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Help me refurbish my mixers
#3042401 05/06/20 07:53 PM
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I have two Mackie CR1604vlz mixers that are the mainstay of my rig. They have never moved from my studio, and probably to their detriment, I set and forget for large swaths of time.

So now, 20+ years into owning them, they are finally starting to act up. They have been so good to me, and I have been so lax in maintenance, that I want to make it up to them. The symptoms are a few scratchy pots and faders, and once in a while, a channel will act like the mute button is engaged even though I haven't touched my mutes in years. clicking mute or solo will reengage the channel. I've never smoked around these mixers, but I imagine it's basic dust and grime.

What is the best, non-crazy way to get them back to working beautifully? I have DeOxit for pots...should I also get the DeOxit for faders and just give them a good once over? Any advice would be appreciated. And I'd rather not open them up if possible.

Thanks!

Last edited by zeronyne; 05/06/20 07:54 PM.

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Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042402 05/06/20 08:01 PM
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As a guy who has actually taken pots apart to clean out the wipers and such I doubt you'll get the results you want by just spraying them. May provide some short term relief but soon enough you'll want for a better fix.

Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042433 05/06/20 10:05 PM
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Spray solvents will not fix them. The effort to unsolder then disassemble all those pots and switches to clean them is not worth the effort. Having a tech do the work will cost more than the mixer is worth.

Mackie products were cheap because they used pots and switches with short life, even in optimal environments.

Just replace the mixers.

Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042434 05/06/20 10:10 PM
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Mackie's recommendation was to clean crackly faders using compressed air - you can use the canned kind. But when a product gets to be as old as the VLZ - that's about 20 years now - electrolytic capacitors start to get tired and two things happen. They don't pass AC as well as they used to, which can cut into your low frequency response, They also don't block DC as well as they used to, and when DC gets on to a pot that it's not supposed to, all the cleaning in the world won't fix the crackles.

The push buttons usually respond to a dose of Deoxit.

Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042436 05/06/20 10:17 PM
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Aww, so it's basically old age? I'll try for a temporary cleaning and then retire them if it becomes objectionable. Thanks for the input.


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Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042438 05/06/20 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by zeronyne
Aww, so it's basically old age? I'll try for a temporary cleaning and then retire them if it becomes objectionable. Thanks for the input.

Some of the current options use digital controllers instead of pots/faders. They can also be controlled via a computer interface (many wirelessly) so you can mount them anywhere.

I've run sound for an open mic night using one of the MIdas mixers and an iPad, it was a joy once I got the lay of the land.
EVERYTHING you could ever want is just a click or two away, EQ, compression, effects, etc.

Old mixers with pots need to be designed to be serviced, it's been my disappointing experience that lower line products like Mackie, the budget Yamaha line, and many others are "use then toss". Sad.


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Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
KuruPrionz #3042439 05/06/20 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
it's been my disappointing experience that lower line products like Mackie, the budget Yamaha line, and many others are "use then toss". Sad.

It definitely is sad. I just needed lots of channels and routing, and a low noise floor, and these really fit the bill. I have the MixerMixer, which merges all the sends and busses, so it's just been lovely. I guess my next mixer will be digital, which means much more frequent replacement in my experience.

Still, 20 years was a long run. And it still works fine if I don't touch anything. smile

Last edited by zeronyne; 05/06/20 10:42 PM.

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Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042443 05/06/20 11:34 PM
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I find that spraying is a crap shoot, all the way from "screws up again in two days" to "lasts another four years." It's certainly worth a try, because you said "I set and forget for large swaths of time." That may mean the controls aren't physically worn out, but have accumulated enough dust and airborne crap to be problematic. Caig stuff is great, I have an ancient microwave oven with a keypad that dies every few months. The problem isn't the keypad, but a ribbon connector. I spray the ribbon connector (it probably is subject to some of the atmospheric issues involved in cooking), and I'm good to go for as much as six months. It's kept me from having to buy a new microwave over for over two years smile

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Re: Help me refurbish my mixers
zeronyne #3042886 05/09/20 09:09 PM
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If you are going to try cleaning the faders, I’ve found very carefully vacuuming the slots first to remove as much dust as possible is worth trying. Sometimes doing this, followed by operating the sliders back and forth a few times and another careful vacuum will improve things.

As has been said, spray cleaner may help or in some cases make it worse.
Main thing is don’t be tempted to use too much spray cleaner if you do use it.

As Mike Rivers has said, electrolytic caps. are often a problem on older gear - particularly I’ve found, if it’s been used in a very warm environment. The classic giveaway can be a brief sort of “click-pop” which is preceded by a slight “shoosh” sound - often a sign of cap. leakage particularly on the power supply circuit.

I must admit that although Mackie gear has always been considered by many to be at the budget end of quality, much of it is, IMO, surprisingly good performance vs cost.

I’m sure many will disagree with my last comment, but I speak only from my experience of having worked in a mates AV hire business where some of it has had shall we say quite “robust” use.

Cheers.

Last edited by dhid; 05/09/20 09:19 PM. Reason: changed “value” to “cost”

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