View Full Version : OT: Mackie 1604 VLZ-PRO warning

Andy Bosik
05-06-2003, 03:54 PM
Sorry that you are having so many problems with yours. That can be frustrating!
However in MY case, I bought one a couple of years ago, installed it in a CoffeeHouse venue in Santa Monica about a year ago. It get's used and abused every Fri & Sat night by various bands and soundguys of various experience. Thus far, it's worked like a champ! I hope all works out well for you in the end.

05-06-2003, 04:46 PM
It's not just Mackie's mixers that have that issue, I have 4 Mackie power amps that went through that now infamous 'ribbon cable fiasco'. Every now and then a bad supplier ugly mistakes creep up. Mackie's customer service was more than willing to work to find a solution for me. That's what really mattered to me. Ironically I have an older MS1202VLZ (which dates to the bad cable era #1) mixer that has never been a problem.

05-06-2003, 10:31 PM
I have a Mackie 1642 and it developed ribbon cable problems within a year. First, one of my main channels would start to go out for a short period of time, then come back. At first I thought it was a cord. The problem got worse and a left or right channel could go out for 15-20 minutes. Then the LCD level began to act up. I called Mackie and they gave me a repair authorization. The original warranty was for one year, but was told by Mackie that all units now get a 3 year warranty. So if things go out again, I am covered for a while. Sweetwater replaced the ribbon cables for free and all is fine now.

Jason Carey
05-06-2003, 11:46 PM
I've been noticing some symptoms on my 1402-VLZ that could be related to this ribbon cable problem. Thanks for mentioning this.

05-07-2003, 01:43 AM
I just brought my 4th 1604VLZ-PRO Mackie mixer into the shop for repair. Yes, my 4th. Four of them not because I love them, but because the first three all had something wrong. The first three were all in the first few months of ownership so I never had to deal with service centers--Mackie took good care of me with brand new exchanges.

So today I called the service center and the guy told me that they get a ton of Mackie mixers in for the same problems: the internal ribbon cables are crap. He said they replaced them with the latest generation of cables from Mackie. When I asked if this new ribbon cable set would provide me at least a few more years of use he said, and I quote:

"I plead the 5th. Mackie pays us and we fix them. I plead the 5th. You know, they've come out with like 5 of these cable revisions, but they all look the same, maybe a different manufacturer. I plead the 5th."

The Mackie boards are sonically excellent and great in terms of features, but I would caution anyone who is thinking of buying one. No need to reply to this thread with "I have one and it works great". I'm sure lots of people have no problems, but when a service center in NYC says something like that, you'd be a fool not to listen.

05-08-2003, 03:04 AM
I’ve been changing my Mackie 4 times.
and I gave it up!!!
after a long fight got my money back and got a Yamaha 01V which I don’t like!

05-08-2003, 09:11 AM
I have owned a mackie 1642 VLZ pro for over three years. I too had the ribbon problems early on. I sent it back to Mackie and they replaced the ribbon. Still had the problem, so sent it back again and they did more work. Came back and still had the problem. I only mix as a hobby, so I don't use the mixer much. About two months ago, after three years of ownership, I called Mackie again and without any hesitation they said send it in, and we will just send you a new one, which they did. So far, the new one is working great! So, I have been frustrated by the problems with my mixer but have always been very impressed with Mackie's willingness to stand behind their products and fix the problems. From what I heard, they did get some bad suppliers of ribbon cables. I suppose they are equally as frustrated with this problem - it has to be costing them a lot of money.

Steve Rieck
05-08-2003, 11:47 AM
I'm on my second 1604vlz and both had a similar problem.

The first was a standard vlz (not pro) the right channel on the master fader would crap out regularly. It could be blasted through by putting an extremely loud signal through it. I had this one repaired and sold it because I still didn't trust it.

Then last year I went ahead and bought a new 1604vlz-pro. Sure I'd heard the stories about the ribbon cable problems, but I figured, Hey that problems been well known for over a year now. Surely there's no problem with the new ones made recently.

Well to make a long story short, after 5 months, channel 5 would occasionally cut out.

So I decided one day to unscrew the back plate and wiggle the ribbon cable a bit. It worked and it became obvious after several repeats of the same fix that the problem was specifically in the clip/clip connection on one of the ribbon cables.

So I call mackie, and tell them my sad story from the beginning. I tell them I want to replace the ribbon cables myself (which voids the warranty-but I don't care). They agree to send me the new superduper upgraded "Revision G" of their riboon cables.

Wonderful I think. Problem solved.....

Until I look at my old ribbon cables that are not working. On them is clearly printed "Rev. G"

OK, gonna swap them out and just hope for the best.

So I did all that and things are working fine so far. Although I'd be lying if I didn't say I raise an eyebrow of scepticism every time I run a signal through this mixer.

BTW: Changing the ribbon cables by yourself is a MAJOR pain in the @%*! I don't recommend it unless you enjoy unscrewing about 500 screws, handling circuit boards and risking electrical shock.

Other than that, I like this mixer alot. Good luck.

The Patch Chord
05-09-2003, 12:41 AM
FWIW, the problem with the Mackie mixers isn't actually a ribbon cable problem. It's a problem with their tiny molex connectors and their compatibility with the connectors on the PC board.

My understanding of the problem is this... Due to short supply Mackie outsourced their molex connectors to a new vendor. I believe it was Fujitsu... And altho the new vendor met every spec, for some reason the new connectors compatibility with existing connectors failed in the field. A problem that as of the last time I talked to Greg (a year ago) was not yet fully understood.

New cables that have been retrofit with the correct connectors to interface the pins on the PC board are being made available for people with the problem (of which I am one) and has been solving the problem.

Mackie can tell if you've got a questionable set of cables by a small symbol on the cable receptical on the PC board or on the molex plug on the cable itself.

They really are trying to solve the problem, but there is a mixed bag of product out there with original and secondary vendor connectors.

My advice is to talk direclty with Mackie customer service. They really DO want to make your products work right and I have never found them to try to avoid the issue, but have always found them most anxious to fix the problem.

Good Luck

The Patch Chord
05-09-2003, 01:01 AM
One more comment on the subject.

In one of the suites I work in we use a Mackie 8 bus that had the connector / ribbon cable problem. It is still using the original suspect cable that had proven faulty at one point. However, Mackie was out of the replacement cables at the time and we had to get the suite back in operation so we gave the molex connectors and the PC board recepticals a quick treatment with Caig's Survival kit. D5 / Deoxit

We reassembled the mixer and returned it to service. Then received the replacement cable kit a few weeks later, deciding to replace the cables when they failed again. However since the Deoxit / D5 treatment we have not had another intermittent audio problem with the mixer.

The Patch Chord
05-09-2003, 02:19 PM
There's another place to look folks. This didn't come to mind earlier but I do recall another problem that seems like the ribbon cable problem BUT IS NOT !!

On a 1642 VLZ Pro and a SR 24-4 we had the same symptoms, but the problem was completely different. And it may pay off for some of you to give this a whirl next time the problem crops up.

Mackie is great about putting insert jacks on nearly everything. Including, channel strips, Sub groups and even across the stereo master outs.

Those jacks are the type 1/4 trs jack that connects the circuit between the Tip & Ring, if there is no male plug inserted, and disconnects the circuit when something is plugged in. Occasionally either dirt or carbon build up on the contacts that would be normally closed and the connection between Tip & Ring becomes intermittent.

Sometimes the problem can be solved by a simple slap or shake to the mixer, (not recommended but frequently done I'm sure), or by simply taking a 1/4 male plug and working it in & out of the insert jack several times to knock the crud loose from the contacts.

We have had this happen on the inserts to the stereo master outputs on the 1604, 1642 and even the sub group outs on an SR 24-4. If the little temproary fix by plugging in & out a 1/4 plug works, you can effect a more permanent change by digging out that Caig Survival Kit again and using a chamois swab and some D5 / Deoxit on the contacts.

This may actually be the problem that some of you are experiencing when you change ribbon cables but the problem still persists.

BTW, this problem isn't exclusive to Mackie, We've seen similar problems in guitar, bass & keyboard amps and other low end pro audio systems. My bet is it's much more prevalent than bad ribbon cables are.

Hope this helps.