What pedalboard power supply do I need?This is one of the most common question asked on guitar pedal internet forums. It’s not as simple as you may think, but with a little knowledge from your neighborhood pedalboard HQ, you’ll know exactly how to choose, what to look for and why! Fire up your doobie and lets light this topic up!
Look, we know many of you dont want to figure all this stuff out, you just want it to work. You can send us list of your pedals and we’ll do the leg work. We do it for free, in hopes that you buy the power supply from us. Its an honor system, so if you take the info and go somewhere else for the power supply….!
What pedalboard power supply do I need?A pedal power supply is usually a small, light weight brick that accepts a main AC power source, then converts in into DC power (most of the time, sometimes we still run into AC pedals) that most guitar pedals will enjoy. Like anything, there are variables to consider, levels of quality and of course the consumer marketing game. In the most basic essence, we are trying to find a pedal power supply to light up all of our pedals and properly. There are different ways to do this, but we’ll be focusing on the most reliable methods using top brands that we’ve used over the past 7 years of installing/building pedalboard rigs for clients.
There are a CRAP load of power supply styles, manufacturers and consumer driven marketing keywords and false claims clouding the Amazon dot Comms. Luckily, we’ve sorted through all that stinky bullshit very early on and found the Top 2 brands; between them, they cover all the bases that anyone looking for power supplies would ever need. Here are a few highlights:
- Truly Isolated outputs, delivering clean and quiet power
- Exceptional Warranty + Technical Support for Pre and Post Sales Assistance
- High quality devices made with premium components
- Trusted by industry professionals and touring musicians for reliability and performance
- Recommended by quality pedal manufacturers
- US Made
Voodoo Lab and Strymon are among the best in the industry and it makes sense that we chose them to help represent our product lines. In the quest for eliminating weak points and faults, Voodoo Lab and Strymon have helped the effects community solve nasty power issues all together. It’s not to say that other brands can’t do the same thing, we just choose to use these companies and devices based on years of trouble free operation and stellar performance from thousands of installations.
Can’t I power my pedals using a…
YES!!!! You can power pedals using batteries, the supplied power adapters (wall-warts), a daisy chain, using a single or multiple power supplies, pedaling a stationary bike hooked up to the flex-capacitor, or a combination of all the above. Lets take a look:
- I have a OneSpot, and its been working great! Cool… bye! ;-]
- Batteries are decent, but most modern digital pedals exceed the power requirements that a battery can provide. Plus, who wants to replace batteries or worry about how much power remains. Bleh….
- Wall warts are bulky and hard to conceal on a pedalboard. Those work fine if your a bedroom warrior and never take your pedalboard anywhere but even still, a proper power supply configuration will make your life much better!
- Powering your pedals properly, actually make them perform the way they were intended. Its true, boutique pedal designers typically don’t support battery operation and typically won’t send along a power adapter (wall wart) usually requesting in their user manual that the pedal be powered using a quality isolated power supply.
- We ALWAYS use truly isolated power supplies as there are now LOTS of cheap import brands that try and trick you by using the word isolated or using it in abbreviated form, or other words that imply that it is a quality unit. Truth is, if the price tag is 100$ or less, chances are your buying something inferior and you should also grab a fire extinguisher with a purchase like that.
- If you are playing out and gigging, you have no excuse to use cheap power supplies, daisy chains or wall wart style power bricks. Our goal when rig building is to give our clients the most reliable solution possible, so when the curtains drop, your not worrying about a sketchy power setup from venue to venue. We want you to have a reliable rig and isolated power supplies will help achieve that by giving you consistent performance day in and day out. Proper power supplies also give your pedals the power they were designed to consume; in some cases a drastic increase in performance is instantly noticed!
CALCULATING POWER REQUIREMENTS
- To properly choose a power supply, we need to find out the power requirements for all the pedals on the rig. A little foresight can be helpful; if your planning to get more pedals, or to replacement one or more with something else, we need to also calculate those potential differentials as well or it may cost you down the road. If you don’t want to do that, email Spence a list of your pedals and he’ll sort you out.
- Use a note pad then go to each of the manufacturers website and locate the power requirements for each of your pedals. Make a column for Voltage: 9,12, 18 or 24 Volts. A column for current draw in milli-amps or mA. Then for the type of voltage, either DC most common or those pesky AC pedals. And lastly the type of barrel connector your pedal uses, the most common is 2.1mm, but there are others: the mini 3.5mm (looks like a headphone plug) and the 2.5mm reverse polarity are the next two most common.
- After you have your list, its time to go shopping! If your looking for the cheapest solution, this is where we part ways, good luck and god speed! If your looking for the most reliable and professional, ahhhhh….. my people!!!
- With your note pad, tally all the standard polarity 9V pedals that have current draw under 100mA. Tally the rest so you have your minimum requirements for power outputs needed.
- Sometimes its necessary to combine outputs to create the voltage or power needed to power pedals, this does consume 2 ports and its necessary to purchase additional power adapter cables.
- The power supplies we sell include an array of power cables, the most commonly used ones. They do not come with amperage doublers, voltage doublers, splitters, Y-Cables, those are additional but easily obtained, we stock everything.
- With your list, you can now start comparing the output ports performance of the brands and models your looking at, matching up your list of requirements to the manufacturer specs. It may be necessary or cost effective to use 2 power supplies to achieve your power requirements; specially on medium and larger boards.
PRO TIPS & COST ANALYSIS:
- Sometimes you will need to make the power supply perform in ways that aren’t as straight forward as simply plugging in the included power cables, then done! Thats ok, we have the parts, tools and the know-how to get it done… Two common tasks outside of basic hookup schemes and operation are needing to double the amperage or double the voltage to get a particular pedal to operate properly. EXAMPLE: you have a pedal that needs 18V, but you only have 9 Volt outputs on your power supply, the solution is a voltage doubling cable. Connected together, the two 9 volt outputs combine to make your 18 volts.
- There are various work arounds for these small problems, so if your ever unsure, give us a call. We’ve designed and helped design A LOT of power supply systems, we LOVE THIS STUFF and would love to help you.
- Always make sure you know what your pedal needs as far as voltage; if you improperly power your pedal, irreparable damage or costly repairs can and have occurred. Even with these power supplies we talk about, the pedals need to be powered properly. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE VOLTAGE IS ACCURATE!
- Cost per Output: the ultimate goal is to get the power you need at the best price. I’m not talking import, knock-off crap product, I’m talking quality goods at the best price point. Hands down, Voodoo Lab is the best priced per output with one exception. “I need every output to be above 400mA!”, then Strymon is the choice. The news through the grapevine is that Voodoo Lab has 2 new devices coming out that will swing the high output game their way as well.
|VOODOO LAB PEDAL POWER 2+||STRYMON ZUMA|
|8 ISOLATED OUT PLUS 1 COURTESY OUTLET – 9 TOTAL||9 ISOLATED OUTPUTS|
|POWER – 9V/12V SWITCHABLE 100-250MA||POWER – 9V @ 500MA | 2 SWITCHABLE FROM 9/12OR 18V|
|COURTESY OUTLET – YES||COURTESY OUTLET – NO|
|COST PER OUTPUT = $18.88||COST PER OUTPUT = $27.66|
|MADE IN THE USA||MADE IN THE USA|
|VOODOO LAB ISO5||STRYMON OJAI|
|5 ISOLATED OUTPUTS||5 ISOLATED OUTPUTS|
|POWER – 3 @ 9V | 1 @ 9 OR 12V | 1 @ 18V||POWER – ALL 9V|
|VOLTAGE SWITCHABLE – NO||VOLTAGE SWITCHABE – AUTO|
|COST PER OUTPUT = 23.99||COST PER OUTPUT = 37.25|
|MADE IN THE USA||MADE IN THE USA|
INSTALL PROCEDURE + TIPS:
- DOES YOUR PEDALBOARD HAVE A POWER INLET AND HARNESS SYSTEM FOR CONNECTING A POWER SUPPLY? IF NOT, YOU HAVE A BIT OF PREPARATION FOR YOUR NEW POWER SYSTEM. LUCKILY, WE HAVE HARNESSES AND VIDEO SUPPORT FOR THE INSTALLATION.
- MAKE SURE YOU KNOW FOR FACT, YOUR POWER SUPPLY WILL PROPERLY POWER YOUR CHOSEN ONES (PEDALS)
- INSTALLATION USUALLY REQUIRES SOME KIND OF MOUNTING KIT, EITHER BRACKETS OR DUAL LOCK, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THAT
- INSTALL POWER SUPPLY PERMANENTLY, USUALLY CONNECTING THE POWER SUPPLY POWER CABLE TO THE UNIT BEFORE PERMANENTLY MOUNTING
- LOOSELY RUN POWER CABLES TO THE APPROPRIATE PEDALS AND DO A TEST RUN TO CHECK FUNCTION
- WHEN SUCCESSFUL RESULTS ARE ACHIEVED, ITS TIME TO BUTTON IT DOWN. CONSISTING OF RUNNING CABLES CLEANLY AND THEN SECURING THEM SAFELY WITH A CABLE CLAMP KIT OR SIMILAR.
- Power Supply
- Power Supply Adapter Cables
- Mounting Kit – Voodoo Lab
- Mounting Kit – Strymon
- Cable Management Kit