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vintage consoles and power supplies / powering down / cooling
Old 31st March 2013
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

vintage consoles and power supplies / powering down / cooling

Hi all,

I'm at the stage where I am in the position of buying a decent console for my studio and upgrading substantially. Having worked a lot on various SSL 4K consoles in the past, and falling in love with them, it would be nice to get one. Buying one is absolutely not a problem as they are "cheap as chips". The problem is exclusively running costs which makes the difference between being able to afford paying back the loan within two years to, no chance at all, complete insanity!!!!

I'm not electronics expert but running costs are high because:

1. you need AC in the machine room.... however, why could I not a) simply buy a modern PSU that runs cooler or b) mod either the old or new PSU to radiantly cool by building in thermal conduction bars through the wall and maybe welding a large metal plate to the outside wall in the shade.... surely this would provide enough passive thermal cooling to cool a jumbo jet? Has anyone tried this?

2. The desk draws a lot of power.... shouldn't a new PSU improve efficiency slightly?

3. It must stay on 24/7 otherwise the caps dry out and everything dies - I've heard from various sources that this is not the case. Some people powering on at the start of each day without any issues. Would it be possible to design a "gentle start" / "gentle off" PSU.

Surely if this is going to save people the cost of the desk each year in electricity, there's going to be a gap in the market for modern PSUs for vintage desks....?!?!

Any thoughts?
Old 31st March 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Norman Druce is now building new PSU's for the SSL 4K console.

Half the power consumption and quite silent..

http://vintagessl.com
Old 31st March 2013
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Website is kinda unhelpful.

So these things mean 50% less power consumption?

Do they still need air con?

Can the console be safely switched off?
Old 31st March 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Here's some blurb from his forum with the lowdown..

Ok guys, the unit has been tested on a 32ch 4K E desk here in Detroit, with great success!
It LOWERED the noise floor by 7.87dBu (20hz to 80khz) and power consumption about 40%
This version does use fans but they are very quiet compared to the original, It has 3 digital
meters with trim a pot underneath them to make calibration fun instead of the safety hazard of
the old supply. The unit also has 2 output bics and It should be able to power a 56ch desk no
problem (it's rated to operate up to 25 amp, a 48ch uses 14amps) you can also turn it on and
off as much as you like without powering up the buckets one at a time. We can make a unit to
power a 96ch desk for $4500. I will warranty the unit for 2 years and the modules are user
replaceable at $400 for the audio rails and $200 for logic. The price for the base unit is $3200
and $3400 for the plasma version. We are now taking pre-orders for the first 10 at $2900 these
units will be delivered in march. pics coming soon. you will be able to read about this units travel
and torture test in Nashville in TapeOp via F. Ried Shippen. Be well. [email protected]
Old 31st March 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
LeoLeoLeo's Avatar
 

The on/off thing is not just for the components in the PS but the whole console.
Old 31st March 2013
  #6
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLeoLeo View Post
The on/off thing is not just for the components in the PS but the whole console.
A pwr supply that soft starts---slowly ramps up voltage, vs a pwr supply that hard starts (instant or faster ramp up), can be easier on components.

Though I have no idea if the SSL pwr supply might already soft start, or if the consoles can even be powered up in a soft start way.

I'm not an electronics expert either, so I might just be full of it...
Old 31st March 2013
  #7
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LeoLeoLeo's Avatar
 

When I turn on my console(amek media 51) , or when I had to turn on other neves/ssl's(v & vr snd 4&6k's) , it seems they have no soft start. The lights seem to power on all at once. Wouldn't there have to be done sorts of internal vari-ac to do so?
Old 31st March 2013
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack P View Post
Here's some blurb from his forum with the lowdown..

Ok guys, the unit has been tested on a 32ch 4K E desk here in Detroit, with great success!
It LOWERED the noise floor by 7.87dBu (20hz to 80khz) and power consumption about 40%
This version does use fans but they are very quiet compared to the original, It has 3 digital
meters with trim a pot underneath them to make calibration fun instead of the safety hazard of
the old supply. The unit also has 2 output bics and It should be able to power a 56ch desk no
problem (it's rated to operate up to 25 amp, a 48ch uses 14amps) you can also turn it on and
off as much as you like without powering up the buckets one at a time. We can make a unit to
power a 96ch desk for $4500. I will warranty the unit for 2 years and the modules are user
replaceable at $400 for the audio rails and $200 for logic. The price for the base unit is $3200
and $3400 for the plasma version. We are now taking pre-orders for the first 10 at $2900 these
units will be delivered in march. pics coming soon. you will be able to read about this units travel
and torture test in Nashville in TapeOp via F. Ried Shippen. Be well. [email protected]
If you are saying I can buy one of these PSUs for like €3000 to power a 40 channel console, and the energy saving is like 40% AND there's no need for special aircon AND I can turn it off every day, you would be saving every SSL owner in Germany, or elsewhere electricity is expensive, around €10,000 a year.
Old 31st March 2013
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
If you are saying I can buy one of these PSUs for like €3000 to power a 40 channel console, and the energy saving is like 40% AND there's no need for special aircon AND I can turn it off every day, you would be saving every SSL owner in Germany, or elsewhere electricity is expensive, around €10,000 a year.
He's just started production..

So it just new out..

I'm sure he'll sell a load of them, my brother's buying one for his G console..
Old 1st April 2013
  #10
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Silvertone's Avatar
My console is 45 years old and I turn it on and off everyday.

The VU meters slam as the relays release their charge... always fun to here all the clicks from the needles hitting the top of the travel path. Same when you turn it on.

Console I have turned on and off everyday while I owned them.... Neve BCM10, Trident 80B and 24, Tac Scorpion, Flickinger 281, Quad Eight Pacifica, Electrodyne ACC1204... safe the environment and your money!
Old 1st April 2013
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
My console is 45 years old and I turn it on and off everyday.

The VU meters slam as the relays release their charge... always fun to here all the clicks from the needles hitting the top of the travel path. Same when you turn it on.

Console I have turned on and off everyday while I owned them.... Neve BCM10, Trident 80B and 24, Tac Scorpion, Flickinger 281, Quad Eight Pacifica, Electrodyne ACC1204... safe the environment and your money!
What have your repair bills been like?
Old 2nd April 2013
  #12
Gear Addict
 
AwTAC's Avatar
 

If you are concerned about hard starts just plug your console power supply into a variac. If the supply is a regular linear supply, there should be no problem doing this. I have several friends that crank their gear on and off with variacs and have been doing so for eons since Ive known them.

A big part of that "leave the console on all the time" was born from commercial studios who could not afford the down time and paying the power bill was a smarter strategy than having the console go down. It's also easier to leave the thing on if you have the room booked 7 days a week... If you dont have a commercial space and dont work on it every day I couldnt imagine leaving the thing on 24/7. There is a reason why people did stuff, that reason might not apply to your situation.
Old 2nd April 2013
  #13
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
What have your repair bills been like?
The usual... never a failure because of turning the consoles on and off I assure you.

Mainly if a cap dried out because of age... but in all that time (Over 30 years) I probably spent 2K in repairs over the life of all those console.

I spent more to modify them usually (direct outs, adding compressors, racking modules and the like)... oh and on bulbs for the old girls... they are actually Chicago mini bulbs in the old Edynes and such and they burn out just like light bulbs... luckily they made it easy to access all lights back then (and they still make the bulbs today!).

Now that I think about it maybe turning them on and off cause the light bulbs to blow more than usual but in the last 10 years I've replaced about 8 or 9 bulbs on the Electrodyne ACC1204... so that cost me about a $3.80... ouch!
Old 2nd April 2013
  #14
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Silvertone's Avatar
Main reason people left console on were because they were built for "on air" broadcasts. On the air 24/7.

My Neve BCM10 didn't even have an on off switch, everything was buffered so you could pull any modules while the console was live (same with my Edyne and Langevin boards... everything is buffered).

If something "went down" in the old days you couldn't just stop the broadcast to repair the board.

Also back in the early days of recording studio pretty much ran 24/7.

Hence that philosophy was born out of that era...
Old 2nd April 2013
  #15
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
Main reason people left console on were because they were built for "on air" broadcasts. On the air 24/7.

My Neve BCM10 didn't even have an on off switch, everything was buffered so you could pull any modules while the console was live (same with my Edyne and Langevin boards... everything is buffered).

If something "went down" in the old days you couldn't just stop the broadcast to repair the board.

Also back in the early days of recording studio pretty much ran 24/7.

Hence that philosophy was born out of that era...
Hi

Neve didn't start fitting on/off switches until they started to manufacture their own power supplies. Your BCM10 and hundreds of other consoles used Coutant off-the-shelf linear power supplies.

Your comment about on-air consoles is only partially true as the majority of consoles were music studio types.

I would personally recommend leaving consoles on all the time but it's up to the individual to make the choice.

Posted from my iPhone
Old 2nd April 2013
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
If you are saying I can buy one of these PSUs for like €3000 to power a 40 channel console, and the energy saving is like 40% AND there's no need for special aircon AND I can turn it off every day, you would be saving every SSL owner in Germany, or elsewhere electricity is expensive, around €10,000 a year.
While I have no doubt a more efficient PS can be made, the power consumed by the desk won't go down, nor will the heat dumped into the room by the console... Physic's prevails!

Many desks were left on because things tend to blow on power up or power down if weak... like FET's in my old Neotek in the early eighties. Since I don't work everyday, all day, anymore- I power down when not in use, but power up an hour or two before any serious use, so things are warm and toasty and settled in. Many electronics' sound better to me when at operating temp. Tubes more so, but SS as well.

Best-
Jonathan
Old 3rd April 2013
  #17
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Alex Breaux's Avatar
 

There has been so many arguments on this site about this.. After working on hundreds of consoles, and owning a few, to this day I have to say that my current desk is almost at the top of the list for how much electricity it takes and how hot the PSU's get "there are SEVEN PSU's". The bottom line is it may be best to keep the desk running 24/7, but in the past year, I have found that if I power off my A and B supply "powering down the buckets/ modules" every night, the difference I save in my electric bill makes replacing a cap here and there or minor tech work look like cracker jacks.

I should also add that My PSU's are not in an air conditioned room. I have a industrial "fart fan" up top sucking all the hot air out. The room has seven large PSU's and is 8ft tall and 3ft by 3ft. In all these years I have not had a single problem and the room has not gone over 90 degrees.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #18
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Silvertone's Avatar
My power supplies for my Langevin (2 of them) console are tube. They get shut off and turned on all the time as well. They are 50 years old... the tube console came out of UCLA's theater department... I highly doubt they left that puppy on all the time.

I couldn't afford to leave this stuff on all the time. If it's well made, it can handle being turned on and off.

Geoff, all my console with the exception of the Tridents were pretty much made in the era of radio broadcast... hence the fully buffered aspect.

Since most US consoles were born from the radio and television industry there were a lot of features held over from that industry... like 70 to 90dB plus gain for microphones! My Electrodyne outputs 105dB at the subgroup outs... talk about overkill.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #19
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post

Geoff, all my console with the exception of the Tridents were pretty much made in the era of radio broadcast... hence the fully buffered aspect.
Hi

I have absolutely no idea what you mean by fully buffered.

My wild guess is that you mean the modules had transformer input and outputs but the main reason you could haul them out live was because they were single rail 24v power supplies. They also had robust Amphenol connectors.

Later broadcast consoles that had the 33135 channel amps that used a PCB edge connector for the interface.... this destroyed the edge connector because the arcing burnt the gold plate off and two or more removals rendered the modules unusable. It was a big problem and why you won't see many 33135's around!

Old 3rd April 2013
  #20
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

My Otari 54 was on 24/7 for the first 4 or 5 years I had it. The cost of running the console and air cond round the clock was weighing on me so I started turning it off when not in use. Maintenance issues did not increase so it has been about 12 years now with daily power cycling. The amount of money saved in electricity has been substantial.


By the way, one of the first things I changed on the console was to install a pair of whisper fans in the lid of each of the 3 supplies. Keeps the supplies at a constant decent temp.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Has anyone experimented with passive through wall thermal conduction as opposed to using AC in the machine room?

This, if possible, has the potential to further reduce running costs of a large console.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
Capacitors dry out mostly because of heat, not because of switching the console on and off. They'll probably dry out sooner if the console is running 24/7 than if it's running 50 hours per week.
Of course thermal shock isn't a good thing, but if you keep your room temperature reasonably low and constant, this shouldn't be much of a problem.
I usually switch of my console if I wont be using it for at least 8 hours, sometimes I leave it on for 2-3 days, maybe a week. I don't have any major problems with it.

You most likely don't need an AC for the machine room. Unless the the outside temperature often exceeds 30°C, you can use a simple ventilation system.

You still need the AC for the control room and you have to know that every console will require some maintenance at some point. Most things are easy/cheap to repair if you know at least some basics about electronics, but if you have to call a tech to repair every minor fault, it can become quite expensive.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #23
Here for the gear
 

I power my MCI up and down each day rather than leaving it on all the time. Drinks way less power and cooks the caps way less. I completely recapped the console a year and a half ago with good Panasonic caps so not too worried there, but as it was a big job, I don't want to cook them any more than I have to ;-) My MCI doesn't draw as much power as I presume an SSL would what with simpler circuits, fewer components to power--each of the two supplies pulls maybe 4amps depending--so it's not a direct comparison, but the studio is on a flat rate budget utility billing plan so going to a large format console and analog machines didn't make a huge difference in the bill; our biggest cost is heating in the winter, not the electricity drawn from the console and tape machines/computer. Rack gear doesn't draw tons of power. The dehumidifier in the basement probably costs more to run than the console does since I keep the console powered down overnight.

So, definitely cheaper (and kinder to the enviro) to power down overnight, and cooks the internals (electrolytic caps in particular) a lot less. The main worry at least with my console's PSUs, being that there isn't a soft start, is stressing the bridge recs and neighboring stuff in the PSUs at power-on. As for PSU heat buildup, it's more important to keep them clean and making the sure the fans are running properly so the supplies are venting well, and keeping them in a ventilated area so they're not stewing in their own heat.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtyragamuffin View Post
I power my MCI up and down each day rather than leaving it on all the time. Drinks way less power and cooks the caps way less. I completely recapped the console a year and a half ago with good Panasonic caps so not too worried there, but as it was a big job, I don't want to cook them any more than I have to ;-) My MCI doesn't draw as much power as I presume an SSL would what with simpler circuits, fewer components to power--each of the two supplies pulls maybe 4amps depending--so it's not a direct comparison, but the studio is on a flat rate budget utility billing plan so going to a large format console and analog machines didn't make a huge difference in the bill; our biggest cost is heating in the winter, not the electricity drawn from the console and tape machines/computer. Rack gear doesn't draw tons of power. The dehumidifier in the basement probably costs more to run than the console does since I keep the console powered down overnight.

So, definitely cheaper (and kinder to the enviro) to power down overnight, and cooks the internals (electrolytic caps in particular) a lot less. The main worry at least with my console's PSUs, being that there isn't a soft start, is stressing the bridge recs and neighboring stuff in the PSUs at power-on. As for PSU heat buildup, it's more important to keep them clean and making the sure the fans are running properly so the supplies are venting well, and keeping them in a ventilated area so they're not stewing in their own heat.
Are you saying that you have electric heating?

Electric heating is also one of my main concerns. Keeping a single electric radiator on constantly costs nearly 350€ per month here ($450USD) and there are 4 main rooms. Which means I also turn heating off over night, which means the studio literally has to warm up each morning because it's cold here.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
Are you saying that you have electric heating?

Electric heating is also one of my main concerns. Keeping a single electric radiator on constantly costs nearly 350€ per month here ($450USD) and there are 4 main rooms. Which means I also turn heating off over night, which means the studio literally has to warm up each morning because it's cold here.
It's gas heat but the gas and electricity both go on the same bill. The electricity is the lesser of evils on our bill as far as I know, despite the console, computer, fridge and two tape machines.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtyragamuffin View Post
It's gas heat but the gas and electricity both go on the same bill. The electricity is the lesser of evils on our bill as far as I know, despite the console, computer, fridge and two tape machines.
what country are you in?

here in germany electricity is substantially more expensive that gas
Old 4th April 2013
  #27
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
what country are you in?

here in germany electricity is substantially more expensive that gas
Germany has one of the highest electrical rates. It's about 3x more than here in the U.S. (not sure if the poster is in the U.S.)

Germany's huge investment in green energy (solar grid, etc) doesn't come cheap...

I probably shouldn't even bring up petrol (gasoline) prices?
Old 4th April 2013
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post
Germany has one of the highest electrical rates. It's about 3x more than here in the U.S. (not sure if the poster is in the U.S.)

Germany's huge investment in green energy (solar grid, etc) doesn't come cheap...

I probably shouldn't even bring up petrol (gasoline) prices?
I'd rather pay for green energy than get cheap energy which kills the planet. But it is a bit excessive - if I heated this place with electric radiators 24/7 to room temperate it would cost over 1000€ per month for 2 control rooms and a live room.
Old 4th April 2013
  #29
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
I'd rather pay for green energy than get cheap energy which kills the planet. But it is a bit excessive - if I heated this place with electric radiators 24/7 to room temperate it would cost over 1000€ per month for 2 control rooms and a live room.
Probably getting a bit off topic, but it's surely an easier 'sell' to Germans, who've been used to the 'excessive' cost over many years.

Trying to sell to an 'American' Green energy, at 2x to 3x what they pay now, is a hard, hard, sell. They already think they pay way too much (ignorance is bliss!).

Imagine if they forced a 'greener' energy on Germans, at 3x more than what you pay now
Old 4th April 2013
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneMillionMangos View Post
Are you saying that you have electric heating?

Electric heating is also one of my main concerns. Keeping a single electric radiator on constantly costs nearly 350€ per month here ($450USD) and there are 4 main rooms. Which means I also turn heating off over night, which means the studio literally has to warm up each morning because it's cold here.
I would say to try and keep a more constant temp, as you will find more failures with your gear experiencing temperature extremes...and constant swings. Perhaps turning the heat down but leaving console on in Winter and A/C on and console off in summer...
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