Troubleshooting MPC File Loading Problems
If you’re having problems loading some sounds or projects into your MPC, it is usually quite easily fixable. MPC file loading problems present themselves in a few different ways including:
- ‘Wrong File!!’ and ‘Unexpected End of File’ alerts on screen
- Programs load but pads show a ‘?’ before the start of some or every assigned sample name
- Samples load but sound distorted
In this article I’m going to run through the most common causes of MPC file loading problems and highlight the various remedies available:
Before trying out any of the fixes I suggest, remember that it’s possible that your problem is simply a one time event, i.e. just one of those things, so always try repeating the usual transfer and loading process a few times to rule out human error!
Without doubt the most common issue people experience is a corrupt or failing MPC disk, be it a CF card, zip disk, floppy or hard drive. This can cause all sorts of odd behaviour, but the main one being that while files appear available to load into memory, however the loading process itself will often fail, typically with an error message on screen.
Disk corruption is most likely to affect all new files transferred to your disk, although existing files may not be affected at all. However symptoms of corruption may unfortunately occur erratically, especially if this is early stages of disk failure.
Testing For a Corrupted Disk
Firstly you should try ruing out issues with the original source files. Your issues may simply be a result of some files going astray due to human error, perhaps when re-organising your projects on your computer. If it’s a commercial library, make sure you are loading files that are compatible with your MPC (e.g. 24 bit samples will not load in many MPCs, or perhaps the PGM files were saved in a newer MPC to yours).
Try loading different projects and not just the one you’ve been having problems with. Avoid testing projects that already exist on your disk (as they are likely allocated to uncorrupted space in the file system), instead transfer some new files from your computer.
Do the problems persist? If so, the next step is to try a different disk, one that has never shown any such problems. So transfer some files to your new disk and try loading them into MPC memory. If the problems do not materialise with the second disk, you’ll know that the problem is most likely with your original disk.
Fixing a Corrupted Disk
If you've identified that the issue only affects the one disk, you may be able to salvage any file system corruption by reformatting it in your MPC - this should hopefully place your file system back into a more stable state - hopefully permanently, but in the case of iminent disk failure, at least temporarily.
Before you reformat your drive make sure you have back ups of any existing data stored on it. Hopefully you make regular backups as part of your day-to-day workflow (if you don’t, now’s a good a time as any to start!), but if you don’t have a backup the very least you should do is to try backing up this data, even with the corruption present – hopefully most of the data will backup fine.
Once backed up, go to the FORMAT screen and DO IT (the format screen location varies depending on your MPC model and OS, so consult your operating manual for more info). Now try transferring some files to your newly formatted disk and loading them up. If this doesn’t work, it would probably indicate that your disk is beyond repair and should be binned.
Avoiding MPC Disk Corruption
No disk is going to last forever and hence you should expect all your disks will eventually die – this is why a regular backup routine is essential. But excluding old age, you can certainly do your best to avoid any practices that can either accelerate that death or ones that can instantly cause file corruption.
- Never forcibly remove your disk from the drive while your MPC or computer is in the process of accessing data on that disk. In a Mac, ‘eject’ the disk first, in a PC, click on the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon in your taskbar.
- If your MPC is connected via USB, never yank the USB cable from any port until you know that the disk itself has been correctly unmounted in your computer. Similarly, do not power down your MPC during any form of disk activity (loading or saving).
- Take care of your disks at all times.
If your samples appear to be loading but cannot be found in PROGRAM or TRIM, or sound distorted, then it may be a memory problem. If you have a memory upgrade installed, turn off your MPC, disconnect fully from any power source and remove those memory sticks from the MPC – before touching the memory sticks, make sure you discharge any static electricity on your body by touching a radiator, a metal computer case or similar grounded metal object.
With the memory removed, boot up your MPC and thoroughly test. If the problems are resolved, one or both of your memory sticks are bad – try putting only one back at a time to diagnose the problem fully and replace any that are faulty.
Always remember to check which OS you are running in your MPC as some versions may have bugs that could be causing your problems, especially in the more experimental JJOS. The latest OS updates for your machine can be found at the akaipro web site, the JJOS web site or MPC-Tutor.com.
If you run the MPC1000/2500/500/5000 then you may need to ‘re-initialise’ your MPC to bring it back to factory state. This can often fix any random glitches you may be experiencing. To do this power down your MPC and hold down the ERASE key. With the ERASE key still held down, turn your MPC back on and keep holding down the ERASE key until the MAIN screen appears.
Be aware that this will revert settings to factory default, e.g. screen contrast, autoload settings, data wheel and pad sensitivity settings, so these will have to be set up again to your preferred choice.