New, Improved Minidisc Software

SonicStage is the software that Sony provides for downloading and uploading audio from its Hi-MD minidisc recorders (and just download to its MDLP recorders). SonicStage has been much maligned for being clunky, slow, and for the digital rights management which limited how many times an MP3 could be downloaded to minidiscs and how many times audio files could be uploaded from a user-recorded Hi-MD.

Surprisingly, it seems that Sony is actually listening to its loyal minidisc users. The new version of SonicStage, 3.2, addresses some of these problems and adds an appreciated new feature.

Gone are the restrictions on recording MP3s to minidisc and the upload restrictions. However, there are still restrictions on how many times you can burn or record songs purchased from Sony’s Connect music store, but that’s in line with other music stores, like iTunes. And, really, how many people actually use Connect anyway?

The best new feature is that SonicStage now takes care of automatically converting to WAV files audio you recorded yourself. Up to now this was a two-step process, requiring you to first upload the audio from your MD recorder, then convert it to WAV. This was because Sony had promised to offer uploaded audio when it debuted Hi-MD in 2004, but didn’t have the software support it until it had been out for many months, and only then by using a separate application called WAV Converter.

If you’ve already got a Hi-MD or MDLP recorder it’s worth a download (and it’s free). I’ve just started using it and there seem to be no glitches of the sort that often haunt software upgrades — my library of uploaded material is intact and none of the drivers were messed up.

Unfortunately, Hi-MD support is still Windows only, although there are rumors of Mac support.