If you have a pedalboard and an amplifier that plugs into it, what do you do when your power goes out? Some guitars have built-in power sources called stomp-boxes, but those can easily become victims of power spikes if there is a sudden downpour or other outside fluctuation. If you have a regular amp with several inputs and multiple outlets, this isn't much of a problem, but what if you want to use your new guitar's input soundboards with a different amp, say a box set that has a different power source than your amplifier? Or what if you just want to use different types of guitar effects, but you don't want to get an amp because it only accepts one type of cable? There are solutions to these problems, and this article describes how to set up a Pedalboard Power Supply that will work for any system.
A Pedalboard Power Supply usually consists of three separate units: An output that receives power from the wall for each input, a line out that sends the power signal to the various pedals and a power strip that protects the wires and prevents shorts from shorting out. But what is the big deal about separate outputs? Basically, having separate outputs on a pedalboard power supply makes each pedal its own independent power source, so that the current supplied to a guitar pedal is always consistent. For instance, if you are using a stompbox with a guitar without a foot pedal, and you plug the other soundboard into a separate amp for effects, then the current supplied to the guitar will be a constant current, no matter what is going on in the main amp.
Another popular option for a pedalboard power supply is a daisy chain unit. In this system, the wire is in the pedalboard itself, rather than in a separate enclosure. In a daisy chain system, each leg of the daisy chain is connected to a power source. You can then run wiring between each pedal, as needed. One potential problem with a daisy chain system is if one pedal breaks, the remaining pedals can still be operated normally. If this happens, you may have to isolate the broken pedal and turn it off, which can be a major hassle.
The best pedalboard power supplies often come with a variety of different options for input. Most systems can handle three to four different types of sources. Some even have options for switching between input types according to whether you are using an amp or an effect pedal. You may even find some units with an onboard LED display that shows all of the pertinent information during the course of a gig.
One of the most important things you should consider when looking for the best pedalboards is isolation. What does this mean? This means that each of the isolated outputs will receive a separate voltage and current to ensure that the device works as intended, no matter what the source is. In many situations, this feature will be necessary only if you are using a guitar pedal with an amp and effects section, where one device will be providing both sources for guitar play along with the recording.
It goes without saying that the price of your pedalboard power supply has a direct correlation to quality. Don't be fooled into thinking that the cheapest will be the best. In fact, many guitar players tend to get very frustrated with shopping for new equipment because they seem to always end up with cheap products. The best things to consider when shopping for a pedalboard are the physical aspects of the unit itself, as well as the overall reputation of the company that makes the product. There are countless online stores that sell musical equipment, but not all of them sell high-quality items.
Pedalboard Power Supplies are sold with different levels of voltage capacity. In general, you'll get more voltage if you buy larger units. This is good news if you're using multiple devices on your pedalboards like pedals, keyboards, and other amplifiers and processors. The bigger the load on the power supply, the higher the voltage you should get. Some manufacturers of Pedalboards also offer regulated power supplies that allow you to choose a constant current or constant voltage. These are usually recommended for heavy power applications and for the best output signal.
If you have a lot of processing power but low output signal or are planning on connecting multiple pedals, you should consider getting an "I/O expander." An I/O expander is basically just a larger version of a standard Pedalboard Power Supply. Instead of being plugged into a wall outlet, it plugs into an extra PCI Express slot on your computer. With an I/O expander, you can connect multiple devices without worrying about exceeding the maximum draw of your PSU. An I/O expander can even provide three independent outputs; so you can run your monitor through three separate output plugins!