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Reduced voltage to console in lieu of "off"? Equalizer Plugins
Old 16th November 2016
  #1
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Reduced voltage to console in lieu of "off"?

Hi friends,

Y'all are rad.

I was trained to leave medium and large format consoles on at all times to keep the capacitors at consistent temperature and extend the life of the board. But holy hell that's expensive. Does anyone here have experience using a regulator for reduced voltage when the gear is not in use? Is there a minimum percentage to run at that can maintain enough voltage to keep gear happy, but save some on the electric bill? Is there certain gear this technique should not be used for (converters, computers, etc.)?

Thanks!
Old 16th November 2016
  #2
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This sounds like a really bad idea.
Old 16th November 2016
  #3
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Can you elaborate on that please?
Old 16th November 2016
  #4
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Pred80r's Avatar
 

Large Format Consoles

I was always taught to leave the large format consoles on due to the "warm up time" of capacitors and electrolytics. I was also taught to NEVER leave the computer or expansion bays on due to power surges or voltage issues that can adversely affect the drives etc.

We always ran systems with 2 master power switches, 1 for everything that went off daily and 1 for everything that stayed on. Both shared a ground but typically 1 was off of one leg of a 3 phase hot and 1 was off of another leg of the 3 phase hot. The last leg was same ground and used for studio instruments ot backline.

There was a saying in our studios, if you turn the console off, don't expect it to be the same when you turn it back on. In fact we turned it off a lot for repairs, channel swaps, cleaning etc, but it also would come back one with another bad channel, intermittent switches and other ghosts in the machine.

NOW it seems the electrolytics and Power Supplies for large format consoles seem fine being turned off on and every day as they are more stable...of course they don't sound as good (IMO) and there may be a distinct reason for that.

This is a situation where you can't win, my best recommendation is a large, battery back up with at least 3-4 hours of usage on the console just sitting, not doing anything. Set a timer on your PS to kick on and charge that battery before it dies and keep everything "hot" until the next time you use the console. If you can get a longer usage battery then do that and extend the charging time. It all depends on your $ to set this system up. It may cost lest than running the console off of AC continuously but then you have to buy DC systems and implement etc...
Old 16th November 2016
  #5
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pred80r View Post
NOW it seems the electrolytics and Power Supplies for large format consoles seem fine being turned off on and every day as they are more stable...of course they don't sound as good (IMO) and there may be a distinct reason for that.
.
Why don't you think modern caps sound as good?
Old 16th November 2016
  #6
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Pred80r's Avatar
 

Modern Caps

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Why don't you think modern caps sound as good?
Ok, so I may have to retract this a bit as I realize that EVERY recap done on our large format consoles and on my Neotek, the Harrison etc are done with more modern caps.

OF course newer caps make the console open up a bit and have more headroom etc.

But for some reason these older large format consoles still sound better than the new ones I have encountered...to this point.

My reference point was replacing an 8088 with a new 5088 in the same room. To my ears it wasn't as sonically pleasing...

Of course what do I know, the 8088 probably had the same exact caps used in the 5088...
Old 17th November 2016
  #7
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pred80r View Post
Ok, so I may have to retract this a bit as I realize that EVERY recap done on our large format consoles and on my Neotek, the Harrison etc are done with more modern caps.

OF course newer caps make the console open up a bit and have more headroom etc.

But for some reason these older large format consoles still sound better than the new ones I have encountered...to this point.

My reference point was replacing an 8088 with a new 5088 in the same room. To my ears it wasn't as sonically pleasing...

Of course what do I know, the 8088 probably had the same exact caps used in the 5088...
I'd guess that has more to do with signal design and and implementation more than anything.
Old 18th November 2016
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pred80r View Post
I was always taught to leave the large format consoles on due to the "warm up time" of capacitors and electrolytics. I was also taught to NEVER leave the computer or expansion bays on due to power surges or voltage issues that can adversely affect the drives etc.

We always ran systems with 2 master power switches, 1 for everything that went off daily and 1 for everything that stayed on. Both shared a ground but typically 1 was off of one leg of a 3 phase hot and 1 was off of another leg of the 3 phase hot. The last leg was same ground and used for studio instruments ot backline.

There was a saying in our studios, if you turn the console off, don't expect it to be the same when you turn it back on. In fact we turned it off a lot for repairs, channel swaps, cleaning etc, but it also would come back one with another bad channel, intermittent switches and other ghosts in the machine.

NOW it seems the electrolytics and Power Supplies for large format consoles seem fine being turned off on and every day as they are more stable...of course they don't sound as good (IMO) and there may be a distinct reason for that.

This is a situation where you can't win, my best recommendation is a large, battery back up with at least 3-4 hours of usage on the console just sitting, not doing anything. Set a timer on your PS to kick on and charge that battery before it dies and keep everything "hot" until the next time you use the console. If you can get a longer usage battery then do that and extend the charging time. It all depends on your $ to set this system up. It may cost lest than running the console off of AC continuously but then you have to buy DC systems and implement etc...

I never heard about the warm-up time, as much as that the warming and cooling of caps would cause constant expansion and contraction, eventually causing the materials to lose efficiency, leak, etc. That would explain a console having ghosts or acting different on start-up, as each heating period would alter slightly each cap physically. I have seen these ghost as well. I'm definitely talking above my grade on this...Just my thoughts on possibilities.

I'm guessing modern consoles are running at similar or even higher voltages. Are newer caps just made with better materials/tolerances, and therefore not as affected by change? I bet the power supplies are also more consistent and efficient. So it's possible they are less affected by power cycling. These are wildly complex electrical systems and every piece is part of the sound. Some studios don't want to recap as they are afraid it change the sound too much and they will lose what they loved about it.

I saw one of these voltage regulators at a studio once controlling the power to their Neve. It was one of the very high quality controllers (Variac?), similar to what is often used on the lighting. They drop it to 25-50% power when not in use, which at least keeps the caps warm and at a somewhat consistent temperature.

Interesting idea about a DC battery backup. I've seen UPS at studios before, but never considered using a timer to keep them full, but not always running. If you were building a studio, would you factor this into the cost (for a really top notch one) to hopefully pay for itself in the long run?
Old 18th November 2016
  #9
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

The amps need to warm up, not the caps...30 minutes is good, provided the Room is not COLD...
If you reduce the voltage the regulators in the supply will simply drop out, NO voltage to console..

I can think of several reasons for leaving consoles ON;
The power supply is in another room...A pain in the ...
A lot of studios ran 12+ hours a day..so why bother..
Older consoles with incandescent lamps are another reason, they go out more often going from Cold to Hot...Lamps are not cheap and are not easy to replace.

If I was Not going to use the console for a few days I would turn it off...

Last edited by nosebleedaudio; 18th November 2016 at 10:27 PM..
Old 18th November 2016
  #10
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Hi
There is a bit of ill informed 'superstition' going on in several of the above posts.
Battery back up systems would actually use MORE power than leaving it on as you have to charge the battery sometime which wastes energy.
The caps are pretty happy being cold or in fact most components are at their 'best' at 20-25 Centigrade (like humans). I had considered as scheme where when the desk could be 'off' you would actually use a low voltage (say 4 or 5 Volt) switchmode supply to keep capacitors polarised. Op amps stop behaving nicely below about 3 Volts and might turn (for the duration of very low supply) into 'switches', probably reverse biassing signal path caps. The switchmode supply can be noisy as you would switch it off when you put the usual supplies on.
Many desks using incandescent lamps have a small 'preheat' resistor to keep them warm but not quite enough to be noticed, to reduce 'inrush' currents which prolong the life. This warms them up gradually from 'off' as long as the desk powers up in the 'off' switch state.
New caps are likely to be longer lasting than some that were used originally.
If a desk 'needs' to be left on to stay happy, it is already faulty. About 15 to 20 minutes should bring any desk to full operating condition.
Having a desk permanently hot drags more dirty air through it which can muck up switches, connectors and pots if they are not sealed.
Matt S
Old 19th November 2016
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
The caps are pretty happy being cold or in fact most components are at their 'best' at 20-25 Centigrade (like humans). I had considered as scheme where when the desk could be 'off' you would actually use a low voltage (say 4 or 5 Volt) switchmode supply to keep capacitors polarised. Op amps stop behaving nicely below about 3 Volts and might turn (for the duration of very low supply) into 'switches', probably reverse biassing signal path caps. The switchmode supply can be noisy as you would switch it off when you put the usual supplies on.
This is exactly what I was trying to figure out. Even if a console did not have this feature, surely one can be engineered from the outside right? Just enough to keep it at a consistent and safe temp. Do you have an opinion on how to do this? I would guess people with old and worn in consoles would love this for those exact reasons listed above.

A friend of mine has a hepa air filter in the control room and it gets regular use when sessions aren't running. Helps keep muck out.
Old 19th November 2016
  #12
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Hi
It is certainly possible to make it a suitable change over system although it might be moderately involved depending on the desk's existing system so a 'universal' system is not possible although I have thought about it.
PM if interested and say which desk you have.
Matt S
Old 19th November 2016
  #13
We replaced our neve vr supplies with a single atomic instruments supply.

As well as pulling less current, it also does slow ramp power up and down - which means it's less likely to blow bulbs and other components on power up/down.

Unfortunately I understand atomic instruments have been wound down?
Old 23rd November 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
We replaced our neve vr supplies with a single atomic instruments supply.

As well as pulling less current, it also does slow ramp power up and down - which means it's less likely to blow bulbs and other components on power up/down.

Unfortunately I understand atomic instruments have been wound down?
It looks like that company may have been shut down, but his other site seems to be up and running.

Norman Druce Audio

Looks cool!
Old 23rd November 2016
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Crescenti View Post
It looks like that company may have been shut down, but his other site seems to be up and running.

Norman Druce Audio

Looks cool!
Thanks for that. I can't say enough good things about our supply - apart from being a bit noisy, it's totally flawless. Does what it says on the tin!
Old 23rd November 2016
  #16
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leeharveyosmond's Avatar
 

I may be way off, but aren't there some conponents in the console or even the PSU that have minimum voltage requirements like voltage regs.. not sure if this will cause faults, but maybe they won't pass voltage/current/signal, kind of muting the idea keeping it "hot"
Old 23rd November 2016
  #17
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jjblair's Avatar
DON'T USE BACK UP BATTERY SUPPLIES! The risk of fire danger is greater than loss of data. Just have auto-save set to 1 min. A friend's studio burned down last year, thanks to his backup battery system.

The issue with turning consoles on and off was actually about the fear of blowing caps with the power surge. Warm up has nothing to do with it. A healthy, recapped console should have no issues with blowing caps, and keeping it on all the time does not only make it not sound better, it increases chances of needing a recap.

Lots of voodoo information about time needed for circuits to warm up.
Old 23rd November 2016
  #18
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Hi
When a desk is built it is powered up many times a day, nothing 'blows up' (except caps that have been put in backwards accidentally!).
Electrolytics do take a few minutes to 'reform' if they have been unpowered for some time but daily use will put this into the 'few minutes' category unless the whole thing is seriously old.
The 'reforming' process involves it passing an increased leakage current which gradually reduces. This leakage manifests itself as 'switches that click' or possibly slightly reduced signal headroom because the usual DC biassing is out of kilter. If it remains a problem they should be replaced anyway, leaving it on is simply delaying the day of execution, and often 'damages' other parts in the process.
Matt S
Old 24th November 2016
  #19
Some consoles (e.g. The vr we have) is more likely to blow things like bulbs on power up.

The replacement supply is a slow power up, rather than "straight to on" so it is less likely to cause issues.

Whilst blowing bulbs isn't the end of the world, it does mean turning it off over night isn't an option! I don't power our console down at all, but i might do over Christmas if no one is in for a week.
Old 24th November 2016
  #20
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leeharveyosmond's Avatar
 

Panasonic FM's smell like peanutbutter cups when they explode..
Old 24th November 2016
  #21
Gear Nut
I will shut off buckets that won't be getting used but like to keep the card cage warm. Channels can be fixed if they pop on start up in good time. If the center section goes that is another type of time sensitive issue to solve.
Old 24th November 2016
  #22
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Hi
All desks are designed to be powered up and down. If 'bugs' appear then it is already faulty and you are fooling yourself not to get the real issues fixed.
Matt S
Old 25th November 2016
  #23
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Hi
There are very few desks that are designed to have modules 'hot swapped' although saying that you can often get away with it but it is rather like 'Russian Roulette' as once in a while you will smoke something and you can also 'stress' parts which may not smoke immediately but suffer degradation.
I spent over 20 years testing commissioning desks for several manufacturers and for another 20 freelance and I would never consider hot swapping boards after 'tea time', to give chance to repair any damage.
Dirty connectors are a maintenance issue and should be covered in the planned routine maintenance 'downtime'. You change the oil and things in your car annually, your desk should have a suitable maintenance plan.
Best
Matt S
Old 25th November 2016
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
DON'T USE BACK UP BATTERY SUPPLIES! The risk of fire danger is greater than loss of data. Just have auto-save set to 1 min. A friend's studio burned down last year, thanks to his backup battery system.

The issue with turning consoles on and off was actually about the fear of blowing caps with the power surge. Warm up has nothing to do with it. A healthy, recapped console should have no issues with blowing caps, and keeping it on all the time does not only make it not sound better, it increases chances of needing a recap.

Lots of voodoo information about time needed for circuits to warm up.
Really?
How long have you been a tech?
Warm up is a basic fact...
Old 25th November 2016
  #25
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
There are very few desks that are designed to have modules 'hot swapped' although saying that you can often get away with it but it is rather like 'Russian Roulette' as once in a while you will smoke something and you can also 'stress' parts which may not smoke immediately but suffer degradation.
I spent over 20 years testing commissioning desks for several manufacturers and for another 20 freelance and I would never consider hot swapping boards after 'tea time', to give chance to repair any damage.
Dirty connectors are a maintenance issue and should be covered in the planned routine maintenance 'downtime'. You change the oil and things in your car annually, your desk should have a suitable maintenance plan.
Best
Matt S
My Neve BCM10 could hot swap modules, my Electrodyne ACC1204 could hot swap modules and my current Langevin 12x3 tube console can hot swap modules. It is a handy feature to have when one of the tube modules starts acting up (which was once in the last 10 years, just this past week in fact).

You are so right about annual maintenance. When I was young I would tear the studio apart once a year just to check all connections and clean everything. I don't do it as often. These days it's more like I'm constantly making sure things are running at there optimum performance. I check and calibrate my whole system at least once a week. I know recording engineers who never do this, I myself could never work like that.

www.silvertonemastering.com
Old 25th November 2016
  #26
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Really?
How long have you been a tech?
Warm up is a basic fact...
FETs and ICs don't need warm up time. It's a fact. They reach operational stability pretty much instantly. If you're a tech, you should know this.

Either measure the voltage, or scope a square wave on the output and have a look for yourself. You're not going see a difference from 5 seconds to 5 minutes to 5 hours, in a properly functioning circuit.
Old 25th November 2016
  #27
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Hi
For most 'modern' electronics 'warm up' is an unfortunate expression. Electrolytic caps DO need to 'reform' but this should be a matter of minutes to reach their equilibrium. Some dedicated circuit functions, particularly VCAs do need to get to the temperature they were 'trimmed' for, although the latest versions are pretty much ready to go especially if there is temperature compensation for the change the (internal) transistors undergo relating to temperature. (Ref THAT VCA design notes)
For other circuit 'blocks' you have to examine exactly what each component is doing but generally speaking all should be 'as designed' within a minute or two at most, or in studio terms, power up, go for the coffee then sit down and work.
Valves DO need 10 to 20 minutes to thoroughly warm up, especially if used as a Vari Mu gain control element.
Matt S
Old 26th November 2016
  #28
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jjblair's Avatar
Push pull tube circuits I find needed little bit longer to reach equilibrium. But I find the warm-up time to be frequently exaggerated with tubes. You hear people talk about an hour or something. it's a load of horse puckey.

From the time anybody turns their console on, to the time they start recording, a functional solid-state circuit is going to be where it needs to be. If your sound is changing after a period of time, then something is out of spec. That's not warm up time. That's get your gear fixed time.

Let's not equate drift with warm-up time.
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