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what do you think of the Fairlight mfx3 plus + ????


techristian
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I was in Pittsburgh yesterday picking this up. I actually ended up with 2 mfx3 (second for spare parts) , an extra motherboard (yes that makes 3) all of the associated cables and get this ....SOME 24 BIT A/D channels....which was a big surprise to me.

 

Despite the slow CPU this thing will be able to, and was designed to handle 24 tracks of recording live.

 

I now have the major job of clearing out my kids junk from the Recreation Room to make room for this. Hopefully I will be able to fit whole bands in there for recording.

 

Next on the agenda...building a table for the video monitor and finding some hooks to keep the cables off the floor.

 

There are 2 thirty foot cables....to the video monitor and to the keyboard so the spinning hard drives can be far from the microphones.

 

This also has many CLOCK ,PDIF and SMPTE ports for syncing with other devices such as my FOCUSRITE.

 

No mic pre-amps , but that is what my mixers are for.

 

Dan

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Congrats! I passed over this thread when you first posted because the model number didn't ring a bell and I figured it was a synthesizer. Now that you jogged my memory, I remember drooling over one when they came out. It was really an advanced audio workstation for its day and I'll be eager to hear of how you get along with it.

 

I still prefer my Mackie HDR24/96 over any software based DAW that I have, and use it whenever I don't need Pro Tools to keep the customer happy - which is pretty easy these days since I have hardly any customers. ;)

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Update Nov 21 2017

 

Imagine buying a tape recorder with only LINE LEVEL inputs. Imagine that they are all BALANCED.

 

This was my first hurdle to overcome. The original owner wired these up to a 96 point SWITCHCRAFT patch bay (which he also gave me) At first I tried to use UNBALANCED patch cords to check the Fairlight...NO GO. Now that I have the proper balanced TT Bantam cables the testing begins.

So here is the current state of my MFX3+

 

1) After unplugging an output FROM a SUSPECT mixer TO MY mfx3 the rebooting problem seems to be gone.(It would reboot randomly.) It may have just been a gliche or loose connection rebooting............

 

2) Each D/A CARD HAS 4 CHANNELS X 6 CARDS. I still can't get anything recording on CHANNEL1 + 2 ..... 3+4 work fine, I have swapped cards and changed DIP SWITCH id's on the cards but 1+2 is still gone. I suspect a buffer at the input .(My fault for routing output into the input) After thumb screws removed on back, I don't know how to get to check the inputs. DB CONNECTORS WON'T BUDGE. The db plug and wiring running from the audio inputs looks fine and those were also switched around a few times...so the trouble is definitely behind the Channel 1-4 panel , but it won't move.

 

3) I'm also looking at possibly 1 of 2 new mixers. (I need lots of SENDS for the pre-amps) ...the Mackie 32.8.2 is close by for only $299 US and a Behringer MX 3282A Eurodesk is also under $300

 

4) I will need to solder up MANY special cables running to the patch bay.

 

So...THAT IS WHERE I AM AT NOW.

 

DAN

 

 

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Sounds like a great project. I'm in search of a new console to use with my Mackie 24-track recorder (with all balanced I/O) and I'm finding that these newfangled digital consoles, while they can mix six times as many channels as they have faders, don't have enough holes in them for all the connecions I'll need. They expect everything to go in and out of a computer on a single USB cable instead of to a piece of recording hardware.

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Every audio input , on the Fairlight, is protected by a 1N4148 Diode in series. I have over 90 of these on hand. So hopefully ,I'll get channel 1&2 back...this way. I also have 6 extra cards, but I can't keep blowing these without fixing them.

 

Dan

 

 

You remind me of what I was as a child obsessed with Electronics. I would spend days doing what you described.

 

You seem to really enjoyed this stuff and I have watched some of your YouTube videos were you did some demostrations.

 

You my friend are the most passionate person when it comes to electronic music.

 

I'll say you remind of Giovanni Giorgio Moroder, maybe you have similar stories.

 

Pretty cool.

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Thanks Audio Icon. Yes I have a brand new 24 bit Focusrite but this Fairlight has got a hold of me now. I'm still soldering cables for it and I bought a used Mackie 32.8.2 . Hopefully I'll start to record some drums by the end of the week and a new CD by the new year.

 

One person described the A/D convertors sound for this as "creamy" sounding. We shall see. There has to be something special about a system that was originally $40K....and I'm aiming to find out for myself. I love the JOG wheel !

 

As to those diodes...not on my MFX3+ ! Mine is full of surface mount components ! AAARGH !

 

Dan

Edited by techristian
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Thanks Audio Icon. Yes I have a brand new 24 bit Focusrite but this Fairlight has got a hold of me now. I'm still soldering cables for it and I bought a used Mackie 32.8.2 . Hopefully I'll start to record some drums by the end of the week and a new CD by the new year.

 

One person described the A/D convertors sound for this as "creamy" sounding. We shall see. There has to be something special about a system that was originally $40K....and I'm aiming to find out for myself. I love the JOG wheel !

 

As to those diodes...not on my MFX3+ ! Mine is full of surface mount components ! AAARGH !

 

Dan

 

Hey Dan:

 

Are you doing some sort of video documentation for this project? Similar to your other videos.

That will be cool.

 

AI.

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Somehow I can't see myself recording 20 hours of cable soldering. Maybe a condensation at the end of it all culminating in some music !

 

Dan

 

Dan, Have you seen this video presented by Sonicstate? Although a lot of it is playing classic samples, there's various technical comments throughout:

 

"As well as bringing the cosmetics up to scratch, Robbie tackles the electronics with the help of Fairlight creator Peter Vogel, and also mods to include and SD card reader in place of all those massive 5 1/4 floppies and tapestreamers."

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Just a quick progress report. I have all of the necessary components...finally...now to put them together.

 

1) a used Mackie 32.8.2 (another learning curve)

2) 50 pin SCSI drives of 147gb didn't exist 20 years ago...so I had to buy 80 pin ones with adapters (I could record with the 4gb drive, but only 20 minutes of 24 track 24 bit.

3) Lots of cords must be soldered

4) Everything seems to work so far...(I haven't tested all of the Mackie Channels yet.)

 

So basically, I have at least 24 cables to solder and a new hard drive to install and hopefully I get back here next week for more.

 

BUT WAIT THAT'S NOT ALL !

 

When I was soldering today I discovered 2 of the plugs were DEFECTIVE and FELL APART. So I hope my 8 hours of work wasn't a waste and hopefully more of these plugs won't fall apart....especially..in the mixer !

 

Dan

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After 4 months of setup, almost ready to do some serious recording.I'm installing AUX DRIVES. 80 PIN HOT SWAP SCSI DRIVE WITH 50 PIN ADAPTER and format FLFS. So I recorded 1 hour and 7 minutes of 120bpm ,8 drums tracks today 24bit @ 44.1 ON THE NEW DRIVE. I was just ready to stop at the 1 HOUR AND 7 MINUTE MARK BUT MFX3 STOPPED FOR ME. It looks like each FILE is limited to 4GB.

 

Next I have a steep learning curve for EDITING, LOOPING COPYING CUTTING PASTING ETC. This is not like Cubase or Sonar.

 

DAN

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and the saga CONTINUES.......................

FEB 20

 

A very bad day today. I started with the realization that my MFX3 boot disk was stopping randomly. It was real tight and tangled in the MFX3 case so I moved it to it's own powered case. Then I recorded a few tracks. Then it started acting up again. Decided that I would try one of the other disk drives......THEY SQUEAKED AND CLICKED. Not good. Then I decided to format one of my new drives (even though it was 200 gb) to make it a bootable disk. The Exabyte tape got a bit chewed up ....and wouldn't completely copy the system. !! BAD DAY ! Now I'm thinking of formatting the Video Recorder drive.

 

 

 

 

FEB 21

 

I'm rebuilding a power supply. I took A LOOK AT the original power supply (not from the Fairlight but from the Fairlight SCSI BOX) It was rusted inside and looked unrecoverable. I had already pulled it out a few weeks ago, and replaced with a computer power ATX supply with green and black shorted (so it would run without a computer) Apparently the ATX was a bit wonky. I have it opened now and I'm replacing 3 caps which are swollen. So after that, we will try with the original drive again. (but I also screwed up config file by changing the name.) Anyway I'm not giving up yet. VIVID is more or less just a conversation piece today. It is not HD .

 

 

 

 

FEB 23

 

OOPS ! WIPED OUT THE KEYBOARD

 

 

 

 

Did you know what I learned from this ? The MFX3 console CAN be programmed for CMI. Yes I screwed this up good. I messed with the network config file , changing the IP address, and learned that BOTH files had to be the same. But I can't edit the hosts.conf because I also read that I might need change the keyboard to match various versions of MFX3 software so screwed with that as well. So now if I edit a config , I can't save it because the BLUE button doesn't work. I have been trying to run "mfxload" but it won't run. I even went to the USR/CMDS folder to run it and then I get this stupid -J error. But it is clear that I must get mfxload to run FIRST. Or if I get in with ethernet and my laptop ?...but wait the NETWORK IS MESSED UP because of the "host" file.

 

 

 

 

FEB 27

 

 

 

 

Keyboard back now version 15.9. Network I'm not sure but mfx3 loads. All drives are external now. Things still flakey. At least it loads. I have to play with the cables and Terminator. Deleted nvram/setup to get back control.

 

 

 

 

FEB 28

 

 

 

 

I guess that I have to mark IN and OUT on the drive enclosures. Also can these PCI SCSI adapters be replaced with ADAPTEC types? Just to get this straight (been a long time since my Amiga days) There should be a terminating JUMPER on the PCI SCSI INTERFACE and a terminating RESISTOR PACK AT THE END OF THE CHAIN. Must they be in numerical order? My scsi devices are 0 boot and 1 and 2

 

 

 

 

MAR 1

 

 

 

 

i'M beginning to think it is a SCSI termination issue. On my 80pin to 50 pin adapter I have the following jumpers. (besides scsi channel)

 

1. TPR Termination Power.

2. DLY Start Delay

3. REM RMT Start

4. LED LED.

5. SNC Synchronous.

6. SNC Synchronous. Used as a wire harness connection for a remote reference index signal for the spindle sync. feature.

The method of starting the drive motor is established by DLY & RMT signals. DLY RMT Description

 

 

 

 

MAR 2

 

 

 

 

I will jumper TPR on the last scsi adapter and connect the terminator there. If that doesn't fix the flakeyness I'll get the Granite Digital GOLD SCSI 50-Pin External Active Terminator. It does make a difference using that powered Terminator, but still having hiccups. I was reading at another forum that I'm expecting TOO MUCH to try and get TWO drives running together with those adapters so I will only try ONE of those funky drives tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

MAR 8

 

 

 

 

Even with the Granite Digital GOLD SCSI 50-Pin External Active Terminator ,ONE DRIVE DIDN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I’m beginning to suspect overheating now.

 

 

 

 

MAR 9

 

 

 

 

I have replaced the HEART of my MFX3 and we will see what happens next. Not only did the previous owner give me 2 complete MFX3, but also a brand new motherboard/video combo as well. I couldn't get the video to work at all with the new motherboard (maybe too high hz?) so I plugged in an older CGA. It is working fine, but now the next test is of a 3 hour session with no hiccups....and I will have a big fan blowing on the system as well, to prevent overheating, just in case.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 10 SUCCESS ….3 Hours And 15 Minutes No Hiccups !! AND EVERYTHING WAS RECORDED @44.1KHZ 24 BIT

 

DAN

Edited by techristian
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And the saga continues...............

March 12 2018

 

So I got this idea today that I wanted to sync up my Amiga running Bars & Pipes like I did 17 years ago...and maybe a few other sequencers as well.

Now on the back of the MFX3 there are 4 MIDI ports and it is supposed to be great at SYNCING up to things such as videotape etc.

 

I spent over 2 hours trying to get MTC working only to find out that my MFX3 software version 15.9.04 no longer supports MTC . I would need an older version to do that. Now I have to see if I can find my old SMPTE > MTC JL Cooper box.Ok, I dug up my old JL COOPER PPS-1 and I know that time code is coming out of the MFX3 but the PPS-1 isn't locking on.

 

NOOOOOOOOOOOO ! I realized that PPS-1 only FSK AND NOT smpte.....so I'm getting a new box for that, as well.

 

DAN

 

 

 

 

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There's no such thing as getting only one new toy! ;)

 

yes...SO FAR THE CARE AND FEEDING OF THE FAIRLIGHT...

 

1) 2 new scsi hard drives & adapters $50

2) used mixing board $300

3) New UPS $150

4) 36 New phone plugs $18

5) solder $5

6) scsi teminator $20

7) smpte > MTC device $60

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THE RABBIT HOLE DEEPENS

 

So how could I make a PSEUDO Fairlight CMI ? Get another old piece of gear, an Akai S3000XL . Theoretically I could grab samples that are from the Fairlight MFX3 and send them to the Akai utilizing those great Fairlight A/D converters. The Akai , by itself also has great A>D conversion. But wait! We also want to edit this with some good software to save that LCD screen. I just happened to have an old PowerMac 5260/120 that I picked up more than 10 years ago...but it was OS 7.55. It took me almost a week to get it up to OS9.1 which is what my SMPTE/MTC box needs AND what the Akai needs for editing "out of the box". So if you go the OLD HARDWARE ROUTE, be prepared to go deep down the rabbit hole. I will also be replacing the hard disk in the Mac because I have an 80 gig laying around and you can't get many samples on a 2 gb drive.

 

Dan

 

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So I have had the S3000SX a week now. It works fine but I'll be making a few improvements/ upgrades. Even though the LCD is bright enough to see, it could still used a new backlight. I may or may not upgrade to 2.0 rom and hard disk. I have plenty of floppies here and might still use them for backup, but a hard disk is preferred. I'll also need the 2.0 rom to run MESA 2 for the Mac. If I manage to get the file working that I downloaded, I may not need the upgrade. I'll just install the 2.0 to the hard drive. YES I SAMPLED MY VOICE, PLAYED IT ON MY MIDI KEYBOARD AND SAVED IT TO FLOPPY. IT DOES WORK !

 

Dan

 

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I should probably rename this thread "MY 1999 DREAM (or nightmare) RECORDING SETUP"

 

 

Anyway , lots of work done. Juggled the SCSI drives for the Fairlight all into a single box and added a RICOH RO-1420C cdrom. This is good ONLY for making REDBOOK CDs directly from the Fairlight.

 

Sent a sample from my Fairlight directly to the S3000XL with SPDIF

 

Installed V2.0 rom in S3000XL ...WORKS !

Installed new BACKLIGHT into S3000XL FAIL...waiting for another.

 

Moved a SCSI drive into a separate powered enclosure for the Akai. WORKING and finally got it formatted yesterday.

 

Got all of the drivers for Mesa and SCSI on the 1999 PowerMac G4. WORKING

 

Lots still to learn though. Fairlight editing is a whole new animal. Akai LOOPING and keeping track of wave locations not as easy as I thought.

 

Dan

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