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Guest Black Lotus

What Are You Listening To Right Now?

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The Secret by Alan Parsons. I wanted to play with one of my MiniDisc recorders again, and so I started a convoluted path to get this album on a blank MD. 


Sony stopped supporting their SonicStage application some time ago, and that means that the "installer" doesn't work anymore. It was really a link to download the program and drivers needed for their NetMD devices, and Sony has long ago eliminated the program from their servers. I've found an offline installer through a MD forum that I would occasionally visit, and it had a working copy of the program.


Except that there's no certified drivers for NetMD for Windows 10. It's possible to hack a Win10 install to cause it to think that it's a compatible version, but the method's pretty messy. So, I decided to dust off an old Dell laptop from about 13 years ago, take out the hard drive that I had in it with Linux, and put in a spare hard drive that I've had lying around. I located my restore disc and drivers disc, and went about installing Windows XP on it again. That HDD was a bit bigger than the original (500 GB vs the original 120 GB), and required all of its current partitions to be removed and the disk reformatted. That process took about 2 hours. XP required a further 30 minutes or so to set up, and then I went about installing the various drivers for the system. I did a search on Dell's website for updated drivers, but the only one that's listed is for the BIOS--Dell's also deleted their drivers for this model.


For various reasons, the system's not connected to the network. So, I downloaded the Windows XP SP3 updater, the SonicStage installer, and some WAV files of the music that I wanted to experiment with. The copy of The Secret that I was using is a 96kHz/24-bit FLAC version, so I first ran it through dbPowerAmp Batch Converter, with the output as 44.1kHz/16-bit (CD-quality) WAV.


I connected one of my HI-MD units, an MZ-M100 that still plays and records, but the main display has faded to non-existence*. I was able to import the WAV files, edit the artist/track information, and then send it to the device. I output as NetMD LP2 mode, so that I could play it on an even older MZ-N505 unit. So, about 5 hours after I started, I'm listening to an album released less than a month ago, on a device that I bought 17 years ago. It sounds fantastic.


Now, I could have just streamed it through my phone or iPad, but where would the fun be in that?


*The top of the HiMD range used blue OLED technology for their main display screens. The downside to the technology is that all OLEDs are susceptible to fading over time, with blue being most likely to be affected. My two units faded while primarily in storage, most likely from oxygen seeping into the OLED assembly.

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The music on the casino floor changes to "oldies" on our senior day. While walking through, I heard "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" by Pink Floyd, followed up by "Take the Long Way Home" by Supertramp.



It took me a moment to realize that both were released about 40 years ago.

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