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Topic: Power Conditioning

  1. #1

    Power Conditioning

    A little off topic, but not too much -- can anyone explain clearly what kind of power conditioner I should buy for my Home Studio, ProTools HD3, 5.1 system?

    Let's assume price is no option, as I'm resigned to spending about $3,000, and am looking at either a combination of the Monster Pro7000 and the Monster Pro AVS 2000 OR the Equi=Tech 1RQ. I'm having trouble understanding all the technical talk on the websites and would love a simple explanation. Do I really need both Monster units, as a Mix Magazine review suggests, or could I just use the Pro7000 by itself?

    Also, since I'll be running new power lines, is there an advantage of installing 240 volts instead of 120?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Richard Berg's Avatar
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    Jul 2002
    Chapel Hill, NC

    Re: Power Conditioning

    "Power conditioning" is a (deliberately) vague term. What do you want? Surge suppression, battery backup, ...?

  3. #3

    Re: Power Conditioning

    I'm starting construction on a home studio, so i want whatever is best in the long run. I obviously want surge protection for all the computer gear, and then I would like balanced power for the speakers and interfaces to get the lowest noise level and best audio quality.

    Currently I just have a mish mash of power strips and no real organization.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  4. #4

    Re: Power Conditioning

    I would like to know that too... I tried to reed a bit about it and..

  5. #5

    Re: Power Conditioning

    People's opinions on this are all over the map, so I can only tell you my experience. I have a two room commercial studio, both with ProTools HD rigs (as well as analog 24 track which see little action these days.)

    In 15 years of this, I've never had power conditioning of any kind. Maybe some surge suppressors on the cheap power strips, but hardly any of the important stuff (tape machines, mixers) is on them.

    In all that time, I'm not aware of any problems. But then it's hard to say if some of the minor things like synth power supplies dying or meter lights burning out would have been less frequent with power conditioning. I don't think so (and one tech agrees with me) but who knows.

    I considered balanced power, but then a guy told me I'd eliminate my buzzes by running each studio on a single 20 or 30 amp circuit. I'll be darned if that didn't work! I no longer use ground lifts. Instead of a separate circuit for the tape machine, separate circuit for the mixer, etc, they all run just fine on one circuit breaker and it never trips. Lights are on a separate circuit though, but they don't effect anything. Guitars still buzz somewhat, but I kind of think that's from computer monitors or something rather than power.

    Your house is already 240 Volt. The city wouldn't allow you to only run a single 120 volt line to your house. 240 volt just means two 120 volt lines out of phase with each other. That way, the white wire can be a "common" and hopefully the two phases cancel most of each others' grounds out so the white common (which acts as a ground) isn't overloaded. The green wire ground is more of a safety than electrical ground.

    If you're running new lines to a garage or something from your house, I'd run the studio on one "phase" and the lights and other stuff on the other phase. Each of those phases is 120 volts. It's terminology you don't really need to know because any halfway competent electrician or handyman will know this part.

  6. #6

    Re: Power Conditioning

    Given that people have such radically different opinions - half (like Mike and I, who are both in the SF Valley) saying it makes no difference, half saying it improves the sound more than a better singer does - I suspect that areas or maybe just buildings with dirty power benefit from these boxes, and places where the power isn't all that bad don't.

    I also had a circuit run from the breaker into my room when we were having earthquake damage fixed 12 years ago, and it did help with hum a little bit. But I wasn't having big problems before.

    Also, it's more complicated now that computers have replaced so much hardware.

  7. #7

    Re: Power Conditioning

    But Stephen, what is all that based on? A lot of people - professionals with good ears - will tell you they hear a big difference using balanced power or an isolation transformer. I'm not saying you're wrong, just questioning why you're confident enough to make such a bold statement.

    By the way, I have an isolation transformer box of sorts and I don't hear any difference using it here (Sherman Oaks, CA). (It's called a Humbuster, made by a regrettably defunct company called Midimotor, and it's designed to lift the grounds for you in a safe way; but it's really just an isolation transformer. And it does get rid of ground loops, which is really the only reason I use it.)

    Equi=Tech sent one of their boxes in for review when I was at Recording magazine a few years ago. One writer hooked it up and heard absolutely no difference, so he passed on doing the review. I had him send it to another writer - I forget where - but he did hear a difference. That's where my theory comes from.

    As to whether a Radio Shack surge protector offers as much protection as an expensive one, who knows. But why is the Furman box ten times the price? Is it better? And is the ART copy less expensive than the Furman because it's made in China, because they're less greedy, and/or because they cut corners? (I'm not insulting ART, just suggesting generic possibilities - they may just be making a less expensive box, and there's nothing cynical about that if it's just designed to be in a lower price range.)

    I don't know the answers. And as I said, I don't know whether balanced power makes any difference if you're plugging computers into the same circuit as your audio interface.

  8. #8

    Re: Power Conditioning

    I've been considering looking at some kind of power conditioner, and wondered if there was any difference in the more expensive ones or the cheaper furmans.

    I did a guitar session a little over a year ago. My amp was plugged into an outlet on it's own circuit, and just from the amp sitting idol, I could hear the electricity fluctuating randomly. It drove me nuts, they've never heard it until I pointed it out. Who knows what exactly the deal was.

    I've also lost a midi controller, a firewire drive, power adapter to a powerbook, and a few other wall warts on a cheap protecting powerstrip from radio shack from lightning. Lesson learned- you hear thunder, just unplug

  9. #9

    Re: Power Conditioning

    The question is whether any circuit breakers can trigger fast enough to protect you from lightning, and I think the answer is no - which I guess is what you're saying, Aaron.

  10. #10

    Re: Power Conditioning

    Yes, on the latter part.

    The first part was more directed at power conditioners, don't they give you consistent power? I don't think we as computer/midi users really don't hear how inconsistent power can be, but my amp cranked really brought it out. I'm sure location has alot to do with it too, as I was an hour away and it seems fine here. I don't think it was a ground issue, as that tells you in a different irritating/numbing way. As far as protecting your gear with a power conditioner.... that seems pretty pricey, outside of lightning, I don't think I've lost any gear from inconsistent power.... I usually blame the drink I just spilt

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