Powering your pedals is one of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of a good sounding rig, and it’s definitely a case where you get what you pay for. There are plenty of budget options out there, but those options often lead to noisy rigs and, over time, may even damage your pedals. Our goal here is to help you understand the best way to power your pedals while maintaining the best sound possible.
Most pedals require 9V DC, center negative power (think of the BOSS Style), but a few other common power requirements are 12V, 18V, and 24V DC power. Some pedals, like the Line 6 DL4, require 9V AC power. Always, always, always consult your pedal’s manual to ensure you’re using the correct power for your pedal. The last thing you want is to pay good money for a totally bomb pedal, then blow it up by plugging in the wrong power supply.
You’ll also need to take current into consideration when researching power requirements. Current is typically notated in milliamps (mA), and most standard pedals require less than 100 mA. Digital pedals often require a much higher current to operate correctly, generally 200 mA to 1000 mA. It’s important to note that, unlike connecting your pedal to the wrong volt battery, having more current than is required will not damage your pedal. This means that you can safely plug in a pedal requiring 20 mA into a port supplying 500 mA.
The best way to power your pedals is with a fully isolated power supply designed for pedals. We really like power supplies from Ernie Ball, Voodoo Labs, CIOKS, or Gigrig when powering multiple pedals at the same time. Alternatively, a simple wall-wart power supply, like those made by Electro-Harmonix or Boss, could work really well for you. These power supplies are fully isolated and will not generate extra noise that comes from ground loops.
We never recommend powering pedals with a daisy-chained power supply as it can create noise and even damage pedals over time. We always suggest sticking with either truly isolated, multi-output power supplies or using single, wall-wart power supplies as much as possible.
To recap, it’s always best to use clean, fully isolated power with the correct voltage and sufficient milliamps to power your pedals. This provides what your pedals need to sound and perform their best for years to come.