03 Feb 2014

Yesterday I received a call from a client, the owner of a great little bar/restaurant in Brooklyn. They stated that although the sound system has been working fine, all of a sudden the amp (a Crown CE 1000 powering four JBL Control 28 full-range speakers) went dead and showed no sign of even being powered up. Knowing there had to be more to the circumstance than an unexplained failure of what is usually, a very reliable amplifier, I did a little probing.

What about the rest of the system?

Is the mixer (Mackie 802 VLZ), or the compressor (DBX 226XL), on? Yes, to both.

Is the amp still plugged in? Yes, to that as well.

With further probing I discovered that earlier that day (for yet unknown reasons), they had experienced two power outages, each lasting only a few seconds and for all other equipment in the establishment, not a problem. I then realized that one of the components I always insist on being part of the system, the surge protector, did its job.

Each time the power returned, it sent electrical surges throughout the establishment. Audio equipment can be very sensitive to such surges and adequate measures to protect against it are a worthwhile investment. You see, the rack-mounted surge protector acts as a sacrificial component that will “fail” in order to not pass current that exceeds its designed capacity; much like a fuse except that an MOV can handle several instances of this kind of event before it “fails”. This is what protects the equipment. For more detail on how this works and the other types of surge protection devices available: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/surge-protector.htm.

The amplifier was then unplugged from the “sacrificed” outlet and plugged into one of the other outlets available on the unit and of course, it powered up and operated as expected. Now, on the rack-mounted surge protector, there are only 7 working outlets but that is a far better price to pay, than possibly having the amplifier needlessly damaged from such an event.

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