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Balanced power vs. UPS...which one when?
Old 16th December 2004
  #1
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BradM's Avatar
Balanced power vs. UPS...which one when?

I've started thinking about improving the power situation in my studio (it's abysmal) and was doing some research here on Gearslutz. I found a bunch of great info and recommendations. From what I can tell it seems that there are two ways to go:

1. Balanced power (Equitech, Furman, 220V)
2. Online UPS

The thing I'm still a little confused about is when one solution is more applicable than the other. Under what conditions would I want to to pursue balanced power? Under what conditions would I want to go the online UPS route.

From what I've read so far it seems that balanced power will decrease my noise floor, and possibly clear up any hum or ground loop problems I may have. Online UPS, on the other hand regulates the voltage and supplies constant clean power, as well as provides protection during a surge, brownout, or blackout. Do I have this correct?

In the space I lease for my studio (it's in an industrial/commercial area) the power seems to be very inconsistent. It's especially evident when my band is practicing. Some days our guitar and bass amps sound very big, loud, and full. Other days they sound very small, thin, and underpowered. I've even noticed the sound change over the course of a rehearsal! During recording situations this is unacceptable to me.

What path do you guys recommend that I look into for my situation? With regards to Online UPS, is there anything that I need to look out for? Features that are desireable? I've read that some UPS units can actually kill your audio. Does anyone have any experience with particular units that actually improve the quality of their studio's audio? I remember hearing Liebert's were good. Is there a minimum capacity/size UPS that I should be getting to avoid crappy components that suck tone?

Thanks for your help!

Brad
Old 16th December 2004
  #2
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BradM's Avatar
Can anyone help me out here?

Brad
Old 16th December 2004
  #3
Lives for gear
Balanced power and power conditioning will make everything run cleaner and sound better, and might make gear last longer over the long haul.

UPS on the other hand protects against an actual power CRASH...

things that could be damaged by a sudden loss of all power, notably hard drives, should be UPS protected.
but there's not much advantage to putting a console or amp on a UPS... pulling the plug suddenly will certainly stop your session but won't damage them.
Old 16th December 2004
  #4
GCL
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Any drawback to balanced power units like the Equitech? I know you can only plug in studio gear/computers to their products (as it should be) and not air conditioners, etc.
Old 17th December 2004
  #5
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BradM's Avatar
Many UPS units offer power regulation and power conditioning right? Not to mention the better ones output a pure sine wave. So wouldn't running your audio gear on an UPS theoretically improve their sonic performance?

Brad
Old 17th December 2004
  #6
A true always-online UPS worked great for cleaning up power in my home studio. I got a used Liebert server-grade double-conversion online UPS off of ebay for less than $200, and the noise floor dropped considerably. It's a loud beast, though, so plan on swapping out the fan - otherwise the AC noise will be substituted with fan noise!

At the studio, we have an Equitech. Works great, but I've heard that it may not be the tool for all situations. I'd start with an online UPS - since it will not only provide continuous power in case of power failure, brownouts, etc., but may actually clean your power as well.
Old 17th December 2004
  #7
Gear Head
 

You need to monitor your line voltage with a volt meter to determine if you are experiencing voltage sags. If that's the case you'll need to address that problem first with a voltage regulator. Balanced or symmetrical power has many advantages which can only be realized if the equipment being powered has a third wire ground. The very nature of balanced power requires the presence of a ground wire. If you have gear with a two conductor power cable or wall wart the balanced power won't do any good other than quieting power induced noise from your other gear with the third wire ground. Another issue is inter-equipment induced noise pollution. For instance, a computer power supply can actually backfeed DC pollution onto the AC power line.
I use a Furman IT Reference. It has 4 separate balanced power taps. I connect like groups of gear on separate taps to prevent any inter-equipment pollution. For instance, digital gear converters etc.) on one tap, mic pres and other analog gear on another, tape decks on another.
Most power amps aren't happy on balanced power and the IT Ref has separate dedicated (non-balanced) high impeadence power amp taps for amps.
My Macs and displays are powered by an off the shelf UPS, which is NOT connected to the balanced power. You can't power a UPS with balanced power.
There is much more to know and I recommend doing your homework before you make a move. A good place to start is to check out Furman's web site and watch the three "videos" in the IT Ref pages. Good luck.
Old 17th December 2004
  #8
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BradM's Avatar
Thanks for the tips!
Old 17th December 2004
  #9
Good tips, I´ll check the website...
Old 17th December 2004
  #10
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lowswing's Avatar
 

is there any recomended power conditioner that i can conect ALL my studio equipment to?
here it is:
http://lowswing.de/02equip/equip.html

thanks
Old 17th December 2004
  #11
Gear Head
 

Furman IT Reference
Old 21st December 2004
  #12
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

I use an 8 kVA online UPS (Riello) which has regulation and conditioning even in bypass follwed by an (custom made) 8kVA isolation transformer (double isolation) in case the power goes out or the UPS goes into bypass I'm still seperated from the ugly grid. Mine are in road cases and weigh a total of 700 lbs and they'll run 5,000 watts for 18 minutes off the batteries.
I seperate my loads by type (computers, audio, amplifiers, 2 aux)
I don't plug any thing into this system that is not part of the studio gear and if I connect something to it from outside I make sure that it's transformer isolated.
I find that everything runs better and sounds better than when I was using just a small UPS line interactive.
The output from the UPS and the ISO transformer is 130V + 130V measured to ground, I don't know if this is what they mean by balanced power. Together my UPS and ISO transformer cost as much as a balanced power unit of the same VA rating.
I don't know if this has helped
Old 21st December 2004
  #13
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RobMacki's Avatar
 

I watched all three videos and first, I'd like to nominate Garth Powell as a MegaSlut!

I need an IT Ref!
Old 21st December 2004
  #14
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neve1073's Avatar
 

Um, am I making a mistake just using an APS Backups pro 650 voltage regulator and battery supply? Is that not good enough to protect gear?

Thanks

Old 21st December 2004
  #15
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RobMacki's Avatar
 

This is what I want to replace my sub pannel with from Equi=Tech
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Old 16th July 2006
  #16
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jdjustice's Avatar
....bump
Old 16th July 2006
  #17
Lowdbrent
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan
Can anyone help me out here?

Brad
You will have to call Equitech about this, because it has been too long for me since I went through this. If you are going to decide between a UPS and balanced power, then you are comparing apples to oranges. If you want UPS AND balanced power, there are some things to consider. Equitech told me years ago that they recommend a marine market UPS to use with their balanced power units. Any other will not work properly on the backside of it. If someone from Equitech wants to correct me, please do. But I chased down said unit and could not afford it, so I ditched the whole thing.

Balanced power can be had without an Equitech device. Find you a good industrial machinery electrician and tell them what you are after. That's what I did. MUCHO cheaper! I used SurgeX units on the front side. Stellar performance there.

Yes, balancing power can drop the noise level in your system. It didn't make a huge difference for me, because I had pretty clean power to start with.
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