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Recording problem with Sony MZ N510

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I bought a used Sony MZ N510 portable minidisc player/recorder a while back. I use it primarily for playback. It didn't come with a mains charger or battery. I've been using a standard Duracell AA8 battery to power it. This has all been good. The other day I thought I'd try recording an MD. It recorded about three minutes and then stopped. The display said 'Lobattery' but it was a brand new battery. I downloaded a manual but, frankly I couldn't understand most of it. It seemed to suggest that in order to record I need to plug it into the mains using the appropriate charger. Can anyone clarify this for me, please?

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Recording is more power hungry than playback but should still be possible for many hours on AA battery:

image.png

Can you confirm the battery contacts are clean and not corroded? Can you try another AA cell from a different source (i.e. not from the same packet).

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Hello, and thanks for your interest and prompt reply. The unit is in excellent condition and the battery compartment is very clean and dry. As I said, the machine plays MDs perfectly and in fact the battery life on playback seems far better than other Sony minidisc players I have owned. I've tried two different, new Duracell batteries with the same result but I do have some rechargeable batteries that I will fully charge and give them a go. As I also said, the manual that I downloaded for this machine seems to suggest that the mains charger and battery should be plugged in. What I don't understand is why it records for about three minutes and then simply stops.

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My entry above is from the Service Manual for this exact machine (I have one or two too...). You can record on battery with these portable machines no problem, per the table. Of course in theory a mains supply is more reliable if you are doing a longggg.... record session, although having a battery in too gives you a nice inbuilt UPS should the mains fail :-)

Rechargables are usually inferior to alkaline AA in this respect. Couple of reasons: (i) the fresh cell voltage is usually lower (1.25V vs 1.5V) (ii) the discharge curve is different between the different battery chemistry and Sony probably calibrated their curve on alkaline AA - battery level can be misleading [remaining charge calculation is complex - see how "badly" even modern smart phones do in this respect).

However I digress from your recording query and at this point I don't have a good answer for you. If you are able to source a Sony fat-plug to try with your machine the results would be interesting. From your initial report, this suggests a power supply instability issue that is tripped by the higher supply current required during the record phase. But this may be a red-herring!

Can you try SP/LP2/LP4 modes and see if there is a change in behaviour? Can you try a different disc?

What did you mean by "I downloaded a manual but, frankly I couldn't understand most of it." The User or Service Manual? If Service Manual, then unless you have electronics background then yes I understand...

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Hello again. I've tried all the modes you suggested but the result is the same. The 'LOBATTERY' appears in the display window just after the recording stops. The 'user manual' I downloaded is simply titled 'Operating Instructions' and I've just found a short paragraph in small print that says, 'it is recommended that you use an AC adaptor when recording'. It doesn't say you MUST use it. But, clearly if the recording mode is as power-hungry as you suggest then I'm going to have to get one. It's not a big deal because, like I think I said I use the machine for playback. I have a stand alone minidisc player/recorder which I have been using for recording but this is quite old and starting to show signs of wear and tear. Thanks very much for your interest and help. I appreciate it.

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25 minutes ago, victim311 said:

But, clearly if the recording mode is as power-hungry as you suggest then I'm going to have to get one.

Well you should get 10 hours of recording out of an AA, so I wouldn't say that! Just that recording requires the laser in high power mode, whereas for reading/playback the laser is not only in a low power mode but is also only on periodically since it can burst-read data into the buffer. Along with being able to do the same with the spindle motor, this is how they can get such long playback times out of a single small battery. You wouldn't get that from your modern day iPod/smart phone!

No other obvious ideas at the moment unless someone clever like @NGY can come up with something. Sorry!

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My experience with portables is that the power adjustment can fail. So you have a good supply but it judges itself to be inadequate.

At least twice I have revived a portable by doing the very first few electrical adjustments, that set the power voltages for the operation of the machine. The other ones can be followed but i do not initially recommend doing the "911" CLEAR ALL action as you will then have many other things to worry about.

For the 510, I believe it starts on page 25. None of these power supply adjustments should affect the important laser settings.

You SHOULD set the temperature value to correspond to the room you are working in.

Good luck!

PS if it's really gone sideways at this point you will need to do a full servo alignment (automated). Nothing to be scared of but you will need a pre-recorded disk (CD) as well as a blank, new regular disk (don't even think about using one that's been near a HiMD portable!).

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Thanks for this information. I have decided to try and source an AC adaptor although they do seem pretty scarce for some reason. I came across a reasonably priced cable, sold by a company called myVolts recently. They claim that it will power a Sony MZ N510 through a laptop. I'm a bit sceptical but for the price I may give it a shot if I fail to locate the proper charger. Thanks again.

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Many of the Sony wall wart supplies will do, you don’t need the exact model that came with the machine. Check: mains voltage matches your local voltage; output voltage is as required; barrel plug size and polarity is correct.

Here in the UK there are generally a fair few for sale on the auction site. It’s often worth looking for one bundled with a faulty machine as sold alone buyers can ask for inflated prices. 

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When you say "recording", are you trying to record in real time via the optical/line in or from a PC via USB? I'm assuming the former but just in case it is the latter then I think Sony recommend you connect the MiniDisc device to an AC adaptor.

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1 hour ago, victim311 said:

I did wonder whether or not an off-the-shelf charger would be OK. Good advice. Thank you.

Sony usually use centre negative where most others use centre positive, so that is a key spec check for your machine and be aware of. Also the barrel plug is quite a small one. I think your best bet is to look for a Sony model but not be restricted to the exact model listed for this machine. For example I have both AC-ES305 (transformer based) and AC-ES305K (SMPSU) - although note these are UK/EU types so the code is probably not right in the US. With my MZ-R700 which is at work in the office I've got a different type again. Can't tell you what model that is at the moment as I've not been into the office since December with this CO**D thing... Sadly I have a photo... it's an AC-MZR55. But basically, 3V DC output, 500mA (3W or 5W depending on type). I've just checked my NF610, N505 and N510 and they are all centre positive as my R700 must be.

 

46 minutes ago, BearBoy said:

When you say "recording", are you trying to record in real time via the optical/line in or from a PC via USB? I'm assuming the former but just in case it is the latter then I think Sony recommend you connect the MiniDisc device to an AC adaptor.

Ah I think you're right - since I don't believe these machines can draw power from the USB. And USB is not "low power" (in the sense of an AA cell being able to support it for long). So yes, on the mains for USB makes good sense. Good spot!

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I'm recording in real time either from my stand alone minidisc player or from my CD player using the optical line in. Taking all the advice that the you and the other members have given me I'm definitely going to get an AC adaptor that meets these specifications - 230V input, 3V output, 50Hz, 500mA. Those are the specs on the Sony charger for the MZ N510. Many thanks to all who have commented. I'm glad I found this site!

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Ah sorry I was thinking you were in the US, when actually you're up the road from me! :-D

Plenty of examples here (I accept not all are the cheapest and probably as much as your machine...):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=sony+minidisc+power&_sacat=0&LH_TitleDesc=0&rt=nc&LH_PrefLoc=1

I searched "sony minidisc power" / "UK Only".

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I put one of those PSU from ukjunkmart in my ‘Watch’ list and he’s now offered with 15% off so might be worth you doing the same see if you can get a price you’re happier with. Or send them a message with an offer?

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1 hour ago, victim311 said:

I'm recording in real time either from my stand alone minidisc player or from my CD player using the optical line in.

I thought that was probably the case but thought it worth mentioning about the USB bit :-)

Welcome to the site and please let us know how you get on once the AC adaptor arrives.

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  • 2 weeks later...
10 minutes ago, victim311 said:

After much deliberation I bought a charger for another Sony model of minidisc player. It fits my machine and works perfectly. Everything is now resolved. My thanks go to all of you for your interest and helpful advice.

Great news!

I still don't understand the cause of the issue as first reported (recording issues with AA cell). Maybe I should have asked what a "Duracell AA8" battery is though. I know what a "Duracell AA" is!

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