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  • Gigging in Europe with U.S. gear: Step Down Transformer?

    Hi guys,

    Wanted to hear your collective wisdom on gigging in Europe with U.S. gear.  Specifically, a gig in Finland using a bunch of rack gear and pedals all at 110v. I will also be using a Macbook and Metric Halo 2882.  Some of the gear can also be used at 240 v, but let's focus on the stuff that can't.

    My question is, considering it is one-man gig, would you ask the venue to provide a step down transformer or would you bring your own, and, in each case, with what specs?

    My brief research indicates I should avoid autotransformers and use an isolation transformer instead.  But isolation transformers weigh much more (and are more expensive).

    It also seems that if you use a U.S. power strip with surge protection with an autotransformer, you risk frying the power strip (which, would not be great during a gig of course).

    Any advice would be much appreciated!

    cheers

    gspin


  • #2

    Just an idea, any chance of also bringing a powerful enough generator and distro rack that will power what you need?

    Comment


    • gspin
      gspin commented
      Editing a comment

      It being a one man gig, the constraints on shipping are huge... both in terms of costs and in terms of lower back pain   I am trying to reduce the overall weight as much as I can.   Thanks for the thought though...


  • #3

    Someone else was asking about this a few months ago - or maybe that was you.

    I would suggest getting in touch with your promoters or sound providers. IME many people in Finland speak English so it shouldn't be a problem communicating by email or whatever. Explain your situation and see if they already have a solution.

    It's been decades since I've been to Europe, but the last time I went they had stepped down power bars for our gear IIRC.  While I was there, I also purchased European AC adaptors for my pedals. My band brought minimal keyboards and used the stage amps that were provided. In light of weight restrictions, I would advise that you look at your set-up and determine how much gear (weight) you think you need, versus how much gear you really need.

    Also, the amount of time and money you invest might depend on how long you're playing there (or how much money you're making).

    Comment


    • #4
      Pocket Pod runs on batteries.

      NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

      Comment


      • wesg
        wesg commented
        Editing a comment
        You can surge protect the transformer. But, man, I hate those things, if you are plugging anything in that draws a lot of power it will be HEAVY.

        RTFM helps. Looks at your power supplies, also. Most new SMPS gear is marked 100-240VAC. Linear power supplies are sooooo last century.

        So, for example, I just RTFMd the manual for your Axe FX II. You just need to change the cord, no transformer -- page 177 says Input Power: 100

    • #5
      Any way to rent or buy the same gear there, then return or sell it when you are done?
      NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

      Comment


      • agedhorse
        agedhorse commented
        Editing a comment

        It looks like you will be traveling with some pretty tiny loads. If that is indeed the case, the difference in weight between an autotransformer and an isolated secondary transformer is pretty small, especially in a toroid.

        While an isolated secondary (not a true isolation transformer BTW, which uses low capacitance, low leakage winding techniques) may offer some minor benefits in the event of miswiring, in general there is no difference whatsoever in either preformance or safety on a grounded power system using modern equipment. SOME very old, vintage amps can have issues but that's more of a special case.

        Now frequency can have an impact, but many line frequency transformers are designed for 50/60Hz even if it's 115V only. It pays to consult with the manufacturer on this. All SMPS based power supplies are frequency independant, most are switchable.

        Before you leave, put a piece of tape over every power plug reminding you to pay attention to voltage and to discourage helpful folks from connecting the gear to power for you  with out paying attention.


    • #6

      Have you talked to your promoters or sound providers yet?  I still recommend starting there first. As I said before, you might not have to reinvent the wheel.

      The last time I played Helsinki (many years ago) my band simply walked in with our pedals, keyboards and so on, and the sound crew took care of us. I imagine things today would be better, not worse (although I could be wrong). That's why I say start by finding out what the sound company....  does for other N.A. acts.

      Comment


      • gspin
        gspin commented
        Editing a comment

        Shaster wrote:

        Have you talked to your promoters or sound providers yet?  I still recommend starting there first. As I said before, you might not have to reinvent the wheel.

        The last time I played Helsinki (many years ago) my band simply walked in with our pedals, keyboards and so on, and the sound crew took care of us. I imagine things today would be better, not worse (although I could be wrong). That's why I say start by finding out what the sound company....  does for other N.A. acts.


        Will do of course.  I just want to make sure I know what is really needed.  cheers


    • #7

      Just some more thoughts on this topic.


      I could buy a Voodoo Lab 4X4 which should take care of the Eventides and other pedals.  I could even buy one on site (in Finland) and avoid using a step down transformer for them.  But it seems to me that since I will be needing a transformer for the Marshall JMP-1 in any case, that I might as well use it for the rest of the gear (other than the Axe Fx II for which getting a European cable is a very simple fix).


      Any thoughts?  Bottom line, is it worth going unit by unit trying to find a 240V friendly PSU when I know I am going to need a transformer anyway?

       

       

      Comment


      • Coaster
        Coaster commented
        Editing a comment

        i've been on several european tours and i've seen a lot of US equipment brought over there with proper transformers/converters and much of it didnt survive. i even lost a couple devices that were setup for 250V that just burned up one day after weeks of working fine.

         

        the last trip i took over there the bass player asked me about bringing his hartke amp over and what would he need? i said dont bring it - you will burn it up. just rent one over there instead. he got mad, didnt listen, brought it over and it burned up on the third day. he then rented one over there for the rest of the trip. we havent talked much since as he is still pissed at me for being right.

         

        i think the issue is not voltage as that can be corrected but rather the cycles. many locales are 50hz and this seems to cause issues with the phase angle or somesuch. i dont claim to be an expert but i cannot count the number of items i have personally seen burn up over there. i no longer bring any devices to europe that do not run on bettery, its not really an issue for a=ma anymore as i refuse to fly as long as the TSA remains in power. i will not submit to the TSA.


      • Craig Vecchione
        Craig Vecchione commented
        Editing a comment

        gspin wrote:

        Just some more thoughts on this topic.



        I could buy a Voodoo Lab 4X4 which should take care of the Eventides and other pedals.  I could even buy one on site (in Finland) and avoid using a step down transformer for them.  But it seems to me that since I will be needing a transformer for the Marshall JMP-1 in any case, that I might as well use it for the rest of the gear (other than the Axe Fx II for which getting a European cable is a very simple fix).



        Any thoughts?  Bottom line, is it worth going unit by unit trying to find a 240V friendly PSU when I know I am going to need a transformer anyway?


         


         




        In my opinion you should investigate renting your amp rather than shipping both ways AND dealing with transformers, etc. If this were my gig I'd either rent or buy everything over there, and sell it back to a music store at used gear prices when the gig is done. Yes it might, or might not, cost a bit more, but you'll travel lighter and not have to deal with the power issue at all.


        And that's not even adding in the *lost luggage* factor. Don't assume your gear will be on the belt at either end of your journeys.


    • #8
      Auto transformer is fine.

      Comment

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