Power Your Pedals: Battery vs. External Power

How to Power Your Guitar PedalsPowering a pedalboard’s worth of effects with batteries seems unthinkable. Why would you run each device on a dedicated battery when you can just hog tons of outlets or use a “daisy chain” style option like the One Spot? Well, if you’re concerned about tone and removing hissing and other DC-related noise, it’s time to reconsider how you’re powering up your pedals.

The Problems with Daisy-Chaining

Using a daisy chain approach is the seemingly practical solution to the problem of powering up your pedals. They offer DC power to every pedal and save you having to use loads of adapters, but the results aren’t always predictable. If one of your pedals has some DC noise (common with overdrive and distortion pedals), then the problem spreads across your pedalboard and taints your whole sound. If you have just a few pedals, daisy-chaining can work well (as can hogging a few outlet spots), but if you use a lot of them, you should re-think your approach.

The Benefits of Batteries

The thing to realize is that batteries offer isolated power, and the resulting tone from battery-powered pedals is almost always cleaner than with DC. If you’re having problems with noise, you can always switch to a battery. But the problem still exists: who the hell would want individual batteries for every single pedal? Is there not a better option?

Isolated Power Supplies: the Best of Both Worlds?

Isolated, multi-pedal power supplies like the Pedal Power 2 aim to provide the isolation of a battery with the convenience of the daisy-chain. You get eight isolated outputs, including a couple with the option of variable voltage sag, and it has a balanced transformer to minimize noise. It might be quite the investment, but if you’re serious about tone it’s well worth considering. Take note: ensure that the outputs are isolated: similar options like the Dunlop Brick have outputs sharing a ground point, leading to daisy-chain-like issues.

So there’s no easy and cheap solution to the battery vs. external power dilemma when you’re powering numerous pedals, but if the noise is getting on your nerves, consider picking up something like the Pedal Power 2.

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