What Kind of Power Conditioner Should I get?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Poon, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm Clueless when it comes to Power Conditioners.
    How much should I spend, where should I get it, what kind should I get?
  2. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    what are you using it for? the standard Furman conditioner works great. if you are using power amps or something with a good pull to it i would invest in something that is has a 20 amp load.
  3. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm going to be using a PLX1602 and an Aguilar DB659.
  4. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    the furmans are probably the most widely known and used, especially htier 'PL' series and their more affordable RackRider series.....

    I have no personaly experience with them other than playing with them at the music store..

    i personally use and like my Samson PowerBrite Pro7, because it has both voltmeter and ammeter, as well as a front 5 watt flourscent light try, and a rear gooseneck lamp, with a place i can customize in teh front for a backlighted logo.

    the only complaint i have is that when the rack is sitting below chest level, and you extend the front light try, it blocks the rack unit below it, the furmons do not because they have smaller profile tubes for the oens with the pull out lights

    ...I did just a small amount of research and found that most sub $200 rack power conditioners use the same basic 'conditioning' which is the use of these things called MOV's that are sort of like a shield from voltage spikes that are gradually eaten away over time (pretty long time, someone gave a ball park guess of 8 years of a line with average spike occurances and constantly in use) i have no clue how accurate that figure is, but either way, i think you should buy more by features than brand, unless you go with serious equipment like ZeroSurge that have isolated transformers that don't have limited lifespan for spike protection, or voltage regulators like the Furman ar1215 or something like that which both run over $200 used (i think)

    correct me if i'm wrong anywhere, this is off the top of my head

    if you can try to make sure you dont buy a uber-cheapie one that only has 'single-line' protection...you want 'three-line protection that spike protects all 3 lines'

    hope this helps,
  5. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Hey, Brother Poon!
    I was recently given a Furman PL Plus. It's a power conditioner- plus it has retractable lights, which I've found to be very handy. It also has a read-out meter that shows you the line voltage of the outlet you're plugged into. To be honest, I think the thing is a glorified surge protector, but it was a gift, so I'm not complaining. :cool:
  6. Bob Lee (QSC)

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

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    What do you want (or expect) the power conditioner to do?
  7. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    It depends on where you're going to be playing. If you're playing small clubs or places where the power isn't conditioned before it gets to your amp, you may want to invest in something like the AR1215 or something else that will actually regulate the power to keep a steady current going to your equipment. I've watched a Mesa Dual Rectifier practically explode during a power flux at practice. For my mesa/QSC rig I've got an AR1215. I think you can find them for around $400.
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You probably won't notice any difference, at least not with a souped-up powerstrip a la Furman...
  9. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    The Furman is a very good unit. I have had a power regulator in my rig for years.(not the conditioner) It has been on hundreds of gigs all over the country and has never me down.

    I am by no means an expert on electronics(maybe Bob Lee could share some of his wisdom for us electronically challenged :p ), but I noticed a drastic improvement in consistency as far as preformance of my rig. A lot of clubs and halls are very inconsistent with regards to power levels. When the power is way-off, it tends to mess with the tone....I am talking tube amps here. It also neatly places all the power to one sturdy source instead of a plastic power-strip.

    The Furman was a good investment for my needs.
  10. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I meant the conditioners of course, I've no experience with the regulators.
    But in any case you don't need one in Europe, and I doubt they're of much use in the US either.
  11. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    If you can afford it, a regulator is the way to go. Will protect your gear and make sure it gets no less and no more power than it needs.

    A conditioner like the PL-Plus is really just a rackmountable power strip with surge protection, and a little bit of EM/RFI filtering. They're not useless by any means. Example, one place I use to play had terrible interference in its electrical lines, I would get buzzing through my rig if someone ran a blender at the bar. Also got loud screeching a few times from an unknown source. That was using a basic surgeprotect/power strip. When using a Furman conditioner, it filtered out the blender and I no longer had any other unknown nasties rearing their ugly heads through my rig. They do have some filtering use.

    By far one of the cheapest and simplest steps to protect your gear is to get one of those little tester plugs at radio schack for three bucks, with the lights on it to tell you if the outlet is wired correctly. I keep mine plugged into my Furman PM-8, and I don't flip the switch unless I first verify that the outlet is showing that its wired correctly. You'd be amazed how many times it wasn't, and simply locating a different outlet solved the problem.
  12. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I agree, the clubs and halls are too inconsistent when it comes to power quality. Either the levels are too low or the electric system is junk. The Furman regulator really became needed. When it got real bad, the other members of the band I was in would plug their rigs into my Furman. I actually played a club in Memphis once that was not grounded!
    The building and the electric set up were so old that it was not grounded! I actually saw a stars when I went upt to my mic and tried to sing. That was quite a literal shock....The people who ran the club told us that people got shocked quite often! I have heard that the building was condemned and torn down since.....thanks be praised! But I have seen these kinds of problems in clubs all over the US and Canada.

    When power level was so low, it affected the guitarist's amp's tone more. They sounded like dirt. It seems to affect bass amps a little less, but nonetheless, it affects my tone. I have found less problems for solid-state amps.
  13. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    There are two kinds of "conditioner, as mentioned.

    The kind that is basically filters and has some MOVs for overvoltage protection are often unnecessary. The MOVs are often at such a high voltage that they are ineffective.

    Any unit with a switchmode power supply, like the QSC PLX and many others, almost surely already has in it far more filtering than the usual "conditioner". That filtering is to prevent all the noise created inside from escaping.
    Adding a little more isn't worth the effort and expense. The filtering also tends to kill spikes etc, again duplicating the effect of the conditioner.

    Some units can be helped, preamps, effects, etc, so it can make sense for those.

    However, that kind of "conditioner" makes no difference with low line voltage etc. It can't correct that.

    Others convert to the "balanced power" concept, etc. Their effect depends on the situation and the equipment. In a studio it can make a huge difference, again mostly with processing equipment, but also power amps. On the gig, maybe not.

    Still others claim to correct line voltage, or fix power factor. To really do a decent job of correcting voltage, they should be fairly heavy, or pretty large. If not, might just be "BS in a box".

    Power factor correction can be done, the power company does it all the time. But usually there is a constant load, or a means to adapt to a changing load. Again, the devices are big.

    I think I would let power amps live on the regular line, and plug preamps etc into "conditioners" , as a rule.

    Probably, someone will post and say their conditioner makes a difference in the power amp. Fine...whatever floats yer boat.

    But in general, nothing that isn't as big as or heavy as the power amp is gonna bring the line up to 120 or whatever at full power. And some amps with switchmode power supplies are less sensitive to line variations anyhow.

    Your choice, but big expensive power regulators and conditioners don't make a lot of sense to me for gigging.

    The outlet checker? Oooooohh yeah! You need that dude.
  14. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    I used an Odyssey with a sweet racklight that changed colors built-in to it. I got the guys at Pro Sound to PM some internet hack, and scored one for $98 shipped.

  15. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Didn't this come up a while ago? I use a American Power Conversion Line-R 1200VA unit. APC makes the best UPS systems for computers, bar none. As a tech consultant, I won't recommend anything else to my clients.

    As a musician, I use the conditioner to protect the thousands of dollars of gear in my rig from the ****ty power and wiring in the clubs we play, as well as the occasional power spike/brownout.

    The Line-R units are essentially the power conditioning section of the APC Smart-UPS systems (minus the batteries). They will protect from surges and the like as well as provide voltage regulation.