6 Things You Need to Know About Guitar Pedal Power Supplies
Author: Michael Back Date Posted:12 January 2022
Looking to buy a power supply? Need to power up your pedal board? This is the post for you. We have narrowed down the purchasing of a power supply into 6 things which you need to know. Voltage, Current, Polarity, AC vs Battery, Outputs & Daisy chaining and Isolation.
- Most commonly 9V
- Old and vintage pedals may use 12V or 18V
- Some Power supplies come with switching voltage
Most guitar pedals on the market use a 9V power supply. Luckily, they will (mostly) all use the same sized power adapter, meaning purchasing a power supply is easier than ever. Some vintage or higher-powered pedals will use other voltages such as 12V or 18V, however. Some power supplies will have one or two outputs with other voltage options. Higher end power supplies will have an output or two with a switchable voltage option. Models with the switchable voltage option that we sell are the Joyo JP04 and Joyo JP05.
- Each pedal needs a set amount of current
- Powerful pedals need more current than standard pedals
- High end power supplies have distinct current values on each output
Current is important when looking for a power supply. Every pedal on your pedal board will need a certain amount of current to function properly. If it doesn’t get enough current, your pedal wont work. Most power supplies will offer plenty of current for the regular pedal, but some bigger, more powerful pedals like multi-FX pedals may require more. Many higher end power supplies will have independent outputs with different current supplies, so you can get all your pedals powered!
- Polarity of pedal and power supply must match
- Most power supplies and pedals are negative centre
- Wrong polarity will not power pedal
All power supplies have a specific polarity which needs to match the polarity of the pedal. Luckily, basically all modern pedals use a negative centre polarity, which is represented using the following symbol
This is the universal symbol for negative centre. This symbol will usually be on the product or on the packaging, as well as the power supply. If the power supply matches the symbol on the product, it’ll work.
4. AC Powered vs. Battery Powered
- AC power supplies are reliable and don’t need charging
- Battery-powered power supplies are portable – Great for busking!
The most common types of pedal power supplies are AC powered. These have some advantages, such as not having to worry about battery level and they’re reliable and consistent. Battery-powered power supplies have the advantage of being portable. They’re great for buskers who need their effects when they’re out and about and performing. Some even come with a USB plug to charge up your phone or tablet!
5. Outputs and Daisy Chaining
- Daisy chaining is great for a smaller number of pedals
- Harder to know exactly how much current available when daisy chaining
- Most higher end power supplies will have multiple outputs
- Each individual output will have a set current value
Most people imagine a guitar power supply as a single plug with a daisy chain adapter for all their pedals. There are some benefits of this set-up, but also some drawbacks. As touched on in the previous point, you need to ensure you have enough current to power all your pedals. With the right AC power adapter and a selection of pedals that don’t require much power, this set up works well. The XVIVE 9V2A we sell comes with 2A of current, which is more than enough to power 8 standard pedals.
Some higher end power supplies have several independent outputs. This is beneficial for a few reasons. Firstly, you know exactly how much current is available. Each output will have a different current rating, meaning you’re much less likely to encounter a power-hungry pedal not powering on. Depending on the power supply, having different outputs will also result in less noise if the outputs are isolated.
6. Isolated vs Not Isolated
- Isolated power prevents noise and electrical interference.
- Power supplies will likely all be isolated from AC power
- Only some will have each output isolated from one another.
An isolated circuit will not be connected to the AC power circuit directly, meaning that there’s less noise and less risk of electric shock. Most electronic devices are isolated from the AC power circuit, but some pedals also have isolated inputs. If the power supply does not have isolated inputs, or you are using a daisy chain, you can run into unwanted electrical noise coming through your amp. Some power supplies, such as the Joyo JP04 have fully isolated circuitry for each input, meaning that there’s a much lower chance of electrical noise being present.
With these 6 things in mind, you’ll have all the knowledge you’ll need to pick the power supply to suit your needs.
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