AVS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Please let me know your opinions on this controversial subject: power conditioning. I would like to hear from the most skeptical skeptics on this one!


In case you wonder about my own biases, I fall into the "audio gear amps do all sound the same (with the usual qualifiers applied) camp".


I'm actually asking about power conditioning in a different context, as I am considering adding one to my electric guitar rig. I've looked around AVS, and the internets in general, and there does seem to be no authoritative opinion/position on their merits in any application, even in the home studio recording context.


I'm considering one because my guitar rig seems to have a pretty high noise floor, especially relative to my music teacher's studio. I'm also looking to integrate a new multi-effects pedal into my rig, which has the reputation for potentially upping the noise level.


I'd be looking for a unit with robust surge protection, noise suppression, and voltage regulation. Something with all this stuff is not cheap by any means, which I can readily demonstrate by pointing you to the AVR line of Torus power conditioners:

http://www.toruspower.com/products/north-american-avr-series-2/


Let me know your opinions on this piece of gear, and don't hold back at all (which I know you won't anyway)!


Cheers,

JD
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
16,231 Posts
You have some specific issues with the power to your home/studio to justify such a unit? I've never seen any value in such a unit personally, and from what I've seen this is mostly a product sold based on issues most don't have, and never saw the need to spend money on one.


Noise? What kind of "noise" do you expect such a unit to have an effect on? The type of noise floor within your audio chain wouldn't be affected once AC power is converted to DC, as most audio gear works on after the power supply does its thing, from what I know but I'm no electrical engineer.


Is your gear not able to handle variances in voltage as is normal? Modern gear shouldn't have any issues in this regard (again, from what I understand).


You need surge protection of a major type look into whole home surge protection perhaps, otherwise my understanding is a power strip with surge protection would be as effective.


Subscribed just to see if there's anything interesting in this regard....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,608 Posts
I run whole house protection at my service and APC on my computer gear and Panamax on my AV equipment for peace of mind and it can't hurt mentality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,193 Posts

I don't plan on sticking around for long in this thread but here's what I know:

 

#1 This industry is corrupt and not some, but rather the majority of products are snake oil.

 

#2 A surge protector is a good idea because they are cheap. Look for "UL 1449" on the unit itself. This can be found on most hardware store AC power strip like devices that cost $10-$20. More expensive doesn't mean better, it means you are being ripped off.

 

#3 If one's noise problem is "hiss", that is never solved by these "conditioner" things. It is endemic to the gear, but learning how to set the gain structure of a series of units in a chain may help out. In a nutshell that means running everything as "hot" [loud] as possible without overloading the next box in the series and all actual level changes should be done in the very last unit in the chain. Using test tones and oscilloscopes is the best way to setup the gain structure of a chain, but going by ear is better than nothing.

 

Here's a primer:

http://www.rane.com/note135.html

 

#4 Under some rare circumstances cleaning one's AC power with shampoo, oops I mean "conditioner", has consequences, but the noise it cures would be better described as buzz, hum, or static, not hiss. This would be true if you notice noise when the vacuum cleaner , hair dryer, cheap switching power supply cellphone charger wall warts, or cheap light dimmer is used on the same AC outlet/ AC circuit.[ But why not just not use those noise generators instead?]

 

#5 Those same kinds of noise, and again not hiss, can occur from ground loops. Use star grounding for your entire system and only use noise isolation transformers on gear as a last ditch effort, like not being able to sever the cable company's RF signal ground from  your house's AC ground

 

http://www.rane.com/note151.html

 

#6 UPS are great for people where a loss of electricity means a cooling fan will stop and a light bulb may pop if there's a black out or someone stumbles and an AC cord is yanked from the wall. I have one on my projector TV. Hard drives may be corrupted if they suddenly lose power too.

 

#7 If you suspect an EMI/RF nosiy environment, try to use XLR and fully balanced connections, not RCA and simple 1/4 inch phone plugs. But these only help out in some circumstances, not all, and again, not "hiss". They don't stop the inherent noise of the product but they help reject any further increase along the way, due to the wire accidentally acting as an antenna. They kill "common mode noise" the main one being hum, especially problematic with long runs hence their common use in pro settings.

 

Bye.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,480 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24473976


I run whole house protection at my service and APC on my computer gear and Panamax on my AV equipment for peace of mind and it can't hurt mentality.

Nor can it help anything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,608 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474459


Nor can it help anything.
I don't gamble with my equipment but you sure have that right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,063 Posts
I use an APC 1500VA power backup unit (UPS) for my stereo system and TV (except for my big power amplifier).


I live in an area that has frequent power surges and interruptions, as well as a lot of lightning in the summer.


I have never had any piece of gear fail in the 20 years I have done this, and I think the superior surge protection plus the backup power are the probable reason.


I think the majority of AVR and disc player failures are due to power surges and outages.


The unit I use is really intended for a computer backup power unit, but it does the job, and is only around $200.


I consider it good insurance.


Most "surge protectors" that cost under $100 are useless IMO.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
16,231 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474678


I use an APC 1500VA power backup unit (UPS) for my stereo system and TV (except for my big power amplifier).


I live in an area that has frequent power surges and interruptions, as well as a lot of lightning in the summer.


I have never had any piece of gear fail in the 20 years I have done this, and I think the superior surge protection plus the backup power are the probable reason.


I think the majority of AVR and disc player failures are due to power surges and outages.


The unit I use is really intended for a computer backup power unit, but it does the job, and is only around $200.


I consider it good insurance.


Most "surge protectors" that cost under $100 are useless IMO.

So what is the difference between surge protectors that definitely can cost under $100 as far as certification goes? How do you know other than asking price?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,587 Posts
A guitar amp's noise isn't about lack of power conditioning. If you have a lot of self noise (hiss) that's what noise gates are for. If you use single coil pickups thd hum occurs way after powrr conditioning could do any good. A trickier thingvto handle via noise gstes but it is a breeze in digital recording to lop off the buzz in the guitar silences. Get Santana Abraxas and just crank it up. On the first tunr Carlos's P90 pickups are very audibly humming but once he starts playing the sound of the guitar masks it. Just like it does on every recording of single coils from Jeff Beck's version of 'Cause we've ended as lovers to scotty moore on elvis' s early work to Buddy Holly
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,420 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474459

Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24473976


I run whole house protection at my service and APC on my computer gear and Panamax on my AV equipment for peace of mind and it can't hurt mentality.

Nor can it help anything.

+1


Like the guy says, peace of mind.


For me peace of mind is liquid finances. ;-)


I have had a few peices of audio gear that probably got trashed by bad power. It was far less costly to simply replace it. Of course I'm not exactly Mr. Audio jewelry! ;-)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,420 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHAz  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24475600


A guitar amp's noise isn't about lack of power conditioning. If you have a lot of self noise (hiss) that's what noise gates are for. If you use single coil pickups thd hum occurs way after powrr conditioning could do any good. A trickier thingvto handle via noise gstes but it is a breeze in digital recording to lop off the buzz in the guitar silences. Get Santana Abraxas and just crank it up. On the first tunr Carlos's P90 pickups are very audibly humming but once he starts playing the sound of the guitar masks it. Just like it does on every recording of single coils from Jeff Beck's version of 'Cause we've ended as lovers to scotty moore on elvis' s early work to Buddy Holly

One thing that I take away from 12 years of regular action doing live sound with a variety of musicians is that guitar amps or how they get power has little or nothing to do with the hum that seems to incessantly come from them. One thing that I found is that guitar players with bone stock pieces generally cause few if any problems with hum. The people who cause the most problem are players who think they are also guitar techs. I'm not sure that they all know how to solder well if you catch my drift... ;-)


Another lesson is that hum is generally minimized if the player has no amp at all and you just plug them up to a direct box and give them a credible monitor mix. The real problem is that some guitar players strongly feel the need to control their environment, and that control often takes a lot of complicated and weird forms. Its a personality thing, not a musical thing.


IME the best players often walk in,whip out a slightly battered but really solid piece, plug up to the direct box, talk the sound guy through getting the monitor levels right and play up a storm!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Discussion Starter #12

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474459

Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24473976


I run whole house protection at my service and APC on my computer gear and Panamax on my AV equipment for peace of mind and it can't hurt mentality.

Nor can it help anything.

As the OP I feel some sense of responsibility to reply to this "post". This little 5-word blur seems to imply that even surge protection "can't help anything." If so, that' the first time in my looking around that I've seen anything of that sort. I had read, however, that the kind/style of surge protection (MOV?) provided by the cheap power strips could be faulty/unreliable. And not just from the manufacturers of high-end conditioners.


If that wasn't the intended implication of your post, then be a little more verbose and less lazy in future posts.


- JD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Discussion Starter #13

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24476501

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474459

Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24473976


I run whole house protection at my service and APC on my computer gear and Panamax on my AV equipment for peace of mind and it can't hurt mentality.

Nor can it help anything.

+1


Like the guy says, peace of mind.


For me peace of mind is liquid finances. ;-)


I have had a few peices of audio gear that probably got trashed by bad power. It was far less costly to simply replace it. Of course I'm not exactly Mr. Audio jewelry! ;-)

Sorry Arny - are you saying there's no value in even reasonably-priced surge protection equipment?


- JD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,480 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474617


I don't gamble with my equipment but you sure have that right.

There is no gamble involved. Fear appears to be the marketing plan and it appears to be working.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Discussion Starter #15

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHAz  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24475600


A guitar amp's noise isn't about lack of power conditioning. If you have a lot of self noise (hiss) that's what noise gates are for. If you use single coil pickups thd hum occurs way after powrr conditioning could do any good. A trickier thingvto handle via noise gstes but it is a breeze in digital recording to lop off the buzz in the guitar silences. Get Santana Abraxas and just crank it up. On the first tunr Carlos's P90 pickups are very audibly humming but once he starts playing the sound of the guitar masks it. Just like it does on every recording of single coils from Jeff Beck's version of 'Cause we've ended as lovers to scotty moore on elvis' s early work to Buddy Holly

Thanks for replying JHAz -


Like I said earlier, I've found my guitar rig at home is relatively noisy, even with a couple of different guitars and amps. Even with my LP with humbuckers - so much so, that my single-coiled Strat doesn't sound all that much noisier. I take the same guitars to my teacher's studio, and the noise floor definitely sounds lower (and he's taken no special precautions to reduce it). My hunch is this is not (just) regular old pickup noise. I had read a little about noise gates and lots of other little gadgets. I'd like to try and avoid a noise gate and only use it as a last resort. I think the multi-effects pedal I mentioned has a built-in gate. One of the members here actually wrote a very good white paper on implementing the pedal into a rig! If only I had studied engineering!


As I have no electrical/engineering experience, and limited time to invest (I'd rather spend the little time I have on playing/practicing rather than endlessly fooling around with the gear), I'm hoping to avoid any sort of long, protracted diagnostic/troubleshooting exercise. To that end, if spending a bit of money on a well built conditioner could help me meet that objective, I'd consider it money well spent! I'm pretty frugal in other areas of my life, but I'm more than happy (and able) to spend a bit of dough on guitar stuff.


Can you hire a good guitar tech for a little one-off project - LOL?!?!?


Cheers,

JD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Discussion Starter #16

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24476517

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHAz  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24475600


A guitar amp's noise isn't about lack of power conditioning. If you have a lot of self noise (hiss) that's what noise gates are for. If you use single coil pickups thd hum occurs way after powrr conditioning could do any good. A trickier thingvto handle via noise gstes but it is a breeze in digital recording to lop off the buzz in the guitar silences. Get Santana Abraxas and just crank it up. On the first tunr Carlos's P90 pickups are very audibly humming but once he starts playing the sound of the guitar masks it. Just like it does on every recording of single coils from Jeff Beck's version of 'Cause we've ended as lovers to scotty moore on elvis' s early work to Buddy Holly

One thing that I take away from 12 years of regular action doing live sound with a variety of musicians is that guitar amps or how they get power has little or nothing to do with the hum that seems to incessantly come from them. One thing that I found is that guitar players with bone stock pieces generally cause few if any problems with hum. The people who cause the most problem are players who think they are also guitar techs. I'm not sure that they all know how to solder well if you catch my drift... ;-)


Another lesson is that hum is generally minimized if the player has no amp at all and you just plug them up to a direct box and give them a credible monitor mix. The real problem is that some guitar players strongly feel the need to control their environment, and that control often takes a lot of complicated and weird forms. Its a personality thing, not a musical thing.


IME the best players often walk in,whip out a slightly battered but really solid piece, plug up to the direct box, talk the sound guy through getting the monitor levels right and play up a storm!

Thanks Arny - I'm definitely just working with a stock Mesa Mark V head. I couldn't solder anything even if my life depended on it! I don't think going to a direct box and (PA?) monitor set-up is feasible in a home studio environment, is it?


I wish I was more technically inclined, even just so I could better describe the noise. Again, my hunch is it's beyond "typical" pickup noise. Our house gets very dry in the winter, like now, and we get lots of static electricity. Could that have any impact on noise level? Can plugging everything into a conditioner even just eliminate any questions as to everything being properly grounded? I just don't know. If someone could convince me that a pricey box full of lint objectively works in reducing/eliminating the problem, I'd jump all over it.


- JD
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
196 Posts
Discussion Starter #17

Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474433


I don't plan on sticking around for long in this thread but here's what I know:


#1 This industry is corrupt and not some, but rather the majority of products are snake oil.


#2 A surge protector is a good idea because they are cheap. Look for "UL 1449" on the unit itself. This can be found on most hardware store AC power strip like devices that cost $10-$20. More expensive doesn't mean better, it means you are being ripped off.


#3 If one's noise problem is "hiss", that is never solved by these "conditioner" things. It is endemic to the gear, but learning how to set the gain structure of a series of units in a chain may help out. In a nutshell that means running everything as "hot" [loud] as possible without overloading the next box in the series and all actual level changes should be done in the very last unit in the chain. Using test tones and oscilloscopes is the best way to setup the gain structure of a chain, but going by ear is better than nothing.


Here's a primer:
http://www.rane.com/note135.html


#4 Under some rare circumstances cleaning one's AC power with shampoo, oops I mean "conditioner", has consequences, but the noise it cures would be better described as buzz, hum, or static, not hiss. This would be true if you notice noise when the vacuum cleaner , hair dryer, cheap switching power supply cellphone charger wall warts, or cheap light dimmer is used on the same AC outlet/ AC circuit.[ But why not just not use those noise generators instead?]


#5 Those same kinds of noise, and again not hiss, can occur from ground loops. Use star grounding for your entire system and only use noise isolation transformers on gear as a last ditch effort, like not being able to sever the cable company's RF signal ground from  your house's AC ground

http://www.rane.com/note151.html


#6 UPS are great for people where a loss of electricity means a cooling fan will stop and a light bulb may pop if there's a black out or someone stumbles and an AC cord is yanked from the wall. I have one on my projector TV. Hard drives may be corrupted if they suddenly lose power too.


#7 If you suspect an EMI/RF nosiy environment, try to use XLR and fully balanced connections, not RCA and simple 1/4 inch phone plugs. But these only help out in some circumstances, not all, and again, not "hiss". They don't stop the inherent noise of the product but they help reject any further increase along the way, due to the wire accidentally acting as an antenna. They kill "common mode noise" the main one being hum, especially problematic with long runs hence their common use in pro settings.


Bye.

Thanks m. zilch - A quick glance at your links did start my head a-spinning, but I will try to give them a better read. I "think" the type of noise I'm getting might be amenable to conditioning. Unfortunately, I can't go fully balanced with all my guitar gear, but I can go "pseudo-balanced" at least with the effects pedal, which the manufacturer recommends. Thankfully, I can get way without UPS/battery back-up for the guitar rig.

o

Way back in the day, my audiophile enthusiasm dropped appreciably when everyone started developing these exotic, ludicrously expensive "transports" for spinning CDs. I mean - the actual physical spinning of the little silver disks, not DACs or whatever. What a racket! So I can definitely sympathize with your cynicism.


- JD
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,420 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_alpha  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24477577

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24476501

Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24474459

Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24473976


I run whole house protection at my service and APC on my computer gear and Panamax on my AV equipment for peace of mind and it can't hurt mentality.

Nor can it help anything.

+1


Like the guy says, peace of mind.


For me peace of mind is liquid finances. ;-)


I have had a few peices of audio gear that probably got trashed by bad power. It was far less costly to simply replace it. Of course I'm not exactly Mr. Audio jewelry! ;-)

Sorry Arny - are you saying there's no value in even reasonably-priced surge protection equipment?

My experience is that


(1) Not that many people need surge protection. It is violently oversold.


(2) If you need surge protection, the most effective form of it is whole-house protection. Portable casual surge protectors are ineffective.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
14,420 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_alpha  /t/1522249/opinions-on-power-condit...-avr-conditioners-in-particular#post_24477748



I wish I was more technically inclined, even just so I could better describe the noise. Again, my hunch is it's beyond "typical" pickup noise. Our house gets very dry in the winter, like now, and we get lots of static electricity. Could that have any impact on noise level? Can plugging everything into a conditioner even just eliminate any questions as to everything being properly grounded? I just don't know. If someone could convince me that a pricey box full of lint objectively works in reducing/eliminating the problem, I'd jump all over it.

EMI created by static electricity sounds like infrequent tics and pops.


Line conditioners are generally ineffective at reducing noise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,608 Posts
Been in structural wiring for a long time seen a lot of bad things happen and a surge protector on your equipment is no guarantee against everything but it sure beats not having one.

Whole home at the service will stop most of the problems coming in from the outside but not internal and before anyone says that rarely happens but it has burnt receptacle outlets from shorted or failed equipment or crappy wiring and all grounds and neutrals are technically bonded together at your service go look if done to code.

With power supplies in certain brands of gear getting cheaper by the year don't rely on them to overcome spikes and anomalies.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top