For Time Extension, Damien McFerran spoke to “MiniDisc junkie”, Jake Smith about his love of MiniDisc, as well as exploring the appeal of the format, way past its prime:
Despite fading from memory for many people, there are those who continue to love the format. “Since the late ’90s, I’ve never stopped using MiniDiscs,” says Smith. “I might go on a bit of a hiatus every now and then, but they’ve always been a constant. A bit like the way a games console might get shelved for a couple of years, and then you get the urge to play something. I will admit, my collecting and use of them has increased in the last ten years.”
The burning question, in this case, is why would you pick MiniDisc over a smartphone with Spotify installed – a match which gives you access to a broader selection of music than you’d ever reasonably need? Ironically, many people find that MiniDisc’s limitations are what make the format so appealing in the modern era.
“I became aware of my own frustration in choosing music when doing nightly walks,” continues Smith. “The walks took just short of an hour and were a perfect opportunity to listen to music without distraction. When choosing music on an iPod or a phone, some evenings, I was nearly 10 minutes into the walk before I could decide what I wanted to listen to. The paradox of choice! Less is more! With MiniDiscs, I’d reach into a box and grab two discs, and that was it. I was stuck with what I’d physically picked up. There were times the music didn’t match my mood, but it was tough shit – try the other disc! It had the effect of revisiting a lot of music I simply wouldn’t have put on and listened to if I was scrolling through an iPod or iPhone.”
I bought a Sony mini hi-fi (despite already having a mini hi-fi) purely for the built-in MiniDisc player. It’s a format that I admired in the early 00s but had no means to ever use it. But I can now!