Roland VS-840 SD Card Zip Drive Replacement

Roland VS-840 SD card drive replcement
Roland VS-840 SD card drive replcement

Installing an IDE to SD Card Media Adapter in a Roland VS-840 Multitrack Recorder

Today I received a couple of new Secure Digital SD SDHC MMC to IDE 3.5 40 Pin Male Adapter Converter cards for my Roland VS-840 Multitrack Recorder. I installed the device and was able to successfully partition and initialize a 2GB Sandisk SD Memory card in the Roland VS-840. Partitions are 1GB. The VS-840 is now totally silent and I no longer get any “drive busy” errors when using the VS-640 in MT1/MT2 Song format. The installation was flawless and although there may be some future SD card compatibility issues, I have so far found most SD cards to work with the device. The person I bought the SD adapter converter card from on Ebay is . I attached a photo to this article of what the device looks like. Previously in another article I wrote I had purchased a couple of similar converters from an online shop called DealExtreme which had horrible service. I eventually got my money back and promised I would never do business with them again. The product I purchased above came from Hong Kong and it arrived actually in exactly one week from purchase. The service was great and I would definitely order again from this one individual.

Replacing the Zip drive with an SD Card in the Roland VS-840 works beautifully and really cleans up some of the issues I had with the unit. I’ll probably try the same SD card converter with the Roland VS-1680 and Roland SP-808. It’s likely the SP-808 won’t work as I’ve yet to hear any success stories with SD cards working in an SP-808. SD Cards do however work very well with the Roland VS-840. I use my Roland VS-840 extensively to import WAV files into my Roland VS-1680. I export WAV files into the VS-840 format using the BR WAV converter software and then import that into the VS-1680. It works great.

UPDATE #1 – The replacement of the Roland VS-840 250MB zip drive with an SD Card adapter is really working well. I am using a SandDisk Extreme III 2GB card that has a 1GB Fat16 partition. I did this on the computer using the free version of MiniTool Partition Wizard. I tested with the BR To WAV converter software and was successfully able to convert Wav files to and from the SD card. I was then able to drag and drop all tracks into Sonar which all played back perfectly and in sync. I swapped out the short IDE cable in the Roland VS-840 for a longer one. I had to use a needle to create a 40th hole in the cable as there are 40 pins on the connector side of the Roland VS-480. My cable only had 39 holes but it’s easy to puncture a hole to make it 40. I also had to wrap the SD card converter to ensure nothing touched the metal casing of the VS-840. These SD card converters MUST be shielded from the metal case properly to work 100%. I used plastic to wrap the SD card converter and it works beautifully. Finally I did some recordings in MT1 format that required some heavy reading from the SD card. I have yet to get a single “drive busy” error. Everything works perfectly and it’s all a 100% silent. I forget the unit is on sometimes…laugh. An SD Card Adapter is a definite “must” upgrade for the Roland VS-840. Highly recommended.

UPDATE #2 – I installed this SD Card Adapter into the Roland SP-808EX and it unfortunately didn’t work. I was able to turn on the SP-808 and it gave me a message that the SD card needed to be formatted. I performed “Quick Format” but after that I couldn’t create a song or do any sampling. Instead I got a no disk space error. I got really close, but I don’t think it’s going to work with this particular SD card adapter.

14 thoughts on “Roland VS-840 SD Card Zip Drive Replacement

  1. ivan

    hi. i have this mixer too and i love it. i would like to to this in mine.
    i would like to ask if you know if i can put another sd memory. if works with a bigger capacity sd card? do you know. for an example if i use a Kingston of 8 gb? or only works with that memory extreme of 2gb (its about compatibility.thankyou very much.

    1. Hello Ivan, I have found that the Roland VS-840 only works with 1GB partitions so you while I can use the 2GB card, I can only access the first 1GB. Thus I recommend only using 1GB SD cards if possible. In Japan, it is still very easy to find 1GB SD cards so that’s not a problem for me right now.

      1. ivan

        hi jim thankyou very much for you information. is very helpfull for me. have a good time. sure i will follow your recomendations. cheers from colombia.

  2. ANON101

    Hey Jim Thank you fro keeping hope alive 😀 with older ROLAND GEAR I LOVE MY SP-808. Have you been able to get the card reader that worked with your VS-840 to work with the SP-808 ex ?

  3. Tich

    I really like the idea of recycling as opposed to dumping valuable electronic devices,
    I will give it a try though I still have a few questions about the practicality of transfering the files from the SD card into my computer,
    2) would it mean opening up the VS840 in order to remove the sd card to transfer it to a computer.

  4. Tim W

    Did you need to update firmware on the Roland? If so, is there a link for that, or any instructions that you know of?


  5. robert

    Hi could you tell me how you actually use BR wav converter? is it some old version or something like that? All I get is message ‘Not BR series memory card’
    Thanks in advance.

  6. Arthur Schwartze

    Hi Jim,
    I’ve updated my VS840 recorder to 1.05 to VS840EX as far as I know the updating went well. Only if I start VS 840 up it won’t go further than Now Initializing wait a moment, after this this it stucks en is not going further.
    Please help me at this point what went wrong??

    Arthur Schwartze

  7. John

    Hi Jim-
    I picked up a VS840 last year for almost nothing, and before the zip drive goes, I’d like to switch it over to an SD card R/W. As far as I can ascertain from the available resources, I need either a MIDI sequencer/sequencing program OR dedicated zip drive to transfer the files.

    I should, in order (cycling the power between each step – not hot-swapping):

    >transfer firmware updates as MIDI files to zip drive or set up PC-based sequencer (such as Anvil Studio) to transfer MIDI files directly to VS upon receive prompt (POWER+MODE+INPUT+ENTER) using the Roland SMF player

    >install those updates incrementally up to EX v2.05 (1.05; 2.0; EX2.05)

    >remove the zip drive from the VS and install the SD to 2.5″ IDE Adapter Card

    >install SD memory, power up in format prompt mode, and format 128MB SD card as if it were the disk

    Thanks for anything,

      1. John

        until I find a MIDI keyboard capable of transmitting the files in a way the VS can understand, the project is stalled.
        I haven’t even installed the card reader.
        Be sure to update the firmware (EX v2.05) or you’ll brick it, and get a card reader with the proper connector.

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