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Dimmers for the studio? Dynamics Plugins
Old 24th August 2007
  #1
Dimmers for the studio?

I can't recall nor am I finding the name brand of lighting dimmers used in studios.
Those large dial beige dimmers that are silent. Silent meaning that once engaged no buzzing is induced. Each one handles around 250 watts and they're not cheap.
if anyone knows which dimmer I'm attempting to describe or if there is a silent dimmer you can suggest I would appreciate it.
Old 24th August 2007
  #2
t_d
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t_d's Avatar
i had a buzz in my studio thanks to my dimmers, but it only went through the Mackie Big Knob... once i got rid of the big knob, the buzz was gone..

at any rate, i believe my contractor told me it had to do with the transformers used in the track lighting... not the dimmer directly.

but i could be remembering wrong.. worth looking into transormer issues, though... if you're using halogen lighting..
Old 24th August 2007
  #3
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz View Post
Those large dial beige dimmers that are silent.
Here ya go:

Kill Studio Hum and Buzz at the Source

--Ethan
Old 24th August 2007
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Thanks Ethan. Actually, I recently found your article and have already been in touch with Jim at Mouser. I sent a link for your article and their catalog to my friend doing the design. Thanks.
I'm sure I'll be in touch when I get up to traps and gobos
Old 24th August 2007
  #5
If your using low voltage track lights you merely need a low voltage dimmer. Lutron sells them I think they're around 75 bucks each. I have them and they work great
Old 25th August 2007
  #6
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stevep's Avatar
I have a few of the Staco 501B they work great

Find out how many watts you are using and then match the variac

If your low voltage lights have the transformer on the light you can use this type of variac or if you are using regular AC lights

Transformers Staco



Old 25th August 2007
  #7
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just put lots of little lights on lots of switches. Cheaper, quieter (is that a word?), and gives more lighting options.
Old 25th August 2007
  #8
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Sigma's Avatar
dude go to home depot..they have noise supressor dimmers..i have 3 sets in my studio and 0 hum..

joe and i discusssed it ,,it ain't like even 10 years ago..you can just buy off the shelf [looking for "noise suppresion on label] home depot has a ton of em

my track lighting is 120 volts and the dimmers cost me under 10 dollars each

remember walt's studio? he didn't have the right dimmers and i had to turn lights all the way up or off to get rid of the hum from the cycling current
Old 25th August 2007
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz View Post
I can't recall nor am I finding the name brand of lighting dimmers used in studios.
Those large dial beige dimmers that are silent. Silent meaning that once engaged no buzzing is induced. Each one handles around 250 watts and they're not cheap.
if anyone knows which dimmer I'm attempting to describe or if there is a silent dimmer you can suggest I would appreciate it.
maybe you're referring to variacs?
Old 25th August 2007
  #10
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by raal View Post
maybe you're referring to variacs?
we dumped ours at sigma when we went to automated scene lighting..those things are dinosaurs
Old 25th August 2007
  #11
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
dude go to home depot..they have noise supressor dimmers..i have 3 sets in my studio and 0 hum..

joe and i discusssed it ,,it ain't like even 10 years ago..you can just buy off the shelf [looking for "noise suppresion on label] home depot has a ton of em

my track lighting is 120 volts and the dimmers cost me under 10 dollars each

remember walt's studio? he didn't have the right dimmers and i had to turn lights all the way up or off to get rid of the hum from the cycling current
I bought those and they didn't work in my studio. Still had hum, yes they were "noise suppression" ones. Guess what, I went back to the old dinosaur, the variac.
Old 25th August 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
we dumped ours at sigma when we went to automated scene lighting..those things are dinosaurs
I'm sure but that's how long it's been since I bought those dimmers I'm trying to recall...wow! must have been 1988.
Sigma did have the exact same ones I'm thinking of. That's why I originally bought them. Can't remember what we put in the Conshocken studio in the mid 90's but they weren't those big old rheostats. I'll check out Home Depot today and look at the 0 hum dimmers you mentioned.

Should mention that multiple switched lighting scenarios have also been discussed as dimmers would not be needed for that. I'm leaning towards dimmers though. I really don't like a lot of light when recording.

Yes, Variacs. Ethan's article listed a specific company and I contacted them. They were able to direct me to the proper area in their catalog. I sent that info over to my friend that is doing the design work. Same guy I've used since 1988

As the owner of the space has his crew demo existing walls and ceiling materials we find "challenges". The old carpets have been ripped up and I can see the concrete slab. The ceilings are down and the existing duct work is now clearly visible...problems and all. I'm pricing out a whole new duct system right now.

The final lighting scheme for every room has to be figured out so the sprinkler company can do an overlay for the Township so I can get my construction permits.
I'm also in what has been deemed an Historic area. So many hoops to be jumped in order to get approval on the sign and it's location by the Historical Board before the Township Board of Supervisors even gets to review it

Jay
Thanks for getting back.
Old 25th August 2007
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep View Post
I have a few of the Staco 501B they work great

Find out how many watts you are using and then match the variac

If your low voltage lights have the transformer on the light you can use this type of variac or if you are using regular AC lights

Transformers Staco



Yep! thanks Steve. Tha's pretty much where I'm looking.
Old 25th August 2007
  #14
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz View Post
I'm sure but that's how long it's been since I bought those dimmers I'm trying to recall...wow! must have been 1988.
Sigma did have the exact same ones I'm thinking of. That's why I originally bought them. Can't remember what we put in the Conshocken studio in the mid 90's but they weren't those big old rheostats. I'll check out Home Depot today and look at the 0 hum dimmers you mentioned.

Should mention that multiple switched lighting scenarios have also been discussed as dimmers would not be needed for that. I'm leaning towards dimmers though. I really don't like a lot of light when recording.

Yes, Variacs. Ethan's article listed a specific company and I contacted them. They were able to direct me to the proper area in their catalog. I sent that info over to my friend that is doing the design work. Same guy I've used since 1988

As the owner of the space has his crew demo existing walls and ceiling materials we find "challenges". The old carpets have been ripped up and I can see the concrete slab. The ceilings are down and the existing duct work is now clearly visible...problems and all. I'm pricing out a whole new duct system right now.

The final lighting scheme for every room has to be figured out so the sprinkler company can do an overlay for the Township so I can get my construction permits.
I'm also in what has been deemed an Historic area. So many hoops to be jumped in order to get approval on the sign and it's location by the Historical Board before the Township Board of Supervisors even gets to review it

Jay
Thanks for getting back.
the guy that did the ductwork and hvac at sigma is still around and he knows how to sound isolate and vent the HVAC systems correctly
Old 25th August 2007
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
the guy that did the ductwork and hvac at sigma is still around and he knows how to sound isolate and vent the HVAC systems correctly
You're welcome to shoot his info over.

I had Climac Corp. over yesterday. Sat with them and the sprinkler company for 2 hours going over the new floor plan. The current thinking is to remove all existing duct work. Replace with new (and fewer) insulated ducts and route them relevant to the needs of new rooms. Perhaps circular rather than rectangular ducts with noise baffles placed where and if needed. Strategically placed returns.

I also spoke with Metropolitan Acoustics. They are consultants. Very nice people and very professional. A little premature at this stage.
Old 25th August 2007
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
I bought those and they didn't work in my studio. Still had hum, yes they were "noise suppression" ones. Guess what, I went back to the old dinosaur, the variac.
Good to know Larry. I remember building a room in
my first home in 1986. Purchased the more expensive home dimmers. Drove me crazy. I took that memory with me when putting my first studio together in 88 and installed the correct dimmers. I went from crappy home dimmers to purchasing the same ones Mike's Dad had at Sigma.
If I could find those big old dinosaurs I'd pick em up in a minute. I had 3 of them and regret not ripping them out of the wall when I moved out in the mid 90's. I'll bet I still have the receipt for those puppies hidden away somewhere. Probably with my size 30 pants.
Old 25th August 2007
  #17
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Ethan, Do I understand this correct where you just simply get a wire and attach it to the different racks ?

Thanks
_____
Added January 1, 2003:

I received an email from Chris Redmond who pointed out that hum can often be greatly reduced by connecting all of the device cases together with heavy wire. Since ground loops occur when a voltage difference is present between the ground terminals of connected audio equipment, using heavy wire - which has a low resistance - reduces that voltage difference.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Old 25th August 2007
  #18
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz View Post
Good to know Larry. I remember building a room in
my first home in 1986. Purchased the more expensive home dimmers. Drove me crazy. I took that memory with me when putting my first studio together in 88 and installed the correct dimmers. I went from crappy home dimmers to purchasing the same ones Mike's Dad had at Sigma.
If I could find those big old dinosaurs I'd pick em up in a minute. I had 3 of them and regret not ripping them out of the wall when I moved out in the mid 90's. I'll bet I still have the receipt for those puppies hidden away somewhere. Probably with my size 30 pants.
sent info on hvac

if you use reg voltage [120] track lighting and the noise suppresors you will have no problems

i just built the room have 2 sets of haogens on tracks and an incadesent group all on dimmers and i get nada, zipp, not a ting mon..i'd try the cheapo way first and then spend the big bucks
Old 25th August 2007
  #19
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stevep's Avatar
Every room is different. so i wouldn't say you will have "no problems" for him to only find out after he installed the cheep dimmers that they didn't work for him

you should either go the tried and true way or experiment before you install the wiring to see if you can get away with the regular dimmers

there is a reason the big rooms use the Variacs

ive had the cheep ones and they dident work in any of my rooms.
and they will burn out in time



.
Old 25th August 2007
  #20
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Found 'em! Here's the source of the real-deal variac dimmers... when I was framing Mercenary's room in '05 it took a few days of digging & cold calls to come up with the info...

Superior Electric - LUXTROL

According to my notes the WBD1800 is the 'standard' wall mount dimmer... WBD is "Wall Box Dimmer" followed by the wattage... You'd have to call Superior Electric for the deep details... They ended up referring me to a company called Electrosales in Somerville MA 888-789-0500

Hope that helps a bit!

FWIW ~ I haven't found anything off the shelf at Home Depot that doesn't generate noise. Some might be ok for a control room as they don't throw noise back into the gear... but still generate fields which will generate noise into guitars & the like.

Last edited by Jay Kahrs; 25th August 2007 at 10:12 PM.. Reason: more!
Old 25th August 2007
  #21
Dude!! That be them. Yeah! Luxtrol.
Thanks. I owe you a beer or three.
Looks like there might even be a store in Trenton, NJ that carries them.
I'm in Bucks County, PA not that far at all. If not I'll give Electosales a buzz...no pun intended.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Kahrs View Post
Found 'em! Here's the source of the real-deal variac dimmers... when I was framing Mercenary's room in '05 it took a few days of digging & cold calls to come up with the info...

Superior Electric - LUXTROL

According to my notes the WBD1800 is the 'standard' wall mount dimmer... WBD is "Wall Box Dimmer" followed by the wattage... You'd have to call Superior Electric for the deep details... They ended up referring me to a company called Electrosales in Somerville MA 888-789-0500

Hope that helps a bit!

FWIW ~ I haven't found anything off the shelf at Home Depot that doesn't generate noise. Some might be ok for a control room as they don't throw noise back into the gear... but still generate fields which will generate noise into guitars & the like.
Old 27th August 2007
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CorkyTart View Post
Ethan, Do I understand this correct where you just simply get a wire and attach it to the different racks ?
That's always worth a try!

--Ethan
Old 27th August 2007
  #23


You may want to look into Strand Lighting's "True Sine" dimming as well.



-tINY

Old 27th August 2007
  #24
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Blackwater's Avatar
 

Here's another option for ya Jim.



The guys name is David Riddle. He helped me out for about a hundred bucks. The thing looks great and is flawless.
The guy is great. Tell him I sent you. His # is
800-544-3746.


Good luck,


Chris Westerman



Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeylikesit
Hey there,

I've been trying to sort out the dimmer issue for a while now and I'd love to get this variac dimmer guys email address from ya. Thanks so much for your help!

Mike
Old 27th August 2007
  #25
Gear Addict
 
Chris G's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz View Post
I can't recall nor am I finding the name brand of lighting dimmers used in studios.
Those large dial beige dimmers that are silent. Silent meaning that once engaged no buzzing is induced. Each one handles around 250 watts and they're not cheap.
if anyone knows which dimmer I'm attempting to describe or if there is a silent dimmer you can suggest I would appreciate it.

they are called "Powerstat Wall Box Dimmers" made by The Superior Electric Co Bristol Conn.

I have 4 of them, and they are awsome.
Old 27th August 2007
  #26
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junya-eskimo's Avatar
Hey mate

maybe someone posted the same product here before, i just have not got the energy to read em..hehe

I just won this off ebay:

RECORDING STUDIO NO NOISE TRIPLE VARIAC LIGHTING DIMMER - (eBay item 170140640270 end time Aug-26-07 18:00:29 PDT)

got is for $550 and its supposed to be the perfect,,And it looks like some kind of Pultec Eq..so FVCK IT, get it for that...

Mail the company and see if they have more, i am sure they said they have lot for sale...

Good luck mate....let me know if this link does not work well..it should

thanx

JUN
Old 27th August 2007
  #27
This place is freakin amazing.
I really appreciate all of the responses.
Thank you gents!!

Rebuilding this space is an absolutley overwhelming set of tasks. Tasks that reveal more "challenges". It's exciting, exhausting and scarey all at once. And this is by no means nearly as large a project as other members in Slutzville have taken on.
But for me it's damn near taken over the majority of my time.

Work permits for the construction came in today. Estimates for the duct work coming throughout the week. Design and location proofs for the sign came in today. Now I have to get an approval on the sign/location from the Historical Board at their meeting on 9/11.

One of these days I'll take some pictures.
Old 28th August 2007
  #28
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Anyone try LED lighting?

Andy

ps fwiw, I'm a variac dynosaur too
Old 28th August 2007
  #29
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep View Post
Every room is different. so i wouldn't say you will have "no problems" for him to only find out after he installed the cheep dimmers that they didn't work for him

you should either go the tried and true way or experiment before you install the wiring to see if you can get away with the regular dimmers

there is a reason the big rooms use the Variacs

ive had the cheep ones and they dident work in any of my rooms.
and they will burn out in time



.
i said try the cheepos first..i mean it takes all of 2 minutes to wire a light switch

and at around 500 dollars a pop i could find something better to do with 1500-2k if it wasn't absolutley necessary
Old 28th August 2007
  #30
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Blackwater's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
i said try the cheepos first..i mean it takes all of 2 minutes to wire a light switch

and at around 500 dollars a pop i could find something better to do with 1500-2k if it wasn't absolutley necessary
Call David Riddle man. A hundred bucks for him to send you a variac and you know it works and will work for 30 years!

Chris
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