Popping and crackling sounds easily ruin a musical performance or speech. The good news is that crackling sounds usually do not indicate a serious problem. In most cases, the noise is because of minor issues such as dirt, aging parts or faulty cables. The bad news is it may require a little bit of time to identify and correct the problem. The Mackie mixer manual puts it the following way: “Mackie mixers are notoriously bulletproof and reliable, but, hey… stuff happens.”
Faders and Pots
Inspect the faders and pots. Clean them if moving the faders and/or pots back and forth causes crackling noises. Dust or grime works its way down into the faders or pots, and this causes a crackling noise when you slide the fader up or down.
Spray the faders and pan pots with compressed air to blow away the dust that causes the crackling noises. Clean the faders and pots regularly with compressed air to ensure that they remain dust free. If the crackling noises continues, a deeper cleaning is necessary to correct the problem.
Move the faders and pan pots back and forth one at a time. Listen carefully to determine which ones are causing the crackling noises. Isolate the problem.
Clean dirty faders with fader lubricant. Remove the channel cover with a Phillips-head screwdriver to gain access to the fader. Spray the dirty fader with the lubricant. Allow the lubricant to dry for 30 minutes and screw the channel strip back into place.
Clean dirty pan pots with contact cleaner. Remove the channel strip with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Spray the contact cleaner into the bottom of the pan pot. Turn the pan pot back and forth to ensure that the cleaner reaches all the spots. Allow the cleaner to dry for 30 minutes before reattaching the channel strip.
Cables and Input Jacks
Inspect the cables and input jacks.
Replace the bad cable with a cable you know is good. Bring along extra cables, contact cleaner and a screwdriver when you set up for a gig.
Spray dirty input jack with contact cleaner. Tighten the input jack with a Phillips-head screwdriver if it is loose. Replace the input jack wires if they are worn or frayed.
A faulty cable causes crackling and popping because the signal flow is interrupted. Plugging and unplugging cables eventually may cause input jacks to become loose or cause the wires inside the jacks to become worn. The result is noise and crackling sounds.
Contact tech support at Mackie if you can't fix the problem.
Fader lubricant is available at music and electronics stores.
Contact cleaner can be purchased at electronics and stereo stores.