AMS Neve 8816 dried out capacitors??

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bobtheninja

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Hi all,

I bought a 8816 from a guy for cheap, knowing that there was a problem with it not turning on. It would only blink and the VU needles would pin rhythmically as the lights flashed. I had my tech guy look at it and he swapped a burnt transistor and it worked decently for a while, but only on channel 9-16. After a couple of months the same thing happened with the needles pinning and the blinking light, so I sent it to the Norwegian dealer of AMS Neve. They couldn't figure out what's wrong with it and shipped it to AMS Neve in England. They tell me that capacitors have dried out on all channels and that it will be too expensive to swap them out, so it needs a new motherboard, which will cost me around 800 GBP excl. vat. Which is way more than I hoped to invest in getting this up and running.

Doesn't it seem strange that the caps should dry out on a box that was released around 10 years ago?  I don't have any gut shots here seeing that my box is in England at the moment, but I found some online. Do you think that it would be possible for me to recap it somehow, or does it not use off-the-shelf components?

The insides looks like this. Sorry about the picture being upside down, but it makes it easier to read the component values at the very least. Edit: more pictures at http://pvdesign.ucoz.com/photo/devices/neve_8816_summator/7

722112741.jpg


What do you guys reckon are my alternatives? Sell it and cut my losses? Try to wrangle a replacement out of the kindness of AMS Neve's hearts? Recap it myself on cosy winter nights?
 

Gareth Connor

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Dried caps is a fair possibility, however it is disappointing that this has hapenned in a 10 year old product. From the manufacturer's point of view, 10 years for rackmount gear is a reasonable lifespan. The user's POV is naturally a bit different.....

With regard to DIY re-capping, with the right equipment you could re-cap it yourself, but the investment in the correct tools, unless you were going to make a habit or business out of surface-mount re-capping, will be expensive. I would not use this as a "my first surface-mount re-cap" project.... just a friendly word of advice.

The caps that have been used look to be standard surface-mount electrolytics.

GBP800 for a new mainboard does not seem unreasonable.

The cost of AMS Neve re-capping would be heading towards GBP800 as I expect that they are going to charge something in the GBP80-GBP90 per hour mark for labour, then there's test & alignment, then there's possible repairs. From the manufacturer's POV, board replacement is the most efficient and cost-effective solution, plus, the customer gets a brand new main board that has new-build reliability.

 

pucho812

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the upside to a new motherboard is it's new and not a factory referb.  So it would be like having a new unit. Not sure what you paid for it and not sure if the new motherboard cost would put you over a new one.
 

bobtheninja

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I got the 8816 for disgustingly cheap (around 200 GBP), so I'm really in no position to complain. I think that I'm just going to go through with having them replace it and try it out for a good six months and see if it's a worthy addition to my mix room, and if it gets deemed unworthy I'll probably sell it and still make a tiny profit from the whole thing all in all, that I'll put towards building something useful. It's been too long since I've built any gear myself.

Thank you for your input, much appreciated. :)

 

Whoops

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bobtheninja said:
They tell me that capacitors have dried out on all channels and that it will be too expensive to swap them out, so it needs a new motherboard, which will cost me around 800 GBP excl. vat. Which is way more than I hoped to invest in getting this up and running.

Doesn't it seem strange that the caps should dry out on a box that was released around 10 years ago? I don't have any gut shots here seeing that my box is in England at the moment, but I found some online. Do you think that it would be possible for me to recap it somehow, or does it not use off-the-shelf components?

Yes it's strange, but it happens in a lot of products with those type of SMD capacitors.
Electrolytic capacitors used to fail really often, but nowadays you can have reliable and longer lasting life capacitors, what happens is that companies started to use all SMD components, so it got even worse than before.

Also Big companies and their "Local support techs" don't repair anything they replace boards only, normally it's too expensive to fix and people then buy a new unit, the Big Company wins. Nothing is made to last any more, unfortunately.

You could repair your board, if it was 4 or 5 caps only , you didnt even need to buy SMD equipment. You coud use a small tip soldering iron to de-solder the old ones and install new SMD capacitors or Standard size capacitors, thats what I do.
But as you have so many caps, it's better to buy an SMD station. You can buy some that can do that job for around 150gbp, maybe less.
The capacitors will not be expensive.
So then it will just depend on your patience and time. And you really have to take your time and be patient with SMD, but as you have so many caps that after replacing the first 10 you will be a master of SMD cap replacement.
watch this video:



Just one note, I can guarantee you that not all caps dried out, if AMS UK really did some troubleshooting in your unit and if it's true that the fault is from electrolytic capacitors then not all them went wrong, but it's better to replace them all anyway.
But saying capacitors dried out in all channels could be also an excuse to not wanting to have the trouble to troubleshoot a pcb, and you just say "capacitors are bad you need a new board", so it can happen that you replace all the caps and the problem is not solved.

If I had that unit I would replace the caps anyway.
 
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bobtheninja

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Whoops said:
Just one note, I can guarantee you that not all caps dried out, if AMS UK really did some troubleshooting in your unit and if it's true that the fault is from electrolytic capacitors then not all them went wrong, but it's better to replace them all anyway.
But saying capacitors dried out in all channels could be also an excuse to not wanting to have the trouble to troubleshoot a pcb, and you just say "capacitors are bad you need a new board", so it can happen that you replace all the caps and the problem is not solved.

Yeah, that's the root of my annoyance with the whole thing (oh, and the money too, of course). Why couldn't they just have said "We have a policy of not exchanging parts on our motherboards, but will gladly put in a new motherboard for 800 GBP", instead of serving me that half or possibly whole lie of "every capacitor is dried out, we need to swap the entire motherboard out for a new one.

Oh well, that's just the economic system we've voted for, I guess.
 

Whoops

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Yes, and you would pay 800gpb for a board that would exibit the same problems in the future. It would probably work during the warranty period and then would fail again.

If the problem is only about the caps better to change them yourself for quality parts.

You have nothing to loose...
 
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jilski

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Just chiming in: Same thing happened to me, except with an 8816 that I bought from a guy which was supposed to be in good working condition. Now after repairs I'll be the owner of a unit that cost me the same to a brand new one with the knowledge that it's going to be an expensive repair each time the caps dry out again. Will stay clear from these products and company from now on. Also, the unit gets very hot when in used and it's no big surprise that things dry up inside. I'd say improper thermal design.
 

scott2000

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Whoops said:
You can repair your board, if it was 4 or 5 caps only , you didnt even need to buy SMD equipment, you coud use a small tip soldering iron to de-solder the old ones and install new SMD capacitors or Standard size capacitors, thats what I do.

I have replaced smd caps with higher quality through hole electros in another piece of gear and it wasn't too terrible. I'd have to say it actually sounded better too. I know that's kinda audiophoolish but it wasn't as subtle as I thought it would be.... but they were coupling caps in the audio path so who knows.  That's a lot of caps though... I only had to do twenty or so.
 

The Tonic Room

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I finally got tired of not being able to use input channels on my Neve 8816 and decided to recap it.
The unit ships with tiny SMD caps in the audio path.  They dry out and it is a bitch to calibrate if you even can.  We decided to replace the SMD caps with high quality electrolytic caps like Scott2000 mentioned.  It took a while to complete but it worked.
The 8816 calibrates like a dream now.  All the pot levels are where I would expect them to be after calibration.  And of course I think it sound better now because of the new and better caps.
I am going to replace all the audio filter caps in the D-sub I/O section next and get rid of every audio path SMD cap in this box.  I love this summing amp, it just needs a little love to really shine.
 

Whoops

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Glad you were able to repair it,
It's shameful that an unit that is not that old, and that was made in an Era were electrolytic capacitors technology is vastly superior than in the past exhibits those problems after a short period of time,
Even more shameful is having the Neve name on the front panel.
 
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outoftune

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I've seen this happen to multiple 8816 units that have been across my bench over the years. Some have been sent to AMS repair centers for fixes, but usually more problems come up later on as more caps dry out. The expensive motherboard replacement is the best option unless you are crazy enough to replace all the caps yourself.
 

TwentyTrees

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Yep, a good friend has an 8816 and every time we speak something else has died on it. Sounds like a flawed design indeed (or designed to be disposable, which as Whoops points out would be pretty shameful).
 

The Tonic Room

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I took about three hours to remove and replace all the input audio SMD capacitors with electrolytics.
Crazy, but not that crazy.  It def sounds better and worth it for sure!
 

Squeaky

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I nearly bought an 8816 but ended up buying a Chandler Minimixer. I have had it in for service once since I purchased it around 14 years ago. By the looks of it, it is a bit more old school in construction. This thread on SMD failure has been a bit of an eye opener for me. I was always under the impression that you could get 20 years (give or take) of service out of leaded electrolytics, shouldn't the modern tech be improving on that?

I was taught about in-built obsolescence at school, I never thought it would also apply to relatively expensive audio products (just washing machines and refrigerators). Jeez, I have a cheap microwave that is still going after 15 years of use.
 

jimi27

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Avoid the AMS Neve stuff at all costs. I have replaced this motherboard twice.. So I'm gonna sell on ebay when the second one is installed. These "Neve" people are wolves in sheep clothing. They're like a classic rock band that no longer has it's original members but continues to use the name
 

Matt Syson

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Just because you can jam loads of 'stuff' into a small box doesn't mean you should. The old 'classic' simple stuff still works because it stays cooler. There are a lot of op amps in the 8816 so it simply roasts. The way they had 'original' put on the transformer labels is pretty pathetic. my 'stash' of Marinair transformers are original because I have had them 40 years
 
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