Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fixing the buzz in my M-Audio AV-40 speakers

A couple of nights ago, I woke to the sound of my UPS going "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE." I stumbled out of bed, shut down my computer, hit the reset button on the UPS, and went back to sleep. The next morning, I discovered evidence of gremlins. My computer was being weird instead of booting up ("whirrrrr ... whirrrrr ... whirrrr"), which was solved by a tip from Matt: unplug all the USB devices. I don't really understand the bug, but the fix worked. (Maybe I should have fewer than eleventy billion USB devices connected to my computer at all times? Nah.)

To my dismay, a secondary problem presented itself: my speakers were buzzing. They continued to buzz after switching them off and on again, removing the input, plugging them into another outlet, and smacking them around a few times. A quick Google pointed to a solution: replace four stupid bulging piece-of-shit capacitors.

How annoying. Lucky for me, I am really good at soldering. No, really, it's my superpower. Things I enjoy soldering include copper plumbing pipe and Theremins.

Here are the replacement capacitors, purchased from Mouser Electronics, which is a pretty great website where I could probably get very lost if I were a soldering Ph.D.:

I am kind of quirky when it comes to my soldering talent. I like to solder on the floor, and my favorite soldering iron is a desoldering iron, which I use to both desolder and solder. That little puff bladder gives me more control.

Here are some progress shots.

Matt's action shot. I can't take my own pictures of myself soldering because it requires both hands and sometimes my mouth.

The dumb capacitors have been desoldered, and I am inserting the new capacitors into the vacated holes.

Snipping the leads.

Applying the deadly flux.

When I built my Theremin, I gave myself a mild case of flux poisoning, so these days I am careful to breathe in as little of the delicious flux smoke as possible.

And hey, look at that, I fixed them. No more buzz. I've also headed off the possibility of any one of these capacitors randomly exploding and barfing all over the circuit board, ruining everything. That happens sometimes. Just ask Matt, who lost his AV-30s to exploding capacitors.