Gear reliability - how long should it work -- Kurt??

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Cucco, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Okay, so I've been doing this stuff for a while now (if you count from the first day I hit the record and play button at the same time it would be 20 years, but professionally about 10) and I've seen and heard a lot about gear crapping out over time.

    Kurt makes a lot of excellent references to SMT and P2P wiring as well as PCB gear and its servicability. But what I'm curious about is why does this stuff crap out to begin with. Of course, I understand that anything degrades over time, especially when you pass voltage through it. That's a "DUH." But, in general, I don't find that I've had to perform much service on any gear over time.

    I have a 20 year old Nakamichi tape deck that has had it's heads realigned once and cleaned/demag-ed regularly and it hasn't caused a lick of trouble. I've had some old-school (15 y.o.) mixing boards that have never had to have even one strip replaced. Yet, I've had a Sony MiniDisc recorder that took a crap after its second use.

    What is the motivation behind building crappy gear other than the obvious - let's get it to a price point.

    Is gear that's made on PCBs truly inferior if it's made with quality components?

    Of course, as Kurt mentions, it's comforting to know that in 20 years, if a Cap blows I can replace it with no problems if it's surface mount, etc.

    Is there really that much of a problem with stuff breaking though? That truly applies to older consoles - large format specifically. Why do these seem to need CONSTANT service? Didn't they make them well enough?

  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    No those old boards generate a lot of heat because they have a lot of juice running through them. They sound great but they burn themselves up and self destruct. Sometimes when something fails it takes other stages out with it. But at least they were servicable.

    I was spending about $300 a month keeping the old MCI 636 running. It had two, six rack space power supplies, that weighed about a ton each, to run it. Then there was the tape machines ... :shock: But they sure sounded good. I miss that.

    To be honest, you probably wouldn't have to service a good mic pre or even an eq or comp (other than tube replacements) very often. I only had one pair of comps that ever gave me any problems. Other than that, all my outboard has been fine. But it does happen, especially if you end up with a lot of pieces .... the odds are somethings gonna break sooner or later. Build qualty is indicative. I can't recall ever hearing anything that sounded really good that was poorly built.

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