mine off of US eBay in 2024-02.

TASCAM MD350
2001
2022-10 to current

The TASCAM MD350 is a midrange pro deck of the same hardware generation as the JB940. It has digital and analog (including balanced) in and out, as well as a PS/2 keyboard port for control and titling, but no computer controlor system coordination control as existed on some of the higher end options.

I got mine in 2022-10 from a Craigslist seller a couple hours away in my state. I made a day out of going to get it and cruising through the IKEA.

These days, I mostly leave it paired to my Sony DVP-S330 for CD/MD dubs, but it moves around as needed.

MXD-D5C

The MXD-D5C is another launch MDLP deck. As part of the MXD series, it's a CD to MD dubber, with "5C" denoting that it's got a built-in 5-CD changer, as a way to drive home the point of MDLP, which is widely advertised as "record up to 5 CDs of stuff on one minidisc!".

Due to "technicalities" -- in SP mode, when recording off a line input or doing a 1x CD dub, the MXD-D5C uses the ATRAC1 Type-R codec level. In 4x mode, it uses the ATRAC1 v4.5 codec level. In MDLP, it uses the totally separate ATRAC3 codec.

I got my MXD-D5C as part of a large Yahoo Japan/Buyee order in 2023-09. It cost nearly $250 to ship it as well as a a couple discs, a couple portables, and one other accessory.

It came to me working, although I had very poor luck with the CD drive and I believe the laser has died. I ordered a replacement laser in 2024-02, it arrived in 2024-04, and I have purchased the necessary screwdrivers to dismantle everything, but the unit awaits repairs.

The Japanese version of this deck has a DIN port for the PCLK-MN10 PC connection kit, which I got from US eBay.

As a JDM 100v mchine, this model is sensitive to 120v power. The display glows overly brightly when connected to 120v, so this model should definitely be run through a 100v step-down transformer.

Due to the very high shipping costs, if you want a Sony MXD- CD/MD dubber deck, I strongly encourage considering picking up a unit domestically, even if it means compromising on some feature, e.g. losing out on MP3, Type-S, and digital output from the MXD-D400 or the 5-CD changer from the MXD-D5C.

 

MDS-NT1

MDS-NT1 is the launch NetMD deck. To drive the point of "NetMD" home, it's very small, about the size of an external CD/DVD burner from the era, and is meant explicitly for integration with computers. It can burn discs via NetMD and has no other way to do recording.

You can play discs back with an NT1 without NetMD, however it has only two buttons: Play/Pause, and Stop/Eject, so it's less good than some of the more traditional decks, or the predecessor MDS-PC series, at playback.

MDS-S500

The MDS-S500 is the last in the MDS-S series of compact decks, which were technologically very similar to each of their contemporary full-sized decks, but were narrower, to fit better with some of Sony's other midi components, or bookshelf or micro component stereos.

The S500 is a very flexible machine, sporting NetMD as well as digital and analog in and out, and a headphone port. Although this is a 100v machine, in my and several other people's experience it runs great on 120v power.

MDS-S500 uses a Type-S codec, which means it does ATRAC1/SP at the Type-R level, and has improved MDLP playback.

Sony also advertised previous versions of this series as working directly with powered or computer speakers.

Mine was the first deck I bought, I bought it from a friend's spare pile in 2021-12 as my third ever minidisc machine. It's proven invaluable to me, and it remains one of my more frequently used machines.

Web Minidisc has always had the ability to do a "coordinated recording" from MD to a computer, as a round-about way to do ripping. I ripped over a hundred used discs this way with this deck and my 2012 Mac mini before the homebrew options were available.

Today, this deck with it's optical output is connected to my work PC via a hifimeDIY UR23 where it pipes whatever I want to listen into the computer which is then connected to a wireless headset I used to take calls.

 

Bookshelf/Tabletop Stereos

LAM-1

The LAM-1 was one of the launch NetMD machines, alongside the MDS-NT1 and MZ-N1 (which I have) and the CMT-C7NT (which I don't have).

The LAM-1 is an unassuming little purple-and-silver box. You can put a CD in on top or a minidisc in on front. It has USB, headphone, and line-level audio outputs on the back, so, as with the MDS-NT1, it can't record from an external input, but it can do CD->MD dubs.

The LAM-1 (and all of the LAM units) can also act as a USB DAC for a computer. The advertised use case is that you connect one of these to your desktop or laptop computer and use it for MD authoring, CD/MD playback, and as your computer speakers.

I got mine, and it's remote, from Yahoo Japan/Buyee, in 2022-12, with shipping in 2023-01.

The CD player on mine works great, but the MD mechanism will spit out any MD it's given, indicating an error with either the laser or the disc holding spindle.

These are overly complicated to take apart, so as of 2024-04 I have no tentative plans for a repair.

This unit seems to work fine on 100v power, but I don't use it much because it only plays CDs, and only via analog output, and also the volume on the "line" output seems tied to the volume on the unit so I fear it's not "true" line level. (So: not even suitable for analog 1x CD -> MD dubs, if I wanted to do that.)