Working around message 'Cleaning Head'?

Hello Everyone,
I got the error ‘cleaning head’ after writing the ‘lead-in’. If i ignore the error and press ‘record’ after playback it seems to me nothing has been recorded. If i try to record without the lead in still there seems to be nothing to be recorded. I have this with lots and lots of tapes (30+ tapes). In another message on this forum i read that you just can ignore the message because the error doesn’t always mean the the head needs cleaning. That indicates for me that there might be a way to some kind of work-a-round to record after getting this message with or without writing a lead-in ? Can anybody conform this ?

Hi and Welcome.

The clean head supposed to indicate, well to clean your head.
Unfortunately it is much more common when there is a tape issue. If the tape does not have correct contact with the head (usually due a bad or dirty felt pad), the message appears also.

The message can be ignored during playback, if there is no dropout. In your case I would suggest taking a bad tape and cleaning the felt pad and see if that improves the situation.



Or better, replace the felt pad. (see DRDCC’s video)
And check the tape for crinkles and other (hard to see!) irregularities.

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On my 730, the DCC cassettes were setting pretty loosely in the tray. After slightly bending the lids that keep the cassette in the tray, so that the cassettes now firmly sit in the tray, I got quite a lot less ‘Clean Head’ messages.
The cassette felts are the most likely cause though,

Well, thanks everybody but as from this day i’m gonna say my DCC adventure goodbye. I fully understand now why consumers didn’t want this unreliable system. That cleaning head message drives me crazy…i like very reliable stuff…like phone…analog tape…tuner…dcc isn’t gonna be one of that.
From what i heard of it, i was very impressed by the quality of the dcc !

It can be a real PITA, yes. But never give up!

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Is it possible to ´record´ on a dcc tape after the message ´cleaning head´ According to my info the message will go away after pressing TIME or TEXT key. So my theory is that after writing the ‘LEAD IN’ my 951 gives ‘cleaning head’ but no worries i press TIME or TEXT the message goes away and i can record on that tape ?!
During a service test the dcc gives me only zero’s, the head is cleaned with ipa alcohol, with a dcc cleaning tape and manually. So i don’t get error 26: Clean Head. So the error message should be due to a bad head-tape contact. It’s hard to believe that recording is blocked after that message ! I still have to start with the replacing of the felt-pads, cleaning them didn’t help…it only makes the surface from the pads dirtier and dirtier, the dirt just expands over the pad.
I can’t test it myself because i don’t have my dcc at hand, maybe somebody can back up my reasoning ?
Could bad capacitors cause the message ?

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As @drdcc said, it is not a real problem on the 730 and 951…
The system is overreacting a bit. Sure at the start of a tape there can be some inconsistencies due to imprints of the leader tape splice. But I guess that is why the 12 seconds lead-in is there for…

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As philip said: never give up! So i didn’t. But that is some story up to now. It’s a learning ‘on the job’ kinda hobby. It’s a funny story up to now and i have my own thought about the situation. Let me just tell you. I bought my DCC from ‘the guy’. I told ‘the guy’ i already had bought 33 used tapes (BASF and 1st and 2nd gen philips) I tested the tapes and they all give the ‘cleaning head’ message (i checked this 2 times on all tapes).
The DCC went back for repairs to ‘the guy’. He said my tapes were very bad, i should throw them away. Anyways…because i wanted to replace the belts and pinch rollers anyway, i bought some pinch rollers from techkey… I thought when i replace them maybe my tapes will not give the message anymore. Oke, after i received the pinch rollers i replaced them. Then suddenly my tapes didn’t give me the ‘cleaning head’ message anymore (at first). After some time…it went all back to the same message again and i got a sqeeling sqeeling sound from the player. I thought the squeeling came from a dirty felt pad so i opened up a new tape just to test is, but it gave the squeeling sound also on the new tape. So i thought maybe the new pinch rollers squeel so much…let’s replace them with the old one !
So i did…and guess what…it’s all working like a charm right now !!
So i thought…maybe the message was programmed in the memory of the dcc, just to pretend my tapes were bad so ’ the guy’ could try to get a hand at my tapes.
Maybe the new pinch rollers (whom are squeeling like hell) are not new…maybe they are just old ( i didn’t buy these form the same ‘guy’).
Now i have the same 951 as before with the same pinch rollers (i didn’t change the belts, because i didn’t receive them yet) and it’s all working like a charm.
Can new pinch rollers squeel that load ? At least it’s a fun story :slight_smile:

The sound can come from the Pinch Rollers if they are the wrong size.
It can even eat your tape.

This is not possible. A dcc cassette has no “memory” – the tape is the memory. And a DCC recorder doesn’t recognize which tape you put in; nor does it care. And any attempt to make it care in the way that you’re suggesting here, would require reprogramming the microcontroller, and I know that would be extremely difficult if you want the original program to keep working. I hope that remark was just tongue-in-cheek but that’s how conspiracy theories start.

The squealing problem is undoubtedly a mechanical problem. If it’s not the felt pad in a cassette, it must be caused by the mechanism. Try putting a tiny drop of oil near the spindles of the capstans and the spindles of the pinch rollers. If that doesn’t help, maybe the capstan motor needs lubrication.


Jac, i was just wondering if it was possible. I could not imaging that it was possible, because i did trust ‘the guy’.
I will be changing the pinch rollers again later this week…and then give them oil at the appropiate place !
thanks !
NEW INFO: The guy from which i bought the pinch-rollers contacted me too assure me that the rollers are brand new! (He is also a DCC museum Guy !). Later this week i will lubricate the ends off the rollers with silicongrease!

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@Jac , most of the time you are very informative. Great way of pointing stuff out. Huge amount of respect here. But sometimes you crack me up with laughter. Thanks!