Is a power conditioner useful for LZX systems? I’ve had one suggested to me to install on the room circuit for my new studio by an electrician, mainly for removing hum and giving surge protection for audio gear, but I’ve seen some discussion here of how it can improve sharpness for LZX video:
I would love to see an A/B example of AC line hum/conditioned power on a basic triangle ramp, as I think I have this issue, but also I know the shapes this analog gear produce aren’t completely clean anyway (my cortex shapes are, on their own, never quite centred on my screen, etc).
I’m also aware (for newcomers reading this) that in my understanding the new Gen3 modules will each feature their own internal power filtering to reduce such noise. Not sure if that is filtering to the same standard as an external power conditioner would offer though.
Also why I’m holding onto my visual cortex, in the words of the big man… “Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided.” …Looking forward in 2030 to the LZX AC line noise edge distortion module.
I don’t know about a power conditioner as the only one I ever had (a Furman rack unit) supposedly didn’t truly condition the power and I sold it since I don’t really use rack mount gear anyway. I know there are some expensive units that truly condition the power. From research I’ve done it seems like power conditioners are really most useful if you know you have bad power/are in an old building with older electrical features. I do use Isobar isolated power “strips” along with Tiptop Mantis cases for all my video modules and have never had a problem (once modules were arranged to stay within the 90% rule per zone and per case).
AC line hum will be around 60Hz, so it shows up as a slowly scrolling horizontal displacement when it is an issue. Usually it’s fixed by making sure all your gear is grounded thru the same outlet, but a power conditioner could also improve it.
So it turns out the the thing my electrician was recommending is not a power conditioner but an online ‘uninterrupted power supply (UPS)’ which (if you get the right model) gives you a smoothed sine-wave power supply and surge protection.
Aside from eliminating AC line hum, is there any other benefit to an expedition system of a device like this?
A UPS should give you time to cleanly shutdown any computers, other devices, and unmount any media you might be using for capture, etc. In other words, the benefit from using a UPS may be greater for your non-LZX hardware.
This is why I use a UPS on my computer but not my video rig. The latter gets by with just a basic Furman, which I use as a main power switch for the synth power supplies and various monitor/capture devices. However, power to the room is already clean. YMMV but in my experience a UPS will help more with ‘brown outs’.
For Expedition (and the older Visionary) modules, I recommend paying more attention to the PSU they directly run from, and that topic has already been covered in another thread.
An online/dual conversion UPS also conditions the signal for you, so you get both the time to shutdown and clean power as benefits. But I’m coming to the conclusion that a UPS for a studio is one of those things where audio engineering folks can be a bit overzealous in their recommendations, and I probably don’t need it. I used that other thread to select my PSU, but I am curious what Furman product you use downline for your video gear? A simple conditioner might be the best I can do by my video setup.
In case any folks come to this later with this query, I found this thread debating the pros and cons helpful vis-a-vis audio gear:
I bought my balanced conditioner over a decade ago for audio use. At the time, my apartment had an old electrical system (90% ungrounded, two-prong outlets) that hadn’t been updated in 40-50 years at least. There were frequent power spikes and my voltage meter indicated that the line was running around 125v. I had a pcb amp that got fried by a power spike. I definitely noticed a drop in the noise floor on the recordings I was making. I didn’t fry any more amps either. My current place has a semi-dubious electrical system (all three-prong outlets, about half installed upside down? ). I’m happy that I have the protection.
What kind of eurorack power supply are you using for your video system? I have read that most are noisy. That may be an issue. Imo, the best part about the gen3 modules is that they have onboard power filtering so, going forward, there isn’t much of an issue with noisy power supplies.
I would still make sure that I had a surge protector though!
I’m using a pair of Malekko PSUs in cabinet 1 and Gen3-only in cabinet 2. Both cabs are 12U metal racks with vents, fans etc as needed. The power bricks connect to the Malekko PSUs via a TipTop Audio Dual Access module. Leads with IEC connectors power the bricks from the Furman.
Most other devices are powered using small wallwarts on the distribution strips.