Why your PA system needs a power conditioner

by Andrew Bishop

Live PA systems need clean, stable electricity. How do you clean and stabilize your power source to protect your equipment and reputation?

In a perfect scenario, the mains voltage provided by every 13amp 3 pin mains socket in the United Kingdom would deliver a clean 50Hz sinusoid with a rms of 240 Volts.

The reality is voltage varies and is accompanied by interference. This produces unwanted audible bangs, thuds, clicks or rasping noises from a variety of other electrical equipment in the vicinity of the venue. In many cases this will damage your PA system.

What is a Power Conditioner?

Power conditioners increase the quality of power which is delivered to professional powered PA equipment such as active speakers, amplifiers, mixers, and speaker management processors. The term "power conditioner" refers to the many ways to deliver a clean accurate voltage to ensure PA equipment functions correctly. The term "power" here means the electricity and not actual power output.

AC Power Conditioners provides consistent, balanced, and clean AC power to sensitive electrical PA equipment, using surge protection and noise filtering. Power Conditioners are a must-have for any touring musician or DJ in your flight case on stage or studio rack setup. Protecting expensive PA systems is critical.

Why is noise on the mains an issue and where does it come from?

If you hear unwanted noise the first step is to tidy up, you’re wiring as you could be experiencing a ground loop. Mains cables running adjacent to signal cables can be another source of unwanted noise often referred to as Electromagnetic interference (EMI). Shielded cables are of great benefit.

If you’re cabling inside and outside your tour rack is perfect noise could be coming from the mains supply. For live use, you may be presented with the unexpected incoming problems. These can be caused by:

  • Dated fixed stage lighting
  • Old or questionable wiring in unfamiliar venues
  • Proximity of a sub station
  • An adjacent industrial estate
  • Radio frequency interference
  • Unsuppressed dimmer switches
  • Rural overhead supplies
  • Chillers, fridges, and freezers in the venue switching in an out
  • High dependency air conditioning, heat pumps or other compressors
  • Thermostats on electrical heaters

Industry insiders are considering new data on noise in the UK mains supply caused by the generation method. Sources such as solar, wind, wave, standby gen sets are all being investigated but no results are available at this time.

Rumours are spreading that the increase in wind generated electricity is causing an unwanted humming noise on the mains. Investigations are underway to try and establish the facts.

Why do I need a Power Conditioner?

Today, weight and portability are key buying motives. Many active and powered speakers are using class D technology to reduce the weight and size of the PA Power amplifier. The reduction in weight often means less components and those who have opened the lid on many products are shocked with the simplicity of the design.

Unlike the class A, B or AB amplifiers which have many coke can sized capacitors and a huge toroidal transformer to smooth out and mains fluctuations Class D relies 100% on a clean, constant, smooth, uninterrupted, balanced mains power supply.

Todays Power conditioners weigh only 2kg and occupy 1u in your rack.

Where does a Power Conditioner most needed?

Live events outdoor often sharing unknow, unstable portable generator sets

Arguably the biggest risk from low-cost overloaded generator sets is the stability of the mains. Never risk your equipment or reputation. Promoters and underqualified stage managers just want you to get on stage and play as after all when your equipment fails in the eyes of the audience you are the reason!

Summertime in the UK increasingly includes gigging under extreme weather conditions. Electric storms cause Electro Magnetic Interference.

Guitar and Bass Racks

You rack contains effects, preamps, and tuners. One big spike (common at gigs) from the mains and all this valuable equipment will be up in smoke! You get a quieter tone, and the local radio station will not be broadcasting through your amps on stage!

DJ Equipment

Sound systems for mobile DJ’s cost many thousands of pounds. Bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants, and village halls have some of the worst power supplies. COVID 19 lockdowns has resulted in even less money spent on maintenance and electrical safety with many low-cost handymen fitting extension sockets and safety certificates expiring. Before you play plug in your Martindale tester to ensure earth continuity and correct L, N, E wiring and if all is okay protect your expensive equipment with a Professional Power conditioner.

Pro Audio on Stage

You may be the roadie responsible for loading in and loading out. Don’t be the one to blame when the PA falls over due to a spike in the mains supply. Wear and tear on mobile rigs eventually take its toll. RFI/EMI filtration keeps the PA system safe and sounding clean.

There are many types of Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) – here are some examples:

  1. Natural – Cosmic Noise, Lightening, Electric Storms
  2. Continuous – Generated from man made sources and receivers or overhead powerlines
  3. Impulse – Switches, lighting which emits signals voltage and current disturbance
  4. Narrow Band and Broadband frequencies


So many touring professionals think they are protected with a 4 gang £20 Surge protected trailing socket. Would anyone choose to risk their investment in equipment, reputation, and livelihood on the lowest priced option and in the moment will it be fast enough and smart enough to protect you?

A power conditioner costs less than a meal for four yet, when on tour or mobile it will protect you, your equipment, your livelihood, and your reputation. After all credibility and fame takes decades to earn and when the lights go out at your most important gig the promoter or client will blame you not the 13-amp socket on the wall!

Finally, its not necessarily what is happening in your premises or the location you are performing in that hazards occur. Recently we heard of a neighbour welding his car next door on a shared supply from the substation. The current draw and connectivity was sufficient to spike the mains and cause some sensitive electronic equipment to fail.

A BishopSound Power Conditioner is probably the best investment and insurance policy you will ever take out!

Learn more by visiting https://bishopsound.com/products/power-conditioner-1u-10amp