Surge Protectors vs Power Conditioners

For a small, amateur home studio, are surge protectors good enough to run a rig or is investing in a Furman Power Conditioner recommended. I’d rather spend money on creative gear, not power, but I definitely want to protect what I have already.

I’d recommend a power conditioner. They are more expensive but overall they are better suited for the studio and eliminating noise. Plus some of them also serve as surge protectors.

Admittedly, I know nothing about what’s on the market but I think you will need to have something with many sockets anyway and surge protectors typically have those.

The most questionable thing for me are power conditioners. I always wanted to read more about those but never got the chance. To me, it has always sounded like one of those cringe “audiophile-grade cable” kind of traps.

Maybe someone who understands how they work exactly can explain to us on an electronics level.

@bradholland you do HW design and probably have used one of those power conditioners in your lifetime. Can you help us please?

Power conditioners are very expensive. For not far off the same money you could get a pure sine wave converter and run an average home studio setup off of 12 volt batteries. That way your in total control…no spikes from appliances….no surges from the grid. Probably would need a dedicated earth though?! But depending on your location and housing setup this might be less crazy than it sounds, add a solar panel or 2 and you’ve got solar generated music as well.

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I have considered options like power conditioning but as far as fears about studio kit getting damaged by any untoward events with mains electrical supplies - I haven’t heard of anyone getting damage to equipment when there wasn’t an obvious source….usually it’s user error of some sort.

The main problem with mains! is noise and hum….well more hum in my experience and then there’s fridge spikes but again luckily I have never had issues with the fridge (separate wiring rings in the UK helps I think).

I am using surge protectors at this time with no real noise issues, so it seems like i might just stick with those rather than investing in a power conditioner. Thanks!

It’s not just about noisy signals. Surge protectors do what the name says, protects against surges/spikes. They do nothing for drops or decreased voltage power. This is what power conditioners help with, namely regulating to the correct voltage that your gear requires. Low voltage can be damaging to electronics, usually component failure in power supplies.

If you’re not working several hours a day on your gear day in day out, could be negligible. Also if you swap/trade gear pretty regularly. But if you have any pricey and/or vintage gear that you want running for many years, power conditioners help to insure that.

I’d wouldn’t want to be the one to have advised against the expenditure, then have the worse case scenario happen for that person……but in my experience in and out of small studios and having spent many hours a day for months at a time in my own home studio! I never had a problem nor heard of anyone else having problems due to the lack of power conditioners.

No doubt all higher end studios and mastering suites etc have them.

I do wonder though, at what price point do they start actually being worth the outlay? I mean are cheap ones worth it? or like so many other electronic devices do you have to spend a lot more before getting something that does what it says with no corners cut component wise.

Here in the UK when I last looked I remember a cheap one that could handle my minimal setup was £300+ and the reviews for that one were not good!

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Yes, that’s what I am thinking too. The benefit is clearly there but this hasn’t ever happened to anyone I know. Might as well just go off-grid and use solar panels like you mentioned in your previous message :stuck_out_tongue: