General Recording (Dubbing) Guide

There are several ways to record audio onto a MiniDisc, depending on your equipment. If NetMD or CD-to-MD are not available, traditional audio recording (“dubbing”) is how to record audio on MD.

A digital input is preferred to avoid unnecessary analog-to-digital (ADC) or digital-to-analog (DAC) conversion and potential reduction in audio quality.

TOSLINK and Mini-TOSLINK plugs.

S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) is a consumer digital audio format that carries uncompressed stereo audio using either coax (RCA) cable or optical fiber. Even though the connectors are different the protocol remains the same allowing for conversion with proper equipment. Many portable MiniDisc recorders use a mini-TOSLINK connector that can easily be converted to a full size TOSLINK connector using an adapter.

Standard PC rear audio jacks

  • 3.5mm (“aux” or headphone jack)
  • RCA (Red and White “phono” jacks)
  • XLR balanced audio (professional microphone-style jacks)

Consumer MiniDisc recorders use either 3.5mm jacks or RCA connections for analog audio connections.

XLR is used only on professional equipment and is at a different signal level than consumer recorders.

Where possible, use line in and line outputs (5) for your analog recording. Line in and outputs are designed to be connected to each other with less need for adjustments to volume or recording levels. If this isn't an option and you must use a headphone or microphone jack, take extra care to check the recording levels.

Because MiniDiscs use compression of their own (ATRAC), the source material for your disc should be the highest quality possible.

FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and AIFF files are all lossless - they are uncompressed waveforms of digital audio. Obtained from a CD or Bandcamp, you can be sure these are the best quality source available.

MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG Vorbis, and Opus are not lossless and should only be used if a lossless source is not available. The quality can still turn out great, of course, but still seek the highest bitrate file available.

From a PC, VLC is the recommended audio player because it supports nearly all file types, playlists, and can insert 2 second pauses to the playlist to add track markers to the recording.

Most streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play) use audio compression. Others, such as Tidal and Deezer, do have lossless tracks available.

Regardless of which streaming service you dub from, ensure you have the best possible streaming quality enabled in the settings. Also turn off any “auto-mix” or “continue playing” features once an album or playlist stops.

Dubbing from CD to MiniDisc was probably the most common source for MiniDisc content during its height. Using a digital audio cable, CD players will copy track markers automatically and avoids all processing or additional compression. A CD and MD both have the same audio capacities, so you won't run out of space unless you try to dub a full 80 minute CD onto a 74 or 60 minute MD. Burning an audio CD and then running a digital audio cable from a DVD player or PS2 are common dubbing methods nowadays.

Recording from vinyl is also great, with some caveats: the record will need to be flipped (and the recording paused or edited later); there could be time wasted by the run-on and run-off; and even a 80 minute MiniDisc is slightly too short to hold 2 full LPs (records) at 46 minutes each in SP mode.

Because vinyl recordings can sometimes have crackling and skips, take extra steps to clean the record and stylus before making your recording - that skip or crackle will be on the MiniDisc forever.

Ensure the recorder is connected after the pre-amp, if applicable.

The editing features of MiniDisc allow you to trim off any excessive run-on and run-off and to title the disc and tracks.

Radio is not an ideal input source due to the lower fidelity compared to recorded media. However, MiniDisc will happily store up to 80 minutes (more with MDLP) from a radio or livestream. Recording from radio was once a very common method, but seems to have been replaced by the internet and podcasts for finding fresh media.

Recording to a MiniDisc happens in real time, so make sure that the equipment is available for the whole time period the source is playing.

You should have a direct connection from the source to the recorder. If you have a hi-fi unit with a Tape loop (labelled MD/CD-R on some), consider that to be the direct connection.

Some recorders (especially decks) have a switch between analog recording and digital. Make sure it matches your input source. There may also be a mono / stereo toggle.

Many devices show a VU meter, or a red “peak” or “max” message when the incoming audio signal is too “hot” (clipping)

For headphone-out or microphone-in recording, adjust the volume on both the playback device as well as the MD recorder until it rarely or never shows the peak indicator.

If your device does not have a VU meter, take a brief test recording (or several) to make sure your levels are good. There is no harm in erasing or deleting tracks from a MiniDisc.

A PC will mix other sounds into the output, such as notification sounds and other applications. Mute the volume of all other applications before starting your dub.

Check the tab on the bottom left of the disc. Closed = ready to record. Open = protected from recording.

Synchro Rec is a feature that starts the recording automatically once the recorder notices an incoming audio signal. Check your recorder's user manual for full details.

Once the dub has begun, leave the process alone! By interfering you only risk causing harm rather than helping. A MiniDisc is more vulnerable to vibration while writing. Any changes to the analog recording level will be jarring and unpleasant in the output.

If you have the ability to, listen to the recording as it happens - some sources have multiple outputs. If you do notice an issue, note the location so that you can re-record the track later and splice it in using MiniDisc's track marker and ToC features.

  • guides/dubbing.txt
  • Last modified: 13 months ago
  • by specialk