HELP! Why are my modules and pedals breaking?

Hello all.

Over the past year I have broken 4 guitar pedals and 4 Eurorack modules.
I am hoping someone with technical or personal experience could shine some light.

Is this happening to anybody else?

Could anyone outline a list of things to look for. If you need any qualifying I am happy to answer any questions.

I am quite determined to stop whatever is causing this because it is sad and breaking expensive music equipment. Before I started using Eurorack I had never broken any music equipment.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Well, that’s hard to say if you don’t give us some additional info.
A bunch of things have broken for me over the years. But most of the time it was pretty old and battered gear. For example, I do have an old Korg DSS-1 which lost its right output channel. But hey, this thing is from the 80s! It’s astonishing that everything else still works like a charm and it’s never been serviced!
My Eventide Time factor also has a problem with its right output channel, which is a bit lower than the left. But this thing has been thrown around a bunch of times.
Other than that, nothing ever really got broken.

Maybe you are keeping your stuff in a very moist or super-dusty environment?

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“Well, that’s hard to say if you don’t give us some additional info.”

PEDALS
Moog Murf - lights on, barely passes sound, effect doesn’t work
OTO Biscuit - Left channel doesn’t work
Frostwave Resonator filter - smoked, doesn’t work
Malekko Dark Ekko - passes effect at barely audible levels
Dreadbox Epsilon filter - passes effect at barely audible levels but cv functions work fine

EURORACK
WMD Performance Mixer - 1st channel started crackling now barely passes audio
MI Shades - 1st channel stopped passing audio or working as cv offset
MI Kinks - Logic section stopped working (twice)

All eurorack and pedals on a desk. I don’t gig or jam with the gear so it doesn’t get moved around. It is not a dusty or moist room.

Any help would be most appreciated.

First thoughts - your domestic power supply sounds most obvious for such a wide variety of destruction but impossible to know from the info

Also check your studio for environmental problems. Moisture, smoke, and how they are stored/cared for all have impact on the lifespan.

“your domestic power supply sounds most obvious for such a wide variety of destruction”

I have considered this also. Is there anything particular you are referring to?

For reference, I live in Melbourne, Australia. We use 220V power.

I was wondering if you were getting big occasional spikes on your house supply. I was only thinking that because it is one thing common to both your pedals and eurorack. If you are frying so many bits of electronics it seems less likely that you have multiple causes of damage… the other common factor I guess is you and static discharge but that seems very farfetched!
Oh, one other issue may be what you are plugging into - if they all go to a damaged mixer…
Are they all connected together or are the pedals for guitar?
How are they all powered?
What is common between them? Power inlet? Multi-block? Mixers? Poor ground somewhere? DIY Ground lift? etc…

Thanks for the reply forestcaver, I really am pulling my hair out and would appreciate help.

I don’t know how to judge whether I have “big occasional spikes on your house supply”?

I regards to static discharge, I’m also not sure how to gauge this?

I have streamlined the pedal usage and am now using them only in the send and return of the WMD Performance Mixer.

The power to my music gear is as follows below. All are running at approximately 80% of stated capacity. They are all plugged into the same wall socket via a power board. Links of Eurorack power below if required.

EURORACK

  1. Elby ED126 1.5A linear supply to 6U 84hp also supplying two passive bustards
  2. 4MS row 40 1.5A switching power supply
  3. Doepfer A-100-MBP 200mA linear power supply (I have 2 of these)

PEDALS

  1. OneSpot -9V daisy chain
  2. Individual power supplies that came with the pedals for for Moog Murf +9V, OTO Biscuit 9VAC, Frostwave filter 15VAC

https://4mscompany.com/rowpow40.php
http://www.doepfer.de/a100_man/A100MC_Manual_V2.pdf

Thanks again

If it’s a problem with spikes, maybe putting something between the outlet and the gear could help. I know such solutions exist, but I do not know much about then, nor did I ever try some. I’m sure somebody here on the forums know more, and if not a quick oinline search should probably yeld some results.
The amount of broken gear you have definitely suggest something is really wrong somewhere.

I suspect it’s impossible/very hard to diagnose over the internet - too many variables and too many ways the psus can be connected. I was trying to suggest looking at things that are in common. If it is all connected together you could have potentially just one single psu damaging things or a dodgy mains - that could be very hard to diagnose without test equipment (which I guess you dont have!)
To make a start here, I’d struggle without decent test kit and I dont have anything useful to suggest other than maybe looking at what is common and trying to isolate it but I suspect you need help in person from someone who knows what they are doing - sorry…

You can get mains filters/surge protection but it could also be one of his psus is aberrant :frowning: I was a bit hesitant suggesting it as I find it hard to believe the supply from outside the house is that bad, so worried there may be an issue in the house or with other appliances/supplies which needs someone who knows what they are doing as it sounds very odd…

If I were to pay someone to come and do some tests what would I ask them to do? re: testing psu’s or mains supply

I feel a bit guilty offering advice as I truly dont know what is wrong - the possibilities, it seems to me, could be (if things are the same as the UK):

  1. Mains supply to the house - in which case your electricity supplier
  2. Mains supply in the house including grounding etc - an electrician
  3. Something in your music setup eg a psu or other issues in which case maybe someone who specialises in audio electronics ???

The trouble is I just dont know but was trying to think logically and offer possibilities to investigate it…

I have been trying to digest the suggestions and have come up with yet another question:

If there is a surge in power what actualyl would it be breaking in the eurorack modules? I ask because the four times it has happened it has only broke one channel and not the whole module.

With the WMD mixer (powered by 4MS row power): before the 1st channel broke I noticed the amplitude LED lighting up and down in a fast on and off random kind of way. The channel at the time was not actually receiving any audio because it is my keyboard channel and I didn’t have a key down to open the Plaits vca. I un-plugged the 1st channel and when I plugged it in the was a popping crackling sound like when you plug a guitar into an amplifier when it is on. From that point on the only way to pass audio through this channel is to crank the gain and pre-amplification right upend then still it is not anywhere as loud as the other channels.

Do you have any idea what may have caused this. I have been using this channel permanently patch for months with no problems.

Unfortunately I don’t really have an answer. Power problems are so hard to troubleshoot.
But did you get in touch with WMD (or the other manufacturers) about your problem with the mixer?

I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. I can share a few things that might be helpful.
For 20 years all of my computer equipment has been protected from outside power surges and I’ve never lost one piece of equipment. Every single computer received power through an ISOBAR surge protector. Other household equipment (refrigerators, washing machines, dish washers) were not protected by surge suppressors and I’ve had computer boards replaced in all of that equipment due to electrical surges. Last year we got a whole house surge suppressor added to our power breaker panel so now all of our appliances are protected as well.

Prior to the whole house surge suppressor all of my Eurorack equipment pulled power through an ISOBAR surge suppressor, so the modules (and other music equipment) were protected. Power surges destroy IC boards by shorting out elements on the board, or by destroying individual components. Surge suppression is one of the secrets to avoiding these issues.

I don’t know if this may or may not help, but hope you find out something that will prevent these issues and you can enjoy your music making.

I had 3 of these protecting my music and computer equipment: https://www.tripplite.com/isobar-8-outlet-surge-protector-12-ft-cord-3840-joules~ISOBAR8ULTRA

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Thanks for the advice Nimrod,

I’ll definitely buy a power surge suppressor power board when my current covid-19 hard lockdown ends in 3 weeks time.

It has definitely been depressing losing so much gear recently after 10 years of no issues.

Thanks again.

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A power conditioner supposedly regulates voltage, filters noise, does nice things for audio equipment. They also provide surge protection. I’ve been using Furman for about 15 years. Other than plugging the wrong power supply into something and a FW update gone wrong, I never have problems with my gear. Years ago bandmates were having amps blow over and over in our practice space with questionable power. We added a Furman and they never had another problem.

I don’t know how much benefit there really is over a just a decent surge protector. I have enough money in this stuff that just peace of mind is worth it.

Quick question about surge protectors.

I have looked at my current power board and it has a surge protection rating of 150 Joules. I noticed that Nimrod’s surge protector is 3840 Joules. So perhaps this has been part of the problem?

The other point that my research promoted is clamping speed ie: how quickly the surge protection starts. I am in Australia. The surge protector products don’t have a stated clamping speed. Is this a problem?

Yeah, you want more joules of protection.

The Tripplite ISOBARs have one nanosecond clamping speed…

“AC Suppression Response Time
NM = instantaneous CM = < 1 ns“

Of course these products are for 110-120v. You may want to check Mouser Australia for Tripp Lite products… https://au.mouser.com/Tripp-Lite/Power/_/N-5gbh?P=1z13ynt