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Author Topic: Power Conditioners  (Read 7449 times)

Luke Geis

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #30 on: August 16, 2015, 06:38:20 pm »

Tube amps could care less about what voltage they get. They will likely not work very long when ran at 130+ volts, but that is only if the amp design was already set to run the tubes that is in it near their max specs anyway. Most are designed to run about 70-80% of max ratings for the tube design they utilize and then the bias circuit sets the current draw form the tubes to be within 70-80% as well. So a high voltage surge or spike is likely not going to upset them too much. Honestly tube amps would probably sound better in under voltage situations, they tend to sag and break up more bringing to life the essence of the " Brown Sound " associated with the term brown out. Solid state products require regulated voltages in order to work properly. This is why some modern digital amps will simply shut down if they are powered with less than about 100 volts. My Crown XTI amps will anyway.

As far as I'm concerned,  a Furman or other inexpensive rack mounted 15 amp power strip is nothing more than that; a rack mounted power strip. Now if your going to spend $300 bucks on a rack mounted power distro, then you may be getting something of value. It will have surge and over voltage protection and it may even have some amount of ripple smoothing to " condition " the power. If you go and open up your $80 dollar you will be sadly disappointed to see that it is not any more than some typical outlets with a couple MOV's mounted across the leads to help with ripple smoothing and to give a path to neutral for surge protection. They do most of what they say they do. They do protect with lightening strikes and extreme power conditions, but do not expect them to make your PA sound Hi-Def or something that it already isn't.

Here is the inside of a cheapo.....


I can say that my cheap $80 rack mounted Furman has done it's job for me though. I had an instance where I was supplied a genie to connect to. I checked the voltage and it did meter out, but something was not right. I told the " power guy " that something wasn't right and he assured me it was. I went ahead and turned the Furman on. It immediately went zzzzzzzztttttttt and turned off. This was a small gig where I had everything I owned plugged into it....... I was a little less than pleased to say the least. I went back to the power guy and told him something was wrong and I that until he can show me that it is right I am not doing another thing. He double checked and came back with an I'm sorry, the legs got swapped. I was measuring 120 volts, but not from the correct plugs. I am not certain what exactly he did wrong, but I do know that after he fixed it and I could confirm it. I turned the Furman back on with everything else disconnected and it was happy top supply me with power. So the $80 rack mount surge protector did it's job. I always check any power that is not familiar to me because of this event. I just happened to do it this particular day ( it was early in my career ) and should have stuck to my guns to begin with. It is so far the only show where I have had a power problem that I caught. If I knew then what I know now I would have made more of a stink from the get go. I figured that it's his job to know and that should be enough to go on........... If your in doubt, find out.........
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Filipe Gomes

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2015, 03:40:27 am »

Tube amps could care less about what voltage they get. They will likely not work very long when ran at 130+ volts, but that is only if the amp design was already set to run the tubes that is in it near their max specs anyway. Most are designed to run about 70-80% of max ratings for the tube design they utilize and then the bias circuit sets the current draw form the tubes to be within 70-80% as well. So a high voltage surge or spike is likely not going to upset them too much. Honestly tube amps would probably sound better in under voltage situations, they tend to sag and break up more bringing to life the essence of the " Brown Sound " associated with the term brown out. Solid state products require regulated voltages in order to work properly. This is why some modern digital amps will simply shut down if they are powered with less than about 100 volts. My Crown XTI amps will anyway.

As far as I'm concerned,  a Furman or other inexpensive rack mounted 15 amp power strip is nothing more than that; a rack mounted power strip. Now if your going to spend $300 bucks on a rack mounted power distro, then you may be getting something of value. It will have surge and over voltage protection and it may even have some amount of ripple smoothing to " condition " the power. If you go and open up your $80 dollar you will be sadly disappointed to see that it is not any more than some typical outlets with a couple MOV's mounted across the leads to help with ripple smoothing and to give a path to neutral for surge protection. They do most of what they say they do. They do protect with lightening strikes and extreme power conditions, but do not expect them to make your PA sound Hi-Def or something that it already isn't.

Here is the inside of a cheapo.....


I can say that my cheap $80 rack mounted Furman has done it's job for me though. I had an instance where I was supplied a genie to connect to. I checked the voltage and it did meter out, but something was not right. I told the " power guy " that something wasn't right and he assured me it was. I went ahead and turned the Furman on. It immediately went zzzzzzzztttttttt and turned off. This was a small gig where I had everything I owned plugged into it....... I was a little less than pleased to say the least. I went back to the power guy and told him something was wrong and I that until he can show me that it is right I am not doing another thing. He double checked and came back with an I'm sorry, the legs got swapped. I was measuring 120 volts, but not from the correct plugs. I am not certain what exactly he did wrong, but I do know that after he fixed it and I could confirm it. I turned the Furman back on with everything else disconnected and it was happy top supply me with power. So the $80 rack mount surge protector did it's job. I always check any power that is not familiar to me because of this event. I just happened to do it this particular day ( it was early in my career ) and should have stuck to my guns to begin with. It is so far the only show where I have had a power problem that I caught. If I knew then what I know now I would have made more of a stink from the get go. I figured that it's his job to know and that should be enough to go on........... If your in doubt, find out.........
Aha great pick!  Maybe I didn't get my point across.  I believe that the tubes can deal with the surges, but with a nasty spike it's the transformer that it's going to 'break' under those situations (well over 230V).

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Scott Wagner

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2015, 09:23:06 am »

Aha great pick!  Maybe I didn't get my point across.  I believe that the tubes can deal with the surges, but with a nasty spike it's the transformer that it's going to 'break' under those situations (well over 230V).
Let me be clear. Tubes and transformers are robust. ICs are delicate.

I've got a radio/78 record player from the 30s that's never ever been on a surge protector, and it still functions perfectly. It's the same story with every tube amp I have in my collection.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Power Conditioners
« Reply #33 on: August 17, 2015, 06:58:55 pm »

Let me be clear. Tubes and transformers are robust. ICs are delicate.

I've got a radio/78 record player from the 30s that's never ever been on a surge protector, and it still functions perfectly. It's the same story with every tube amp I have in my collection.

Both are delicate instruments.  Tubes can handle a wider range of voltages, to be sure.  Transformers even more so.  ICs work on a much smaller voltage to begin with, so swings of even a volt or 2 on the IC can cause damage.  With most of today's gear, the power supplies in the unit to a heck of a job of shielding the sensitive circuits from problem AC.  It's been quite a while since I've run into any modern gear that cares about AC line noise or anything that a 'power conditioner' is supposed to fix. In fact, with much of my gear now, it's designed to operate on 90-240 volts.  Meaning, if I'm plugged in, and some idiot didn't connect the neutral and the voltage spikes to 180 volts, my equipment doesn't care.  Just keeps humming along like it should.

With older devices, having a stable supply voltage was much more important. Swings up or down could significantly alter the performance of the gear.  With switching power supplies, and their speed of adjustment, fluctuations in the voltage are much less of an issue.

Point of the story is, power conditioners are barely necessary.  Rack mounted power strips are convenient.  Voltage meters are a good thing.  Believing that your power strip is electrical magic that will make any real difference in if your rig works or not? Unlikely.  Money can be better spent elsewhere to get more results.
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Brian Jojade
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