Music by Scott Martin

SM Blog

Furman goes BOOM! And then… Silence.


I have owned a Furman AR-1215 voltage regulator for a couple years. I use it to power my live keyboard rig and in-ear monitors. If you’re not familiar, a voltage regulator checks incoming power voltage and compensates if it is higher or lower than the 120V standard. This is important for modern (and costly) keyboards because they can sometimes behave erratically if the incoming power drops too low, and can sustain damage if it gets too high.

This thing has been a quiet workhorse at gigs, effortlessly powering my rig, and sometimes powering the bass rig and powered mixer at the same time. I’ve seen it at work when we’ve played venues with questionable wiring (you know who you are), and it has certainly saved my gear from damage on numerous occasions.

It gave its life at one last gig in mid-November.

We played a corporate party at a resort west of Cleveland,and we were set up in one of the hotel conference rooms. We started the show and were about six songs into the first set when my rig, the bass rig, and the PA shut down.

And then I smelled something burning.

It was the smell of burning electronic components, and as I looked down at the rack that held my in-ear monitors and the voltage regulator, I was dismayed to see a tendril of gray smoke wafting out of the outlet on the front of the Furman. Shit!

Jay, the singer in the band, told me later that he was impressed with the calm speed I employed to unplug everything for the Furman and unscrew it for the rack. Once we determined that it wasn’t going to continue to burn, we worked around it and got everything up and running to finish the first set.

On our break between sets I grabbed the Furman and we walked (about a half mile) back to our hotel room. Once there, I popped the top off the unit and surveyed the damage. Yikes. Blown capacitors and burnt wiring and windings. Not a good look.

I was bummed until I realized that it had saved my brand new keyboard rig from certain doom. You see, we later discovered that the outlet into which I had plugged my rig was associated with a dimmer switch elsewhere in the room. That voltage conditioner must have been working overtime to keep power at the right levels, and when it finally died it did so while still keeping my equipment safe.

A couple days later I emailed Furman’s technical support for advIce. I wondered if the unit was fixable (it was expensive, after all), or if it was (ha) toast and I needed to completely replace it.

No response.

Well. It was around Thanksgiving, so maybe they were all on vacation. The Monday after the holiday I forwarded my original message to them again, just in case it got lost in the old inbox.

Still no response.

It’s a drag, because I’m really just seeking their guidance. I’m not complaining about their gear – it worked the way it was supposed to! I’m going to try them one more time before I start trying to look into other comparable products. If you have any suggestions, let me know.