Over time you’ve acquired some decent recording equipment. You’ve got a computer, hard drives, an audio interface, studio monitors, and hopefully a power conditioner. Once everything if fired up and running, is it safe for the gear to leave it on all the time? Is it bad for the gear to power it down a lot?

In the professional studios I’ve been in, the majority of them seemed to leave their gear on all the time. I’ve heard people say the power-on process is more harmful for the circuitry than actually leaving the gear on 24/7.

I’m no electrical engineer, so I really don’t know what’s “technically” best. So I turned to one of my co-workers back at Sweetwater and asked him. Here was his response:

Part of the decision revolves around how often the gear is used. If you are running a pro facility, with morning, evening, and even overnight sessions, it makes a lot more sense to leave stuff powered on, than if you’re a hobbyist who uses the stuff for a few hours every other day. Leaving all your gear on all the time obviously uses more electricity, carries more risk of fire, and potentially changes your HVAC costs as well.So what do I personally do? I leave my computer on all the time. I have heard that your system drive will last longer if the write heads don’t have to access the boot partition as often. Not sure if that’s true, but that’s what I do. I always turn off tube gear when not in use (although I like it to warm up for at least 20 minutes before doing anything with it). There is a lot of current in gear like that, and I think leaving it on will shorten component life (Walter Sear says he always turns everything off, and has Pultecs from the 60’s with original tubes that still sound great). Some gear takes too much time to warm up, so if I had dbx 160VUs, for example, I would probably leave them on, but in my studio, I turn off everything but the computer.

There is also good reason to at least shut off phantom power to microphones when not in use (if not store them safely away), since polarizing the capsule will attract dust and particles to it.

Great advice. What I normally tell folks is that if you’re only using your studio one day a week (or heaven forbid even less), then there shouldn’t be any problems powering down everything.

What do I do? For the last few months I’ve spent time every day in my studio, so I usually leave my gear on. It’s more for convenience than anything. Since I use a Furman power conditioner, I can just turn it all off with one flick of a switch. The only downside is that it also turns off power to my Macbook, not allowing it to charge during the night.

I’ve also found that my external hard drives sometimes act funny if I’m always powering them on or off. For example, I’ve got a LaCie drive that I use for backup, and if I power it off, it sometimes won’t mount the next time I power it on. Kind of annoying.

What are your thoughts? Do I have any EE readers out there? Lend us your wisdom. Leave a comment. 🙂

[Photo by me’nthedogs]