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Mackie Big Knob - Buzz, hum, low quality and faulty?

Discussion in 'Backline' started by Plec, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    I ordered a Big Knob a couple weeks ago and when I got it, it had a constant noise/buzz-like typical ground loop issue going on with the monitor A, B and C outs while the Studio Outs where quiet as should be. Tried everything in the book to hunt this down since another monitor controller did not feature the same issue when hooked up here, and I took the BK to another studio where it gave us the exact same problem, so...

    After searching forums I found several people that had the same exact issue and it was due to nothing else than faulty units. So I returned this specimen and in the meantime borrowed a colleagues BK (probably an older one since this still had the Mackie logo on the front), which did not buzz BTW...

    After waiting for a week to get a replacement unit it finally showed up, and guess what... It also buzzed right out of the box!

    Any one else have a similar story?
     
  2. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    Have you tried if the noise goes away if you plug the speakers straight without the Big Knob in between? I mean, is the problem with the Big Knob or possibly the other equipment like faulty cables? Or does the noise go away if you plug the equipment to the "quiet" channel?
     
  3. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Dude, screw that unit. If you want a monitor controller at a reasonable price, look at this thing:

    [​IMG]

    Been working flawlessly for me since i got it (2nd hand). It also doesn't seem to color the signal path much, if at all - unlike the Big Knob. When you finally listen to a set of Opals and realize they're the best monitors ever, like I've told you, you won't want your monitor controller taking away from that!
     
  4. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    I just read that Mackie really seems to have gone downhill since they moved their production to China, but I don't know. What I do know is that a colleagues Big Knob works perfectly right here, with the exact same setup, same cabling etc... and of course another totally different monitor controller also works just fine with the same cabling and what not. There are other similar horror stories if you Google for it. It just seems they've taken a huge quality hit or something.. not that Mackie's been known for that before, but still functional nonetheless.

    I've read over at GS that people complain about the BK sounding bad... and I always try to take that with a pinch of salt.. but this working BK I have here right now sounds totally different to the two faulty ones I've gotten. Makes me think that the people having this experience might've just ended up with faulty units without knowing it.

    Ermz... just so you don't need to think about it. I'm not using a BK in the mastering studio. I have a Cranesong Avocet for that. :)
    This is for that small production studio I told you about, and what's great on the BK is that you have two separate DAW inputs where you can choose which one to send to the headphone feed. Which means you can create separate studio and headphone mixes easily in the DAW. I think only the SPL Model 2381 has that feature of basically combining and choosing different sources for the cue mix, right? And that one is about 3 times the price of a BK... understandably though, haha!
     
  5. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    Oh nice, you had me worried for a second. Well good luck with the issues!

    It does sound like a nifty feature for a monitor controller to have to be able to independently route cue mixes from certain inputs. Is there an issue with just getting an external headphone amp and running it straight from the interface though?
     
  6. Matthias King

    Matthias King The Machine

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    As for the BK being faulty, I concur with Ahjteam, try your signal chain with the BK removed to see if the noise is a bad cable or a fault somewhere else. If not, then it probably is a faulty BK.

    As for possible alternatives to the BK, if you're interested, I had a BK for a few years and it worked ok for me, but a while back I replaced it with the Presonus Central Station. The BK was never all that noisy and dirty sounding, but I have to say that any hiss or noise or coloration that actually was present with the Big Knob is completely absent with the Central Station. The only bad thing is that the CS is quite a bit more expensive than the BK.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    Not really, just that talkback becomes a real hassle.

    Matthias:
    Already gone through everything. It's just faulty and a bad build probably. As I said, I've switched it out for a friends working BK at my place.. that is the exact same situation with the same cables, everything plugged in exactly the same way. Only variable is the actual unit used, and his unit doesn't show the same problem... and two perfectly new units sent my way BOTH have the same issue. I have no idea what else I could've missed?

    Have checked out both SPL and PreSonus as alternatives. Both viable options, but unfortunately a bit pricey for the intended quality needed at this place.
     
  8. AHChris

    AHChris Member

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    I hate my Big Knob... I would switch to the 2Control, but I need talkback. Maybe I´ll just put a cheap SDC mic in the ceiling and build a button for switching it on and off...
     
  9. Lasse Lammert

    Lasse Lammert HCAF Blitzkrieg

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    I'm using the Central Station (so are JAmes and Andy btw), loving it.
     
  10. AHChris

    AHChris Member

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    How´s the talkback quality on this one? The Big Knob mic is sooo bad...
     
  11. Lasse Lammert

    Lasse Lammert HCAF Blitzkrieg

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    never had anyone complain about the talkback quality...never thought that could actually be an issue
     
  12. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    Returning this unit as well, and getting a PreSonus Monitor Station...
     
  13. HeadCrusher

    HeadCrusher Member

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    Didn't Andy upgrade to an Avocet?

    The internal Talkback mic is fine on the Central Station! Depends on where your unit is located though. If positioning is a problem that would be easily solved with getting the remote I guess.
     
  14. AHChris

    AHChris Member

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    Oh yes it can be an issue! It´s not cool when your clients can´t understand you because the mic is so crappy -.-
     
  15. HeadCrusher

    HeadCrusher Member

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    Plec, afaik the Central Station is supposed to be more neutral sounding than the Monitor Station.
     
  16. Plec

    Plec Master of Ceremonies

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    Of course.. it is more expensive so why shouldn't it? :lol:

    Criteria for this though is just a simple level control with talkback and multiple inputs that you can choose and combine differently for the cue mix compared to the studio monitoring and that doesn't break down and actually tends to work when new. I've mixed platinum albums using a Samson C-Control before... it didn't really affect the outcome. o_O
     
  17. HeadCrusher

    HeadCrusher Member

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    I know, just saying, thought it might matter to you...
    The Central Station's signal path is passive whereas the Monitor Station's is not.
     
  18. Matthias King

    Matthias King The Machine

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    One of the things I really like about the Central Station that I didn't like about the Big Knob is the rack unit+remote. With the Big Knob I had to use longer cables to go from my interface to the BK and back to my monitor amp (using passive Events), but with the CS, it's in the rack with my interface and amp, so I can use short balanced cables and just sit the remote where the BK used to be.

    Another thing is the CS remote is smaller than the BK which is nice.

    I thought about the Monitor Station, but it would have been the same situation as the BK with using the longer cables and it's even bigger than the BK I think, so I opted for the CS with the seperate rack unit and remote. Plus I read that the CS had a really clean, passive signal path, as HeadCrusher said. I can attest to it sounding very clean and silent, with no coloration that I can hear.

    And for what it's worth regarding the talkback, I worked briefly in another studio that was using a Central Station and the talkback seemed to work very well and sounded quite clear. That's where I first got the chance to use a CS actually, and when I started thinking about replacing my BK.
     
  19. AEL89

    AEL89 Member

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    +1. You rocking the little desktop controller too? I'd recommend it for sure.
     
  20. dmmi

    dmmi Member

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    Have the Monitor Station....and love it!
    It was a spontaneous purchase, and was almost regretting it on the drive home......but after I hooked it up, i can't live without it. Don't know about coloring the sound.....I listened to both central and monitor stations in the store and couldn't hear difference....to my ears.

    Talkback is great, different cue mixes (i use one Headphone out to a headphone amplifier with aux inputs for even more headphone mix possibilities)

    One thing I wish they did have was a remote input for talkback button.....and another talkback mic input.
     

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