What makes a good power supply?
Depending on the size of your pedalboard, you’ll need the appropriate amount of outputs. These determine how many pedals you can provide with power. Most companies have a range varying from four up to 15 and even more on occasion.
The price of the PSU not only depends on the number of outputs but also the quality of the components. Isolated outputs are ideal because a magnetic barrier protects them from dangerous levels of voltage, meaning the amount of power is regulated. These won’t interfere with your effects or cause your pedals damage like non-isolated PSUs could.
Most guitar pedals require 9V of power, but some need more. If you plan on getting pedals that run on either 12V or 18V, your PSU needs to support them. Having outputs with either of these voltages or a selectable voltage is extremely handy.
Where are you going to put your power supply? It’ll probably end up on your pedalboard, but on top? Underneath? PSUs vary in size and need the appropriate space. Some pedalboard manufacturers plan for certain popular PSUs and make brackets to screw them in on the underside of the board. Luckily, the excellent Pedaltrain make mounting kits suitable for both our contestants.
And finally, some pedals won’t perform well on less than a certain amount of current flow. The most common current requirements are 250mA to 500mA; Larger Strymon pedals need a minimum of 300mA and 500mA for optimal use. Again, having a PSU that can power these pedals is a bonus. If you’d like to learn more about guitar-related electrical terms, read our article on volts, watts, ohms and amps.
Voodoo Lab Power Supplies
These guys have been producing power supplies since the mid-80s so know everything about the field. They’ve been the go-to brand for professional musicians for ages. If you take a look at your favourite guitarist’s pedalboard, it’s more than likely they’ll have one.
Most boards are made to suit Voodoo Lab PSUs because they’ve been working with pedalboard companies over such a long period of time. The accompanying brackets provided by major pedalboard companies fit all the models in the Voodoo Lab line-up, so you know you won’t have any problems adjusting your rig to accommodate one.
Voodoo Lab have a broad line-up of PSUs designed for varying sized boards. On the smallest model, you’ve got just the four isolated outputs but they’re all equipped with unique DC transformers to provide silent switching between pedals and multi-pole filtering to eliminate unwanted hum. As you’d expect, the X4 is perfect for small pedalboards from the likes of Tourtech or Gator. You could add an expander PSU to bump it up to medium-sized pedalboard suitability.
Moving up in capacity you have the likes of the 4X4 with eight outputs. Two of these are switchable between 9V or 12V, and two 9V outputs provide 400mA. You can field a more versatile setup using the 4×4. This is a standard-to-large PSU that could easily serve you throughout the majority of your guitar career.
Lastly, The Mondo is the pro-level 12 output PSU. This big boy can power all your favourite Strymon, Eventide, Line 6 and Boss digital pedals with super low noise and consistent electrical flow. It can handle your fuzz effects too, thanks to a ‘sag’ option to simulate low battery. Most fuzz pedals run best on batteries and sound great with low battery power, so the Mondo goes even as far as to improve the sound of your effects.