MPC Card Reader FAQ
I've been using card readers for years and bought them at any time I
needed on the second hand market for as little as $5. I have many
of them here in all kinds of equipment from Emu and Akai S-samplers to
MPC's. For years, I had many posts on several forums about using
how much better they were than Zips. I received very few comments
or inquiries about them, but now that Akai Pro is selling a Card Reader
equipped MPC, I have emails coming out my arse about card
readers. Seems that everyone now wants one. So here
is a FAQ.
Supported MPC's and Combinations
MPC60 (with SCSI), MPC3000, MPC2000 can use external SCSI readers.
MPC3000 can use an internal card reader with modifications. See
MPC2000XL can use internal ATAPI, internal SCSI, or external SCSI.
MPC1000 has a reader built-in and will not be discussed here further.
MPC4000 is likely moot since it has ak.sys. Not discussed here
Argus, Spyrus or Litronic. These are for security cards and
are not compatible with the MPC's (or any sampler that I know of).
Avoid "IDE only". Look for ATAPI or SCSI. IDE is
non-removable, meaning it will work, but you will not be able remove or
insert the card while the MPC is on.
Microtech PCD-60. It uses a multi-LUN
configuration. Not compatible with the MPC's, but I use one of
these in the computer with a SCSI host card that supports multi-lun
(under Linux even).
I was unable to get the Microtech PCD-47 to work the MPC3000, S2000 or
the S2800, but I use the PCD-47
with the MPC2000XL and S5000. The working status of the
PCD-47 with the MPC60 is unknown.
Reader's that use a "controller card" are not compatible. These
readers will have two connectors on the back. Avoid them at all
SCSI Intermart PCD series readers: PCD-15, PCD-17, PCD-19, PCD-25.
Microtech PCD-47 with the MPC2000XL and S5000.
IISDMC for the XL. This is an internal ATAPI product found here, here, and elsewhere.
Microtech PCD-40, external model, MPC2000(XL) and possibly MPC3000.
IDE Ultra DigiDrive, internal, MPC2000XL only.
Thanks to tristan n. for some of this info.
On a side note, the PCD-15 through 25 work with the S-series
samplers. I use a PCD-15 in the S2000 and S3000XL.
The ATAPI models, like the IISDMC and Addonics, should be faily easy to
find new for
less than 60
USD. The SCSI models are likely to be found only in the second
hand market. If you find a new SCSI model, it is likely to be
priced about 5 times the cost of a new ATAPI model as new-old-stock.
The specifications for a card reader are a good way to determine if it
will work with the MPC. If there are drivers supplied for the
reader, then it is guaranteed not to work. A good sign is wording
as "Supported under any OS's native drivers", or one that lists every
major computer OS, including less common ones such as OS/2 or
Linux. If it only states that it works
under Windows, then it will probably not work. If it states that
works under Windows and Mac, then it it's compatibility would be
External SCSI card readers are actually an internal card reader in a $5
box with a connector and power supply. This is a good option for
MPC2000 owners as this model has no internal SCSI (without expensive
modifications). If you get an external card reader, you can use
it as is for any model. The PCD-40 is an exception as it was
built as a external model only, sort of like a SCSI Zip, but I have a
suspicion it is based on the PCD-25.
Most card readers should only require 5V power. I have not seen
one that uses 12V. Even though most MPC's can supply 12V
and 5V, it is much easier to handle only one voltage with fewer cables
and less chance of breaking something.
The ATAPI readers usually have only one jumper to set. MPC2000XL
requires this to be set to MASTER.
SCSI drives are little more complex. There is at least one
jumper set to set the SCSI ID's of the reader slots. The reader
will use a SCSI ID for each of the slots. Typically, the ID set
to the ID of the lowest slot and the other's will increment in some
fashion from there.
The newer PCD's will have a jumper for termination. For 99% of
MPC owners the termination should be ON. On some PCD's to enable
the termination requires that the jumper be removed. This is
reverse of your typical devices. Most PCD's with this jumper will
have this configuration stampled on the PCD itself. The older
PCD's do not use
jumpers, but use two inline resister banks. If you see a series
of holes on the underside of the reader near the 50-pin IDC connector,
then you need the resistor block for termination. If they
are filled in with something then termination is installed and
set. Be sure to check with the retailer about this, since
finding these resistor banks is difficult (not that they are rare, but
hard to use search engines for this because of the common search terms).
All of the SCSI FAQ's that are readily found elsewhere apply to using
SCSI card readers with the MPC. There is even an appendix in the
back of each SCSI equipped MPC manual dedicated to the using SCSI
drives. It does not matter that the drives are internal or
external as the MPC SCSI has no concept of
If you are replacing the floppy, then the procedure is the same as that
of installing a Zip. Just use a SCSI or IDE cable as appropiate
for your reader. This procedure has been documented in several
places on and off this site. The major concern is only of
supplying power to the drive. Some drives may use same connector
that the floppy uses, some readers use the larger connector.
If you are replacing a Zip drive (yeah!), then it should be as
simple as a swapping out. Be sure to use appropicate SCSI or IDE
Some links for DIY:
Sander has installed an
IISDMC in his MPC2000XL.
Image of a PCD-15
in an MPC2000XL.
Image of a PCD in an
MPC Operating Systems
Any SCSI MPC operating system supports SCSI readers. It is not
required to change or update the MPC operating system to use a SCSI
For ATAPI drives, it is rumored that MPC2000XL OS version 1.2 is
required, but it has been reported that 1.11 through 1.14 has even
worked with the
IISDMC. Check the
Akai Pro website for versions and info. From what I can tell the
1.20 OS just partitions and formats cards much like DOS5 does.
This should circumvent many of the XP <-> MPC transfer issues
that arise frequently.
SCSI: Simple SCSI troubleshooting would apply here. Check
Unique ID's, proper termination and proper cables. In addition,
try to use the SCSI device on another system to ensure it works.
Also, try to use another SCSI device on the MPC to ensure that the
MPC's SCSI system is not damaged. It is not too hard to blow the
SCSI termination power fuse that is inside the MPC. Even thought
it is a fairly inexpensive part, the fuse is generally not considerd
user replaceable. I will post instructions on finding,
testing and replacing the SCSI fuse in the MPC models at a later date.
ATAPI: The most common issues with the ATAPI drives are the cable
being inverted and not having the device jumper set the MASTER.
Some ribbon cables do not have a raised "key" on the connector to
ensure it gets inserted only one way. The cable will be
marked with red on one edge and this indicates pin 1. On just
about any electronics equipment, the board will indicate where pin 1
should be aligned by either having a "1" or a colored mark such as a
triangle near one end of the connector.
PCD-47 Firmware Issues
The PCD-47's seem to have several versions of the firware. With
the PCD installed, you should see a version number in the FORMAT screen
similar to m3.1 or r3.1. If you have 'r' showing, that is a READ
ONLY firmware and you will not be able to write to or format any card
in the PCD. The first PCD-47 I bought had a READ ONLY firmware
which I purchased from a typically clueless e-bay seller. I had
several inquiries to Microtech about this, and after about 4 months, a
tech emailed me a replacement update in mid 2002. In mid 2005, I
was able to locate this old email from a backup and am posting it here
for the benefit of users that may have a
read-only version. Use this software at your own risk as I can
take no responsibility for damages by its use. Instructions
are included. PC with a SCSI host is required:
This version is not without problems. As far as I can tell, this
operates very well with the MPC2000XL, but under Windows XP, it uses
all drive letters (A confirm bug).
Michael Goesmann recently located the 3.2 firmware for me and so I have
posted it here. I am pretty sure that this is the mysterious
firmware update that Microtech was telling me about years ago, which
would address the XP bug. Since I do use XP at this time I
do not have a method to test this:
Firmware version 3.2
The MPC's treat the cards are removable drives, much like a Zip
drive. A card may be left in a slot and treated just as a fixed
hard drive. Multi-slot readers are suited for this by
allowing you to keep one card insterted for long term storage while
still having one slot free for transfers.
Cards formatted on the MPC may not be read in a computer, depending on
the MPC and computer OS. There is actually enough information
involving this to do a very nice dissertation. Some
information may be found at mpc2000xl.com and mpc3000.com. Cards
may need be specially formatted to be read by both a computer and the
MPC. This can be accomplished by using MPC Editor found at
midicase.com. Be sure to read the documentation for the
software. OS 1.20 for the MPC2000XL should allow you to mount the
cards in XP.
Some cards are labeled as 4x, 8x or 12x. I am not aware of
any industry standard that sets what these reference. It is
possible that some of these labels are influenced by
marketing. I have noticed some difference in speed in
saving to and reading from CompactFlash cards, but it has not always
correlated to the Xx tranfer advertised on the cards. I have a
that has no Xx speed rating but is much faster than the 12x Lexar model
that I have.
Some high speed cards have appeared on the market advertising 5, 10 or
20 Mb/sec, but this is suspect. It is likely that this is some
sort of a "burst rate" and does not measure sustained throughput (much
like what the hard drive industry does). Given that these
cards are designed around digital cameras, where 4+ Meg of data needs
get written at once, I can see how manufacturers would
feel comfortable using burst rates. The testing results from some
well known and repsectable digital camera sites seem to confirm
this. They showed the highest sustained rates around
1.5Mb/sec. I am not even sure if the early 90's SCSI subsystem of
the MPC series would handle data rates anywhere at this speed. In
my experience, it does not.
Regardless, the CompactFlash cards I use are roughly equivalent to a
Zip drive or older SCSI drive, which I estimate they all read at about
the same as a 4x CD reader (600kb/sec). I tend to play down the
as not being important since the MPC does not use the disk system
during it's normal operation. Once loaded or saved, the MPC is
not affected by the disk speed. The MPC was never designed with
disk performance and at best one is only saving/loading 32 meg at a
time. This is a short wait even on the slowest of
mediums. I do get some comments about needing to load in
the middle of a set and my response is either you are using the wrong
equipment or you are wasting memory.
Do not email me asking where I can find card readers for sale.
You have access to the same search engines that I do.
web >a t< midicase >d o t< com
updated Augutst 15, 2005