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balanced power/power conditioning question for home studio construction
Old 6th September 2004
Gear Nut

balanced power/power conditioning question for home studio construction

hello all.

im renovating my 150yr old new orleans home and will be redo-ing all of the electrical. i will have my attic set aside for my studio which will encompase anywhere from 8-14 pieces of rack gear, a computer, monitors, and 2-3 synths. i rarely record, mostly programmed composition.

i want to know what are affordable balanced power solutions, and how i implement them for the studio in the scope of planning the elctrical for the whole house.

additionally am i correct in assuming that ill have to have a power-conditioner as well?

advice is most welcome.
Old 6th September 2004
Lives for gear
faeflora's Avatar

Your assumption is wrong. You could just get a small rack unit and put it in the room with your studio and use regular power strips (no breakers or conditioners) to branch out the power sockets.

Check out Equitech and Furman.
Old 6th September 2004
Gear Nut


which assumption is sincorrect, that balanced power it is not a construction consideration? or that a power-conditioner is not needed as well?

which equitech or furman product do you recommend?
Old 6th September 2004
Lives for gear
faeflora's Avatar

Re: balanced power/power conditioning question for home studio construction

Originally posted by pentajigga

additionally am i correct in assuming that ill have to have a power-conditioner as well?

Doh, I read the above as "am i correct assuming that ill have to have an in-wall power conditioner as well?"

Sorry. Let me try to answer your original question below.

Most balanced power units do what cheap ($100) power conditioners do, which is to condition power cheaply. Most balanced units don't really filter specifically by design, rather, power is filtered incidentally by their transformer. If you have ****ty power from the telephone pole, you'll probably need a separate unit specifically designed to provide pure current. This will probably cost over $500. Furman's IT Reference supposedly does this and it costs over $2000.

You could get a wall unit but it doesn't sound like you need that many amps of balanced power.

Here's what you need to do:

1. Find out the total amps all your gear will draw.
2. Pick out a balanced power unit that feeds that total plus a few amps plus however much you think you may need if you get more gear.

I have no recommendations as I have only used Equitech. If you search this board, you'll find some people like Equitech, some like Furman. If you want, you can send me a PM and I'll recommend someone to help you pick something hout.

BTW do you have HVAC in your attic?
Old 6th September 2004
Gear Nut

ill calculate the ampage and post it up here.

i do have hvac in the attic.
Old 6th September 2004
How can I calculate ampage?
Old 6th September 2004
Lives for gear
faeflora's Avatar

Um I gues syou ad up the number of guitar AMPs in the room and there you have your total number of ampages. The formula to get stackage from ampage is (x=amp, y=stack)

x / 2 = y

so ten amps would be 5 stacks.

Old 6th September 2004
Gear Nut
soundmoves's Avatar

Equitech has some great options for balanced power.

Here is a rack mount version I hope this helps.

Old 7th September 2004
Gear Nut

actually , i am also having trouble calculating ampage.
can anyone be of any help in this.

im assumeing with my set-up that 20amp conditioner/balancer should be more than enough, perhaps overkill.
Old 7th September 2004
Lives for gear
chap's Avatar

Get an Equitek ( they weigh more than the sun).
Get it for what you need. Chances are that you'll never have all your gear maxing out and pulling power at once. I suppose it could happen but I've never done a session where every single piece of gear is being pushed. It's worth the money.

on the back of every device, you'll find a plate or sticker that gives you the amp requirements.
Old 7th September 2004
Gear Nut

i see voltage, HZ, and watts on the back of some devices.. what is the formula to get amps from this? thanks

also on others it says 500mA, i assume this is 1/2 an amp?
Old 7th September 2004
Gear Addict
largeunit's Avatar

I got the Furman IT-1220. It works well.
Old 7th September 2004
Lives for gear
Fleaman's Avatar

Watts divided by volts = Amps

Old 7th September 2004
7rojo7's Avatar

A UPS would probably be more helpful as it kills two birds in the bush. If you get an On Line model it always uses the battery charger charging the batteries powering the inverter thus delivering constant current even through brownouts, blackouts and sun spots.
If you have extremely bad AC you can get an electric powered generator (a generator attached to an electric motor) to feed the UPS. I use an On Line UPS in the "On Line" mode when recording live performances because there is absolutely no interruption of current ever. In "Line Interactive" mode there are a few milliseconds of interruption in a blackout.
What you want is isolation from ConEd and a stable non-distorted sinusoidal wave. Maybe someone else can tell you if you need an isolated ground or not, I have one and put one in when I do remote work. A balanced power transformer isolates you physically from the network, so does a UPS in "On Line" mode. I have an isolation transformer that follows my UPS for when I work in line ineractive mode so I am always seperated from the grid in every circumstance.
When looking at power conditioning for my studio I decided to go with industrial products instead of those just for audio, they were substantially cheaper.
At the EquiTech site I found a method for calculating what size transformer you need, it's there somewhere.
Run a single line for your studio, don't plug anything else into this system. If your power conditioning system makes noise or heat keep it in a ventilated closet or better yet in the garage or basement close to your electrical panel. If it's small enough not to make noise you can keep it in the studio but don't put it near anything that's sensitive magnetic radiation (recorded magnetic tape, floppy discs, hard drives, audio or data lines). You can use a baseboard or wall channel to get the power to where it has to go, make the technical AC system appear different from the house AC to avoid accidentally plugging in something and interconnecting the 2 together. Run the HVAC, lights and outlets from different circuits.
If you can, make a panel with interruptors so that you can control your startup and shutdown sequence from one place (computers, rack gear, aux, speakers last on startup etc...), I have mine on the front of my isolation transformer.
Old 7th September 2004
Here for the gear
Mike Pappas's Avatar

We have been using MGE UPS Pulsar EX series ups for several years now. They are very well built, work all the time and are not cheap. These are double conversion type UPS and provide high isolation from AC line noise and transient events.

Since we installed them we saved more than we spent on them with the repairs we used to have to make on blown up gear from lightning hits, brownouts and you name it on the power grid...

We have 3 of the 1.5 KVA and one of the 3.0 KVA units.

Mike Pappas
American Digital Recordings Inc.
Old 7th September 2004
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
There are different grades of "UPS" so be careful which one you use... like the APC "UPS"s we use on the computers at the office are unacceptable for audio... if you look at the resultant wave form on an oscilloscope it's not a nice pretty sine wave... on the ones we have at the office the wave form looks kinda clipped which ain't a good thing.

The least expensive way to do balanced power in the US is to run your equipment at 220v. Here in the US 240v consists of two legs of 120v which is exactly what the "balanced power" boxes give you only twice as much of it.

The balanced power power boxes split our US 120v wall current into two legs of 60v referenced to a ground... in other words instead of having a 120v hot, a 0v neutral, and a 0v ground you have a 60v hot, a second 60v hot and a 0v ground... which is why you don't want to hook up a table lamp to one of them [with a table lamp... the 120v hot is the center pole that connects to the bottom of the light bulb... the tube into which you screw the bulb is the neutral... so if you have a neutral with a 60v potential to ground on it, it'll sting ya].

Any licenced electrician can run a 220 line up to your attic in a heartbeat... along with some additional 110 lines. You will want to have the 220 lines set up so you can't plug 110 equipment into them [or have a bunch of extra fuses for all your 110 gear as you'll be going through them like water]

Like the usual US 110 wall plug looks something like:

l l there are wall plugs that look like

l - that are often used for low amperage 220

They come in all kinds of groovy colors too so you can make it as obvious as possible which is which.

Almost all equipment these days is switchable between 110 and 220 [120-240; 115-230... whatever it takes]... there are some pieces that actually have a sensing capability within the power supply so you can plug them into damn near anything.

I hope this is of some assistance...
Old 7th September 2004
Gear Nut

that's interesting stuff fletcher... lets see if i can mentally get over my sub-conscious addiction to plugging 110 items into 220, which i do consistently when i travel abroad.
very elegant solution otherwise.
Old 18th September 2004
Gear Maniac
The 240v line solution is definetely awesome but out of the balanced power boxes which ones can people recommend? Furman , Equitech or are they comparable? For a true balanced power box is it possible to get away with spending under 1 G?

Old 19th September 2004
Lives for gear
max cooper's Avatar

A couple years ago I spoke to a rep from Linn HiFi (as I have family in the biz) and he recommended the 220 solution as detailed by Fletcher. Supposedly one advantage in amps etc. that can run on either 110/220 is that at 220, caps charge faster (= good).

The electrician who wired my home studio recommended a dedicated circuit and also to get new breaker switches for that circuit as over time the contacts become oxidized. New ones hardly cost anything (especially to a gearslut).
Old 19th September 2004
Balanced power may solve problems you have in studios...

... but it's very possible that the problems you have can't be fixed magically by balanced power.

If you don't have a solid ground, balanced power units won't work since they depend on having a ground for their operations. You would need to run a grounding rod first.

For my home, I bought a Liebert online UPS used on ebay for very cheap (like $150). I have essentially no noise from the AC line now (though the neighborhood I live in provides its own complement of strange noises). A balanced power solution would be a waste of money and amperage here.

At the studio I work, there were hellacious problems with getting a star grounding system operating properly. For whatever reasons, an Equitech solved the problems there reducing the noise floor by 22dB. No need for star grounding anymore.

I've also heard of people having good results with installing the Surge-X electrical panels, which cost about $500 for a 15-amp subpanel.

Whatever your problem and solution, avoid MOV-based surge supressors (including the older lines of Furman power conditioners) like the plague. They're guaranteed to degrade within a few years, ultimately adding more noise to your ac line.
Old 17th December 2006
Lives for gear
Gabriel Sousa's Avatar
Talking can you hear the difference?

recording with or with out Balanced power...

can you hear the difference?
Old 17th December 2006
Gear Head


Loads of obfuscation.

Fletcher's right, of course, but here's the lowdown on your needs:

dedicated 20 A circuit w/ good ground

UPS (if you value your work)

decent power conditioning if you have questionable power (I just went through this in another thread). Size it to 125% of your total load. If it goes over 20 Amps, run two dedicated circuits off the same side of the line so you don't risk lighting up your hair or getting an arc burn on your lips.

When you redo the house system use Square D gear. It performs perfectly and will last longer than you do. (cheap breakers oxidize)

Find an electrician who can quote the NEC like the Bible.

You'll be fine.
Old 17th December 2006
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
You'll notice several people suggested a good ground. What's the hardest thing to find in a city built over water...... A good ground. Seriously. I know of more than one studio in New Orleans that had to go through extensive means to achieve a quiet noise free system. There is no perfect answer. It takes experimentation, and in a place with poor ground, even more experimentation. Good luck.
Old 17th December 2006
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
Originally Posted by Gabriel Sousa View Post
recording with or with out Balanced power...

can you hear the difference?
All balanced power does is quiet the noise floor. Usually. Quality power - balanced or unbalanced helps the sound of your gear. You wouldn't run your Ferrari on ethanol would you? Wait, you do have a Ferrari, right?

Good power and grounding is the bedrock of a good sounding studio.
Old 27th December 2006
Gear Maniac
borism's Avatar

I'd like to know:
Is there a less known (read good but less expensive) brands of power conditioners? Other than Equiteck-Furman or Monster?
i realy dont care for the lights, rack mounts and silver plate faces, the unit is going to be in a closet anyway.
Anyone with other options?

happy holidays amd have a happy new year BTW
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