JoeCo Product Support

Product Support

Front line support will normally be provided by the dealer from whom you purchased the product. Please contact them in the first instance.

  • They have the records of your purchase and what advice they gave you
  • They will be familiar with how you are using the product and the console you are using it with
  • They are probably in the same time zone unless you’re on a world tour

Further support can be obtained from your local distributor who is responsible for importing the product and maintaining the dealer network within your territory.

Please note, however, that although we cannot prevent cross border sales, especially within the EU where the open market demands that cross border selling is permitted, you cannot expect the local distributor to support you or your product if you did not purchase through their company.

Support can also be obtained via email from our support team at JoeCo’s head office. Please contact us at support@joeco.co.uk and we will endeavour to get an answer back to you within 24 hours.

Please click on the option below most appropriate to your issue to find the information that you require.

Copyright warning

JoeCo’s recorder products are designed to enable you to record and reproduce material to which you own the copyright, or material which the copyright owner has granted you permission to record and/or reproduce.

It is illegal to record, reproduce, distribute, sell, hire, lend, perform or broadcast all or part of a work (written or musical composition, broadcast, performance or similar) whose copyright is held by a third party without permission of that third party.

Do not use this Product for purposes that could infringe a copyright held by a third party. JoeCo and its authorised distributors and resellers assume no responsibility whatsoever with regard to any infringements of third-party copyrights arising through your use of this Product.

Please click on the buttons above for a printable pdf version of the JoeCo Conditions of Use, The JoeCo Software Licence, Warranty details and Product Returns procedures. Please click here for a printable pdf version this Copyright Warning.

Recycling and WEEE compliance in Europe

Environmental responsibilities for product end-of-life

As part of the European Commission Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, JoeCo shares a responsibility with its UK customers to ensure that products that have reached their useful end-of-life are recycled at an approved Authorised Treatment Facility to minimise the impact on the environment.

To be compliant with the WEEE Directive, European customers outside of the UK should contact their local re-seller for recycling or, if the products were purchased directly from JoeCo (referred to as “Distance Selling” in the WEEE Directive), they will need to make their own recycling arrangements.

What you need to do:

If you are a UK customer and have a JoeCo product that has reached its useful end-of-life the you should

  • Contact JoeCo using the recycling email (recycling@joeco.co.uk) address.
  • JoeCo will email a Waste Transfer Note and list of Licensed Waste Carriers that you can use to return the end-of-life products to our Authorised Treatment Facility for recycling.
  • Contact your nearest approved Licensed Waste Carrier from the list to arrange and pay for transportation of WEEE from your business premises to the Treatment Facility.

It is your responsibility to pay for WEEE collection using one of our approved Licensed Waste Carriers.

Important commercial implications

JoeCo products are very competitively priced. Any new increase in operating costs for manufacturers such as JoeCo is normally reflected in a price increase in the product. However, instead of increasing the prices of our products, JoeCo has decided to share these new environmental costs directly with our customers.

We believe in being transparent with you on any new environmental costs that our products need to address. Our approach to sharing these new environmental costs is:

  • JoeCo pays for the costs of treatment, recycling and recovery of the WEEE to meet the targets set by the WEEE Regulations;
  • JoeCo pays for the costs of data management and reporting to the Environment Agency to demonstrate compliance with all administrative requirements of the WEEE Regulations;
  • You pay for transportation of your WEEE to our Authorized Treatment Facility.

Please read through the answers below to quickly solve many of the most common questions regarding the JoeCo range.

What sort of disk can I use?

You can use any modern fast USB2 drive that will attach to your workstation. The disk must be formatted with the FAT32 Filing system for the BLACKBOX or BLUEBOX to recognise it but there can be multiple partitions on the disk. There is also no reason why you can’t use a drive with more than one interface – many drives include firewire (IEEE1394) interfaces as well as USB2 and some workstations are a little fussy about how much data they can source from a particular type of interface.

How much Storage Space will I need?

In a nutshell, if you’re recording 24 tracks of 96kHz, 24-bit material, you’ll need about 25Gbytes per hour. So a 250GByte disk will give you around 10 hours worth of recording time. However, it’s probably worthwhile remembering that once you get the material into your workstation you might want to repair some bits of the recording or so it’s best to err on the safe side and leave a little spare space on the disk.

If you’re not recording on all channels simultaneously or have chosen a different sample rate or bit depth then you’ll use proportionately less space for each hour of recording.

Why USB2 drives?

The USB2 interface is the most commonly available interface for external hard disk drives and we wanted to make sure that people could obtain a spare drive wherever they happened to be, especially if they were on tour.

What is FAT32?

FAT32 is a disk format or filing system used to organise the files stored on a disk drive. The disk drive is marked up into addressable chunks called sectors and a “File Allocation Table” or FAT is created at the start of the drive so that each piece of information in the file can be found by the host computer. The “32” part of the name refers to the amount of bits that the filing system uses to store these addresses and was added mainly to distinguish it from its predecessor, which was called FAT16. The FAT32 format was devised by Microsoft.

Why FAT32?

There are numerous disk formats or filing systems to choose from ranging from XFS on the MAC to NTFS on Windows PCs however, FAT32 is unique in that it is the only format that can be guaranteeably read by both PCs and Mac computers. By choosing FAT32 as the format for the BLACKBOX recorder, you can take any recordings and use them directly into your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) without having to translate or copy them which can save a lot of studio time.

Is FAT32 not restricted to 32GBytes?

No, The FAT32 format can cope with disks of up to 2 TB (2000GB). The issue here is that Microsoft, in their wisdom, restricted their formatting program in Windows XP and Vista to making FAT32 partitions of 32GB or less. Allegedly they were keen to move people onto drives using their newer NTFS format which had the incidental effect of being incompatible with Mac computers…. As you’ll probably know, most USB2 disk drives you can buy will be 500GB or 1TB nowadays so if you format the drive directly from within XP or Vista you’ll only be using a tiny fraction of the disk space available. That’s why we’ve built formatting directly into the BBR software.

Can I plug two hard disks onto a BlackBox Recorder and record to both drives at once in case my drive fails?

The BLACKBOX Recorder software does not currently support making mirrored or redundant recordings (i.e. making identical recordings onto two drives simultaneously) and to be honest most drives are fairly robust nowadays. However, it is possible to plug a USB2 RAID array such as the Glyph Technology 062E drive. This unit has built in RAID technology which when configured to RAID 1 will make identical copies of the data onto both drives giving you full redundancy. The formatting utility inside the BLACKBOX Recorder will format the drive to FAT32 for you.

What drives do you recommend?

The following external USB2 drives have been used and tested successfully, though this is not an exclusive list.
The BLACKBOX Recorder will not record to bus powered drives.
Glyph drives (especially the 062E RAID)
Western Digital Elements drives
Hitachi drives (sometimes badged as Simple)
Buffalo drives
Verbatim drives
Samsung drives
We do not recommend using Seagate Freeagent drives or “green” drives with power saving software built in. We have put in certain measures to try and prevent such drives going into sleep mode automatically but in our experience some drives ignore these commands. Best to avoid them.

Can I record to Flash drives?

Most modern USB2 “pen drives” (memory sticks / flash drives) are only fast enough to record 24 channels of 48kHz material. The 200X variety are much more expensive but can cope with the data rates required for 24ch of 96kHz/24bit. Some customers have had success recording to SDHC cards in combination with a standard USB2 card reader but these need to be Class10 devices to cope with the data rates that the BlackBox requires. At 24ch x 96k x 24bit the BlackBox requires nearly 60Mbits/second (= 7.5Mbytes/second) of write speed to the memory device.

Can I use a bus powered drive?

No. The USB2 specification restricts the amount of power that any bus powered peripheral may draw to 500mA (0.5Amps). We have yet to find a bus powered drive that does not use nearly 4 times that power when first powered up. We therefore cannot approve their use because the BLACKBOX will not provide sufficient power to start them consistently.

Why Broadcast WAVE files?

The Broadcast Wave File Format (BWF) was again chosen as a universally readable audio file format supported directly by all DAWs. It was defined by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and adopted by the Audio Engineering Society as the chosen file type for the AES31 interchange standard. Amongst other data, BWF files store a timestamp which makes them ideal for transporting multitrack audio files from one system to another. Storing the audio in BWF format enables the user to read and playback the files created by the BlackBox Recorder on any DAW. NB. BWF files actually have an extension of “.WAV” – the Broadcast Extension (or “Bext”) chunk, is stored inside the file itself. BlackBox Recorder files will normally follow the convention of “001-01.WAV”, “001-02.WAV” up to “001-24.WAV” where “001” is the song or take number and “-01” is the track number from 01 to 24.

Do I need 96kHz?

If you can afford it, which with the BLACKBOX recorder you can, recording at 96kHz gives you the opportunity to capture the best quality prior to possible editing and remixing later. Indeed, more and more recordings are being made at the highest practicable sample rates.

What sort of console will the BLACKBOX RECORDER interface with?

The unit will interface with any analogue console which includes insert points on each input channel. The BLACKBOX RECORDER plugs into and takes it’s input signal from this insert point and then returns it’s output to the same place in the mixer so that you can perform the virtual sound checks by playing back the material you’ve recorded. Some more expensive mixing consoles have balanced insert points and these machines will benefit from the BLACKBOX RECORDER balanced i/o converter.

How do I wire up a BLACKBOX RECORDER?

The BLACKBOX RECORDER will normally plug into the insert break jacks on your mixing console. The supplied cables are labelled with the channel number so that it’s easy to trace which input into the BLACKBOX RECORDER comes from which channel. When used with an unbalanced insert point the same cable provides the return signal back into the mixer so you don’t have to worry about accidentally cross patching the signals.

Can I use a BLACKBOX RECORDER in a permanent installation?

Certainly. The BLACKBOX RECORDER is equally at home in a permanent installation such as a Theatre, Conference Centre or House of Worship. It will still easily interface with your mixing console and provide the solid reliable recording that you need without tying up other valuable resources.

Can I record more than 24 channels?

There are occasions when 24 channels are just not enough. The BLACKBOX RECORDER has been designed with this in mind. You can chain up to 4 units together making a massive 96 channel recorder and, as you would expect, in this configuration all the units are controlled from one unit which acts as the master controller. Each 24 tracks will be recorded to a separate drive as many workstations can only replay a limited number of tracks off a single portable drive.

How do I gang multiple units together?

On the rear panel, you will see a pair of RCA (phono) connections labelled “Ext Clk”, “In” and “Out”. A short jumper cable is used to link the output of the master unit to the clock input of the first slave unit (and similarly in a daisy chain down the line). This cable not only carries the clock signal to ensure that all the BLACKBOX RECORDER units operate in sync with each other, it also carries a simple command set buried in the subcode which instructs the slave units when to go into record, etc., Thus keeping all the recordings perfectly in sync and aligned.

Can I record less than 24 channels?

Yes indeed. On the first level of the menu there is a section labelled “Track Arm”. This option selects which tracks you want to arm for recording. The options given include: Arming all tracks; Disarming all tracks; or arming just the ticked tracks. You can tick or untick each track from 1 to 24 and in this way just arm the ones you want for recording.

Are just three LED meters accurate enough for setting levels?

The LED meters are much more accurate than you might think. The main processor calculates the level of each track in real time and simultaneously controls the LED meters. However, it doesn’t just turn an LED on and off, it varies the brightness of each LED so that the meter gets brighter as the signal level gets louder. Typically, in the soundcheck you would set the mic amp gains such that the RED LED was just starting to come on during the loudest parts of the input. This should give you adequate headroom for making a perfect recording.

What is the best way to adjust the input levels?

Typically one would set the mic amp gains such that the RED LED on each meter is just beginning to come on when the loudest input signal is present at the input. This should give adequate headroom for a perfect recording.

How do I use the virtual sound check facility?

After making a recording of a song during the sound check, the Playback Lockout Menu item has to be disabled. Then pressing Play will replay from the start of the song. Because the BLACKBOX RECORDER is plugged into the insert points on your console it will have recorded the sound directly from your mic amps and will replay the Soundcheck directly into the insert return path. This allows the engineer to adjust the mix for the acoustics in the hall and adjust each performer’s foldback mix without necessarily needing the whole band to be playing all the time.

It is also possible to set markers throughout the song so that you can loop around say the chorus until you are satisfied that things are sounding right. All the markers are saved with the BWAV file so that if you want to use an earlier recording it will include any markers that you previously set.

How do I use the recordings in my workstation?

The BLACKBOX RECORDER will record to any USB2 drive (though we recommend that you get the fastest drive you can. The FAT32 filing system can be read by any workstation (both PC or MAC based as well as most workstations based on dedicated hardware). Broadcast WAV files (BWAVs) are used by most workstations now as a standard file format. So, after finishing the gig, you should be able to plug the drive into your workstation back at your studio and all the tracks that you’ve recorded will be instantly accessible by your DAW software. Some DAWs can play back more tracks over a firewire disk than a USB2 disk in which case we recommend buying one of the many drives that have both interfaces built in. You can then record using the USB2 interface and replay in the studio using the Firewire interface – the data will be exactly the same.

How do I synchronise the unit to external equipment?

There are two aspects of synchronisation that need to be considered. Firstly there is the digital audio clock signal which drives the A-D and D-A converters and ensures that you are operating at exactly 96kHz (or whatever sampling frequency you’ve chosen). This clock signal can be derived from the external clock socket on the rear of the unit. When selected a low jitter master clock signal is derived from the incoming source and used to lock all the internal clocks to it.

Secondly, there is often a need to synchronise to external equipment such as video cameras or other bits of equipment that have timecode facilities. In this case, in addition to the clock signal described above, you’ll want to use either Linear Time Code (LTC) or MIDI Time Code (MTC) to provide the time stamp information at the start of each recording. The BLACKBOX RECORDER will never need to chase Time Code (as many old analogue machines had to) as the regular digital clock will ensure that everything stays in sync once the machine is in record.

Where did the last recording go when I reformatted the disk with BBR?

You lose data on your disk forever when you format it. Please note that if you connect a disk to BBR you do this at your own risk. If you have any valuable recordings you must make safety copies before you use the disk with BBR.

Why would I want to partition my disk into more than one volume?

You probably only will want to do this if you are using a large disk, e.g. 500GB or more. You may want to organise your sessions so they are separated from each other in separate volumes (or partitions) on the disk. In addition, as the disk volume gets larger it can get slower to navigate around due to the sheer number of files on the volume. Splitting the disk into several smaller volumes can make this easier. There is also some additional protection if the file system gets corrupted. It is rare (but not impossible) for a problem in one volume on a disk to affect others.

BBR creates multiple partitions, but they are of equal size. How do I make the partitions different sizes.

To do this you must partition the disk on your PC. On Windows you cannot format large partitions as FAT32 because Microsoft forbids you to. To create the partitions on Windows, if FAT32 is not offered, format the partition as NTFS then later you can reformat the partition on BBR as FAT32, and the partition size is retained.

I partitioned my drive into 4 partitions on my Mac (or Windows) PC and formatted them as FAT32. But BBR only sees 3 valid partitions. Why?

Mac OSX and Windows create the first 3 partitions as “primary partitions”. If you create 4 or more, after the first 3 they are created as “extended partitions”. If you want to use the 4th partition with BBR, then on BBR select “format”, partition 4 of 4. It will then be formatted as a valid FAT32 primary partition and will be usable on BBR, Windows and Mac OSX. BBR supports all 4 primary partitions.

I partitioned my 4GB flash drive into more than one partition on BBR, but Windows only recognises the first partition. Why?

Windows XP and Vista do not expect small drives to be partitioned, and in our tests they prevent access to other than the first partition. This is true whether or not the drive is partitioned and formatted on BBR or Mac OSX (for example). The other partitions are usable on BRR and Mac OSX but not on Windows. To use small drives with Windows, we recommend that they are formatted as a single partition. Microsoft does not permit you to partition a small drive on a Windows PC although is it supported by other operating systems.

I have a small flash drive that works okay on my PC (Windows and Mac) and it shows up as FAT32. However BBR says it is the wrong format. What's wrong with it?

Simply use BBR’s “Partition Disk” feature, select “Num Parts: 1” and then “Partition and Format”. BBR will reformat the drive, which is then usable in BBR, Windows and Mac OSX. This corrects an unusual situation that results from an archaic MSDOS format intended for removable floppy drives only, but may be incorrectly applied to some flash drives, especially if they were factory formatted with an MSDOS computer. In this case the drive does not have a “master boot record” (MBR). All hard drives and most flash drives have MBRs so work okay with BBR. BBR will always create an MBR when partitioning a drive, which is then usable in BBR, Windows and Mac OSX.

I'm interested in finding out more about the advantages of recording and replaying audio via networks. What particular benefits does Dante technology have to offer over other currently available solutions?

Dante creator Audinate has produced a series of speed draw video animations showing all the main benefits that the technology has to offer. Check them out!
Link1 – Audinate’s Dante is Media Networking Perfected
Link2 – Audinate’s Dante just works!
Link3 – Dante future proofs your network

Does the BlackBox Recorder only let you record mono BWAV files?

The latest BlackBox software version (2.7.7x), combined with the use of JoeCo’s iXML plug-in now makes it possible for you to record PolyWAV files. This feature is mainly aimed at TV and film location recordists to better serve the needs of post production facilities or systems where audio material is ingested in large single files.

Even if you’re not recording, you can now replay polyphonic WAV files on a standard Recorder or Player (with out the iXML plug-in). Multiple stereo files up to 24 or 64-channel PolyWAV files are supported and you can even use mono, stereo and multi-channel files in the same song.

Am I limited to 24-channel playback with the BlackBox Player?

The original BlackBox Player software was designed to run on the BBR1 BlackBox systems, enabling up to 24 channels of synchronous audio to be simultaneously replayed. However, Player software can now be installed on the 64-channel MADI and DANTE versions of the BlackBox allowing a greater number of channels to be replayed.

Master/Slave system records ok but won't Playback the Slave system's audio

Check the date and time on the Slave system matches the Master – this is normally caused by the Slave being set to record into a differently named folder which can’t be found when the master instructs it to playback. If you’ve already recorded some material, you can repair it with this procedure:

  1. switch the slave link off,
  2. rename the slave’s folder to the correct date,
  3. set the clock to correct date,
  4. set link back to slave.

It will then all work fine and will play back previous recordings and make new ones.

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