Guitar Effects Power Supplies
Which pedal power is right for you?
The big dilemma of guitar effects power supplies! Building a board and splashing your cash on pedals is is the fun part but powering them is where most players will run into issues. The larger variety of pedals you collect or add to your set up, the harder it often is to cater for their different power needs.
Don't rely on having to constantly pay out for and change 9v batteries or a messy extension lead worth of individual plug power supplies. Trust us, the time has come for a nice clean power supply you can rely on. However here are some things you might need to know about before choosing the power supply for you!
Most pedals run on a standard 'BOSS type' 9v DC (centre pin negative) however some pedals, usually high current digital effects, require more voltage - 12V, 18V or 24V.
Polarity refers to which conductor in the plug has positive voltage and which has negative. The majority of pedals will be 'Centre Pin Negative' however some may have reverse centre positive polarity. The relevant logo or diagram is often shown either on the pedal itself or in the manual.
A pedals current draw is also very important. Running a pedal below it's recommended mA operation will degrade your pedal’s performance noticably! Always refer to the pedal manufactures website or instruction manual to find out how much current it uses. Usually simple pedals such as tuners, drives or boosts will only use a very small amount and will take what they need. However keep in mind that more complex powerful units such as digital delays, reverbs, tremolos or multi-effects may require more to function to their full potential.
Also another thing to keep in mind is that although most pedals run off of DC power, some pedals run on AC Power (usually 9V or 12V). If this is the case then the best thing to do is find a power supply that accomodates for AC pedals (e.g. Truetone 1Spot CS12) or alternatively just use the dedicated power supply supplied by the manufacturer.
Another phrase you will hear when discussing power supply units is the term 'Isolated Outputs'. What this means is that unlike cheap 'Daisy Chains' the outputs do not share current and ground with other outputs. Isolating these outputs will cure your rig of unwanted ground loop noise that is not just irritating, but can ruin live shows or recordings.
Your power supply is the most important unit on your board!! Here are a few we recommend you invest in...
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus and Pedal Power MONDO
Voodoo Lab have established themselves as the go-to premium pedal power supplier. Yes, the price tags are on the steeper side however the build quality with every Voodoo Lab unit is bulletproof, the power delivery is clean, isolated and reliable and the graphics are super cool.
Their best seller is the Pedal Power 2 Plus which we would recommend to anyone running up to 8 pedals. With this now industry standard model you get 8 isolated outputs made up of two standard 9V and 12V Boss ACA outputs, two high current 9V outputs that can also supply standard 9v if required, two standard 9V outputs featuring battery sag control and 18V/24V outputs (achieved by connecting multiple outputs together with custom cables).
If you have a giant board and need more outputs maybe checkout the Voodoo Lab MONDO. If you don't mind the weight of it, your power supply needs are set for life!
Truetone 1Spot Pro CS7 and CS12
The Voodoo lab certainly has competition with the new 1Spot Pro range from Truetone. Entering in the mid to high price point the Truetone 1Spot units offer sturdy, robust build quality and the best value for money out of the current pedal power line up in our opinion.
The recommended model that will usually cover most players needs is the CS7which offers 7 fully isolated outputs. Output 1 is an 18VDC (100mA), Outputs 2-5 offer 9VDC or 12VDC (200mA) and the final 6-7 Outputs offer a high current 9VDC (500mA).
The CS12 is a larger unit for those with big boards or demanding pedal set up with various requirments. With the CS12 you get another spare 18VDC (100mA) making a total of two in outputs 1-2 then you get three 9VDC or 12VDC (100mA) in outputs 3-6. In Output 7 you have a 9VDC or variable 4-9VDC (100mA) and then in outputs 8-9 the CS12 offers up standard 9VDC (250mA) power. Finally outputs 10-11 provide a higher current 9VDC (500mA) and the 12th output gives owners a single 9VAC (800mA) output for your AC pedals.
The generous people down at Truetone even include brackets for mounting under a Pedaltrain pedalboard as well as essential cables and converter plugs as standard!
If you want your pedalboard as lightweight and streamline as possible maybe try the Truetone 1Spot Pro CS6. A low profile alternative that will sit under your pedaltrain board.
MXR DC Brick and Iso-Brick M238
MXR will be a brand familiar to pedal heads altough their recent release for our pedal power needs, the Iso Brick, may not be. This box like unit has a lot going for it in terms of features with it's super lightweight construction, 10 noise free fully isolated outputs and practical power/connection LEDS.
With this hardcore supply you get two 9V outputs at 100mA, two 9V outputs at 300mA, two 9V outputs at 450mA, two 18V outputs at 250mA, and two variable outputs adjustable from 6V to 15V at 250mA. The two variable outputs can be used to emulate voltage drained battery effect sought by many vintage tonechasers.
For those on a tighter budget the trusty MXR DC Brick is a more compact, well put together unit that will get the job done in reliable fashion. You do get an impressive nine 9v outputs and a further two 18v outputs, just not isolated.
Pedaltrain Spark ISO 1300 and Volto
Renown for their superb pedalboards, Pedaltrain have recently branched out into the world of power supplies and with great success. One of their most appealing units is their Spark ISO1300.
This new kid on the block will give players pure, clean and isolated power with three 100mA 9v outputs along with two high current 500mA outputs designed for use with high draw digital pedals. Totalling 1300 mA of power together. If daisy chained you can power up to 13 pedals!
Although it is lacking in number of direct outputs compared to the competition, not only is it built to a very high standard but it has been purpose built to fit under any Pedaltrain pedalboards with ease. No additional tools, drilling or adhesives are required to stow away this power unit.
Players with small set ups will love the Pedaltrain Volto. If you are rocking a pedalboard such as the Nano, Nano+, Metro or similar the smart phone sized Volto is the perfect affordable, low profile option. This is a rechargeable pedal power unit designed more for players who souly use analogue pedals that would traditionally run on 9v batteries. Recharge this beauty anywhere in the world and you are ready to rock.
Just remember that this one is not intended for high-draw digital pedals and charge life will differ depending on the draw and usage of connected pedals.