Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

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babaribou
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Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by babaribou » Mon Jan 10, 2022 1:34 pm

Hi all,

I hope you are all doing well and off to a great new year.

I am moving from the US to mainland Europe and am considering moving all (or most) of my studio gear with me. I really don't want to sell all my gear and have to buy everything all over again, so I am currently looking at my options and really the only one seems to be using one or more step-down converter(s).

I've seen some information online (some on here too), but I still have some questions as I am quite conscious there may be some risks involved with this approach.

One of my main concerns is (of course) from a power standpoint. Back in the US, I was using two power converter strips where I would plug most of my gear:
this one:
and this one: https://www.cyberpowersystems.com/produ ... /avrg750u/

My idea is to bring those two over and plug each of them into separate step down converters (one output toroidal converters with no auto switch seems to be the best choice to avoid any issue). But I am wondering if this would be a stable environment for my gear. Would there be enough power to plug most of my stuff, and most importantly wouldn't it be dangerous?

Another area of concerns is regarding my mixer. I am considering bringing my mixer over (Mackie CR1604), and it seems that I would need to ground it in order to avoid blowing up any of the outputs sockets of my gear. I am quite curious about this point, and one of my main questions is: if I buy 220v EU gear that I plug to the Mackie (stepped down to 110v), wouldn't this cause an issue on the inputs? This is a grey area for me...

Thank you very much in advance for any advice or help, or suggestion!

Below is a list of my current gear below as it may help, I am hoping some of the stuff is already 110-220v compatible as it would make things much easier for me, but since a lot of it is on the older side I doubt many will meet the criteria, this is something I would need to look into.

Synths/Samplers:
-Roland SH-09
-Roland Alpha Juno 1
-Casio CZ-5000
-Korg Poly-800
-Akai AX60
-Siel opera 6
-Suzuki EX80 (US Version of Siel Expander 80)
-Ensoniq EPS
-Yamaha DX7
-E-MU Orbit
-E-MU Planet Earth
-E-MU Planet Phatt

Sequencer/Drum Machines:
-Korg Electribe er-1
-Roland R8M
-Akai MPC 1000 (I believe this would just need a new plug as it seems to be 100-220v tolerant)

Effects/Other gear:
-Mackie CR 1604
-Yamaha R1000
-Yamaha REX50
-Roland DEP-5
-Alesis Ineko
-DrumFire DF-500
-Aphex aural exciter type C
-MOTU midi timepiece II

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Jan 10, 2022 5:20 pm

All of the gear on your list is too old to have universal 100-220 power supplies.

If you purchase a proper step-down converter, it's perfectly safe. Maybe some Euro members can give you advice about where to locate them.
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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by Olaf_Oldschool » Thu Jan 13, 2022 2:48 pm

Hi,

first what I've seen ist that the AVRG750U is some kind of UPS which needs 120 Volt input.
If you're planning to keep using this you'll need a step down converter in front of this unit which fits the total power requirements (power of UPS and all units plugged into the UPS).
All Units plugged in the UPS can be used as usual because the circuit behind the UPS will be still 120 Volt.
Problem can be to find a proper step down converter.

Best is to check first if you equipment is capable of working with 230 Volt (or 220V or 240V depends of where you're moving to in Europe).

Just an example
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/emu-mophatt
Please click on the small pic of the back view of the unit.
You'll see printed above the power inlet 100 - 250 VAC, with a proper power cable this unit should work in Europe as well.

Cheers

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by crochambeau » Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:11 am

A lot of that gear might have configurable primaries on the power transformers, this involves some familiarity with mains circuits, but it's pretty straight-forward.

Another aspect I would pay attention to is the 50 Hz (EU) versus 60 Hz (US) line frequencies; as sometimes a US for US market build can get away with a smaller power transformer (the higher the frequency, the less iron you need to transfer n power) - so if any of your units are already "pushing the envelope" on the power supply, they might want added attention. But for the most part the ~83% difference that 50 Hz presents is relatively minor, and I wouldn't sweat it too much (I just wouldn't ignore it when troubleshooting).

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by babaribou » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:29 pm

Thanks to all for the replies !
Olaf_Oldschool wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 2:48 pm
If you're planning to keep using this you'll need a step down converter in front of this unit which fits the total power requirements (power of UPS and all units plugged into the UPS).
Thanks for the insight! Are the total amperes the measure/indicator should I looked for this ?
crochambeau wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:11 am
A lot of that gear might have configurable primaries on the power transformers, this involves some familiarity with mains circuits, but it's pretty straight-forward.
Does this mean some gear can be switched from 120 to 230? I have limited knowledge of electrical terms, sorry :D

Also, regarding the Frequency, is suppose there is no tool that can increase and/or decrease it, is this correct?

Thanks y'all !

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by madtheory » Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:48 pm

I'm a qualified engineer, so here's my advice:

1. Leave the UPS behind, get a European one. You can thank me later.

2. It's got nothing to do with age. *some* of that gear *might* have a switch to set it to 220/230V. *some* of them might not have a switch, but it can be done by soldering internally (very unusual for synths though). Go to a tech, or check the service manual. Problem is they build the gear for different countries/ regions so it depends what version you have. Then you have a bunch of stuff with external PSUs.

If it has a voltage switch, connect straight to EU mains. If it does not, connect to the step down. You can still have a regular EU UPS at the start of your power chain.

You could replace all the US external PSUs with EU ones that have the same Voltage Amp and polarity output. Be very very careful. Some devices don't have internal protection and wrong polarity can kill it.

Then see what gear is left that has to get 110V.

You don't need to worry about frequency with any of your gear that has such a voltage switch. For gear that doesn't, and is running off a step down there is a *slight* chance that the transformer in the synth will produce an acoustic hum or buzz. I could explain why (it's a complicated topic) but that won't help you. It's not dangerous but can be annoying. Note again- it's acoustic. You won't hear it coming from the audio outputs.

3. One step down transformer is best. They are commonly used in the building trade with power tools. All of your synths power would probably be less than one builder's power tool. Because they're widely available, they're not expensive. I don't know where in Europe you're going, but this page gives you an idea of price. Ireland and UK have a different mains connector than mainland Europe.
https://www.screwfix.ie/c/electrical-li ... /cat830094

Those are all OTT in terms of power, but the value for money is better than buying low wattage types (which would work fine for you also).

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by babaribou » Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:09 am

Thanks a lot madtheory for all this information, very insightful !
madtheory wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:48 pm
1. Leave the UPS behind, get a European one. You can thank me later.
Do you not recommend this just because you suggest to look for switches instead as it would be easier, or is it not recommended to have the following for other reasons: 230v outlet -> Step down converter -> 120v -> US UPS -> multiple 120v synths and gear?

I am unfortunately quite skeptical about the switch being present on my gear so the step down option for most of my gear seems to be inevitable...
madtheory wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:48 pm
You don't need to worry about frequency with any of your gear that has such a voltage switch. For gear that doesn't, and is running off a step down there is a *slight* chance that the transformer in the synth will produce an acoustic hum or buzz. I could explain why (it's a complicated topic) but that won't help you. It's not dangerous but can be annoying. Note again- it's acoustic. You won't hear it coming from the audio outputs.
Good to know about this, thanks for sharing and quite interested in learning why there is that potential noise actually. As long as it doesn't impact the audio output I am fine with it !
madtheory wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:48 pm
3. One step down transformer is best.
So you would not suggest using two step down units?

Thanks a lot :) !
Cheers!

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by madtheory » Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:47 pm

I do not recommend importing the UPS because:
1. it's not designed or tested for use with a step down. That's a safety issue. Just don't go there.
2. There could be issues with frequency. Again, safety related.
3. It's a heavy unit to ship, that is easily replaced.
4. You will likely struggle to replace the battery when the time comes.
5. Shipping a battery can be problematic.

Not sure why you're asking about using two step down units? The type I linked is more than enough for your needs. It might even be way OTT (since they produce some acoustic hum themselves and some heat).

Skeptical about the switches? All you need to do is look near the power inlet. The plate will state what voltages it can handle. It would be best to have as few devices as you can running off the step down.

Incidentally, have you considered replacing some of those synths with plugins? A few of them have excellent accurate emulations with a better user experience and additional features.

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by babaribou » Sun Jan 16, 2022 2:29 pm

Thanks a bunch for the reply, that makes sense !
So instead of a UPS I could just bring a standard power strip or AVR (like the other one I posted?) to place behind the step down.
madtheory wrote:
Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:47 pm
Not sure why you're asking about using two step down units? The type I linked is more than enough for your needs. It might even be way OTT (since they produce some acoustic hum themselves and some heat).
I've always thought that having all my stuff plugged onto the same outlet may create some interference or potentially some issues, so I thought of maybe spreading the load on two separate outlets (and therefore stepdowns).
madtheory wrote:
Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:47 pm
Skeptical about the switches? All you need to do is look near the power inlet. The plate will state what voltages it can handle. It would be best to have as few devices as you can running off the step down.
Yes, unfortunately almost none of my stuff has this :( , only the MPC 1000 so far but I will double check just in case.
madtheory wrote:
Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:47 pm
Incidentally, have you considered replacing some of those synths with plugins? A few of them have excellent accurate emulations with a better user experience and additional features.
Yes, but unfortunately I do not do well from a creative standpoint in front of a laptop screen... I spend most of my days on them I really get the flow going from physical gear , just a habit I guess...

Again, thank you very much for all your help, no I am on my search for an Italian step-down converter!

Cheers!

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by madtheory » Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:59 pm

In fact one outlet is best. Add power strips in a star configuration, not in series to minimise the chance of ground loop hum and to ease the load (on the power strips) during power up.

I hear you on the hardware. And I hear you about the laptop- personally I believe 27" is required for that kind of work. But you have three synths there that to my mind are vastly better as plugins: Plogue DX7, Arturia CZV and, wait for it, Fullbucket Fury 800 which is free. You get a better user interface in all three cases (and I'm a total CZ nut). Of those three maybe the CZV is not 100% accurate. More like 96%. But in compensation you get a whole bunch of things that no CZ can do. A sweepable DCW is the best thing IMO. Unless you're really into the CZ-5000 sequencer? The step entry is kinda cool but almost any DAW has a similar step time entry, with more note values available.

The Emu's are another story. I love their library, ported it all to Kontakt before trying it for a while and selling the Emu ESI4000. Honestly there is no advantage with the hardware, those converters and the transposing was already very clean sounding. This company are ex-Emu people, and you can get all your modules in almost all sampler plugin formats:
https://www.digitalsoundfactory.com/product/e-mu-orbit/
https://www.digitalsoundfactory.com/pro ... bit-phatt/
The program changes should match up too I think.

Food for though anyway :)

Italy- nice!! Beautiful country. Did Florence, Rome and Pompei by train. Magical.

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by babaribou » Sun Jan 16, 2022 6:23 pm

Thank you so much @madtheory ! Very insightful.
madtheory wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:59 pm
I hear you on the hardware. And I hear you about the laptop- personally I believe 27" is required for that kind of work. But you have three synths there that to my mind are vastly better as plugins: Plogue DX7, Arturia CZV and, wait for it, Fullbucket Fury 800 which is free. You get a better user interface in all three cases (and I'm a total CZ nut). Of those three maybe the CZV is not 100% accurate. More like 96%. But in compensation you get a whole bunch of things that no CZ can do. A sweepable DCW is the best thing IMO. Unless you're really into the CZ-5000 sequencer? The step entry is kinda cool but almost any DAW has a similar step time entry, with more note values available.
I don't disagree with you on this ! The Poly 800 I think I will probably leave behind and possibly get a MK2 over here instead. Still a super cool synth IMO, love the design quite a lot - but not the terrible programming design, although I know there are some modules with knobs etc out there to program it.

The CZ sequencer is nothing special, and programming the CZ isn't the best either, but the materialistic being I am is quite attached to it for some obscure reasons... same goes for the DX7 and its powers conveyed by the jerry garcia and other grateful dead stickers it carries... I will advise on this however, as the dx7 is quite a heavy beast that takes much room, and I still have the original box etc so I will advise and maybe get a local dx11.
madtheory wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:59 pm
In fact one outlet is best. Add power strips in a star configuration, not in series to minimise the chance of ground loop hum and to ease the load (on the power strips) during power up.
Interesting, I always thought it could create some power issues or create noises. What would be a star configuration for multiple power strips? I suppose speakers / mixers should be plugged separately.

I used surge protectors/power conditioners/AVRs in the US as I lived in very stormy southwest Florida where tropical storms are pretty much a daily reality from May to September. Although I know that these tools couldn't do much in case the thunder would hit the building, at least my consciousness was free and I knew all I could do was done :) - but if you say they are not necessary where I go, I will gladly part with them to get more basic power strips.
madtheory wrote:
Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:59 pm
The Emu's are another story. I love their library, ported it all to Kontakt before trying it for a while and selling the Emu ESI4000. Honestly there is no advantage with the hardware, those converters and the transposing was already very clean sounding. This company are ex-Emu people, and you can get all your modules in almost all sampler plugin formats:
https://www.digitalsoundfactory.com/product/e-mu-orbit/
https://www.digitalsoundfactory.com/pro ... bit-phatt/
The program changes should match up too I think.
These units are great indeed... but same goes as with others, I have very little digital skills when it comes to music creation, plugins etc. I actually did some research and these seem to be 110-250v compatible ! So a small win :)

Thanks a lot for all the help and suggestions, super helpful !

Italy is quite nice indeed, very happy about the move - not so happy for the pounds already gained in a such a short amount of time but well ... :lol:

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by madtheory » Mon Jan 17, 2022 5:48 pm

Most surge protector power strips are simply not powerful enough to do what they claim. Most UPS's already have much more robust surge protection and filtering built in. They're definitely a good thing to have for a music studio especially if power cuts are common, if only to save your work within the 15mins- 1 hour the battery gives you.

Connecting all to one outlet gives you a much better chance that ground is definitely 0V even if there is some corrosion or bad contacts in any of your plugs and sockets. Chaining them only makes any bad contacts add up, so you're much more likely to get a ground hum or buzz. Starring reduces that cumulative effect. It also spreads the current load across all the sockets. Sometimes you can overload one especially if everything is switched on simultaneously.

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Re: Step Down American Synths/Gear in Europe

Post by babaribou » Fri Jan 21, 2022 2:46 pm

Ah ok I understand, did not know that but it makes sense. So the good set up would be:
Step down converter <-> power strip (with 8 plugs for example) <-> one synth/device per plug

This is my understanding, hope it's the correct one.
Also, I found what seems to be a good step-down converter: https://bronson-energy.com/product/bronson-he-d-3000/

Do you think this will be enough for my stuff? It's 3,000watts, step down only and toroidal system.

Thanks a bunch for all the help again !

Cheers :)

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