Are socket converters safe?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Rangerboy030, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Rangerboy030


    Dec 16, 2011
    Hi all

    I'm researching different bass amps for when I look to buy a rig (not for a while, but nevertheless). When I come around to buying there's a fairly good chance that I'll end up importing, so I can avoid the near-extortionate prices for gear in Australia.

    However, the places where I'm most likely to import from (USA, Europe, etc.) use different power sockets, both in the physical shape of the sockets themselves and the amount of voltage carried by them.

    There are socket converters that I have used when I went to the USA on a holiday a few years ago for small electronics (mobile phone and ipod chargers among others), but I'm not sure if using a socket converter on a bass amp would be safe.

    So would a socket converter be OK to use or is there a risk of damaging the amp?

  2. Hi.

    The wall wart type coverters are not suitable for MI amps of any kind, they aren't beefy enough, ie. not enough power handling capacity.

    Additionally, higher power SMPS's intended for audio frequency use have to have pretty sophisticated filtering, so the price skyrockets.

    By far the best bet for You is to buy an amp that has either an universal traditional power supply, or automatically sensing SMPS.

    I have used and still use several US amps (SWR SM400 & Carver PM1.5's mainly) with step-down transformers and that's a MAJOR PITA.

  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, a step down transformer is like toting a car battery that weighs twice as much as a standard car battery everywhere with you.
  4. R Baer

    R Baer Commercial User

    Jun 5, 2008
    President, Baer Amplification
    I would stick with amps that have dual voltages and can deal with the power down under. Many amps have some method of setting the power entry module to accept either 115 or 230V. Also, most of the class D amps have universal power modules and can handle any voltage automatically, but check with the manufacturer to be sure. Providing you get an amp that will work in your location, all you need to buy is the appropriate power cord to fit in your wall.
  5. Rangerboy030


    Dec 16, 2011
    Thanks for the info guys, much appreciated.
  6. Look in to Eden Heads. They have a model that adjust to different voltages
  7. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    This is a question for the manufacturers.

    USA power is 120vac or 240ac (60 hertz). I believe Europe used 50 hertz ac. Big difference in power supply design. Some equipment may be easily adapted and some not. Manufacturer will have the answers.
  8. Hi.

    In paper, the difference in the AC frequency may look like a big deal, but in reality it doesn't play any significant role.
    The voltage differences however do, especially in non-regulated power supplies.

  9. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    European standard voltage is 230 - the same as Australia, so no problem there. Use an adapter or replace the plug.
  10. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    look for an amp that has a universal regulated power supply
    Amps that fall into this category these days are going to be class-d with SMPS.
    Which will overall give you the best sound, value, and reliability.
  11. Genz Benz IIRC is auto-switching.
  12. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Wait a minute here, it may indeed be a very big deal.

    Primarily for line frequency transformer based (ie. conventional) power supplies, the transformer is designed with more primary turns per volt for 50Hz applications which decreases flux density preventing premature saturation of the core and increased transformer heating. A transformer designed for 60Hz might overheat and fail at 50Hz.

    In general, a transformer designed for 50Hz operation will be fine at 60Hz but not the other way around. Most transformers that are equipped for 115/230 volt operating are also designed for 50Hz operation, but verify with the manufacturer's literature to be sure. (This is the case for all of our line frequency transformer products)

    This is also assuming the primary is equipped with the proper windings (taps) for the desired operating voltage.

  13. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Depends entirely on the models.

    The GBE's, Shuttle 6's and 9's and Streamliner 600/900's are all 115 or 230/240 volt, 50/60Hz and use a voltage selector switch on the back of the unit. The Shuttle 3 uses an auto-switching 115-230/240V 50/60Hz power supply.

    For any amp with switched supply voltage, be sure the switch is properly set BEFORE connecting to the supply.
  14. Rangerboy- I'm in Aus too. I've bought a few amps from USA.
    Check the individual models, but I've played, owned or own & thus work fine here in Aus:(have 240v power select switch on em )
    Genz Benz Shuttle & Shuttlemax
    Ampeg-PF350/500, SVT7 PRO.
    ( I think the MicroVR too)
    Aguilar TH500/350
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Micro VR IS switchable, yes.
  16. Hey Rangerboy,

    I am also in Oz and have lived the price differential thing for more years than I care to state. One other thing about the importation of amps from overseas is the warranty. Any distributor over here will not honour warranties because the device was purchased overseas and not from the distributed network. If you want it fixed you will have to ship it back to the supplier. I have taken the risk a number of times and given the good reliability of most modern amps I have yet to be bitten. Probably put the moz on my next one.
    Apart from that a step down transformer to reduce the voltage to 110v supply for a US device is IMHO not worth it.
    Good luck with the amp hunt.
    Used gear is always an option. I don't know where you live so I can't offer advice about where to go

  17. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    When you say "socket converters", there are at least a couple different types.

    1) small transformer setups to reduce voltage for shavers, and things like that.

    2) Converters that are basically just a diode in series with the line. They work by using only half the wave, which averages out to approximately 120V, but they put out a form of DC +AC, not just AC.

    The second type work "ok" for heating type devices like clothes irons, hair curling irons, and even hair dryers, which usually will work as well on DC as AC.

    They WILL NOT WORK on amplifiers that have regular transformer type power supplies, and not on quite a number of amps that have SMPS, either. They WILL NOT work on anything that needs AC only.

    Amplifiers should either be internally set to the local voltage (switch, or internal connection), should be of the type that automatically adjusts, OR should be used with an external transformer to produce the correct voltage at the proper power capability.

    As for amps that are settable, any more recent SLM Ampeg in the "SVT" series should be internally settable, most for 100/120/230/240. "Some" others that share the same power transformers should also be settable. The older 8PRO units are universal 100 to 240VAC.

    Later Loud units (even same models) and other brands, I don't know about.
  18. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    For clarification, I understood the socket converter to mean plug adapter (or different IEC cordsets).

    Voltage converting adapters should not be used with these amps because of the way that they generate the voltage conversion. Just run your (voltage selectable) amp at 230/240V and use the proper IEC cordset.
  19. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    OP If you import an amp from the States it could be that your warranty will be void in your country. You would have to return the amp to the States for any warranty work. You should check that out before you buy.