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Zen & The Art Of Mixing Console Cleaning & Maintenance

A step-by-step look at “how to” properly and thoroughly tidy up large-frame consoles, plus a handy console troubleshooting guide

By Teri Hogan July 22, 2011

Editors Note: For more information on console maintenance, check out Properly Cleaning Mixing Console Faders.

Ask 10 folks who work with sound companies their most detested chore in audio maintenance, and the majority will respond with “the cleaning of mixing consoles.”

Hated or not, however, keeping consoles clean is a primary way to protect the investment and to assure that they will stay on the job and operate at full capacity.

Many consoles cost at least as much as the car in your driveway, and some as much as a house.

Therefore, responsible sound companies regularly spend quality time in this pursuit. 

Manufacturers advise a thorough cleaning twice a year, but unless there is someone sitting around the shop with nothing more immediate to do, reality says shoot for once a year.

But, do it right.

The alternative can be compromised performance – at the least – all the way up to total failure.

And it can result in expensive repairs that can make a console the hostage of a service center for several weeks.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at “how to” properly and thoroughly tidy up large-frame consoles. (Smaller, single-panel consoles are a different story – other than surface and fader cleaning, the term “no user-serviceable parts applies. Best to have certified service technicians handle this.)

Start by selecting an appropriate area of the shop for cleaning, one that is out of the main traffic flow. This location must offer decent overhead lighting and should be, at least relatively, spic and span. If not, there’s some “pre-cleaning cleaning” that must be done.

This process is going to take several days and there shouldn’t be added dirt settling on what has already been cleaned.

Next, set up a table, empty loudspeaker enclosure(s) or other suitable (and very solid!) flat surface on which to place the console. You’ll also want a chair or stool of suitable height, and a smaller table or other surface for the needed tools and materials.

This is back breaking work – might as well be as comfortable as possible, or else there might be a tendency to skimp in order to “get this over.” And getting everything necessary together before starting the job helps make it go much more smoothly.

Materials to assemble:

  • Machines – Air compressor, vacuum cleaner (with attachments)
  • Tools – Philips screwdriver, pliers, cable, one 1/2-inch paintbrush, several stiff-bristled artist paintbrushes
  • Solvents – Window cleaner, Caig D5 (Deoxit), Caig CaiLube, Goof Off, clear fingernail polish, alcohol (Isopropyl, not Jack Daniels!)
  • Miscellaneous – Fine-grit steel wool, lint-free rags, two small cups or butter containers, three nylon zippered hosiery bags

A tip: the best window cleaner I’ve found is windshield washer fluid, mixed one part fluid, one part water. It leaves absolutely no residue on any surface. So dump out the window cleaner from the spray bottle and replace it with this mixture.

Caig products can be purchased directly from Caig via the Internet or at select electronics stores in larger cities. Techspray also offers a quality line of similar products, also available on line. Most of the other items can be obtained from your local home improvement or hardware store. 

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About Teri

Teri Hogan
Teri Hogan

Teri was the long-time co-owner of Sound Services Inc., a sound company based in Texas.


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Mike Moe says

Nice article but how about cleaning the soft switches of digital mixing consoles. What cleaner would you use? The switches on the Presonus StudioLive are like the buttons on some wireless home phones. thanks, Mike

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