HOME

VCD-800
CDG 3000
FAQ's
Pioneer error codes
SPECIFICATIONS ?
SOUND
 

FAQ's & General information


This page is a PRACTICAL guide to problems caused by
disc or machine
and what if anything can be done.



DISCS:  CDR & CD-RW,  Difficult discs,  Disc cleaning,  Copying CDG discs,  Laser rot

PLAYERS SPECIFIC:  CDG-3000,  VCD-800

PLAYERS GENERAL:  Laser life,  Laser setup/cleaning,  Playing NTSC,  NTSC on PAL & PAL60,  CD Text

AMPLIFIERS:  Power,  Levels,  Auto switching,  Pioneer VSA-E06

GENERAL:  Fuses,  Switch cleaner,  Guidance & Precautions

DVD:  dual laser,  CD / CDR / CD-RW playability,  recording,  Regions

ACOUSTICS:  Soundproofing,    


DISCS

There are many different reasons for discs or certain discs skipping or not playing, the following are some of the most common reasons 

CDR and CD-RW

Disc players (LD, CD, DVD etc) all rely on reflected light (infra-red) to pickup their data, but due to the nature of CDR & CD-RW they have a lower reflectivity than standard CD's, a CDR is only upto 70% that of a standard disc and may be as little as 40%, a CD-RW is worse at 15-25%. This lower reflectivity means less of the laser is reflected to the pickups sensor and many players cannot cope with this signal loss, many will play CDR's, some will struggle with certain makes (lower reflectivity), few current standard players will play CD-RW at all, although many new models are being designed to do so. it has been found that some DVD players not specified (and unable) to play CDR's will play some CD-RW.

For more technical info on CDR/CD-RW see http://www.pctechguide.com/09cdr-rw.htm#CD-R

Some discs play OK, others skip or will not play.

Not all discs are manufactured to the same standard, and those poorly manufactured can have a high error rate or poor optical properties causing the player to loose data, this leads to skipping or in serious cases not playing at all. This problem is obviously made worse or starts to show itself as a laser assembly gets old, out of adjustment, or needs cleaning.

Another cause of poor playability is due to the high data content of some discs, those that have over approximately 74 minutes of audio or have additional video clips use a reduced track pitch or dot spacing to accommodate this additional data, some players have difficulty with this although they are few and generally of the older types.

Difficulty playing discs after a short period of use (eg. an hour of use):

The most likely reason for this is heat, if the player is placed on or above an amplifier the heat builds up during use, heating the player above it, this twist and distorts the mechanism of the player, which puts the setting of the laser 'out of true' this can cause track skipping/jumping. If this heating and then cooling is allowed to continue over any length of time, the lasers life will be drastically reduced, and the player will need continuous setups.

Can you recommend a method of disc cleaning. 

Generally gently wipe the discs with a week soap solution from the centre of the discs outwards. For greasy or problem discs the use of an Antistatic cleanser spray, a type without waxes or residues, generally recommended for computer screen cleaning can be used, apply the cleanser to the disc and polish from the centre of the disc outwards and back (not around the disc) with a lint free cloth, this method should remove grease and oily deposits, and give a good clean surface.

Have I got Laser rot ?

Very few discs these days have or produce 'laser rot' and many symptoms that initially are thought to be due to laser rot or other time related faults are actually a player calibration problem, this shows in a few discs at first with crosstalk (a herring bone type pattern) or spots and intermittent skipping problems, and if left unadjusted will gradually get worse, until problems are experienced with all discs. Laser rot is the oxidization of the aluminium reflective layer in the disc which becomes less or un reflective causing the faults, in many cases due to the size of the area they may be very obvious round the inner or outer portions of the discs, or invisible to the naked eye, and hence differ vastly in their playability effects.

Can I copy or produce CDG discs.

The ONLY currently (2002) available software to produce CDG discs is From 'Goldenhawk' http://www.goldenhawk.com the current version being CDRWIN 3.3E, this software in turn requires a SCSI CDROM writer and will not function with an IDE unit. As a foot note you WILL require a large and fast HDD to write the data, many problems occur because the data cannot be transferred at the correct rate and brakes occur in the flow.


Top of page


HARDWARE

CDG-3000 plays in black & white (PAL player/setting on PAL TV/monitor)

Faulty crystal X2 on video board, see CDG 3000 page

CDG-3000 noisy output

Badly modified microphone stage, see CDG 3000 page

VCD-800 mic inputs are very low in level.

Poor design of microphone input stage, see VCD-800 page

VCD-800 plays some CDG discs as audio only disc (ie. without graphics).

Check the software version of the player, see VCD-800 page

What is the life of a players laser assembly

A laser assembly is a combined optical, electronic and mechanical system, the electronics tend to be reliable and rarely fail, it is the optics and mechanics that fail the system.

The optics in most current laser assemblies consist of four exposed parts, a main lens, a polarising prism, a laser lens, and the pickup sensor face, each of which pick up airborne contaminants; the worst being cigarette smoke especially in commercial environments, which reduce the optical properties of these parts within the assembly. The only part accessible for cleaning is the upper surface of the main lens. This failure is obviously not directly related to playing time and can only be assessed with the knowledge of the site, this failure mode is often incorrectly refered to as a reduction in laser output,  although the laser itself lasts many, many years with little loss of output.

The mechanics in a laser assembly is to allow the main lens to focus the laser beam onto the disc data surface and consists of a means of allowing the lens to move vertically whilst remaining in a perpendicular plane to the disc, this is achieved by using paralleled supports of either a plastic hinge type or fine spring steel, these are designed to not only support but dampen the focus movement. The combination of the support and a bias current hold the lens at a position where the laser is focused on the disc, any variation in the lens support rigidity or damping must be compensated for by the electronics, this occurs up to a limit, beyond this problems with focusing or discs tracking occur. This failure is playing time related.

I have seen laser in machines from 1980 that are only now at the end of their life, but these machines as with many give no real indication as to their playing time, on the other hand I have also had to replace lasers in machine not much older than 1 year, but these are in commercial use and subject to around one thousand hours of playing time, in relatively dirty and/or smokey atmospheres.

In summary there is no set time or other, it all *depends* on environment and use etc. etc. One thing to note however is that the play quality *will* deteriorate if a laser is not correctly set or is worn, and most people only complain when the effects are quite obvious as no direct comparison is available to them.

How can I check if my laser is setup correctly.

The quickest and easiest way is to check how your play performs with a standard CD, obviously if it's only a CD player then it should play them, for a Laser video player (12" discs) CD's are the hardest type of disc to play, so that within reason if it can play a CD without fault, it should play other types.

Can I clean the lens of my laser in my CD/Laserdisc player.

A.  Yes if done with CARE. The use of a proprietary CD lens cleanser very rarely works, the only real way to clean these is from inside by following the instructions below, but please read ALL the instructions AND general precautions BEFORE starting

  1. Eject the disc tray.
  2. Turn the power off, and REMOVE the power plug.
  3. Remove the players cover
  4. You should now see the top of the laser lens, if not or it is not easily accessed from above then seek professional advice
  5. Dampen a cotton bud with Isopropyl alcohol or tape head cleaner.
  6. Using the dampened bud GENTLY press on the top of the lens from above until it stops, now GENTLY twist the bud back and forth a few times and lift away.
  7. Replace the players cover, and test.

   DO NOT use any other solvent than advised, the plastic lens may be damaged beyond repair.

   DO NOT touch any part of the laser assembly, they are damaged by static, be safe and don't touch anything inside the player other than with the cotton bud.

   DO NOT do the above if you have any doubts.

Will my player play NTSC discs (in NTSC regions replace NTSC with PAL)

Place an NTSC disc in your player and if you have full control over its playing, eg. chapter search fast forward etc. then the player is NTSC compatible, if the picture fails to display and a PAL disc will then its your TV thats not compatible. If your player does not play NTSC discs then it is totally impractical to upgrade a player due to cost and obtaining the necessary circuitry, even if the same model elsewhere or the next model in the range is NTSC, most of the boards will require changing, and considering the current price of players it is not a modification that is worth considering, buy a different model if it is causing difficulties. The same applies to PAL on NTSC players.

Will an NTSC output display on a PAL monitor or television.

In practical terms there are only two factors which stop a PAL standard set displaying an NTSC signal:

  1. The field frequency which is 60Hz for NTSC and 50Hz for PAL, but many modern sets can lock to the 60Hz rate because they are designed as multi-standard sets, only using different decoding circuits.

  2. The colour signal carrier frequency is different (3.58MHz for NTSC, 4.43MHz for PAL), generally if the set is not multistandard then they will not lock onto this frequency.

Older PAL sets will display NTSC as a scrolling black & white picture.
Newer sets will display a locked black & white picture.
Multistandard sets will display OK

Some NTSC outputs are adapted to PAL by leaving the frame rate at 60Hz as this is difficult to change, but changing the colour carrier frequency to match PAL, in this case most newer TV's and monitors will work with it, this type of output is refered to as a PAL60 video signal.

If a PAL only set will lock to the field frequency and if RGB input and outputs are available using this as the source signal (along with Vert & Horiz sync) will overcome the colour problem .

I've heard something about CD Text, what is it.

Extracts form Sony Online:

CD TEXT is a new feature added to audio CD which provides the ability to deliver text information such as album name, artist names, track titles, etc.

Maximum amount of text information is approximately 6,000 single-byte characters (in the TOC area), and may contain up to 8 languages. CD TEXT may be combined with other CD formats such as CD-G and CD EXTRA.

Audio portion of a CD TEXT disc can be played on conventional CD players.

Text information can be read by a CD TEXT compatible CD player only.

Pioneer VSA-E06 amplifier fault.

This amplifier on early models has a few components in the PSU that blow over time , these simply cause the amplifier to become inoperational. The parts concerned are R101 & R202 (4.7ohms 1/4W) on the secondary transformer PCB, and on the newer models have been replaced by IC protector fuses (3.5A). For info on those effected please contact your dealer, Pioneer, or ourselves.

Do my Amplifier and speakers need to match and if so how.

Not *really*, the obvious guideline is that your total load on the amplifier must not exceed its rating, in practise this means the combined impedance of the speakers connected per side must not be below the minimum specified for the amplifier and if your using a system at or near full power, as most mobile DJ or karaoke systems ere, then take note of the peak levels on any metering given on the amplifier, it should only peak/clip occasionally.

Power matching amplifier to speakers is relevant only in how damage can occur to the system, its easy otherwise to damage one or both the amplifier and speakers. If you have a large difference in power between your speakers and amplifier then you must obviously be careful, if it is your amp with lower power then the amplifier could if overdriven firstly distort and possibly damage the speakers HF driver (tweeter) and possibly burn itself out. If the amplifier rating is larger than the speakers it could obviously overdrive the speaker drivers.

Impedance's between amplifier and mixer (using standard units) will not effect the above.

Should my amplifier level controls be full up or not

Usually yes, but its always down to whether the system is controllable as such, consideration should be given as to whether the mixer controls are in a position that adequate adjustment can be made easily and controllably, which in practise means they should be normally around half to three quarters up and not at either extreme, and all other secondary level controls (such as the amplifier masters) set accordingly.

My amplifier has auto switching between inputs but will not switch from my Laser or CDG player to another input.

Most auto switching A/V amplifiers, including the BMB and Pioneer models, switch channels by detecting the video not the audio signal, if when your player stops it puts up a blue screen (or other colour) then it is still sending out a video signal, the amplifier detects this signal and will remain switched to this input. Most amplifiers of this type can be easily modified to switch on the audio signal.

A piece of my equipment has developed a fault, why didn't the fuses protect it

Fuses are there for safety reasons only, to prevent burning, melting etc. No general fuse of the plug type, or glass type (20mm Euro or 1 1/4" US) will blow fast enough to prevent semiconductor damage. Only specifically designed protection circuits or special IC protection fuses may stop this type of fault. Some times fuses are used to protect speakers, but these are to prevent long term (relative) overload.

Can I use switch cleaner or similar in my sliders & controls (potentiometers or pots)

Yes but ONLY in an emergency, and if used you should have those controls replaced as soon as possible.

Potentiometers use grease as its spindle and track lubricant, this gives the control its smooth damped feel and slows down the wear of the carbon track. The solvents in switch cleaner type sprays dissolves and removes this grease leaving behind only a very fine layer of thin oil, which in switches is perfect, but in potentiometers is not adequate to protect the carbon track which will quickly wear, it also looses its damped feel.

In practice if the potentiometers is noisy because of wear, only replacing it will cure it, if it is noisy due to dirt or contamination then a grease spay should ideally be used, in an emergency switch cleaner or similar can be used but get the control replaced ASAP.

General guidance and precautions

DO NOT work on the unit if unless you are sure you are competent

DO NOT work on the unit whilst connect to the mains supply, disconnect it.

DO NOT adjust anything if they are not labeled

DO NOT make any adjustments on a laser assembly itself

DO NOT use any other solvent than advised, parts may be damaged beyond repair.

DO NOT touch internal parts unnecessarily, many parts are damaged by static

BEFORE any adjustment mark its original position in case it needs to go back

Making any adjustments to any disc player may stop your player operating with ANY disc.

Any advise given regarding work that can be done is given assuming you are competent to do this work or that you will pass the item and information on to someone who is, no responsibility can be taken for work not carried out in a professional manner whatever the outcome.

 

  Top of page


DVD

DVD players and discs operate on basically the same principals as Laserdisc and CD in that they use an optical pickup with a laser as the light source, and most principals as above apply.

 

 Top of page