The one thing that all music equipment needs is…
But many people incorrectly assume that all power is the same.
And it simply ISN’T.
Because depending on your location, local power sources can suffer from a number of chronic problems, such as:
- noisy interference – which can harm with your sound
- voltage fluctuations – which puts added wear and tear on your gear
- electrical surges – which can destroy your rig in a single moment
To avoid these problems, you connect your gear to some type of power conditioner, right?
The question is…which power conditioner is right for your setup?
To help you find the answer, in this post I’ve compiled a list of the top power conditioners on the market to see just how they compare.
1. Furman M-8×2
Most folks in search of a power conditioner want nothing more than a cheap and effective way to distribute power to their rack.
And the Furman M-8×2 is exactly that.
Among budget models under $100, it’s easily the top-selling and highest-reviewed option of them all.
In addition to providing the standard 9 outlets, and 15 amps of power…
It also offers the following 2 levels of protection:
- Surge protection – to guard against lightning strikes and other voltage spikes
- Noise filtration – to keep your audio clean and quiet
So if all you need is a simple way to filter power to your audio interface and other gear in your studio, the Furman M-8×2 is a great choice for an exceptional price.
2. Furman PL-Plus DMC
The latest generation of Furman 15-amp power conditioners…
The Furman PL-Plus DMC offers some massive upgrades from the M-8×2.
One big problem with the M-8×2, is the lack of information it offers on the current state of your power. All it has is a tiny “protection OK” light, which is either ON or OFF. Not helpful.
The PL-PLus DMC has large digital voltage display that lets you know exactly how far off you are from 120V at ALL times.
Next there’s the lighting…
For live rigs, many folks depend on power conditioners to light up their rig in dark venues. While the M-8×2 offer NO lights…
The PL Plus-DMC offers 3: two in the front, and a BNC gooseneck connector in the back.
Then there’s the added power protection…
The PL PLus-DMC features Furman’s 3 latest technologies:
- Series Multi-Stage Protection (SMP) – which blocks voltage spikes without self-sacrifice, cutting down on service repairs
- Linear Filtering Technology (LiFT) noise filtration – which provides a cleaner, quieter power source.
- Extreme voltage shutdown (EVS) – which engages at a much lower voltage than typical surge protectors.
If you can afford it, the added features of the Furman PL-Plus DMC are well-worth it.
3. Furman M 8X-AR
If you haven’t noticed already, Furman power conditioners occupy virtually every spot on this list…
Simply because they’re THAT good.
Now, the Furman M-8X-AR is the worthy heir of the AR-1215, one of the most sold product of their line.
In bars and clubs especially, where power is often poor and unreliable…
Voltages can vary greatly from the 120V standard. While this may not destroy your gear right away, here’s what WILL happen:
- The performance of your gear suffers
- The lifespan of your gear gets significantly shortened
That is why, most people prefer a power conditioner that regulates voltage as well.
In fact, these pieces of equipment are often refered to as power regulator rather than simple power conditioners .
While the PL-Plus DMC does warn you about voltage fluctuations, it doesn’t actually fix the problem.
With the M-8X-AR though, even though voltages can dip as low as 97V and swell as high as 141V…but your gear will never see more than a +/- 5V fluctuation from 120V.
4. Furman P-1800 AR
Among the flagship models of Furman power conditioners…
The Furman P-1800AR incorporates all the latest and greatest features into one product.
In a sense, you could call it the perfect combination of the last two products we covered: the PL-Plus DMC, and the AR-1215.
First, it offer the 3 new technologies of the PL-Plus DMC:
- Series Multi-Stage Protection (SMP)
- Linear Filtering Technology (LiFT)
- Extreme voltage shutdown (EVS)
Second, it offers an almost identical capacity for voltage regulation as the AR-1215.
And lastly, it has a few unique features all-its-own:
- a USB charger in the front
- Velcro securing for 3 wall wart inputs
- Separate analog and digital power banks in the back
This last feature is especially handy for home studios, because your rack is almost always a combination of analog and digital devices, and ideally, it’s best to keep those power sources separate.
If you want the best there is, you can’t do much better than the Furman P-1800 AR.
5. Furman SS-6B Power Strip
While the previous power conditioners we’ve seen might work well for your rack…
They DON’T work so well behind your average home studio desk.
In this case, a traditional power strip like the Furman SS-6B works much better.
Compared to the crappy power strips you find at Walmart, which only provide the standard protection from power surges…
The SS-6B also features electromagnetic and radio frequency (EMI and RFI) noise reduction, to maintain a clean audio signal.
And while people often complain that power strip cords are too short…
The SS-6B features a 15′ cord long enough to extend to virtually corner of a normal-sized room.
And for a small studios, the 6 outlets are just enough to power all the gear on your desk.
6. Monster PowerCenter PRO 1000
For an added layer of protection behind your desk…
A good alternative to the SS-6B is the Monster PowerCenter PRO 1000.
Just like the SS-6B, it offers:
- surge protection
- noise filtering
But unlike the noise filtering of the SS-6B, which only filters EMI and RFI, Monster’s patented Clean Power Stage 2 Technology takes noise reduction one step further…
By providing 3 separate power banks for different kinds of gear:
…which isolate and filter noise independently of each other, much like the power banks featured in the Furman P-1800 AR.
Another important feature of the PowerCenter PRO 1000 is its sophisticated level of performance monitoring, featuring:
- Dual LED bars to monitor available voltage and current draw
- audible and visual alarms to alert you when problems occur
For maximum power-protection behind your desk, I highly recommend the Monster PowerCenter PRO 1000.
- Click to see current price – (Amazon)
7. Ebtech Hum X
To close out this list, here’s unique little gadget that’s gotten tons of rave reviews…
The Ebtech Hum X.
While not a “power conditioner” in the traditional sense of the word…
The purpose of this device is to eliminate ground loop hum…
- without sacrificing sound quality in any way
- and still maintaining a safe ground.
Unlike the other devices on this list, which offer multiple layers of power conditioning…
The Ebtech HumX is designed for this one purpose alone.
Perfect for guitar amps and studio monitors, this little gadget is a far better solution than using noise gates/suppressors because it eliminates the problem at the source, rather than just managing it.
And while its not entirely clear how or why it works so well…the consensus among users is:
It works, so who cares?
If ground loops have been giving you problems, and the standard solutions haven’t helped much, I highly recommend trying out the Ebtech Hum X.