You Ask, We Answer: Power-Up - EMusician

You Ask, We Answer: Power-Up

Avoiding Monitor Damage
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WHEN I POWER UP MY GEAR, I HEAR A THUMP FROM MY MONITOR SPEAKERS. WILL THAT DAMAGE THEM?

JEAN FULSTROM
NEW YORK, NY
VIA EMAIL

In a word, yes! Much of the gear in your studio will put out a DC current when powered up or down, and that is what you hear through your speakers. To avoid this, your monitors should be turned on last, then turned off first at the end of a session. Engineers use the acronym LOFO—last on, first off—to remember the order of power cycling.

Let’s say you have a collection of synthesizers plugged into your mixer, which feeds a pair of active studio monitors. The order in which you would turn the system on is synths first, then the mixer, then the speakers. If it helps, remember that you are powering everything up in the order of the signal flow, from source to loudspeaker.

When you’re finished, power down your entire system in the reverse order—monitors, mixer, synths. Typically, pro studios leave much of their gear powered up at all times, but this isn’t always possible (or cost-effective) in home and personal studios.

A great way to simplify the entire process is with sequenced AC outlets, which are available on some rackmount power conditioners. When you turn on the conditioner, it powers up each set of plugs in a timed sequence with, say, 1 to 10 seconds in between. Turn off the conditioner and each set of outlets power down in the reverse order, again within sequenced intervals. That way, you will have only one power switch to deal with and you will never have to worry about that annoying (and potentially damaging) thump ever again.
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