I have a Sony MD Walkman (model MZ-R3) and a whole bunch of minidiscs that I want to get the recordings off of.

I would like to convert them to MP3, but I need a cable to connect the walkman up to my computer.

Can someone please suggest the best cable to use for this? The walkman has a LINE OUT, LINE IN (OPTICAL) and MIC (PLUG IN POWER) ports, and well as an old style headphone port with a circle hole and rectangle with 4 pins to the right.

Trying to get the best quality (digital) for the recordings as I can.


closed as off-topic by Doktor Mayhem Jan 29 '18 at 11:53

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Line out to a Line in on a desktop is going to be the simplest and most likely best solution, despite the losses+noise inherent in converting from the lossy ATRAC digital format to analog audio, then lossy compressing again MP3.

There are services where you can ship your minidiscs, but I'd say it's fairly likely they're doing the same lossy D->A->D conversion instead of a pure-digital conversion.

It might be possible, if you can acquire a (fairly rare) Minidisc player with S/PDIF (optical or coax) digital audio out to combine this with an affordable USB audio interface with digital audio inputs (the same type) to do a homebrew pure-digital conversion (you are still doing lossy->lossy in this case though).

  • Thanks. So basically, there's no way to get the audio off that won't be lossy. So simple is best. – Nicole P Feb 5 '18 at 0:23

The optical port is an input. So use Line Out to Line In of a suitable audio interface. Your computer may have a dedicated Line In. It may have a multi-function Line In/Mic In which auto-detects which is connected (or asks you). Good. But if it only has a Mic In, quality may not be great.


The best way is to use a NetMD for getting the ATRAC files out. The next best way (and pretty much equivalent in quality but not regarding the necessary time and danger for dropouts) is to use a MiniDisc Deck with a digital output wired up to a soundcard or similar. You'll likely lose song names in that manner unless your next step is a CD recorder with digital input (there are more options for ripping CDs retaining full information). However, for consumer equipment this requires that the digital copy limiting scheme of Sony is not already on its last leg. Did your discs originate from a digital source?

The quality of an analog output on a portable device will definitely limit the possible recording quality: that should really be your last choice, even though line out is likely better than a headphone output.

How much is "a whole bunch of minidiscs"? It may be worthwhile just to send them to someone with the requisite equipment.

  • A lot of that went over my head unfortunately. I have about 30 MDs to get the audio off. Note that I live in Australia so that may limit who I could send them to. Do you know of anyone? Or if I wanted to buy a new player just for the job of getting the audio off, what should I be looking for in the player? What type of connection should it have? Thanks for your help! – Nicole P Feb 5 '18 at 0:27

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