Hands-On Review:Furman AR-1215 & AR-Pro
Furman AR-1215 & AR-Pro
A safe harbor in a sea of electrical uncertainty
By Benny Crumb
A man much wiser than myself once remarked, "Deal kindly with your ass, for it bears you." That little pearl of common-sense wisdom applies to way more than just pack animals, and can easily be applied to the ownership of modern-day music gear. Even during this current wave of better-faster-cheaper digital equipment, you have to expend a lot of money up front to put together an instrument setup you can gig with, a good computer-based or digital recording setup, or just a great stereo system for listening to your favorite music and watching DVDs. And the more gear you accumulate in your pursuit of your ultimate setup, the more maintenance you have to do to keep it all running in tip-top shape.
A penny saved is a penny... burned?
The need for good maintenance is cast in total starkness if your budget doesn't include room for spares or backup units. If a power amp or digital EQ or processor goes out-that's it, until the repair man $how$ up, or you can ship it off to a repair shop and wait for a month and a half or longer without the component. It's not easy on your wallet, that's for sure.
So you swab and swipe your equipment until it's completely free of dirt and dust. Grease and oxidization are fought as though your life depends on it. You replace faulty parts, broken cables, and worn control surfaces with zeal. You cross every "t" and dot every "i." Or so you think.
In instrument racks, home studios, and hi-fi setups all across the world, however, there is often one inconspicuous piece of gear very conspicuously absent. The power conditioner.
A recipe for electric disaster
In November of 1994, Consumer Reports published an article quoting research which found: "One significant surge a day is the norm. High-exposure areas may experience perhaps a hundred smallish spikes a day."
Those transients and surges severely compromise the longevity of your valued equipment. Without a nice and steady 120V the lifespan of your equipment is cut in half at best. And the performance of your equipment will be cut short as well. You lose definition in your bass response and highs will seem to disappear, not to mention the damage done to processors, computers, and hard drives caused by random shut downs or reboots.
The whole workforce of the entire Western world runs on electricity and voltage fluctuations have existed since Edison first started experimenting with the stuff. However, it is only in our quest for faster and more powerful equipment that the faultiness of our power grid has been exposed. The operating speeds of electronic equipment have reached the same level occupied by high-speed transients and fluctuations. We cannot continue to use un-conditioned electricity and expect perfect performance with no down time.
The good news
Thankfully, you can count on Furman's AR-series power conditioners to protect your equipment from devastating surges and stabilize constantly fluctuating voltage, as well as get rid of annoying radio and electromagnetic frequencies.
Since its founding in 1974, Furman has spent an incredible amount of time in the research and development of products designed to insulate electronic equipment from bad power. Their innovative AC power conditioning and distribution products are world famous, used and loved by many well-known musicians, studios, and sound engineers.
The AR protection connection
The AR-1215 and AR-PRO are intended to protect audio, video, computer, and other various electronic equipment from problems resulting from voltage irregularities such as sags, brownouts, or over-voltages. These irregularities can cause sensitive digital equipment to malfunction or, in extreme cases, to be damaged.
Both of these equipment-saving units are designed to provide a steady, stable 120 VAC output. Where they differ is in the amount of voltage variance they will successfully adjust to 120V output. The AR-1215 accepts any input voltage from 97V to 141V and transforms it to a constant 120V, +5V. Voltages beyond that range can sometimes be converted to usable levels but that depends on how far out of range they are. The AR-PRO is, as the name suggests, aimed at a more professional customer. It has a wider acceptable voltage range that it can condition for 120V, and it can operate at a 240V level for the power-thirsty gear used for commercial applications.
Your ace at home
Designed with the needs of audio and video users in mind, the AR-1215 has been engineered for easy integration into the racks of home and semi-pro users. It has eight outlets on the rear panel and one on the front panel. All of the outlets are regulated, spike-suppressed, and filtered against radio-frequency interference by a 3-pole filter. With only one control (on-off switch) you can't mess it up! A ten LED meter indicates input voltage, while another LED indicates that the output voltage is within +5V of 120V. Housed in a single-space rackmount chassis, it won't even take up very much room.
It uses a design based on an advanced toroidal auto-former that assures minimal leakage of stray magnetic fields and won't interfere with the operation of any other gear. The voltage monitoring circuitry of the AR-1215 makes it especially friendly toward maintaining consistent quality in audio and video. It measures each cycle and holds it to +0.15%, a very precise reference. Then, if a voltage fluctuation requires conditioning, the AR-1215 ingeniously adjusts between cycles without distorting the AC waveform! What this means is that each cycle is free of the chatter that most regulators insert into the power circuit. Another plus to this design is that it is not sensitive to very small errors in line frequency, making it ideal for use with generators.
The configuration of the over-voltage suppression devices used in the AR-1215 includes MOVs, high-voltage inductors and capacitors, and precise high-inrush thermal circuit breakers. This high-caliber coalition can safely divert large spikes as well as filter audible high-frequency noise out of the power signal. And the Extreme Voltage Shutdown feature senses dangerously high or low voltages and shuts down the output before any damage is done.
The AR-1215 features power conditioning that is truly in a class by itself, and the AR-PRO inherits all of its incredible operating features in a unit maximized for commercial-level work. The moment you slip one of these little power preservers into your rack, you can rest easy knowing you're protected from electricity woes.
If you're ready to invest in some serious power-fluctuation protection from Furman, then call up Musician's Friend today! We've got the AR-1215 and AR-PRO at the best prices you'll find anywhere, and we can have them on your doorstep tomorrow.