Tag Archives: cassette

PPG wave 2 – cassette interface pinout & factory program dumps

The PPGs’ program storage depends on the battery having enough juice. My PPG wave 2’s battery started to shown signs of a small leak, even though it was supposedly replaced only a few years ago by the previous owner. After the battery was replaced I wanted to reload the factory programs. I had some luck following the instructions in my own video that I published four years ago (yes, I partially have this blog to compensate for my bad memory). Read the post here. Below is the cable I got from the previous owner, that actually works, and is used in the video. Please do continue read, a neater solution is presented later in the post!

The other day I got contacted by a fellow PPG owner that still had struggles reloading the programs, even though he carefully followed the video instructions. We had some FaceTime discussions and those are the questions that arose, that we both thought would be nice to have answers to:

  1. What is the pinout of the cassette interface? The one that came with my PPG is a home made, spliced together thing.
  2. Which dump of the ones that are floating around is the factory dump, and why are they so hard to restore?

CASSETTE interface pinout

The PPGs use a DIN connector for the CASSETTE interface. The DIN connector was very common, and there are loads of variants with different amount of pins and varying uses of them. There’s a standard numbering for the five pin DIN connector, the type that is used on the PPG for cassette, MIDI cables etc. Note that the numbering is not in the physical order they appear! Also note that the numbering could be mirrored, depending if you’re looking at a female or male connector.

For modern use, we need to have an adapter to RCA or 1/4″ jacks. Unfortunately there’s a plethora of different adapters for different purposes. You can find two adapters from DIN to white and red RCAs, but they could be differently patched depending on if they’re made for a tape recorder or an amplifier. I found both variants in my old-crap-that-might-be-useful-some-day-pile. The only thing that you can probably be sure about is pin 2 being the signal ground. I found an adapter that has all four RCAs in that same pile, which made investigating the pinout easier.

I first tried the CASSETTE➡2 to see which pins the program data was outputted on. I then tried to reload the dumps in the PPG using the other two pins. This is my conclusion, I have double checked this a dozen of times:

In the PPG 2.2 service manual I found this, which caused a lot of confusion in the beginning of my investigation. Once I figured out that the image is the male side of a cable and not the actual female DIN connector on the PPG, it all made sense. Otherwise they would have switched “sides” on all pins requiring a different cable for a 2.2, which seems like a pointless thing to do. Yes, it’s me who added the red text!

Program dumps

When you dump to tape from the PPG by using the CASSETTE➡2 function, you first get a calibration tone that is followed by the data itself. Some kind of checksums are also in this audio, so that the PPG can discover if the data is corrupted or the if the transfer is too unstable. The PPG will respond with a  CASSETTE➡9 when an error occurs, or a  CASSETTE➡0 if everything went well.

Old dumps

In my collection I have two dumps, one called w20_fact.wav that supposedly is the factory programs. That one I’ve never managed to load into the PPG. It’s 8-bit and sounds a bit distorted. This has no calibration tone, the data starts directly.

With the purchase of the PPG I got an MP3 file PPG Wave 2 – 3.mp3 which is the one that I’ve managed to load to the PPG and the one used in the video. It has a calibration tone, but someone seems to adjust the recording level up and down, just before the data starts. I found out that starting at the end of the calibration tone where no volume changes are resulted in far more successful loads. I don’t know if it’s stereo because it was recorded from both pins 1 & 4, or if it became stereo when converted to mp3. No one probably knows.

New dumps – a.k.a. the “REDUMPS”

As I had more knowledge about the pinouts, I could now make a successful and audibly cleaner dump out of  my PPG  that was loaded with PPG Wave 2 – 3.mp3. It was recorded with no gain applied using my spare Focusrite 2i2 in 24/44.1. I got a nice steady data stream peaking at -18 db. I did two recordings, one for each pin (1 & 4), and got similar results.

The PPG has a  CASSETTE➡4 function that let’s you compare the contents in the PPG’s memory with the content from the cassette input to validate that the dump is correct. It’s similar to  CASSETTE➡1, but doesn’t actually store the data in the PPG.

I tested to play back both recordings to both input pins (3 & 5) in all possible combinations, and all of them were successful. I played them back both from the MacBook’s internal sound card and from an Antelope Orion 32 output.

Next question was, could I modify the w20_fact.wav so that the PPG would accept it? By normalising the data to -18 db and adding the calibration tone from one of my new dumps at the beginning, I kept my fingers crossed. And amazingly, it worked, for the first time ever! I then immediately made a dump of it. Playing some of my favourite programs, I really couldn’t hear any difference to the PPG Wave 2 – 3.mp3 programs I had loaded before.

This made me wonder, are PPG Wave 2 – 3.mp3 and w20_fact.wav the same? By using the CASSETTE➡4 function to compare the PPG’s programs with all of my new dumps, I had “proof” (given that the PPG is accurate enough), that they are the same. The PPG wave 2 manual I have states the following in German:

Die auf der Kassette aufgespielten Daten werden mit dem Speicherinhalt verglichen. Bei Fehlern die beim Aufnahmen entstanden sind erscheint eine “9” auf dem Display.

that translates to:

The data recorded on the cassette are compared with the contents of the memory. A “9” appears on the display for errors that occurred during the recording.

Download REDUMPED factory programs

This is w20_fact.wav loaded into my PPG wave 2 and then directly dumped from pin 5. There’s no point adding the other dumps since their contents are the same!

w20_fact factory programs “redumped” in and out of my PPG Wave 2


  1. Both of the dumps I had had the same contents and are probably the factory programs.
  2. A clean dump is much easier for the PPG to load, than the low quality ones I had (doh).
  3. A stable calibration tone at the beginning is important, the overall volume not so much (as long as it’s stable).

PPG wave 2 – loading programs from CASSETTE

UPDATE! Read more about the cables needed and get a clean factory program dump here!

I just put a video up on YouTube, showing how to load programs using the CASSETTE port at the back of the PPG wave 2.

View video on YouTube (opens external site in new window)

This PPG wave 2 probably has a weak battery and loses its programs after a few months if it’s not turned on. The battery will eventually be replaced with a modern, non-rechargeable lithium battery and a diode.
Instead of using a cassette tape, I’m playing the data from my MacBook. The MacBook is set at 100% volume, the PPG seems to be very sensitive about the levels. The program audio that you hear in this video from 0:50 should theoretically work to restore the programs in you PPG. That’s why I chose to keep it at the right level, -5 dB, in this clip.

SCI Prophet 5 bought! (and reloaded with patches!)

Today I bought an SCI Prophet 5 rev 3.0! This is cheapest one of the three editions made. That doesn’t mean it came cheap, I’ll have to sell at least 3-4 synthesizers to make up for the loss.

Rev 3.x is the last and most common main revision. 3.3 is the last sub revision and came with support for SCI’s midi kit, but it also got 120 patch memory slots. The 3.2 can easily be upgraded to 3.3, but 3.0 and 3.1 can’t without lot’s of hardware modification. Not having the capability to be upgraded to 120 memory slots or getting the official midi make 3.0 and 3.1 the cheapest ones. Kenton does however offer a midi kit, but it’s a bit expensive, so I think I’ll pass. The P5 has CV/gate for one voice if you need to sequence.

The seller said the P5 had the original patches loaded, but clearly it didn’t. On non-midi P5s patches can be saved to and loaded from cassette. Of course any audio recorder better than a tape recorder will do.  The patch data can be downloaded from analog.no as 8-bit wavs.

I downloaded bank 1 as it contains the first 40 factory patches. To be able to import it in Logic I had to convert it to 24-bit audio. I followed the instructions below taken from Prophet 5 Resources

  1. Look at the Prophet’s rear panel and set the Data Record slide switch to ENABLED.
  2. Set the tape to the position that holds your program. Listen for the announcement.
  3. Set playback level play at 0db.
  4. Hold the Prophet’s orange RECORD switch down while pressing the grey LOAD FROM TAPE switch.
  5. The Prophet front panel will go dark, except for the LOAD FROM TAPE switch indicator will be lit.
  6. The L.E.D. will go out after about 40 seconds, now Stop the tape.
  7. If the LOAD FROM TAPE light blinks, an something has gone wrong. Adjust your playback level and try again.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work. And the instruction doesn’t mention how to try again, or describes the confirmation you get if the loading was successful.

I read somewhere that some poly Oberheim from the same era needed quite a hot signal for it to work, and therefore the headphone jack was recommended instead of the ordinary outputs. Before testing the headphone jack I tried all output settings on my RME Fireface: -10 dBv, +4 dBu and Hi Gain – but it didn’t make any difference. Except on Hi Gain where I once actually got the blinking led, which means error. Maybe the signal was hot enough at least at some point?

I connected the cable to the headphone jack instead and restarted the load procedure. In the first run I had the headphone volume encoder on very low volume, and it actually gave an error – some success! I tried again by pressing the “Load from tape” button. This time I set the headphone volume encoder to point to a quarter to, and believe it or not, the patch data was loaded and it was confirmed by the P5 rebooting.

I shot a quick video of it, first showing a failure, then success:

View video on YouTube (opens external site in new window)

Here are my additions to the standard instructions:

  • The LOAD FROM TAPE light will stay on until it gets something loud enough
  • The P5 will reboot after a successful load (you’ll notice the TUNE button light up for a couple of seconds)
  • I don’t know how to cancel a load, but if someone knows, please tell me
  • The P5 wants a hot signal. Start low and gradually increase the output level