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Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Dan B » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:36 pm

Probably a dumb question, but is there any advantage to having a dedicated power supply over using separate OEM/generic PSUs for each pedal? Suitably rated, of course?

For my setup, the only power supply that would solve my needs is the Cioks Ciokolate, which is c. £300 and weights 1.6kg (plus cables). Using separate PSUs for each pedal/unit would seem (to my ignorant mind!) attached to a multiway adapter would still seem to provided isolated power (I hope!), and actually weights a little less. Yes, it's a bit bulkier/less neat, but £300 seems a lot to pay for that if there's no other advantage? :headbang: (Especially in my scenario where this is a combination of rack unit and pedal board, so I'm going to have to have a multi outlet mains board for the rack anyway).

The fudge would be to power my four 9V DC pedals from one socket with something like the MXR mini iso brick M233 or Strymon Ojai (I can't see any advantage to the latter for the extra £45 odd - save that it's c. 60g lighter overall with the PSU). And power the two AC units with their original (but fairly hefty - maybe 380g each) PSUs. But that still involves spending maybe £105 for no advantage I can really see save perhaps neatness (the weight of the 4 x 9V DC adapters being about the same as either of these units when their "brick" in line power adapters is included).

On a separate tip, whist I'm on power supplies and asking dumb questions, I assume (/hope!) there's no issue powering two rack units (in this case, a Lexicon MPX550 reverb and a TC M3000 reverb) from a single IEC plug that splits out to two C13 kettle leads?
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:57 pm

Answering the last question first,

Dan B wrote:I assume (/hope!) there's no issue powering two rack units (in this case, a Lexicon MPX550 reverb and a TC M3000 reverb) from a single IEC plug that splits out to two C13 kettle leads?

They're NOT kettle leads :x -- that would be the C15... :D

But, no, there's no problem using a properly made IEC splitter cable, provided the total load is within the cable's current rating, of course - -which is will be with low-powered units like those you mention. I use them all the time to reduce the 13A plug count from rack-mounted equipment.

Probably a dumb question, but is there any advantage to having a dedicated power supply over using separate OEM/generic PSUs for each pedal?

The benefits are smaller size, lower weight, greater convenience, more rapid and less fault-prone rig/derig on stage, and a massively-reduced 13A plug count!

The potential downsides are a single-point of failure and (if the dedicated unit doesn't have isolated supplies) ground-loop noises, and cost -- decent isolated multi output power units aren't cheap... as you've already found!
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Dan B » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:24 pm

Thanks Hugh! Much appreciated.

That's what I suspected. I guess what's slightly ironic here is that, whilst I see that a dedicated pedalboard power unit is smaller/neater/more convenient, it actually weighs more, costs an additional £300 odd, and - as you say - is a single point of potential failure. So I'm kinda inclined to either live with a strip of wall warts (it's only 6 units - but the Cioks AC10 won't cut it, and finding a mix of isolated high amperage DC and AC units from one unit leaves only the Ciokolate, AFAIK), or maybe get the MXR mini, and live with that plus two AC units...
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:32 pm

I ended up with a similar hybrid approach for my boards. Two general 9v multi-supplies and two specialist blocks all into a strip. Not pretty, but effective.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:50 pm

Voodoo labs pedal power 2. You owe it to your self. Highly stable, multiple outs, a couple of which have variable voltages to accommodate a wide range of pedals - some pedals act in very interesting and amusing ways when under powered :-D

I bought my first one (the original...) many many years ago and it's still in use. I use them exclusively on my pedal boards.

No I do not work for them, nor am I affiliated in anyway. Just a fan boy.

http://www.voodoolab.com/pedalpower_2.htm

**this may only be useful for USA due to p/s but maybe they have a version for our pals across the ancient blue**

***having read the website, they do have an EU/UK compatible version***
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Dan B » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:55 pm

Alas, the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 (or in fact any of their products) is a long way of providing what I'm after - undercooked on the DC 9V amperages (I need one with a min of 300ma, another min 235ma; the rest are more standard at 100ma) - and no AC outlets (I need 16-18V AC / 800ma and 9V AC 500-600ma). The Ciokolate really is the only thing I've come across so far that would do the job. But it at 1.6kg, weighs more that all the separate power supplies I already have, plus costs c. £300... So I'm struggling hard to justify it!
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:12 am

Dan B wrote:Probably a dumb question, but is there any advantage to having a dedicated power supply over using separate OEM/generic PSUs for each pedal? Suitably rated, of course?

Mainly, plug/unplug one cord and you're done. And small venues always have an issue with not enough sockets, and the rule is that if you have forgotten your own extension, the venue will not have enough. The frightening consequence is that the bass player risks to have to sing the bass line with his voice, so the less sockets you need the better it is.. :D
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:18 am

Watchmaker wrote:
http://www.voodoolab.com/pedalpower_2.htm

**this may only be useful for USA due to p/s but maybe they have a version for our pals across the ancient blue**

***having read the website, they do have an EU/UK compatible version***

Yes indeed. I have two powering my pedalboard.

The outputs aren't quite as isolated as I think they should be. I had two pedals (no longer on the board) that I had to feed from different VL2 units as when fed from the same one, I was getting loud modulation clock noises coming from them when both on.

Otherwise, very good.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Watchmaker » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:38 am

jeepers, what's pulling 300ma?

@Wonks, yea I've suspected the isolation wasn't as neat as suggested, but I have a pretty basic signal chain most of the time. What is a VL2 unit?
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Dan B » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:47 am

@Watchmaker

- Strymon BigSky reverb - 9VDC at a minimum of 300mA (!)
- My looper (Electro Harmonix 22500) needs 235mA at 9VDAC.
There's a couple of "normal" draw DC pedals (Hypergravity and an OC3), but the AC ones (Dtar Solstice and FMR RNC) are the real suckers, both in voltage and amperage...

@CS70The IEM PSUs are always kept plugged into a multi plug - the whole rig, including the rack, pedalboard, recorder and any amp for monitoring runs on a single plug. So I think for the moment I may skip a dedicaded pedalboard PSU since I'm not really seeing any significant advantage (size reduction but a weight boost, single point of failure and £300...).

I'm guessing it's best to keep the walwart PSUs as far away from the pedal board as possible (rather than mounted under or on the back of it).
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:27 am

VL2 was just my contraction for voodoo labs pedal power 2.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:37 pm

Watchmaker wrote:jeepers, what's pulling 300ma?
Quite a lot of modern digital units will pull high currents.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Watchmaker » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Well, there are some advantages to getting old and habituated :D

Seems a bit counter intuitive though considering the promise of technological advances. Designers should be looking to do more with less, just like the rest of us!
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Folderol » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:04 pm

The AC ones are a nuisance, but for just one of these and all the others I'd go for a D.I.Y approach:

With a 9-0-9 transformer rated about 10W, you can either use half for 9VAC or all of it for 18VAC. Then a pair of diodes and a fat cap will give about 12VDC and finally, as many little DC-DC converters as you need.

The transformer and each of the DC converters would be about a tenner.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:15 pm

I bought a few DC-DC converters from China for a couple of quid each last year. I don't know if they will isolate the power but I assume they will. Haven't needed to use them yet but might try one on the Acoustic pedal board to bump the 9VDC to 12VDC the Tone Dexter preamp prefers and see if it cures the slight digital hash I get running the TD at 9V from the same power brick as the other pedals.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Dan B » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:25 pm

Folderol wrote:The AC ones are a nuisance, but for just one of these and all the others I'd go for a D.I.Y approach:

With a 9-0-9 transformer rated about 10W, you can either use half for 9VAC or all of it for 18VAC. Then a pair of diodes and a fat cap will give about 12VDC and finally, as many little DC-DC converters as you need.

The transformer and each of the DC converters would be about a tenner.

Cheap and ingenious, but still an outlay given that I already have individual PSUs - and I'd expect that this solution (unlike the individual PSUs approach I have at the moment or the Cioks) wouldn't provide an isolated supply for each pedal, and might well weight more (the DC 9V PSUs are only about 60-70g a piece).
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Folderol » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:29 pm

I take your point that you already have the working bits (albeit not too convenient) but I was specifically thinking of fully isolated converters - non-isolated ones are about half the price. The only significant weight would be the transformer and the box you put it all in.

P.S.
Although a step too far for most people I'd be inclined to examine the innards of the AC ones. Unless they are using the rather nasty way of getting +/- supplies, they can usually be run on about 1.5 times the AC voltage from DC.
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:58 am

I like the DC-DC converter idea Will. I once built a PSU with one to boot 5V from USB to 10V for a pedal. Would not deliver 300mA from USB 2.0 of course.

But, why go to all the bother of a 9-0-9 traff and rects and filters? Just put a rake of converters in a tin and feed them from a decent 12V 2A SMPSU line lump?
Also, AFAIK small AC-AC supplies are or soon will be banned in the EU but then will we care soon?

Personally I would put a 12V LA* in the tin and feed that from a suitable charger. Not only gives you backup power but will clean up any residual noise from the PSU.

*Lithium? (but keep a bucket of sand handy)

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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby Dan B » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:22 am

Thanks both - interesting ideas.

All beyond me though! But if anyone's willing to put together a suitable solution, reasonably lightweight, that could go under my pedalboard for a reasonable price, let's talk!
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Re: Pedalboard power supplies - necessary? Advantages?

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:22 pm

Dan B wrote:Thanks both - interesting ideas.

All beyond me though! But if anyone's willing to put together a suitable solution, reasonably lightweight, that could go under my pedalboard for a reasonable price, let's talk!

Who's the guy in another thread asking about money making schemes?

If you go with my idea the converters are low profile, add a few caps and connectors and the whole lot could be little more than a centimetre deep. Line lump external of course but you only need the one.

Now, maybe this old bird is not keeping up but. Is there a suggestion of NON isolated supplies? Don't do that IMHO. I read constantly in two other forums of hum loops and instabilities, whistles and clicks, when peeps try to cheap out on supplies.

BTW Mouser do 3W 9V isolated supplies but ten quidish a pop!

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