Power conditioners are paramount

Just to let everyone know, if you haven't yet, go purchase a voltage corrector/power conditioner. I won't give the name of the manufacturer on here, but everyone knows the industry standard. It's a must-have. You're stick will have more dynamics, head-room, sound better and be more fidelic. You'll love it even more! : )
Original Post
Hi All,

I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but we Bose designers do not believe that a power conditioner provides more headroom, dynamics, better sound, or more fidelity for our equipment.

There are a number of technical reasons for this that I won't go into online, but a good way to think of it is that we have already put in all the power conditioning required to make the products sound as good as possible.

Yeah, we thought of that Wink

Bill
... however ... if your "source" power fluctuates outside the 'design range', things can get weird.

Even if -- or, maybe especially if -- it's that big A/C compressor kicking in, or the massive stage lighting starts flashing, or lightning struck 4 blocks away, or ...

Failing 'surge strips' can introduce odd behavior, too, so don't forget about swapping "power strips" when diagnosing problems which you might initially think are just "audio signal" issues.
Strange things can happen with power, like lightning strikes or A/C's kicking in on a poorly wired building, as Dan mentioned. These are really rare.

To mitigate these scarce events beyond what the L1 already provides would require a large power regulator with a battery back up supply. This is not something you will want to move to a gig.

As far as everyday fidelity being improved, Im sorry to say there will be no difference. In fact, we test for this sort of thing. If there is 'bad' power and the fidelity is degraded, its a sign of a faulty design or component.

This is not to say that the companies that make power conditioning equipment don't make good stuff, as Bill mentioned we already have the situation well under control inside the L1.

Mike
Sorry Bill and MikeZ...but I gotta go along with DHurley.
There is no question in my mind that I got better sounding results when I used a Furman power conditioner.

Now that being said. The reason I started back using the Furman, was because at my regular all season long resort gig, I had a bad power source that was causing my Tone Match to shut down and other wise act goofy.
I had been working this same stage for two months, two gigs per week and had problems the whole time but didn't know it until it got so bad it caused temporary system (Bose) failure.

After connecting the power conditioner all my problems went away and everything sounded more clear, stronger and just plain better.

Now back to DHurley's comment and with respect to Bill and MikeZ. I have not used it at other locations because, in my opinion, it was not needed....now didn't we all just win this discussion? Smile

BTW...I just made my last payment and now it's mine all mine!!..buwaaa ha ha I'm a happy camper with the best and best sounding PA in the world and it's steady makin' money now Big Grin

Leo Dean.con
Yeah, there's no argument here. A good voltage regulator/power conditioner will always make things better in terms of consistency and fidelity. End of story. It's common knowledge that power straight from the wall is, well...not good. If you doubt me, simply book a four hour gig somewhere in which you're sharing the same circuit as the fridge in the club. Play the first set off the conditioner and the second set on it. The difference is staggering.
Guys at Bose,

The flaw in your thinking is "strange things happening with power"...is rare. It happens all the time. Line sag and voltage compression is a very real thing and it's very, very audible. The gear performs much better on consistent power.

So much so, that when I was the only guy in my band who WAS conditioned...we simply couldn't dial in a mix. I was consistent and present sounding, while the other guys fluctuated in volume and tone all night. I even considered taking myself off of the conditioning unit for a while so that at least I would line-sag with the other guys. Since then, we've all gotten conditioned and been happy ever since. : ) To quote my other band-mate. "I can't even say that the conditioned power is better...it just works and unconditioned power doesn't." Smile
I can't testify as to sound quality improvements, but I can say that peace of mind can be a great benefit (even if its totally imaginary). I had two carver amps go up in smoke many years ago by plugging them into an ancient electrical system and turning my power strip on. I don't know if a power conditioner would have helped or not, but it sure helps to know that it might.
Dhurley,

I do not doubt that you are hearing a difference. But, it could be something else. What are other gear are you using besides an L1? Guitar amp? Preamp? Pedals?

I should have clarified what I meant 'strange things with power'. The L1's have really robust voltage regulators and conditioning already built in. They laugh at any power event between about 90 volts and 135 volts (for 120V nominal power). A power event outside of this range is rare. It does happen, and its happened to all of us...but it is indeed rare.

We test for all for all of this kind of stuff. We have equipment here that creates the worst, noisiest power you could ever imagine. There is even equipment that simulates the sags and dips associated with compressors turning on. The L1's must pass both reading on instruments and a listening test. Bill and I may be engineers, but we are also musicians - nothing passes around these parts without a lot of listening :-)

Lots of music gear has zero power regulation - and will much more audibly affected by changes in voltage. An old tube guitar amp (or a new 'vintage style' one) is a great example. If the power drops at the wall, its going to drop inside the amp itself and will create some audible artifacts. Most notably, Eddie Van Halen used to use a transformer to turn the wall voltage down to 100 or 90 to his amps to get his distinctive 'brown' sound on his Marhsall's (dont do that unless you have EVH's budget - the tubes will last about a month doing that).

Anyways, Id be interested to know what other gear is plugged in. Where are you playing that you hear this? Do you have any pictures?...Id be interested to see your setup.

Sincerely,
Mike
quote:
Originally posted by Bill-at-Bose:
... we Bose designers do not believe that a power conditioner provides more headroom, dynamics, better sound, or more fidelity for our equipment...
(bold added)

That, perhaps, is a key point ... the other equipment used in conjunction with an L1 may not be designed to the same exacting standards ...

... and what happens if the power dips for "just a little longer" than was tested/designed for? ...

If one does a lot of playing at a variety of venues which are "old" (weren't built against robust power circuit standards), then a portable 'conditioner' might be a worthwhile investment to consider.


Of course, myself, if I regularly played at a place with "bad" power, I'd probably volunteer to "fix" it! Big Grin Eek Razz
"I do not doubt that you are hearing a difference. But, it could be something else. What are other gear are you using besides an L1? Guitar amp? Preamp? Pedals?"

Well, we are using other gear like preamps and pedal boards, but the L1 sounds better on consistent and clean power no matter what you have plugged into it. In other words, something as simple as a person talking into a dynamic vocal mic is better. Or, an I-pod (running on battery power) playing pre-recorded music sounds better. I'm sure that all our gear is benefiting, though, not just the L1's.


"They laugh at any power event between about 90 volts and 135 volts (for 120V nominal power)."

Well, it sounds like you all considered that stuff in the design of the L1. And funnily enough that's exactly what my conditioner does....as well as cleans the power. However, I'm just saying that Bose has built a wonderful product. I can't listen to any other PA after listening to the L1 system. But, It doesn't defy physics. So, maybe it's possible that a unit dedicated solely to correcting and cleaning voltage irregularities (rack mount power conditioner) might be a little more thorough in it's job, than a unit that is a PA system and mixer first (albeit a smart one) and a voltage corrector second? Whatever the difference, there still is a major one.




"(dont do that unless you have EVH's budget - the tubes will last about a month doing that)."

There's a lot of gray area there....but, it's a different subject anyway. : )
Of course the other thing to consider is...you don't even half to be on the same circuit as the club's fridge to experience issues. Just having two or more L1's on the same circuit (which often happens in clubs around here) will give you sag problems.
One more question. What do you mean be "laughs" at anything between 90-135v? Do you mean the L1 system will still run without hurting the unit? If that's what you mean...I agree. : ) The L1 system has all kinds of protection in place and seems to be built like a tank. You guys did a great job on that. However, it sounds better when it has the power available to it... when it asks for more. The mix is punchier, more clear, less peaky, and less compressed.
quote:
Originally posted by DHurley:
One more question. What do you mean be "laughs" at anything between 90-135v? Do you mean the L1 system will still run without hurting the unit? If that's what you mean...I agree. : ) The L1 system has all kinds of protection in place and seems to be built like a tank. You guys did a great job on that. However, it sounds better when it has the power available to it... when it asks for more. The mix is punchier, more clear, less peaky, and less compressed.



Sorry for the vague term. A little background...

The power regulator/supply in the L1 takes in the AC wall voltage, whatever it is, and converts it down to much lower DC voltages to run the preamps, DSP's etc. As long as wall voltage is within the range I quoted earlier (90V-135V), the DC voltages that the preamps and DSP's see do not change. As part of the process of converting from AC to DC the power is also filtered. No matter what happens at the wall, the audio portions just see clean DC power. When the voltage goes outside the bounds, the unit just shuts down gracefully.

So thats what I mean by laughs at, the power levels and quality are maintained no matter what's going on.

Enough engineering talk :-)

What kind of music do you guys play, what's your setup? Do you have model I's or model II's?

-Mike
That's o.k. I like the engineering talk and thanks for your time. : )

I would love to know more about how it works if you have the time, cuz it sounds like you're telling me that in addition to a mixer section and power amps, the L1 base also houses a full voltage regulator and conditioner?

How does it work? Are you using a step-up transformer to regulate voltage? The reason I ask is because the process of simply converting AC to DC is a pretty common practice. : ) There are also many computer power supplies that use the conversion as a cleaning process, but that doesn't mean that the computer doesn't perform better from clean, consistent power.

My toaster is designed to work within a voltage range, since 110v is never guaranteed from your wall. So, I'm curious because I must just not understand. I wish I knew more about the engineering aspect of it. I can only report the facts of what I (and others) hear. Anyway, If you have the time, or the notion....I would be interested in a more in depth description. : ) Thanks
So first, why do we need power regulation or conditioning anyway?...

I just re-read your post and Im glad you mentioned the toaster! The toaster is like most electrical appliances in the world - it isn't very picky about it's power - and we would never notice the difference in performance. All the toaster does is take wall voltage and feed it to the heating element (the portion that glows red). If the wall voltage dips to 100, the power to the element drops proportionally. The toast will toast maybe ~18% slower in this extreme case. Noise on the AC line would have little effect on the element- the element takes a long time to heat up and cool down compared to the speed of the power changes, so it won't care about momentary dips. For example, if a refrigerator kicked in in a poorly wired house, the power may go down to 80V for a tenth of a second. The temperature of the element probably would not change measurably, and the end product (toast) would definitely not suffer.

With audio equipment, we are using our ears to judge the results. We're going to hear and care about sudden dips and changes in wall voltage, unless we regulate the power.

Digital equipment, like a computer, relies on constant voltage levels inside it's microchips to operate. These voltage levels (usually around 3.3 volts DC, or less) dictate the 'ons' and 'offs' at the heart of these devices. If the voltage goes outside a very narrow range, the digital does *not* degrade it's performance - it just ceases to operate.

The L1 has both analog audio portions (preamps, power amps), and digital portions (ToneMatch EQ's, effects in the T1, etc). Both of these portions rely on regulated, constant power to operate well. In the case of the digital portions, it relies on this constant supply of power to operate at all.

The power needed inside the L1 is DC. The amplifiers need around +/- 30V DC, the preamps need around +/- 18V DC, and the DSP's less than 5V.

How's it work?

The L1 uses a low noise switched-mode power supply. These are very light and efficient. Here's an article on how they work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched-mode_power_supply . In a switched mode supply (or switcher), the DC voltage is created from AC by rapidly switching a transistor on and off. The average of these on and off times, after a lot of filtering, becomes the DC voltage (pictures are in the wikipedia article). Regulation is done by varying the amount of the time the transistor is on and off. The switching occurs very fast, always more than 30,000 times per second. Sometimes much more. Switchers are an abstract concept and there isn't really a good analogy that I can think of for how they work.

For our supplies, there is a lot of extra filtering and tighter than usual regulation to make sure none of the artifacts from the wall power are audible. This is a major part of the product's design, and the focus of a lot of testing.

For some more reading on power supplies in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_supply

Hope this is helpful and answers your questions -
Mike
quote:
Originally posted by MikeZ-at-Bose:
...Switchers are an abstract concept and there isn't really a good analogy that I can think of for how they work...
Consider a tub of water, and that you want to provide a continuous (but not necessarily constant) flow out of a set of hoses connected at the bottom of the tub. The hoses at the bottom provide the "constant voltage" which the electronics like to have. Some times they draw very little water; sometimes they want all the water the hoses will provide.

That "tub" is a "capacitor", it stores "what you want" (e.g.: water) and provides it "on demand" -- so the output is "continuous".

How do you fill the tub?

You can either fill it with another "continuous" source (such as a stream of water from elsewhere) [that's an "analog power supply"], or you can fill it with small buckets, or break water balloons into it ... or you can fill it with raindrops ...

A switching power supply is sort of like filling the tub with raindrops -- lots and lots of tiny raindrops ("pulses"), very fast. As long as the total volume ("size-of-drops" x "drops-per-second") going in matches / exceeds the volume going out (averaged over time), it doesn't matter precisely how you "fill the tub".

Furthermore, the "size of the tub" determines how much variation in the rate of input (temporary fluctuations or loss of power) or the rate of output (transient demands for 'more power!') can be accommodated.
If you're analogy is correct...and I'm not doubting you, is it possible that maybe the "tub" (capacitor) is not storing enough on-tap current for transients, or the "raindrops" (switching power supply) doesn't have enough volume or "drops-per-second" to fill to tub adequately for transients and lower voltages from the wall?
Hi Kent,

I hope this helps.

quote:
Originally posted by Hilmar-at-Bose:
To see what UL (underwriter's laboratory, U.S official saftey agency) has to say about extension cords, please click here
http://www.ul.com/consumers/cords.html

You should budget about 5 Amps for each system playing at full volume. A properly sized extension cord will work just fine.

Hope that helps

Hilmar


Source: Extension cord Yes or No

Do you have to set up 150 feet from a power source very often?

Edit: repaired link to Hilmar's post
quote:
Originally posted by Kent Arnsbarger:
well you wont believe this.

After reading this thread 2 days ago and posting a questions, my L1 got fried by low power. Smoke actually came out of it after my bass amp inside blew. Now it wont even turn on. Frown

Calling Bose on Monday I guess. Careful out there.


Dude, sorry to hear that. Are you sure it was low power? I assumed that the guys at bose were correct when they said that the unit should just shut off gracefully due to the voltage dipping past 90v. But, then again, they also said that a power conditioner shouldn't make a difference in terms of sound quality, but it does. Sorry about that, man. Hope you get it resolved soon.

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