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The small gear that opens or closes the door goes bad after 10 or 15 years. The gear is not available separately. The solution is easy. Take the deck cover off with a torx bit, and remove the broken gear pieces. Push the CD transport door out, and fasten heavy clear mailing tape on both top and bottom of the center of the CD transport door to make a Grab Tab you can use to pull the door open. When you load the CD you are going to hear, push the door open/close switch twice to fool the deck to go into PLAY mode. Mine has worked great like this for 6 years now, and it still sounds beautiful.
these models use the 12.1 philips laser mechanism and your right it is a very common problem. various marantz / philips / cyrus cd players etc also use it and are plagued with the same fault. it's a 90% chance the laser is dead! philips realised the unreliability of this laser and uprated it to the identical looking VAM-12. do not dismiss the spindle motor as these also fail quite alot on this mechanism.
I have two of these Tascam CD-A500 players, and one more than the other has this problem of not reading some CDs that will play fine in other players. I'm starting to loose faith in this Tascam product. Anyway, seems the consensus is to open it up and check for dirty laser optics. If that doesn't fix the problem, then send it in for repair or scrap it and buy a different brand. I've not had this problem with any other brand CD player, but very suspicious that the same problem happens on BOTH of my Tascam CD-A500 units.
First, try the disc that plays OK in deck 2 in deck 1. This will eliminate the disc as the problem. If the disc won't play in deck 1, then the laser pick-up is on it's way out. There is no easy fix for this, it will require the attention of an engineer.
I think you hold in the 'display' button when the unit's off in standby to remove the dealer lock. It's designed to stop shoppers nicking cd's when the units on display in a shop. If this doesn't work post back and I'll try it on my cdr600.