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Author Topic: Power Conditioners  (Read 7446 times)

Brian Charbobs

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Power Conditioners
« on: August 07, 2015, 06:21:26 am »

Does anybody here use a Power Conditioner?
Do they work as stated as "protecting your important gear from problems caused by AC line voltage irregularities".
Or is this all a gimmick?
I spoke with a local guy that use's a very high end Furman, and he claims his sound system is much cleaner, as in no noise when there is nothing going through it.it, and the system sounds "better".
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2015, 06:55:03 am »

Does anybody here use a Power Conditioner?
Do they work as stated as "protecting your important gear from problems caused by AC line voltage irregularities".
Or is this all a gimmick?
I spoke with a local guy that use's a very high end Furman, and he claims his sound system is much cleaner, as in no noise when there is nothing going through it.it, and the system sounds "better".
They can be an effective placebo. They won't make a system "cleaner" sounding.  If they have over/under voltage shutdown, that may save some gear, but "surge protection" is pretty useless. There are quite a few threads on this if you search.
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Scott Wagner

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2015, 10:36:39 am »

Does anybody here use a Power Conditioner?
Do they work as stated as "protecting your important gear from problems caused by AC line voltage irregularities".
Or is this all a gimmick?
I spoke with a local guy that use's a very high end Furman, and he claims his sound system is much cleaner, as in no noise when there is nothing going through it.it, and the system sounds "better".
TJ hit the nail on the head. Most of the time, you're better off with a decent rack power strip (without any surge suppression). That said, I have one in my rack for monitoring line voltage during the show. I wouldn't use it to replace my DMM, but it does a good job of monitoring voltage sag and the lights come in handy every now and then.
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Scott Wagner
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2015, 12:23:31 pm »

Does this come up often enough to make a sticky?

IME, the only thing I've heard that actually changes how much audible noise is in a system is an isolation transformer.  Which can actually help with noisy lines from neon lights, refrigerators and the like.

Autotap transformers like the Furman AR series can help things with unregulated power supplies like guitar amps sound more consistent.  In some cases they might help with voltage sag that causes problems with digital amps shutting down although by drawing more current at the reduced line voltage I'm not sure how sustainable this is before breakers or wiring pop.

Beyond that most of the "conditioning" that happens is beyond audible frequencies.  Now it is possible that reducing these might lower some sub harmonics or potential beat frequencies from multiple interferences, but not likely.

While PAs are getting better, next to incandescent lighting, they are the biggest electrical draw on stage.  Most power conditioners are limited to 15 amps.  Any sort of substantial PA could draw more than that.  So you wouldn't be able to use one anyway.

Clean solid connections, particularly on the grounds are the most effective tool against noise and power problems.  In my little world I'm on a mission to stamp out those cheap plastic power strips.  I've had countless problems with ground loops where somebody has used one of those things.  You can buy similar sized 6 outlet strips with standard duplex outlets that look the same as what's in your wall.  I have one where I replaced the duplex outlets with commercial grade ones, took out the surge suppressor MOV and replaced the cable with 15' of 14AWG SJ and a Leviton commercial grade plug.  This is what I take to bars where I need to plug in my guitar amp or I'm using my Gigrack powered mixer.  I also have a stringer with 12AWG SJ and quad boxes with commercial grade duplexes in them that I try to get the rest of the band to plug into.  This helps limit ground noise around the stage by having good ground connections instead of the cheesy contacts in those plastic strips.  I also have a proper 12AWG SO stringer and drops to run off either the poorman's distro in my sub amp rack (if the gigs big enough to need subs, it's big enough for proper power distribution) or a proper distro.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2015, 01:18:15 pm »

No, a power conditioner is not going to have a significant effect on your sound, especially with today's gear.   Most gear today uses switching power supplies which by their very design are power conditioners.  Older gear with linear power supplies may be more susceptible to picking up noise from the power line.

What's worse, is many 'power conditioners' simply use MOVs that are there to shunt voltage spikes to ground.  The problem is, sometimes the MOVs start to leak, and now you end up with ground loop buzz.  I can't tell you the number of times I've solved ground loop problems by removing said devices from the system.

The only conditioners that may be helpful are voltage regulators.  These would boost the voltage if there is a sag, or clamp it if there is a surge, but unless the swings are outside the safe listed range of your gear, it's not necessary.  With a switching power supply that can run between 100-240 volts, a sag to 105 volts isn't going to matter, as the device is designed to deal with that already.

What is handy to have with a rack mount power supply is a voltage meter, circuit breaker, and lights.  Even better is one with a current meter so you can see how close you are to tripping the breaker.  The conditioning and protection inside is much less useful.
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Brian Jojade

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2015, 01:46:16 pm »

Does anybody here use a Power Conditioner?
Do they work as stated as "protecting your important gear from problems caused by AC line voltage irregularities".
Or is this all a gimmick?
I spoke with a local guy that use's a very high end Furman, and he claims his sound system is much cleaner, as in no noise when there is nothing going through it.it, and the system sounds "better".

Compared to what, his old collection of extension cords with missing ground pins?

Other than the voltage correction, multi tap transformers like Furman's AR series (worth it for what they do, not for anything else) there is no actual "conditioning".  If there's not voltage correction it's a glorified power strip with MOVs that will eventually fail and contribute to grounding conductor contamination.

Any reduction in your friend's system noise is a result of either fixing bad/missing grounds (see above) or he did other things at the same time and did a better job of gain-staging his system.

Furman is submitting a new product to Mike Sokol, the moderator of the the PSW AC Power & Grounding forum.  This unit supposedly does some kind of actual conditioning and Mike is going to poke and prod it and see what it does and invite a Furman engineer to participate in the discussion.  I highly recommend that forum.  There is some very good technical discussion there and Mike keeps it lively.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 01:53:18 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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Jeff Hague

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2015, 04:28:54 pm »

Does anybody here use a Power Conditioner?
Do they work as stated as "protecting your important gear from problems caused by AC line voltage irregularities".
Or is this all a gimmick?
I spoke with a local guy that use's a very high end Furman, and he claims his sound system is much cleaner, as in no noise when there is nothing going through it.it, and the system sounds "better".

I have furman PL-C units in my racks (except the amp racks). As most have said, the meter and the lights are the most useful thing - and a plug right on the front for my phone charger.
They used to make me feel warm and fuzzy when plugging in digital consoles but I have had 2 experiences on generators recently where they shut down bc of extreme voltage. I think a true UPS is probably a better investment.
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Mike Monte

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2015, 08:32:49 am »

I have furman PL-C units in my racks (except the amp racks). As most have said, the meter and the lights are the most useful thing - and a plug right on the front for my phone charger.
They used to make me feel warm and fuzzy when plugging in digital consoles but I have had 2 experiences on generators recently where they shut down bc of extreme voltage. I think a true UPS is probably a better investment.
Maybe the PL-C unit shutting down due to a generator's high-voltage situation was a good thing...  On a recent outdoor gig I ran my entire rig through a Furman power conditioner (yes, three power amps, and all) on a stage who's power was supplied by a non-inverter generator.  The feed from the generator was 14 amps so I gave it a shot.  It worked..... Was it ideal - no.  Did it work bc of the Furman (?)
 
Let's face it, most sound gigs for us "plain folks (me) ie; part timers" usually come with power issues of one sort or another (sharing circuits with coffee urns, feeezers, tent lights,...you get the picture..).  Anything moderately-priced that I can add to my racks to help (or may help) in any way (ease of setup, protection, etc.) I'll try.

All of my amp racks have a Furman power conditioner.  If I have adequate power (a dedicated 20 amp circuit or multiple circuits), I will run the sub amplifier (Itech 6000/8000 depending on the rack) directly to the wall but many times I am left with less than adequate power situations. 

I like the meter and the multiple outlets (plus the outlet in the front) of the Furman units.         
Mike M
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g'bye, Dick Rees

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2015, 08:50:07 am »

Maybe the PL-C unit shutting down due to a generator's high-voltage situation was a good thing...  On a recent outdoor gig I ran my entire rig through a Furman power conditioner (yes, three power amps, and all) on a stage who's power was supplied by a non-inverter generator.  The feed from the generator was 14 amps so I gave it a shot.  It worked..... Was it ideal - no.  Did it work bc of the Furman (?)

No, absolutely not.  Units of that type are glorified multiple outlets.
 
Quote
Let's face it, most sound gigs for us "plain folks (me) ie; part timers" usually come with power issues of one sort or another (sharing circuits with coffee urns, feeezers, tent lights,...you get the picture..).  Anything moderately-priced that I can add to my racks to help (or may help) in any way (ease of setup, protection, etc.)

The "remedy" for the above is to NOT share with catering and lighting.  The only help you can get with rack mount power stuff is in the realm of the AR series gear from Furman where the line voltage is actually being regulated to output 117v AC given an input range between 92-around 132 volts...I can't remember the exact range right now.  This type of unit does afford some decent protection at a price.

 The other solution is to buy yourself a Honda EU3000is generator.

Power strips offer INFORMATION and RACK LIGHTS, but ZERO PROTECTION.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2015, 09:54:58 am »

It depends on what you are calling a "conditioner"

Is it a simple device that has some MOVs in it to offer some protection against spikes.

But won't do anything for continuous overvoltage conditions.

Or a MUCH MUCH  more expensive unit that takes the incoming AC and regulates it, and has a constant voltage output-even when the line fluctuates.

But neither unit will do anything to make the sound system quieter or sound better.

Unless of course you want to "believe" it does ;)
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