File Recovery

To: Jeff Towne

From: Samantha Broun

Um, Jeff?

I spent the day in the field yesterday with a Marantz 661. I checked the files last night and they appeared to be fine.

This morning, I connected the Marantz to my computer to off load the tape. I saw the files and began dragging one to the desktop.

But all I got was the spinning pinwheel of death. And eventually a warning that the file couldn’t be found.

I disconnected everything and reconnected it.

Now the card says zero files.



Headed back out into the field now…

– Sam


To: Samantha Broun

From: Jeff Towne

Wow, bummer!

First, don’t do anything else to that SD card! Don’t record anything else, take it out and set it aside.

Two things to try: Will the files play in the machine you recorded them on? If so, I’d connect an analog (or digital) output from the recorder to your computer or even just another flash recorder and play them out in real time, recording new copies. Better than losing them!

If the recorder won’t play them, put the SD card in a card reader, and try searching the disk with a recovery program like Softambulance.

You’d want Uneraser. – That’s a Windows program, but those SD cards are formatted as FAT 16 or FAT 32, which is a Windows format, so the file recovery is sometimes easier to do on a Windows machine if you have easy access to one.

That company has a deal where you can try the program for free – so you can see if it finds anything before having to purchase it. If the program does find your files, you have to buy it to actually recover them, but it’s not too expensive ($30) and might be handy to have for future problems.

A Mac OSX-based program might be able to find the files: I use Data Rescue 3, and it’s recovered files from a launched hard drive – BUT – I’ve never tried it with an SD card from a recorder. It SHOULD work, but it is designed to find things in an OSX file structure, which the SD card isn’t using…

I’ve heard good things about Stellar Phoenix, but I have not personally used them…

It’s $100, but they also have a free trial you can run to see if it can do anything before you buy it… It supposedly can find files on FAT formatted discs, which your SD card is.

Tools like this can be very handy to have on-hand, I’ve had some large hard drives go south, they just got their directories so scrambled that the data is inaccessible, even with repair tools like DiskWarrior or TechTool. Data Rescue managed to dig out a lot of files, when directory repair utilities did not. So it could be worth the $100 to have on hand for future disasters!

So I’d try the free download of Stellar Phoenix, see if it can find anything on that SD card. If so, drop the $100; it’ll be helpful again some day!

Or if you have a Windows PC handy, try the same thing with Softambulance – run the free demo, then spend the $30 to sees your files.

Good luck!



To: Jeff Towne

From: Samantha Broun

Thank you! Stellar Phoenix worked like a charm (for $100).

Here’s what happened. First I tried connecting the Marantz to a different computer to see if I would get different results. No go.

Then I tried to read the card with a card reader. Still, zero files.

Recovery Window image
Recovery Window

After reading your email, I decided to try the free download of Stellar Phoenix. I used the Deep Search option and bingo. It found 19 files! As you suspected, I then had to drop $100 to actually recover the files.

Stellar Phoenix walks you through everything. You start by selecting the type of files you are searching for. I selected “Formatted Media/Lost File Recovery.”

It asked me where to search and I selected the flash card in the reader.

As it searched I could see that it was finding 3, 4, 7, 11, then 19 files!

Once they were all located, Stellar gave me the option of previewing (listening) to the files before taking the final step of “Recovering” them.

When I clicked “Recover,” the files were saved to a folder I designated on the desktop.

Voila. Tape returned.

What’s your latest favorite something to drink, Jeff Towne?

I want to buy you a bottle.


To: Samantha Broun

From: Jeff Towne

I’m so happy to hear that it worked! $100 is a harsh price tag, but hey, you’ll be ready if it happens again, or if one of your hard drives loses its directories, etc. Here’s hoping that you won’t NEED it, but it’s good to be ready!

And hey, you just had to spend $100 on software, you don’t need to buy me a bottle of anything, that’s what I’m here for!

Anyway, I’m thrilled to know that you got your files back; I’ve given the same advice to a few people who were not successful in similar circumstances. I’m not sure if they gave up too easily and didn’t do the deep search, or if in their particular case, the files were trashed in a more severe way, or they’d unwittingly recorded over them, but I’ve gotten a few follow-ups saying that their files were just gone for good…

It would be really nice to figure out why this seems to happen with some regularity. I can’t tell whether Marantz machines do this more often than recorders made by other manufacturers, or if there are just more Marantzes in use in the world, so we hear about it more. I’m suspecting that it might be the machines, and this is a total guess, but I wonder if the recorders are somehow dropping the USB connection, which is effectively like yanking the cable on an external drive without ejecting it. Sometimes that makes no difference, but sometimes that can scramble the directories, and corrupt data.

I normally advise against pulling the memory cards out and using external card readers, just because wear-and-tear on the card slot doors can make them fail early, and sometimes pulling the cards in and out can damage the connectors in the socket. That was more of a problem with the larger CF cards than with SD cards, but still, it always seemed like a better plan to just leave the card in place and use a USB cable connected to the recorder. Also, when you take the card out, there’s always a chance you’ll forget to put it back in as you head out to record something, and that would suck! But maybe the answer is to always pull the card out and use a card reader, because the Marantz decks are doing something squirrelly when acting as USB readers… I’m not sure that’s the real cause, but if I were using any model of Marantz and had critical soundfiles on a card, I think I’d use an external card reader, rather than using the machine for the transfer to my computer, just to be safe(r).

It might remain a mystery. But at least in this one case, the mystery didn’t turn into a horror movie!

Gotta love a happy ending!


Jeff Towne

Jeff Towne

During more than 25 years as a producer of the nationally-syndicated radio program Echoes. Jeff Towne has recorded interviews and musical performances in locations ranging from closets to cathedrals, outdoor stages to professional studios, turning them into radio shows and podcasts. Jeff is also the Tools Editor for, a Peabody Award-winning website dedicated to channeling new voices to public media. At Transom, he reviews field recorders, microphones and software, helping both beginning and experienced audio producers choose their tools. In his spare time, Jeff will probably be taking pictures of his lunch in that little restaurant with the strange name that you've been wondering about. 


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  • Henry Howard



    A few reasons to consider removing the card and using a card reader are:
    Many of the recorders only transfer at USB1 speed.
    The removal and reinserting burnishes the contacts to keep
    oxidation from building up. I do this every week, several times a week on several different recorders with both SD and CF cards. So far not a problem.

    I do leave the recorder in the middle of the desk until
    it is reloaded with card.

    To Windows programs that I have used are mmrecovery
    and recover my files.

    It is always worth having some form of file recovery software loaded. It’s not a matter of if, but when the toc will be scrambled from some reason.

    I have both Marantz 670 and 671 recorders and don’t remember a problem with either. The 660 was replaced to
    many years ago to remember.

  • Jeff Towne




    I recently got some VERY helpful info from Marantz Tech Support.

    It appears that the disappearing file syndrome might, at least with the Marantz PMD 661, be related to transferring the files to a Mac computer. The 661 (and most Marantz recorders) allows the user to choose a folder for recordings to be stored in, by default they go to the oddly-named MPGLANG1. By navigating the menus, one can find a Folder page that allows the user to select a different folder to record into, or to change the names of the existing folders, and more utility functions.

    The trouble arises because Mac OSX writes invisible files and folders onto any disc that’s connected to it. Those files generally just have some database info and don’t take up much room, and normally don’t cause any trouble. They’re automatically updated and overwritten whenever the OS looks at the disc.

    Apparently, in some circumstances, the 661 can end up saving recordings into one of those hidden folders. On one level, that’s not a problem, it’s just a file in a folder, and the recorder knows where it is. The tragedy results the NEXT time the recorder is connected via USB to a Mac. OSX automatically updates the hidden files and folders on the drive, and that hidden folder with the recordings gets overwritten. This can happen when using an external card reader, or when connecting the recorder directly via USB.

    Oddly, formatting the memory card in the recorder does not seem to purge those hidden files, so this can happen even after an internal formatting of the SD card.

    Luckily, there are a couple of solutions:

    The first one is to simply verify or change the default record folder before recording. Go to the folder menu, pick a folder, it can be any of the ones there, just not a blank space, or a folder whose name starts with a period. highlight it and hit Select. That should set the default record folder going forward, but I’d check to make sure before any critical recording, and certainly every time after transferring files to a Mac.

    The second is to find where your recordings are stored and copy those files into another folder. That utility is in the Files page of the menus. That’s an especially helpful tool if you have not done the above procedure, and have already recorded files after making a transfer to a Mac, and you think the recordings might be stored in a folder that could be overwritten.

    The third is to change the name of the folder(s) so that they can’t be overwritten when reconnected to the Mac.

    This seems to be a Marantz quirk, and obviously doesn’t happen all the time, there are plenty of folks using Marantz recorders and Macs with no problems. But it CAN happen, and sadly, it’s not obvious until it’s too late.

    The other good news is that even in the event of losing files in this way, they SHOULD be recoverable, if a file-rescue utility is used right away. Overwriting the folder makes the files impossible to access directly, but it should not actually erase anything, at least not right away. Sadly, data can sometimes get scrambled in these operations, so it’s not a great idea to rely on data recovery, but as long as nothing else is recorded to the card (or internal memory) the original recordings can probably be found with unerase utilities.

    Unfortunately, my earlier theory, that using an external card reader might prevent the lost files, is NOT true, at least if this what’s causing your files to disappear. There’s no difference between using a card reader and connecting the recorder directly to a computer with a USB cable.

    (Although it’s worth mentioning that it’s safest to only transfer files using the recorder if it’s plugged in, using the AC adapter. If the batteries run out in the midst of a transfer, you risk losing the files.)

    This problem of files being save d to a rogue folder seems like something that the designers of these recorders ought to be able to fix – not allowing files to save into a hidden folder, or something. It doesn’t seem to happen with most flash recorders, or with cameras, etc. But for now, it seems to be an occasional syndrome, at least with Marantz recorders. So, it’s a small inconvenience to have to verify your settings each time, but at least it might actually solve the problem.

    Of course, I’ll update if I hear of any developments!

    • Alex Goldmark



      I am having the exact problem with the Marantz 661 described. Files are saving to a hidden folder.

      However, I can’t find an option to either delete those hidden files nor to tell the Marantz to save new files in the MPLANG1 folder anymore.

      You say “Go to the folder menu, pick a folder, it can be any of the ones there, just not a blank space, or a folder whose name starts with a period. highlight it and hit Select.”

      What folder menu? The only time I can ever see any folders is through the file menu, when I select a file I get the option “move” and only then do the list of folders show up.

      I reformatted the card. Folders are still there and files still saving to them.

      Thanks for all the great posts here.


  • karen



    I used stellar phoenix to recover photos from my sd memory card (formatted) I can see all the photos but when I click on the recover button they all come up but they are scrambled or distorted like lines running across the photo. So do you know what I can do . to recover my photos.

  • Pam



    I have also lost files in a similar way, on the marantz. Per the recommendation here, I purchased SoftAmbulance and indeed was able to find my files.

    New problem. I can’t hear them. The external reader tells me “Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The Player does not support the format you are trying to play.”

    I can see that there is lots of audio there, but I can’t access it. I’m afraid the disk is too scrambled. Is there anyway I can access the data that I can see in the file, but can not hear on the speakers.


  • Alia



    Thank you very much for this. Got me out of a jam.

  • carolyn



    I am having a problem with my 661 and my new MacBook Pro. When I format a card on the Marantz, it records fine. But, my MacBook doesn’t recognize the Marantz using a USB cable at all. When I try to get the files off the disk, I run into the hidden file issue as well. But, WORSE is that when i put the card back in the Marantz it’s rendered unusable. I get card read error 1 and card read error 2 and I can’t record. The errors on the cards seem to be somewhat permanent and can’t just be reformatted properly.

  • Don



    This theory of Jeff’s seems to fit what happened to me today:

    “I wonder if the recorders are somehow dropping the USB connection, which is effectively like yanking the cable on an external drive without ejecting it. Sometimes that makes no difference, but sometimes that can scramble the directories, and corrupt data.”

    When I connected a borrowed 661 to my MacBook Pro to export an interview at first nothing happened, then my Mac displayed an error message warning about improperly disconnecting a USB connection–even though I’d done nothing. Then I checked the Marantz display, which indicated no files could be found–even though they’d been there before.

    So I just tried Stellar Phoenix but it didn’t locate any audio files–just a bunch of empty folders labeled MPGLANG1 and text files. Anything else I can try? Thanks.

  • Dominic



    Got it to work and made some discoveries which you might find helpful:

    1. If your recordings are not visible on you MAC, try a PC. My MacBookPro doesn’t recognize the files, but when i connect the Marantz to a PC via the USB- my files become visible in one of the oddly named folders.

    2. Here’s how to prevent your recordings from going into a hidden folder. Jeff Towne correctly address it above in his first solution, but he didn’t say how to create a new folder on the Marantz which is not an intuitive process. Here’s how: 1. Press LIST. 2. Press < or |<< (left on scroller). 3. Press MENU. 4. Second option "MAKE FOLDER". 5. Scroll down onto "NEW FOLDER" (which was just created). 6. Press first option "Select".

    Now your recordings should record to this newly created folder. This worked for me, hope it does for you too. Thanks everyone for your insights.


  • Marjorie



    I have an identical problem that Don described above. Today I appear to have lost all audio files on a flash card when I connected my 661 to my iMac (OS X10.6.8). Tried data recovery software, Softambulance and Stellar Phoenix with card reader. No audio files. Tried plugging card reader into PC. Nothing. Trolled for hidden files on mac. Nothing again.

    Marantz support staff said try Geek Squad. GS said it would take several weeks to do the job and minimum charge is $250. I need it sooner and am on a tight budget.

    So any other suggestions to recover the files? Or does it look like the files are truly gone given the steps I’ve already taken?

    Would really appreciate any help since these files represent the culmination of a year-long project.

    Also, to me, this compatibility problem counts as a major, major defect of the Marantz 661.

    Help, please!

    • entyn



      The above mentioned software is really good; as you are looking out for a way to recover your deleted audio files from flash memory card at faster speed? Then I hope this File recovery software will help you to recover your lost files as you might be worried thinking that these files are lost permanently. It’s a common human error where accidentally or intentionally people delete their files and later realize and find a way to recover them .The very first thing you need to do is stop using the card till you recover your lost data. If you add new data your old data will be overwritten and you will not be able to recover it. Even I was facing the same problem and used the file recovery from SD memory card software to restore all my data. You can make use of free version of the software available online and if happy with the recovery results and then you can opt for full version.
      For more details visit:
      To get the free version of the software:

  • Jeff Towne



    I recently had a hard drive failure – it didn’t happen to be the memory card in a filed recorder, but it was a large drive that archived a large number of audio recordings. It was even a RAID drive, that is to say, multiple drive mechanisms linked together, and set to RAID 1, which makes redundant copies of files on separate drive mechanisms. Even in this “safe mode” the drive failed and was unreadable, requiring me to reformat it, which erases all data. I had some files that had not been backed-up (I placed too much faith in the redundant “safe mode” of the RAID array….) so I tried several software recovery programs to see if I could find these files before reformatting. I didn’t have much luck until I tried a new (to me) recovery program called R-Studio. It worked like a charm, found everything I needed and allowed me to transfer these files to a separate drive. This program does not rebuild a garbled file system on the original hard drive or memory card, but it just might find files that other programs cannot on a damaged drive, and allow you to copy those files onto a good drive. There are versions of the software for Windows, Mac and Linux, and the price is similar to other utilities, under $100 at the time of this post. So, even if you’ve tried some file recovery software, and failed to find your recordings, it’s always worth trying another program, you might find those files after all….

  • jeff emtman



    Just want to toss my hat in for my recovery software of choice, Recuva:

    They have free and paid (25USD) versions. I’ve used the free version for years to help me find old stuff I thought I’d lost off of memory cards. Really be a lifesaver a couple of times as I’ve realized how possible it actually is to recover lost photos/audio.

    Happy file hunting,

  • Arwa



    Jeff Towne — I need your help!!! I had a similar problem to Samantha (top post) and used Stellar Phoneix to recover my audio.

    Stellar Phoenix was able to recover dozens on files — and in one of those files, I hear the first 5 minutes of my interview, then the last 30 seconds, and then it goes into a completely different interview that took place on a different day. So it appears as though in the recovery, the files got mashed together. I literally just went through every single file recovered to try to find the middle of my interview — and cannot find it (the middle is about 25 minutes long).

    Any ideas/suggestions/advice?

    And if the top and bottom of my interview exists — does that mean the middle has to exist somewhere too?

    Thank you so much,

    • Arwa



      I just want to give an update to this post, because after hours upon hours of trying new things, different software, etc., I had completely given up. I even emailed and spoke to the IT team at Stellar Phoenix and they told me they had no suggestions. Then, I decided to try one more scan of the SD card using Stellar Phoenix. The scan happened in what looked like the same exact way as it did earlier today. But the difference, this time, is that instead of recovering EVERY file it found, I recovered just the one file that I needed (you can “preview” all of the files before you select which to recover). And that worked. Recovering just the one file — and not all the files — kept that file in tact.

      What a day.

      • Jeff Towne


        Arwa – sorry about your stressful day! I am very happy to hear that it had a happy ending though! After reading your first comment, I didn’t have any secret suggestions for you, but I WAS about to suggest trying again, or trying with a different piece of software. I have seen it happen where just scanning again will reveal different files, or scanning with a different program will reveal hidden treasure. Same for disc repair utilities too: if they give up, try running them again, maybe a couple of times, sometimes that actually works. But the sad fact is that sometimes files will truly get corrupted beyond rescue, or drives will physically fail beyond the point where data can be extracted (at least without spending a ton of money.) So back-up your data, and if you’re doing a super-important interview that you can not repeat, it might be worth running a second recorder as a back-up.. But I’m glad you found your (whole) file!

  • marta



    Hi Jeff, I just read your post.
    My problem is that it does record and I see my files but I can’t ‘export’ them.
    I deleted the root folder MPGLANG by mistake. Can you think of a solution?
    thank you !!

  • Doualy Xaykaothao



    Hey all, especially freelancers! This post on recovering files is helpful, but let me add another link: This helped me to recover audio files that were “hidden”, but appeared missing or deleted on my own memory cards. And it was FREE.

    My issue was that I had used the same memory card (Transcend/SanDisk/etc) in different recorders (PMD661 and PMD620), so my Mac only read one recorder’s files, and not the others. In other words, files were on the memory card, but placed in a hidden folder, so I had to find it, and that linked showed me how. Tricky business! But it helped me. Happy recordings! @DoualyX

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