I record interviews, voice tracks, and occasionally some music for the Loving Project and LPX Show podcasts from my home office. And after ten years of use, my aging Alesis audio mixer was starting to go on the fritz, so I picked up a $200 Yamaha MG10XU mixer in December.
It has cleaner preamps than my old mixer, works as an audio interface for my computer (which means I can plug it straight into the PC with a USB cable), and also has an optional compression feature for the first 2 mic inputs. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this little mixer.
And just over a month after I started using it, I accidentally spilled a glass of water on the mixer while I was using it, causing several mic inputs to stop working.
But it turns out that it’s actually not that hard to salvage an audio mixer that’s been damaged by a water spill. Even beer or soda shouldn’t cause too much trouble… if you work quickly.
The first thing you should do is power down the mixer. Liquid doesn’t actually cause much harm to the electric components… as long a they’re not active. But water conducts electricity, so it can cause a short circuit if it comes in contact with an electric current running through your device, and that can cause irreversible damage.
So you should turn off the power and unplug the power cable immediately. I didn’t. It took me a few minutes of looking up what to do on the internet before I realized I was being an idiot. Then I turned off the mixer and unplugged it.
Next up? Disassemble and dry the mixer.
That’s pretty much it. This is a two step process: turn off your mixer, and then dry it off.
What complicates matters is that you probably don’t want to just pat the mixer down with some towels. Water is probably hiding inside the case and seeping into areas you can’t see. It could take ages to evaporate, and you could end up damaging your device next time you turn it on if you don’t carefully clean and dry out the whole thing.
So you want to remove every screw on the mixer (which takes two different types of screwdrivers for the MG10XU) and then remove all the knobs and other components that might be holding the case together.
For my mixer, this was probably the most time consuming step. There are a lot of screws on the MG10XU.
Once that is done, you want to carefully wipe down and dry out everything you see. Theoretically you can rinse off any gunk that might have resulted from water coming in contact with electric components… by using water. Some folks actually suggest taking the mixer board and putting it under a stream of water from a hose or sink for a few minutes.
Remember, when the mixer is turned off, it’s perfectly fine for it to get wet.
We decided to be a bit more cautious, and my wife helped me wipe down every inch of the board using Q-tips and rubbing alcohol, which evaporates more quickly than water.
Technically, that step may have been unnecessary: we didn’t actually see any signs of damage, and since I spilled water rather than a sugary or alcoholic beverage, it might have been safe to just start drying the board. But better safe than sorry.
Next up, we ran a hair dryer over both sides of the mixer for a few minutes.
And then I let it sit for about 36 hours before reassembling the case and plugging it in. If you opt to skip the hair dryer, you might want to wait a few days or longer before putting the case back together.
The verdict? It’s working perfectly again. All of the mic and line inputs work, and I can use the mixer as USB audio interface/external sound card for my PC.
The main reason I’m writing this article is because now I have an excuse to post some pictures of what the MG10XU looks like when you take it apart… and now I have a reminder for myself of what to do if this ever happens again.