MASTER POWER DISTRIBUTION FOR SMALL RECORDING STUDIO
We have a lot of individual pieces of equipment in our studio, this means we must be careful about the order in which things get turned on. Amplifiers and speakers are the last to get turned on and the first to get turned off. When we're recording using the digital console we don't need all the compressors and reverbs heating the room up and wasting energy or tube life. The power for all the audio gadgets comes from a single monitored outlet, this helps eliminate ground loops. All this power flows through a maze of extension cords and cables from the gadgets back to the single source distribution point. A Killawatt meter at the source outlet provides realtime wattage usage information.
All of the headend power flows through an APC uninterruptible power supply. The APC has surge protected and battery backup outlet banks on the rear. The computers and audio interface are on the battery backup to provide for a logical shutdown in the event of a power outage. All the other equipment is powered by the surge protected side of the APC power supply. I wondered if there would be any hum or noise problems from using this power supply but it has been trouble free and has saved my system twice from surprise power outages.
|THE POWER STATION RACK INSTALLED|
As the studio has grown and we've added more equipment the need for control has grown, this was easy to control at first but as the system grew and we needed more switchable circuits the cabling became a mess.
THE POWER STATION RACK IS BORN
I had an idea for a rack to house the power distribution and associated excess wire and I wanted the UPS to be onboard so it could turn and move with the rack that held the distribution.
I drew up basic plans for what I thought the rack would be, then measured the area where it would be located to determine the final dimensions.
|POWER STATION RACK WAS BUILT FROM USED LUMBER FROM PREVIOUS HURRICANE|
We had a lot of used wood in the shop that had been used to board up windows during a hurricane a couple of years ago. This rack would be located behind the console in a utility area so I was not concerned about an excellent exterior finish, using the used lumber was an easy choice.
I sliced up the pieces of wood to the right dimensions out on the driveway using my 7.25" Skilsaw, then screwed them together using 2" construction screws with star drives.
I try to add wheels to everything I build and this rack was certain to be rotated a lot for plugging things in. I've developed a system for installing the T-nuts, I use a draw bolt to suck them into the wood, then I remove that and use a short bolt that won't stick through the T-Nut on top after the wheel is screwed on.
|POWER STATION WITH WHEELS ADDED|
After assembling the rack and installing the wheels I taped them up with blue painters tape so spray paint would not get in and gunk up the bearings.
Finally a good coat of Studio-Reference Flat-Black made all the finish faults disappear.
|PAINTED, DRYING IN THE SUN|
WHERE THE MESS WAS
Over the last three years the maze of AC power cords and extension cords had grown into a big mess. It took an entire morning to disassemble and label every cable for which power source it should be connected to.
Inside the Power Station Rack I screwed AC power strips to the walls of the rack. I do this by carefully drilling through the power strip and using fine thread dry wall screws through them. I've been using this mounting technique for years and have never had a problem.
|GETTING AREA READY FOR POWER STATION INSTALLATION|
After mounting all the power strips I used a volt meter to check that they were all turned on so they would respond to the front panel control switches. I also checked to be sure I had not inadvertently exposed any AC power by screwing through the power strips.
|INSIDE THE POWER STATION|
Certain studio circuits need a lot more outlets, for instance the X32 universe, the GB-8 analog console and the Neve mastering mixer all need multiple outlets to feed peripheral devices which also need to be ON.
The X32, GB-8 and Neve each have 14 AC power outlets inside the Power Station. Each of the two Mac computer systems has a power strip of six outlets. The Mastering Effects Rack and the Fireplace Effects racks each have a full six-outlet power strip available.
The APC UPS rides along on its sidecar shelf, it worked out perfect for keeping the wiring clean and neat.
The Power Station rack features a large bin area in the bottom, this provides a place for excess cable from extension cords to gather and collect, no wire ties are required, the cable is just loosely pushed into the rack and comes out as needed when the rack is rotated. The bin turned out better than I had imagined, it cleaned up all my wiring mess.
|NOTE CABLE BIN BOTTOM THIRD OF RACK|
THE FINAL INSTALLATION
This project was time consuming but turned out to be very worthwhile. In the process of cleaning up the cables I was able to get several AC power cords farther away from any audio cabling. I eliminated a lot of power cables and splitters that were interim patches, now everything has a place to plug in and we've got some expansion space for the future.
|FULLY TESTED AND READY TO INSTALL|
The rack is standard 19" wide dimension to accommodate rack mount accessories. I like these DJ AC power switch racks for segmenting the power distribution, they let me turn-on just the amount of equipment I need for the work I'm doing. Each switch is lighted and has an independent outlet on the rear panel. They cost less than $30 each and provide a lot of utility for the money.
|INSTALLED, WIRED UP AND WORKING|
I did not use rack mount power strips inside the Power Station Rack because I'm cheap and the rack mount style AC power strips are not. I looked for some inexpensive rack mount AC power strips but anything that looked quality was way more than I wanted to spend. I had cartons of these plastic AC power strips from our previous studio in California so I was glad to reuse them in this new construction. The plugs don't get switched often so they don't need to be heavy duty outlets.
|19" RACK MOUNT DJ POWER CONTROL STRIPS|
For convenience I installed a light inside the rack, it is controlled by one of the front panel AC power switches, this makes it much easier to work inside the rack.
|LOOKING DOWN INSIDE WIRE BIN AT BOTTOM OF POWER STATION|
Our current studio is the quietest bunch of audio gear I've ever connected up. The consolidation and cleanup of our AC power distribution lowered the noise floor to an unbelievable new level of quietness. Careful implementation of balanced audio wiring combined with well executed distributed AC power is really the solution for creating complex, low-noise, high-performance audio systems.
Good music to all!