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MFC All Red Lights ON - Frustrated

Devster

Inspired
Firstly, yes I love my AXE and MFC. The flexibility and sounds are amazing.

These items cost some serious money though so I have expectations about reliability and performance.

My AXE MK 1 is a number of years old. I recently bought a used MFC MK3 which was shown by the previous owner to be working perfectly via ethernet cable.

Now I think my AXE has a problem with its ethernet port as I cannot reliably get the MFC to power on and always got the "Timeout" message even after checking all settings and connections. I assume it my AXE which has the issue so that is on me.

I can get the MFC to work using a 5 pin MIDI and power directly into the MFC.

Here is my beef though. I have now bought 2 different high quality 7 pin MIDI cables (one is Bestronics and one UK certified for the AXE/MFC) and 2 different power supplies and all I get is all the red lights on the MFC. Its obviously getting power because the lights are on but it will not finish the boot up.

This has been experienced by number of users and quite frankly I am very frustrated after spending some serious coin that there is only one method of powering my MFC, and the least desirable one at that. Surely there is a known cause of this issue and some resolution would be great.

As I say, love my Fractal gear but I do expect for the price that they are less fickle with connections and reliability and that this 'common' issue can be resolved.

G
 

Rex

Legend!
There's a good chance that, at some point, a USB cable was inadvertently plugged into the Axe's Ethernet port. MFC power problems are a classic symptom of that.
 

Devster

Inspired
I am not sure how that would affect the MFC completing the power up. It almost seems like it doesn't have enough current.

I did find a post sone time ago with similar symptoms. If you plug the power adaptor straight into the MFC until it boots then plug the power into the AXE phantom plug it will work with 7 pin midi. I did this and the MFC did power up and work as normal. Unfortunately I turned the AXE/MFC off for 10min the powered up again and was back to the red light scenario.
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
Sounds like something wrong with the MFC and the seller probably knew it. Please contact support and arrange for evaluation/repair.
 

joegold

Fractal Fanatic
Firstly, yes I love my AXE and MFC. The flexibility and sounds are amazing.

These items cost some serious money though so I have expectations about reliability and performance.

My AXE MK 1 is a number of years old. I recently bought a used MFC MK3 which was shown by the previous owner to be working perfectly via ethernet cable.

Now I think my AXE has a problem with its ethernet port as I cannot reliably get the MFC to power on and always got the "Timeout" message even after checking all settings and connections. I assume it my AXE which has the issue so that is on me.

I can get the MFC to work using a 5 pin MIDI and power directly into the MFC.

Here is my beef though. I have now bought 2 different high quality 7 pin MIDI cables (one is Bestronics and one UK certified for the AXE/MFC) and 2 different power supplies and all I get is all the red lights on the MFC. Its obviously getting power because the lights are on but it will not finish the boot up.

This has been experienced by number of users and quite frankly I am very frustrated after spending some serious coin that there is only one method of powering my MFC, and the least desirable one at that. Surely there is a known cause of this issue and some resolution would be great.

As I say, love my Fractal gear but I do expect for the price that they are less fickle with connections and reliability and that this 'common' issue can be resolved.

G
I was planning on just including some links here to discussions I started and was involved with both here and at thegearpage.com last year, but those threads ended before my issue was actually resolved.

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/mfc-101-phantom-power-over-7-pin-issues.1542168/
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/mfc-teething-pains.95005/
http://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/working-ethernet-cable-not-from-best-tronics.97693/

So I'm just going to try to post the condensed version of a very long and frustrating story here now instead.

I too have an Axe MKI (bought in 2012) and an MFC MKIII (bought in January 2015).

After going through all the crap that's detailed in those threads above my conclusions are...

1. Connection via Ethernet:
The Axe MKI's have an oddly designed Ethernet jack in that the jack itself is recessed in from the outer chassis by a millimetre or two.
Since most Cat 5 cables have a plastic housing surrounding the cable jack that makes contact with the chassis, these types of cables often can not be fully inserted in the Axe MKI's Ethernet jack which causes a poor connection.
Sometimes just jiggling the cable inside the jack can help to establish or reestablish a working connection, but in my experience connections made this way do not last very long and the process will need to be repeated.
This is compounded by the fact that most Ethernet cable manufacturers, including Best-Tronics I'm sorry to say, make flaky and often unreliable products.
BT ethernet cables are quite a bit more robust and sturdy, but I've had to send back several of their Cat5 cables because their Ethernet jacks have an even more robust surround housing.

I had to go through about 10 different Cat 5 cables until I found a manufacturer's product that would work reliably (most of the time) with my Axe/MFC system.
[FWIW It's made by GE, it's blue, it's cheap and will never last for long, and I buy them at Canadian Tire.]

2. Connection via 7-pin MIDI cable:
This was my main issue because I had always intended to use the MFC this way and I could never get it to work with several well-made MIDI cables including ones from BT.
Like yourself I could only get all the red LEDs on at the same time and then nothing.

My issues with Fractal Support, including some quite stressful back-and-forths with Cliff himself, went on from late January to mid March.
At first they attributed it all to user error but eventually I convinced them that it wasn't me.
Eventually, Fractal hooked me up with a tech friend of theirs here in Toronto and they authorised a warranty (i.e. free) mod to the MFC that involved a new circuit board of some kind that Fractal shipped up here free of charge as well.
The issue, as it was explained to me and as I understand it, was that long MIDI cables would weaken the AC current (the MFC uses an AC adapter, not DC) travelling between the Axe and the MFC via resistance enough so that the MFC didn't receive enough current to fully boot up. (Just the red LEDs).
Cliff claimed that part of my issue was that Canadian AC current is weaker than it is in the USA and the claim was also that US MFC users of 7-pin cables were not having any issues.
And IIRC, at some point prior to having the MFC modded I did get ahold of a shorter (10' I think) 7-pin cable (I'd been using 20' or 25' cables) and it did work.
But using a cable that short doesn't work on stage for me.

At any rate.
The 7-pin thing is a known issue at Fractal but it's fairly rare I guess or Fractal would have been more vocal about letting the community know about it.

Cliff's posted in this thread that he thinks there's an issue, ostensibly not related to 7-pin cables, with your MFC.
But I would advise you to try SEVERAL more Cat 5 cables before you give up and send it in for service.

Best of luck getting this resolved.

Fractal's service is usually unparalleled.
In my case, eventually they did right by me, but it was a long haul.
Too long.
 

Devster

Inspired
Thanks Fractal for the info re contacting support for evaluation/repair. The seller actually sent me a video of the MFC working 100% via ethernet prior to purchase so I don't think the unit is defective. Also I am already in contact with your support/tech team regarding an ethernet repair. However I live in Hong Kong and the China reseller doesn't seem interested in repairing locally.

Joe gold, that is indeed gold and am both glad and sad to see I am not alone in this issue. We use 220-240V AC here in HK but I cannot see how the MFC would require an amount of current which is only particular to the US. There are many worldwide users who have MFC s working via phantom power. I am really glad you had your issue resolved.

Regarding some other posts I have exactly the same symptoms as this :

"If I then plug the MFC's adapter directly into the MFC, it does boot up, and when powered this way the 7-pin cable achieves 2-way MIDI communication w/o issue.
After the MFC has been powered-on this way, if I then plug the adapter into the Axe's phantom power jack and try to power the MFC via the 7- pin syatem, everything works fine and the MFC will boot up and MIDI communication also works fine.
But after powering the MFC down for several minutes the problem comes back again."


To date I have tried 6 ethernet cables, and 2 7 pin MIDI cables. I think you are correct regarding the fickle connections however since all of these cost money, and the MIDI cables certainly serious money, then it is quite disappointing to still have no solution for this premium product.

It should be a repeatable situation. Obviously the MFC is getting power OK. What is causing the failure to boot ? If the tech guys could repeat this behaviour by varying the current into an MFC then we would all know the cause (e.g. 700ma = all red lights, 1000ma = normal boot). If that is not it then there must be some other simple explanation as there are only a few pieces of kit and variations available.

I am awaiting a response from the tech team on Mon (US time). The other support staff was very communicative last night which was encouraging and appreciated.

Like all Fractal users I love my gear. We all love the passion and support from their team. We all just want our gear to work.

Cheers
 

joegold

Fractal Fanatic
I'm going to lay out of this thread now as much as possible.
I get the feeling that the folks at Fractal don't like it when I bring this stuff up and I love and need their gear so I need to have as good relations with them as possible.
I'll leave this to you and Fractal Support to straighten out.
Good luck.

But....
When I was first trying to trouble shoot the 7-pin issue the same tech that Fractal knew up here tried using an AC adapter that was 2000ma and the MFC would always boot properly no matter what length MIDI cable we used.
But Matt told us that it was not safe to use an adapter with that much current on a regular basis.
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
Let me clarify what Joe's problem was because he has the facts a little mixed up.

The wall voltage in Joe's area of Canada is low by about 10% (we had the tech measure it). Since the AC adapter is just a transformer the resulting AC voltage out of the adapter was therefore about 10% low so instead of 9VAC it was about 8VAC.

Secondly the wires inside a 7-pin MIDI cable are very thin. This means that they have a high resistance which gets even higher with a long MIDI cable.

So now you have low voltage out of the adapter exacerbated by I*R losses in the cable which resulted in very low voltage into the MFC but ONLY when using the AC adapter and a LONG midi cable. The resulting voltage into the MFC in this case was BELOW the acceptable value for the unit to work properly. IOW, the product was being used outside the conditions for which it was designed. We have no control over the MIDI cables that customers use and, in this case, the resistance was so high in the cable that it was causing excessive voltage loss.

We modified a board to work under these low voltage conditions and sent it to the tech.

So... I suspect that we have something similar happening with the OP here. He says he's in Hong Kong. My guess is the voltage out of the adapter is below spec.
 
Last edited:

MrGuitarabuse

Fractal Fanatic
We are a few users in China /Hong Kong and I am pretty sure voltage can be slightly wonky. We have UPS at our rehearsal room and typically bring it to gigs as well.
I have a AXE-FX Mk I and MFC mk I and went for the FASLINK adaptors. No issues what so ever and so much easier with the XLR cable. I suggest this small investment.

Actually, I think a friend of mine has an AXE-FX faslink laying around not used. PM me and see if we can sort something out since you only need this one. MFC mk III has it already built in.
 

Devster

Inspired
I can understand that Amperage and Resistance could cause an issue (I am a pilot not an engineer ) but this should be quite easy to detect. Could I measure the V and A coming out of the 7 pin MIDI and compare to spec ? I would imagine they are ok because the MFC powers up ok directly. Maybe it's a combination of A & R and maybe I could measure the resistsance of the 2 x 7 pin MIDI cables I have ?
 

Rex

Legend!
I can understand that Amperage and Resistance could cause an issue (I am a pilot not an engineer ) but this should be quite easy to detect. Could I measure the V and A coming out of the 7 pin MIDI and compare to spec ? I would imagine they are ok because the MFC powers up ok directly. Maybe it's a combination of A & R and maybe I could measure the resistsance of the 2 x 7 pin MIDI cables I have ?
If you have the equipment to do all that, just measure the voltage at the far end of the MIDI cable, with everything connected and turned on. That's what this scenario boils down to.
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
If you have the equipment to do all that, just measure the voltage at the far end of the MIDI cable, with everything connected and turned on. That's what this scenario boils down to.
It's more complicated than that because the issue is actually a startup droop. When you first power up there is an inrush current (caps charging up, etc.). The inrush current is higher than the operating current. The inrush current plus the low voltage plus the excessive resistance in the MIDI cable causes the power supply voltage to rise too slowly. This violates the rise time of the microcontroller and it doesn't boot properly.

The solution is to send the unit to us and we'll do the same mod as we did to Joe's.
 

Devster

Inspired
That last post is really informative and was the situation I suspected. I'm in contact with fractal support so hopefully we can isolate the issue.

Living in Hong Kong poses major logistical issues with support from the dealer network in China and Hong Kong being non-existent.
 
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