If you've ever put together a home studio, you'll know that no matter how many wall sockets you get installed, or how many 4‑way extension boards you buy, you'll never have enough. Inevitably, some pieces of project studio equipment, particularly MIDI modules, are powered by external mains adaptors, and because these come in an assortment of polarities, voltages and even a choice of AC or DC, it isn't really practical to make a universal 'power all' type of central power supply — at least, not at an attractive price. However, a significant amount of equipment is powered via regular IEC mains leads, and that's an area you can do something about.
If you don't want a nest of 4‑way extensions breeding in the back of your rack, one alternative is to buy a rackmount mains distribution unit that provides multiple outputs on IEC connectors. Depending on the cost, these may or may not include mains filtering. This does mean buying or making a load of male‑to‑female IEC cables, but the result is much tidier and more reliable than using budget 4‑way mains extensions. Numerous models are available, including a rather nice one from EMO, though when you're on a tight budget or have limited rack space, this uncompromisingly professional solution may not be appropriate.
Another option, and one that appeals greatly to my sense of simplicity (and fiscal restraint!), was something I discovered in the latest Studiospares catalogue (Treble Cord Set). This is simply a moulded mains lead with a 13A plug on one end that splits out to three IEC connectors at equal intervals along its length. The overall length is 2m, with the IEC 'heads' appearing at 1, 1.5 and 2m from the plug end. Just four of these plugged into a regular 4‑way extension will allow you to power up to 12 units, which is pretty tidy, and if you need a shorter lead, you can cut off the moulded mains plug, shorten the cable and fit a regular plug. As few racks contain more than 12 pieces of gear, it's possible to power each rack in this way with just a single 4‑way adaptor, and though the moulded three‑headed leads cost around £12 each, the overall cost of powering a rack is probably still less than that of using single IEC leads and multiple 4‑way mains adaptors. This is so neat and simple that it's almost exciting! Paul White