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Q. How should I power my 19-inch equipment rack?

Arranging multiple plugboards in a star arrangement like this is less likely to result in ground‑loop problems than if you daisy-chain them.Arranging multiple plugboards in a star arrangement like this is less likely to result in ground‑loop problems than if you daisy-chain them.

I’ve got a 19‑inch rack setup which currently houses six units (three effects, two preamps and an audio interface), and I’m wondering if it’s time that I considered powering it in a better way, especially as it might soon expand to include a few more units. Currently, everything is plugged into an extension cable which is daisy‑chained into another one. I know that this is less than ideal but it’s necessary given the limited number of mains sockets in my studio room.

I’ve read conflicting things about power conditioners; some say that they’re not at all necessary, but some people swear by them. I’m looking for some peace of mind regarding power surges, and a way to ensure that noise is kept to the minimum. Can you please offer some advice?

SOS Forum post

SOS Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: It partly depends on the quality and stability of your mains supply. I’m based in the UK, where a power conditioner isn’t really necessary — though they remain popular as a convenient way of powering multiple units, and often have other handy features such as rack lighting! But if you’re in a country or location where there are frequent power outages, or if the supply voltage varies significantly (‘brownouts’), or if working in an industrial area where there are frequent spikes and transients on the mains, or the mains supply becomes heavily distorted (no longer sinusoidal), a proper power conditioning system can...

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