The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
voltage peaks? my soundcard switches off Audio Interfaces
Old 13th March 2018
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
voltage peaks? my soundcard switches off

Hello everyone!!

i had a little problem since i moved to a new studio and i'm writing here hoping somebody could recommend me what the best option is

so, i've got my soundcard motu ultralite mk2 and my adams speakers connected to it
my soundcard is powered by the firewire of my laptop since the power supply passed the way a few years ago
it always worked fine so far.. but this might be the problem

so... when i switch the light of the studio for exemple or sometimes turn a speaker on the soundcard switches off....
so i think this might be because of a voltage peak in the place i rent
(and as the adam speakers are connected to the soundcard and it also turns them off at the same time something i dont really like..)

my studio is conected with a surge multi socket peak supressors as it says..

so the options i am thinking about are :
buying a new power supply from motu at least it might help the soundcard to handle the peaks rather than having it powered by my laptop
or maybe buying a more expesive surge protector something that could really handle such a situation

i dont knw much about electricity, voltage and all that, and i always found so much good advices here i tought it could be worth asking the question directly!!

thanks for your time

Old 13th March 2018
Lives for gear

Sounds to me like you got too many things on the same breaker and the surge is causing a dip in your USB port voltage.

Its one thing to run an interface off a desktop where there is steady power and you can run a high performance power plan that doesn't shut things down to save power. A laptop is going to use a power plan that saves battery power and that includes things like USB, fans, display and hard drives.

I do suggest you go and set all that stuff to run and stay on when the laptop is plugged in. Windows had an extensive update a few weeks ago that resets the power plans back to default so I wouldn't be surprised if you're set to economy mode and the USP ports being shut down on you.

If your interface came with a power supply I'd also find one of those instead of relying on the pathetically low USB voltage "Especially" if your mic is phantom powered. There no way in hell you're going to get 48V from a 5V USB port by stepping the voltage up. Even if you get it up to 12V where most condensers begin to function, you essentially have no current left for the interface to operate. I can definitely see the slightest voltage fluctuations causing your problems.

Beware. It takes very little for a circuit to go from being a nuisance to becoming permanently disabled. You are pushing the thing to operate where the voltage and current is stretched to its limits. If there's any kind of ROM/bios in that interface, even if its something that runs a display screen, low voltage conditions are a classic cause of loosing that data.

The Power supply costs $19 from the manufacturer. - Power supply
I think having your unit run with an ample amount of current knowing its not going to crash on you is more then enough reason to buy a new one, especially when you're developing issues running it off a weak laptop USB buss. I suggest you do it sooner then later or you'll wind in a situation where that unit doesn't recover and you'll be buying a new one.
Old 13th March 2018
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
thanks for the answer!!

yess i think there is no other way around anyway i've been lucky enough to push that limit for that long

i'm getting all that fixed this week at once

thanks for the really helpfull tips and advices!!

i think i just needed someone (who knows the score) advices to just do it properly!

all the best man,

Old 14th March 2018
Lives for gear

Yes we all need a kick in the ass occasionally to do what we know is right from the start.

I'd be surprised if you have any issues after this. Housing in different areas can have differences in AC voltage regulation.
I live in Houston where thunderstorms are severe and this town has seen allot of infrastructure damage due to major Hurricanes.
On top of that its the most air conditioned city in the country during the summer season which all adds up to power fluctuations.

All I use are some basic computer style power strips that have built in surge protection and I've never had a piece of gear fail from power problems.
I can say with the same confidence about businesses too because my company sells office equipment and every piece of gear is sold with a surge protector.

Out of 10,000 surge protectors I've had 4 go bad, which I sent back to the manufacturer who replaces them for free.
Out of the ones that went bad Two appeared to be factory defects (I always open them up to check for simple stuff like a loose connector)
The other two had charred components and obviously saw over voltage conditions but even with those its hard to tell whether a component simply shorted out or whether a lightening bolt hit them.

I'd like to think it was a lightening bolt just to justify the sales of surge protectors to so many customers but because I'm an electronic tech who has friends work in the power business and as electricians, and given the amount of protection the power grid has, the chances of people having gear blow up from surges is actually far less likely then people are lead to believe. The whole dirty AC spoof is another load of baloney. Maybe if your gear was picking up a radio broadcast it might be piggybacking off the AC line but even then, its going to have to survive the transition of being converted to DC and highly filtered by a devices power supply so small sognals and spikes get erased by a piece of gear that has its own surge protection built in.

Anyway, if you are having more surge issues you should have your breaker box checked. Breakers do get old and connections corroded. I had to change my entire service out at my house because it was old and unable to pass the newer building codes. The building may have had wiring and lighting changes, different appliances added, or appliances are getting old. Something like a compressor that uses an AC starter cap on motor draws more and more current as they age until they fail completely. The surges can be enough to dim lights.

Id simply use and inexpensive computer style power strip to avoid the big current surges. You can buy them as low as $10 and avoid having to worry about major faults. I joke with people that most power strips have such high joule ratings it would take a direct hit on your house to blow the gear up. wouldn't matter whether the surge protector worked or not, you'd either be dead or the place would have burned down.

You can try and narrow down and find what's causing the problem too. Leave your interface on a Buss and go around the house turning things on and off and see if you can find out which devices are sucking the juice down and causing current surges. Chances are they are on the same line as your computer gear. Most breakers are 15A and you can add up what's on a line too. Just turn one breaker off at a time and add up what shuts off and you'll know the total current being used. You want to keep the breakers below their total amounts by a safe margin. Dropouts like yours are typical of a line with too much gear on the same line.

Last edited by wrgkmc; 14th March 2018 at 08:30 PM..
Old 15th March 2018
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
ohh wow

thats sounds like some crazy conditions for voltage regulation and stability.. haha

interesting toughts about the surge defaults you had.. i never had a problem with surge connectors but this one is brand new so if after receiving my soundcard power supply the issue stills here i might just check that up (how do you see is your connector is damaged by the way? by just a simple look it all looks fine..)

you know, talking about "gear adaptation to a new place" i started working with the same mac pro laptop and the same motu soundcard something like 8 years ago (always worked fine exept this little detail) and my studio have moved from london to mexico (a big voltage change here!!) and then back to europe in france now soo 220 then 110 then 220 once again this maybe got my "central piece of equipment (soundcard) a bit tired after all..

i dont use that much gear to be honest lap soundcard adam monitors midi keyboard and a shermann 2 analogue filter something pretty simple
maybe if i had 3 analog synth a drum machine a proper use of a ribbon mic for exemple i will think of buying something reaaly stable where to connect everything to it but i run a quite simple and easy going studio.. not recording pure production and sound design

yess i was thinking about the breaker box at a very begining... might also be one of the problem as when i switch off the kitchen (after going for a cup of tea and 5 min break for exemple) the soundcard switches off...

"I joke with people that most power strips have such high joule ratings it would take a direct hit on your house to blow the gear up. wouldn't matter whether the surge Protector worked or not, you'd either be dead or the place would have burned down. "
Thats good to knw haha as i dont know much about electricity even if i should this explains a lot

thanks for all the great advices and explainations!!

its really apreciated
Old 19th March 2018
Gear Addict

Surge protectors are NOT all created equal. The vast majority depend on MOV’s. One surge and they are dead. They can leak surges on the signal ground. If you want reliable protection then get
a Surgex. Surgex uses high capacity capacitors and inductors to absorb surges and then trickles them back down the neutral. No ground contamination. Rated to handle a minimum of 1500 surges of 6000 volts and 3000 amps. If you get the RX1115 or RX1120 you also get castrotrophic under and over voltage protection, EMI filtering and in-rush current protection ( the surge when power is first turned on). Skip cheap MOV surge devices unless you don’t mind replacing fried gear.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump