What You Need to Know About Power Supplies
If you are here right now, you are most likely looking for the best way to power the pedalboard you are assembling. You’ve come to the right place. Everyone here at Runway has been through this cycle and learned along the way. Learn from our mistakes and what we have found to be the most important features of power supplies.
Cheaper Isn’t Better
For starters, if you are planning on having an actual pedalboard and quality pedals, skip the daisy chain. It might seem cost-effective at the time, but if you are planning on powering multiple $200 pedals, then why start with a $20 plug? I still keep my One-Spot as a backup because it is small and, in a pinch, is great for quickly powering a couple of essential pedals for a night. Also skip the cheap power supplies you may find on Amazon, these are going to be loud and will not last anywhere near as long as a quality power supply.
Things to Know Before Buying
When you are looking through the many options, you need to take note of a few things. First, you need to know how many pedals you are going to be powering. Power supplies are typically going to range from about 5 outputs to 12 outputs on some of the larger units. This will help you narrow your search right away.
The next thing you need to take into account is whether any of your pedals have unique power requirements. Most standard pedals are going to use 9V requiring around 100mA of power. This can be slightly confusing because the outlets on a power supply will provide both the Volts and Milliamps (mA). As a musician, all you need to know is that the Volts is going to be the unit of electricity and the mA is going to be the amount. You also might have pedals that require 12V or 18V, so look at the requirements for your board and choose a power supply accordingly.
The Rules of Power (for Musicians)
Just read what your pedal needs and follow that. The quick rules are never, and I mean never, give a pedal more volts than is says that it can take. I have completely ruined a 9V reverb pedal because I accidentally plugged in an 18V power supply when I was in a hurry. NEVER mess with the suggested voltage. The rule with mA is that the mA it has listed is the minimum amount to turn it on. You can power a pedal with more mA than it says, but less than the listed amount won’t power the pedal. One example is my Boss DD-20 Giga-Delay. This pedal says it needs 9V and 200mA. My power supply only has options for 100mA or 250mA. The 100mA outlet won’t power the pedal, but the 250mA outlet does great.
Know What You’re Buying
Another thing you want to consider when shopping is the quality of the power supply you are buying. This is more important than you might think. A quality power supply means that the power you are getting is clean and quiet. A cheap power supply will give you a noticeable buzz in your signal and may not be isolated. Isolated power supplies have each outlet wired separately so each pedal wouldn’t fail if one outlet failed. If you are touring, this is even more important because it needs to be able to stand up to the rigors of the road night after night. This means a power supply that is clean and built tough.
With all that in mind, you can make an informed decision about your power supply. Here at Runway Audio, we use and sell the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power. This is our favorite power supply because they are built incredibly tough and we have never seen a broken outlet on any of the touring pedalboards that come through our shop. They make everything easy. They are going to fit under almost every pedalboard and give you exactly what you need: clean, isolated power. Be sure to check them out on our site and make sure to power all your pedals correctly.