MPC Card Reader FAQ

I've been using card readers for years and bought them at any time I needed on the second hand market for as little as $5.  I have many of them here in all kinds of equipment from Emu and Akai S-samplers to MPC's.  For years, I had many posts on several forums about using them and how much better they were than Zips.  I received very few comments or inquiries about them, but now that Akai Pro is selling a Card Reader equipped MPC, I have emails coming out my arse about card readers.  Seems that everyone now wants one.  So here is a FAQ.

Supported MPC's and Combinations

MPC60 (with SCSI), MPC3000, MPC2000 can use external SCSI readers.
MPC3000 can use an internal card reader with modifications.  See
MPC2000XL can use internal ATAPI, internal SCSI, or external SCSI.
MPC1000 has a reader built-in and will not be discussed here further.
MPC4000 is likely moot since it has ak.sys.  Not discussed here further.

Reader Models

Not compatible:

Argus,  Spyrus or Litronic.  These are for security cards and are not compatible with the MPC's (or any sampler that I know of).
Avoid "IDE only".  Look for ATAPI or SCSI.  IDE is non-removable, meaning it will work, but you will not be able remove or insert the card while the MPC is on.
Microtech PCD-60.  It uses a multi-LUN configuration.  Not compatible with the MPC's, but I use one of these in the computer with a SCSI host card that supports multi-lun (under Linux even).
I was unable to get the Microtech PCD-47 to work the MPC3000, S2000 or the S2800, but I use the PCD-47 with the MPC2000XL and S5000.   The working status of the PCD-47 with the MPC60 is unknown.
Reader's that use a "controller card" are not compatible.  These readers will have two connectors on the back.  Avoid them at all costs.


SCSI Intermart PCD series readers: PCD-15, PCD-17, PCD-19, PCD-25.
Microtech PCD-47 with the MPC2000XL and S5000.
IISDMC for the XL.  This is an internal ATAPI product found here, here, and elsewhere.
Microtech PCD-40, external model, MPC2000(XL) and possibly MPC3000.
Addonics IDE Ultra DigiDrive, internal, MPC2000XL only.
Thanks to tristan n. for some of this info.
On a side note, the PCD-15 through 25 work with the S-series samplers.  I use a PCD-15 in the S2000 and S3000XL.

The ATAPI models, like the IISDMC and Addonics, should be faily easy to find new for less than 60 USD.  The SCSI models are likely to be found only in the second hand market.  If you find a new SCSI model, it is likely to be priced about 5 times the cost of a new ATAPI model as new-old-stock.

The specifications for a card reader are a good way to determine if it will work with the MPC.  If there are drivers supplied for the reader, then it is guaranteed not to work.  A good sign is wording such as "Supported under any OS's native drivers", or one that lists every major computer OS, including less common ones such as OS/2 or Linux.  If it only states that it works under Windows, then it will probably not work.  If it states that it only works under Windows and Mac, then it it's compatibility would be questionable.

External SCSI card readers are actually an internal card reader in a $5 box with a connector and power supply.  This is a good option for MPC2000 owners as this model has no internal SCSI (without expensive modifications).  If you get an external card reader, you can use it as is for any model.  The PCD-40 is an exception as it was built as a external model only, sort of like a SCSI Zip, but I have a suspicion it is based on the PCD-25.

Most card readers should only require 5V power.  I have not seen one that uses 12V.   Even though most MPC's can supply 12V and 5V, it is much easier to handle only one voltage with fewer cables and less chance of breaking something.



The ATAPI readers usually have only one jumper to set.  MPC2000XL requires this to be set to MASTER.


SCSI drives are little more complex.   There is at least one jumper set to set the SCSI ID's of the reader slots.  The reader will use a SCSI ID for each of the slots.  Typically, the ID set will refer to the ID of the lowest slot and the other's will increment in some fashion from there.  

The newer PCD's will have a jumper for termination.  For 99% of MPC owners the termination should be ON.  On some PCD's to enable the termination requires that the jumper be removed.  This is reverse of your typical devices.  Most PCD's with this jumper will have this configuration stampled on the PCD itself.  The older PCD's do not use jumpers, but use two inline resister banks.  If you see a series of holes on the underside of the reader near the 50-pin IDC connector, then you need the resistor block for termination.   If they are filled in with something then termination is installed and set.   Be sure to check with the retailer about this, since finding these resistor banks is difficult (not that they are rare, but hard to use search engines for this because of the common search terms).

All of the SCSI FAQ's that are readily found elsewhere apply to using SCSI card readers with the MPC.  There is even an appendix in the back of each SCSI equipped MPC manual dedicated to the using SCSI drives.  It does not matter that the drives are internal or external as the MPC SCSI has no concept of internal/external.


If you are replacing the floppy, then the procedure is the same as that of installing a Zip.  Just use a SCSI or IDE cable as appropiate for your reader.  This procedure has been documented in several places on and off this site.  The major concern is only of supplying power to the drive.  Some drives may use same connector that the floppy uses, some readers use the larger connector.

If you are replacing a Zip drive (yeah!),  then it should be as simple as a swapping out.  Be sure to use appropicate SCSI or IDE cable.

Some links for DIY:
Sander has installed an IISDMC in his MPC2000XL.
Image of a PCD-15 in an MPC2000XL.
Image of a PCD in an MPC3000.

MPC Operating Systems

Any SCSI MPC operating system supports SCSI readers.  It is not required to change or update the MPC operating system to use a SCSI card reader.

For ATAPI drives, it is rumored that MPC2000XL OS version 1.2 is required, but it has been reported that 1.11 through 1.14 has even worked with the IISDMC.  Check the Akai Pro website for versions and info.  From what I can tell the 1.20 OS just partitions and formats cards much like DOS5 does.  This should circumvent many of the XP <-> MPC transfer issues that arise frequently.


SCSI:  Simple SCSI troubleshooting would apply here.  Check Unique ID's, proper termination and proper cables.  In addition, try to use the SCSI device on another system to ensure it works.  Also, try to use another SCSI device on the MPC to ensure that the MPC's SCSI system is not damaged.  It is not too hard to blow the SCSI termination power fuse that is inside the MPC.  Even thought it is a fairly inexpensive part, the fuse is generally not considerd user replaceable.   I will post instructions on finding, testing and replacing the SCSI fuse in the MPC models at a later date.

ATAPI:  The most common issues with the ATAPI drives are the cable being inverted and not having the device jumper set the MASTER.  Some ribbon cables do not have a raised "key" on the connector to ensure it gets inserted only one way.   The cable will be marked with red on one edge and this indicates pin 1.  On just about any electronics equipment, the board will indicate where pin 1 should be aligned by either having a "1" or a colored mark such as a triangle near one end of the connector. 

PCD-47 Firmware Issues

The PCD-47's seem to have several versions of the firware.  With the PCD installed, you should see a version number in the FORMAT screen similar to m3.1 or r3.1.  If you have 'r' showing, that is a READ ONLY firmware and you will not be able to write to or format any card in the PCD.  The first PCD-47 I bought had a READ ONLY firmware which I purchased from a typically clueless e-bay seller.  I had several inquiries to Microtech about this, and after about 4 months, a tech emailed me a replacement update in mid 2002.  In mid 2005, I was able to locate this old email from a backup and am posting it here for the benefit of users that may have a read-only version.  Use this software at your own risk as I can take no responsibility for damages by its use.   Instructions are included.  PC with a SCSI host is required: 
Firmware version 3.1
This version is not without problems.  As far as I can tell, this operates very well with the MPC2000XL, but under Windows XP, it uses all drive letters (A confirm bug). 

Michael Goesmann recently located the 3.2 firmware for me and so I have posted it here.  I am pretty sure that this is the mysterious firmware update that Microtech was telling me about years ago, which would address the XP bug.   Since I do use XP at this time I do not have a method to test this:
Firmware version 3.2
Thanks Michael!

Formatting compatibility

The MPC's treat the cards are removable drives, much like a Zip drive.  A card may be left in a slot and treated just as a fixed hard drive.   Multi-slot readers are suited for this by allowing you to keep one card insterted for long term storage while still having one slot free for transfers.  

Cards formatted on the MPC may not be read in a computer, depending on the MPC and computer OS.  There is actually enough information involving this to do a  very nice dissertation.  Some information may be found at and  Cards may need be specially formatted to be read by both a computer and the MPC.  This can be accomplished by using MPC Editor found at  Be sure to read the documentation for the software.  OS 1.20 for the MPC2000XL should allow you to mount the cards in XP.

Transfer Rates/Performance

Some cards are labeled as 4x, 8x or 12x.   I am not aware of any industry standard that sets what these reference.   It is possible that some of these labels are influenced by marketing.   I have noticed some difference in speed in saving to and reading from CompactFlash cards, but it has not always correlated to the Xx tranfer advertised on the cards.  I have a Sandisk that has no Xx speed rating but is much faster than the 12x Lexar model that I have.

Some high speed cards have appeared on the market advertising 5, 10 or 20 Mb/sec, but this is suspect.  It is likely that this is some sort of a "burst rate" and does not measure sustained throughput (much like what the hard drive industry does).   Given that these cards are designed around digital cameras, where 4+ Meg of data needs to get written at once, I can see how manufacturers would feel comfortable using burst rates.  The testing results from some well known and repsectable digital camera sites seem to confirm this.  They showed the highest sustained rates around 1.5Mb/sec.  I am not even sure if the early 90's SCSI subsystem of the MPC series would handle data rates anywhere at this speed.  In my experience, it does not.

Regardless, the CompactFlash cards I use are roughly equivalent to a Zip drive or older SCSI drive, which I estimate they all read at about the same as a 4x CD reader (600kb/sec).  I tend to play down the transfer rate as not being important since the MPC does not use the disk system during it's normal operation.  Once loaded or saved, the MPC is not affected by the disk speed.  The MPC was never designed with disk performance and at best one is only saving/loading 32 meg at a time.   This is a short wait even on the slowest of mediums.   I do get some comments about needing to load in the middle of a set and my response is either you are using the wrong equipment or you are wasting memory. 

Do not email me asking where I can find card readers for sale.  You have access to the same search engines that I do.
web >a t< midicase >d o t< com
updated Augutst 15, 2005