The Hardware Megathread


I know there are endless debates online but wanted to hear from ya’ll…

power conditioners for home studio, yea or nah? And if yea, how much do you need to spend to not just get a fancy power strip…


I have one, it was 100 bucks Canadian, it’s basically a rack mounted power bar but I’m ok with that, it’s what I wanted


I wouldn’t want anything beyond reliable surge suppression for the occasional power outage we get here in cali. Most stuff has it’s own power supply either as a wall wart or built in with an IEC socket, so they’re not just going to run off wall power. If anything is sooper dooper cheap, then maybe the power supply could struggle if you have really off-spec power in your area. But I live in a 75 year old house built by most definitely the lowest bidder and I’ve never had issues with any of my PCs, game consoles, or music gear related to power.

I just use a 20 dollar plug strip right now (which is probably under-kill tbh), and I’m considering something like a a pyle rackmount power unit just so that I don’t have a power strip balanced on the back of my keyboard stand.

The pyle has it’s own fuse, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction. You can get what I believe is roughly equivalent protection on a simple power strip for like $30 or less. I use this one for my gaming setup.

I guess it’s possible that in a top-end six figure room with a bunch of fancy schmancy outboard gear with lots of signals going all over the place, power cleanliness would start to matter. But I doubt that it really factors in to what anybody is doing in their bedroom. My guess is when you get to like the Jazzyspoon and Cane Creek level (or that guy who had like 4 different 303 clones, I forget who that was…), then it could start to make a difference.

EDIT: or you could consider a UPS, though I think that’s really overkill unless you’re making money out of your studio and downtime is money lost.


Cool guys. I appreciate it. We don’t seem to have issues with brown outs or flickering lights or anything here even though the house is quite old. We got them to replace our main fuse box before we bought the house. My only thought is sometimes I’m running my PA system in my studio, but I am not pushing it near its max most of the time.

At the moment I only have two samplers and a synth.

I might invest in something with plenty of plugs and good surge protection just in case. We have had some close by lightening strikes recently.


You’re in the US and it’s 2020, fuck knows what might happen next…


Maaaaaannnnnnn you ain’t kidding…


Well the Digitakt is fucking dope, in short. I can’t believe I didn’t get on this ages ago. It is Elektron which means its very program-y and knob tweak oriented, but I can see coming up with loops super quickly and finishing in my DAW. For live jams Model: Samples for basic drums, DT for more complex stuff–complete package.

Ya’ll almost had me looking at MPCs and Maschine + was tempting to an extent.

But this is where it is at. The DT already feels like a possible desert island piece. The 8 tracks of MIDI is cool but I’d almost rather 8 more sampling tracks. Gonna be busting out that turntable and dusting off the last of my dad’s vinyl he gifted me…

Also, this thing is a ridiculously good synth for single cycle wave forms…jumped right into that and not disappointed.


Damn. When I have DT’s I see pink little elephants. Yours sounds way cooler. :grinning:


You silly bastard :joy:


I am late to this party, but I love a mystery. I say it is a Korg Taktile 49 controller


I sold mine for emergency vet bills but it is a great machine. Everything sounds good in it


Dude this isn’t the US, you can go to a real doctor.


power conditioners for home studio, yea or nah? And if yea, how much do you need to spend to not just get a fancy power strip…

It depends on what you’re trying to fix and how sensitive the equipment is.

The simplest power conditioners shunt high frequency noise to ground via inductor/capacitor circuits (similar to the way an analog EQ works). Helps smooth out little spikes, but can’t handle anything big. It also doesn’t do much for voltage sags. Spending ~$100 on a Furman etc might insulate you to things like clicks and pops when the AC kicks on, but that’s about it. Super handy if you have a rack, though.

If you tear into just about any power conditioner in the $100 range (and I have several times over the years), you’re not going to find much…basic surge suppression, a noise filter, and a circuit breaker. That’s almost note-for-note what you get in a $20 surge protector from Walmart, except it’s rack mountable. Some have bells and whistles like sequential power (where the plugs come on in order, which can be handy) and lights, but you’re not getting any more protection than the power strip. There are certainly more expensive power conditioners that do better protection and filtration, but they can get pricey. The old adage is “if you can lift it with one arm, you’re being had”.

Voltage regulators are a step up from power conditioners (and generally include surge protection and line filtration). This is your go-to if you have lots of spikes and sags (brown outs) - they actively regulate the voltage coming out and provide consistent power and better harmonic filtration.

Balanced power systems use an input isolation transformer to completely remove your mains power from the equation. It basically grabs the incoming power and then puts it 1:1 through the transformer, so what comes out is ridiculously clean pure sine 120V with a 0V reference ground, regardless of how shitty your mains power is. This will fix all sorts of noise problems and completely eliminate ground hum. Most of them have great filtration as well (and should, considering what they cost).

UPSs, like for computers, are about as varied as all the stuff above. At their most basic (line-interactive or offline), they just pass through your mains power with basic filtration and don’t do anything until the power goes off, then they swap to the battery until it runs out. Ironically, the battery provides much better power in most cases but gets used very infrequently. A bare bones UPS is nice for getting a chance to turn your stuff off when the power goes or providing continuity when the power’s up and down, but don’t inherently provide much in the way of conditioning or protection. Also, if your mains power is noisy, the cheap ones aren’t going to do much to fix that as they just pass what comes from the wall.

Online (double conversion) UPSs do what balanced power systems do, but with a battery - the incoming power is passed through an inverter and isolates the system from the mains (rectified to DC then inverted back to AC). This is really the Cadillac option that does it all to some extent, but start at about $800.

A couple of other points. Every time the voltage drops or spikes, everything attached generates heat. Heat is bad for your equipment. Voltage drops are generally worse - your breakers and equipment are meant to blow fuses when things spike too much, but drops mean the equipment has to draw more power which generates more heat. Lots of little brown outs leads to dead hardware, and investing in good power can save you money in the long run.

Older equipment is more susceptible to line noise and voltage irregularities than new stuff.

If you’re trying to fix ground hum, just plug the things humming into the same strip. Problem solved.

tl;dr - if you’re on a surge protector and still having trouble, figure out what it is you’re trying to fix and get the thing that fixes it.


Oh ouch, my healthcare…


After 4 days away from home I turned on the Model:Cycles again and Booom another banging loop. I’m really impressed, I like this move a knob and see what happens approach to FM, with the 2 Op engine on the Microfreak I struggle to get anything. decent.
But then again, I don’t know anything about FM.

As a side note, I’m in a love relationship with the F minor scale, sooooo nice sounding.


I appreciate the information. This is a lot for me to absorb bc I basically only know that electricity makes my synths go lol. But I am reading and thinking.


F# minor, Tom Morrello’s favorite!


Here’s a quick and dirty guide on audio/electrical noise:

Ground Loop - This happens when you have two different ground voltages, mostly caused by plugging things into two different outlets. This is classic 60Hz hummmmmmmmmm. Fix it by plugging both piece of offending equipment into the same outlet/power strip, removing the ground with pliers or a ground lift adapter (a bad idea, mostly), or isolating one or both signals with a transformer. DI boxes are an easy source of ground hum elimination.

Line noise - AC is a sine wave, goes up and down, up and down. But in reality it’s not that perfect wave that everyone puts in videos, it’s got tons of little jitter in it because power isn’t 100% clean. Depending on the sensitivity of your equipment and how bad that jitter is, you may get hiss, hum, pops, crackles, etc. This is the ‘dimmer switch on your lights causing hum’ thing. Fix it by cleaning up the power with a surge protector/power conditioner (mileage may vary depending on the amount of line noise and quality of filtering), an isolation transformer, a UPS or similar.

EM Interference - This is when your equipment and cables pick up stray electromagnetic waves and amplify them. Ever heard a cell phone ring through a guitar amp? That’s this, but it can also be static or noise from any number of sources. Using shielded and balanced cables can prevent a lot of this. More troublesome noise is usually fixed by moving the offending device farther away. If the device itself is picking up EM, you can line the inside with aluminum foil to reduce it, or install a ferrite bead in the device or cable (often called a choke - it’s those little cylindrical bits on laptop cables near the plug) that can reduce it.

RF Interference - A subset of EM interference. Cables will pick up radio frequency signals from things like your computer, your phone, radio stations, etc. Classic example is the Spinal Tap “air traffic control through the guitar” bit. This often happens with unshielded cables and/or coiled up cables, as your turning it into an antenna.

USB Noise - USB is super handy and almost every piece of audio equipment comes with one nowadays, but you can get all sorts of noise coming down those things because the cables are small, cheaply made and can transmit power alongside data. This can lead to static, noise, glitches, etc. Usually replacing the cable with a better one fixes it, or running separate power to the device instead of over USB for really troublesome cases.

There’s lots more fine print, but that’s a basic “what the fuck is wrong with my audio?” list. Probably the cheapest and most effective way to up your quality is by using well-shielded cables, balanced cables whenever possible, and keeping things plugged into high quality surge protectors.


Purely speculative post (read between the lines)…

If you had a groovebox with an envelope follower assignable to multiple parameters, what would you try?
So far I tried a sort of compression to duck volume and at the same time pan audio left/right.
It add some nice movement but I’m really short of ideas for something that seems a super cool feature.


Envelope to a distortion gain if possible. That’s fun and dynamic, very playable.