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Zaxcom Deva ii files- how to read them.


Christian Shaw
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I recently got a Zaxcom Deva ii for free, and although it is old, I love the sound, functionality, and form factor and want to use it for multi channel location music recordings, and for sound on small scale documentary shoots. It came with the DVD-RAM recorder. The problem I have is I can't work out how to access the files on my PC. I first tried removing the internal hard disk and plugging in to my Windows 10 computer via an IDE to USB interface. Result; no files to be seen. Next, I bought some DVD-RAM discs and tried mirroring the HDD; this has worked as the files play back on the unit from the external disk, and by visual inspection, the tracks are obviously there on the disk. Thinking I'd solved the problem and would find my lovely BWF files waiting, I put the the disk into my DVD multi drive, only to find that again, there were no files on the disk, and the file system showing as RAW. I've tried formatting various ways, but each time the Deva wants me to erase the disk before it allows mirroring. Lastly, I installed XP on my PC to see if the OS was the problem. Again, no files to be seen. I tried formatting to fat32, at which point it can be seen that there is a percentage of the disc used, but no files to be accessed. I have an old DVD RAM drive on the way to test, and am going to try Windows 98 later, but feel I'm clutching at straws! Is there some kind of special software I need to access the files? Any assistance those experienced folk on here who have used the machine could give would be extremely gratefully received!

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The files on the Deva internal drive are MARF files but the files on the DVD-RAM disc will be BWAV files that should be accessible files on your computer. It may be a problem that the file system is FAT 16 which may be unreadable by your current computer's operating system. Someone else who knows a lot more about this hopefully will chime in with an explanation and solution to your problem.

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FAT16 is the main reason that the Deva II became less than convenient for our work.  The last time I used the FAT16 DVD-RAM discs (many years back) I found that some computers could read them and some couldn't.  It would be highly dependent on the operating system and computer configuration as FAT16 support diminished.

 

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I don't recall if WIN98 supported FAT16.  Also note that your DVD drive needs to support DVD-RAM in order to read the discs.  For instance, one of my Macs in the studio still has OS X 10.6.8 and it will read a FAT16 DVD-RAM.  The original SuperDrive (a Sony) did not support DVD-RAM, but this machine has an added (Mat) DVD drive that does. 

 

So:

 

A)  The operating system needs to support FAT16

B)  The DVD drive needs to support DVD-RAM discs

 

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Thanks John. I've tried the Win 98 virtual machine to no avail. Next up; Win 95! My DVD drive is Multi, which is meant to support DVD RAM. It could still be the problem though so I've ordered a Matsushita IDE DVD RAM / R drive similar to the one in the SCSI DVD RAM that came with the Deva ii. Zaxcom weren't sure of the OS to use (suggesting Win 98), but also suggested trying some 2.2gb discs. The closest I have been able to find online is 2.6gb so I'm going to test that too. I won't let this machine go to landfill; it's too good to be obsolete! A solution will be found!

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That's good to know. Thanks for running that test John. I haven't got a MacBook Pro anymore but I know people that have so if all else fails I can save up files on the Deva HDD and use someone else's. One question; when you mirrored the Deva HDD to the DVD RAM drive, did you need to 'ERASE SCSI' from the setup menu first, or did you format the discs first? I suppose the 'ERASE SCSI' option is actually formatting the discs too?

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31 minutes ago, Christian Shaw said:

...

One question; when you mirrored the Deva HDD to the DVD RAM drive, did you need to 'ERASE SCSI' from the setup menu first, or did you format the discs first? I suppose the 'ERASE SCSI' option is actually formatting the discs too?

 

It has been a long time since I used the Deva II. My FAT16 DVD-RAM reading tests were done with previously formatted discs pulled from my archives. 

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I can't believe how good such an old machine can be, that's why I've got to get it up and running again! Made some pipe organ recordings with it on Saturday in Liverpool and they sound great; worst case scenario I can always make up an AES cable and run them into my 552.

I'm about to try a Linux install as apparently it reads all FAT file systems.

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Being impatient, I decided to install a program called IsoBuster, which extracts files from damaged discs. A search of the disc revealed the full DVD RAM filesystem full of lovely .bwf files! So I'm happy to say, although the process is a little more time consuming than drag-and-dropping files from an SD card, I'm now in business with the Deva ii at least. Best of all, I can do it all from within Windows 10.

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I've let Howy, who I was speaking to at Zaxcom, know how I solved it. Anyway, I hope the info is useful to anyone else like me who is foolish enough to want to use 20 year old technology. At least now I have a solid 4 track with great pres and timecode generator that I paid nothing for 😁.

... And thanks to all on the thread for your input and enthusiasm; what a lovely, welcoming forum this is. I shall look forward to talking to you all further.

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Glad to see a modern solution for the old file systems. The Deva II was really our first recorder and in many ways was too cool as we made it from scratch with no idea what it was going to be until we were finished. The Deva II was the first dual media recorder, First with pre-record and first 4 track portable recorder.

 

Glenn

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I see solid pro-level file based recorders, esp those that can record to non-spinning media, as being as good to go long term as 1/4" Nagra recorders are, maybe better since so few moving parts.  As long as you can keep the buttons and connectors working they should roll on for a very long time.  Coming from the hell-world of DAT, this is a welcome thing!

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6 hours ago, glenn said:

Glad to see a modern solution for the old file systems. The Deva II was really our first recorder and in many ways was too cool as we made it from scratch with no idea what it was going to be until we were finished. The Deva II was the first dual media recorder, First with pre-record and first 4 track portable recorder.

 

Glenn

It's a great machine Glenn, must have been way ahead of its time at the time you released it. I've just handed it over to the local audio tech because the phantom power to mic input 4 isn't working. I'm sure it'll come back fixed and I'll be very happy. In the meantime, I'm playing with my 2 channel recordings from Saturday; the pipe organ sounds clean with great detail, transparency and a lovely crispness in the highs which I find very important for baroque material such as Bach. 

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