My home studio signal chain: Sterling condenser mic - xlr to Aphex studio channel - s/pdif to MBox Pro 2 - firewire 400 to G Drive external HD - fw 400 to Mac Mini fw800.
My experience level: 15 year Pro Tools user, 10 year mid-level recording engineer, current VO self-producer.
My tale of woe:
A few months ago, my Apogee Mini-Me died after several years of great use, with its 48v light starting to flicker on and off and becoming generally unreliable. I replaced it with the pleasantly priced and decent sounding Aphex unit, which worked great... for a month. Then I started getting horrible crunching and popping, which eventually turns into no signal getting through at all. After a couple hours of troubleshooting (including changing the xlr cable), I replaced the cheap little s/pdif cable that had been in the system for many years with a big fat expensive one I had in my box o' cables. That seemed to fix it at first... but the problem came back.
Turns out what "fixes" it is turning off the pre-amp and shutting down Pro Tools for a while. Then when I turn it back on, I get clear signal for an hour or two. The weird things are that a) the preamp is not getting hot (enough to notice), so I don't think it's that, and b) I'll record for an hour or so with no problem, then the thing that triggers the pops and crunches will be me walking out of the iso booth. Another symptom is that the noise gets stronger and more consistent then stops sending signal, but if I send a loud signal, or crank the input or output, the sound does punch through and is clean, but then when it goes down it shuts off again. (Don't know if it's related, but another symptom that I get in my studio a couple times a month is a low hum that is fixed by unplugging/replugging the mic.)
I'm on the waiting list for a replacement preamp, assuming that's the problem, but what if the problems the Mini-Me had and the Aphex is having are related? Does anyone here have any ideas about what may be causing this, on the off chance that it's NOT in the preamp, but a condition in my studio? Thanks for any thoughts!