Sunday, February 21, 2021

PART 4, PEDALBOARD POWER SYSTEMS, CABLES AND CONNECTORS

Effect Pedal Power Supply Cables and Connectors

by Mark King

BOSS TUNER WITH DAISY CHAIN POWER CABLE

The DC power cables you use to interconnect your effect pedals and power supply can cause hum and noise. Dirt, grease, skin oil or beer on the barrel of a DC connector can cut the flow of power and increase noise. 

I’ve dissected some of the ultra cheap DC power cables that came with some inexpensive power supply models, there was almost no copper in some of them, literally just a single hair of about 40-gauge copper to deliver the mA. All power supply cables have some resistance (measured in ohms) from tip to tip, this resistance cuts down on the flow of DC current to your pedals circuitry. As the resistance goes up the cables propensity to create hum and noise goes up as well.

Voodoo Lab markets power supply cables but they’re not exactly cheap. These look similar to other cables but I’ve had excellent performance from them where no-name cables have been inconsistent in their performance. 

Another problem with dirt cheap power supply cables is connector size, how well did the manufacturer adhere to the 2.1mm manufacturing specification? If the power supply connector does not fully engage the outlet on both ends you can end up with insufficient or intermittent power which leads to poor audio performance.  The big take-away here is to beware of the power supply wires having quality issues.

CCTV INDUSTRY TO THE RESCUE

The Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) security industry uses the same size 2.1mm connector for distributing power. One big warning, CCTV power is reversed polarity from effect pedal wiring. This means that connectors may be labeled with reversed polarity. 

I’m not advocating using power supplies intended for CCTV but their cables, adaptors and connectors all work fine and provide you with many unique connection options.

CCTV CABLES AND CONNECTORS

CCTV cameras require more mA of power than most guitar effects so the extension cords and cables are typically fatter and as a result work better for distributing power to effect pedals. 

30-INCH CCTV POWER CABLE, 2.1mm CONNECTORS

CCTV power supply cables are available in many lengths and sizes. I like to have some six, ten and 12-foot long power cables on-hand for powering up pedalboard experiments. Longer power supply cables can lead to hum but they can also be convenient in complex studio applications. I like the serious 20-gauge electrical conductors in heavier cables, these are much larger and provide lower resistance compared to uber-cheapie stompbox power supply cords that come with budget power supplies.

2.1mm MODULAR CCTV POWER PLUGS

I like these little 2.1mm male and female connectors, you can install them on heavy gauge wire and make your own custom power supply cables. These plugs are marked with little (+) plus and (-) minus symbols which are the opposite polarity of that used by effects pedals that adhere to the Boss power supply standard. As long as you don’t reverse the polarity these plugs work great and offer a fun way to experiment with powering your pedal board. 

Part One, What is 9-volts DC?

Part Two, What are mA?

Part Three, What are Pedalboard Power Supplies?

Part Four, Pedalboard Power Cables and Connectors

Part Five, Pedalboard Noise, Hum, Hiss and Whirrrrr

This article is ©2021 by Mark King. It's not ok to copy or quote without written permission, Thanks for reading High on Technology.

Good Music to You!