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I have a small collection of audio devices (preamplifier, synthesizer, effects, audio interface). Most of them are mounted in a single rack.

The rack devices all plug in through a power distribution panel, which has a single switch on it. I believe this serves the same purpose as a power strip; that's effectively what I've been using it for. I've been switching it on first, then powering up the devices individually, which is kind of a pain since not all of them can be turned on from the front.

I have figured that a sudden surge of power might be harmful to these devices, but am I just being superstitious? Can I leave them all in the "on" position and power the whole thing up from one switch or do I risk damaging my equipment? The manuals for these units don't have anything to say on the matter.

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My Firewire audio interface says in large print in the manual to plug in the interface cable and turn it on first before turning on the PC. Doing otherwise may cause "adverse effects". You may want to check the manuals of the equipment to make sure they don't also recommend an order in which to power up your devices. –  Friend Of George Feb 9 '12 at 14:39
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

To err on the side of caution is what comes to my mind on this one.

For the most part if your 'power distribution panel' has the appropriate power surge protection and load support for all the non-computer audio gear, I don't think this will be a problem. However, Friend of George has brought attention to a very good point about computer related hardware or anything that uses a USB or Firewire interface to your computer. The order of what gets turned on and booted first may have some serious consequences if not obeyed. I had a terrible experience with a USB audio interface that caused my computer to crash if I didn't follow the power up order.

Many years ago I worked in several analog electronic music studios. There was usually one master switch for all the gear back then. Today, this is different since we are now dealing with switching power supplies, digital interfaces, wireless gear, and so on as each of these has its own best practice to power up, and boot correctly.

Another thing to consider. Does any of your gear use vacuum tubes?

I have a short collection of vintage Fender tube amps from the 1960s that I have restored to original condition and these require a significant warm up time before the B+ is applied. Preserving and conserving my tubes is a small price to pay for the exceptional tone they deliver.

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