Friday, May 11, 2007

The RCA H115 H125 H116 MP3 player problems, fixes, firmware, and suggestions

A few weeks ago I found an RCA H115 5GB MP3 player at my local flea market (in the original package) for $5.

When I got it home I tried charging it first before I started to play with it.

First I have to say - this player and my customer service experience exemplify why the iPod has such a major market share. No other manufacturer seems to understand service and quality as well as Apple.

I was more or less hoping to use this device as a hard drive backup rather than an MP3 player for my Mac.

I already have an iPod.

I immediately noticed that the device is NOT supported for Macs because it uses a weird file system ... but I did learn by scouring the internet for days that you can mount the internal Microdrive on the Mac desktop by doing the following. (This tip also applies to Windows ME 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7 owners)

1) With the unit turned off, plug the small end of the USB cable into the device.

2) Hold the center joystick down (the little squarish button in the center of the scroll pad)

3) While holding the center joystick down with the mini B USB cable plugged into the MP3 player, plug the flat standard USB end into your computer. (Not into a USB hub)

4) The unit should start up and a message should appear on the screen that says "Transferring..."

5) Give the device 10 seconds ... the hard drive inside the unit should mount on your Mac's desktop

6) You may use the unit as a hard drive mounting it with these steps, or load the unit with music by finding the right place on the hard drive by digging into the folders contained


* There are litterally dozens of forums discussing this MP3 player. None of them seem to have answers.

* It seems to be a common problem that the hard drives (5GB Hitachi Microdives) fail - if this is the case - you MUST send your player back to RCA* - there is NO OTHER SOLUTION that works.

Call RCA Thomson Customer Service at 1-866-449-7112.

You will receive an Indian Customer Service Agent.

Have the phone up to your best listening ear.
They will most likely tell you to try resetting the device. You can knock this step out before calling by turning the unit off with the right side power button. Then holding the power button down for 15 seconds (keep holding down even if the unit turns on). If that solved your problem ... great. If it did not ... call the RCA customer service number.
* With the unit on, place it close to your ear, if you can hear a clicking noise or like a "tiny gear grinding" noise - your hard drive is bad. You have two options:

You can send the unit back (after obtaining an RMA from this phone #:1-866-449-7112 ) to this address:

Thomson Inc.
Attn SR# SR04118915
11721 B Alameda Avenue
Socorro, Texas 79927

OR you can disassemble the unit by removing the the serial number sticker from the bottom backside of the unit. At the center bottom there is one black screw holding the unit together. Remove this screw. Slide the backside of the device upward. You will see the microdrive inside. These drives are warranted until December 31, 2007 from Hitachi*. You MUST give Hitachi a later purchase date than the current month*. Meaning; if the current month is May 2007*. You must give them a date AFTER May 2006 for your purchase*.

* The contents of this article no longer apply to warranty service.

Hitachi will quickly replace your drive which you can use in a standard compact flash slot with a 6GB drive as they no longer manufacture 5GB drives.

You can contact Hitachi customer Service (Having a valid serial number on the microdrive):

By webform: Hitachi Customer Support

By phone: Toll free: 1-888-426-5214 OR 1-507-322-2370

You will send your microdrive (with RMA obtained) to:

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Inc.
30336 Whipple Road, Building F

* Note, that you will no longer be able to use the RCA H115 / H125 as an MP3 player if you replace the internal hard drive, but the exchange with Hitachi is worth nearly $125.

If you have a working Lyra, I'd suggest you copy the firmware to another Microdrive or UDMA 33 Compact Flash card. Doing so will help you if the drive fails. This suggestion may not always work!

I hope this helps ... leave a comment here if you have any other suggestions or need further assistance. I will try to do my best to answer.

If a person identifying themselves as MRC offers to help you in this forum or any other forum concerning this player, do not engage him!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I have an RCA H125 mp3 player with the corrupted system failure message, I want to know if there is a way to unmount the hard drive and use it as a kind of external drive, any ideas?


FYT said...

Yes ... you should be able to hold down play or select for 15 seconds just after you've plugged in the unit via USB.

Try all of the steps here .... the H115 and H125 are 100% identical internally.

Anonymous said...


FYT said...

If you follow the instructions for mounting it as a hard drive - you can load files that way OR you can download MusicMatch - a free player that is compatible with this unit.

If you want it compatible with iTunes, just mount it (per instructions here)

Anonymous said...

Sorry but u just got ripped off, RCA is noobs to mp3 players and 75% of new players u buy made by them Will go back in first month or 2, and all will lock up after no more the 1 yr.
U should of bought a Creative, they have proven them selves for over 10yrs in mp3 players, Yes 10yrs , unlike the new kid on the block Ipod that heavly advertises, creative does not need to advertise there players speak for them selves , u get twice the bang for your buck, they have 2x the features and support more formats video and audio then the same prices ipod.
my friends ran out an bought that h125 rca piece of crap around xmas time when they were only 75$ and all 10 of them craped out in 2weeks -6monthS. pass on the knowledge if u going to buy a player check out reviews first , u will not find a single good comment about an rca mp3 player , only rca says its good

FYT said...

not sure how you think I got ripped off. I parlayed a $5 jockey lot find into almost $300 worth of sales on eBay after the replacements!

Anonymous said...

I have this Mp3 player. It's pure garbage... I feel ripped off by Wal Mart and RCA. After about 10 minutes it overheats... Needs to be profiled, or even worse in the middle of a song it skips to another song while displaying the original songs info.

Not at all happy here...

FYT said...

It is junk ... take this into account ... the 4GB drive is no longer made - if you take the device apart and call Hitachi they will replace the drive with an 8GB

Anonymous said...

i called hitachi and the guy told me that rca or whatever the drive was, that company is responsible, not hitachi. he gave me no chance, i tried to not even say that much but he just kept asking questions.

FYT said...

call back and get another rep ... Hitachi IS responsible if the drive is still under warranty.

Anonymous said...

By following the steps you indicated... plugging in small end, holding down joystick, then plugging in flat usb to computer. I was able to get my daughters mp3 to work. Before the computer didn't recognize it. I don't know but it worked. Thanks!

FYT said...

you're welcome ... glad to help

Anonymous said...

hello yess my rca h125 says file system corrupted every time i turn it on. i know you said hold restart but i cant even get it to stay on for that long, what should i do??

FYT said...

Try taking the unit apart by removing the back sticker and then the two screws (some units had just one screw) and seeing if you can mount just the compact flash hard drive (The Hitachi Microdrive)

You need to isolate whether it's the RCA unit or the Hitachi Microdrive.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I got the RCA H125 mp3 player for Christmas 2006. Just before Christmas 2007, I got the File System Corrupted. I tried formatting the hard drive and uploading RCA's update software from their website, but neither will fix the problem. I called RCA at 1-866-449-7112 and they said it only has a one year warranty but I need the receipt to send it back. Can anyone email me a file of a photocopied receipt? (

Anonymous said...

H125 Just won't shut off :So besides opening it up, throwing it out the window, trying again! to push every button down for 10-15-20 seconds. ( I have tried everything. Has anyone ever dealt w/ the same situation and come to a resolution of any sorts.
thanks ljrh

FYT said...

did you try updating the firmware? Did you take the microdrive out and see if you could mount it separately ? Did you try disconnecting the battery?

Anonymous said...

have a huge problem.. mi rca h125a shows me that my computer not save my information and lost it, then in my computer screen apear normally and then stuk it on when i tried to select the E: Unit ( that is my mp3 unit) i dont know what to do !! help please!!!

FYT said...

Did you try taking out the microdrive and placing it in a card reader as suggested?

Anonymous said...

hi, i have a rca h125 and i was lisenening to music one day and it suddenly blanked wont even turn on now what shudd i do ? =|

FYT said...

Did you try taking out the microdrive and placing it in a card reader as suggested?

Anonymous said...

so i take out the micro drive and then how exactly do i get it read ? :S and whats a card reader :$

Anonymous said...

hey i got a h125 nd it worked pretty well for a while and then now whenever i turn it on it just says "RCA" and stays there till the battery die out or it just shuts off itself within a flash..and then when i plug it into the pc it don't recognize it...all that comes up it "low battery" and starts charging...any help bro??

FYT said...

A camera memory card reader - a compact flash card reader.

The button cell batteries I believe can be replaced.

Unknown said...

I have one of these also. There are pure crap!

It's disgusting to know that two well known companies like Wal- Mart and RCA allowed such a pice of junk to flood the market and then do nothing at all to support or replace the devices.

It's too bad we don't have the balls to file a class action suit...

FYT said...

Jeff ...

I think you're right ... I haven't heard of a single one of these units functioning after a year.

Unknown said...

I’m here to say that by some miracle mine survived daily use all the way until December 2nd, 2020 and I’m genuinely shocked that it lasted so long. I remember finding this thread in either ‘08 or ‘09 and starting to worry how much longer mine would last, but it instead it lasted until MP3 players were beyond obsolete