Using Minidisc to Record
from Internet Radio Stations

Eric Woudenberg
October 2001


One of the unsung benefits of Minidisc recorders is that they are self-contained, standalone units. Despite the Recording Industry's current love affair with Digital Rights Management and all things copy-restricting, as long as music eventually comes out of a headphone jack, it is a trivial matter to record it to Minidisc as well.

Given this facility, one interesting application of Minidisc is recording Internet Radio Stations. However, like traditional (and legally protected) home recording from terrestrial radio broadcasts, it can be a hit-or-miss affair, with great tunes mixed in among the mediocre. Minidisc's editing facilities come nicely to the rescue here, allowing unwanted tracks to be easily deleted afterwards.


You will need to install software to play the Internet Radio Station's audio streams. Here are a few possibilities:

Connecting PC to Minidisc

The easiest connection from your PC will be with a so-called `patch cord' with 1/8th" stereo phone plugs at each end. These are easy to find at electronics stores such as Radio Shack. One end of the cable goes into your PC's LINE-output or headphone-output jack, the other end goes into your Minidisc recorder's LINE-input jack. Be careful that the PC's headphone output is not turned up so high that it overloads the Minidisc's input circuitry and causes distortion; also take care not to plug into the MD unit's red-colored microphone jack (you may damage the unit's microphone preamplifier).

A sound card with optical output or the Xitel MDPORT-DG1 (aka Sony digital PC link) is ideal for MD recording purposes as the connection from PC to MD is lossless. If you have a Xitel MDPORT-AN1 (aka Sony analog PC link) that will still give you a quieter connection to your MD than a normal soundcard, since the analog output section of most sound cards frequently have some low-level noise. I've been using the Xitel MDPORT-AN1 and am very happy with it.

Unfortunately I've hit a bug in MusicMatch Jukebox Plus 6.1 using the MDPORT-AN1. Although MusicMatch allows you to set the Jukebox's audio output device to be different from the current Windows preferred output device (thereby allowing you send only Jukebox audio to the MD recorder), it seems to ignore the setting and use audio output device Windows is using instead. What this means is that every sound your PC makes ends up going out through the PC->MD link and getting recorded.

Getting your PC to shut-up

To silence your PC so that you can work and record simultaneously without having beeps, buzzers and bells recorded along with your music, try these steps (for Windows 2000 users): The result will be a PC that is silent unless you explicitly ask it to play audio. Others may find this distracting, to me it's blissful. But this still leaves the DOS "BEEP" on, which needs further tweaking to mute:

Radio Sources

Here are a some Internet Radio starting points. Feel free to recommend others:


I've used an MZ-R900 with Music Match. It marks the tracks nicely during the inter-song gap. I'd listen while recording, songs I didn't like (or that I'd recorded already) I skipped (Musicmatch allows you to skip about 5 songs -- then you must wait a while before skipping again). Later I'd go back through the MD and delete those skipped tracks, they'd be obvious because their durations were too short for normal songs.

The problem with Radio MX (and the reason I unsubscribed) is that the number of songs they have in rotation is pretty small. After just a few recording sessions of the World Beat channel (in LP2 mode) I was able to capture all the songs that I thought were worthwhile. I don't know what their new song insertion rate was, but it was too slow for me.


I'm still quite a newbie at the Internet Radio Recording scene. I'd be happy to receive email from others with updates or suggestions. Thanks!

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