GIGGING & RECORDING > ON TRACK
POWER AND PROTECTION FOR YOUR STUDIO BY RICH TOZZOLI
Let’s talk about power and protection. Sure, it sounds like a mob movie intro,
but it’s really about making sure our studio
gear doesn’t turn into ashes during the next
storm, surge, or outage. Many of you own
some form of recording gear, be it a simple
GarageBand laptop setup or a full-blown Pro
Tools HD rig. But how many of you just
plug right into a simple power strip or even
worse, directly into the wall? It’s time to think
about taking steps to not only clean up your
power, but to protect your valuable gear.
Luckily, there are several different “layers”
of protection you can go with, both in terms
of price points and actual defense from spikes,
magnetic interference, and other gremlins. At
the very least, you should invest in some form
of power/line conditioning, which will protect
you from those nasty power surges commercial power providers can deliver.
Typical AC (alternating current) electricity flows forward and backward at a rate of
60 times per second, or 60 Hz. Ever hear the
term “60-cycle hum?” Well, that’s where it
came from, and you’ll want to ground it by
making sure your gear has a 3-prong adapter,
which is the modern standard. If you do suffer
from hum, something like the Ebtech Hum X
(around $70) will help filter out the unwanted
voltage and current from your line and eliminate ground loop hum. Hey, it’s a start.
1. The Ebtech Hum X is useful for nuking noise caused by pesky ground loops. 2. Products like the
Furman M-8Lx will filter out EMI (electromagnetic interference) and RFI (radio frequency interference)
that can plague your studio gear. 3. Within a window of 80-140 volts, the Monster Pro AVS 2000 Automatic Voltage Stabilizer adjusts incoming electricity to 120 volts—exactly what your gear wants to see.
At the very least, you
should invest in some form
of power/line conditioning, which will protect you
from those nasty power
surges commercial power
providers can deliver.
In addition to protecting you from
those power surges and hums, a good
studio-grade power conditioner will filter
out some EMI (electromagnetic interfer-
ence) and RFI (radio frequency interfer-
ence). Any of you who have ever recorded
in New York City know that radio waves
constantly bombard your sessions, often
sneaking through even the most robust RFI
protection. Products like the rackmounted
Furman M-8Lx (around $100) can offer
some extra outlets, two small lamps, RFI/
EMI filtering, and surge protection. Before
your gear blows, the Furman will (and
that’s a much cheaper alternative).
I do feel a sense of confidence with
this piece of gear. Even though it’s pricey
(around $1,700), this is what I do for a living and I want my gear protected. There
are, of course, other companies that make
voltage regulators, but as you might expect,
they all cost more than power conditioners.
In addition to power conditioning and
voltage stabilization, some professionals like
to have an uninterruptable power supply,
or UPS. A UPS will provide electricity to
your rig should the power fail completely.
For this, check out something like the APC
Back-UPS BR1500G (around $250). The
size of the unit’s battery will determine
how long your gear will stay on should the
power go out, but at least you will have
enough time to shut down properly and
save your session data. You could also go
with a product like the Furman F1500-UPS
(around $1,200), which combines a voltage
regulator with a UPS power supply.
No matter how far you go with it, at
least take the minimum step of picking
up a power conditioner for your studio
setup. This way, you can be sure a spike or
surge in the power won’t blow up your rig.
On top of that, you will have additional
protection for EMI and RFI interference.
Combine that with a good voltage regulator
and UPS and you can survive the nastiest
storm and keep on rocking.
RICH TOZZOLI is a Grammy-nominated engineer and mixer who has worked with artists ranging from Al Di Meola to Ace Frehley. A life-long guitarist, he’s also the author of Pro Tools Surround Sound Mixing and The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook, as well as a composer
for shows such as Fox NFL, Pawn Stars, American
Restoration, and Gene Simmons Family Jewels.
38 PREMIER GUITAR JUNE 2012