Instructions for Cloning a
MiniDisc TOC with Modern Sony Decks

David W. Tamkin (

TOC Cloning

The following procedure can be used to copy the TOC (table of contents) from one recordable MD to another. There are various reasons for wanting to do this, such as recovering recordings lost to editing errors and cloning specially made long-play blanks.

If you are trying to recover a disk that has been accidentally erased (either partially or entirely), you will need to make a "source" TOC by recording a full disc of silence onto a fresh or completely erased blank. The recording mode for the silence (i.e. SP, LP2 or LP4) must correspond to the mode the material on the "target" disc was recorded in. If your target disc had tracks in more than one mode, you will only be able to recover tracks in one mode -- make your recording of silence in the mode you wish to recover.

Once you have cloned the silence disc's TOC onto the target disc, all the audio on it will appear as one long track. You will need to listen to the disc and put the track marks back manually.


TOC cloning can be undertaken with:

Procedure Overview

  1. Insert source disc, reading TOC into machine's memory.
  2. Sneakily eject the disc without the machine knowing.
  3. Sneakily insert the target disc without the machine knowing.
  4. Mark in-memory TOC as "dirty" (i.e. needing to be written back out to disc).
  5. Properly tell the machine to eject the disc, writing the source disc's TOC onto the target disc.

Detailed Procedure for Sony MDS-JExxx Decks

(See Definitions section, below).

To clone a TOC from one disc to another on a Sony MDS-JE520,

  1. Insert the source disc into the 520. Let the 520 read its TOC.

    CAUTION! Cloning instructions for older units say to dirty the TOC at this point. With the MDS-JE520, that is not just unnecessary but also HIGHLY inadvisable. If step 2 or 3 applies rather than step 4, you could even have the write-protect open on the source disc.

  2. If the source disc's TOC is exactly what you want cloned to the target disc, skip to step 7.

  3. If the TOC you want to write to the target disc is not the same as that on the source disc, but ALL the differences are such that you need to work with the target disc to figure them out, skip to step 7.

  4. If you need to make changes from the source disc's TOC to get the TOC that you want to write to the target disc, and for some or all of those edits you need to work with the source disc to figure them out, do the editing for which you need to work with the source disc.

  5. If you want the changes from step 4 written to the source disc as well, save the TOC now. Then reinsert the source disc if you saved the TOC by ejection or turn the unit on if you saved the TOC by turning the unit off. Skip to step 7.

  6. Last possibility: if you made edits in step 4 but you do not want them written to the source disc, super-undo.

  7. Go to test mode. Do NOT press REPEAT.

  8. While you're in test mode, eject the disc and insert the target disc.

  9. Disconnect the power. Make sure that the REC-OFF-PLAY slide switch is set to OFF.

  10. Reconnect the power without holding the AMS knob in.

    CAUTION! If you dirtied the TOC while the source disc was still in the 520 and you didn't clean it by saving it to the source disc in step 5 nor by super-undoing in step 6, the 520 will be writing the dirty TOC from step 4 to the target disc right now. That's not a problem, I thought, until the time I inserted a good disc with other valuable recordings in step 8 instead of the intended target disc, and the source disc's TOC got written to it. I had to recover its TOC from scratch. That is why it is greatly preferable to go into step 7 with a clean TOC, contrary to cloning instructions that have been given for some other decks.

    At this point the target disc is inside the unit, but the TOC data in RAM -- all the track and segment pointers, titles, and timestamps, and all the SCMS, mono/stereo, and emphasis bits -- are those from the source disc (as modified by any edits made in step 4). You've managed to switch discs without the 520's realizing it.

  11. If necessary, play selections from the disc to make sure that the results are to your liking. If you inserted the wrong disc, go back to step 7.

  12. If you need further edits to the target disc -- if step 3 or the word "some" in step 4 applied -- make them now. They will leave the TOC dirty. Skip to step 14.

  13. Otherwise -- if step 2 or the word "all" in step 4 applied, so you skipped step 12 -- dirty the TOC now.

  14. Save the TOC to the target disc.

Congratulations, you have now duplicated the TOC of the source disc onto the target disc.


"disconnect the power"
Remove the unit from its source of electricity by unplugging its cord from the wall socket, shutting off the power strip if it is plugged into a power strip, or setting the timer [not the "TIMER" switch on the 520's console but the actual appliance timer into which the 520 is plugged] to "off" manually if the 520 is connected to an appliance timer.
"reconnect the power"
Plug the 520's cord back into the wall socket, or turn the power strip back on, or set the timer to "on" manually: whatever it takes to reverse the disconnection and supply electricity to it again.
"turn the unit off" or "turn the unit on"
Press the ON/STANDBY button at the upper left of the console or the green POWER key at the upper right of the remote.
"The TOC is dirty"
The 520 believes, correctly or incorrectly, that the TOC in its RAM differs from the TOC saved on the disc, so it lights the red "TOC" LED on the display and will write the TOC from RAM to the disc when the disc ejected or the 520 is turned off.
"The TOC is clean"
The 520 believes, correctly or incorrectly, that the TOC saved on the disc is the same as the TOC in its RAM, so the "TOC" LED is off, and the 520 can be turned off or the disc can be ejected without writing the TOC from RAM to the disc.
"dirty the TOC"
Make a clean TOC dirty by performing an edit. If no edit is necessary but the TOC is clean and must be dirtied, a quick way to dirty it without any actual edit changes is is to press NAME on the remote, give the 520 a moment to present the disc name or current track name for editing, and then press NAME again to exit titling without changing anything (nor entering anything if there was no title there before). The write-protect on the disc must be closed and the 520 must be set to continuous play mode (not shuffle or program).
Hold in either the STOP button on the console or the STOP key on the remote for about ten full seconds until the 520 goes into Retry Cause Display Mode (the panel will display something like "RTs00c00e00"). Retry Cause Display Mode itself need not be used in cloning; you can exit it by pressing TIME or DISPLAY on either the console or the remote [the method of exiting is different from the JE500 and JE510]. The thing that's important here is that going into Retry Cause Display Mode when the TOC is dirty will make the 520 forget the stain and believe that the TOC is clean, so that the TOC in RAM will not be written to the disc when the 520 is turned off or the disc ejected; that is why it is called super-undoing. The RAM copy of the TOC is unchanged by super-undoing, and it can be written to the disc after all if you dirty the TOC again (dirtying the TOC after a super-undo is known as "super-redoing").
"go to test mode"
Disconnect the power, hold in the AMS knob, reconnect the power, and release the AMS knob. (The usual way to exit test mode is to press REPEAT on the console, which puts the 520 into a form of standby mode where it literally displays the word "Standby", and then turning the unit on. However, that method forcibly ejects the disc, so we're going to get out of test mode in a different way for cloning.)
"save the TOC"
Write the TOC from RAM to the disc by ejecting the disc or turning the unit off while the TOC is dirty. Saving the TOC will mark it clean.

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