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Studio Power

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Stopgo, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. Stopgo

    Stopgo Member

    Messages:
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    Jan 22, 2004
    Location:
    Seattle
    Hey all,

    In the planning process of finishing my basement out and turning it into a practice room/ recording space. Running a pretty simple protools rig, a few outboard pre's/ compressors, and a powered PA . . . and of course a few guitar rigs and a bass setup.

    So what electrical tips can ya'll give me? Any special power requirements? I am not doing this myself but am having a licensed electrician come in to do the work and I want to get it right the first time . . .

    thanks
     
  2. jzb

    jzb Member

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    Sep 1, 2003
    Location:
    West of Boston
    I'ts gonna be costly.

    Things that I'm doing right now as I build my new home studio (in my new home):

    1) Seperate Service panel from the house.
    2) Seperate runs for instruments, outboard, console, and monitoring use.
    3) Monster (tm) power conditioners at either home run or at use site.

    It depends on what your trying to accomplish really.

    -j
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

    Messages:
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    Jan 4, 2002
    I use a 2KVA Sola isolation transformer, which has been converted to balanced power operation by my tech, and which, in turn, powers all of the power outlets in my studio.

    The Monster power conditioners are merely hi-fi type filter banks, and you can buy similar stuff from Furman, but really, this is consumer level stuff that doesn't do much.

    To really lower your noise floor, you need an isolation transformer; to minimize hums and buzzes, balanced power is a good idea. Balanced power works on the same principle as a balanced audio line, and it meets US Codes. What it does is virtually eliminate the hum generated from proximity of audio cables to AC power cords. Check out the Furman 1220 for an example of a balanced power isolation transformer. It's a good unit.

    I don't believe in needing separate runs for everything, though this can be really a good idea (I have a separate run for my studio), but if you have powerful power amps for your monitors, you might do a separate run for those. Of course, this doubles your cost, because you also need an isolation transformer for this run or you lose all of the benefits of the first isolation transformer.

    I have gotten away with a single Sola for my entire recording rig for years, including for the power amps, and have had no problems whatsoever. My rig is VERY quiet; the only noise is thermal noise from the transistors, or residual hash from the digital gear, and you only hear it with the level controls dimed.

    You might find that you have ground loops, hums and buzzes at first. If so, this has nothing to do with your power conditioning, isolation, etc., and it is solved by a grounding block, properly installed, with offending gear star grounded to it, and the block connected via a grounding strap to a central grounding point, such as the grounding lug on most recording consoles' power supplies (assuming your console has a separate power supply).

    My isolation transformer is set up with a proper earthed ground, via thick wire. My tech installed a heavy duty grounding block, and simple wires are attached to the chassis of gear that hums via simply attaching the spade lug on the wire to a chassis screw. You can tell what will work by touching a screw on the chassis of all your gear with the grounding wire. If the system suddenly gets quieter, you have found an offending piece of gear.

    After you get your gear installed, do have it, and your electrical system, checked out by a good studio tech familiar with grounding issues. Trust me on this, you will save yourself a LOT of headaches. Nothing is worse than a recording with hums and buzzes on it.
     
  4. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Location:
    Lanchester Durham England
    I have to agree that for a home studio you do not need totally separate mains feeds.

    Yes a separate feed for lighting and power sockets from your house main breaker box via a correctly rated ELCB's is needed but once you have the power fed to your basement the simple rules apply.

    You can rum most things via your ring mains and just have a spike isolator on your computer and Pro tools set-up like you would any domestic computer system.

    Personally I run everything in my music room via my mains wall sockets and have no problems at all and they are fed via 10 amp ELCB's.

    Obviously consult your electrician but I dont think that isolating every feed is required for a home studio set-up these days.
     
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Jan 4, 2002
    Gary, it depends how much gear you have wired together in your home studio.

    I have all my gear's I/O attached to five 96 point TT patch bays. That's 480 little wires, and the same number of connections to synths, samplers, outboard, all the console I/O, etc.

    When you have a lot of gear, you need to pay attention to grounding, and if you have problems with your AC power (mine looks horrible on a scope, and this problem is VERY common in the US), you need to do something about it.
     
  6. Stopgo

    Stopgo Member

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    Jan 22, 2004
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks for the help guys . . . however, I'm not very tech minded and am having a dificult time understanding most of what you are saying and am predicting having an even tougher time explaining any of this to an electrician. Would you recommend hiring a "regular" electrician to do the majority of the build out, and then a "studio" electrician to do my recording wiring (was already going to hire a guy to set up my patch bays)? Or would a regular electrician be able to do the vast majority of the work? If so maybe a list of requirments, items, design ideas . . . or even a website where I could simply d/l a "studio wiring for dummies"

    thanks all!

    also: a subpanel is already being added onto the main electrical box (if that makes a difference)
     
  7. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Location:
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    I appreciate that I suppose I was just thinking of the average pro tools set up rather than a mega analogue installation.

    We are lucky here in the Uk that the mains is reasonably clean and everything is earthed via three pin plugs.
     

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