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Japanese Electronics Makers Hedge Bets on Digital Cassette, Mini Disc

October 9, 1992

TOKYO (AP) _ Consumer electronics makers on Friday showed machines based on two new digital recording formats, hedging their bets on which would eventually win consumers’ hearts.

The inventors of the new systems - digital compact cassette and mini disc - displayed actual production models at Tokyo’s annual Audio Fair. Other makers said they are researching both formats and would wait to introduce products.

Both systems allow consumers to record music in digital form, providing clear, noise-free reproduction similar to that of compact discs. Both use controversial digital compression techniques to remove sounds that developers say are inaudible and therefore not necessary.

However, the two formats are incompatible because DCC uses tapes similar to current analog cassettes, while mini disc uses small CD-like discs enclosed in protective plastic cases.

DCC inventor Philips Consumer Electronics of the Netherlands exhibited new car-stereo, portable and mini-component versions of DCC, which it said would be introduced over the next year.

Its first model, a full-size component version that sells for the equivalent of $950, has been available in Japan since late September and will go on sale in the United States next month. Co-developer Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is selling a similar model for $1,115.

Sony Corp., mini disc’s inventor, showed portable, car stereo and ″boom- box″ models that are due out in November.

Most other electronics companies showed prototypes for both formats, and said they would wait to decide which to back.

″We’re waiting to see which one is preferred in the marketplace, even if it takes a while,″ said Yoshitsugu Yamaguchi, a Pioneer Electric Corp. engineer.

He said both new formats, because of digital compression, don’t sound as good as CDs under some circumstances.

″Although they’re adequate under most conditions, you can tell a difference if you have a high-quality listening room,″ he said. ″We’re putting more effort into top-quality audio products instead.″

Sueyoshi Hashimoto, manager of JVC’s audio product planning group, said his company would offer both mini disc and DCC until it becomes clear which will dominate the market.

″It’s up to the consumers to decide,″ he said.

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