Minidisc / Computer Question

My sister runs a secretarial business from home, and has a client who wants to give her recorded voice material to transcribe, using Minidiscs.

Up until now, she’s stuck with old fashioned casette technology because the transcription equipment comes with a foot control for the frequent rewinding and playback. The foot control is much, much quicker and more convenient than constantly taking her fingers off the keyboard and fumbling with casette player buttons.

Is there any way she can connect a foot control either directly to a Minidisc player, or to a computer connected to that player? Maybe recording the contents of the Minidisc to, say, an MP3 format on the computer, then connecting a foot control to the computer?

I’ve searched the Australian minidisc and Sony websites, but they don’t seem to have any suitable products. I telephoned Sony too, but came up with nothing.

Any advice appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I took a quick look at Winamp. Just as I thought there are keyboard shortcuts to various operations (play, pause, etc) so a person can use the keyboard to control the program. So if your sister can transfer the file from the MD to her computer, she can use a similar program to play the recordings, more or less.

      • Sorry, I have not run across any such accessory, or any minidisc unit made specifically for dictation purposes: I’ve only found expensive pro-audio units like the Marantz PMD650, and the ordinary Walkman-style units sold in electronics stores. … Many of the Walkman units have remote controls (on the headphone cord) which is better than having to pick up and handle the whole unit. You can usually play-stop-ff-rew with the remotes.
  • Well, the problem here is that there’s no high-speed way to transfer audio from a minidisc to a PC. The USB connecting devices all only serve as PC audio outputs, not inputs… -for sending audio from your PC to the MD recorder, not the other way around. So transferring a 60-minute MD recording to a PC takes 60 minutes, with a stereo patch cable between the MD’s headphone jack and the PC’s line-in jack. ~ For a brief time there were PC data minidisc drives available, but the music format and data format were completely incompatible and no drives were ever sold that could read/write both.

The only thing I can think of is to record the minidisc into a computer as a WAV file using something like cool edit, then she can use the mouse and computer keyboard to control playback. With an editor like cool edit she can also highlight a particularly difficult passage, loop it, and play it over and over until she gets it.

Either that or record the minidisc to cassette so she can use her foot controls. It would take the same amount of time to dub the minidisc either way.

Why not get voice recognition software and teach it the client’s voice as it sounds on minidisk? Then all she has to do is let the computer transcribe while she proofreads along.

If that doesn’t work a local electronics shop or hobbyist should be able to adapt a foot-control switch/rheostat to a minidisk player without much trouble.

Or, if worse comes to worse, she can talk the client into recording to a different type of media. Maybe if she supplied him with an MP3 recorder or even a digital recorder. I have seen tiny Sony digital recorders that do well over an hour of recording.

The final suggestion: Tell the client that she can do it but it will cost double.

A Google search for “digital transcription equipment” returns several suppliers.

That might work. I’ll pass it on.

This is actually the sort of thing I had in mind.
Thanks for your suggestions everyone. The importnt thing is the foot control. That’s the only reason she’s considering transferring the sound files to a computer in the first place. If there’s a way of linking a foot control directly to a Minidisc player, then that’s even better. I don’t think she’ll be keen on transferring the data to a computer in real time.

There’s a load of transcription equipment, including a foot pedal, that is designed to work with MP3s on a PC.

Google for “dictation pedal PC”; you’ll find several solutions for around $100.

Oh, yeah; unfortunately, I didn’t see anything like the minidisc solution, but if the client can supply MP3s on the minidisc, I suspect the real-time transfer will be unnecessary.