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Author Topic: Good converters, tight MIDI?  (Read 562 times)

Rosetta

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Good converters, tight MIDI?
« on: June 20, 2024, 09:15:59 PM »

Sadly my beloved Tascam FW-1804 has given up the ghost. PSU problems I reckon. Certainly beyond my capabilities to repair it. Which disappoints me, because even though I always found its drivers hideously unreliable (probably an early symptom of its hardware problems), its converters sounded absolutely fantastic. Surprisingly clean and musical. And its MIDI timing was super tight when sequencing on Cubase, way tighter than the cheap Amazon USB MIDI interface that's currently tiding me over on Tiger and a Windows XP box.

With that said, now that I know that the FW-1804 is prone to such failures (some cursory searches online revealed others having similar problems), I'd rather replace it with something else this time.

There's plenty of choices for OS 9 of course, and supernova777's master list thread is an excellent resource. But I only chose the FW-1804 off that list the first time on the strength of its amazing feature set (and low price online).

This time I'm looking for some testimonials. Can anyone vouch for the quality of converters or MIDI timing on any OS 9 compatible interfaces? Or ones you guys are still using that have proven reliability?
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rvense

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Re: Good converters, tight MIDI?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2024, 09:46:55 AM »

You say powersupply issues - from the looks of it, the Tascam FW-1804 uses an external 12VDC center positive PSU. This is just about the most common barrel-jack power supply in existence, e.g. almost every consumer wifi router will use one. Have you tried another one?

Anything you get that's Mac OS 9 compatible is going to be 20 years old or more. Some things will obviously have seen more use than others, but there's many defects that show up with time regardless of use - especially dry capacitors in power supplies. You're not going to find something this old that you can know for sure is going to last. At this point, repairs and maintenance is just a fact of life, and if you don't want to get into electronics yourself, I'd recommend making friends with someone who is.
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Rosetta

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Re: Good converters, tight MIDI?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2024, 11:39:05 AM »

You say powersupply issues - from the looks of it, the Tascam FW-1804 uses an external 12VDC center positive PSU. This is just about the most common barrel-jack power supply in existence, e.g. almost every consumer wifi router will use one. Have you tried another one?

Anything you get that's Mac OS 9 compatible is going to be 20 years old or more. Some things will obviously have seen more use than others, but there's many defects that show up with time regardless of use - especially dry capacitors in power supplies. You're not going to find something this old that you can know for sure is going to last. At this point, repairs and maintenance is just a fact of life, and if you don't want to get into electronics yourself, I'd recommend making friends with someone who is.

You're right about this old gear. Although I have equipment older and far more intricate than the Tascam that still works fine with all the original parts. I guess I've just been lucky.

The extent of my ability (and, quite frankly, confidence) when it comes to digging inside these old machines extends no further than replacing optical drives, RAM sticks, and sampler OS chips. On the rare occasion that soldering is required, you'll find me at a local repair shop. So you can imagine my hesitancy when many of the same problems I was having that others reported with their FW-1804s were being linked to internal issues with power delivery to the internal clocks and general age-related things regarding the FireWire hardware. I suppose when I said PSU, this isn't quite what I meant.

I had little reason to question this until now. However, your post may prove to be very helpful. It seems the power supply I'd been using this whole time, the one provided by the eBay seller, that worked more or less fine for several months after I got the interface... was the incorrect one all along. I'm going to track down the proper power supply and see if that solves the problem.

I feel a bit foolish now, but making sure the supplied PSU was the correct one was never something I ever thought to check. Never had an issue on that end with any other secondhand hardware. Let's hope no lasting damage has been done.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2024, 12:56:46 PM by Rosetta »
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aBc

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Re: Good converters, tight MIDI?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2024, 12:29:37 PM »

Easy enough to check the 12 volt external power
supply with a low cost Digital Multimeter like this one
from Harbor Freight.

https://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-digital-multimeter-59434.html



Black lead inserts into COM- Red lead inserts into
Voltage / Ohms. Move selector to 20 (DCV) green
dots lined up and turn the thing on. Then insert either
the black or red probe into the hole of the power
supply connector and the opposite on the outer silver
sleeve. You’ll either get a negative number on the
display (which means you need switch the probes
around) or you’ll get a positive 12 Volts (or slightly
more) - if connected properly, polarity-wise. BUT if you
get ZERO, then the thing is dead, defunct, done.

AND it isn’t likely that upon its failure that you
experienced a power surge that damaged anything
internally.

Get a new power supply with proper polarity of the
connector and rated for output same as original
equipment specs. ;)


NOTE: According to rvense's research the PSU
is "center positive" which means red probe goes in
there. And of course, PSU plugged into the wall -
but not into the TASCAM itself.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2024, 10:46:44 AM by aBc »
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Rosetta

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Re: Good converters, tight MIDI?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2024, 12:41:52 PM »

Thank you for the guide aBc!

I was able to quickly secure a power supply that actually matches the specifications required for the interface. This solved my powering on issues, and I can now reliably use the MIDI features over FireWire!

However, it did not solve the issues with audio over FireWire. Frequent dropouts, sometimes no computer audio at all. Further research indicates bad caps are the likely culprit. A common problem with the Tascam FireWire interfaces it seems... It quite literally can’t warm up enough for the clock to run reliably. I guess this is why higher end Antelope stuff has literal ovens inside.

So, not ideal, but the ability to use it for MIDI was what I needed most, so I can’t complain. My FW-1804 lives to sequence another day.
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