AB168 + QU-16 Failure

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    Profile photo of Colonel Ted
    Colonel Ted

    A similar issue happened for us on March 20th 2015.

    The AB168 worked perfectly at the home studio. We took it to the show, set it up and the QU16 desk could not “see” any of the active 12 inputs. We tried the back up Ethernet cable, (roughly) 40 feet, and nothing. The “ready” light would not go on.

    I was able to play back 16 track recording through the unit from the QDrive through the box though. Just no signal from the stage. Nada.

    With 60 minutes prior to show time, we made the decision to relocate the QU16 to the stage and manage sound via the Ipad App, learning this on the fly.

    When the unit came home, I tried to recreate the issue, using the same preset scene with all the appropriate inputs, and it worked fine.

    I am a little suspicious that the unit was plugged into a power bar, whereas before, it has always been plugged into mains. That is the only change I can think of.

    At the price paid, the unit needs to be bulletproof and the band needs to have confidence that the equipment will work. It is NO FUN having to change a stage 60 minutes prior to a gig.

    Profile photo of Hawk

    This sounds a little bit different than what we experienced. The problem we had is lost of preamp control permanently, but the outputs are OK since they are line level.

    Profile photo of McIvy

    Colonel Ted,

    Hawk is right…… Your problem is indeed a little different than the one we’ve been experiencing.

    If you had no “Ready” light, and had no input signals from the stagebox whatsoever, you had more of a connection failure. Conversely, we had the green light, and had some input signal flowing, we just couldn’t control it!

    I wonder, did you have the flashing yellow LED adjacent to the Cat5 socket on the stagebox?

    Profile photo of Al

    I have 2x SB168 units which were purchased from a famous retailer in Germany. I have a QU32 and ran the unit at an event with no issue. Unfortunately, the second time we used the unit it started sending loud bangs down the PA with a phantom power bang down the first 16 channels on the desk. Then we lost all signal from and to the stage box which came back on after around 10-12 seconds. This happened around 8 times in 2 hours. In the end I had to run an analogue multicore to the stage and remove the unit.
    I was advised that it may be my cat5e cable that was causing the fault and that I had not fully unwound my 75m roll so put it down to this. After then checking with shorter cables, the fault was still present. I ordered another SB168 from the same supplier and this unit has been perfect with no faults and using the same cables so I know that it is the unit.

    I returned the unit to the supplier who honoured their warranty agreement and collected/returned the unit for no charge. I included a not with the SB168 explaining the full fault and that the unit needs to be powered for around 3 hours before a fault is found. By this time I had noticed that if the unit is on and I gently touch the the cat5e cable going into the SB168 that connection is lost and after 10-12 seconds it will re-connect. When the unit was returned I was informed that it was a “firmware problem” and that it had now been updated and all is fine.

    Unfortunately it failed on the next event but this was for around 700 people with a major tribute band performing. I have contacted the supplier again who have agreed to accept the unit back for repair but I really do not trust this unit and I do not believe that they will test the unit over a long amount of time so I wondered if anyone is aware of this fault so that I can tell them whats wrong and to please replace it.

    Many thanks,

    Profile photo of Gus


    Third song into the show last night our Qu-16 quit seeing the inputs from our dSnake. Outputs were OK.

    Could not re-assign them (couldn’t see them), rebooting stage box, rebooting console, 3rd installation of new firmware, another stage box and even a hard power re-set of the console has not corrected it.

    Had to re-set analog for rest of the shows. Thankfully we were in a club setting and the band could cover it acoustically. Vocals were all wireless at FOH.

    Any Ideas ????


    Profile photo of Colonel Ted
    Colonel Ted

    This is a known firmware issue with the AB168. This was passed on to me via a retailer who raised a stink with A&H tech about the issue about a month ago.

    “There’s an intermittent issue with the AB168 units during bootup… the expanders will revert to a previous factory firmware version and the Qu is not recognized properly. R&D are currently writing a maintenance update for Qu firmware (as the Qu mixer will automatically update the AB168 firmware), but this will not be available most likely for a few more weeks. Other solution is to send us the AB168 unit, we will update the firmware manually. Or connect the AB168 to a GLD mixer with firmware V1.42 or higher, this will also update the firmware in the AB168. The firmware update will resolve the situation”.

    I contacted A&H who pussy footed around the issue for a few weeks. Fortunately, my retailer raised a royal stink with A&H for selling product that didn’t have the bugs worked through. A&H sent them a new, updated unit, which was given to me and took the old one back.

    We’ve run it once since with no issues at all.

    I would avoid upgrading the QU16 firmware until there is irrevocable confirmation A&H have figured out how to ensure that the firmware upgrade includes the AB168 as well.

    You won’t know the issue is lurking until you incur the sort of problems and brain damage we, and others have had to deal with until you are in the midst of a set, which is not a career enhancing situation for any performing band.

    For the record, and without me asking. A&H promised me some “swag” to make up for the inconvenience. I’ve seen squat thus far.

    This is the sort of stuff that occurs at companies that are losing it. It’s a slippery slope.

    Profile photo of Nicola A&H
    Nicola A&H

    Please note that V1.71 firmware released today addresses the AB168 issue discussed in this thread.

    Profile photo of Hawk

    Thanks. Is this fixed by enabling QU updating the firmware of the remote audio box/rack?

    Profile photo of Nicola A&H
    Nicola A&H

    Is this fixed by enabling QU updating the firmware of the remote audio box/rack?

    That’s correct.

    Profile photo of tonmeister

    I sure wish this problem had been found and fixed much sooner. Had the same issue. Showed up at a major job, made all connections, fired up the system: no phantom, no preamp control. No problems with board or Cat5e cable, board recognizes snake, snake shows as ready. Only solution was to hold up the proceedings while I ran home, grabbed three smaller analog snakes, swap those in, re-check the system and finish the job. No fun at all.

    Arranged for warranty repair. Sadly, I was told it would have to be shipped (at my expense) to distributor in CA. While waiting for return of the unit (which the CA organization handled with quite respectable dispatch, thank you very much), the repair center at the distributor called me to let me know that A-H was aware of the problem, that the unit was reverting to a factory firmware state, and that the fix was to connect it to any GLD series mixer, which would appropriately reset the firmware. Again, a huge thank you to the repair folks for letting me know that. Why didn’t A-H proactively communicate with me about the issue, though, I have to wonder?

    When it first happened, I talked to the dealer I’d bought the unit from, and they said since I’d had the unit more than 90 days (barely) there was nothing they could do to help me. Apparently the AR2412 never suffered from this issue, and I thought maybe I could talk them into letting me pay a re-stocking fee and trade up my mint unit for the AR2412. They wouldn’t. They suggested I sell it and get the AR2412. Horrifying discovery #1: big price drop on the AR2412 — now less than what I paid for the less capable, less reliable AB168. Now who in their right mind is ever going to want to buy my AB168 when they can get an AR2412 for a few dollars more? I start looking into that because I just can’t be saddled with gear that isn’t reliable, or sit around waiting for new firmware to arrive (which, based on the track record of many companies, could be a very, very long wait). But wait, what is my next horrifying discovery?? A-H has dropped the price on the AB168 by almost 30%!!! Now the unit I own is so significantly devalued that I probably can’t even recover 50% of what I paid for it, even though it is nearly new, and I’ve kept it in pristine condition. Thanks a million! 🙁

    Meantime, I have gigs to do, and have had to fork over a significant amount of cash on renting snakes as a stop-gap. Thanks again! (And, oh, by the way, I was also told that A-H, while promising a future fix, did not have a good handle yet on what was causing the problem, and that, despite the “repair”/reset, it could happen again anytime — and we have no idea what is causing it — so good luck.)

    Oh well, I got it back, and it was working, so maybe I should just shut up and be happy, right? On my second gig after getting it home from repair, the same thing happened. I was even at the same venue, and I can tell you it was no picnic having egg on my face twice in a row with them. The “good” news is that I planned ahead “just in case,” and had rented (again) a backup snake. The bad news is I had to spend that money at all, and that I wound up having to take a good chunk of time from the session swapping out the AB168 for the analog.

    Brought the unit to a local A-H dealer for reset (one that is also an authorized servicer, which begs the question, why did they have me send the unit to CA when they could have done the reset via GLD right here in town?? Would have been really nice to save that shipping cost the first time). Unit reset without incident.

    Today we have the new firmware, which is supposed to solve this issue. I certainly hope it does, because I am not at all satisfied with my AB168 experience, so far. This thing had better be bulletproof, now. $1400 is a hell of a lot of money for a boat anchor. When I spend this kind of money, I expect it to work, period. If this happens again, I’m going to start screaming bloody murder to everyone from the dealer I got it from to A-H until they offer some sort of satisfaction (and it had damned-well better be more significant than some stupid t-shirt or other “swag,” or I will lose all confidence in both the dealer, and A-H).

    If this is a real, long-term solution, I guess I’ll get over it at some point, but I would have been much better off financially (and professional reputation-wise) if I had just kept my old analog snake, and, at least right now, I am really regretting I ever talked myself into going the DS route. I feel like I was unknowingly a beta tester who had to pay, and pay very, very, very dearly for the priviledge.

    A-H, want to give me back the $400 premium I paid for being an early adopter? Want to reimburse my replacement gear rental fees? (I know, I’m dreaming.) How about an apology? (Maybe even a crazier dream?)

    One other question (and probably rhetorical, again, but here goes): If this firmare update is supposed to really fix this problem, then why is there no reference to it in the 1.71 firmware release documents that a) acknowledges the existence of the problem, and b) states that it has been resolved?


    Disappointed and Discouraged

    Profile photo of Nicola A&H
    Nicola A&H

    Hi Tim,

    I’m sorry to hear of your negative experience with the AB168.
    You raised a Support ticket with us back in February (ref. ZVS-811-42194). At that time we were still investigating the issue and given the limited number of cases we were assuming a hardware fault with the comms board, hence the repair under warranty carried out by our American distributor.

    The firmware issue was only identified second half of March. At that point we promptly sent a Technical Bulletin to all our distribution partners to recommend the GLD update workaround until a final solution was made available. Early estimates for release of the Qu firmware update was end of April due to the significant change of code required, however the R&D team worked hard to develop and test asap, diverting resources from other projects, so we were able to release V1.71 yesterday.

    As for the release notes, the first issue listed as fixed in V1.71 is:
    ID_1953: Under rare circumstances, AB168 AudioRacks could fail to respond to controls from a Qu mixer, albeit passing audio. Affected controls included preamp gain, PAD and +48V.

    I fully appreciate the hassle you went through but I think everyone here has done their best to resolve the issue.

    Best regards,

    Profile photo of McIvy

    Thanks for the details now provided.
    Having mothballed our AB168 for the last few months since comms board replacement, for fear of accidental firmware reset (rumour factory at it’s best…!!!), and with no GLD backup, only iLive and QU’s in the warehouse, we are relieved to be able to install the permanent fix and start to use what is otherwise a great product, particularly with the advantage of rack-less usage and phantom power tell tails.
    We too suffered failure whilst working live, which both upset the clients and knocked my digital confidence so badly that this old luddite retreated to rock solid analogue for the remainder of that clients run.
    Brave foot forward again now……..!

    Profile photo of JLargent

    Disappointed and Discouraged Tonmeister, McIvy, Hawk, Colonel Ted, Nicola and all the others here in this thread, your postings seem to end this past April. Literally the day after the the update was released! Could it be your problems are solved? Did v1.71 solve the dSNAKE preamp issue? I hope so because my two AB168’s and QU-32 shipped after the 4/22 release date but sadly, arrived with exactly the same problem! If A&H knew they had and solved a problem and were already sending out the fix, why did they let another AB168 go out the door without it? Oh, and it wasn’t just one… I’ve gone through 5 in the last 36 hours! I’ll be installing the update tomorrow morning hoping I don’t have to rewire with analog snakes. All I can say is I hope this is easier than it was to get access to this conversation. I have to say as a newcomer to A&H online I haven’t found it to be a 21st century experience. My product registration is different from my support registration which is different still from my Digital Community registration even though 90% of the information is redundant and presented in exactly the same format page by page. Is it any wonder that when I log in no one, not even me remembers which one I’m logging into?

    I remain hopeful that tomorrow’s v1.71 update will solve half my problem. As for the other half? I’ve submitted the ticket and will start a new thread in this forum. It’s about expansion AB168s, sequential serial numbers and matching MAC addresses. Should be fascinating reading. I can’t wait to read your responses.

    Profile photo of [XAP]Bob

    The issue is fixed by the QU update, if you’ve not applied that yet then you’ll still see the issue…

    Profile photo of tonmeister

    1.71 seems to have solved the issue. I say “seems” only because I have not had very many gigs since 1.71 came out (about a half-dozen, or so), but so far, so good (knock wood). If the fix holds and the problem goes away for good, I’ll be very pleased to have a reliable system again.

    I do feel I should back-pedal and apologize a little for my earlier post on this topic. I am still frustrated that it cost me so much additional time, cash, and inconvenience to get through some very high profile gigs I was doing at the time. I am also still a bit irked that A & H’s pricing structure changes have devalued the AB168 so significantly and so quickly after its release, but that is not really an issue for someone who is buying one new, at this point.

    I should also apologize for my error in saying that there was not documentation/acknowledgement of the problem fix in the firmware released. That was a gross oversight on my part. My vision was perhaps clouded by seeing red at the time, but that doesn’t really excuse my errant and hasty accusation, and I formally apologize to A & H and the forum for letting my frustration get the better of me.

    It does appear that A & H did the right thing in responding as quickly as they could to resolve the issue, and I am very grateful for that. I am also very grateful for the other enhancements that have been a part of the ongoing firmware releases for the QU series, which have made the mixer investment feel like a very good one.

    When the AB168 works properly, it is a fabulous addition to the QU system. If I had it to do all over again knowing what I know now, I’d’ve held off on getting a digital snake solution and gotten the AR2412 (for $150 less than I paid for the AB168!!!). I know that there is usually some premium attached to being an early adopter, but I didn’t think I’d get stung that badly. Now if I want to sell my AB168 and buy an AR2412 it will probably cost me another $400-600 cash out-of-pocket, depending on what I could squeeze out of the AB168 on the used market. I’ll probably try to pick up a used AR84, if I can.

    I do also want to publicly thank Nicola, who has been very active and helpful to a great number of users on the forum, and has taken the time to respond to some of my questions and concerns, in particular. It is really nice to know that there are those at A & H that are paying attention to what goes on here.

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