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Some discs show DISC ERR and won't play

I have a Sony Walkman Minidisc MZ-R900. After seven years of trouble-free use it is refusing to read some discs I have recorded in the past. Insertion of the disc gets a DISC ERR massage or NO DISC. Sometimes there is a grating noise as if it is struggling to read the disc. Some discs still play. Can you advise? Rosemary

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You can try using a minidisc cleaning cartridge, but in my experience you probably have an MZ-R900 with a worn out read/record head cradle. As you say, it is a bit long in the tooth now and they don't last forever. Unfortunately you cannot get the spares for your model any more and replacing the head is not easy even if you could.

It's not all doom and gloom though; there are plenty of good cheap and even barely used MD players out there and I've had a number of free ones from my local FreeCycle group. The death of your current unit offers you the chance to get something like the fabulous MZ-N910 which is a joy to use and is the top of the line model if you exclude the rare and expensive Hi-MD players. Any Sony recorders/players you see with an N in the name are NET MiniDiscs and it means that you can upload to your player from your computer very quickly by transferring music digitally.

Expect an MZ-N910 with all accessories to cost up to around £40 and any non NET portable units should be free to £10. You can still buy spare gumstick batteries for them if need be from places like if you're in the UK and if you get a unit with the external AA battery accessory then you'll have no need to worry about where to recharge your MD unit.

If you're in the UK and unable to get a replacement player yourself then I may still have a boxed and barely used MZ-R501 which I might be able to send you. I'd have to check with my wife first but as she's now onto her third flash drive Sony Walkman I don't think she ever plans to use it again! It would be free including postage but I'd ask you to make a donation equivalent to at least the postage costs to Macmillan Cancer Support. If you want to go ahead post a comment and I'll send you a suitable email address to contact me on.

Posted on Oct 02, 2009

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