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I Got The Power!



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I got the Power!
Mike Fernino

It's been sometime since I got down to pad and pen and put together an article for the Zone, but I figured that 2001 was here and let's get back to the basics. Power.....

I've got it. Do you?

What would any great DJ/Entertainer be without power? Of course you know we would not get very far. Clean, stable power is the foundation of quality sound and I wanted to hit on a few observations I have put together here for you that might prove fascinating!

On a typical Saturday I have 2 weddings. One day format, and one in the evening. My main rig, this day, was powered by a dual Crest CA-9 amp section.  Both amps love their power and suck it down quite nicely when the party is pumpin'.

The day wedding was at a place I play at all the time. This caterer is new, modern, and for the benefit of this story, has good, clean power supply. The outlets and wiring are all up to code and up to date. We had 200 guests. I noticed that during the peak of the performance, my mixer ( Rane 24 ) was peaking at -3. We were not even close to pushing it and the sound was powerful and clean. Typical for Crest amps. The party rocked, and so after the good-byes to my bride and groom, off to the next adventure and my evening gig.

The evening wedding was at an older hall which is stuck in the 70's. I don't think the owner of this dump has put money into the place since Jimmy Carter was our president.

We had about the same amount of wedding guests at this event. Around 180 and the room was comparable in size to the first facility. At peak party time, I noticed that the mixer was up at + 3 and the sound seamed rough and not the clean power stream that I usually have. I asked my brother Steve, who is my partner in crime, "What seemed different? The sound is not as clean as it was this afternoon?" I then noticed my Furman PL-8+ power supply indicating that the voltage out of the wall was reading 109. Ouch! We were actually pulsing down to 101 on the music peaks, and on the edge of popping a fuse. I realized there was a correlation between the degraded sound and the voltage, or lack there of.  Here is my analogy. Let's relate the amp drawing power from the wall, to you drinking a milkshake. A thin shake is gonna go down easy and smooth. A thick shake has you sucking harder on that straw. The thicker the shake, the harder you suck away.

Throw into this equation now a thin straw to further complicate the scenario.  The thinner the straw, the redder your face gets until you are on the edge of passing out.

Though extreme, we can use this as a comparison.  If your available AC current is low and you don't have the draw from the outlet, your amp section is going to work harder. When an amp works harder, it distorts, thus effecting the sound quality. In addition, if you have a 600 watt amp, and you don't have proper voltage, you in effect have cut your power in half. Why was it that during my first wedding, I was cracking nicely at -3, but at the evening wedding I was up at +3 for the same size room? The answer is because my amp, that received perfect voltage during the day wedding, put out its normal 600 watts per channel.

At the evening wedding, with poor voltage, my amp power was cut by half!  300 watts or around that area! In addition, the amps were hot at that evening wedding. During the day, they were cool to the touch. Do you see where I am going here?

Amp works hard, amp distorts and sacrifices your sound quality!  Now lets go back to the thin straw, I added that example in for a reason. How many of you DJs, use a regular home extension cable?  Guess what? The smaller the gauge of the power cable, the harder it is for the amp to get the voltage. The more watts you consume, the greater the need for heavy gauge power cable, example 10 gauge custom cable.  I have seen DJs with 16 gauge home extension cords that I wouldn't power my reading lamp with. How can they use this stuff?  Throw it away now and go down to the Home Depot and buy some 10 or 12 heavy gauge rubber cable. Get your local electrician to make you up a few 25 footers and 50 footers, and I promise you that your system will get the power it needs.  Next, I switched from the normal Furman PL-8+ power conditioner  to Furman regulators on all of my DJ systems. I don't want to hear you complain that they cost around $ 400 - 450, I bought 8 of them. One for every system we have at the company. If I can make the investment, so can you. It's your business. You owe it to your customers to sound and perform well under extreme situations.

Why the Regulators? The Furman regulator takes the  draw from the wall, and converts it to a " Regulated " 117 voltage. That means you can get 122 out of the wall, or 102 out of the wall. The regulator converts the irregular voltage to a smooth 117, which is very much preferred by your equipment.  Spikes, surges, and power dropouts are avoided with this unit. It's worth every penny and then some.

You may never blow another fuse again and you'll protect your valuable investment from " Bad Power." Most of all, you will protect your valuable reputation from being tarnished when 200 people on the dance floor suddenly have no music because you blew your fuse. Add light shows into an event and there goes even more power out the door. Add that regulator to your system and go out and get custom heavy gauge cable for power. You too will have " The Power! "


Mike Fernino * Music In Motion DJ Entertainment of Connecticut

Director * Connecticut Professional Disc Jockey Association




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