Web MiniDisc (Pro) guide

Web MiniDisc is a web app that can copy (almost) any audio file onto a Sony MiniDisc. It can also manage tracks and erase discs, making it a complete modern replacement for Sony's SonicStage, except for Hi-MD. All you need is a NetMD recorder and a web browser based on Chromium (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave).

The newest version, Web MiniDisc Pro, has many more features and bug fixes, which will be covered later in the guide. This page aims to be a comprehensive documentation of the application, using Web MiniDisc Pro for all examples.

It is built using netmd-js (a port of the earlier linux-minidisc project to TypeScript), React, and WebUSB.

Cybercase (Stefano Brilli) developed the original version, while the Web MiniDisc Pro fork is developed by asivery. The MiniDisc Wiki hosts Web MiniDisc Pro using Azure Blob Storage and GitHub Actions.

  • NetMD-capable recorder
  • USB cable (most use USB Mini-B)
  • Chromium-based web browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, etc.)

If you are using Android, ChromeOS, or macOS, the following two segments do not apply to you.

On Windows (only) you will need to install the Zadig libusb drivers before using either Web MiniDisc or Platinum-MD.

Zadig has the same developer as the Rufus USB disk writing software, and is safe to install.

Please note that if you use SonicStage on the same PC, you will need to uninstall Zadig to connect your NetMD device to SonicStage(and vice-versa.)

Install Zadig from here, or use the Chocolatey package manager (“cinst -y zadig”). Because it installs a device driver, you must run Zadig as an Administrator.

Once installed, connect the NetMD device, then launch the Zadig application. “Net MD Walkman” (or similar) should be automatically selected in the drop down box. If it isn't shown, select “Options” and then “List all devices”

The “Driver” field will show that the WinUSB driver will be installed.

With your device selected, click “Install Driver”

You may need to run Zadig again when using a different device.

Regular user accounts do not have the necessary permissions to use MD usb devices on Linux by default and will result in devices not showing up in the chooser or an access denied message. You can use the follow steps on most Linux distros to make an exception for your MD device.

Important note: prepackaged versions of Chrome or Chromium (such as Snap or Flatpak) will likely not work with Web MiniDisc at all. You should use a version of Chrome compiled for your distribution.

1. Run the following command to find your MD device.

sudo lsusb

Example:

ulterior@fuego:~$ sudo lsusb
Bus 003 Device 019: ID 054c:0084 Sony Corp. Net MD

NOTE: If this command doesn't work, you may need to install the usbutils package for your distro.

2. Create a file at /etc/udev/rules.d/50-md.rules with the following contents, taking care to correctly set the vendor and product id sections.

Example:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="054c", ATTR{idProduct}=="0084", MODE:="0666"

3. Run the following command to make udev aware of the rule change.

sudo udevadm control --reload-rules

4. Run the following command to re-detect devices and apply our change.

sudo udevadm trigger

Insert the MiniDisc you want to record on into the NetMD recorder.

Navigate to Web MiniDisc Pro.

If it is your first time using the app, or if there has been an update, you will see a changelog window. Quickly check if anything seems relevant to you, then dismiss the box.

Connect the NetMD recorder to the computer. Connect your AC adapter to the recorder if you have one; recording can quickly drain the internal battery.

Click “Connect”. A popup will appear in the top-left corner of the browser and your NetMD recorder should show in the list in the popup. (If it doesn't, check your cables and try a different one.) Choose your NetMD recorder.

Once you do so, the popup will disappear. On the web page you'll see the model number of your NetMD player and the list of tracks on the disc you inserted.

By clicking on any track, you select it. The section of the app showing the disc title will be replaced with options. Once you have selected one track, you can select other tracks by clicking them as well.

From left to right, these options are:

  • selection - a dash means some tracks are selected; a tick means all tracks are selected
  • record - use the output of your MD recorder to playback to the input of your computer, allowing real-time recording
  • delete - remove the track from the disc, allowing the time to be used again
  • group - place sequential tracks in a group (disabled when non-sequential tracks selected)
  • rename - change the title of a track (disabled when multiple tracks selected)

The 6 dot “grip” on the left of each track lets you drag tracks up and down in the ToC.

Web MiniDisc Pro supports the MiniDisc's Group feature. Even devices that do not support groups will still play grouped recordings with no issue.

Groups do not work like playlists. For songs to be grouped together, they must be consecutive tracks. Multiple groups are supported. A few examples of how groups are often used is for separate albums (one group for each) or chapters for audiobooks (one group for each chapter.)

Select the tracks you wish to include in your group. Then select the Group button in Web MiniDisc:

To remove a group, click on the trash can icon. The group will be removed but the tracks will remain.

You cannot create nested groups, and TOC changes such as grouping does not occur until you press “Stop” and/or disconnect the USB cable.

Web MiniDisc Pro supports full-width characters, especially Japanese kanji. MiniDisc uses Shift JIS encoding for titles.

You must first enable full-width characters using an option in the overflow menu.

MiniDisc records full-width entries to a separate entry that is only shown on a Kanji-capable device (such as a remote) - otherwise the half-width field is shown. Half-width titles are still shown on low resolution screens (i.e. - the on device screen of the MZ-N920) even if the device itself supports full-width remotes.

To enable full-width support in Web MiniDisc Pro, use the Overflow menu and toggle the “Enable full-width title editing” option.

Once you do, all title editing popups will show two fields:

  • one for half-width characters such as the Latin alphabet and some kana
  • one for full-width characters such as kanji and other kana

More information on GitHub

The “record” feature is the best way to record your MD tracks (except Factory Mode, explained below), but if you want to sample a track while connected to a PC, use the playback buttons at the bottom of the screen.

These buttons control the playback on compatible devices, and are hidden on incompatible ones. The playback still comes through the device's own 3.5mm jack.

In the top-right of the app is the overflow (elipsis) menu. This shows many more features and settings.

  • Reload TOC - refresh the list of tracks on the MiniDisc from the Table of Contents on the disc
  • Enter Factory Mode - an advanced mode we'll cover later
  • Rename Disc - assign a title to your disc
  • Wipe Disc - erase the disc, even if it has “checked-out” music files on it
  • Exit - disconnect your device from Web MiniDisc
  • Enable full-width title editing - Japanese kanji characters, details above
  • Factory mode ripping in main UI - use the experimental ATRAC ripping feature on some portables, details below
  • Dark mode - light and dark mode toggle
  • Retro mode - a Windows 95 themed interface, does not support all features
  • About - information about the app
  • Changelog - recent changes, shows on first visit
  • Support and FAQ - a link to cybercase's readme page
  • GitHub - a link to asivery's GitHub

Drag MP3, FLAC, WAV, or most other audio files to the web browser window to record them on the MiniDisc.

You can also click the “+” in the bottom right corner (next to the playback controls) to bring up a file selection box.

When you do, a window labelled “Upload Settings” will popup. From here, you can select:

  • Which recording mode to use (SP is recommended, more below)
  • The track title on the MD (you can change this later)
  • To hide or show tracks. Click show tracks:
    • This shows the files to copy, with an options section similar to managing tracks (from left to right):
      • plus - add another track to the queue, brings up a file upload dialog box
      • minus - remove the selected track from the queue
      • T - retitle the track before it is copied
      • up / down - move the selected track higher or lower in the queue and ToC
    • Use the selection button to choose a track to manage before the queue is copied to disc
  • Cancel the operation
  • OK to go and copy the tracks to disc as shown in the popup

There are three common modes for recording to MD:

  • SP - the MD standard, works on all equipment with the highest quality
  • LP2 - double the recording time listed on the disc, only works on equipment after ~2001
  • LP4 - quad recording time at a much-reduced quality

SP is recommended for most cases. It is the most compatible and has the best quality.

If you only have newer equipment, LP modes also provide acceptable quality for music at LP2 and podcasts at LP4.

Because Web MiniDisc Pro is a free / open source project, it cannot use Sony's SonicStage LP encoder and must instead use the free atracdenc encoder. This encoder does not perform as well as the Sony encoder yet, so LP tracks recorded using Web MiniDisc will have worse sound quality compared to discs recorded using SonicStage.

SP mode is not affected by the above issue as the ATRAC encoding is performed by the recorder instead of the app. This also means SP mode records much slower than LP modes. See our Speed Test page for examples.

Interestingly, SonicStage used an LP mode “wrapper” to send SP tracks to disc. Web MiniDisc (and other new tools) send raw audio to the recorder to be encoded directly to SP mode. As a result:

  • SP mode tracks sound better when recorded with Web MiniDisc
  • LP mode tracks sound better when recorded with SonicStage

Click OK. “Upload Settings” will disappear and a new box will show the progress of the copy. The top bar shows the conversion, which happens on the computer. The lower bar shows the copy to MD.

Recording takes some time, but it does occur faster than audio to audio or optical to audio dubbing. Our Speed Test page has examples of how long you should expect. Do not move or bump the recorder while you're copying tracks, or while you hear the mechanism moving.

The “Notify when done” option will use the browser's notification service to notify you when an upload is complete.

When you're done recording or playing the MiniDisc you've inserted, you can choose “Exit” from the dropdown menu in the window.

Press the “stop” button on the recorder, check if the display is flashing a message (“TOC edit” or “PC→MD”) and wait until it stops flashing. Some recorders may even lock the eject switch until you press “stop” and the ToC writes. Disconnect the NetMD player, and enjoy!

Although the developers work very hard to fix bugs and give helpful error messages, sometimes problems do occur.

These are some of the most common issues reported:

This is usually a battery issue. Writing to a MD is battery-intensive, so it is recommended to use an AC adapter while writing. If not available, use a fresh battery.

1.2V rechargable batteries may have a shorter life than 1.5V disposable batteries.

This means that there is an issue reading the ToC on the disc. It is a fairly generic error and can mean a number of things have gone wrong with Web MiniDisc's handling of the disc.

It is best that you join the Wiki's Discord server and speak with developers in the respective channels.

Providing information to developers is very helpful when troubleshooting Web MiniDisc Pro. Make sure you are using the newer Pro version as it has fixed several bugs that affect the original.

To open the JS console, (to finish later)

If the tracks you record are missing after reloading the disc's ToC or removing the disc, the two most common causes are:

  • ToC not being written
  • Write head issue

The ToC may not be written correctly if the battery is low or if the device was disconnected while writing the ToC (“PC→MD” or “ToC edit” flashing on screen). In this case, try again with a fresh battery and a different disc to see if the issue repeats. If it does, see below.

A disc may appear to be written in the recorder's memory but not actually write to disc. This means that there is an issue with the write head on the recorder. Try recording using the built in audio input (if not a download-only model) to see if all recording has this issue.

If it is a write head issue, check our guides section to see if there is a repair guide.

Using the overflow menu, you can enable factory mode. This mode is experimental and comes with no warranty.

Once you click, there is a warning popup. It is important to read and understand it.

The factory mode screen has three main sections for manipulating the disc ToC:

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In factory mode, the overflow (elipsis) menu has different options. These are:

  • Reload ToC - same as standard, reloads the disc's Table of Contents
  • Edit other ToC values - brings up a popup with advanced ToC options
  • Read RAM - for developers, copies the recorder's RAM to the PC
  • Read firmware - for developers, copies the recorder's firmware to the PC
  • Download TOC - copy the disc's Table of Contents to a file for backup or manipulation
  • Upload TOC - replace the disc's ToC with one previously downloaded above
  • Tetris - a fun proof-of-concept showing how talented the MD hacking scene is

Electron WMD is a standalone desktop version of Web MiniDisc Pro by the same developer. It can be found at this GitHub link.

Web MiniDisc Pro can also be installed locally as a web app. This means it can be run without an internet connection or even opening a web browser.

To do so in Windows with Microsoft Edge, click the “3 blocks and plus” icon next to the Favorites “star” icon:

and then choose “install” - the app is now available in your Start or Apps menu. These directions should apply to Linux or MacOS systems as well.

Web MiniDisc installed as web app on Linux system:

Web MiniDisc (Pro) is developed alongside a number of other fantastic MiniDisc projects. Many share code, research, and developers. Here are some:

  • guides/webminidisc.txt
  • Last modified: 4 days ago
  • by specialk