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thebassman

mains power conditioner

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Hi
i am about to start playing lots of local pubs again, with their dodgy old wiring.

Does anyone use or can recommend any mains power conditioners to protect my shiny new amp.

It is an upright combo, so don't really want a rackmount version.

cheers

thebassman

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The only power conditioner i know is the Furman. Quite expensive and rackmount. At least use an RCD for now.

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You've beat me to this one as I meant to bring this topic up myself. The topic of high end expensive sound systems came up the other night and a buddy mentioned that some people use mains purifiers for their systems. Apparently it does even out the fluctuations of the mains power supply, producing a better sound.

Never heard of it being used for the kind of bass amps we use, but I did wonder if it would be worth trying out.

I did read on another thread that someone protected their rig with an RCD and surge protected four way blocks, but that's a bit off the op's topic really.

Watching with interest

T

:)

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As a user of a power conditioner, i thought i'd jump in and help. I use mine for powering my "big-rig" rack with my fx, wireless and tuner. I also power my amp when using this rack too.

I would definately recommend them to anyone with a rack, or a large amount of gear needing power. The added functions can include rack illumination (front and rear), Surge/Spike Protection, Voltage Metering and Voltage Control (i.e. If you're playing in a country with a different voltage, it will automatically supply your gear with the correct voltage)

You've got a few options...

Budget - Phonic PPC9000E - [url="http://www.thomann.de/gb/phonic_ppc_9000_e.htm"]Phonic @ Thomann.de [/url]
Intermediate - Samson Powerbrite PB10 - [url="http://www.thomann.de/gb/samson_powerbrite_pb10_pro.htm"]Samson @ Thomann.de[/url]
Pro - Furman PL Plus E - Furman PL-Plus CE - [url="http://www.thomann.de/gb/furman_plplus_ce.htm"]Furman @ Thomann.de[/url]
[url="http://www.thomann.de/gb/cat.html?gf=power_conditioners&oa=pra"]Link to all Power Conditioners at Thomann.de[/url]

I have only listed Thomann above as they have the largest stock, as well as there own branded units starting from £46. I have had experience with all 3 of the ones i listed, but there are plenty on the market.

Hope this helps.



[quote name='essexbasscat' post='767976' date='Mar 8 2010, 01:57 PM']You've beat me to this one as I meant to bring this topic up myself. The topic of high end expensive sound systems came up the other night and a buddy mentioned that some people use mains purifiers for their systems. Apparently it does even out the fluctuations of the mains power supply, producing a better sound.

Never heard of it being used for the kind of bass amps we use, but I did wonder if it would be worth trying out.

I did read on another thread that someone protected their rig with an RCD and surge protected four way blocks, but that's a bit off the op's topic really.

Watching with interest

T

:)[/quote]

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Can someone explain a little more about what power conditioners do? I've seen them around and always been curious since obviously power's something that's always worth making sure you have right.

Do they purely just even out the power or do they provide various safety features too?

Does the more even power actually give a difference to sound or is it along the lines of having a gold speaker lead (i.e. theoretically yes, but not audibly different)?

What's the difference between the cheaper ones and the more expensive ones?

Edited by ThomBassmonkey

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Just to point that that the UK has [b]very[/b] stable grid voltage, on the pure conditioner side you'll get little to no use from it in the UK. The other features sound nice though. RCD lead is a must though.

Edited by Buzz

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Hey Dude

Im not 100% on the technicality. For me it was a way of safely powering a rack load of gear, the rack light is a god send in badly lit venues, or pre-show tweaks. Also the voltage meter on mine i use, as you can check the voltage before you turn the power on for your rig. (Basically the LED Display is lit as soon as you plug in the Power Conditioner.

Also as far as i am aware mains electricity can contain "noise", this can be amplified with the more gear you use. Hence why i use it with a rack load! I suppose it could also be described as a filter for all of this, thus making your gear work more efficiently and possibly sound clearer? This can be argued, as i have not AB'd my gear with/without it, but bought one through a recommendation. (And 99% of touring musicians use one)

I've just read up, and Furman's also protect against "AC events such as surges, spikes, lightning and high voltage."

I'm assuming the higher end ones will do the same as the cheaper ones, but more efficiently. Also features will be slightly better. I.E. My Furmans Rack light is LED, cheaper ones use Bulbs which quite often Blow and get hot.


Hope this helps.


[quote name='ThomBassmonkey' post='785111' date='Mar 24 2010, 08:29 PM']Can someone explain a little more about what power conditioners do? I've seen them around and always been curious since obviously power's something that's always worth making sure you have right.

Do they purely just even out the power or do they provide various safety features too?

Does the more even power actually give a difference to sound or is it along the lines of having a gold speaker lead (i.e. theoretically yes, but not audibly different)?

What's the difference between the cheaper ones and the more expensive ones?[/quote]

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t looks like it could just a be a slightly higher cost for convenience then in the UK? i.e. rather than plugging in lots of protection between mains and amp (which I have to admit, I don't at the moment), a slightly higher range one of these could have the safety features built in?

Could also be useful for touring other countries which we do from time to time.

Definitely worth having a look into. Thanks guys :)

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I use a Furman Power Factor Pro, they don't make them any more unfortunately but it sounds like it's exactly what you'd be wanting. [url="http://www.furmansound.com/pdf/datasheets/POWER_FACTOR_PRO_datasheet.pdf"]Link here[/url] I have A/B'd my rig with the power conditioner and it certainly makes a difference. When using the power conditioner there was a definite increase in overall clarity. My dad also ran his Naim hi-fi through it with similar results, to all the doubters they do make a difference. As mentioned there is the convenience elements and the usefulness of having the protection for your gear. It's certainly something you could live without though.

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Sounds to me like a placebo effect.

I spent a good part of my 40 working years designing, building and comissioning TV and radio studios, edit suits and TV outside broadcast units. The only equipment we ever put in them for the AC power was an automatic voltage regulator, good earth leakage warning and completely separate technical earth. The latter being the most important. Never any fancy power condioners and never a problem. If the broadcasters don't need one then you certainly don't need one with a bass ampplaying at the local pub.

If you think you can hear a difference then you must be one of the tiny minority who apparently have "golden ears". You certainly won't hear any differnec in a gig situation doing battle with a drummer and two Marshall stacks.

The UK mains is one of the best in the world. The US mains is a joke which is why they need them. Power conditioners in the UK are a waste of money. If you want a rack power distributor then get one of those. They are a fraction of the price of a Power Conditioner.

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There certainly was a difference, one that was noticed by several others, including the vocalist in my last band, who never usually commented on my bass sound. I A/B'd it and without prompting it turned round and said he preferred the power conditioner sound, saying it had much greater clarity. I'm certainly not saying they're necessary and as you say in all likelihood unnoticeable in most situations but it definitely makes a difference to my set up.

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[quote name='obbm' post='791093' date='Mar 30 2010, 07:53 PM']Sounds to me like a placebo effect.

I spent a good part of my 40 working years designing, building and comissioning TV and radio studios, edit suits and TV outside broadcast units. The only equipment we ever put in them for the AC power was an automatic voltage regulator, good earth leakage warning and completely separate technical earth. The latter being the most important. Never any fancy power condioners and never a problem. If the broadcasters don't need one then you certainly don't need one with a bass ampplaying at the local pub.

If you think you can hear a difference then you must be one of the tiny minority who apparently have "golden ears". You certainly won't hear any differnec in a gig situation doing battle with a drummer and two Marshall stacks.

The UK mains is one of the best in the world. The US mains is a joke which is why they need them. Power conditioners in the UK are a waste of money. If you want a rack power distributor then get one of those. They are a fraction of the price of a Power Conditioner.[/quote]

Hi there, can I tap into your experience here. I recently did a corporate gig in a big marquee and plugged in my bass rack system and go loads of high frequency sizzle through the rig even before connecting my lead and bass to it. Now there were loads of christmas lighting in the venue, the dj had motorised lighting systems, fans and chemical fog machines etc and the back of the stage area was covered in little led starlights which flash on and off. My presumption was that the interference was coming from this array of electrical stuff plugged into the same supply to the marquee. Is there anything you could recommend for eliminating this kind of noise from my system in situations like this?

Thanks
Jazzyvee

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[quote name='jazzyvee' post='1047327' date='Dec 4 2010, 02:13 PM']Hi there, can I tap into your experience here. I recently did a corporate gig in a big marquee and plugged in my bass rack system and go loads of high frequency sizzle through the rig even before connecting my lead and bass to it. Now there were loads of christmas lighting in the venue, the dj had motorised lighting systems, fans and chemical fog machines etc and the back of the stage area was covered in little led starlights which flash on and off. My presumption was that the interference was coming from this array of electrical stuff plugged into the same supply to the marquee. Is there anything you could recommend for eliminating this kind of noise from my system in situations like this?

Thanks
Jazzyvee[/quote]

Yup. Mains borne interference. That is why TV and Film studios have completely separate power supplies from the National Grid for technical, domestic and lighting. They also have separate earths. You don't want to see vacuum cleaner moter intereference on-air.

This is not to say that there can't still be problems. When London Weekend Television's new studio centre (now the London Studios) was installed they had terrible hum problems. This was because of an earth potential difference between them on the South Bank and the Post Office Tower. The hum was temporarily reduced by earthing the whole of the technical equipment through steel plates dropped into the River Thames until some new equipment could be purchased.

In your gig siuation where everyone is running from the same supply you are really on a hide into nowhere. What you need is a separate clean supply but as that is highly unlikely the best hope is use some filtering to remove all the [email protected] before it gets to your amp or eliminate the DJ. :)

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[quote name='obbm' post='1047427' date='Dec 4 2010, 03:36 PM']Yup. Mains borne interference. That is why TV and Film studios have completely separate power supplies from the National Grid for technical, domestic and lighting. They also have separate earths. You don't want to see vacuum cleaner moter intereference on-air.

This is not to say that there can't still be problems. When London Weekend Television's new studio centre (now the London Studios) was installed they had terrible hum problems. This was because of an earth potential difference between them on the South Bank and the Post Office Tower. The hum was temporarily reduced by earthing the whole of the technical equipment through steel plates dropped into the River Thames until some new equipment could be purchased.

In your gig siuation where everyone is running from the same supply you are really on a hide into nowhere. What you need is a separate clean supply but as that is highly unlikely the best hope is use some filtering to remove all the [email protected] before it gets to your amp or eliminate the DJ. :)[/quote]

I bought one of these a while ago:
[url="http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Tacima-CS929-6-Way-Mains-Conditioner-RFI-Filter-Surge-/190466861004?pt=UK_Computing_CablesConnectors_RL&hash=item2c58b5a7cc"]http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Tacima-CS929-6-Way-M...=item2c58b5a7cc[/url]

Have no idea if it works as described (i bought it for a specific problem which i later found was unrelated to my mains supply) but it was recommended on here

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[quote name='essexbasscat' post='767976' date='Mar 8 2010, 01:57 PM']You've beat me to this one as I meant to bring this topic up myself. The topic of [b]high end expensive sound systems[/b] came up the other night and a buddy mentioned that some people use mains purifiers for their systems. Apparently it does even out the fluctuations of the mains power supply, producing a better sound.[/quote]
Personally, I'd expect 'high end expensive sound systems' to include mains power conditioning within their own power supplies if it's really that important.

Plus, as previously mentioned, think about the typical live gig environment and consider what sort of subtle differences anyone could actually discern anyway - even with those blessed with 'golden ears'.

I keep two mains accessories in my gig bag. A plug-in mains tester, which tells me if the socket is wired incorrrectly or missing an earth etc, - useful, I think, for new and unknown venues - and a plug-in RCD for my stuff, for my own safety.

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[quote name='fatback' post='1048477' date='Dec 5 2010, 05:49 PM']Anyone actually had an RCD trip?

I've never used one, but i'm starting to think I should.[/quote]
I've used one that I got from B&Q since the late 1990's when I started doing lots of outdoor gigs with a calypso band and i have never had one trip on me. I have twice had electric shocks on stage but fortunately they were in the USA where the voltage is much lower than our 240v and it was just a mere sting. But still came as a "shock" :-)


Jazzvee

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[quote name='fatback' post='1048477' date='Dec 5 2010, 05:49 PM']Anyone actually had an RCD trip?[/quote]


Yeah, still getting flashbacks thirty years on...!

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[quote name='fatback' post='1048477' date='Dec 5 2010, 05:49 PM']Anyone actually had an RCD trip?

I've never used one, but i'm starting to think I should.[/quote]

Yep, as a sound engineer loads of times. Amazing the number of hotels, pubs, clubs etc where you get dodgy sockets. Be warned though, I've also had faulty RCDs where the RCD trips on 'healthy' scokets so get a decent one. You can buy multiway extension reels with an RCD built in, very useful.

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[quote name='LawrenceH' post='1049337' date='Dec 6 2010, 02:38 PM']Yep, as a sound engineer loads of times. Amazing the number of hotels, pubs, clubs etc where you get dodgy sockets. Be warned though, I've also had faulty RCDs where the RCD trips on 'healthy' scokets so get a decent one. You can buy multiway extension reels with an RCD built in, very useful.[/quote]


Are the mo I use a surge protector. Does an RCD do that job as well or is there a combined gizmo?

Hope I'm not too far away from the OP here.

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[quote name='obbm' timestamp='1291476968' post='1047427']
Yup. Mains borne interference. eliminate the DJ . ;)
[/quote]

LOL !!! made me laugh this morning.

National Grid in UK is generally safe however there are instances where depending on your location you can experience difficulties. eg

1. Countryside supplies can be set up to supply 230V mid village however if you live near the tap changer on the supply you might experience a higher voltage supply typically no more than 240V however you will see spikes sometimes up to 250V depending on what is happening on the supply ie farm equip, small industrial units etc as these loads are switched on/off. An example of higher than normal voltage supply would be regular light bulb failures throughout the house.

UK supply is now 230V. Historically UK had 240V and Europe had 220V. It was agreed few yrs back as we exchanged supplies with Europe depending on load share that we would all use 230V.

2. Mains harmonics which will filter down from 250KV right thru your systems to even 24V systems. Depending on the level of harmonic distortion you could experience issues like capacitor, resistor or thyristor failures, motor failures etc. Harmonics can be caused by issues from industrial heavy loads typically thyristor control drive systems. If the unit does not have its own load protection systems then the pulse drive can produce harmonic distortion throughout the full supply system from its source to end user on the same feed. That feed will be anything from the main Transformer at Power company substation. Harmonics is something you nee specialist kit to monitor. Average person would probably never realise he has an issue until several items start failing. Power companies are not quick to admit they have a fault on their grid as it usually costs a lot of money to resolve.

I live in the country and I do experience noise thru my amp when something like freezer compressor cuts in. Usually a faint pop thru the amp. A power conditioner might help reduce that. Its maybe something I will look at.

Hope that helps a bit.

Dave

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[quote name='fatback' timestamp='1291655333' post='1049595']



Are the mo I use a surge protector. Does an RCD do that job as well or is there a combined gizmo?

Hope I'm not too far away from the OP here.
[/quote]


From my own understanding a surge protector is normally to reduce the odd spike but wont trip your circuit and protect you the end user if a fault occurs.
An RCD is a residual current detector and will pick up on any excessive current pull and trip the mains off whether that is overload or to earth.

RCD is normally used to protect you where a surge protector will only protect the kit from occasional spike.
RCD is normally used with garden tools or electric mowers etc.

Hope that helps
Dave


Edited by dmccombe7

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[quote name='dmccombe7' timestamp='1383471242' post='2264677']
From my own understanding a surge protector is normally to reduce the odd spike but wont trip your circuit and protect you the end user if a fault occurs.
An RCD is a residual current detector and will pick up on any excessive current pull and trip the mains off whether that is overload or to earth.

RCD is normally used to protect you where a surge protector will only protect the kit from occasional spike.
RCD is normally used with garden tools or electric mowers etc.

Hope that helps
Dave
[/quote]

It's actually a residual current [i]device [/i](there are several types including ones to disconnect if an overload occurs) and will disconnect the power when the current flow reaches a predetermined imbalance, usually 30mA for power circuits. It's probably a good idea to use one although I don't always heed my own advice.

I did see a guitarist receive an electric shock once . I checked his amp and found the earth wire in the plug disconnected and touching the live wire. That was about 1980 and I've never seen it happen since so it's not that common - but it only has to happen once........... :unsure:

When I was an electrical commissioning engineer in the late 70s/ early 80s I used to get shocks a few times a year, always a frightening experience and quite painful.

Frank.

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I find it's useful to understand what an RCD actually does.

An RCD monitors the current flowing within the live and neutral conductors. In normal operation of any item of electrical equipment the current in both these conductors should be equal. This is obvious if you think about it - all the current should be being used to power the equipment in question and what comes "down" the live should "return" via the neutral.

If this is not the case then it means that some of the current is going elsewhere, hence the term "leakage" or "residual" current. In the case of faulty equipment that "leaking" current could be going through you! RCDs are designed to detect very low "residual" currents and will trip before there is a serious danger to anyone on the receiving of such "leaking" current.

Understanding how RCDs operate should make you more aware that while they are incredibly useful devices they cannot protect you from every type of accident. For example, should you find yourself unfortunately 'connected' [b]between[/b] the live and neutral conductors an RCD will not trip because there might not be any "leakage" current - it's [b]all[/b] going going through you and nowhere else!

Similarly, any device with an isolating transformer will render an RCD useless on the secondary side because no matter how much current if drawn from the secondary circuits the RCD will only "see" the primary side of the isolating transformer and if this is working correctly there will be no leakage current to detect, no matter what may or may not be happening on the secondary side of the transformer.

This is not usually a problem because most circuits on the secondary side of a mains transformer are low voltage and therefore do not present a serious shock risk - but that's not always the case. Think about the high voltages inside a valve amp for example, which will nicely isolated from any mains supply RCD by the 'safety' isolating transformer'.

None of the above means an RCD is not a valuable safety device - just don't think you are suddenly invincible because your amp is plugged into one!


As for the mains noise and fluctuation issues, as noted above the UK mains supply is tightly controlled within a defined specification and any decent manufacturer is going to design their equipment to be able to fully cope with the extremes of that specification.

I can appreciate that anyone who has invested in an expensive rig might want to wrap it all in cotton wool and protect it from all that "dodgy pub wiring" out there, but does anyone really believe that publicans up and down the country are constantly buying new PCs, TVs, radios and other mains powered electrical equipment because their dodgy wiring is regularly blowing things up?

And do we really believe that our precious, expensive amps etc are really so sensitive that they can't deal with life on the road? If that was really the case then I'd say they were unfit for purpose!

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