Minidisc Repairman Q&A #7

David Popovits
Sigma D.O. Electronics
3, Sheinkin str. Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel. 972-3-6290339
Fax. 972-3-6203579
([email protected])

August 2000

Note: For Sony Equipment Problems you can also call Sony's National Direct Response Center at 800-222-7669

These questions from readers on these 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 pages followed David's original article about portable MD recorder repair

  1. Question: Which MD portables are clones?

    Hello, I've been reading your Q&A articles on and seeing as you have much experience in fixing MD machines, I was wondering if you could help me with this. I'm currently looking to purchase both a portable MD player, and a home minidisc recording system. I know that some companies borrow technology from other companies when it comes to Minidisc, but I've not had much success in finding out who copies whom. If you could possibily post a general list of who the original and who the clones are, that would be very helpful. Also, are the clones straight copies, including the build quality? And does this cloning also apply to minisystems? Thanks Ben

    Answer: Hi Ben, I don't know the whole list of clones. I know that Pioneer and Kenwood are clones of Sharp. The building and the quality are actually the same. This refers to portable MD's. Truly yours

  2. Question: Can I use a Japanese AC adapter in North America?

    I recently bought a Sony MZ-E90 with an outboard charger from Japan. It specifies 100V on the charger. I live in Canada where we use 120V. I have charged my battery about 5 times so far and everything works great. I was wondering if this is ok in the long run. Will it hurt my battery, or worse, my player? Should I invest in Sony's universal charger? Thanks Philippe Dumas

    Answer: Hello Philipe, Do invest in the Sony universal AC PSU. If you connect a 100V PSU to a source of 120V (20% more) you get 20% more DC voltage going into your MD, as the PSU is not regulated. The MD hates this situation. Truly yours

  3. Question: MZ-R3 stops spontaneously

    Hi David, I have and MZ-R3 that will spontaneously stop while playing and reset back to the beginning of the disc. Also, if I stop it manually and move the unit or press on the cover it 'spins-up' as though a new disc was just inserted. It sounds like a faulty switch inside, I'm hoping to be able to fix it myself. Any thoughts? Rick

    Answer: Hi Rick It may be a switch. Your door is not locked well. In addition be aware that you may have also a problem with a weak laser unit. First clean the unit and look for dirt or strange particles inside the disc holder. They may create an obstacle that won't let the door close properly or create a small distance between the needed location of the disc and the actual one. Truly yours

    Followup Thanks David, I'll check on dirt in the unit, but I know I've kept it pretty clean. The reason I think it's the switch is because others have had the same 'stop' and 'reset' problem. See the MZ-R3 problem report at Minidisc Switzerland. Thanks again, Rick

  4. Question: Airport X-Ray okay for MD gear? Sharp MD-MT831 suffers fall.

    There are two things I'd like to ask you. First, I travel by plane frequently and I usually I'm taking my MD portable (Sharp 831). I always have to let my unit get X-rayed at the security check at the airport and I was wondering if that can cause any harm to the unit. Do you have any information on that? Also I dropped my 831 last week and while it still works most of the time, the unit ocassionally (not always) simply shuts off during playback or recording and displays "can't read a", "can't write a". While it is obviously not totally broken, something is wrong. Do I just have to have it readjusted or is there more to be done? Thanks a lot in advance for your help! Olaf

    Answer: Hello Olaf, If you travel by plane frequently, be careful with the Concord. I can assure you that if your MT831 falls from that height it will break for good. Regarding X-Rays, it is better to turn off the MD when it passes through. The radiation may, although we do not have a good research on that, interfere with the internal oscillators of the MD. We do know that some memory devices can be damaged or lose information while X-rayed. Inside the MD there are 3 types of memory: Masked ROM for the processors program, EEROM for external settings, RAM to record information from the disc. The 2nd type of memory is the one that may suffer from X-rays. We do not have information on this from the MD producers. I'll try to check with Sony. Meanwhile, try not to X-ray the MD. Regarding 'cannot read', 'cannot write'. Those words replace some of the UTOC ERROR massages on Sharp MD's series 7XX. You may have a broken laser unit, a broken recording head... If you are lucky you may be able to fix it with the self adjustment procedure. My guess is that you cannot. Truly yours,

  5. Question: Is older MD gear more rugged?

    David: Just wondering. I've seen a lot of comments from MD users all over the world complaining of various reliablity problems and failures with their MD units. In your opinion, as MD's have become cheaper and smaller, have they also slipped in overall quality? I personally own two Sonys - a MZ-R37 and an *OLD* MZ-E2 player, and I've got to say that while the R37 is nice, the E2 seems MUCH more solidly built. The laser pickup is mounted in a large block of aluminum, the case closes with a solid "thunk" and is fashioned out of an almost un-scratchable metal (magnesium?) and the whole unit operates quickly, smoothly, and quietly. It's also quite compact, and sounds great. By comparison, my R37 is positively clunky. Of course - the E2 also runs about two hours, max, on the internal Lithium Ion battery. Oh well - I can't have everything, I guess! A player with the build quality of the E2 with the battery life and footprint of the newer players would be most welcome. Thanks for your continuous stream of MD repair tips - they are fascinating. James Brodsky Rochester, NY

    Answer: Hello James, To start, I'll tell you that I'm with you all the way. Let me explain to you how I see it from the viewpoint of someone who repairs MDs on a day to day basis. There is a range of MD equipment that I repair because they are broken due to age, or a severe shock. Among these I can list the following: Sony: MZ-1 MZ-R2, MZ-R3, MZ-R30/35/37, and MZ-R50. Although they all have some unique problems, for example the 3 switches mounted on the right side on the long edge of the MZ-R30/35 that tend to be problematic, they all at least behave like a normal apparatus (normal but big and heavy). On the other side of my table you can find a big range of MD gear which I repair because they were born by mistake. I mean the MZ-R55/70/90/91.... They are all small, some of them look very nice, they can play for many many hours on the same LiIon or NiMH, if they don't stop working while the battery is still full due to very bad mechanical structure. Being a private business I cannot tell my clients ridiculous stories like the importer's laboratory people can. I cannot explain to my client why their MZ-R55 is behaving in a strange way a month after I replaced the laser unit inside it. To tell you the truth, in order to avoid this situation I try to tell them not to repair it, as the same problem, or a new one can appear. Regarding the older MD's like the ones in the first list, I don't have to explain anything. I repair them, the client goes home, and I don't hear any complaints. I think the MZ-R50 was the last MD that was made from good materials, heavy enough, but not too much, with ATRAC-4, (MZ-2 is ATRAC-2) and all the things that make an apparatus a good machine rather than merely a field experiment by MD producers. I mentioned only Sony. It doesn't mean that others are doing things better, on the contrary some of them are even worse, and even with heavy MD's. Truly yours,

Return to the MiniDisc Community Page.