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Power!
Old 20th January 2013
  #1
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Power!

Hello, I have a small mobile setup (two cases) with a rackmount PC, converters, preamps, power amp, monitor, keyboard, drawers, etc. The rig has not moved yet as I am still in the process of building it.

I have read about the negative effects that line conditioners can have on audio. In ideal stationary studio builds, I have seen mention of sine wine inverters, isolation transformers, and Corcom line filters.

Is anyone using any of these three in their mobile setups?
Old 23rd January 2013
  #2
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I used to take conditioners out to field recordings. I even took out a 60 lb balanced power unit. Now, mostly for preamps, I use a small filter that I picked up from a friend who has an audiophile shop. Some of these units are good for situations where the power is unsteady, but there's such a variety of them and they address different problems, it's hard to sort em all out. Specifics are needed.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #3
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🎧 5 years
I'll be touring small clubs and maybe some bars, doing live recording. So who knows what I'll get every night. How do you think I should plan for this? Not looking to use a Furman or similar that would negatively affect the sound.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #4
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
It is hard to imagine a "line conditioner" that would "negatively affect the sound" more than flaky mains power out of the wall. Seems bizarre that you say "... a Furman or similar that would negatively affect the sound." Furman specializes in products for the sound industry.

What sorts of power problem have you seen? What do you anticipate? What kind of equipment are you using? Are you running this attended (where you are sitting there watching and controlling) or unattended (where you set it up and let it roll for the evening because you are a performer, etc)? Are there weight or space limitations on what you are hauling around? How important are the recordings? Do you forfeit thousands of $$$ if you miss a song or a set, etc?

Some equipment is notorious for needing good clean, continuous power, and other equipment is rather impervious to mains power anomalies.
Old 25th January 2013
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks for the reply. I'm basing my inquiry on:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➑️
Every "power conditioner" I've ever evaluated took audio quality down. That's why I don't use them. I got better results installing Corcom line filters into each piece.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
and

Quote:
Originally Posted by centurymantra ➑️
Jim Williams has a very good point in that power conditioners, notably the smaller cheaper ones, are inherently a sonic trade off and will limit current and degrade the sound. Same story with surge protection of the standard MOV variety. It's kind of a trade off with the surge protection. Real purists will boldly run without it, although there are some more specialized, esoteric forms of surge protection that apparently are sonicallly transparent and don't limit current. This is not the type you'll find in garden variety power conditioners. There are some options like the one Jim noted that are ideal. It's just a matter of where one want's to focus time, energy and money. I've been thinking about getting a couple of dedicated lines put in when an electrician comes over to finish a project they'll be working on in a month or two and then just use some purist, ultra-high grade power strips with no power conditioning or surge protection. I do skip the rack-rider power strips to some degree right now by using a PS Audio Ultimate Outlet for my digital recording gear. I used it in my home theatre set-up previously with interesting results and it works pretty well in my recording set-up, seperating the digital stuff from the analog to some degree.
though a mobile road case can surely not be given the treatment described here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams ➑️
All of the small conditioners I've heard sucked the air and depth out of the sound. They are all current limiters. Not good if you like a powerful sound.

Be smarter, buy a large isolation transformer and mount it far away from the studio. 80 amps is a good start. Wire the secondaries into a balanced config. That's a +60 volts to hot, -60v to neutral. Tie the center tap to a 8 awg wire and attach to a 10 ft. copper rod. Get a sledge hammer and pound that puppy into the ground.

Now you have isolated , non current starved balanced power. Enjoy!

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades

Perhaps something more like this is suitable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by audiofreak ➑️
From my experience in the audiophile arena my recommendation for any power conditioning is any unit with balanced power. I use a monster mphts7000ss in my system. The balanced power uses two transformers... one set to -60volts and the other to +60volts. Any line noise that comes through is cancelled out. Think of two sign waves - one positive and one negative... for example whats 1000hz and -1000hz add up to.. that right zero. I'm no scientist but I have heard many power conditioners and the only ones that really work are the heavy bastards that have this technology. My unit claims to drop the noise floor by 6db! The difference is not subtle and I have very basic gear!

Also using higher end power cables will make an impact as well - use twisted cables so you get common mode rejection.

Note to 240 users - as far as I understand it 240 power is already balanced.... at least in the US. Don't know about other countries.
Old 25th January 2013
  #6
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I do not know much on this subject, so I suppose I should ask - If you were building a rack with the simple setup of one racked computer, digital interface (i.e. no conversion/preamp combo units), dedicated 4 channel A/D and 2 channel D/A, microphone preamps, and a power amplifier for monitors, what else would you include in a case travelling to multiple practice spaces and various venues.
Old 25th January 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Unless you end up in a place w/ really flaky power that is picking up some sort of RF energy (which hopefully you'll found out about on your scout) then I think you are fixing something that isn't broken. In all the years I've done this I've needed a power conditioner on location maybe twice--in one place where the voltage actually DID fluctuate a good deal (never found out why) and another where we dealt with massive RF issues (TV station STL) other ways. If you think you might be in danger of LOSING power during a recording (kickout, overloaded breaker) then a UPS is a good idea--it also allows your system to stay up while you try different outlets--great if the venue doesn't really know which outlets are on lighting power etc..

philp
Old 25th January 2013
  #8
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The referenced 80A "60+/60-" with the tap driven into the ground was to provide balanced power to an entire studio. My experience mirrors philp's... Because we ran so many shows from genny power (a long time ago, on a 5-year set of road gigs far, far away...) I put a Furman AR-1215 on my record/switcher rack (live video gig - 97v to 141v goes in... 120v [+/-5v] comes out) and a big UPS on the recorders... mainly to avoid tape-path problems on unexpected shutdowns. The Furman still lives in my FOH rack, and the UPS recently had its batteries replaced, and soldiers on in my video edit bay. Both were easily road-able, and did as they were designed to do.

On location recording gigs I still run a smaller UPS (rides in the cables bag) in the event that some clumsy concert-goer snags my mains run and rips the plug out of its little gaff-tape prison. Hasn't happened as of yet... but that doesn't mean it won't. The first time I don't have the UPS inline...

Also realize that not every "RackRider" with eight outlets and a surge suppressor in a single rackspace is a "conditioner"... many are simple (expensive) surge suppressor outlet banks. They do very little "conditioning" compared to the much-more expensive voltage regulators and filtered/balanced power supplies.

HB
Old 25th January 2013
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
What exactly prevents RF issues? Also, what can actually cause gear damage? Would lightning ever be an issue, and how would one protect gear from it?

Are surge protectors all you'd recommend?

In the interest of sound, is balanced power not worthy of striving for? Many of the on location recordings could be released. Are line filters recommended?
Old 25th January 2013
  #10
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The kinds of "power conditioners" Mr. Williams is talking about are probably those bizzare "botique" things made for the $1000 power cord crazy people.

Proper power conditioners do NOT limit the operating current. That is our first clue that Mr. Williams isn't talking about "normal" equipment. I would wager that Mr. Williams was NOT talking about anything from Furman, at least not anything that was being used with the rated parameters.

"Surge protectors" are a joke. They are cheap plastic power strips with a couple of 50-cent MOV components wired inside. The MOVs are almost completely ineffective, and it gives them an excuse to jack up the price several X more than it is worth. Don't even bother with them.

If I were anticipating recording in places with flaky power (which I have never encountered in the continental USA), I would take a small but high-quality UPS capable of handling the critical loads (the signal path, but NOT the power amp).

Of course, we don't know where you are on the planet since you have not completed your user profile. If you are in the undeveloped 3rd world somewhere, then you need to come up with a realistic list of what you need to protect yourself from. Else you may be suffering from non-specific, free-floating anxiety for nothing.

I've NEVER carried any kind of power conditioning on the road with any of my audio or video rigs. I can't remember the last time I encountered ANY power problems except for someone unplugging (or tripping over) a power extension cord. The primary remedy for THAT kind of problem is simple gaffer's tape.

Yes, power surges from lightning-strikes can cause significant equipment damage. How many concerts do you anticipate in a thunderstorm? You have a better chance of winning the lottery than suffering lightning damage on a remote gig. True lightning-induced surges can only be reliably filtered by devices that likely weigh 2 or 3x more than all your equipment.
Old 25th January 2013
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Thank you for the explanations. So what type of power routing would you recommend? Just a simple rear rack mounted power strip with no extra features? Are Furman units only required when voltage is expected to be flaky (which you say is not likely to happen)?

Even without flaky power, would you recommend line filters in the interest of sound quality? What type of gear would require these?

As for balanced power, does anyone know of any units you would take on the road?
Old 25th January 2013 | Show parent
  #12
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ds11 ➑️
Thank you for the explanations. So what type of power routing would you recommend?
I just use ordinary office-type power strips. Some of them have "surge protection" but as I said, it is only for show. It has no practical benefit IMHO.

Quote:
Just a simple rear rack mounted power strip with no extra features? Are Furman units only required when voltage is expected to be flaky (which you say is not likely to happen)?
I have never heard anyone say anything bad about Furman (including Mr. Williams). They make solid gear. To be sure, they get a good price for it.

Whether flaky power is likely depends on where you are (which you have not revealed) and what kinds of venues you expect. If you are dependent on the 50-year old village generator out in the jungle, that is a different matter than deploying most anywhere in modern Europe or North America.

Quote:
Even without flaky power, would you recommend line filters in the interest of sound quality? What type of gear would require these?

As for balanced power, does anyone know of any units you would take on the road?
I am NOT a "golden ears", so I don't believe that "line filters" affect sound quality. If the power supply filtering in your equipment is allowing mains power anomalies to affect the signal quality, then you have poorly designed, constructed or maintained gear. I wouldn't use gear like that as it is an indication of undesirable performance in other aspects as well.

I seriously doubt that even a tiny fraction of people who are out recording audio/video on the road are using balanced power. IMHO, that is rather a "boutique" high-end affectation of studios who brag about what brand of mic cable they use. DISCLAIMER: My pragmatic opinion is NOT shared by many other people in these forums.

I am a strong proponent of the axiom: If it ain't broke, don't attempt to "fix" it. Unless you are somewhere where the power is flaky enough to actually damage your equipment, go out and start recording and see for yourself how much (if at all) you are affected by mains power anomalies. You may have forgotten all about it in 6 months.

Repeating: This can go only so far as a generic discussion. MUCH depends on where you are (undisclosed), what kind of power situations you anticipate (undisclosed) and what equipment you are using (also undisclosed here).
Old 26th January 2013
  #13
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I am in modern North America, and expect to deal with a variety of practice spaces in rented homes, small music theaters, community centers, bars, gymnasiums, outdoor festivals, etc. This is a very general-purpose road case setup.

We do use single coil pickups, so balanced power sounds appealing. I have contacted Equi=Tech but am hoping for a lower cost solution.

I did read Jim say:

Every "power conditioner" I've ever evaluated took audio quality down. That's why I don't use them. I got better results installing Corcom line filters into each piece.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades

Is this not a 'power conditioner'? Furman M-8x2 | Sweetwater.com

He also wrote:

All of the small conditioners I've heard sucked the air and depth out of the sound. They are all current limiters. Not good if you like a powerful sound.

Do you not recommend a voltage regulator to protect equipment? Does this not work by limited current? Furman AR-1215 | Sweetwater.com

If visiting a variety of locations as I listed, is a simple office power bar still all you would recommend?
Old 26th January 2013
  #14
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Cheap power conditioners are usually just the regular 6-way power strips you buy in a hardware store, mounted into a 19" rack unit allowing them to 10-fold the price.

Just because one person says they suck it doesn't mean they suck.

A something like a Furman PL Plus will not do you a disservice to run your system off. Do you have much of a budget to work with? If you want a no-bull phone consultation with somebody who actually knows about such things, call Laurence at Backroom on Monday. Backroom Ltd Home He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the entire world of concert power...

Quote:
Completed projects. Manic St Preachers, Cato Music, Capital Sound, The Prodigy, PRG, Stage Audio Services, Kasabian, Entertainment Sound Specialists, Blitz Communications, 8th Day Sound, RG Jones, Dobson Sound, EMF Events. XL Video, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Radiohead, Bob Dylan. Spoletto, Muse, Flaming Lips, Music Bank, ITunes Festival, Peter Gabriel US Tour,Rockwell Automation, Interfleet Technology,Power Logistics, Lock&Load Events, Capital Productions, F&R Products, Baryshnikov Productions, American Idiot, Shooting Partners
Don't assume he's out of your budget, and make the most of speaking to somebody who actually knows what they're talking about through 40 years of concert touring, rather than just regurgitating what they read on the internet.
Old 27th January 2013
  #15
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I would want to hear a better explanation from Mr. Williams, specifically what brands/models of equipment he is talking about and HOW he tested them. I don't recall ever questioning anything Mr. Williams said before, but such a blanket condemnation sounds suspicious to me. He keeps mentioning "overload" as if he were talking about 10KW rock concert power amplifier stacks or something. With no more information than that, it fails the "common sense" test.
Old 29th January 2013
  #16
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks tc. While using the unit you mentioned will not do me a disservice as you said, is it worth spending for? Is my gear at risk if I use just a simple office power bar?

As for noise issues, it seems balanced power is expensive. I will investigate Corcom line filters further. Has anyone had experience with them?

I would love to speak to Laurence but am not in need of a paid consultation, and I doubt he would appreciate me emailing for free advice.
Old 29th January 2013
  #17
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You seem to be suffering from free-floating power anxiety. If it ain't broke, don't attempt to "fix" it.
Old 29th January 2013
  #18
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
I would like to adequately protect my gear so that it will never break and I won't have to fix it. A Furman PL Plus is just over $200, a small price to pay for protecting many thousands in gear. However, is this even worth it, or is it a preparation for something with a probability of 0.0001 or similar?
Old 29th January 2013 | Show parent
  #19
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Don S's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ds11 ➑️
I would like to adequately protect my gear so that it will never break and I won't have to fix it. A Furman PL Plus is just over $200, a small price to pay for protecting many thousands in gear. However, is this even worth it, or is it a preparation for something with a probability of 0.0001 or similar?
I have a furman "powerstip" in the rack. It's handy for light and a strip! But when either it trips or I suspect power problems, I put the AR1215 in the chain. It's a regulator, not just a conditioner and costs a little more than the $200 conditioner but worth it.
Old 31st January 2013 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ds11 ➑️
I would love to speak to Laurence but am not in need of a paid consultation, and I doubt he would appreciate me emailing for free advice.
He's not a free consultation service but neither is he a paid one. He makes stuff, supplies stuff, and will be happy to talk to you about what you need because of the probability that he may end up selling you what it is you're after.

If it turns out that everything he sells is useless for you he's not the kind of person who'll sell you a dead horse, he will just say sorry I can't help.

Give him a shout seriously all it'll cost you is the phone call and the advice you'll get will be invaluable. If you don't ask you can't get.
Old 31st January 2013 | Show parent
  #21
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ds11 ➑️
I would like to adequately protect my gear so that it will never break and I won't have to fix it.
Then leave it in the box and never plug it in to any power outlet.

Quote:
A Furman PL Plus is just over $200, a small price to pay for protecting many thousands in gear. However, is this even worth it, or is it a preparation for something with a probability of 0.0001 or similar?
I've never been anywhere in North America, connected to "shore power" (commercial power mains) where that Furman device would have "protected" any of my gear. If you are working lots of flaky dives and generator-powered outdoor gigs, then having something that monitors voltage and drops out in case of voltage sag may be valuable. Whether it is worth $200 is a decision you will have to make. Perhaps Furman uses $5 worth of "surge protection" components vs. the typical 50 cents worth, but I wouldn't depend on it actually protecting my gear from a serious surge. But they are so rare, it is quite likely that you will never see one in your lifetime, depending on where you live and how many outdoor gigs you do in a lightning storm.
Old 4th February 2013
  #22
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks for the info everyone! I'll contact Laurence soon.
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