SECRET HANDSHAKES

How to Access the Error Rate Display

ã 1998 by Eddie Ciletti

TAPE MACHINES

With tape machines, you donít have to be able to translate every cryptic error message ó just donít ignore them, ok?  As crude as they may seem, "cranky" behavior is communication. Table One shows how to interrogate machines that have the ability to display errors.  I strongly feel that Error Rate should be a dedicated front-panel button and not the round-a-bout path taken by many manufacturers.  That said, I am very thankful for what has been provided.


 
 
Make
Model
Error Message
Button Sequence
       
Alesis
Adat
Flashing decimal
None
Alesis
Adat XT
XT-20
LX-20
Flashing Sunburst
See also
Front Panel Display
Set Locate & Record Enable 3. Press play 
Fostex
R-8
Flashing LED
Above "SF" (sub frames)
Press "Home," then press "Next" 8 times, then "F1." 

Press play. "0000" is great. Low numbers are good.

Tascam
DA-38
PB condition LED "on"
Press SHIFT (LED will blink) then press MENU until "b.E.r. oFF" appears. Press ¯ or ­ buttons to enable or disable this feature. PB LED will blink when enabled. Press shift to return to the normal ABS display. Meters 1& 2 will now indicate head errors during PLAY mode.
Tascam
DA-88
Error LED "on"
FF-STOP-PLAY on power-up 

Press STOP again. Display should say "test." 

Press REMOTE. Meters 1& 2 will now indicate head errors during PLAY mode.

Tascam
DA-98
PB condition LED "on"
Select Menu 9, press ENTER, then select BER.
Tascam
DA-302
Digital Distortion
Press MENU seven times until E----AH is displayed.
Panasonic
SV-DA10
SV-3200
SV-3700 SV-3800 SV-3900
SV-4100
"CLEANING"
MODE-RESET-PAUSE, then press mode until "AB" appears at the top. 
Four-digit number at lower right is the "error rate."
Fostex
PD-2
PCM Error, warning LED or Tone
Press "Clr" & "Batt" keys. "Function" will appear. Enter the number "26" then use arrow keys to select "04" and press the "execute" key. Choose the "PCM and SUB" option. Afterwards, press "Quit" to view error rate. 
Fostex
PD-4
   
Fostex 
D-30
 
Press DISPLAY button until Error Rate is selected
Sony
PCM-R500
ERR
Please Note:
Access to the Error Rate requires "modifications" to the remote control. 
Click Here For The Remote Modification.
Press 91 on the remote. If you see "91" on the machineís display, press the Test key on the remote. You should now see an "A" on the far left of the display followed by four pairs of numbers. Low numbers are good (zeros are best).
       
Table One: How to query most tape machines for error rate. Do this after formatting a new tape or before shipping a tape to a customer.  Considering that the ability to view the Error Rate is the only way to discover a potential problem, don't you think it should be easier than this?

 
CLEAN and "DIRTY" TAPES

If youíre not inclined to manually clean the heads, donít be afraid to use a cleaning tape as long as the manufacturerís recommendations are followed, this typically  means ten seconds, so do not walk away from the machine or get distracted.  This is especially true for the Tascamís DTRS machines, because  a single cleaning can reduce head life by about 10 hours. In this case, the tape drags across 270 degrees of the headís surface.  "DAT wrap," by contrast,  is only 90-degrees ó one-third the surface area means using a cleaning tape reduces head life by about 3.3 hours.

If you can check the error rate and it is good, then donít use the cleaning tape. If there is a problem, run the tape once and if there is no improvement then try again, but don't get crazy!!!  A head clog is not the only cause of problems. Donít ever re-use or rewind a cleaning tape. When it gets to the end, throw it away! 

The "recording media" should not be overlooked as the source of the problem. Always try another batch or brand of tape. Old tapes may shed and "promiscuous" tapes may bring dirt from other machines into your machine. Short of abstinence, it pays to know how to clean your own heads.  If a new tape solves the problem it's best to make a clone of the bad tape, making sure to clean the machine afterward.
 

Wanna see what an Error Rate Display looks like?

E-mail Eddie

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