It’s about time to solve this power problem on music gear once and for all.
Here’s the thing: USB has quietly simplified powering everything else. Look at your phone. Now, a USB cable not only means you can charge from your laptop, but also various travel adapters – and, crucially, from battery power. With mobile batteries getting steadily better, that’s huge. You can just pack a battery and not worry about finding a wall socket, for hours or (with high capacities) even days. And those batteries are getting better as products, too – you can buy some nice looking, nicely functioning mobile batteries for not a whole lot of money.
Yet, back to music gear, it’s a whole other story. Let’s review:
1. A lot of synths do provide battery power, but eat through AA batteries – like the KORG volca series, for instance. That’s expensive, and then you’re out of luck if you don’t have batteries handy and they die.
2. A lot of other gear you might want to use on batteries don’t provide battery compartments.
3. You can easily wind up with mismatched power supplies for equipment – and then you’re in big trouble on the road. In fact, that’s increasingly true I find of even USB accessory gear. I’ll have the power supply I need, but not the right tip adapter.
The Ripcord, finishing up a project now on Kickstarter, is a nice solution. It’s a line of cables especially designed There are a number of features here that are appealing:
- It’s got various tips and voltages for different products. (Yep, it works with our MeeBlip line, for instance – meaning you can power the MeeBlip from a long-life USB battery pack.
- It has voltage variations (5-18V) plus 1000mA amperage for compatibility with quite a lot of stuff.
- The industrial design is rather clever: various features to improve durability (I’ve certainly destroyed USB cables so that’s nice), plus braided cable design and a pull strap to avoid tangling.
For addicts of the KORG volca series like me, it’s a godsend. With a special cable you can connect up to five volcas with just one USB connection (or, say, my mix of volcas and MeeBlip).
Here’s that splitter cable in action:
But it will also work with gear like the Push 2 or Traktor accessories.
Another key added bonus – because you can plug into your laptop or battery, you can avoid ground loop problems. That’s obviously a big deal.
There’s also an adapter that lets you charge from your phone, which is a bit mental!
The Kickstarter project has the bright idea of pairing the cables with complete solutions with batteries and so on – so while those funding levels look pricey initially, they’re actually a decent buy.
As I write this, they’re just shy of their goal, so I do hope we can put them over the top, as this looks great. My colleague got one and we’ve been testing this – and it’s just brilliant. Works perfectly.
Irish maker myvolts have a whole line of this stuff for various gear – just in case you can’t wait until end of summer for the mass production of the Kickstarter project to ship.