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Repair Guide: Replacing a Boss BR-1180 hard drive June 7, 2008

Posted by PJ in : Digital home recording studios, Troubleshooting , trackback

A good friend of mine named Joe has been using a Boss BR-1180CD Digital Recording Studio for about 5 years now to record and mix his own songs. He doesn’t own a computer so this device serves as a central workstation for all of his music endeavors. Having used it extensively myself, I can say it really is a wonderful little device with plenty of inputs and really great sounding effects. The “CD” model has a built in CD-RW drive for burning tracks and also importing .wav files (a drum loop for example) and exporting recordings. Pretty neat and great for someone not willing to take the leap into computer-based recording.

Needless to say, Joe was devastated when he went to record a few weeks ago and the recorder stalled on “Now Checking” followed by a “HDD Read Error” meaning that the 20GB internal hard drive had finally bit the dust. Imagine losing 5 years worth of recordings!! PJ’s Tip of the Day: Do not smoke around any electronic device, especially one containing a hard drive.

So me being the type of person who can’t wait to take apart electronics (I was a Lego kid) and Joe being on a budget and out-of-warranty, I gladly accepted his request to fix the recorder. There’s almost no information on the web about repairing this thing, so I’m posting this guide to replacing a hard drive in the BR-1180. (Note: this procedure will work the same for both the CD and non-CD models)

Let’s get started…

Br-1180CD Top View

Things you will need:

Phillips head screwdriver

IDE Hard Drive (formatted FAT32)

USB-to-IDE adapter (or an open slot for an IDE hard drive in your tower)

I would also recommend a can of duster to clean out any dust while the case is open and a couple of zip-lock bags to separate the different sizes of case screws.

Approx. time of repair: 1 hour

1. Taking apart the case

Unplug everything from the recorder and find some space on a table or desk with plenty of light to set up shop. Turn the recorder over and locate the screws to remove on the bottom panel. The picture below shows each one labeled with the different colors representing the different size screws. Remove all the screws and set them aside by the color groups (this will help keep everything organized and saves time).

BR-1180CD Bottom View

The bottom panel has two parts, one covering the CD-RW drive and one covering the bottom. Lift the CD panel straight up and pull out to remove and then carefully lift the larger bottom panel. Be careful not to pull out the CD drive while doing this.

BR-1180CD CD-RW PanelBR-1180CD Bottom Panel

2. Removing the old hard drive

BR-1180CD Drive Exposed 

Now the culprit is exposed and you can begin removing the old hard drive. The drive is fitted into two brackets and then mounted on the interior casing with 4 longer screws. First, unplug the IDE and power cable from the hard drive and then remove from the case and then remove the brackets from the hard drive.

BR-1180CD HD Screw Removal BR-1180CD HD Cable RemovalBR-1180CD HD Bracket Removal

Now there are a few things you can do with the drive at this point. If you have an IDE to USB adapter you can try plugging it in to you computer and see if anything is recognized. You can also try the infamous “freezer trick.” The trick is to put a dead hard drive in sealed bag and put in your freezer overnight. Then in the morning, quickly hook it back up and retrieve the data you need before it quits again. (Believe me this occasionally does work!) The best case scenario is to copy all the data from the old drive onto the new drive. Essentially, you could do this to simply upgrade your drive or as preventative maintenance.

Unfortunately, the drive in Joe’s recorder had no signs of life at all, not even a click or spin. Luckily, I had a spare 40GB Samsung drive that would work for a suitable replacement. The stock hard drive is a Maxtor 20GB ATA-100 5400rpm. Any FAT32 formatted ATA-100 IDE hard drive should work in this recorder.

3. Preparing and installing the new hard drive

There’s a couple of ways to do this. I have a USB to IDE adapter, but you can also plug this into an empty IDE slot in your tower (make sure to set the jumpers on the back of the hard drive to slave or cable select for this). After Windows (or OSX) recognizes the new drive go to Admin Tools – Computer Management – Disk Management (or Disk Utility in OSX), find the new drive and format it using the FAT32 file system. MAKE SURE that you format the new drive and not your computers! Now unhook the drive and set the jumpers to either Master or Cable Select.

Disk Management - New BR-1180 Drive Formatted

OK, so now you have a new drive freshly formatted ready to install in the recorder (if you were able to recover any data from the old drive, this is where you would copy that onto the new one). Find your screws and hook up the brackets to the sides of the new drive and mount it back in the case the same way you removed the old drive. Hook up the IDE and power cable to the drive and then replace the two bottom panels on the recorder. Almost done!

4. Initializing the new drive

Finally, after everything is screwed in and plugged in press the power switch and cross your fingers. If you did everything right, you should see a message to the effect “New drive, Initialize now?” Select yes and your back in business. With the new 40GB hard drive installed, there is now approximately 67 hours of available recording time to work with.

So now the newly repaired recorder is back in Joe’s hands, with a valuable lessoned learned – always back up your work! Hopefully, it will last him many more years of great music.

Questions or comments? Email me or leave or comment below.



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6. Aaron Smith - September 9, 2013

Hi, just wanted to add a solution to fader volume controls and buttons issues for non working buttons, faders and turn knobs.

You can take the BR-1180 apart to more easily clean everything inside, but if it is just fader issues then use a compressor and air blower tip to blow out any dust and dirt inside all fader tracks, then use a product called Caig De-Ox-It D5 spray can cleaner and spray inside all moving fader tracks and move each fader up & down as you go to work it in, after it dries out, about an hour, then use Caig Fader Lube F100L dropper bottle and put a few drops in each fader track and work it in by moving each fader up & down, you should then have perfect working static free fader controls.

The same applies to all push buttons, you need to work in the Caig product into the contacts to make all the button(s) work again, but with rotary control potentiometers you need to use just the Caig Fader Lube a few drops on the base of shaft or on the control base hole itself and then work it in by turning the knob(s) back and forth until it sounds clean and static free, on tough jobs you may need to clean it first with the Caig D5 spray and then Fader Lube it after on really bad static noisy turn knobs.

Plus if I were you I would additionally put Fader Lube a small drop on all plug in connectors especially the ribbon cable for the LCD screen, and make sure there are no bent pins when reinserting any connector wire plugs. Be careful when unplugging and re-plugging any wire connector back in to the motherboard, you can easily bend the connectors and then you will have problems. Go easy and make sure you can see what you are doing, do it under good lighting.

Hope that helps, my two cents for what it is worth ?

I have fixed many analog mixers and many multi-track recorders, and remote buttons as well using just these procedures I mentioned above.

7. Blue Aarow - September 17, 2013

I currently installed a 40 gb hard drive in my Boss BR-1180CD and formatted it in my PC using NTFS instead of FAT32, XP does not give a choice other than the NTFS file format for formatting a hard drive. And you also have to make sure you also do 20 gb partitions up to 128 gb. The highest capacity drive you can use is 160 gb. Although keep in mind that the Boss’s old IDE hard drive interface only recognizes up to 128 gb total, even though you may be using a higher capacity drive it will only use up to 128 gb.

Well it works now even when I formatted the new hard drive in NTFS format mode, so you do not need to use FAT32 format mode for the Boss to recognize the hard drive. Just initialize the hard drive when you first install it in your Boss. And to access the other 20 gb partitions you will need to go into the hard drive info menu on the Boss to load up different 20 gb partitions to use them separately each time.

I hope this helps out some that still use this very versatile portable music demo writing recording machine.

And to record all your separate tracks to a PC you can use the analog outs and or digital optical out and just mute the tracks you don’t want recorded, since you can only playback 2 tracks at a time panned hard left and other track panned hard right until you get all the tracks recorded in your computer DAW.

Just remember to get the audio volume levels maxed without clipping and mute all other tracks, remember you can only send two tracks at a time at once. And turn off any reverb effects and EQ on all tracks, unless you want that sound effect permanently recorded to the DAW.

8. Jade - October 24, 2013

Boss br 1600 – when I initialize the hdd is says hdd error? Brand new hard drive formatted and very thing. I have a makeshift power supply – could this be causing the problem?

9. Paul Marangoni - October 24, 2013

Same happened to me. You probably have a bad hard drive.

10. Gerald Edzerza Box 333 Watson Lake y.t. YOA ICO CANADA - November 11, 2013

Please little help i would like instal a burner in my BOSS BR1180
not sure how old this unit is how many gig do i need? and where can
i purches one?

11. Gear Tech - January 22, 2014

Does anyone know if you can use a standard laptop type CD-ROM in the BR-1600CD? Or does have to be a model UJDA340 drive? I just tried a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive but the unit hangs on “NO LOADING”. Thanks for your time.

12. John Jenkins - January 25, 2014

Hello I love using my Br-1180, recently my cd drive has went out and I went on a search of its model number, which is UJDA340, does that mean any laptop cd drive with that same model will work?

13. Damon Sink - March 12, 2014

Check out Blue Aarow’s post above. Very good info on formatting and partitioning a raw drive.

14. Rich - May 28, 2014

Just wondering if anyone has thought about or attempted installing a SSD in their BR-1180?

15. John Jenkins - July 15, 2014

@Rich you mean like a Sd card slot? If so, I’ve thought about it but wouldn’t know where to begin, I’m thinking that you would have to do some tyler of software change since there’s not an option for sd on the menu.

16. Rich - July 15, 2014

No, i was referring to a SSD hard drive.

17. Derek - July 23, 2014

Hi PJ and to other contributors to this thread- thanks for excellent article. I actually have had the BR-1180 for
over 10 years and it is still going
strong after many many hours of use. But I want to be ready to replace the
hard drive.

(Additionally, I am looking into buying a used BR-1600 and am thinking
about the eventual replacement
of the hard disc in that machine if I get it also. If you have any insights
about BR1600 hard disc replacemnt
let me know!)

One thing I did not see in your article (or I missed!) is this: where is
the operating system stored?
Don’t you need to re-install the operating system when you replace the hard

Or is the operating system “built in” to the unit itself somehow – ie
hardwired? I don’t get how you
can just install a new hard drive and it will just start working. Maybe I
missed something!

Thanks –


Derek in Santa Barbara

18. Smithb627 - August 20, 2014

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19. Mark Thyme - November 27, 2014

The Utility button on my BR1600CD recorder unresponsive over the past few months. I have to keep pressing it 10/15 times before it reacts. Does anyone know where I can have it repaired. I’m located in Dublin.

20. Steve - January 7, 2015

I have a old Boss BR-8 recorder want to change out the internal zip drive for a hard drive can it be down?

21. Steve - January 7, 2015

Can a Boss BR-8 have a external hard drive connected instead of a zip drive?
Sorry forgot to select my email.

22. Aaron Smith - January 7, 2015

People who are having unresponsive button problems on their Boss BR audio recording gear and many other brands can use a product to clean the button contacts. You can spray Caig De-Ox-It D-5 contact cleaner then follow up with Caig lubricant oil. Best to take machine apart but you can try spraying a little through button holes on faceplate of your recorder. Let solution dry before turning on your machine.

Also I am certain you can use a compact flash conversion on any Boss BR model. Look on EBay for the conversion kits for your model.

hope this helps…..

23. Aaron Smith - January 7, 2015

Also forgot to mention to make sure when spraying or dropping solution into button contacts on your machine, make sure to press the button while you are cleaning them with Caig product. This will get rid of built up corrosion and wear particles in the button contacts so they will function again like new. Caig carries a more concentrated formula than D-5 called D-100 and also be sure to buy their fader lube F-100 concentrate. You should also clean then lube your sliding volume faders too with Caig product.

Note: Don’t use Caig on potentiometers unless you have to, you may lose the factory lube and the turn knob will not have the same feel stiffness when stock. Also be careful using Caig on rubber button contacts like on Roland VS recorders transport buttons, you should not clean those rubber contacts because it ruins the rubber and make it swell then the button will not make contact. All other metal contact buttons and metal contacts and plastic contacts will work and are safe to use with Caig products.

24. Steve - January 15, 2015

Hi guys great stuff on The BR-1180 but I have a old BR-8 everything thus far works but I am looking to change out the zip drive and put in a SD card reader. Any suggestions would be great.


25. gary - January 24, 2015

I have a boss br1200 and my play button along with the left cursor and a couple others seem to work only when they want to . Have you encountered anything like that and if so how can I get this problem fixed .

26. Doug - February 3, 2015

In case this helps someone:
I replaced the original 20 GB Maxtor HD with a 80 GB Seagate Barracuda today. I’d already wiped the Seagate, and had no problems with the installation. The only mod was slicing half the height off a rubber foam pad that cushions the drive near the connectors. I used the cut off piece of foam to cushion the other end of the drive. This adjustment was necessary because the Seagate is thicker than the Maxtor. Fits great though, and is MUCH quieter. Now HD drive partitions show 67 | 67 | 67 | 48 hours. I copied the existing data off the Maxtor onto my desktop HD using an External HD Docking station (USB). Tried to use the Roland BR WAV Converter to move the proprietary files to WAV, but it doesn’t work for the BR1180. So, figured out that Audacity can be used to convert the “.TR8” files to WAV. Although tedious, the following worked (once for each track in song):
• Open Audacity
• Import | Raw Data the “.VR8” file(s) — the largest file(s) in folder
• Pan to FULL Right to eliminate “hissy track”
• Tracks | Mix and Render to New Track
• Delete original stereo tracks
• Tracks | Stereo Track to Mono
• Normalise
• Export as WAV (mono)

I then discarded all the rest of the BR1180 files (non .VR8), since I’m getting this unit ready to sell and don’t plan on using this data in the BR1180 again. Elsewhere I read the proprietary data can be copied into one of the new HD partitions if you want to bring your songs back in. Of course, that would requite pulling the new HD out again after initializing it. This is simple with an External HD docking station though.

27. Billy garner - February 12, 2015

I definatley am no expert when it comes to music as you guys are and in no comparisson regarding the financial capapilities it takes and i wish i had to invest.. however i have a heart that is totally committed to music, i do have a talent for music and making my own. Infact im a pretty good keyboard player using just an old fashioned piece of equipment compared to you professional equipment.But i play on a casio 1800 4.5 floppy disc drive.thats how ive managed to record the music ive written. Howevr for years ive been using an old school analog simple tacam,4 track 8 channell recorder That ive mixed down my music.it has always been my life long dream and a deep,passion in my heart of being able to record , mix this style of music along with another style, i guess you would call that sampling.? and make music of my own that i would enjoy to listen to. But most importantly bringing not only the sounds i,would like to hear thru sampling, but my own music aswell on cd..this has been my lifelong dream, and in my heart for years. Just being able to hear my music on c.d. i could die a peacefully happily old man..But family life, and kids kind of put that on hold.well i felt alive again and the desire to fullfill this lifelong dream that once i had in my heart and soul were almost given up until i seen this boss 1180 with a built in cd r recorder.Im not tech savy but thats where you can burn your own dics right, and add this sound to a sound and that sound to a other to create something you enjoy.? I thought i was in heaven!!! And god actually heard my prayers and they were answered However, my wife didnt find it to impressive but after all these years i put my foot down,and said you know i quit writing becase of you.but she said financial reason and costly family expenses have always prevented that. Im some ways thats been true, but mostly it was her. Honey this and honey that. Ugggh!!! but the heck with that, my love for my music and rcording my music on c.d that i have already stored on my old 4.5 floppy drive i wish to place on c.d. has been my life long goal before i die,so she will just get over it. i have bored you long enough with my no sense. So i bought this boss 1180 built in cd r. Problem is i cant get no sound after hooking it up to my midi ports on my casio. Im going from my casio outputs and into midi input on the boss. It came with no manual and im,in,need of buying one of them. Could you tell,me why im not getting any sound after hooking this up. And god forbid shes to ever find out i spent this money and bought this equipment at a pawn shop and it never work.ill never hear the end of it. But as of now i can,only get it to play the music the previous owners stored in the song memory. I cant get nothing. Can you please help me and what ever i need to do.? I,am,at your mecey. The gentleman,at the pawn shop wasnt to generous neirher he give me 24 hrs. To see if everything worked. I said how can one possiblly detemine all that especially after going to sleep for 6 to 8 hours. Ive. bored you enough. I only hope you take pitty on me and respond back. Im. im going to return the boss 1180,unless i hear othewise from you. Any information would be greatfull,and with compensation on my behalf would be offered if you considered. C i dont know if the cd r, even works. And after 24 hrs he said i cant return it. Please get back with,me a.s.ap. desperate to complete what i once set out to achieve in life . Respe tfully Submitted and my upmost grearfullness billy garner. Also,i,have a computer could i hook this boss, my casio and computer up together.? I could make some good sound if so huh?? Sorry.!! Lol please get intouvh with me . Thank you so,much.

28. Doug - February 13, 2015

Billy Garner:
I don’t anything about MIDI, but you can download the BR1180CD User Manual at the following link: http://roland.com/support/article/?q=manuals&p=BR-1180CD&id=1811552
or just Google “BR1180 user manual download” to find it.

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31. Ed Faro - March 15, 2015

Hello Sir, I just got my pre owned BR1180 CD. The problem is the arrow cursor downward is not working so I wasnt able to use my shure mic that requires phantom power.


Ed Faro

32. Anthony Orihuela - September 2, 2017

I have installed a 400gb hard drive into my br1180. It is partitioned into 8-20gb sectors. Prior to this I had a PATA laptop mini hard drive in it with a 44 pin to 40 pin adapter I purchased from eBay. With the right adapter the SATA HDD also worked. I can’t get my CDs to burn though…. it SAYS it’s burning it, finalizes it too but it comes out as a warm blank disc?! I tried another CDRW I had but it shows no player/writer?! If any one has any info it would be highly appreciated. Hopefully my input helps someone out also. Sincerely, AnthonyOrihuela80@gmailmail.com

33. John Jenkins - September 2, 2017

Yo what’s up @AnthonyOrihuela ! I’ve run into the same problem when trying to burn onto certain Cdrw’s. some brands don’t work well as others. The brands I’ve used that I know work are Maxwell and Sony. When it doesn’t burn but says “it’s complete” try taking the disc out then reinserting it, that seems to do the trick for me. I always burn but never finalize.

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