We recently discussed how to order your pedals. Now that you have them in a set up you are happy with, lets talk about power. How you power your pedals is very important. Bad power can cause lots of noise and hum in your signal. If you just have one or two pedals on your board this may not bother you, but as you add more pedals you are significantly increasing the amount of noise in your signal.
There are a few important things you need to understand about pedal power. The two most important being:
This is the first of requirements a pedal needs denoted by a V. Most likely the voltage required can be found somewhere on the housing of the pedal. If it’s a good idea to do some online research. You must give a pedal the exact required voltage. Too much and you will fry it, to little and it will cut out and lose sound quality. Most pedals call for 9V but there are those out there that may need 12V or 18V
This is the second requirement you need to know when powering your pedal. The number will be marked with mA. Current differs from voltage because a pedal will only pull the current needed. This means you can use a power source with more mA than required. However just like voltage the pedal will not do well with not enough current.
Now that you know how to power the pedals you need to decide which method you want to use. There are a lot of options out there including batteries, daisy chains, and isolated power supplies.
Batteries are good if you have one or two pedals, because they are isolated, cheap, and wont introduce noise into your signal. As your pedal collection grows batteries may become a less viable option. It can become hard to manage, and you never know when a battery is ready to die. Not to mention the cost and chore of continually needing to buy batteries.
A daisy chain like the “1 spot” can be a cost-effective solution, but it introduces several problems into your signal. The most obvious being noise. In a daisy chain power flows from one pedal to another and carries the characteristics from one pedal into the next. This means that if one pedal has a lot of noise it will introduce that noise into each pedal after. The other drawback to daisy chains is that they only allow one type of voltage.
An Isolated power supply is best option out there for powering multiple pedals also tends to be the most expensive. There are plenty of options available on the market that will cover any of your power needs. Each output on one of these units acts like a single battery that you would have used inside the pedal. This means you don’t have any noise spread from one pedal to another. Many power supplies also offer options regarding voltage and current. My two favorite supplies on the market are the Voodoo Labs PP2+ and the Walrus Audio Phoenix ( My current power supply)
Just like everything in the music world the best solution is whatever works best for your situation. However I believe that if you are using more than two pedals it is worth the extra money to invest in a good isolated power supply. Your tone will thank you, and your pedals will be happy they are getting the power they need.