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Boo Hoo! My Sony MDS-JA555ES minidisc deck goes in for repair tomorrow. :o(


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#1 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 11 2001 - 11:47 AM

This has to be my worst experience in hi-fi thus far, and I hope it isn't repeated anytime soon. As background, in June, I bought a Sony MDS-JA555ES minidisc deck brand new from Sound Professionals. In case you aren't aware, the 'JA555ES is arguably the best minidisc deck ever made (the current 'JA333ES comes close). Seeing as minidisc isn't a mainstream format and that the demand for ES decks is low, the 'JA555ES was not an easy component to track down while it was in production in 2000. When I saw that Sound Professionals had it in June, months after it had been discontinued, I was ecstatic. The 'JA555ES is a killer piece both in terms of sound quality and construction. It weighs 33 lbs., which is more than the NAD integrated amp it is connected to. As the British would say, the 'JA555ES is a fine piece of kit. As good as the 'JA555ES is, minidisc still doesn't sound as good as CD, but on this deck, minidisc comes quite close. For six months, I was extremely pleased with the deck. Then, Saturday came.

On Saturday, I was listening to a minidisc on the 'JA555ES deck and everything was going fine. It was time to go out for the evening, so I stopped the minidisc and hit the open/close button on the remote to eject it. To my horror, the drawer opened half-way, stayed open for a few seconds, and closed. The deck then proceeded to read the minidisc's TOC, and I was able to play the minidisc with no problems (i.e., no tracking errors). Everytime I tried to eject the minidisc, the drawer would only open half-way. Thus, I can't remove the minidisc. When the drawer is stuck open half-way for the few seconds, I can see inside the transport, and it looks as though the slider in the drawer that carries the minidisc is slightly out of alignment. It boggles my mind that a component so well-constructed could exhibit such a problem after six months of relatively light use. In comparison to my CD and SACD players, I don't use the 'JA555ES too much. This sucks, plain and simple.

I am hopeful that this is not a major problem, again, since the 'JA555ES is no longer in production. On the plus side, the deck does not give me error messages, and it will read the minidisc's TOC and play it properly every time. As I said, it appears that something is simply out of alignment.

After trying to eject the minidisc a few times to no avail, I called Sony, and as I suspected, they told me to bring the deck to their service facility in Bristol, PA, which is about an hour from me. So tonight, I will box up the deck in order to bring it in for service tomorrow. I just hope Sony can fix it.

If the deck is fixed, which I really think it should be, my concern is whether the problem will arise again. If the laser assembly had burned out, as strange as that would be for such a young component, I would feel confident in having a new assembly installed. However, with a mechanical problem, I am concerned that it will recur. Have you ever experienced this with a component that was repaired? In other words, have you lost confidence in the operation of a component after it was repaired? If the 'JA555ES is repaired, I will always wonder if the alignment problem will come back. I guess if the 'JA555ES weren't so expensive and high-quality (other than the alignment problem) and could be readily replaced, I wouldn't care so much. Anyway, this sucks. Posted Image
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#2 of 188 OFFLINE   Michael_T

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Posted December 11 2001 - 01:31 PM

Even though I am not saying you proceed this way, but I had a similiar experience with my old Denon DCD-820 Compact Disc Player. The drawer got stuck, would open part way and keep closing. Needless to say I was a little panicked when it happened.

In my situation, though, the player was out of warranty so I merely opened the case, removed the CD, and was able to re-align the disc drawer myself in less than one minute. The player worked fine for 5 more years, until I replaced it with the 333ES. The Denon now sits in the closet, and will most likely work fine if I ever decide to use it again.

So it may be possible for you to merely open the player yourself and fix the situation. I am not saying you try this, since your component is obviously under warranty - but it may be easier to fix than you might think.

#3 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 11 2001 - 02:02 PM

Michael, thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you are right and the minidisc deck is easy to repair. It should be. The point in taking it to Sony, of course, is that they can replace parts readily, if necessary. We'll see. If the component weren't under warranty, I'd certainly play around with it myself, but seeing as I have four-and-a-half years left on the warranty, I don't see playing around with it for awhile. Posted Image
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#4 of 188 OFFLINE   Glenn

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Posted December 11 2001 - 02:29 PM

Hi Keith,

If it is not to late would you please get a phone number from the Sony repair shop in Bristol for me? I sent something there for a repair and I have not heard back from them.

Thanks,
Glenn
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#5 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 11 2001 - 02:35 PM

Glenn, Sony does not give out a direct phone number for the Bristol facility. I tried to get it in advance of going there. What you will have to do is call 1-800-282-2848 and follow the telephone tree to the repair department. They should be able to give you the status of your repair.
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#6 of 188 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted December 12 2001 - 01:46 AM

I've come to the conclusion, after sinking a great deal of money onto the format, that Sony MD gear is junk. I've had a MDS-JE510, my first deck, totally crap out on me after 2 years of ownership. My MDS-JE320 is doing the same thing that the 510 did, hopefully it will last longer. One of my two MDS-JB920 machines started crapping out on me one week out of warrantee, after a year and a week of use. Sony's response? "We'll discount your $60 on the $160 repair, and you pay shipping to get it to our service center.".

Sony MD is junk and they don't stand behind their products. I've had it with it. I'm not sinking another dollar into it. It's too bad, too, not only because I have literally 2-300 MDs of records and other precious material, but because it is a truly great format when it's working. I have three decks in my house (two in various states of dying) and two portables, and 300 or so MDs. I'm not looking forward to transitioning to something else.
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#7 of 188 OFFLINE   Glenn

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Posted December 12 2001 - 02:05 AM

Hi Keith,

>>Sony does not give out a direct phone number for the Bristol facility. I tried to get it in advance of going there. What you will have to do is call 1-800-282-2848 and follow the telephone tree to the repair department. They should be able to give you the status of your repair.


I have been trying for a week and a half to find out the status of my LCD monitor repair which I shipped to them. UPS tracking show Sony accecpting delivery and that seems to be the end of the trail.

I have talked to several Sony reps on the phone and so far nothing has been done. There is no work order on the monitor, thus they have no information.

One rep gave me a phone number for the Bristol facility but it turned out to be disconnected. Posted Image

What ever happened to customer service? I have had more problems with Sony gear, audio/video/computer, than any other brand. When Sony stuff works it is generally great but it does seem to tend to break down more often than not and getting it fixed is a crap shoot.

Very frustrated here,
Glenn
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#8 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 12 2001 - 02:22 AM

Philip, others here have mentioned your bad experiences with MD decks lately, but this is the first time I have read your comments directly. I'm sorry to hear of your experiences because you had always been a proponent of the format and Sony's decks, and your experiences with Sony are disturbing. Posted Image

With regards to your MD decks, I have never read anything good about the 'JE510. Sorry to be blunt. Apparently, it is notorious for problems. It is, however, disturbing to hear that one of your 'JB920s died so soon after the warranty expired. The only problem I ever heard about the 'JB920 is that the slot is a bit narrow such that it could not accept all brands of MDs. As you may recall, you turned me on to the 'JB920 last year when a dealer was blowing them out for $150. I bought one and had it for about seven months. Two times, I had an MD load incorrectly. I inserted the MD and the player rejected it. The MD did load properly the second time. Otherwise, the 'JB920 performed like a chance. Admittedly, I did not use it heavily.

As for my other experiences, I've had a Sony MXD-D3 since February and have never had a problem with it. Again, I do not use it heavily, but it still has been a great performer. I've also had an MDS-JB930 since June 2000 and it has performed flawlessly through significantly heavier use than the 'D3. The issue with the 'JA555ES, which I bought just this past June, is shocking to me. That deck is a tank, so I don't know why the transport mechanism failed. Sony should be able to fix it readily, and hopefully it will never recur.

I am sorry that Sony gave you a hard time with the 'JB920 repair seeing as it was only one week out of warranty, but frankly, the warranty is explicit. While I feel Sony should have cut you a lot of slack (at least they offered a discount on the repair), that's not how they or other manufacturers typically operate. From their perspective, where do they draw the line? You come in with a component one week out of warranty, another person comes in with one two weeks out of warraty, etc. Their feeling is that they need a clear policy regarding warranty repairs. It definitely sucks, but Sony has to draw the line somewhere. That somewhere is the period expressed on the warranty card. This is one reason I buy ES products when I can. With the exception of ES cassette decks, all ES products come with a five-year warranty. ES cassette decks are covered for three years. In any event, for the next four-and-a-half years, I will pay nothing if the 'JA555ES fails again. While products are under warranty, Sony will pay return shipping if you don't want to pick up the item after it has been repaired. So, Sony offers proper customer service while an item is under warranty, which frankly, is the most I expect from any of the large manufacturers.
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#9 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 12 2001 - 02:25 AM

Glenn, sorry to hear of your bad experience too. I will be heading over to Bristol today and will try to get a timeframe on when the MD deck might be ready. I'm sure that will be difficult or impossible for them to estimate. I am also going to try to get some paperwork for my records. Maybe such paperwork will have a workorder number on it. I don't want to leave the MD deck without getting a receipt or something in return.
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#10 of 188 OFFLINE   Keith M.

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Posted December 12 2001 - 03:46 AM

Phillip:

Im also suprised to hear your bad luck. I have had my JA20ES MD deck for 2-3years with NO problems.

I have noticed a pattern with Sony over the years...It seems there first generation ES or high end models are outstanding "tank like" quality, and as the unit progresses into other generation releases, the quality of the product and internals goes down (as does the price).

For example, take the first generation Sony dvd 7000 player, this thing was a tank, next wave of Sony 7000 players, felt lighter, had various QC issues, and the price was significantly less. They look the same from the outside, but the insides are definetly slightly modified.
Dont get me wrong, I own alot of Sony products, but will only buy their ES line of products, except their VPL-VW10HT which is an incredible product...

I hope this is making sense, maybe someone else has noticed this...

#11 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 12 2001 - 04:14 AM

Keith, I think a lot of companies lighten up on product quality over time, especially when it comes to newer technology. Sony's first-generation SACD players were outstanding. Sony is still making great SACD players, but most of them are not made to as high a standard as the early models.

As for MD, my 'JA555ES deck is the same generation as your 'JA20ES. Although I haven't used the 'JA20ES, I would expect that it uses a similar, if not the same, transport mechanism as the 'JA555ES. Both are high-quality decks and are not Sony's first-generation ES MD decks. Prior to the 'JA20ES and 'JA555ES, Sony had the 'JA30ES and 'JA50ES. Then there was a 'JA3ES a few years back. Sony hasn't marketed too many ES MD decks in the US, but has offered a fair number in Japan over the years. As a result, I didn't expect to see a problem with my 'JA555ES, but it should be fixed readily.
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#12 of 188 OFFLINE   McPaul

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Posted December 12 2001 - 04:16 AM

Keith, I never knew you were using MD. I have been exploring the option of using it myself as a better option to my diskman, but archiving my entire CD collection would be a chore, like Phil said, the 300 MD's that he has around the house.

Good luck with the repair. I'm rather suprised with the repair depos in the states. Here in Canada there are multiple service centers for most brands in all of the relatively big cities, where you guys have to ship things all over the place.

Hope you "REALLY" like the disk that's in there now!! Posted Image

#13 of 188 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted December 12 2001 - 05:01 AM

Gee, I similarly, I had a JA20ES for maybe 2 years. Liked it so much, I got the JA555ES' baby brother, the JA333ES. No problems so far. Posted Image

I would think that it's a simple fix, in that it's the drawer and not inside electronics, the "heads", or transport or anything. In fact, I think the 20ES, 555ES, and the 333ES all share a similar "tray" mechanism.

I personally think that "std" Sony MD gear is not that well made, but their ES stuff is fairly top notch.

Check out www.minidisc.org for more info.
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#14 of 188 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted December 12 2001 - 05:49 AM

Yeah, I was aware of the problems with the JE510, it's a known lemon, as is the 320, as the drive mechanism is flawed. So why didn't they fix the obvious flaw, as the two decks are a year apart? Either they denied the problem or that mechanism was designed to self destruct. I don't think the latter is the case.

As for Sony not extending their warrantee, that's just bad customer service. Years ago I had a cheap Magnavox portable CD player crap out on me after 6 months, well it had a 90 day warrantee. I boxed it up and sent it to Magnavox with a nice letter and they sent me a new one no questions asked. That's what you call standing behind your product.

There's a big difference between offering a warrantee which is followed to the letter and truly standing behind your product. Sony has demonstrated that they do not stand behind their products in this case, and Philips has demonstrated to me that they do. So maybe I should get a Philips CD-Writer. Posted Image

It's very disapointing because I love MD. As I've written I have a large investment in the format and I really believe in it. It sounds as good as the original IMO, is INCREDIBLY convenient and fun to use (though the cheaper 510 and 320 have a significantly better "edit" user interface than the bewildering 920),and is just plain cool. I've just had too many MD products die on me latelely. And who's still on board with MD any more? Yamaha's (and others?) making a great home studio based on MD technology, and Sony's making their usual assortment of decks, and Sharp's on board with the portables. But who else? Two years ago you could buy MD gear from Kenwood, Pioneer (even Elite), Yamaha, JVC, Denon, and others. Now? Sony decks and sharp portables are all that are out there. The writing's on the wall for MD, as great a format as it has been for me I'm done with it. I will continue to use and enjoy my MD collection, but I'm not spending any more.
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#15 of 188 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted December 12 2001 - 07:43 AM

Phil- I sympathize, dude. Posted Image

Personally, I don't like Sony. Their quality control isn't that great (in spite of how well they market themselves), and their customer service is just plain terrible.

But.

They are really the only game in town for some products. MD being one of them.

I started with a Kenwood MD-1050, then migrated to Sony. If I had it to over again, I might have gone with a Pioneer Elite unit.

Sometimes it might just be a question of being a little lucky, and getting a "good one."
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#16 of 188 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 12 2001 - 10:39 AM

Kevin,

I hope you are right and that the 'JA555ES is easy to fix. I brought it to Sony's Bristol facility today. They said it would take around 15 business days to be fixed, and they will ship it back to me when it is repaired at their expense. I thought I would have the option to pick it up, but they said they don't have storage space, so they automatically ship back all items other than TVs. So far, I have no complaints with Sony, but of course, they haven't looked at the deck yet.

By the way, I noticed a few months back that many new Pioneer Elite MJ-17D decks were available on eBay. I was intrigued by it, but I already had three Sony decks, including the 'JA555ES. I wonder how good the Elite deck is.


Philip,

Again, I understand your frustration with Sony customer service, as I would be pi$$ed if I were in your shoes. However, I understand why Sony and other manfacturers take such a stance. I don't like it, but I understand it.
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#17 of 188 OFFLINE   Barton Lynch

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Posted December 12 2001 - 12:25 PM

Keith, I know exactly how you feel: Philip, sorry to hear (again) about your 920. I too feel the same way. My Sony anger has cooled down a bit since the last time we exchanged mails (like two months ago) when my brand new pseudo ES MD deck -MDS-JB940- went south. Fortunatly for me the unit was exchanged immediatly. But still I look at Sony (even ES, since I own a couple of decks) with a close magnifying glass.

Keith, your deck is the best there is. Stick with it. Wish you the same luck I got back in October with my problem. I've been with the format for years and I thank my patience for tolerating Sony's crappy support on such wonderful format they created. Ironic huh?

Philip, sorry to know that your issue with the 920 hasn't been resolved. I would advise giving the format a last chance, at least with othe brands (like Yamaha and Denon). I too, and we talked about it already, suffered the 510 hell experience and, not coincidentialy, our first deck and first frustrating introduction to the format. After a couple of other decks, Sony also, with better luck in performance, I kept trying. I'm giving Sony its last chance with my fourth unit, the current MDS-JB940. The hell with sony if anything annoying happens.

Wish luck to you both, try to keep it up.
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#18 of 188 OFFLINE   Jerry Klawiter

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Posted December 12 2001 - 02:03 PM

I also had some problems with a new Sony MD JE520 Deck.
Sony replaced it with a brand new unit not a refurb,
I sold that one and purchased a Pioneer Elite MJ-17D
and a Denon DMD-1000 Deck,
These I can say are far better built then the standard
Sony line. I have not compared them with the ES Sony line.

MD is a great format.
Just started to use it on a daily basis.

#19 of 188 OFFLINE   Kanwar Sandhu

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Posted December 12 2001 - 03:03 PM

I really, really want to get into MD, and have been considering purchasing the MDSJB940. It has some really nice features, and looks and feels well built. For those of you who have used it or have heard other people talk about, how well does this model perform? Will I be making a good purchase if I go with the 940?

I am also going to be purchasing a MD walkman, but I'm going to wait until the Sony's NetMD units are released here in Canada. The U.S. gets them in March, but I don't know when they're coming to Canada. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later because, man, NetMD looks awesome, and I want a portable MD unti bad!!!

Any advice would be appreciated...thanks!
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#20 of 188 OFFLINE   Corbin Stirn

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Posted December 12 2001 - 04:14 PM

Hello Phil........I would highly recommend to anyone out there to grab a Pioneer MD player. I have 2 MD players..........A Pioneer 707 and a portable Sharp 702 player/recorder. I LOVE both of them..........I use the 707 for recording off my CDs and tapes(that way I can try to save as much of my tapes as I can without wearing them down). The 702 is used for jaunts around town and trips in the car. My 707 has been flawless.........in 2 years I've had 1 instance with Hi-Space MDs where the MD stuck halfway up. Pushed the MD back in, ejected it again, and no problems since. If you can find a Pioneer 707 and/or a Sharp 702 anywhere, jump on them. They have been excellent and easy to use. Hope this helps..........