NetMD or NetMiniDisc is an extension of the MiniDisc format.
Despite MiniDisc’s versatility, it had a limitation back in the day.
It could not speed-record music in digital mode. You could only record music at a single speed in analog mode as you would with an audio compact cassette. Thus a 74-minute audio track took 74 minutes to record.
This gave it a great disadvantage compared to MP3 players.
With MP3 devices you could download hours of music tracks within minutes.
The NetMD disc format sought to address this shortcoming and make MiniDisc more competitive.
How was this done?
With NetMD disc format you used the USB interface to transfer audio files at high speed. You do this by dragging and dropping files from your computer.
You can transfer about five hours of audio tracks in about 10 minutes.
Audio recorded in LP4 mode can be transferred up to 64 times faster on certain devices.
In LP4 mode you can record audio four times longer than in the standard play (SP) mode on a MiniDisc.
The NetMD protocol also allows you to also edit music that has been recorded on a MiniDisc.
The NetMD disc format is backwards compatible with MiniDisc products. You can play MiniDiscs on a NetMD device.
The NetMD disc format supports the ATRAC and ATRAC3 audio codecs.
How NetMD Works
To control NetMD and undertake audio file transfer with your computer, you would need to install NetMD software,
Among the software programs are SonicStage and OpenMG Jukebox offered by Sony.
RealAudio, too, released a NetMD plug-in which worked with their media player software program.
How to Transfer CD Tracks to NetMD
Here are the steps you should follow to rip a CD and transfer the tracks to your NetMD device.
Step 1 – Insert your CD into your DVD/CD-ROM drive.
Step 2 – Launch the OpenMG Jukebox program.
Step 3 – Choose the audio output format.
Step 4 – Drag and drop the ripped tracks into the NetMD folders.
Step 5 – Choose an encoder – LP2 or LP4 – Jukebox will convert the tracks to the ATRAC3 format before transferring them to your NetMD device.
Transferring audio tracks to your MiniDisc is no problem with NetMD.
However, you’ll face a problem transferring audio tracks to your computer from a MiniDisc.
Sony had disabled this feature to prevent music piracy. But this works against live recordings as well.
Say, you record live original music of your band with a NetMD recorder. You’ll not be able to transfer it to your computer for postproduction work.
Here are some NetMD disc format devices released back in the day. They are not limited to Sony models.
Sony NetMD MZ-N510CK Walkman
This model was released with a car kit, CD and MP3 transfer software program (SonicStage) and a headphone remote, among others.
It supports USB 2.0. You could transfer 2 hours and 40 minutes of audio tracks in around 15 minutes.
In the LP4 mode, you can fit music from 4 CDs on a standard MiniDisc.
That was more economical than you would pay for storage space on an MP3 player.
Check out the Sony NetMD MZ-N510CK Walkman.
Sharp IM-MT880 Portable NetMD Recorder
This NetMD recorder can record audio with a speed of up to 16x.
This unit allows you to change recording levels without having to access a menu.
Aiwa AM-NX9 NetMD Recorder
This portable NetMD recorder was released in 2003.
Its main features are fast audio downloads and convenient weight
The unit also comes with editing tools and a sampling rate converter, among others..
The size is just right to fit into your pocket.
Sony VAIO PCV-MXS20
This desktop Pentium 4 PC came with an integrated NetMD MiniDisc recorder. It allows for MP3 and WMA audio playback.
Recording can be done at a speed of 32x.