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Power conditioners

Discussion in 'Recording' started by cleamon, May 17, 2005.

  1. cleamon

    cleamon Guest

    I've been considering the purchase of a UPS for my 'critical' equipment. Just enough power to prevent losing precious data. I'm not worried about outboard equipment, just my DAW.
    How important is it to also have power conditioning? What are the effects of not having it? In other words, does it affect the quality of the recordings in any way? I've looked at the Furman units. Are there others available that are recommended for digital recording equipment?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    The lower priced power conditioners are basically rack mounted surge protecters...there really isn't anything special there.

    I'd like an answer to this question as well. I could be really wrong, but if you put a REAL power conditioner that actually cleans up your power source...then I think it would make an improvement on recordings. Since the quality of preamps are based on the power supply in most cases (wall wart or internal) then it would make sense that inadequate power or "dirty" power would cause that preamp to function below it's potential.

    Like I said I could be totally off, but it makes sense in my head.
  3. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Also...the effect of not having a surge protector or power conditioner is easy. Your delicate electronics aren't protected from spikes.
  4. cleamon

    cleamon Guest

    I tend to agree with you on both counts (inexpensive option and spikes) Arthur. I was wondering about any other effects as well as other conditioners available and people's experience and/or testimonials. I believe you are correct regarding tube equipment and power quaility.

    Even a cheap one is better than merely a power strip.

    I'd also like to know about lightening protection available.

  5. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Lightning protection is a very difficult, costly proposition. For most of us, it's likely better to make sure our insurance coverage will cover possible loss. Look over the POLYPHASER web site.

    That said, other than a direct hit, very close to your stuff, good surge protection can help alot - most of the time it will work and we won't even know it(The vast majority of surges are tiny and do not come from lightning.). UPS's offer some to very good surge protection. I bought a BELKIN unit

    Furman-type(Or local hardware store type for that matter.) protection can be very good for auxiliary gear not connected to the UPS, or for stage or portable use - look for "RFI" protection as a further feature of the better units. I must have 30 outlets, in the studio alone, covered with at least a cheap surge protector/strip. Be advised, some surge protection devices "wear out" over time - using up a little bit(Or alot!) of themselves with each surge. Other methods may not degrade! Do your homework. Look at the SURGE-X, web site.

    Along those same lines, "balanced" power can be helpful with noise and may even extend equipment life in other ways... BP can also be very expensive, but, still, worth one's time to investigate... Search BALANCED POWER.

    If you're going to buy a UPS anyway(And you are...), basically, get the largest one you can afford. Also, make sure to note how the outlets are set-up on it. Some offer room to plug-in our wall warts. Plug as much into it as it will hold - why not? At least your computer, monitor, most everything you may be working with during a power-outage. Idea is to have the time(As little as a couple of minutes) and ability to "finish/save" what you're doing(At least temporarily), and turn-off your system safely during a power outage. Of course, with a large enough UPS(Or a generator to take over) you could just go on working... Biggest problem, for us audio-types, is that the automatic monitoring/shutdown, software with UPS's may NOT be usable! Not for us! As, like most automatic things, it can interrupt our streaming processes, just checking to see if it's needed. I use my UPS with none of it's software installed, figuring that when I'm doing anythig critical, I'll be here to notice the power has gone out and can shut-down things manually. When I'm not here and the computer is running(Though doing nothing) anyway, I count on my backups/images, to "save me" if the UPS finally gives up during an outage and the machine goes down "wrong" and things get screwed-up...

    Try, always, to plug gear that works together into the same wall outlet/circuit. At least informally, calculate the amount of power used, per outlet, so as not to even come close to overloading any circuit. Adding a new circuit, breaker, wall outlet, etc., is a whole lot cheaper than replacing the house after a fire... And, if you contemplate adding circuits, investigate putting some of this protection right at the breaker!

    Good thing to do? When you know you won't be using your computer(Over the weekend?), turn-off(Or unplug) your computer, monitor and other sensitive gear from the UPS. Now, unplug the UPS from the wall and let it "run" the gear still plugged into it, on it's battery. Let it's internal battery discharge - not all the way, but, say, with a desk lamp(Or two) connected to the UPS(As well as everything else that won't suffer from decreasing voltage), wait for the lamp to get noticably dim - may take awhile, but MONITOR IT!!! DON"T LET IT DISCHARGE COMPLETELY, or you'll be buying a new battery!!! - then plug the UPS back in and let it charge - give it 24 hours or more(Turn the lamp off and leave the computer/monitor, etc. off.). Doing this discharge/charge cycle, even once in awhile, should extend the life of the UPS battery. To do a better discharge/charge, use a meter and the gel cell battery manufacturers recommendations as to how low to let it go before recharging. Look at any Gel cell manufacturers web site - YUASA or POWERSONIC(Powersonic has an excellent description of gel cell batteries and their care.).


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