Do I need a power conditioner?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by noah1i8, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. noah1i8

    noah1i8 Member

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    This has probably been asked before, but I couldn't find anything with Search.

    If I'm running a relatively simple recording setup (2 GAP pres, a Focusrite PRO 24 or 40 Saffire interface) do I really need a power conditioner? I've read that most power conditioners are just glorified surge protectors.

    Am I potentially endangering my equipment and/or sound quality by not using a power conditioner?
     
  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    Well it depends on what you mean by power conditioner. If you mean a high end unit that is actually a voltage regulator, then yes, I think it adds more protection for your gear then a simple power strip. If you mean a $100 Furman, it is convenient, but it really is a glorified power strip.

    That said I use glorified power strips in both my racks.
     
  3. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    With that gear i wouldn't really bother so much...power conditioners come in really handy when you have racks full of professional gear, but for just a couple of prosumer pieces like in your collection i'd just go with a decent surge protector. They have their benefits of course, but i can't see it benefiting your setup all that much (unless you have crap wiring in your house), though i'm frequently wrong...
     
  4. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    Real power conditioning costs real money... a $50 rack strip is not a power conditioner and the $100 Furmans don't add much more then an extra layer of protection from massive overvoltage.

    That said I do have a Monster 3500 which I bought only because it solved a very specific problem that I had traced back to a computer in the studio. Even though it was on a separate AC circuit and running from a UPS with no audio hookup whatsoever I was getting low-level noise from the spinning drives coming back into the console and other gear.

    Until you start accumulating a few racks of gear you probably don't need a conditioner, and even then dressing the leads well & having a solid grounding scheme generally keeps noise in check.
     
  5. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I've never used one and I've never had any issues with noise.

    You'd be better off spending your money on wiring up your studio so it's running balanced, +4 audio.
     
  6. weshunter

    weshunter Supporting Member

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    will you explain this a little? what do you need to get to make sure you're running balanced +4 audio? i'm running a duet into a couple of yamaha monitors - is there some kind of special cable i need for the monitors?
     
  7. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    If it's the original duet, it has unbalanced outputs, you'd need to get one of the 3rd party breakout boxes with a built in transformer to get it balanced.
     
  8. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    You don't need to make sure, especially if the gear you own doesn't have that capability, but if you were to acquire and correctly wire up gear that runs at +4, noise wouldn't be an issue.
     
  9. Joseph Hanna

    Joseph Hanna Member

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    Naw this is just not correct loudboy. That is to say if the OP actually has genuine electric problems. When I had my studio up in the hills of Topanga electric was sporadic at best. Voltage would drop into the "brown out" zone virtually all day. That is INCREDIBLE difficult on equipment. It's particular hard on computers which live and die on regulated power and also puts the ten or so hard drives I have in constant jeopardy. Most hardware devices have stout voltage regulators so it tends to effect the hardware a little less. That said my C3 and leslie turn into ugly sounding, sharp edged piece of crud. My old Mesa/Boogie would cackle like a hen. No matter how sensitive any piece of equipment might be to brown outs the wear and tear alone is Titanic.

    The fix was expensive but had to be done. Maybe the cost of doing business in Topanga.

    Still buying shielded cable is utterly no solution in this type of scenario.
     
  10. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    You had crappy power.

    I doubt this guy does - he didn't say he was having problems.

    So, it's probably not necessary in his case...
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    First, total agreement with Loudboy and J Moose.

    Power conditioners can be divided into AC filters, and some do a little bit of voltage regulation; and isolation transformers, that literally separate your equipment from the AC line and regenerate clean and regulated AC power. Isolation transformers can then be divided into those simply sending out that power, and those sending out balanced AC.

    Balanced AC is a relatively new creature (maybe approved for only the last 10-15 years though experimented with for a long time), that works like a balanced audio line. The two legs of the system are 180 degrees out of phase with one another to cancel out 60Hz hum and other noise that can be radiated into audio cables from the power cables attached to one's gear.

    If you have a noise problem on your power lines (this can happen with poorly maintained power company lines, or even neighbors with a faulty appliance), an iso transformer with balanced AC can lower the noise floor by 6-10 decibels, which is significant.

    But balanced AC will not solve problems caused by ground loops, etc., and that's the first place to look to solve noise problems.

    I'd guess if you're not having noise problems, you don't need balanced AC.

    I use an isolation transformer with balanced AC left over from my days with lots of rack gear and a big mixer, even though I'm now "in the box." I could probably get by without it, but WTF. ;)
     
  12. noah1i8

    noah1i8 Member

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    Thanks for all the responses guys.
    Just to clarify, Im scaling down my recording rig for when I go to college in the fall (most likely in NYC at this point). So I think I'll just bring a 1 space rack with my interface, preamp, and a power strip and see how it goes.
     

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