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.

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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.

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Ripcord – The plug ‘n play anywhere USB power cable

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.

http://myvolts.com

  • Albert

    It’s packaged and marketed nicely, I could have a use for it.

    But be aware: the specs on the website are not really clear when it
    comes to currents actually available for connected effects. It seems to
    me that the amounts of power they claim this device can produce, can
    only be achieved with USB 3.0. USB 2.0 is not capable of delivering the 9
    Watts they spec. According to USB 2.0 specs it can produce no more than
    5V x 500mA = 2,5W. If you want to output 9V DC this means that the
    maximum amount of current then is 2,5W/9V=278mA (heat and transfer
    inefficiencies will take this number down). Still enough to power some
    guitarpedals like distrotions and fuzzes, but not enough to power
    certain delays like for instance a Strymon Timeline (which needs a
    minimum of 300 mA). So if you are planning on using this with USB 2.0,
    definitely get in touch with these guys before buying, to find out
    whether it will work for you situation.

    • Wilson

      From personal experience, I bought an eventide h9 usb power cable adaptor from them and was able to power it from a usb battery (Anker Astro E1). The official h9 power supply is 9V 500mAh.

      • Albert

        I’d be surprised if that wouldn’t work. I was not talking about batteries, but about USB 2.0 ports. Your battery can supply up to 2A (according to a quick search)
        , so that equals to roughly 10W.

        • Wilson

          Ah realised my mistake. Tried plugging it directly into a usb port on my mac mini 2012 (according to system profiler these ports provide 500mAh) and it seemed to power on and function okay. “Personal experience” was sort of covering for myself, probably better to ask the creators.

          • Albert

            So far I’ve encountered USB ports that provide less and/or more than specified, so it really is trial and error. Nice cables and a nice idea though!

    • Vitor Jesus

      That came to mind. This is not a magic cable that can deliver more current than the laptop’s USB port.
      But 12€ for an USB 5V to whatever you need converter cable is really nice. Partner it with a hi-power USB charger (or portable USB charger) and you can leave all those wall transformers in the drawer.
      I can even use this to power some 12V led modules I’ve got.
      The cable even looks durable 🙂