Troubleshooting an SSL Console

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Pigbenis27

Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Messages
16
Hey there everybody!

So I own a 1987 SSL 4056 E Series Console which i've been running pretty seemlessly for several months now and of course it's about that time for parts to start giving out and little quirks to start popping up. Below I have a list of issues that I am currently troubleshooting and I thought it might be productive to throw this list up on groupDIY and see if there is any tech heads out there that can impart a little wisdom that might help me work through these problems quicker and save me the hours of research ad tinkering that I have before me. So thank you in advance to anybody out there that can lend a hand!!

1. Rythmic "Tapping" noise in quad buss:

so this is my biggest problem and the one that has stumped me the most. After several hours of use a popping, thumping or tapping sound starts appearing on all four outputs of the console's quad buss going to the monitors. This thumping noise is low frequency (The pitch never changes either) and happens at regularly spaced intervals. Upon shutting the console down; allowing it an hour to cool and then turning it back on the thumping actually goes away until several more hours later when it appears again leading me to believe it has something to do with a component overheating. The thumping is not happening in any of the individual channels in either the Channel or Monitor path and i have confirmed this by floating each channel one at a time which disconnects the channel from the quad buss. Not a single channel seems to be contributing to the sound and with all channels floated the sound continues. We can also visually note the thumping/tapping happening in the quad buss meters so we know it is in the console not the monitors and it is also apparant in the quad compressor meter. When the Control Room Level Pot is down the thumping is not audible but it can still be seen in both the quad meters and quad compressor meter. Alternatively; when the Master VCA fader is down the tapping can no longer be seen in ANY of the meters. It does not seem to matter which output of the console I am using (FR,FL,BR,BL, and Mini) as all of them are connected to the quad buss. I cleaned the Master VCA but this did not seem to help. I have been informed that this could be an issue with a bad IC Chip/Off Amp somewhere in the center section of the console. My only plan of attack at the moment is to identify which logic cards in the center section are feeding the quad compressor after the channels and then locate the IC Chips on those cards and start testing them to find a bad one. The problem also does not seem to be connected to the Echo sends, Cue Sends, External source selector, AFL or SLS systems as i have eliminated all of these systems with zero change in my problem. If anyone out there has any further info or a bright idea that may help me further identify the possible cause of this problem that would be very much appreciated as i currently have a crap ton of IC chips i need to test and i'm not even sure if that is where my effort needs to be directed.

2. I also seem to have a pretty nasty noise floor happening in my console again on the monitor path. The noise floor is inaudible when proper gain staging is used but with the control room level pot and master VCA both cranked it is extremely audible. The sound is a good old fashioned fizziness with random crackles and pops and at times even seems to fluctuate similiar to the sound of tuning a radio. I'm not hearing any actual talking or picking up any obvious signals like an actual radio frequency; the sound just seems to fluctuate randomly as if you were skipping through radio channels. I thought this may be some kind of grounding issue so i went through and checked all ground connections to the copper bar running through my console and then attached this ground bar to an 8ft. copper rod that i hammered into the ground beneath the console. The setup seems to meet grounding specs outlined in the manual but did little next to nothing to help the noise floor leading me to believe it must be a whole lotta noisy components contributing to the problem. I feel like i may have confirmed this as i noticed the noise floor drops when all of the console's echo send volume pots, and all the channel's line level input pots are turned all the way down. My question is how do i remove the noise from these pots? is going through the console and cleaning each pot my only solution to dropping the noise floor? And is there any other factor that may be contributing to the noise floor other than noisy components and improper grounding? Any ideas are welcome!

3. So there are 4 warning light on the top of the center section of the Console. These LEDs are there to indicate that power is indeed getting to the very end of all 4 power rails running through the console. The indicators are marked: +20v and -20v for the 20 volt power rails; +48 for the phantom power rail and +11 for the logic rail. Last week the LED for the +11 rail did not turn on which is VERY bad! however; upon pulling the center section and testing the actual +11 power rail at literally every point provided from the output of the PSU (an Atomic) to the end of the power cables to the input of the +11v circuit running through the center section to the very end of the +11v circuit which connects to the LED, I found that the console is getting damn near perfect voltage to the rail itself. Okay; so i figured the LED just went out. So i replaced it and it did not work. So again i replaced it but this time tested the LED first to insure it was a good bulb. it was so i replaced it and again it did not light up. So right now my power indicator is telling me that there is something wrong with my +11v rail yet from the very start to the very end of the power rail i am getting perfect readings and at this point i have used numerous LEDs not a single one of which is turning on. All i can think is maybe the wire leads from the end of the +11 rail that go to the LED somehow got disconnected from the rail or the wires got smashed or cut. I'm going to trace these wires but in the meantime i just though i'd ask if anybody out there has experienced similar problems are may have run into this oddity with their own console before?

4. And Lastly I am currently on the market for the following parts which all seem to be very hard to find so if anybody out there knows where i could source these components that would be extremely helpful!! The components i need to replace are:

1x SSL E series Conrol Room Level Knob (Not the actual potentiometer just the plastic gray knob itself. It looks as though someone in the studio turned the knob to hard and now the thing turns past it's orginial stopping points)

any replacement button tops for the Channel strip's VCA Faders' CUT and SOLO buttons. I have about a dozen of these plastic tops that ran away and would like to know where i can buy some replacement peices.

and I also have about 8 channels that came without any EQ cards in them. The card in question is a 82E242 parametric Equalizer card for SSL E116 channel strips.

Anyways like i said thank you for any help you guys can give me on any of these matters! Have a great rest of your day guys!

Tony
 

Michael Tibes

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
785
Location
Berlin, Germany
These questions are very specific SSL questions, you know that there is at least one forum which is for SSLs (and maybe other big consoles)? You might get help here as well, but maybe the chances are even better there. Unfortunately I don't remember the URL, but it should be possible to google it.

I haven't digested all your questions, but aren't the knobs from Sifam? Afaik they still exist, you might get lucky there. It might also be possible to glue the metal part to the plastic of the knob, in case nothing else comes up. SSL also sells spare parts, but I'm not sure if there is any 4k material left.

Michael
 

Pigbenis27

Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Messages
16
Thank you MIcheal i appreciate the info on the knob; in the event nothing else does come up then that's probably the best idea i got! And also thank you for recommending the SSL forum too i think i was able to find it i'm just waiting for the site admin to ok my profile and then i should be able to start posting on that guy! Thanks again for taking the time to help out and let me know if you think of anything else!
 

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