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Help me pick out a power conditioner please

Discussion in 'Recording' started by JakeAC5253, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. JakeAC5253

    JakeAC5253 Active Member

    I'm in the market for some power conditioning rack units, maybe two of them: one for my guitar rig and one for my computer/recording rig. As it is now I have a mess of a power situation here, I'm using a lot of power strips and expansions and it's all going to the same outlet, guitar rig, recording rig, and computer. On top of that I don't think I have very clean line power as it is, so I'd like to address this at this time.

    I'm a small bit familiar with the concept of power conditioner units as I know there are different tiers of effectiveness. At the lowest end of budget power conditioning the units don't offer really anything different than a power strip from wal-store. Not my area of interest. The very best in power conditioning units generate their own output sine wave so the power supplied is 100% clean. Not my area of budget. Somewhere in the middle is a happy middle ground I think, something that is effective and will solve my power problem, but won't cost me more than $500 per unit.

    Any suggestions? So far I am looking at these, but I'm open to any suggestions:

    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PL8C/

    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PLPROC/

    There are also intermediate grades, but those only have the addition of digital readouts of what's going on, but no added functionality. I think.
     
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Furman makes nice gear. Do you need the 20A capability of the PL Pro C?

    The ETA PD-8L [15A] also has really decent EMI/RFI filtering at about half the cost of the PL-8C.

    Every rack I install has at least one conditioner and/or power sequencer, depending on the load requirements.

    For my own gear I use both Furman & ETA, (plus Tripp-Lite, and Wattbox). Every single rack I own (live or recording) has some form of power conditioner in it, which is at least a dozen of them. And in my opinion, unless you're spending a little more for voltage regulation (Furman AR-1215), or a LOT more for balanced power - you'll find most of the rest are basically interchangeable in terms of filtering. Front panel Incandescent lights, LED lights, Volt meter, Ammeter, and Back panel lights, are all just gingerbread.

    Multiple filter banks are useful too. Here's a nice demonstration from Wattbox. Pick it up at about 2:00 to start with an intro to the advantages of multiple filter banks.
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Dave, that is a very interesting video, thanks for sharing this. Although my system is super clean already, this makes me lust over more conditioning. I have a keyboard that creates hum and this looks perfect for that task.
    The power sniffer is ingenious eh. Do you have one of those?
    Do you find pro audio gear can cross contaminate?
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Chris, have you ever heard the difference between balanced line power and unbalanced? I'm not talking regulation of line voltage. Just balanced power. This really quiets down everything. Rather amazing I might add. The balancing in its own right, is a method of filtering. Though it is really more a method of canceling out line noise. The line noise can still be modulating the 60 Hz even if it is filtered out. So there is more going on here than meets the ear.

    I am quasi-balanced... yeah right like we believe that.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Chris, it's rare I find a piece of new pro-level audio gear that generates much electrical noise, especially when they're all plugged into the same power source. But as you know from your re-capping thread, electrolytic capacitors are all doomed to fail - so vintage gear could be another story.

    In live sound, with the mix position at one end of the room and the amp racks installed in another, I will occasionally run into a situation where their power is coming from two different sources with different paths to ground causing hum. As you well know from also doing thousands of live gigs, you have to plug the FOH mix gear into the same place you're plugging in the amps - or you're going to have nothing but problems.

    I recently had a church client ask why their system hummed. Their 15 year old building was expanded 5 years ago to double its size, older power at one end, where their powered speakers are plugged in. Newer power at the other end of the room where they built their new sound booth. I explained to them they were powered by two different panels and had two paths to ground. They basically said, 'no that can't be it.' They called a month later to see if I had any other ideas. I told them I hadn't been thinking of new ideas, because I already told them what the problem was. Again, they didn't believe that could be it. We scheduled a meeting, I took a 100ft. extension cord, and powered their mixer and FOH rack from the same circuit as the powered speakers - dead quiet. Plugged their mixer and rack back into the receptacle in the booth… hummmmm. Back into my 100ft. cable…. dead quiet. Not much room for debate after a 60 second demonstration. They don't have to be on the same circuit, but you really need to power the two locations from the same leg of the same electrical panel.

    My biggest challenges are older churches and schools that have added on to their building over the span of many decades. What you end up with a spliced together mess from 3 or 4 eras of electrical standards. So you might find old knob & tube wiring in the oldest part of the building from the early 1900s, when Edison was frying up some elephant and electricity first came to town. Cobble that together with the better (but still often ungrounded) asbestos coated wiring used in the 50s - 70s, when they added a wing onto the building. Then the most modern part of the building is all up to current code, but still electrically tied to the older parts of the building that were 'grandfathered in'.

    The worst noise problem ever was a local school that was giving me buzzing nightmares a few years ago, some of the learned folks here like Boswell and Remy had some tips that were helpful. The auditorium was 'the perfect storm' of little electrical gremlins, but in the end it was a design flaw in the brand new economy-line Soundcraft mixer that was generating the incredibly irritating buzzing noise. (as did the replacement Soundcraft mixer, and the replacement-replacement Soundcraft mixer)

    I don't have a Noise Sniffer. If the power is polluted to the point we have audible noise in the system - the whole system kinda acts as the sniffer. I do have a small battery powered amp/speaker with an inductor coil which can sense EMI/RFI without being plugged into the power. I can also take an oscilloscope or whatever else is necessary to get some visual evidence.

    With the level of electrical filtering you have Chris, you should have a super low audio noise-floor. So if you plug in a noise-maker that is spewing garbage back into the power it should be pretty easy to detect and deal with.
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Indeed, thanks Remy,
    I have one of these http://www.furmansound.com/product.php?id=IT-20_II in my studio, that I bought from our very Dave
    (dvdhawk) here, I swear by it. I wouldn't build a studio without one. I should run a line over to that for the keyboards but what Dave is talking about looks pretty cool. Definitely for the remote work like he and I do.
     
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi Remy!!
    I was just talking about (writing about) you. I think you'll find he is using balanced power from a Furman IT-20, unless he's changed something.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thats the one Dave, thanks!
    And what an interesting post! Indeed, my system is dead quiet but I have a few EMU rack modules that horribly noisy. If I cut the ground on those they are tolerable but its always disturbed me doing that. I don't use them really, they are left overs from an older synth system but ya know... hard to give them away.
     
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Rapid fire there for a few minutes.

    When you said you have a noisy keyboard, it made me think about the buzzy MIDI module I have. Guess what, it's an Emu ½ rack MIDI piano module. The noise isn't in the audio, as much as it is the wall-wart that powers it. The wall-wart itself audibly hums/buzzes, so the noise doesn't come from my speakers, it comes from the back of the rack. Live it was never a problem, but it would drive you nuts after a while in a quiet room. My Emu Proteus module was never a problem, just this Emu Proformance piano module and it's power supply.
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Both Planet Phatt and Orbit are terrible. I have to cut the ground.
     
  11. JakeAC5253

    JakeAC5253 Active Member

    Interesting video. I don't know how many amps what I'm using pulls. I have a fairly meaty PC system that has a 600w power supply, and as of last I checked, that's under spec for the system and in need of upgrading. Powered studio monitors, preamps, converters, and of course the gamut of obligatory 100w tube guitar amps. How much current that's going to pull I don't know. It's never tripped a breaker yet, so maybe I should look at the rating that's on the circuit as that might give me a clue.

    Yes, I hear you about most of the lower end "power conditioners" being not much more than a couple shunt capacitors and an overage shunt as well (basically a power strip). I'm really looking for something that's "next step" to that, so I like what you are saying about the Voltage Regulator unit. And it's got a nice price too, if that's going to be the answer to at least a few of my problems. So do you think I could get this http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AR1215/ and see a marked improvement? (by pure speculation)

    Ick, those plugs are not supportive of wall warts, kinda disappointing for this price point.
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have these connected to my Furman power conditioner. These works great: (y)
    View: http://youtu.be/TM8ikP1hb08

    The APC has a control panel that display itb, how much each piece pulls and will give audio or silent warnings before something occurs. Maybe someone here can explain why these are the best thing for my converters? They filter every click in the studio out.
     
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Jake, I hope you're not misunderstanding where the cut-off line is (in my opinion anyway). The Furman-PL and ETA-PD referenced do a really nice job and are miles better than the hardware store surge protector. I couldn't swear to how effective the cheaper Furman M (or Merit) series conditioners are. They're still probably more effective than the generic MOV based surge protector. The four brands I use, all do the job, or I wouldn't use them.

    If the one you're looking at isn't wall-wart friendly, there's no reason you can't use a cheaper power strip plugged into the good conditioner or regulator. These little guys, or something similar can also be very handy.

    Chris, I've talked to experienced touring guys who always had to check to make sure they DIDN'T have any AC ground-lift adapters when they crossed the border into Canada. They said there was a substantial fine for each one found on their bus, or in their truck(s). So I always assumed in Canada they would cut the middle prong off any guy who cut the ground off a power cable.
     

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