Power supplies: Let's have it out!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by JimmyM, Jul 31, 2012.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Saw a comment on here the other day about power supplies...dude said that his pedals sound better with the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power than the Visual Sound 1Spot because the 1Spot is SMPS. So I looked up the issue and found that it's as controversial and undecided as it is in amp world.

    I've been using 1Spots for 3 years and never once had a problem powering any pedals I have, and I notice no difference with the 1Spot vs. a battery or a more traditional wall wart 9v power supply. Don't have a Voodoo Lab device, though, so I can't speak to that, but my experience with the 1Spot has been 100% positive. I'm currently powering two X2 wirelesses and anywhere from 1 to 8 other pedals and it seems to be doing just fine. I know it has issues with some digital pedals, but I don't use any that give it fits.

    And yet, all over the web, it seems that those of us who use 1Spots are looked upon as douchebags by those who use the more expensive stuff. Well maybe not douchebags exactly, but less than professional, which is funny because I AM a professional. I saw a comment by the head of Visual Sound comparing the SMPS controversy to the high end cable controversy, and I'm not finding much reason to disagree with him, meaning it sounds like a lot of marketing hoo-ha to me after my positive experience with the 1Spots.

    So why am I a douchebag? ;) Actually, I just want to know what I'm missing here. Why is a 1Spot not considered the "pro" thing to do? What advantage does the Voodoo Labs device and similar have over the 1Spot except playing nice with digital pedals?
     
  2. I can't argue whether One Spots are or aren't professional, as I am not one. ;)

    I can say that I've never had any problems with it when I used it. I switched over to a BBE Supa Charger for the ability to power some pedals that have weird voltages and the isolated inputs. Though the latter may only just make me feel better. :D
     
  3. alec

    alec

    Feb 13, 2000
    Perth, Australia
    I get a faint high pitched squeal or a "rave going on down the street" thumping sound when certain pedals are powered with a shared ground.
    No problem when they get isolated power from my PowerFactor.
     
  4. I love my OneSpot, never had any problems with it unless I'm using pedals without common grounding, but I've got Godlyke Groundhound isolators for that (Moog and Hog on the same line) which thus far have been wonderful. That said, I'm upgrading to a Gig rig just because of the space premium on a board and because I'm using more pedals now than I have before.

    For a big board, I'd go with an isolated, regulated box just for simplicity of setup. But for only a handful of pedals, I'd certainly use a OneSpot, but I too am not a professional.
     
  5. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    The only difference I've noticed is some pedals won't run on some power supplies. I have an old Boss OC-2 that runs fine on a Voodoo Labs ISO but not on a T-Rex Chameleon. Conversely the Eventide Modfactor won't run on the Voodoo Labs but works fine with the T-Rex. And both PSUs are similarly spec'd. Go figure.

    Going through the process of figuring this out I A/B'd both pedals with the multi PSUs they work fine with and their factory wall warts and heard no difference at all.
     
  6. FronTowardEnemy

    FronTowardEnemy It is better to go unnoticed, than to suck Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    Plainfield Illinois
    I purchase a One Spot a few years back. Plugged it in and powered on my pedals. Then I noticed a horrible grounding noise when any of my pedals were engaged or not. Tried multiple outlets around the house and had no change. My house was 7 years old at the time so I can only contribute the noise to the One Spot. Possibly a bad unit? I don't know, I didn't have the patience to try another one. Went back and got a refund. I later bought a BBE Supa Charger and it has been quiet and reliable since.
     
  7. UncleFluffy

    UncleFluffy

    Mar 8, 2009
    California
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    The only thing I've noticed is that the wiring is neater when you've got a brick-type PSU mounted under the pedal board than with a One Spot and a daisy-chain cable. From experience of other cabling situations I'd suspect that that means you've got a slightly higher chance of power cable failure with a One Spot. But that's about it. I don't use any pedal that can benefit from "sag" or anything like that.
     
  8. Jordan S.

    Jordan S.

    Mar 25, 2012
    NSW, Australia
    Blacksheep Effects Pedals
    IMO, if it powers your pedals, and it's reliable, who cares what it is. Neither of the two is "more professional" than the other, they do the same thing, they might do it slightly differently, but they both achieve the same end result, powering your pedalz. :bassist:

    And no, your not a douchebag. ;)
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well I'll say this about its stoutness for the stage...it does look flimsy, no doubt, and if I were in a punk band with a lot of stage diving and whatnot, I'd probably upgrade to something bulletproof. But I've never had a failure, never had an accidental disconnection, nothing of the sort.
     
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Yeah but even with the gucci boutique supplies you're plugging everything in with cheapo molded end cables.
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Cheapo molded end cables that sound awesome, Jeff ;) I'm not a cable snob. If it works, it works. That's why I use a 1Spot, too. But this is a different issue here...cables don't matter and nobody's been able to prove any different to me. But anyone who's played a variety of SMPS powered amps can tell you that they sound different from iron-powered amps. So I was wondering about what folks thought about if there was any sonic degradation that I might be missing. Doesn't appear to, so I will continue to be a cheapskate when appropriate.

    BTW, I hardly consider my pedalboard "Gucci" ;)
     
  12. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass

    Sep 14, 2010
    It is just regulated 9volts.

    as long as you have enough current to run all your pedals no big deal.

    Likewise each outlet on a voodoo or BBE is isolated.
    With a one spot snake they are not.

    If the pedals are designed correctly running them all on one parallel supply/power snake should not be a problem, ever.
    If their is design problems and a relative poor engineering with the pedals, mainly a designer who doesnt understand single ended topology.

    Then some pedals can have extra noises buzzing, dc offset, and possible even kill everything down the line. if being powered on a power snake. So thinking the one spot is the problem it is not.
    Most likely one of your pedals is poorly designed or the designer simply does not understand single ended power supply circuits. So it needs needs a isolated power. Its the pedals fault not the power.

    Especially pedals that use charge pumps to boost the power to 18 volts with a normal 9volt input. These can cause a whole lots of hum and noise and cause DC offset in normal pedals down the line, when used on a snake. Using a isolated jack might get rid of the noise and slightly reduce DC offset. But the pedal might still effect the over head of some pedals in the line because DC offset might still be present, especially analog delays and pedals using older LFO designs. DC offset can increase distortion, and cause the function/range of modulated pedals to change. Also some true bypass pedals still use goober switching with a relay so they can still use cheap single pole switches. (hardwire) even though these pedals are fine (sorta)
    DC offset can mess up the switching function, and also cause problems with digital pedals, either digital effects, or digital programming for changing presets/functions etc.
    Again changing a power supply that seem to fix a pedal, it is not the power supplys fault...it is poor pedal design.

    Any body that claims improved sound is most likely being a snob, or actually using a pedal with design issue's and the isolated power has relieved some of the problem.
     
  13. +1.
    My 1 spot has been doing well for years. I don't have any issues, because I don't have any poorly designed pedals. :D
     
  14. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I can see there being an audible difference in an SMPS power amp. I can't see there being enough difference with a pedal PSU to make an audible difference on a gig any more than a cheapo cable makes a difference on a gig is what I was getting at (none too clearly).

    BogeyBass's post explained pretty much any question I had about the whole issue.
     
  15. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    First Jimmy, if you are a d-bag (which I cannot confirm or deny), it's certainly not because of your choice in pedal power supplies. :D

    I find that this debate lives strongest among guitar players. There is a myth that continues to live in the guitar world which states that there is a "best" guitar tone that can be achieved with the "right" equipment. That reasoning then infers that equipment that deviates from what is "right" cannot sound "best" and the conflict rages on based on some sort of moral superiority reinforced by superhuman auditory perception. It has infected the bass community with the same kind of righteous indignation that some around here use when they call stock Fender bridges cheap and inferior compared to a high mass counterpart.

    In reality most pedals are not picky at all about the power they receive. After all, they are designed to run on batteries which are by far the most inefficient, unstable power source in use today...until some Prius driver invents solar powered pedals, but I digress.

    I powered my humble pedal board with a 1Spot for a couple of years in countless venues and never encountered any problems:
    [​IMG]

    However, my needs changed along with some of my pedals so I modified my pedalboard for a power supply with isolated grounds and since I was feeling ambitious in the machine shop I added two Edison plugs, an on/off switch and a master IEC connector. I then made my own 25' IEC cable so I wouldn't need to run an extension cord to my pedalboard. This was taken a long time ago right after I did the machining and I've done some finishing touches since then but you get the idea:
    [​IMG]

    Do all my pedals sound better now? They do not. They sounded great before and they continue to do so and the only advantages I have found relate more to convenience and aesthetics.
     
  16. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    DC offset does not carry from one pedal to the next because they are all AC coupled on their inputs and outputs. So the signal link connecting two pedals is actually AC coupled twice.

    Charge pumps operate with the ground as a reference point and efficiently create a boosted positive voltage or a mirrored negative voltage depending on what the designer is looking for. Charge pumps have been designed with oscillator frequencies far above the audio range for many years now, so they are very easy to filter and do not negatively impact the audio signal. With a little more effort, even the older charge pumps that had oscillator frequencies within the audio band could be filtered to be silent with audio circuits.

    For my curiosity… please let me know what pedals you have experienced these DC offset and charge pump issues.

    -Frank
     
  17. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    People who have spent a lot of money on expensive equipment over less expensive equipment that has perfectly acceptable performance are always going to try to justify that purchase on the grounds that it is superior and, by extension, imply that they are superior because they made that choice.

    Clearly, some megabuck equipment is superior (who wouldn't take a Sadowsky to a Squier Affinity given the choice?). But other times, any perceived benefit is vanishingly small, to the point where purchasers of the most expensive stuff have been drawn in mostly by ENCS (Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome). Everyone in the herd is saying the expensive stuff is infinitely superior, so it must be so.

    Often times the only way to differentiate the perceived benefit of expensive stuff is to nitpick and put down the less expensive option. I just feel sad for people who feel they have to do this.

    My own stuff is expensive where I feel it's warranted and cheaper when I feel it's not so critical.
     
  18. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass

    Sep 14, 2010
    yes frank all inputs outputs are DC coupled so the offset does not occur there. That is where the misconception or lack of understanding starts. The offset happens at VG or VR or the voltage reference or virtual ground. Otherwise just a basic voltage divider to produce the reference voltage.
    which can effect any non inverting op amp stages that do not use bypass capacitors in the gain setting voltage divider, or any inverting op amp stage which will always be connected directly to DC through the non inverting input tied directly to VR or VG

    and yes oscillator frequencies in a charge pump is usually non issue. again the issue is at VR or VG. Also a problem with effects loops when the loop on the amp is from a higer voltage bipolar supply.
    and then ties to a single ended effects chain and then returns to a bipolar effect return.

    also with boutique/major manufactures the circuits are copied from bipolar designs, and then poorly converted to single ended designs. some connections that should be connected to VG are not and vice versa some connections to battery ground should not or need to be decoupled at certain points, or need additional pull down resistors to operate correctly or should be at VG not Battery Ground . likewise with the common LFO circuits that copied over and over, the original designs they copied are incorrect and include variable resistors to compensate for DC offset, otherwise a proper conversion from the bipolar designs they were taking from would have eliminated a majority of the problems. Likewise with almost every bucket brigade analog delay chip, and associated compander/expander circuits for feedback loops, the conversion from bipolar to single ended is incorrect. And the lower 5volt rail on a bucket brigade is highly affected by offset.
    mainly causing distortion on the brigade and poor tracking for the compander.
     
  19. EskimoBassist

    EskimoBassist

    Nov 2, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    For me this whole debate sits with the high-end cable/bass/amp/anything arguments: if it works for you then great! Why worry so much about the mindless speculation others make on internet forums, I mean more expensive isn't always better, and if the glove fits...

    I don't respect anyone more or less because of their choice of patch cable/power supply/strings/underwear. Less money spent on gear just means more money for the finer things in life anyway.
     
  20. Fuzzbassian

    Fuzzbassian

    Jan 12, 2012
    The only trouble I've ever had with my one spot (an american one with an Australian adaptor on the end),is that if it's plugged in horizontally to a wall socket,and the amp is sitting nearby,the power supply can actually get vibrated out of place,and fall out.
    The solution for this was to just use a power board,or extension cable.
    The moral of the story-buy the Australian version next time rather than rely on an adaptor.