Power behind the Ark console
We all know how important power supplies are.
The better the power, the better the (audio) result.
During the design of the Ark, we’ve spend a lot of time on getting the right power and getting the power right.
But here are some of the problems we were facing.
* Because of the modular design of the Ark it is difficult to predict the exact power requirements.
* Building an “overpowered” power supply would mean that every customer has to pay a lot more (even when only using the smallest configuration)
* Doing different power supplies for different configurations would make construction more difficult, would drive the price up, and would limit the expandability of the console.
Thus started the discussion between linear mode and switched mode power supplies.
Although switched mode power supplies can be very good nowadays, a lot of audio professionals still consider linear mode power supplies better (although they cost much more).
But all power supplies (be it linear or switched mode) need voltage regulators.
These voltage regulators filter all the “dirt” from the DC voltage (to make sure the DC voltage is a flat line on an oscilloscope).
Because of this, most manufacturers install “huge” voltage regulators and/or filters in their power supply
In both cases however and no matter how clean the power leaving the power supply is .. all “dirt” which gets introduced to the power line - after the power supply, and after the voltage regulator, or filters - effects your audio.
The longer the cable between power supply and console, the bigger the problem gets.
In addition to that there is the problem of voltage drop over longer cable runs. Your power supply may feed 24 volts, but by the time it reaches your console there may be only 21 to 22 volts left (meaning that the components don’t get the power they need, so these components don’t perform as they are supposed to).
This is even worse when the console runs at 15 or 16 volts, like a lot of other manufacturers do.
Some manufacturers solve this by putting the power supply inside the console, but that introduces a load of other problems (you really don’t want all those magnetic fields inside the console and effecting the sensitive electronic components). Some manufacturers solve this by bolting the power supply to the back of the console, which is a better solution, but brings in its own range of problems.
We solved this in a completely different and unique way.
Each and every single module in the Ark has its own onboard voltage regulator.
We don’t need to build “huge” voltage regulators inside our power supply, because no matter what voltage comes in, and how much “distortion or dirt” has been introduced, it all gets filtered out by the voltage regulator in each module, so the electronics in our modules get exactly the clean 48 volts (+24V and -24V) they are supposed to work at.
This works so good, it no longer matters if it is a linear or switched mode power supply feeding the console. Either of them will do.
And that is great news for our customers. If ever needed, you can replace the console power supply with almost any off-the-shelf power supply (which has the minimum voltage and minimum current), and get the same result. Because of the onboard voltage regulators, the console will perform perfectly.
(We’re here to build great consoles, we’re not here to make you overpay for some console specific power supply)
Apart from that, we worked long and hard on power consumption.
Why did we spend so much time on this?
The Ark uses between 500 and 1500 Watts (depending on the configuration)
This is most likely less than the lights in your studio.
Lower power consumption means a lower electricity bill. Good for your finances and the environment will thank you for it.
Better design also means lower heat generating. This has a positive effect on the long-term life of components, and is again better for the environment.
It also means there is no need for fans to cool down the Ark.
In the old days, no one really cared about power consumption, causing large consoles to be a heat source.
This is not really good for the components (which is one reason why these old consoles need to be left powered-on all the time. Switching them off and back on will blow some components) and forces you to install airco to cool down the console and your studio (which has to be powered on all the time as well).
Result? The electricity bill of a studio with an old console will pay for the Ark in one to two years.
While this may sound like a blunt statement, it is actually cold (or should we say “hot”) hard fact.
You may want to keep this in mind when comparing the price of a new Ark with the price of a second-hand, recapped, large format console.