how to use the Sony NW-A3000 without that godawful connect software….

*update-nov 2016* – sorry, i’ve not used my NW-A3000 in quite some time, and i’ve not tried it on anything newer than winXP (i went to macOS years ago, and only really use windows for work these days) – i’m happy to update this post if anyone has any new info/links though…

ok, I got me a Sony NWA3000 20gb mp3 player recently. I was fully aware of the horror that was the connect software that came bundled with it, and only knew about the Sonicstage software that sony were providing as a replacement. I wanted to try and find some alternatives for sonicstage. Preferably of the opensource variety… Normally this site doesn’t do geeky stuff like this, but I thought there was a distinct lack of decent articles on what to do, so publishing here was the best bet.
So what did I find?

There are currently a few promising alternatives to the official sony software, all of which (that I have found) are discussed on the ATRACLIFE forums. Here is a rundown of what i’ve found so far…

Update the Firmware! – normal units ship with the V1.0 firmware. they are now on V3. Its easy to upgrade. just charge your battery fully, then plug it into your PC and run the installer.
Volume Limiter Hack – make your NWA3000 (or other unit) louder… visit the techlounge website for more info on accessing this function.

Service Manual – gives info on what the rest of the service menu does. unlikely you’ll need it, but a useful reference all the same

Heres how to get your player working with ml_sony and various other programs (stolen from the atraclife ml_sony FAQ: )

Here is what you need to do:

  1. plugin your device
  2. backup your files by renaming your directory “OMGAUDIO” to something else like “OMGAUDIO2” (or at least make a zip of the .DAT files inside OMGAUDIO)
  3. Create a new directory “OMGAUDIO”
  4. Create a file named “04CNTINF.DAT” in this directory
  5. If you have a NWA1000, NWA3000 or any player that is not protected: create a file named “nocode.txt” (still in the OMGAUDIO directory);
  6. or:
    If you have a protected player make sure you have at least ONE of the following:
    1) MP3FM correctly installed with a MP3FM/DvId.dat file: see the official Sony page about MP3 File Manager; or
    2) the decodeKey.dat from the keywizard in the directory “GYM”: see “Grab Your Music” for more info at:
  7. Copy ml_sony.dll in your winamp/plugins directory
  8. run winamp

You can then use winamp to copy to/from your nwa3000 mp3 player. for those of you (like me) who use winamp, this program is a godsend.

but what of those of us who want normal explorer-like functionality?

you want to be using something like voidmp3fm or SWEx. Both will let you get the files off the player as well as upload mp3s.

But wait, there’s more!

Once the device is installed and running, it adds itself as a removeable drive. the genius of this is you can store portable apps on the player… best yet, how about portable winamp? – or grab a pre-built copy – all you need to do is add in a copy of ml_sony into the plugins folder, drop the whole lot into a folder on your mp3 player, and you have a portable way to grab files off other people’s PCs! job done!
Anyway. I’ve only had the player for a day, but already I’ve figured out the bulk of its features. It’s just a shame that it has taken over a year from release (and a *lot* of frustrated customers) to get anywhere with it software-wise. If only companies like Sony would listen and provide devices with lots of functionality, that use standard features (like USB removable drives) and then provide the opensource community the tools to hack about with it and create alternatives to the nasty proprietry software you get bundled with it. that way people start buying the product because they know they can do other stuff with it.

I’ll post more info and updates when i find them, but if you found this useful, please leave a comment (and take a look at the rest of the site, maybe subscribe to the infolist?)

****UPDATE MAY 2010****
this article still gets quite a bit of traffic to the site, unfortunately, my NW-A3000 was stolen last year, and ever since then, i have been using my phone as my main source of music when out and about.
I’ll try and have a look at some of the questions, and answer what i can, but my recent experience is limited. especially as i now use ubuntu as my main OS.