MD MINI DISCS
Mini Discs are junk and total waste of time and money. They have "lossy compression" which ruins the stereoscopic imaging, ruins the dynamics, and sound too "harsh."
Buying pre-recorded MDs is a waste because they cost more than CDs for less sound. MiniDiscs also have SCMS copy protection.
What's holding up DVD-Audio and SACD are the record labels' infighting over copy protection, which is something music fans find, on principle, offensive.
MiniDisc was a scheme by the record labels to create a recordable format that was inferior to CDs. This technology was obsolete before it reached the USA because now CR-R, CD-RW, and the upcoming DVD-R and DVD-RW are becoming the new standards. Unfortunately, some European and Asian countries have adopted this mediocre, soon to be obsolete format. MD is the "8-track tape", "4-track cartridges", "Betamax", "Elcassette", "DCC", "Divx", "Video 2000", "Quadraphonic vinyl", "Selectavision", and "Video-8" of the 90's. You can get better results recording on a hi-grade cassette deck and using metal cassette tapes.
Record store chains such as Wherehouse, Sam Goody, Tower Records have significantly decreased the size of their MiniDisc sections. Around 1997, MiniDiscs were gaining in popularity until the prices on CD-R and then CD-RW discs decreased. After that time, Sony's window of opportunity passed as CD-RW drives became standard for all new computers. MiniDiscs have gained a very devoted cult-like following. Does anyone, including the most dedicated MiniDisc fans, seriously believe that Sony will continue to make players and discs once sales go below a certain threshold called "commercial viability?" Remember "Betamax"? "Elcassette"?
For listening to CHR "Top-40" music in the car, or on a boom-box, or mini system (those plastic all in one stereos with grotesque looking speakers with features like "mega-bass"), MiniDiscs might not sound different from CDs and better than cassettes, but that's because "Top-40" music (pop, rap, disco, etc.,) is already highly compressed for radio airplay and because the amps and speakers on boom-boxes are terrible and in the car, road noise will mask most faults. For serious critical listening, audiophile hifi sound quality must always be the first priority, not "convenience."
(*) If you do click on Andrew's AUDIO HI-FI EQUIPMENT link, you need to select Commentary on Hi Fi (and wait long enough for the whole thing to download :-). Then, if nothing else, it'll give you some idea of the term "critical mass" in a market. In Oz, we're now lucky to find more than 2 or 3 serious "Hi-Fi" dealers in a capital city. Check out the above page and drool (but put aside a few nights to do it ... :-)
If you're still interested in Minidisc comparsions, here's another article (a reprint from "Stereo Review", Mar 1997) comparing - would you believe - Mindiscs and audio cassettes. Slightly more even-handed than the extract above, and fairly interesting. Written by Ken C. Pohlmann.