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Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by fdeck, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I have often wondered: Do expensive batteries have more juice? So I bought the three brands available at my local drug store, and decided to test them. These are three new 9-V batteries, driving a resistive load of 3980 Ohms, and monitored by a data logger. The test is still running, so I will see how long it takes to really kill them. Meanwhile, here is the graph. "Walgreens" is the store brand at the drug store.

    I have always replaced preamp batteries when they got down to around 8.5 V. With one more fresh battery (this testing could get expensive), I will measure lifetime in an actual preamp.

    Attached Files:

  2. Pretty similar, huh?
    Moral of the story: just buy the cheapest?

    You didn't mention it, but they're all alcalines, no?

  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    They are all Alkaline type.
  4. Terrific experiment, Francis.

  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Francis, you are a real gem!
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Wow Francis, great idea! Thank you so much. :)
  7. Nathan Parker

    Nathan Parker

    Oct 10, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Damn! I just bought some new 9volts for my pre-amp, and I payed the extra dough for some Energizers. Well, I will know better next time. Thanks for posting this, Mr. Deck.
  8. jmac


    May 23, 2007
    Horsham, Pa
    Back in the early part of the nineties consumer reports did a battery test. I don't remember the details, but radio shack's batteries did the best.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Great experiment...thanks for posting!

    What's your take on rechargeable batteries? I've been using the AA rechargeables in my R-09, and they do great so far. I just bought twice as many as I actually needed and always keep a spare set around.
  10. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Did you try the UltraLife Lithium battery?
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    So far, I have only tried those three Alkalines that are at the corner drug store. And I chose a relatively low current, so my test takes forever. At least I now know that (barring the system crashing or re-starting), I can collect data indefinitely. This was partly a test of my DIY data logger.

    Something I might do is try to reconcile my data with the discharge curves published by battery makers. If I can substantiate that the published curves correlate well with my measurements, then I might be able to offer some remarks on where to find those curves and how to interpret them.

    Now I am also curious about the rechargeables. It would be interesting to run one through several charge / discharge cycles, and see how it holds up.
  12. Bassman822


    Sep 1, 2007
    Bessemer, AL
    I've often wondered about lithium batteries, particularly in my fretless, (EMG equipped), must remove an aluminum pickguard to get to the battery.
  13. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    I have a lithium cell in my fretless, also underneath the pickguard. And one in my fretted G&L...they last a really long time.
  14. I remember the Consumers Report conclusion because it was so simple-- alkaline are better than regular and all alkaline are the same. So buy the cheapest alkaline.
  15. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
  16. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Inactive Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Francis, you may know about this. I use the Fishman Dual Parametric direct box. Can't leave home without it. It has the shortest battery life of anything I've ever seen. (one 9v) I have to be super dilligent about unplugging after each set because the battery life is so short. It does have an input for a 9v wall wart. I've hesitated to get one . (mainly because I'm lazy and it's one more thing to drag around) I remember being told years ago that a fresh battery will sound better than a wall wart? Urban Legend?
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    What usually happens in my experience is that.

    1. Using a Wall Wart is not always practical. The chords on the wall warts are always pretty thin and shorter than an actual AC power cord. Hopefully that's not the case with the Fishman unit. I had one on a their Bass Blender and it was pretty sturdy as I recall.

    2. They are pretty susceptible to AC line noise so they can be a real pain in the backside that way.

  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    I'll take a stab at that. I think it depends on at least two factors. One is how well the wall wart DC output is filtered. Some cheap ones might have substantial ripple that could be heard as noise in the system.

    The second is the actual voltage. Many (most) wall warts are unregulated supplies and rely on the load (e.g., your direct box) to pull down the supply to the correct voltage. If you take the typical nominal 9v wall wart and measure the output voltage with a meter, you will often find that it is sitting at, maybe, 12 volts. Connect the load and it should drop to around 9v. This is why it's important to match the current rating on these supplies to the device you want to power. If you buy, for example, a 9v wall wart that has too great a current capacity for what you want to power, when connect your device, the voltage will remain too high. Buy a 9v wall wart with too low a capacity and the voltage will drop substantially below 9v when you connect your device. Regulated supplies don't do this at all.

    Using a battery avoids all of this. You get a very clean 9v supply (within the limits of what the battery can handle). Given a decent and properly matched wall wart, however, I'd say that you'd be hard pressed to detect any difference in sound between it and a battery, especially once the music starts. :)
  19. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Heck I'll take a stab at it too, FWIW.

    The product manual for my AMT mic (which also includes info on a number of products besides my S25B) states for one of the products "Works with 9 volt battery or phantom power. 9 volt battery is preferred ..." I knew once upon a time Adrian Cho had posted a comment re: why after talking to Marty Paglione, and here 'tis:
    Maybe that noise potential relates to the stability or instability of the power that the wall wart "sees."

    OTOH, here is a quote from Anthony Jackson in the Dec. '08 BP. Granted, the application is different, but here 'tis:

    "Also on [ Anthony's 6-string contrabass guitar ] No. 6, we tried a high-quality integrated circuit in the active electronics, and it did sound better at first. But while A/B-ing the sound of the instrument active and passive one day on a Reggie Lucas session at Quantum Studios in Union City, I heard a difference; there's high distortion even with the $75 IC. I decided that was it for onboard electronics. To properly power a really good preamp you need a big, hot-running AC transformer, not two 9-volt batteries." ​

    Since I don't often rely on any 9V batteries in my set up anywhere, this is unbiased (from where I sit), and I am just relaying info I've come across.
  20. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    I've been trying out my Aphex Acoustic Exciter. It can be powered by:
    • 9v (which lasts a long time, if you remember to unplug)
    • phantom power (which I haven't tried)
    • any wall wart with a compatible plug (great way to reuse old adapters--why don't others do that?)
    Aphex do not state a preference.

    I saw phantom power mentioned in the previous post, but I haven't yet seen any other comments about it. I can pull that from my Clarus. What do the experts think? Is there any difference in performance between 9V and phantom power?

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