I have designed and built a Mini Disc Speed Controller for the Sony MZ-R3 Mini Disc Player/Recorder. I have been using it for about 1 year and it works great. It provides the equivalent speed range of 40 to 50 RPM on a turntable. I have recently given my design to Hilton Audio Products. Hilton is into production now and is selling the MZ-R30 with speed control. I do not recommend anyone build one unless they have experience with high frequency circuits and can work with surface mounted devices.
Equipment: The equipment you use will to a large extent determine how successful you will be in making use of the mini disc technology. There are two main points to consider. During record you want a system that is easy to create your titles and edit the tracks. Size is not an important consideration. For dances you want a player that is small (less to carry) and easy to operate while on stage. The ideal list of play-back modes should include single track play, continuous play of tracks in sequence, and single track repeat. The player should have variable speed. For amplification at dances you can use your standard Hilton record player system with an optional signal booster or to really eliminate carrying stuff, a Hilton MA-150 amplifier system which is less than half the size of a record player system and a lot lighter.
My particular setup uses 3 mini disc systems by Sony. A fairly large investment (about $750) but one that is versatile and met my needs. I purchased a bundled Sony system that consists of their JE500 recorded/player and the MZ-E40 walkman style player. This would be my minimum recommended system. Additionally, I purchased an MZ-R3 walkman style player/recorder. I did this for several reasons. The E40's controls were on the bottom of the case which is very inconvenient, the display was too small for my failing eyes and located on the edge of the case. In short, you were forced you to pick it up to use it. In contrast, the R3 has it's large display and controls on the top which is a lot more accessable. As a bonus, the R3 also records which can have uses at a dance when you want to record yourself or another caller/cuer etc.. My JE500 is set up with my home stereo system which has a very high quality record turntable and amplifier system. This gives me the best possible reproduction of my 45s. I use the E40 for practice. The R3 is used with the Hilton MA-150 amplifier and on occasion, my Hilton AC-201.
When purchasing blank disks, I would highly recommend you get together with your local caller's association and place an order for 100. You can bargin with most retail stores or you can order directly from Japan. Using this methodology you will have no problem buying them for UNDER $5.00 each. An advantage of buying them direcly from Japan (since I have not seen them in NJ) is that you can get discs in cases of colors other than black. There are about 10 colors available. Color coding would really help in organizing your collection. I bargained with an outlet named Nobody Beats The Wiz and got 100 discs for $5.00 each including tax. (Sony 74 minute).
Organization: Oh that great word. If only we could do it all the time. This, to me, has been a real challenge. How do you organize your collection. With 100 blanks I could put my whole 3000 record collection on discs and carry them with me where ever I go. But how to find what you need quickly. By alphabet, by style (hoedown, singing, contra, country/western etc....), by type of event you will be doing? I've decided upon a combination of these three. I definitely keep the same style music on one disc except for a few special discs. On each disc songs are alphabetical.
Hoedowns: I found the a good way to do a hoedown is to record a hoedown and then split it into three track. Listen to the hoedown and find the leadin - split the track at the end of the leadin. Find the beginning of the ending sequence and split the track at that point. If done carefully you can then start your patter with the leadin using the play tracks in sequence mode. Then you can change the mode to repeat track when you are in the middle portion and if you made your splits properly it will keep repeating without any appreciable break. When you want to end your patter change the mode to play tracks in sequence again and the player will go to the ending sequence at the completion of the middle portion. I found that if you put all of your hoedowns on the record first you may have some dead (quiet) time between tracks. The secret is to do one hoedown, split it up and then do the next. I've heard that the Sharp units will automatically put quiet time between tracks even when you split one track and it is not optional. This feature makes their units not usable for our activity.
Singing: I have a bunch of discs, each disc has one or more letters of the alphabet. Songs on the disc are alphabetical in order. There is about 10 seconds of silence at the end of each song - my first attempt did not include this 10 second quiet time and when I played a song and it ended the next song began almost immediately. Not good. Need time to get to the stop/pause button.
Links: I make no claims about the retailer links - If you purchase a product from any of these you are the buyer and therefore you make you own decision. Obviously, if you have a problem with one of these, let me know and I'll remove the link. I never used The Wholesale Connection, I've purchased a lot of stuff from the Wiz and was satisfied.
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This page was last revised on May 8, 1998
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