Hands-On Review:Furman SPB-8C Pedal Board
Big, strong, and well conditioned
By Dwight Hanna
Furman’s SPB-8 pedal board with power conditioning is a highly regarded piece of gear. A number of guitar players I know use it for their setups. The newest Furman pedal board, the SPB-8C, is a refinement of that model and should be even more popular with players.
The first thing I said when I saw the SPB-8C was "Whoa." It’s huge and, I thought, will be heavy once it’s stuffed with pedals. Then I saw that it had wheels and a retractable luggage-style handle, and my portability concerns vanished. Since I’m one of those guys who have too many pedals, I thought maybe the SPB-8C would serve my needs well, so I wheeled it out to my car and headed home to give it a try.
When I say big, I mean it. The SPB-8C comes in a polypropylene case that is 6" or 7" deep—more than enough headroom for even the tallest pedal and cables. The mounting board is 28-1/2" wide x 20-1/8" deep—space for lots of pedals (it’s wired for eight on DC and there are four AC outlets, so it could potentially hold and power eight to eleven pedals). I like having space between pedals to make switching easier and the SPB-8C can provide it. The pedal surface has a metal frame to withstand forceful stomping, and a light yet rugged polycarbonate platform covered with Velcro. Strips for the pedals are included. You just stick a Velcro-backed pedal where you want it and it will stay put.
Along the top end is a power strip with Furman power conditioning circuitry and four AC connectors, spaced to accommodate wall warts. These are fused for 15 amps, so you could run an amp or even two from them. There is also a panel of 9V DC outlets—eight in all—for powering pedals. For 18V pedals, an optional adapter is available that links two 9V outputs. Next to it is a patch section that provides double sets of inputs for Pedal In, Effects Send and Return, and Out to Amp. The AC, DC, and doubled patch connections give the SPB-8C stereo capability and setup versatility.
The SPB-8C experience
Wanting to see how it worked, I pulled my pedals from their usual home, stuck them to the SPB-8C’s mounting surface in their usual order, and plugged them in with the included cables. My working set of pedals consists of a Deluxe Memory Man delay, an Ibanez Tube Screamer, a Morley Wah, a Voodoo Lab Super Fuzz, and—for modulation effects—a Line 6 MM4 with an expression pedal. I also keep a Boss TU-2 tuner onboard. I plugged most of them into the 9V outputs. The MM4 takes 18 volts and since I didn’t have the optional adapter, I plugged its power supply into the AC. The Memory Man and wah use AC, so they took up two more outlets.
For patching I wired the tuner, Tube Screamer, wah, and Voodoo Lab together in front of the amp. These are noisy pedals and I didn’t want them to mess with the modulation and delay. The latter two I put into an effects loop. Then I fired it all up. I quickly went through each pedal, one by one. All worked individually and in combinations, and the noisy ones were significantly less noisy than in my usual rig. The Furman has a toroidal transformer that minimizes hum, and Furman’s power conditioning cleans up the dirt and suppresses peaks so the pedals can function at their best.
If you play gigs frequently in different locations, you will inevitably run into situations where the power is funky in some way. Clubs are especially bad, sometimes having dicey wiring and dimmers, fans, and air conditioners on the same circuits the band uses. You plug in and find a nasty buzz coming out of your amp that switching the ground won’t stop. Such conditions can have a profound effect on pedals, especially the kind with heavy-duty processors. Like computers, they can be touchy. That’s why a Furman Power Conditioner is so necessary, especially for pedal users. With the SPB-8C, you have Furman power conditioning built into the pedal board and outlets that supply conditioned power for your amp.
Adding it all up
The SPB-8C is well designed and highly functional down to the details. All outputs are individually protected with resettable fuses. The DC outlets are individually isolated so if one pedal dies, the others keep on truckin’. I especially like the hardshell case. It seems rugged and is reasonably light. It offers the pedals good protection. The latches are deluxe—the kind that twist to tighten. They won’t let the lid fall off in transit. The skate wheels and pull-up handle make it totally portable—you just wheel it to the stage. It has all the power your pedals need. Toroidal transformers keep things free of hum and Furman power conditioning filters out interference and prevents spikes. If you have a pack of pedals to deal with and you want to make life easy for yourself, the Furman SPB-8C is a smart choice.
Features & Specs:
- Durable hardshell case
- Retractable luggage-style handle
- Inline skate wheels
- Durable, secure latches
- Large pedal platform with Velcro pad for secure pedal attachment
- 8 individually isolated and discretely fused 9V DC outlets (cables included)
- Resettable fuses
- Master power switch
- 4 widely spaced 120V AC outlets fused for 15 amps total
- Spike/surge suppression and EMI/RFI filtering
- Toroidal transformer for ultralow-noise performance
- Stereo patch bay includes effects return, effects loop, and amplifier outputs
- 10’ removable power cord
- Includes patch cables
- Total weight of board and case: 16 lbs.
- Platform dimensions: 28-1/2" x 20-1/8"
- Case dimensions: 28-1/2"W x 7"H x 20-1/2"D