Live Sound

The Best Power Conditioners for Musicians

Power is critical to electric instruments and music component equipment. Not all power is created equal, however. Its delivery varies according to where your gear is plugged in to. As a result, power surges and noise interference can impact your equipment and quality of your music and recordings.

A power conditioner provides a safeguard between the outlet and your music system. Anyone using an amplifier should consider purchasing one to protect from dirty power lines.

Power conditioners adapt to electrical input surges, noise, or electromagnetic interference (EMI), and voltage to protect your gear and the quality of your sound.

Why Trust Us?

Extensive music power conditioner product sifting has been conducted for this overview, including:

– General information and power conditioner product comparisons (Wikipedia, e-home recording studio.com, wiki.ezvid.com, etc.) including types, uses, benefits, and suggested top best units.
– Best selling power conditioners offered, plus customer reviews, on Amazon and Musician’s Friend (power conditioner models in Musician’s Friend catalog are tried-and-tested by the audio experts at Musician’s Friend, including: Furman, JG,
Musician’s Gear)
– YouTube videos explaining the benefits and need for power conditioners for any amplified musician

Top Pick: Furman F1000-UPS

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Preferred for critical data components, theater systems and sequenced equipment. Furman’s LiFT software helps clean and filter AC power, evenly reducing line noise across a wide bandwidth and maximizing performance.

Power Conditioning and Power Conditioners

The IEEE (Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers), NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association), and other standards organizations define power conditioning as filtering the alternating current (AC) that comes through power company power lines.

Power regulating refers to transforming the AC signal (from the power company) into a direct current (DC) signal, which then runs an oscillator that, in turn, generates a consistent and repetitive single frequency sine wave.

The amps and sine wave frequency result in standard wall outlet voltage output. Whether at an in-home studio, or office, power conditioners provide clean AC power to sensitive electrical equipment (i.e.: computers, amplifiers, etc.).

Typically multiple receptacles or outlets are in use, making the power conditioner function as a surge protector as well as a noise filter.

Differentiating Attributes

Power line conditioners receive and modify power depending on the equipment the power is connected to. Attributes to be conditioned are measured using devices, such as phasor measurement units, which measure analog voltages and currents.

Voltage surges and spikes are common. Surge protectors shut down the flow to prevent electricity from reaching equipment, but power conditioners maintain consistent voltage internally across different loads.

The power conditioner’s joule rating indicates the maximum concentrated electrical energy it can absorb. Higher joule ratings afford greater protection for the equipment it is attached to.

Another attribute is eliminating interference between components, such as analog and digital equipment. A better quality power conditioner has internal filter banks that separate, or isolate, the different power conditioner power outlets/receptacles.

Benefits of Power Conditioners

Power conditioners help provide clean power and protect your equipment under a variety of conditions, including surges that can instantly destroy your equipment, noise that reduces the quality of your recordings, and variations in voltage that strain they system.

Protect from surges. They surpass surge protectors that can burn up and damage your equipment. Power conditioners are more reliable than surge protectors and can handle maximum and multiple surges without overloading and damaging your gear;

Filter out electrical noise. Electrical noise can get into the system and into your recordings. Power conditioners have filters on the outputs that filter noise to computer or audio interface;

Keep gear from sending noise to each other. Power conditioners have different outlets for analog gear and digital gear. Different frequencies and different noises are not transferred between lines.

Maintain consistent voltage across different loads. They are not the same as voltage regulators that output steady volts.

How to Use

The power conditioner unit improves the quality of power. It delivers an acceptable voltage level that ensures load equipment functions properly.

The power conditioner regulates voltage in an effort to also improve noise suppression, and power surges and spikes.

Power conditioners vary in size and function. Use typically determines size and/or function. Smaller power conditioners may provide minimal changes in voltage, while larger units guard against major power or voltage quality issues.

Power conditioners may be used to:

detect dangerous voltage irregularities
regulate the power supply to prevent lockup
maintain power through blackouts and brownouts
offer superior surge protection for both stage and studio

Safety is the prime objective when you plug in high-wattage equipment. High-wattage equipment requires a high-quality power conditioner.

When Buying a Power Conditioner

Simple, low-cost, and effective are the most attractive audiophile traits. Professional equipment is particularly sensitive to power quality and noise.

A power conditioner, or surge protector, is imperative to protect sensitive and expensive equipment in the long run as well as short term. The most effective power conditioner relieves the burden from the internal power supply and extends the usefulness and longevity of your components.

The best power conditioner is the one that fits your budget and equipment capacity and needs. Simple surge protectors suffice for home studios or minimally sensitive audiophile listening.

But, for connecting high-end professional gear, high-end power conditioners, such as those having series multi-stage protection and extreme voltage shutdown, should be investigated.

Sound and recording quality are also serious considerations. Most power conditioner models effectively filter EMI and RFI electromagnetic and radio frequency noise.

Higher-end models may include their own clean power technology and linear filtering system. Separate filter outlet banks for analog, digital, and high current help isolate and filter noise.

Lower-cost power conditioners offer a simpler means of filtering power (surge) and noise. If you perform in places where the power is poor or unreliable (i.e.: clubs, bars, etc.), additional features, such as voltage regulation or extra power boost, may be worth the extra cost.

Remember that continued voltage variation over time can lessen performance and shorten equipment/gear life. You get what you pay for.

Reliability and battery backup are important to keep your system online through blackouts and brownouts. Auto shutoff is also an option in the event of blackouts/brownouts.

Ease of operation (accessible and illuminated front and rear switches), maintenance-free operation, sufficiently-long power cords, and a number of outlets to power all of your gear, are considerations when choosing the right power conditioner.

Always check for a warranty. Tripp Lite, for example, offers an ultimate lifetime insurance policy as well as a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The Competition

After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.

InstrumentRatingCurrent Pricing
Furman F1000-UPS
designed for, and provides similar professional-level filter and protection, as A/V applications$849.00
Furman Merit Series M-8DX
dual swivel slide-out rack light fixtures provide understated equipment illumination in dark environments$157.21
Furman PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner
extremely bright, long-lasting, retractable LED rack lights burn cool, significantly reducing heat$239.00
Furman P-1800 AR Voltage Regulator and Power Conditioner
consistent AC power with minimal line noise and uninterrupted service$1,049.00
Pyle PCO850 15 Amp Power Supply Conditioner
protects against continued inconsistent power that affects equipment functionality and longevity$49.99
Furman PST-6 15-Amp Aluminum Chassis
compact size permits its independent/discreet placement.$78.00
Monster MP PRO 2000
Enhances high quality sound by significantly reducing electronic noise on the power lineOut of stock
Panamax M5400-PM
Specifically designed to protect and filter power to home theater systems

Our Top Recommendation

Furman is a top-rated brand with some models ranked in the top of most music power conditioner ratings lists. Furman offers reasonably priced units with desirable quality, performance, and reliability features.

Top Pick: Furman F1000-UPS

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Furman F1000-UPS Uninterruptible Power Supply Voltage Regulator/Power Conditioner
Suggested Price: $750 – $849
Rating: 5 out of 5 (Musician’s Friend)

The Furman F1000-UPS Uninterruptible Power Supply Voltage Regulator/Power Conditioner is a full-featured “best seller” specifically designed for audio and video equipment. It is designed for, and provides similar professional-level filter and protection, as A/V applications.

The F1000-UPS is a preferred power conditioner for critical data components, theater systems and sequenced equipment. Furman’s LiFT (Linear Filtering Technology) software helps clean and filter AC power, evenly reducing line noise across a wide bandwidth and maximizing performance.

The F1000  features Furman’s exclusive, maintenance-free SMP (Series Multi-Stage Protection) high-level AC surge and spike suppression technology. It helps ensure no service calls, downtime, or equipment damage.

It also has advanced EVS (Extreme Voltage Shutdown) 12 amp circuitry and breaker for added equipment protection during prolonged over-voltage conditions.

The EVS automatically powers down connected equipment when high-level voltage irregularities are detected. It helps normalize operating ranges to prevent overheating, lockups and long-term failure.

Multi-stage voltage regulation maintains power through short-term blackout/brownout occurrences. It provides protection and prevents lockups and equipment from overheating.

A RS-232 interface provides open-source programmability options. Dual IR output allows component sequencing to prevent data loss and to allow faster restarts. The IR blaster can send commands to a remote component.

The F1000 provides temporary power to connected equipment. The 1000 VA battery backup and simulated sine wave allow orderly shutdown so that critical data, such as that held in studio computers and external drives, digital video recorders, DLP projectors, and digital mixing consoles, are not lost in the event of a power outage.

A USB interface and Power Control Software are included for communication with (Windows-based) PCs. Critical Load Management software allows selected outlets to be programmed, which diverts battery power to target components. This enables them to run longer in the event of a blackout/brownout.

A consistent 120V output is maintained for smooth power flow.

Pros

Cost
Easy setup
Easy to use software included (communication and critical load management)
Optional rack ears included
Reliable performance
Long-lasting power
Quiet operation

Cons

Heavy

Comparable Competitor Reviews

The following competing power conditioners for musicians are based on type, product specifications, use/users, and customer reviews, including benefits and drawbacks (pros and cons) of each product.

Furman Merit Series M-8DX 

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Furman M-8DX Power Conditioner with Lights and Meter
Suggested Price: $159
Rating: 5 out of 5 (Musician’s Friend); 4.6 out of 5 (Amazon)

The Furman Merit Series M-8DX Power Conditioner with Lights and Meter is a top-selling, highly-reviewed, cost-effective AC power solution suited for any rack mount audio system. It satisfies customers’ budget and performance-based criteria.

The main feature is its dual swivel slide-out rack light fixtures that provide understated equipment illumination in dark environments such as stages, studios, etc.. Brightness is adjusted with a dimmer knob. The digital LED voltmeter alerts users to incoming line voltages.

The M-8DX power conditioner offers a standard 9-outlet (eight switched AC outlets in the rear panel power, and one front-panel outlet) to protect equipment from power surges. Outlets accommodate up to a 15-amp power load.

Bi-level protection is provided through the power conditioner’s spike and surge protection. Its intent is to ensure powered equipment remains safe and the power remains clean.

The M-8DX surge protection is a combination of high voltage varistor (MOV) surge and transient suppressors. The fast-acting suppression circuit equipment rapidly responds and temporarily restricts voltages to safe levels.

The M-8DX RFT/EMI interface is NRTL/TUV listed. The interference filter works to prevent noise from fluorescent lights, certain dimmers, radio frequencies and electromagnetic and similar sources. AC lines are kept free so noise does not infiltrate into sensitive audio, video, or computer circuits.

Reviews by those who purchased the Furman M-D8X indicate it is sturdy, works as advertised, and looks good. Customers that purchased the unit did so for their home studio or because of its portability. They use it as emergency equipment, a lighting solution (for dark stages/rooms), and to protect their gear.

Pros

Cost
Easy setup
Reliable performance
Long lasting
Good power output
Fast charge
Number of plugs
Highly visible readout
Portability

Cons

Expensive

Furman PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner

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Furman PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner
Suggested Price: $239
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 (Amazon); 4.7 out of 5 (Musician’s Friend)

The Furman PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner is a top-rated, top-selling intelligent design that fits a one-rack unit. The power conditioner comes with a 10-ft., 3/14 AWG, with an NEMA 15 plug.

Nine standard outlets (eight switched rear panel AC outlets and one front-panel outlet) protect equipment from power sags and surges. A master switch operates the rear outlets that are split into two banks (analog and digital) so noise contamination and interference between them is minimized.

Three outlets are on the left rear bank, which accommodates AC power transformers, The remaining five outlets are on the right rear bank. The outlets accommodate up to a 15-amp power load with a high inrush thermal circuit breaker for added protection.

The PL-Plus C power conditioner has Furman’s advanced, maintenance-free SMP (Series Multi-Stage Protection) high-level AC surge and spike and sag suppression circuit technology.

The SMP helps ensure the most severe transient voltage spikes are absorbed and dissipated without damaging the equipment or circuit, or interrupt service calls or add downtime.

Advanced EVS (Extreme Voltage Shutdown) 12 amp circuitry and breaker aid equipment protection during prolonged over-voltage conditions. LED status indicators signal when the voltage is outside nominal range or when protection has been compromised.

The EVS detects dangerous voltage irregularities and an unsafe situation. It automatically powers down connected equipment as well as the power conditioner unit, itself, when high-level voltage irregularities are detected.

The Linear Filtering Technology (LiFT) software helps ensure optimal performance, cleaning and filtering AC power. Audio and video signal quality is protected by the no leak-to-ground linear filtering across a wide bandwidth.

The PL-Plus C power conditioner has extremely bright, long-lasting, retractable LED rack lights that burn cool, significantly reducing heat. There are two pull-out, multi-LED lamps that dim.

Rack lights have an on/off/dimmer control. A BNC back panel connector accommodates a gooseneck lamp that aids rear-rack vision. A front panel switch controls its operation.

Pros

Cost
Reliable performance
Good power output
Long lasting
Powerful
Charges quickly
Portability

Cons

None

Furman P-1800 AR Voltage Regulator and Power Conditioner

Furman P-1800 AR Voltage Regulator / Power Conditioner
Suggested Price: $1049
Rating: 5 out of 5 (Musician’s Friend); 4 out of 5 (Amazon)

The Furman P-1800 AR Voltage Regulator and Power Conditioner is a full-featured professional power conditioner for high-end equipment.

It provides consistent AC power with minimal line noise and uninterrupted service. It incorporates the most current features of the Furman PL-Plus DMC power conditioner and the Furman AR-1215 power conditioner into one product.

It includes the SMP (Series Multi-Stage Protection), LiFT (Linear Filtering Technology), and EVS (Extreme Voltage Shutdown) found in the PL-Plus DMC unit with the voltage regulation capacity similar to the AR-1215. Features unique to the P-1800 AR are the front USB charger, separate and isolated rear analog and digital power banks, and Velcro to secure three wall wart inputs.

The P-1800 AR is particularly functional for home studios and offices. It has nine standard outlets (eight switched rear panel AC outlets and one front-panel outlet) protect equipment from power sags and surges.

A master switch operates the rear outlets that are split into two banks (analog and digital) so noise contamination and interference between them is minimized.

Three widely-spaced outlets are on the left rear bank, which houses AC power transformers, The remaining five outlets are on the right rear bank. The outlets accommodate up to a 15-amp power load with a high inrush thermal circuit breaker for added protection.

A wide range of voltage input is accepted, and the True RMS Voltage Regulation transforms it into a constant 120 v.(±5 v.) of AC power output. The maximum current is 15 amps at 214 volts. Voltages beyond the accepted range may be converted to usable levels.

The AC power protects audio equipment from line voltage surges and sags, blackouts and brownouts, or over-voltages. Furman’s Power Factor Technology additionally supplies 45+ amps of on-demand reserve current for amplifiers that require it.

Furman’s Series Multi-Stage Protection Plus (SMP+) suppression circuit technology provides maximum AC surge, sag, and spike protection. Service calls are not interrupted.

There is no downtime. And the most severe transient voltage spikes are absorbed and dissipated without damaging the equipment or circuit.

Extreme Voltage Shutdown (EVS) circuitry technology provides maximum levels of power protection. LED status indicators give a warning when the voltage is outside nominal range or when protection has been compromised.

The advanced EVS circuitry safely powers down the power conditioner unit and any connected equipment when unsafe conditions and/or dangerous voltage irregularities are detected.

LiFT (Linear Filtering Technology) software offers AC power cleaning and filtering for optimal audio and video performance. The signal quality is protected by the no leak-to-ground linear filtering across a wide bandwidth.

Clear Tone Technology additionally provides tuned filtering circuits, which are specifically engineered for instrument amplifiers that provide clean and consistent tones.

The P-1800 AR has extremely bright, long-lasting, retractable LED rack lights provide visibility without overheating. The power conditioner unit also has a large digital voltmeter and ammeter that display incoming line voltage.

It is controlled by a separate dimmer button. A BNC rear panel connector powers any standard gooseneck lamp attached for rear rack illumination. A front panel switch controls its operation. For convenience, there are front USB outlets to charge media devices, or operate a USB lamp.

Pros

Good value
Quiet operation
Powerful
Reliable performance
Cool-running
Owner’s Manual

Cons

Expensive

Pyle PCO850 15 Amp Power Supply Conditioner

Credit: Pyle Audio

Pyle PCO850 15 Amp Power Supply Conditioner with Rack Mountable Power Strip and Surge Protector with 9 Outlets
Suggested Price: $49.95
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Amazon)

The Pyle PCO850 15 Amp Power Supply Conditioner with Rack Mountable Power Strip and Surge Protector with 9 Outlets is a recommended durable aluminum and steel power conditioner mountable rack unit designed for semi-pro musicians and equipment, computers, and studios.

It protects against continued, inconsistent power that affects proper equipment functionality as well as its longevity.

The Pyle PCO850 has nine standard AC outlets. Eight are located on the rear panel and one is found on the front aluminum panel. The outlets accommodate up to a 15-amp power load and circuit breaker, and a push-to-reset function for added protection.

Built-in AC noise filters alleviate unwanted radio frequency interference (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). The interference filter works to prevent noise from fluorescent lights, dimmers, radio frequencies and electromagnetic and similar sources.

AC lines are kept free so noise does not infiltrate into sensitive audio, video, or computer circuits, compromising sound and recording qualities.

The unit’s peak impulse current is 1200 amps. High-level AC surge, spike and sag suppression ensure the equipment stays safe and power remains clean.

Most severe transient energy spikes are absorbed and dissipated without damaging the equipment or circuit, interrupt service calls or add downtime.

Pros

Cost
Easy set up
Quiet operation
Reliable performance
Durability

Cons

None

Furman PST-6 15-Amp Aluminum Chassis

Furman PST-6 15-Amp Aluminum Chassis 6-Outlet Cable and Telco Protection Standard Level Power Conditioning
Suggested Price: $79
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 (Amazon); 3.9 out of 5 (Musician’s Friend)

The Furman PST-6 15-Amp Aluminum Chassis 6-Outlet Cable and Telco Protection Standard Level Power Conditioning is a cost-effective, compact Furman power conditioner without the deluxe features.

It is encased in sturdy aluminum and still delivers high-end performance, advanced surge suppression, zero ground contamination, cable satellite and Telco connectors. The power conditioner unit’s compact size permits its independent/discreet placement.

The six filtered outlets are well-placed for larger transformers. They accommodate up to a 15-amp power load with circuit breaker for added protection.

Advanced AC surge and spike and sag suppression with zero ground contamination helps ensure voltage spikes are absorbed and dissipated without damaging the equipment or circuit, or interrupt service calls or add downtime.

The PST-6 provides superior protection over a conventional power strip. Cable satellite and Telco connectors additionally deliver advanced protection to connected equipment.

Furman’s PST-6 power conditioner provides a good, inexpensive, portable and compact option to musicians for home recording, instrument rigs, DJ equipment, and more.

Pros

Cost
Compact
Streamline design; good for wall warts
Good power output
Reliable performance
Long lasting
Portability

Cons

Lacks deluxe features

Monster MP PRO 2000

Credit: Amazon.com

Monster MP PRO 2000
Suggested Price: $99.99
Rating: 4.2 out of 5 (Amazon)

The Monster MP PRO 2000 with Clean Power Stage 2, Dual Mode Plus Protection, and 12 Color-Coded Outlets Pro 2000 Floor Standing Power Center provides 12 switched color coded outlets for error free connections for power-hungry equipment (more than the standard nine outlets).

The clearly labeled sockets identify the separate banks of analog, digital, and high current filters, which allows optimal performance. The Dual-Mode Plus protection feature also provides audible and visual warnings for maximum protection and performance.

The Monster Clean Power Circuitry uses patented filters that enhance high quality sound by significantly reducing electronic noise on the power line. Clean Power Stage 2 filtering provides AC surge and spike and sag suppression.

This technology helps ensure the most critical transitory voltage spikes are absorbed and dissipated without damaging the equipment or circuit, and without interrupting service calls or resulting in downtime.

The Monster MP PRO 2000 has dual digital LED voltage and current meters that indicate available voltage and current power draw.

Pros

Cost
Easy set up
More than the standard number of outlets (color-coded)
Reliable performance

Cons

5-yr. warranty is for manufacturer’s defects only

Panamax M5400-PM

Panamax M5400-PM
Suggested Price: $459
Rating: 4.3 out of 5 (Amazon)

The Panamax M5400-PM provides their patent pending Level 4+ Power Cleaning and Linear Filtration technology that removes the common symptoms of contaminated power.

Although this power conditioner unit is specifically designed to protect and filter power to home theater systems, the Panamax M5400-PM is considered the industry’s overall best power protection unit for all audio, video, and computer functions.

Eleven separate protected and filtered outlets prevent cross contamination. The M5400-PM is designed to provide noise isolation between five separate outlet banks, which includes one bank with two high-current outlets.

Any noise that might be created by an A/V component, for example, cannot contaminate the power going to equipment that is plugged into another outlet bank. The M5400-PM also features a front panel USB charger for convenience.

The Panamax M5400-PM Level 4+ Power Cleaning and Linear Filtration guards against power spikes and fluctuations that can damage equipment. It continually monitors incoming power and displays it on a digital voltmeter.

A warning signal/icon is displayed in the voltmeter when an under- or over-voltage is detected. Power is automatically disconnected until the voltage returns to a safe level.

The clearing and filtration technology improves system performance and extends equipment life by providing a consistent optimal power level.

Output voltage is regulated to 120 v. (± 5 v.) by two voltage reg boost stages and one buck stage. Boost Stages 1 and 2 boost the voltage. The Buck Stage reduces voltage. Voltages beyond the accepted range may be converted to usable levels.

LiFT (Linear Filtering Technology) offers AC power cleaning and filtering for optimal audio and video performance.

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) through their AC power source is filtered so noise from fluorescent lights, certain dimmers, radio frequencies and electromagnetic and similar sources are kept out of AC lines and does not infiltrate sensitive audio, video, or computer circuits.

The M5400-PM is designed to eliminate transient voltages complex audio/video systems are susceptible to. A start-up delay for high-current outlets has been created, as has a shutdown delay for the switched outlets. This minimizes in-rush current problems when all equipment is powered on or off at the same time.

The M5400-PM voltage sense trigger provides an ON/OFF trigger using a DC signal. Pre-amplifiers and receivers with built-in DC triggers transmit a constant power signal when in use.

This power signal turns the M5400- PM’s switched outlets on until the component is turned off. Use an AC adapter (of the appropriate voltage) when there is no bult-in DC trigger.

Pros

Good power output
Good quality
Operator’s Manual
Limited Lifetime Equipment Protection & Lifetime Product Warranty

Cons

Customers had faulty/not-working meter issues
Specific in/out lines must be correctly plugged into respective outlets

A Final Word

Many of the power conditioner units reviewed are Furman brand models. Customers, seem to agree that Furman is the No.1 in professional power conditioning brand, although there are other larger, smaller, more/less expensive, professional, and semi-pro units on the market.

All units reviewed are considered by customer reviews to be satisfactory for instrument amplifiers, pro audio rigs, DJ equipment, and more. Thorough research is recommended to find the best unit for you.

Sources

• E-Home Recording Studio (2017). The 7 Best Power Conditioners to Safeguard Your Equipment. Retrieved from http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/power-conditioner-reviews/.

• Home Studio Corner (2013). 12 Home Studio Necessities #11 – Power Conditioner. Retrieved from http://www.homestudiocorner.com/12-home-studio-necessities-11-power-conditioner/.

• Joe Guilder Music (2017). 12 Home Studio Necessities #11 – Power Conditioner. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn1koTr11O4.

• Musicians Friend’s (2017). Power Conditions & Surge Protectors. Retrieved from
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/power-conditioners-surge-protectors.

• Wikipedia (2016). Power Conditioner. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_conditioner

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