Minidisc FAQ: Miscellaneous Topics

  1. MD equipment bears the label ``US and Foreign Patents licensed from Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation,'' why is that?

    Sony, in the process of developing ATRAC, unknowingly employed techniques that were covered in prior Dolby patents. Sony made a licensing agreement with Dolby to avoid (or as the result of) a legal challenge from them. Dolby doesn't own all of ATRAC, just some part(s) of it.

  2. How does SCMS work?

    [Adapted from the DAT Heads FAQ]

    SCMS stands for "Serial Copy Management System" and is the way copies of digital music are regulated in the consumer market. In essence, it prevents more than one generation of digital copying. It is implemented through information that is added to the stream of data that contains the music when one makes a digital copy (a "clone"). When making an analog copy only the music is transferred so there is no SCMS, and copying is totally unrestricted. Decks considered "professional" -- usually more expensive and with pro features, such as balanced XLR input/output -- are exempt from needing SCMS. Different manufacturers' pro decks behave differently: some allow one to set the SCMS code how one wishes, some only if the pro i/o is used, and some ignore it completely.

        SCMS Bit Definitions:
        Bits    Meaning        Explanation
        ----    ------------   ----------------------------
        00      Permitted      No restrictions at all
        11      Restricted     Allow 1 generation
        10      Prohibited     Do not allow copies
        SCMS Operation on consumer decks:
        Source             Recorded on copy
        --------------     --------------------------------
        Analog input       11
        CD                 10
        Digital, 00        11 or 00 (depending on model)
        Digital, 11        10
        Digital, 10        Will not record
        Dubbing MD to MD with SCMS:
        Play Deck       Connection     Record Deck     SCMS Problem?
        --------------  -------------  --------------  --------------
        Consumer MD     Digital        Pro MD          No
        Pro MD          Digital        Consumer MD     No
        Pro MD          Digital        Pro MD          No
        Consumer MD     Digital        Consumer MD     Yes
        any MD          Analog         any MD          No

    SCMS does not limit the number of times you can copy a certain CD or MD. For instance, you can make 20 copies of a CD - you just can't copy any of the 20 copies.

    It is ironic that if SCMS is to prevent unauthorized duplication of copyrighted information it has the above loopholes that a professional ripoff artist can easily use. And it is unfortunate that supposedly legitimate users, such as musicians recording their own music on cheaper, consumer decks, are restricted in the number of generations they can copy their music. [jfw/rg]

  3. Is there an adapter for the strange little headphone connector on the MZ-E3's remote?

    Sony makes an adaptor for that bizarre headphone connection. It's $13.34 (US). Call Sony at 1-800-488-SONY to order one. The part number is: in the US: PC-MP1HG, in Asia: PC-MP1S.

  4. Is there a Sony distributor I can order things from?

    You can call Sony Direct Response at 800/222-7669, there are about 10 Sony Factory Outlet stores around the country and they can give you the location of the one nearest you.

    You can also try here:

    Gallery of Consumer Electronics
    663 N Michigan Ave
    Chicago IL 60611

    (312) 943-3334
    (312) 943-0817 (fax)
    In California, Sony has a "factory outlet" store:
    Tracy Outlet Center
    1005 Pescadero Ave., Ste. 183
    Tracy, CA 95376

    Tel: 209-832-3440
    Fax: 209-832-4435
    There is another Sony outlet store in the Grove City Outlet Mall, Grove City PA, three miles south of I-80 on I-79.

  5. Where can I order parts and service manuals?

    You can order any Sony electronics accessory (such as remotes, manuals, etc.) direct from Sony. Sharp also allows the online ordering of parts from their Canadian website.

    You can also get Sony service manual and parts/accessories at:

    Sony Electronics Inc.
    National Parts Center
    8281 N.W. 107th Terrace
    Kansas City, Missouri 64153

    phone: 800-488-7669 (parts)
    816-891-7550 ext 33 (publications/manuals)

    In Europe, you can order Original Sony Parts here:

    Gehado Electronic Service GMBH
    Freigrafenweg 29
    44357 Dortmund
    germany, Tel: +49-231-937-000-21,22,23...28
    and Sony service manuals can be ordered here:
    Schaltungsdienst Heinz Lange
    Zehrensdorfer strasse 11
    12277 Berlin
    Germany, Tel: +49-30-72-38-13

    In the US, Tritronics carries Service Manuals and parts for Aiwa, Sony, Sharp, JVC, Panasonic, Denon and others:
    1306 Continental Drive
    Abingdon, MD 21009

    Telephone: 800 638 3328

    Also at Pacific Coast Distributors (search for "Sony" and indicate model "md"). Chiefly (only?) for Sony's car MD units.

  6. Where is a good US Service Center for MD repair?

    Try here for Sony equipment:
    Sony Electronics Inc.
    Factory Service Center
    Sony Service Center
    390 University Avenue
    Westwood, MA 02090

    Phone: +1 800 282 2848
    Fax: +1 617 329 1345

    Sony also has a National Direct Response Center at 800-222-7669, representatives there can help you troubleshoot problems with Sony equipment.

    Try one of these for Sharp equipment (or call 1-800-BE-SHARP and use your touch tone phone to find an authorized service representative near you):

    Video Electronics & Parts
    5260 Northwest 167 St.
    Miami Lakes, FL 33014

    A $35 diagnostic fee is charged, but will be subtracted from the repair charges.
    Advisory TV & Radio
    175 7th Avenue
    New York, NY 10011 USA

    212 243 0786

    In the UK, Sharp (and other maker's?) parts can be ordered from:

    Partmaster Direct (A Dixons subsidiary): 0870 9090444.

    Or here for direct factory service:

    Sharp Engineering SEK
    2-chome, 13-17
    Kitaku, Higashi Tabata
    Tokyo, JAPAN

    Enclose a note describing the problem in simple and clear English.

  7. Where can I get a case for my Minidiscs?

    Any storage case for audio cassette tapes will work just fine for MDs, as long as it does NOT have individual compartments into which the cassettes are to inserted. Any open shelf for cassettes will be just the right depth for MDs, with about an inch of extra headroom which is actually fairly convenient (leaves room for your hand to grab a disc).

    I did find the Napa Valley "Cassette Crate 12", a single-shelf crate that (obviously) holds 12 cassettes, and it clearly would hold about twice that number of MDs in their little sleeves. So presumably the 2-shelf model that I got might be called "Cassette Crate 24". And any other brand would be just as good.
    If it helps, the Napa Valley outfit is:

    Napa Valley Box Co. Inc.
    11995 El Camino Real
    San Diego, CA 92130
    (619) 259-3000
    but their stuff is in practically all good music stores. (Oddly, in spite of their name, they are nowhere near the Napa Valley, and their products are made in Mexico.) -Gary Milliken (Gary.Milliken@Corp.Sun.COM)

    I am using a plastic rack that is actually meant for DAT-tapes. You know the type that c-cassettes used in the history. You can hang the rack on the wall and attach several of them together... Two MDs fit into a space for one DAT. It might not be very nice looking furniture in the living room, but for example in a studio it is actually quite handy as when You hang the racks so that You can store the disks horizontally you can also easily read the labels... -Janne Auvinen Turku, Finland(

    DAT cases work the best for storage. I bought mine in San Fran for under $35. It will hold a total of 80 MD's. It is heavily padded and comes with a durable shoulder strap and casing.

    Thomas Halasz ( reports that the hard plastic box that comes with Ferrero Roche Chocolates (Italy) is the perfect size for holding 25 MDs, sans jackets. The box is transparent with an articulated lid. The chocolate is good too.

    Other users report: ``I just stick my MD's Sans case in a plastic 3X5 index card box. It holds 25, fits like a glove, and cost $2.'' and ``Here's a really cool MD storage idea (at least I think so); the wood crates that hold three bottles of wine with sliding wooden covers and wooden dividers. Fits perfectly, one box holds lots of MD's. Just watch out for slivers.''

    Yet another simple suggestion: Just glue a stack of MD cases together. (

    You can also check the MD page accessories table for suppliers of cases.

  8. How can I make labels on a computer for my MD sleeves?

    A standard Avery label fits almost perfectly onto a minidisc sleeve with no cutting. It is Avery Label J8666 (perhaps also known as J7666). It is their 3.5" disk face only label. Word can automatically format for this label in it envelopes and labels section.

    Here are some pointers for printing labels for the Minidiscs themselves using the blank stickers that come with each MD blank disc:

    These are the dimensions needed to print on the labels that come with Memorex Minidiscs using Microsoft Word. The dimensions are:

    Top Margin: 0.57"
    Side Margin: 0.91"
    Label height: 1.91"
    Label width: 1.4"
    Number across: 1
    Number down: 1

    From the Labels dialog, click the "Options" button and then the "New Label" button and you will see a window with entry boxes for the above data along with a text box where you can enter a name for this type of label. (I used "Memorex Minidisc".) Click the "OK" button and the label data will be saved for future use.

    Note that the actual dimensions of the label are slightly different than these (probably because Word and my printer don't exactly agree on how long 1" really is...) but these are what I found to work after some trial and error. Note also that this is for the main label only - also on the same sheet are 3 skinny labels that aren't printed to (but are accounted for in the side margin). If your printer will feed such a small sheet (which mine, surprisingly, did) then you're all set. If it won't, then you can tape the sheet to the top, right corner of a regular piece of paper and feed that through.
    -Ross Miller (

  9. How can I subscribe/unsubscribe to the Minidisc

    See the MD Mailing List instructions

  10. On the Sony LIP-12 batteries, there is a little switch with a red dot in one position, what is this for?

    The switch has no electrical connection and is only provided to help you identify which batteries are charged. If you carry many batteries in the same bag, the ones showing a red dot can indicate empty, while those with the switch in the other position can indicate charged. You have to remember to move the switch after changing or charging batteries.

Copying Status: Public Domain. However, no liability is accepted for the correctness and safety any procedures or advice given here. This FAQ is distributed in the hope that it will be useful. Also, please include a notice that this file can be found at in any copies that you post.

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As always, I would be much obliged for any updates and corrections from Sony Engineering. -Eric Woudenberg

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