Road Test Review – Furman PL-PRO DMC
Furman continues to be a leader in power conditioning units, much due its innovation of product features and ruggedness in touring. Hardly an outboard rack can be seen without an ubiquitous Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner or two providing both the power distribution and rack-face illumination from its rack light tubes. But do not look to Furman to rest on its laurels, and wait for the competition to create the “me-too” products. The new Furman PL-PRO DMC shows that Furman designers listen to the customer, and add the convenience features that we would love.
When I received the Furman PL-PRO DMC, I have some conflicted feelings. As I have often mentioned, I love looking a LED bargraphs over numeric LED readouts, since typically I am doing this at a distance and use the color to see if I am operating safely. And with music pushing amp racks, reading current meter numerics is a futile exercise during the show. However, when the power conditioners are used at Front-Of-House, the amount of music induced change in power currents is very much smaller.
So I did the rarely admitted to, and read the owner’s manual for the Furman PL-PRO DMC before playing with the controls on the power conditioner. As expected, we are getting an upgrade in 120VAC power filtering, surge protection, and extreme voltage shutdown circuits. Besides clamping over voltages starting at 133VAC RMS, the design of the protecting circuits is that no components are designed to be “sacrificial”, so no MOV transorbs are required to be replaced after each major surge event.
And Furman did the good thing and replaced the old Christmas tree bulbs in the light tubes with LED equivalents. And from what I can tell, the color and intensity of the light output is about the same. What is missing is the hand scorching heat coming off the light tubes of the older power conditioners.
As is typical with me, I could not resist pulling out the electric screwdriver and de-paneling the top cover of the PL-PRO DMC. Looking inside, the wire dress and mechanical attachment of everything was first rate. The use of a magnetic circuit breaker also used as the power on switch was a nice choice, because the breaker type resists tripping on initial in-rush power surges. I also liked how the incoming hot wire first ran through the current transformer, so I get the true current measurement of the whole power conditioner, and not just the receptacles in the back panel.
For some users, the inclusion of a front panel USB jack looks odd, but if you rely on an i-Pod for break music you know how essential a timely battery recharge can be to your show. Even with pins 2 and 3 (data) not used, pins 1 (+5 volts) and 4 (ground) on an USB jack are useful for many needs. And from the looks of the Furman circuits, the +5 volt supply could go all the way up to the 0.5 ampere limit in usage. It would surprise me to see in the future, 4-way USB jack splitters coming off this jack powering MP3 players, portable digital recorders, and mini-mixers used for SMAART or similar spectrum analysis software.
Also on the front panel is the light tube dimmer control. This control does the usual dimming function, but also contains a push on/off feature for the light tubes. The centrally located digital LED readout provides voltmeter or ammeter indications with the color of the display also providing goodness of the indication. In voltmeter mode, the intuitive green readout means things are moderate, with yellow followed by red characters when indications get too high or too low; just like the old LED bargraph.
The front panel also includes the meter control button, to toggle between voltmeter mode and ammeter modes of operation. And of course the obligatory front panel receptacle is present as well. The rear panel include eight more 120VAC, 20 ampere capable receptacles. The grouping is different than the previous four pairs of duplex receptacles, in that five receptacles are grouped closely together making room for three more receptacles that could accommodate modest size AC adapter plugs. Now I am not a fan of AC adapters in live sound usage, but I look at it as three receptacles with more grip room.
Besides the necessary 12-gauge, 10-foot NEMA 5-20P power cord for the Furman PL-PRO DMC; the back panel contains a BNC auxiliary light jack and an on/off switch for the jack. So users can use their favorite LED or incandescent gooseneck lamp to provide some temporary work light when floundering around in the back of the rack.
I liked the more robust surge/spike features on the power conditioner as one of the hidden items that will take the worry off of my mind after using the Furman PL-PRO DMC during an electrical storm. The one nanosecond response time and 6500 ampere soak of spikes makes the PL-PRO one of the better protector units out there. The unit is a little deeper in dimensions (10.5” depth) than previous versions, but the beefier cast front panel gives me a bit more comfort that no rear rack attachments are provided.
Looking for issues, I found none other than my hang-up on bobbling ammeter indications better with LEDs in 2 ampere increments (old PM-PRO) than with LED numerics. The black cosmetics, expanded feature sets, and attention to details shines for me regarding the Furman PL-PRO DMC. And if you need the 15 ampere plug instead, Furman offers the 15 to 20 ampere cheater/adapter cable for those smaller gigs.
How much: Furman PL-PRO DMC $TBD SRP
Pros: Innovative Feature Set, More Reliable, Rugged Construction
Road Test Review – Furman PL-PRO DMCCons: My LED Bargraph Fixation not satisfied.