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Should You Leave Your Recording Equipment On At All Times Or Shut It Off?

should i leave my recording equipment on or off

Should we leave the recording equipment on or turn it off when not in use? This is a good question and one that takes some reflection to answer.
 
There are several issues to be weighed in making the decision of what to do with unattended gear. Equipment that is powered down when the facility is not in use can’t be damaged by power problems, short of a direct lightning strike. However, turn-on transients can, over time, lower the reliability of equipment because of inrush current spikes. On the other hand, a room left powered and unattended can result in blown speakers if the power company has problems if there is no one to turn the room off. I once was sitting in a loung and the speaker started screaming at about 600HZ at 200DB. I plugged my ears and ran in the room and killed the power. The seakers survived (barely) but the amp was toast. If one lives in a stable power situation (non-rural or power-conditioned), our preference is to leave the monitor section, A/D converters, and solid state power amps on unless the facility will not be used for a time. I have confirmed this with the chief designer of Dangerous Music in the UK, this is the proper way to treat your precious gear.
 
Over the years, our experience has been that gear left on is more stable in performance and sound quality, and doesn’t really cost very much in extra power consumed. Solid state amps and converters can take several hours to stabilize in temperature and the sound quality is a moving target while things are warming up. Having said that, the writer/producer/engineer has come home to his or her studio and found smoked speaker cones due to Con Edison power switching problems. This issue is a tough call and really situation dependent. Studios that power down daily can lose a piece of gear now and then to the rough reality of daily power-up. The repair bill is likely more than the extra electricity consumed had the equipment stayed on.

joshua lutz music recording

It’s a good idea to shut down power amps when you’re not around. I like my speaker cones to remain in the speakers, for the reasons mentioned above. Except for small computer monitor powered speakers which can stay in as long as upstream gear that drives them remains on. Most speakers need a moderate signal for a few minutes (a song or two) to loosen up and sound right anyhow, so warming up power amps is no problem. As for damage at power up, definitely leave your console on. Also, gear like preamps, especially Telefunkens, can take up to 24 hours to warm up, so best left powered on. Older solid state processors tend to drift during warm up, so leave them on. Most newer tube lim/comps only need an hour or two to stabilize. Anything that uses a 12BH7 as an output tube (LA-2A for example) should not be left on, as those tubes often have a much shorter life than most others. Most of the newer tube reissue style gear in general has insufficient chassis ventilation and undersized power supplies and should not be left on.

My rule of thumb is, if it draws more than about 25 watts steady, shut it down when you’re not around. Consoles and computers and Fairchild 670’s, if you’ve got one or two, accepted 😉

What’s your thoughts on leaving your gear on at all times? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!

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