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Surge/Power strip instead of Furman, really?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by KlarkKent, Jun 29, 2002.

  1. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    May I just ask, is it just me, or do guys with tube amps never use power conditioners? Is there a reason, or do they use them and I just don't realise..
  2. I was hoping Bob Lee would jump in here. The series II Furmans have series mode protection, so do the better Tripp-Lites, this will protect you stuff from a pretty serious surge. The only thing which will protect from a voltage drop, is a regulating device, much more expensive. If the device does not have SMP, or something similar, you are just as well off with a power strip.

  3. I don't know about never using power conditioners for tube amps, but generally speaking, a tube amp is going to be MUCH more tolerant to voltage fluctuations that would have a s/s amp shutting itself down. You won't get full power and your distortion will increase dramatrically, but your tube amp will keep plugging right along with as much as a 30 volt line drop.

    BTW, Joker was asking about the Furman 1215, their regulator; the previous posts are THREE YEARS old.
  4. I got the Furman AR-117, regulates the voltage. Never really seen any super low or super high voltages (it has a display showing input voltage). So I'd have to say its probably overkill. But the surge protectors aren't a bad idea. And for the one place you need actual regulation, maybe its worth it.

  5. I use a Monster Cable power strip with my Mesa 400+ to make sure I don't have any noise from the power source.
  6. pablomigraine

    pablomigraine Commercial User

    Feb 9, 2005
    New York
    VP & Managing Director - Willcox Basses
    Anybody in a touring metal band who has ever come thru Albany NY has likely played a dive called SARATOGA WINNERS. Winners in a nasty place, shut down half the time for code violations, and amok with frenzied musicians running about trying to find a loose brick or something to put next to the casters on thier cabs to keep them from rolling off the stage, such is the disrepair of the place.

    Most importantly, the wiring in this place is redone every few months to accomodate electrical inspections of varying stringencey....end result being nearly everyone ever played there, especially bassists due to high current draw, has blown an amp at one time or another. I'v actually seen sparks fly out from the side of an SVT-4 during a sound check when they went to test the stage lights.......for these reasons, a Power conditioner is a must.....HOWEVER

    I recently ran out of room in my road case, and had to make a decision whether to scrap my power conditioner, or my Korg rack tuner.... of course practicality won out over safety.....

    In exchange I bought one of the Furman power strips (actually square) which had all the capabilities of my rackmount with the exception of the lights...for $24.99.

    Another standpoint is that a great deal of higher end heads and power amplifiers have the more common protection features built in to them. Crest and Crown amplifiers have models with very sophisticated protection for incoming voltage. Aguilar's top models do as well.

    So bottom line....something is better than nothing....but unless you're playing in a police station or airport where heavy radio activity might come in to play.....or should you choose to play somewhere with house wiring that looks like something out of a NIN video.....you're prolly not gonna need a $400 power conditioner.....
  7. Joe Beets

    Joe Beets Guest

    Nov 21, 2004
    I've never had a Furman, help me out. Does it have some big transformers in it to bring the voltage back up if it is too low? Suppose the house power drops to 90 volts. Does the Furman bring it back up to 110? If not, whats the point of having it? Just to tell me that the voltage is low? I've got a $14.99 volt/ohmeter in my gig bag that does that. And overvoltage protection? I use a $24.99 super deluxe Radio Shack surge strip. :smug:
  8. And what are the 3 things that smell like fish?

    (Hey man, if yer gonna quote Zappa, I'm gonna play along! And BTW, I don't think Sears sells tweezers, they sell ponchos ;) )
  9. A few models of the Furman do exactly that, bring up low, bring down high line voltage. I think the range is like 75V to 142 V. Outside of that it just shuts down. Some sort of electronically switched toroidal transformer? Don't remember the details.

    Check the fine print though, MOST of the Furmans are just surge protected outlet strips on steroids in a rack mount package with cool light rods.

  10. Joe Beets

    Joe Beets Guest

    Nov 21, 2004
    Maybe someone is familiar with how the Furman works. Reducing an overvoltage or blocking a voltage spike is easy. Boosting the voltage from 70 to 120 is a little more complicated. Has anyone ripped open their Furman to see what's in there? :eyebrow:
  11. 44me


    Jun 17, 2002
    Bedford, NH USA
    I’m pretty sure they use a multi-tapped auto-transformer. An auto-transformer doesn’t handle all the power, just the incremental voltage above or below what’s coming in, so it doesn't have to be that large. The output voltage is regulated by selecting the appropriate tap on-the-fly as the input voltage varies.

    - John
  12. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    I'm not exactly an expert on this, but basically........

    A regulator constantly "converts" the incoming current to 120VAC (or 110 or 117 or whatever the design spec is). As the voltage drops, it will draw more amperage in order to continue to put out 120.

    So if your power requirements run a little close to 15 amps and you've got a situation where your having fairly constant under-voltage, you may end up tripping the house breaker anyway (typical AC circuits have 15 amp breakers).

    If your amperage requirements are lower, a regulator can get you through pretty extensive brown-outs.

    If your amperage requirements are approaching the 15 amp range and you're really serious about preventing electrical issues, you'll need a regulator and a power distribution rig. This is the thing referred to earlier in the thread where you hook up directly to the power rails inside the house breaker box; you essentially bypass the house electrical system. They're called "PD boxes" by the people who know how to use them - and if you don't know how to properly us a PD box, don't even consider it until you learn very thoroughly. When you get inside a breaker box, you're playing with usually a minimum of 200 amps. And you better believe that 200 amps of 120VAC will kill you very dead.

    Anyway, PD boxes can be built to service any amperage requirement; 15, 20, 30 or more amps, whatever - up to the limits of the power source, of course. They're usually built with multiple outlets of various capacities and voltages.
  13. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    In general, power "conditioners" don't do much for power amps. I'd keep the preamp, processing, effects, etc., on one, but a power amp is usually built to a much higher robustness. Good power amps,in fact, often have more filtering than the power conditioners themselves have.

    A power regulator can be a useful thing to have if the AC voltage is prone to large swings. But that's usually symptomatic of either extremely bad wiring (maybe even a broken neutral, which would be dangerous) or running from a so-so portable generator; in either case the underlying disease is more worthy of attention than the symptoms.
  14. Just quibbling over minor point here, but worse yet there's probably 240VAC in the breaker box also, but you'd have to touch 2 out of phase 120VAC lines to get that though...

    The 200 amps is immaterial also, the amperage is determined only by the 120VAC and the resistance of your body, which is way too high to even get 1 amp or 2 if you grabbed the 120. 200 or 200,000 amp service wouldn't make any difference, amperage is only dependent on volts and body resistance. Bad news is it takes way less than an amp to kill you if it crosses your heart on the way through your body.

    But dead is dead, no argument about that....

    You could get the full 200 amps if a screwdriver shorted something out, but just through the screwdriver. Screwdriver could be unlikely to survive that encounter too. Seeing a big spark melting a screwdriver that fast, you're life would flash through your mind just as surely as your dinner would splash through your underwear.

  15. Have to agree. And after 10-15 years of using a power regulator, I only remember once it showed a voltage around 105, never much over 120. Maybe I've been lucky, but barring ridiculously bad wiring job or generators, in my experience regulation is pretty much overkill.

    The one time I saw a low voltage, it would have almost been cheaper to replace the amp if it had been damaged than the cost of the regulator was to buy. I assumed (obviously) that low/over voltage situations were WAY more common than they actually turned out to be, and I've played some real hole-in-the wall clubs you'd assume had bad power.

    Unless they use substandard wiring, by the time you pull enough power to drop the voltage enough to matter, the breaker is likely on the verge of tripping anyway. Except for the occasional brownout by the power company.

    Conditioning/surge protection is more useful.
  16. 44me


    Jun 17, 2002
    Bedford, NH USA
    I’ve designed and worked around power systems for 25 years. Back in the 80’s I worked for a company that was trying to get into the power line conditioning business. As part of our marketing effort, we instrumented up dozens of buildings to gather power statistics that our sales force could use to help sell our products. We specifically went after buildings that were thought to have poor power, either due to old construction and heavy remodeling, or were on a marginally overloaded branch. Surprisingly, almost all were well within spec. A few would occasionally get down around 105V due to heavy air conditioner use in overbuilt commercial areas, but not on a continual basis.

    The one thing we did see a lot of were voltage spikes. Even inexpensive protected outlet strips go a long was at reducing the likelihood of damage should a spike occur, but you’ll need a good quality one to deal with lightning strikes.

    I would have to agree. Your equipment is much more likely to be damaged in a car crash on the way to/from the gig than from the power line not being in spec. Dollar for dollar, you’ll protect you gear better by investing in decent line conditioner and better rack cases.

    - John
  17. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    That would be the LCR2400 Model which the below URL shows for $275, but do your own search to see if you can find a better deal: http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=10031140&loc=101&sp=1

    This is the only rack mount model Tripp Lite makes, but if you don't need a 20 amp capacity line conditioner, there are non-rack models such as the LC1200 for about $100. http://www.buy.com/retail/Product.a...eD&Keyword=10031132&Category=Comp&dcaid=17260

    I've always been a little concerned about Furman. I'm a retired IT person (networking and server integration consultant) and I've never seen Furman used in a professional telecommunications/networking environment. Tripp Lite will give better service, IMHO, than Furman or APC (APC UPS' failed two years ago to support new Nortel gigabit switches which were very sensitive to voltage fluctuations, but the switches ran without incident when Tripp Lite line conditioners replaced the APC UPS'.)
  18. That's what a GOOD regulator would do. Furman uses a rectifier/inverter system with a cap bank supplying DC to compensate for sag and then inverts it back to AC. It woks OK so long as you don't encounter anything above minor current draw, which will NOT be the case with any kind of bass amp.
  19. What high quality surge protector would you reccomend? Rackmount too? What features am I ultimately looking for?
  20. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I run the PL-8 with lights in my PA rack and yes it's more or less a rack mount power strip but ... the operative phrase is rack mount. The power button is around the front, my cabling is clean. You cannot over estimate the value of clean cabling and front mounted controls and lights on a dark stage ... Mine was $40 used and there is no way I'd go back to a power strip for that setup.

    Now on my bass amp - I use a power strip. Only three power cables and the one speaker cable from the amp to deal with and it's a shallow rack. It isn't quite so crowded in there.

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