Modifying Vintage Synths from 110v to 220v?

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Modifying Vintage Synths from 110v to 220v?

Postby teknosmoker » Thu May 24, 2007 7:29 pm

I've moved to Europe from the US and would like to modify my 110v synths to operate at 220v. I purchased a couple of step-down transformers from Germany, but for some reason they introduce noise when turned on (ground loop-ish noise) -- I'd like to modify the following:

Roland TR-909
Roland Jupiter 6
Roland Juno 106
Yamaha FS1R
Yamaha TX81Z (I know - chances are slim on this one..)
*AKAI MPC2000XL

*I'm not sure if the MPC is auto-sensing. There's a sticker on the outside above where you plug in the IEC cable that says "120v / 60Hz / 23watts". There is no mention of 220v on the outside. But I opened it up & there's a sticker that says "AC INPUT 115v/1A -- 230v/0.6A". I found this post on the mpc-forums.com website, but am still not totally convinced


BTW - Before I left the US, I contacted AKAI to find out if the MPC2000XL was switchable or auto-sensing. The "technical rep" (I use the term loosely) and I had the following converatstion via email exchanges:

Me: "Can you please confirm that my Akai MPC200XL Studio will run on European voltage (220v / 50Hz)? What do I need to do in order to switch the voltage properly?"
Rep: "Yes, the XL is internally switchable".
Me: "Hm.... I don't see any obvious switch on the PSU (SNP-9541-M). I only see a blue/whie dial covered in resin on the PSU board at location VR1. Can you please tell me where the 110/220 switch is located?"
Rep: "You just need to plug it in."
Me: "OK - So it's auto-sensing & there is no switch, correct?"
Rep: "Correct"


Somehow I got the feeling that he didn't know much about the PSU of the MPC......



Anyway....... help on converting the voltage of the above listed synths would be greatly appreciated!


-T
Last edited by teknosmoker on Thu May 24, 2007 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
TR-909, SH-101, Jupiter-6, Juno 106, ATC-Xi, Microwave 1, FS1R, TX81Z, Odyssey, K2000, Wavestation A/D, E6400 Ultra, MPC 2000XL, Mutator, MF-101, MF-103, Frostwave Resonator, DSP7000, PCM-91, Fireworx, D-Two, DP/4+, MacPro Quad, Logic Pro.
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Postby nathanscribe » Thu May 24, 2007 7:37 pm

You'd need to replace the transformers and possibly associated components - which might be more trouble than it's worth. You might not be able to find parts with the same dimensions or mounting holes etc. I know what you mean about the step-downs, I have two and one of them screams like crazy - no extra noise in the sound, just the unit itself. Not good.

Perhaps you can find a high-power step-down with several plug spaces. I've seen them but they're not cheap. Kind of like a distribution board with a built-in converter.

Or get a tech to make you one. Or DIY if you're competent.

Regarding the Akai, I don't know the details of that model, but I have a couple of units that have auto-voltage sensing and will work on any mains supply without any user interaction needed. Other, older (70s) units have multi-wind transformers that are simply wired one way on at the factory, and could be re-wired if required. Yet others have a switch which performs that function.

Try looking for a manual - perhaps that will answer the question.
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Postby ndkent » Thu May 24, 2007 7:58 pm

Well a lot of more modern gear does autoswitch so the MPC answer sounds correct. I'm sure there might be an exception but I've only seen physical switches in relatively vintage gear back from an era when it wasn't feasible to make autoswitching gear. In other words I'm saying ever since you could do it affordably I think maybe they stopped making gear with switches. Though of course some gear and especially wall warts are just made for one voltage range.

But I can see why you'd be better safe than sorry and try to find a second opinion. I'd guess the tech is right, though.

Also as to your ground loop noise. Have you been buying the same model converter that other musicians use? Maybe you ask more musicians in your area? Maybe where you bought them from sells poor quality ones. Also I assume you've tested 220v equipment in the same location setup with everything but the converter and this gear going. You want to make sure your power in general is okay to start with. Because there could be some combination of factors messing up your power quality and some sort of chance just modifying all that gear doesn't fix.

Another idea comes to mind. I'm sure it would be hard to find without importing one, but considering the cost of modifying all that gear, might it be cheaper to get a good 110v power conditioner sort of device after the converter (unless your converter is messing up your 220v gear by being on)?
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Postby teknosmoker » Thu May 24, 2007 8:15 pm

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, the manual doesn't say anything about the PSU of the MPC..

I purchased a couple of step-down transformers from Germany (both are 1000va), but for some reason they introduce noise into the signal when turned on (ground loop-ish noise).

All my TRS/XLR balanced gear works fine (no noise). The 110/220v switchable stuff works well too. I'm just having nasty noise problems running the older unbalanced 110v synths to my patchbay channels, which are normalled to my mixer's line inputs (Speck XTRAMIX).

There are no ground loop issues until the snakes from the patchbays are attached to the synths (listening to the synths via headphone outs - everything is OK). When they are connected to the patchbay, the signal is affected (even when listening directly from the synths' headphone outputs). Maybe my unbalanced TS cable runs are too far? Perhaps I need a few DI boxes or........ I could cut the Mogami snakes in half (yikes!) and resolder the conectors for a shorter run and improved signal?
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Postby teknosmoker » Thu May 24, 2007 10:48 pm

I added the link to MPC forums in my original post - see above (forgot to include that). The two AKAI tech support reps contradict each other. One says that the MPC2000XL is auto-sensing, while the other says that it is not switchable at all.

The voltage converter I am using is this one. It does not seem to cause any noise issues with any of the other gear I am using it with here -- only the above mentioned unbalanced synths.

I am using power conditioners for both my 110v gear and 220v gear.

I'd like to modify whatever I can on my own. I was pretty easily able to modify the PSU on my Speck XTRAMIX by cutting a couple of traces and soldering a couple of points. I'm hoping that modifying some of my other vintage pieces should be relatively simple....

Any other thoughts?
TR-909, SH-101, Jupiter-6, Juno 106, ATC-Xi, Microwave 1, FS1R, TX81Z, Odyssey, K2000, Wavestation A/D, E6400 Ultra, MPC 2000XL, Mutator, MF-101, MF-103, Frostwave Resonator, DSP7000, PCM-91, Fireworx, D-Two, DP/4+, MacPro Quad, Logic Pro.
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Postby Thefumigator » Fri May 25, 2007 12:53 am

teknosmoker wrote: but for some reason they introduce noise into the signal when turned on (ground loop-ish noise).


teknosmoker wrote:The voltage converter I am using is this one. It does not seem to cause any noise issues with any of the other gear I am using it with here


OH! MINWA is one really bad taiwanese cheapo factory. I'm pretty sure its not doing the step down very well. Most likely is the reason of the noise

I would actually buy just one step down 1000VA transformer and use it for all 110v gear applicable. 1000VA is actually enough, think synths as regular resistances, you can plug gear up to 1000 watts. But however, not all the things you plug into the step down transformers will act as a normal resistance.

Another though? yeah, what about hertz in the line? is your gear for 60 or 50hz?
How does the 220v gear acts under its natural current there?
Would you dare to adapt a PC Power Supply into a synth (the board only)? :shock:
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Postby Commando » Fri May 25, 2007 1:41 am

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Postby teknosmoker » Fri May 25, 2007 2:23 am

Thefumigator wrote:OH! MINWA is one really bad taiwanese cheapo factory. I'm pretty sure its not doing the step down very well. Most likely is the reason of the noise

I would actually buy just one step down 1000VA transformer and use it for all 110v gear applicable. 1000VA is actually enough, think synths as regular resistances, you can plug gear up to 1000 watts. But however, not all the things you plug into the step down transformers will act as a normal resistance.

Another though? yeah, what about hertz in the line? is your gear for 60 or 50hz?
How does the 220v gear acts under its natural current there?
Would you dare to adapt a PC Power Supply into a synth (the board only)? :shock:


I had a hard time fiding any transformer-based voltage converters here (I just moved to a small town in southeast Spain), so I ordered whatever I could find on ebay.de. I wish I'd known that MINWA was a poor manufacturer. Do you know of any companies that sell quality step down transformers for a fair price in Europe?

The vintage 110v gear is 60Hz. The 220v (switchable) gear that I have works great here under the local curent. Of course, I use power conditioners as well.

I've never heard of putting a PC board inside of a synth. Is that really a safe option? :roll:
TR-909, SH-101, Jupiter-6, Juno 106, ATC-Xi, Microwave 1, FS1R, TX81Z, Odyssey, K2000, Wavestation A/D, E6400 Ultra, MPC 2000XL, Mutator, MF-101, MF-103, Frostwave Resonator, DSP7000, PCM-91, Fireworx, D-Two, DP/4+, MacPro Quad, Logic Pro.
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Postby Wiglaf » Fri May 25, 2007 3:56 am

Thefumigator wrote:yeah, what about hertz in the line? is your gear for 60 or 50hz?


It's usually both, at least all my stuff is...
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Postby Thefumigator » Fri May 25, 2007 4:04 am

teknosmoker wrote:
Thefumigator wrote:OH! MINWA is one really bad taiwanese cheapo factory. I'm pretty sure its not doing the step down very well. Most likely is the reason of the noise

I would actually buy just one step down 1000VA transformer and use it for all 110v gear applicable. 1000VA is actually enough, think synths as regular resistances, you can plug gear up to 1000 watts. But however, not all the things you plug into the step down transformers will act as a normal resistance.

Another though? yeah, what about hertz in the line? is your gear for 60 or 50hz?
How does the 220v gear acts under its natural current there?
Would you dare to adapt a PC Power Supply into a synth (the board only)? :shock:


I had a hard time fiding any transformer-based voltage converters here (I just moved to a small town in southeast Spain), so I ordered whatever I could find on ebay.de. I wish I'd known that MINWA was a poor manufacturer. Do you know of any companies that sell quality step down transformers for a fair price in Europe?

The vintage 110v gear is 60Hz. The 220v (switchable) gear that I have works great here under the local curent. Of course, I use power conditioners as well.

I've never heard of putting a PC board inside of a synth. Is that really a safe option? :roll:

yeah, take the board out of the PCs psu, and you have one of the best psus. I suggest going here:

http://www.playtool.com/pages/psunonpc/nonpc.html

optionally, go to http://ehsia.com/index.php?module=pagem ... PAGE_id=42

also, its by far the cheapest PC component after the keyboard and mouse. Hope it inspires you to experiment something...
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Postby dougt » Fri May 25, 2007 5:24 am

PC switching power supplies are noisy, high-frequency interference devices. They also don't usually have the right voltages with the the right current requirements synths need. I would not use them in a synth...

Often you can check the service manual for the synth and you can tell what the differences are in the 110/220V models and convert it...
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Postby Thefumigator » Fri May 25, 2007 4:49 pm

dougt wrote:PC switching power supplies are noisy, high-frequency interference devices. They also don't usually have the right voltages with the the right current requirements synths need. I would not use them in a synth...


Still, they are far better than the step down transformer he is using. There are also very bad PC powersupplys. The bad ones can kill your motherboard in a year or 2 by blowing its capacitors.

As motherboards needs an absolutely clean current they have 2 to 3 phases voltage regulation circuit, so you are right probably PCs PSUs aren't as good as I imagined...

I would however check the links, maybe its not as bad as it seems.
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Re: Modifying Vintage Synths from 110v to 220v?

Postby hello@tonimartin.dk » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:00 pm

Hi!

Having the same problem with a 110V Roland SH-2 synth I plugged into my 220V setup. Also cheap china converter.

Did you ever find a solution for this? Any converter that did not make noise?
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