Evidence Audio SIS Screw In Solderless Review – Best Pedalboard Patch Cables?

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We’re straying from the usual reviews of guitar pedals to bring you an in depth review of the Evidence Audio SIS “Screw-In-Solderless” patch cables. This is of vital importance to readers of Best Guitar Effects as the patch cable dilemma is one that has plagued every guitarist who’s ever used more than one pedal in series. The myriad issues we face include having cables of the proper length, the thinness/thickness of the cables and end plugs, reliability, and overall sound quality among other things. In recent years several companies have released various do-it-yourself cable options, one of the most affordable and flexible variations being easy-to-assemble “solderless” patch cables. But Evidence Audio has taken the concept to the next level.

Evidence Audio’s SIS patch cables use their acclaimed Monorail audio cable (notable for its solid copper core instead of threaded wire) and their original SIS end plugs. These plugs are unique in that they allow the cable’s copper core to be screwed directly into the plug, eliminating the need for soldering and supposedly creating a solid airtight connection for the best possible signal transfer in a solderless cable option. I expected good things, and I wouldn’t be writing this review if the product wasn’t worthy of all this typing. And since cheap knockoff versions of this product have already crept onto the market, Evidence Audio must have done something right to warrant the flattery of imitation.

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Dispelling The Cable “Tone” Myth

One thing that caught my attention about Evidence Audio a few years ago was that they try to avoid hyping up the “super epic tone enhancements” that come with using their “super high-tech” cables. Do you know why? That’s because all the talk about cables that enhance tone is straight up bogus. A cable only “enhances” your tone by transferring a pure signal and having as little affect on your tone as possible. Essentially, all cables diminish your audio signal. Sure, this is more or less noticeable in some cables compared to others, but it’s a truth that many guitarists probably don’t want to hear. All Evidence Audio cables are designed with one purpose: to affect your tone as little as possible. This may seem counter intuitive to grasp at first if you’ve been suckered in by all the marketing hype spewed out by cable companies over the years. Achieving the highest cable transparency is the core philosophy that Evidence Audio is built upon and perhaps the most important deciding factor that should be considered when buying cables. Read the previous sentence again and let that sink in. Of course striking the balance between audio purity and reliability is another hallmark of Evidence Audio products.

Years ago I ended up buying a mountain of overpriced fancy cables which I still have to this day. These cables scored points for reliability and sounded pretty good to my ears, but I always knew that behind the marketing hype a better product could be found. Long before I started writing for a review site (this one) with the aim of helping guitarists find the best gear, I was in the same boat of finding products through magazines and advertising at the mercy of whichever companies had the biggest marketing budgets. Store clerks helped out, too, although I learned over the years that some retail workers’ recommendations may be influenced by profit margins, not necessarily helping consumers find the best products. My point is that sifting through all the marketing bs to find a quality product that lives up to expectations can be tough. Fortunately, I was turned on to Evidence Audio Screw-In-Solderless patch cables a couple NAMM shows ago by a fellow pedal junky, a chance encounter of two passionate guitarists that finally culminated in the review you’re reading today.

Here’s a quick rundown of features before we get to our Evidence Audio SIS Screw-In-Solderless patch cable review.

Evidence-Audio-SIS-Screw-In-Solderless-Review-Best-Pedalboard-Patch-Cables-02Features:

  • Monorail sound quality.
  • Convenience to build and rebuild without solder.
  • Super Compact – Fits in small spaces few other cables can travel; even inside components for internal wiring.
  • 0.155″ Outer Diameter – Backwards-compatible with many solder-less plugs IGL™ Copper conductor – Fatigue-free midrange and highs.
  • Solid Core Primary Conductor – Tight, articulate bottom with midrange clarity and speed.
  • 20 awg Conductor Size – Large enough to communicate punch and authority, small enough to avoid skin effect anomalies.
  • 98% Shield Coverage – Outstanding noise rejection.
  • Nickel-plated brass plugs.
  • Spiral Shield – Parallel conductor geometry minimizes strand interaction compared with braided shields.
  • Low Capacitance – May be used in long runs without high-frequency roll-off.

Visit Evidence Audio for more info about Monorail Cable and the SIS Screw-In-Solderless plugs.

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Sound & Performance:

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There’s good enough, there’s better, and then there’s the best. Sometimes the best is plainly obvious; other times it can be quite elusive. I’ve learned that what’s most expensive isn’t always the best, yet you also typically get what you pay for. Sure, there are cheaper cables available, but Evidence Audio is a prime example of you getting exactly what you pay a little more for. They’d probably sell a lot more cables if they touted all the tone-hyping hoorah like the lesser cable makers who try so hard to sell inferior products. Instead Evidence Audio relies mainly on the reputation of their products to sell themselves. The evidence is in the result. David Gilmour knows it. Billy Corgan knows it. Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien knows it.

The SIS concept is simple enough. Evidence Audio already created the industry leading (and great sounding) Monorail patch cable, an incredibly thin audio cable with a solid copper core. The idea of screwing the copper wire directly into a threaded nickel-plated brass end plug was the stroke of genius that led to the Screw-In-Solderless cable kit. While you don’t need a soldering iron to assemble the SIS cables, some wire cutters/strippers and a little elbow grease are called for.

To start I clipped off a small piece of Monorail and proceeded to make my first cable. A wire stripper comes in handy for stripping off about a centimeter of the outer jacket. This reveals the outer copper threading. This is peeled back over the jacket. You can twist it however you see fit as long as it’s generally folded back parallel with the cable. From here you peel off the visible conductive black layer. I prefer to strip it as well, but you can peel it with your nails if you’d like. Then you strip the solid white layer down to about 2 millimeters and cut the copper core wire to about 4 millimeters. It’s that simple. After I made a couple I was confident to just visually estimate the lengths for further assembly.

When the cable is properly stripped, you stick the prepared end into one of the SIS end plugs. Gently push it all the way in. Then give it 2 half turns. You’ll feel it screw into the threads in the SIS plug. If you pull on the cable at this point you’ll notice how strong the bond is. Its’ really surprising just how precisely these plugs are engineered and how perfect and strong the connection is. Bend the cable at the plug to a right angle and put the cap on the end of the plug. You can turn it a few more times to screw the plug on while simultaneously threading the Monorail cable more tightly into the plug.

At this point it’s worth noting my only minor concern with the entire process. To screw the end caps tightly on, you’ll probably want to use gloves or something that’ll help you get a nice firm grip. Or if you’ve been doing your crossfit and have a grip of steel you may not need to. But it does usually require a bit more force to completely screw on the end caps. If you’re making several cables I’d recommend building all your cables to the step of screwing the caps half-way. Then come back after you’ve assembled all your cables to tighten them up with your gloved death grip. It’s not much of an issue as you’ll typically do this assembly process once during a pedalboard build and reuse many of the cables as-is if needed later.

 

The first SIS patch cable I made. It worked great as have all the rest.

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Something I really like about the SIS and Monorail combination is that the cables are easy to reuse if disassembled. You can take apart a cable to use the end plugs with different lengths of cable. If you save the old Monorail pieces you can easily use them again and again while achieving the same sturdy build and tone as before. That means less cable scraps and more length options.

And tone is another talking point although there isn’t much to say really. These cables don’t intrude on your sound. You could try to get into technical details and spec comparisons with other products, but it’s a moot point. Monorail sounds excellent. The ultimate test comes when you just close your eyes and listen. That’s the only evidence you need. (Let’s see if I can sneak that pun in one more time.) The Evidence Audio SIS cable kit sounds great because it really seems to impart no sound of its own on your guitar sound.

There are a few technical matters that make the SIS/Monorail combination especially relevant. Small end plugs and thin wire make wiring up complex pedalboards more convenient. With pedal obsessed guitarists filling every possible space on their boards with ever more pedals, the Evidence Audio SIS cable kit helps you conserve space thanks to its small end plugs. Monorail cable is also exceptionally thin, allowing easy routing in the tightest of spaces.

Any guitarist who uses pedals and cares deeply about their tone has probably spent some time looking over the various cable products on the market. While I don’t intend on doing a full on patch cable shootout, it’s worth mentioning a few factors that set this product and this company apart from others while touching on my thoughts about many of the other cable products out there. One of my general concerns with some of the older reputable companies making cables is that they’ve ceased to innovate and are just rehashing the same old products. No spectrum of cool new colors is going to change the same old product designs. On the other hand you have companies who clone newer products and sell inferior versions. At least one other cable maker even falsely labeled their patch cable products as 100% “Made in USA” until the FTC came knocking. (Dig in the public domain for the facts on that one.) When I look for products to buy and when I review products, my greatest considerations are how good the product is and how the product is helping to push the market forward. I say without any reservation that as of this writing Evidence Audio is pushing the market forward in ways that are unmatched. There’s also an integrity factor that I’ve come to realize is perhaps equally if not even more important when in regards to people, their businesses, and the products they sell. Evidence Audio’s product quality and philosophy are to be admired by their peers. While no company, the people who run them, or any audio cables for that matter are perfect, Evidence Audio is the leader in their field because they strive to come ever closer to that ideal.

The final verdict is below.

 

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Overall-Rating-5.0

I can give no better praise for the Evidence Audio SIS Screw-In-Solderless patch cables than this: these are the cables I now use for my pedals, and these will be the cables you see in our future review YouTube videos. If a better pedalboard cable solution does come along, I’d also bet that it’ll most likely bear the moniker Evidence Audio. The Monorail sound quality lives up to the hype. The SIS cables are fairly easy to assemble. They’re durable and convenient. What more evidence do you need? These are the best pedalboard patch cables you can buy today.

That concludes our Evidence Audio SIS Screw-In-Solderless patch cables review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Walrus Audio Aetos Review – Best Small / Medium Pedalboard Power Supply?

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After reviewing the Walrus Audio Janus fuzz/tremolo and Descent reverb, I fell in love with the unique design aesthetic of this company and their quality guitar pedals. Naturally, I was very excited to hear about the Walrus Audio Aetos as who better to make a pedal power supply than a company who also specializes in making the products it powers. It’s a unique position for a pedal maker to release a power supply as they should be more in tune with the needs of their customers: pedal users! Aimed at the guitarist who uses up to around 8 pedals (and perhaps more!), this little unit looks like a contender for the best small/medium pedalboard power supply available. Below is a list of its features before we dive into our Walrus Audio Aetos review.

Features:

8-output, isolated power supply

utilizes an internal custom wound toroidal transformer

Dimensions – 4.7”long  x 3.7” wide x 1.2” height

Weight –  3lbs.

Input – 120VAC

Output – 6 outputs – 9VDC (100mA), 2 outputs – 9VDC (250mA)

Fully Isolated DC Power – (Toroidal transformer based supply)

Items Included – (5 ft 120VAC detachable power cord, 8 – 2.1mm black power cables, 2 – 2.5mm to 2.1mm (red to black) line 6 cables)

Visit Walrus Audio for more info about the Aetos Clean Power Supply.

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Performance:

Your power supply is probably the single most important piece of gear on your pedalboard. All your fancy pedals won’t mean a thing if your power supply is junk. Also, please understand that I am very skeptical of new power supplies. Trust me, they all are not created equal. If you’ve ever had a cheap power supply burn out in the middle of a gig, you know what I’m talking about. So while I’m going to talk about the features of the Walrus Audio Aetos and how beneficial they may be to guitarists, my reliability test is probably the most important aspect of this review.

I got my hands on this unit over 90 days before writing this review. While it wouldn’t have taken too long to learn the ins and outs of the Aetos and write a quick review, I did something a little different. I plugged in the Walrus Audio Aetos and left it on for 6-8 hours or more nearly every day for a straight month. I have also been using it as my main power supply for testing pedals and powering pedals in our recent review videos. I also usually run at least one pedal off of an external wall-wart power supply from the Aetos’ complimentary power output.

So my report so far in the few months I’ve been using the Aetos is that all is well. If my previous experience with Walrus Audio products including the Janus and Descent is any indication, the Aetos should be a gig worthy power supply that will hold up to the powering needs demanded of it.

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The Aetos has 8 output jacks on the front side of the unit. 6 of them are 9VDC outputs for lower power consumption pedals that require only 100 mA of power or less. This includes most standard-sized stompbox pedals (fuzz, distortion, overdrive, etc.). Walrus Audio’s own Janus is an example of a lower power consumption pedal. The remaining 2 9VDC 250 mA power outputs give you a little more power for pedals that require more than 100 mA. Walrus Audio’s Descent is an example here. As always, check your product manuals to find out the power requirements for your pedals before plugging them into the wrong outputs. Some pedals can be damaged from wrong current/voltage sources. Use common sense, and you’ll be okay.

 

Time and time again I’ve discovered that a courtesy outlet
is probably the most valuable feature on a power supply.

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One of the biggest benefits of the Aetos is its courtesy outlet. This lets you plug in any other device to the Aetos via their own dedicated power supply. Say you have a pedal that requires 450 mA. Use that pedal’s power supply in this output. Maybe you have a special wireless system on your pedalboard with some special power requirement. Plug it in here. You could even use an outlet splitter to plug in a few extra wall warts if necessary. Basically, when you’re laying your pedalboard out on stage for a gig, it’s usually best if you only have to plug in one central power cord to get juice to everything on your board. This extra outlet on the Aetos ensures that it’ll probably be the only thing you need to plug in. Practical and essential. Also, while the 8 power outputs on the front let you power up to 8 pedals (assuming you’re not using a separately purchased power splitter cable to power even more pedals), the extra output lets you add at least one more pedal for 9 or more total pedals from this single power hub. Very cool.

Also, as the full product name implies, yes, this is a “clean power supply”. If you’re a first time power supply buyer and are ready to step up from daisy-chaining your pedals or using batteries for power, know that having a fully isolated power supply like the Aetos will alleviate your signal from potential noise issues and interference caused from cheap non-isolated power supplies or daisy-chaining pedals in series. The unit also includes 8 standard Boss-style power cables and 2 Line 6-style power cables.

All in all, the Aetos is a sensible and rugged little unit built by a company that already has a reputation for making quality pedals. Sounds like a winner to me. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The Walrus Audio Aetos is a thoughtfully designed power supply that should provide enough juice for most small to medium sized pedalboards. With 8 total 9VDC output jacks (6x100mA & 2x 250mA) and an extra power outlet, it has the capability to ensure everything on your pedalboard is powered up by simply plugging in your Aetos at your gigs. This thing is solid and a cool foray by Walrus Audio into other useful and well-designed products for effects pedal using guitarists. This is definitely one of the best small to medium sized pedalboard power supplies around, so check it out.

That concludes our Walrus Audio Aetos review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW Review – Best Pedalboard w/ Flight Case?

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For performing and touring guitarists who use effects pedals, your pedalboard is one of the most important considerations to be made. You need a pedalboard of adequate size to accommodate all of your effects pedals and power supplies and that is convenient to transport from gig to gig. While a quality pedalboard with flight case is definitely needed for frequent-flying guitarists with a reasonable amount of pedals to transport, locally performing guitarists will also appreciate the extra protection, security, and ease of transport afforded by a quality pedalboard with flight case. The Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW is one such pedalboard that looks to fit the bill.

The Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW offers a means to securely transport 10-14 pedals in a rugged Gator quality flight case with removable pedalboard. This is one of the more feature-packed and affordable solutions out there and understandably caught our attention. Is this the best pedalboard with flight case available? You’ll find out in our Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW review.

Features:

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Large TOUR grade pedalboard for 10-14 pedals.

3M “Dual Lock” pedal fastener.

Removable 24”x11” pedalboard surface.

Plywood pedalboard with aluminum valance.

Pro grade shock absorbing EVA foam interior.

Heavy duty Gator Signature hardware.

Cable storage included in lower portion of case.

3 spring-loaded carry handles for easy transportation.

Inline wheels on flight case.

4 recessed twist latches with 2 sets of lock holes.

Visit Gator Cases for more info about the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW.

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Performance:

The Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW is great example of a pedalboard/flight case combo done right. This product hits high marks for the most important factors considered when looking for a pre-made pedalboard. These criteria include durability & pedal protection, ease of use, ease of transport, and reasonable surface area for pedal mounting. I’m going to cover my general experience with the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW (LGW meaning “Large with Wheels”) and bring up these various points along the way.

Upon unboxing the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW you’ll notice that everything is pretty much ready to go. The pedalboard is completely preassembled, and all that’s left to do is use the included 3M Dual Lock to fasten your pedals to the board. (Of course you should take some time to decide how you want to arrange your pedals before randomly sticking them on.) 3M Dual Lock has become one of the best replacements for velcro when mounting pedals and provides superior grip to keep your pedals safely affixed to your pedalboard. The G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW comes with enough 3M Dual Lock to mount a full assortment of pedals to cover the pedalboard’s surface, but if you’re the type of guitarist that rotates pedals often, you may want to consider picking up an extra roll of Dual Lock.

The pedalboard itself is made of plywood and has a sturdy feel that should hold up to the riggers of frequent performance. An aluminum border offers protection around the perimeter of the pedalboard. The 2 handles placed at each end have a tight rugged feel and are held securely in place by bolts on the top and bottom of the pedalboard surface. The handles provide enough room for a comfortable grip and allow easy removal from the flight case for a quick set up and tear down during gigs. 6 rubber pads placed at the 4 corners and at the center edges provide support and a sturdy grip on hard surface floors. The G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW is simply built and perfectly functional.

The flight case is fully adorned with aluminum boarders around all surface edges, and the corners are all reinforced with ball case covers to protect the case from impact. The G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW case is ruggedly built to Gator Cases’ high standards to withstand the normal bumping and scuffing that occurs during transport, inspiring confidence that your prized pedals will remain safe within. On the inside roof of the case is a thick layer of foam that will also help to protect your pedals in the event of some kind of serious impact to the case. Those with security concerns will also appreciate that 2 of the 4 total latches have lock holes for keeping meddling hands away from your pedals.

If you’ve ever dealt with the inconvenience of lugging around a cumbersome pedalboard from gig to gig, there a few little design perks that are a nice touch to this pedalboard. A single side handle allows one-handed carrying. Those who want to spare any back problems or encourage band teamwork will appreciate the 2 handles at each end of the flight case that allow 2 people to distribute the weight load and quickly carry the case to its destination. Another plus of the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW are the inline wheels at the end of the case that allow easy movement through airports or across any hard, flat surfaces. You’ll greatly appreciate how much this simple touch aids in transportation.

I also like how the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW has plenty of space beneath the pedalboard for storage. Fitting in a few cables is no problem, and if your guitar case is full, throw in extra strings, spare patch cords, straps, some 3M Dual Lock, or anything else you might need on the road.

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While Gator Cases estimates that you can use around 10-14 guitar pedals with the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW, that number may be a bit lower if you plan to use a dedicated power supply for your pedals instead of batteries. Most guitarists seeking a professional pedalboard solution of this type will probably be using a dedicated power supply, so this will eat into your pedalboard real estate a bit and must be considered. All the original photos in this review feature a standard power supply to give you an idea of how to factor that into your potential pedalboard arrangement. The foam inside the roof of the case touches the top of the mounted pedals, so mounting a pedal on top of your power supply isn’t an option. But there’s still plenty of room for a range of at least 8-12 pedals with a dedicated power supply on the board. This is more than sufficient for many guitarists’ needs, but you still can get up to 14 pedals on the board depending on how large your pedals are and where their jacks are located.

Here are a few more examples of how pedals of various sizes may be used with the Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW.

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Above you’ll notice that on the bottom right, I have 2 pedals placed together with rear-mounted jacks. If you replaced the 2 wide pedals with 4 smaller pedals, you could fit up to 12 pedals. If more pedals along the front row had rear-mounted jacks, you could possibly place at least 14 pedals on the board with room for a power supply. (Of course, in that situation you’d probably have to use a power supply and daisy chain combo to power so many pedals.)

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Above you’ll notice that on the right side of the pedalboard that I placed a column of 3 horizontal positisioned pedals.

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Above I added a large wah pedal to the pedalboard. There is plenty of room on the G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW to place extra long pedals.

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Above is similiar to the previous example, but I wanted to show you that there is room to place pedals over the aluminum border of the pedalboard. The 3M Dual Lock elevates pedals slightly, so you can extend over the edges a bit and still have room to close the flight case. This is useful for guitarists who like to make use of every possible bit of space on the pedalboard.

The Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW rocks. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalbaord-LGW is one of the most viable solutions for any guitarist seeking a reliable pedalboard and flight case combo. The G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW offers solid protection for at least 8-12 pedals with a dedicated power supply. If you’re using smaller pedals, you may be able to squeeze on a few more for up to around 14. The extra storage in the case is a nice bonus, and the outside handles and inline wheels ensure quick and convenient transport in most gigging situations. Want the best pedalboard w/ flight case? The Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW is built tough and tough to beat.

That concludes our Gator Cases G-Tour Pedalboard-LGW review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Decibel Eleven Hot Stone Deluxe Review – Best Pedal Power Supply?

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In the growing market of effects pedal power supplies, there haven’t been too many changes or innovations to really shake things up. It may seem like a pretty straight-forward area, but what goes into making a really good power supply is actually a bit more complicated. Manufacturers have to consider the wide-ranging power requirements of an endless assortment of pedals with a lot of emphasis on the requirements of some of the most popular pedals on the market at any given time. And considerations must be made for popular pedals with more demanding power requirements. While a few power supplies have gained popularity over the years, some of these units have glaring shortcomings. Decibel Eleven sought to address these issues with their flagship power supply, the Hot Stone Deluxe. Is the Hot Stone Deluxe the best effects pedal power supply out there? We’ll find out in our Decibel Eleven Hot Stone Deluxe review.

Do I need a power supply?

A quality guitar effects pedal power supply is a must for any guitarist who uses more than a handful of pedals. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out with a band or are a stadium-touring pro, you need a good power supply. Popping batteries in your pedals every few weeks adds up, so the sooner you get a power supply the better. If you have one or two pedals in your gig bag, you can probably do without. But if you have about 4 or more pedals and need a reliable way to give them some juice, a decent power supply is a must.

The Hot Stone Deluxe is capable of powering up to 8-10 guitar pedals. That’s plenty of power for most medium to large sized pedalboards. Even if you have a few less pedals, the Hot Stone Deluxe is still worth considering as you never know when you’re going to find more pedals that you can’t live without. The Hot Stone Deluxe will ensure that your pedal power requirements will be met even as your pedalboard grows in size. We’ll dig deeper into the Hot Stone Deluxe’s capabilities and performance, but first let’s run down the features it has to offer.

Decibel-Eleven-11-Hot-Stone-Deluxe-Review-Best-Effects-Pedal-Power-Supply-02Features:

10 total power outlets for powering up to 8-10 pedals.

Outlets 1-2: 9V and/or 12V, 400mA

Outlets 3-4: 9V and/or 12V, 400mA

Outlets 5-6: 9V, 100mA each

Outlets 7-8: 9V or 12V, 200mA each

Outlets 9-10: 5V-9V (continuously variable via voltage sag control knobs), 100mA each

Dimensions (WxDxH): 6.10” x 3.46” x 1.73” – same as some other common power supplies.

Includes 8 BLACK power cables with Boss-style 5.5×2.1mm end jacks.

Includes 2 BLUE 5.5×2.5mm cables (compatible with Eventide, Line 6, etc.).

Includes 1 power cable with 1/8” plug tip.

Visit Decibel Eleven for more info about the Hot Stone Deluxe power supply.

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Also featured in the video: Decibel Eleven Pedal Palette

Performance:

For this review I hooked up an assortment of pedals to the Hot Stone Deluxe and left the power supply on at length. I played various combinations of pedals to check for noise and to see how the Hot Stone Deluxe fares under extended use. I also evaluated the various powering options to see just how versatile this power supply really is. Here’s my detailed review.

First off, it’s very important to power your pedals with an isolated and regulated power supply as this helps to ensure and maintain a quiet rig. The Hot Stone Deluxe provides 8 isolated power sections and 10 total outputs which may all be used at once. The Hot Stone Deluxe produces no detectable noise or hum even when cables are in close proximity to the unit. Throughout my testing, the power supply remained remarkably quiet. If you’re still using a daisy chain to power your pedals and are experiencing noise issues, upgrading to the Hot Stone Deluxe is a solution worth considering.

One of the most important factors when choosing a power supply and ensuring that it functions properly is to be aware of the mA ratings of the power supply and your pedals. Many power supplies fall short in not having enough outputs with the required milliamp rating to power your pedals effectively. Decibel Eleven have taken this into careful consideration. 4 outputs are rated at 100mA, 2 are rated at 200mA, and the 2 left sections (9 and/or 12 volt) are each rated at 400mA. The Hot Stone Deluxe provides more than enough power for most needs to ensure that you won’t have to sacrifice one of your favorite pedals when building your pedalboard.

The Hot Stone Deluxe has a few noteworthy special features. The last two inputs are variable from 5 to 9 volts with conveniently located voltage sag controls beneath the power outputs. This is an option worth exploring with various fuzz and distortion pedals to simulate that dying-battery sound by reducing the power to the pedal. Some interesting and usable results can often be found. Also, the 200mA outputs are variable between 9 and 12 volts via 2 tiny switches located on the backside of the pedal (not underneath like on some power supplies from other companies). I actually used one of these outputs to power the Decibel Eleven Pedal Palette. These extra couple 200mA outputs really give the Hot Stone Deluxe an edge over other powering solutions. while most standard compact pedals require less than 100mA, you don’t want to be caught realizing one of your pedals needs 120-140mA or more power and not have the available output to power it. It’s extremely convenient to have so much available power on tap as this makes the Hot Stone Deluxe an indispensable necessity for powering everything on your pedalboard.

The two left power sections will let you run a pedal at 9 and 12 volts at up to 400mA. I was able to use this section to power the Moog MF-108M Cluster FluxEventide H9 Harmonizer, and Strymon BigSky with no problems. And let’s say you have 2 pedals, one requiring 9 volts and one requiring 12 volts that use less than 400mA combined. You can power both pedals from one of these power sections. This allows you to use up to 10 pedals total which is more than sufficient for most medium to large size pedalboards.

The weight of the product is comparable to other units of similar proportions. It’s also very convenient that the Hot Stone Deluxe is compatible with pedalboard solutions from PedalTrain and other manufacturers. Decibel Eleven really put in the effort with the Hot Stone Deluxe to ensure that it’s real contender for being the best effects pedal power supply on the market.

One more thing to note, for a product called the “Hot Stone”, the unit remains reasonably cool under extended use. I left it powered on for quite a while with a full assortment of various pedals connected, and it never gave me any problems. The Hot Stone Deluxe really has a lot going for it. Let’s see the final result.

UPDATE: The Hot Stone Deluxe blew a fuse about 15 minutes before a gig. I left it on after soundcheck for nearly 2 hours. It was under the second tier of a Holeyboard. I have since replaced the fuse, and it works fine; however, be advised when mounting it in a tight space or leaving it on for extended periods of time. Our final score has been revised to reflect possible reliability issues.

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Overall-Rating-4.0

The Decibel Eleven Hot Stone Deluxe is certainly one of the best effects pedal power supplies on the market today. Decibel Eleven did their homework to ensure that the Hot Stone Deluxe has more than enough power to satisfy just about any combination of pedals you could possibly cram onto a medium or large size pedalboard. The Hot Stone Deluxe maintains what has become an industry-standard size while being able to power up to 10 pedals, including high-end pedals like the Eventide H9, Strymon TimeLine, and pedals from Moog, Line 6, TC Electronic, and more. If you’re looking for a serious professional grade power supply, the Decibel Eleven Hot Stone Deluxe deserves your consideration.

That concludes our Decibel Eleven Hot Stone Deluxe review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit Review – Best Guitar Pedalboard Patch Cables?

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So you’ve bought a bunch of guitar pedals, then built your own pedalboard or picked up one pre-assembled. Now you’re ready to connect all your pedals. You can go with pre-cut cables of various lengths and often end up with excess cable or come up just a few inches short of reach. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than when that happens. Or you can try a solderless cable solution. A few solderless cable kits have been popping up in recent years, and Free the Tone have also released a promised “Easy To Make” solution. I’ll try them out in my Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit review and see if they’re really the best guitar pedalboard patch cables out there.

Free-The-Tone-Solderless-Cable-Kit-Review-Best-Guitar-Pedalboard-Patch-Cables-01Features:

10 End Plugs in S-Type (straight) and L-Type (angled) configurations.

3 Meters of high-quality cable for making many cables of various lengths.

Easy to Make.

Nickel End Plugs (Gold-plated also available).

Visit Free the Tone for more info about the Solderless Cable Kit.

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Sound & Performance:

For years I have been using thick patch cables with huge gold-plated end plugs. I was sold on the hype of the promised quality of premium cables, and although generally satisfied with the quality of the cables, there have been a few glaring issues.

First off, with pre-made cables, you’ll always find yourself in a situation where there’s just a little too much or too little cable. This can be a horrendous inconvenience as you may have to arrange your entire pedalboard layout to compensate for this issue of length. The Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit eliminates the issue of too much or too little cable by allowing you to cut and make patch cables of any desired length. This allows your guitar effects pedals to be connected with precisely the right length of cable. Whether you need a few inches or several feet of cable, these solderless cables can be made to any length you require.

Another glaring issue of many pre-made cables of supposed high-quality is the gigantic size of the end plugs. These huge end plugs can be terribly inconvenient when connecting pedals and trying to conserve space on a cramped pedalboard. Large end plugs may force you to space pedals farther apart, consuming more precious pedalboard real estate. They can even get in the way of power input jacks due to their cumbersome size. The small size of the end plugs in the Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit are a welcome solution for conserving space on your pedalboard while ensuring easy access to power input jacks.

The cables are indeed “Easy To Make” as it says clearly on the box. While I’m often skeptical of such claims, it’s very true in this case. All you need is a small phillips and flat-head screw-driver. The L-type and S-type plugs use different screws. Also, wire cutters would be handy, but a straight cut with a decent pair of scissors will do.

Every cable I made worked perfectly and they assemble in mere minutes. I was pleasantly surprised by how reliable these cables are. For those who put in the effort to get everything on their pedalboard arranged just right, you’ll probably even enjoy making cables of precise length for a very clean-looking pedalboard layout.

Most importantly, the patch cables made with the Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit sound great. Hooking up several solderless cables and a/b comparing them to thicker and more costly gold-plated pre-made cables revealed no glaring difference in tonal quality. The difference in cables is often so subtle anyway that only the most discerning ears can hear the variations. But still, these cables are of very solid quality and are a good candidate for your main cables for patching all of your effects pedals.

This is a very convenient product that is typical of the high-quality creations coming from Free the Tone. Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit offers a convenient way to wire up your pedalboard with patch cables of exactly the right length. They’re as “Easy To Make” as the box claims, also. The small end plugs are a welcome addition as they help conserve space on your pedalboard while freeing up access to power inputs. They’re great sounding, reliable, and have ultra small end plugs. If you’re looking for the best guitar pedalboard patch cables out there, the Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit may be the best solution for your needs.

That concludes our Free the Tone Solderless Cable Kit review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Chemistry Design Werks Holeyboard WIDE Review – Best Guitar Pedalboard?

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The Holeyboard WIDE from Chemistry Design Werks is a pedalboard like no other. There are many options out there as far as pedalboards go, but nearly all of them feature one option for securing your pedals to the board: velcro or some similar adhesive tape. The Holeyboard pedalboards differ in that they use zip-ties to affix your pedals to the surface. That’s right, no nasty residue or unreliable velcro to come loose. The Holeyboard WIDE promises superior security in a convenient and ergonomic pedalboard shape. Could this be the best guitar pedalboard out there? Keep reading our Chemistry Design Werks Holeyboard WIDE review to find out.

Features:

2-Levels for convenient placement of effects pedals.

Top Shelf can be positioned in the middle or to the left or the right.

Holds 8-12 pedals comfortably

Room for power supply and/or 6-outlet power strip under top shelf. (No power included)

Zip-ties hold pedals securely using the many available holes. Fully compatible with velcro if preferred.

6 HD Rubber Feet (screwed on) elevate board 5/8” off of ground and provide maximum stability.

3 large integrated handles.

¾” Baltic Birch 12-ply construction.

Natural and painted options available.

Optional Holeyboard Bomber Case with adjustable shoulder strap for convenient transportation to rehearsals and gigs.

Visit Chemistry Design Werks for more info about the Holeyboard WIDE.

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Performance:

I was very excited upon discovering the Holeyboard series of pedalboards, especially the Holeyboard WIDE. Of over 20 different companies I researched on my quest to find the best pedalboards available, Chemistry Design Werks is the only one offering zip-tie attachment as the primary means for attaching pedals to the board.

Why is zip-tie attachment of pedals so significant?

There are two main reasons. The first is that you don’t have to deal with sticky velcro residue on your guitar pedals. That’s a big deal for some people. I’m one of them. But the other reason is much more important. Zip-ties offer indisputable superiority over velcro when it comes to attaching your prized effects pedals securely to your pedalboard.

Over the years I’ve built 5 pedalboards for myself of various larger sizes. My solution? Get a big piece of flat board from a hardware store, put rubber feet and metal handles on it, and drill a grid of holes across the entire surface for using with zip-ties. It boggles my mind why it took so long for a company to package this idea and sell it. Thankfully, Chris over at Chemistry Design Werks recognized a void in the market and devised a brilliantly executed product to meet the needs of many guitarists out there.

The Holeyboard WIDE pedalboard comes shipped flat. Its two separate pieces of wood are easily attached with the 2 included HoleyRisers. Just make sure you have a philips head screwdriver and some pliers or a crescent wrench handy. You’ll be ready to attach pedals in less than 10 minutes.

Once you assemble the Holeyboard WIDE, you’ll immediately notice that it has a very rugged feel. It feels like a very solid pedalboard that will stand up to years of abuse.

This pedalboard looks great, too. The surfaces are smooth and all the edges rounded off with no jagged protrusions. You can get the Holeyboard WIDE in a standard natural finish for DIY customizing or in a pre-painted finish. (Be sure to check out ChemistryDesignWerks.com for the latest finish options.) The Holeyboard WIDE owes its sleek looks and fine design to its “Made in the USA” craftsmanship.

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The ability to attach the second shelf to the middle, left, or right is a subtle, but vital touch. Putting the tier shelf in the middle leaves plenty of room for a full-size wah on the right and perhaps a volume pedal on the left. In one configuration, I put the shelf to the left and used a half-rack sized wireless system to extend the second row with a foot controller (pictured above).

There’s also plenty of room underneath the top board for a power supply and tucking away excess cables and power cords. You can even mount a 6 socket power strip for those extra power adaptors.

For gigging musicians, the Bomber Case is a welcome addition, offering a convenient and reliable way to transport the Holeyboard WIDE to rehearsals and gigs. I was skeptical about how well the Bomber Case would hold up, but after loading the Holeyboard WIDE with pedals and taking it to multiple practice sessions and shows, I’m sold on the overall quality of this entire pedalboard solution.

The contoured shape of the Holeyboard WIDE gives it a nice feel during use. The second level is at the perfect height and angle for allowing comfortable access to all pedals and their footswitches from a stationary position. And it sets up and packs up quickly. The Holeyboard WIDE was conceived by musicians for musicians.

Let’s have the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.5

The Chemistry Design Werks Holeyboard WIDE is a true standout pedalboard in a market of imitators. If you’ve ever dealt with the horrors of having your expensive pedals come loose from a flimsy velcro pedalboard, you’ll love the unrivaled security the Holeyboard WIDE offers by using zip-ties to attach pedals. And no more mutilating your pedals with nasty velcro residue. The Holeyboard WIDE provides rugged “Made in the USA” construction, designed to ensure long-lasting performance. The curved contour design with angled top shelf ensure comfortable reach during performance. If you’re looking for the best guitar pedalboard, the Chemistry Design Werks Holeyboard WIDE may be the one for you.

That concludes our Chemistry Design Werks Holeyboard WIDE review. Thanks for reading.

 

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SKB PS-55 Stagefive Pedalboard Review – Best Powered Pedalboard Case?

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SKB is a world recognized leader in producing military grade, indestructible molded cases. So when a company who makes products of this caliber designs a professional pedalboard case to protect, transport, and power your prized collection of guitar pedals, it’s probably a good idea to check it out. This particular pedalboard is SKB’s flagship product. Is it the best powered pedalboard case out there? Keep reading our SKB PS-55 Stagefive pedalboard review to find out.

At a glance this certainly looks like a viable option for anyone seeking a middle to larger size pedalboard. You should be able to comfortably arrange and power 8 to 10 pedals depending on their size and power requirements. I’ve been using an SKB flight case for one of my guitars for the past 5 years, so I can already personally attest to the quality construction and durability of SKB cases. Now let’s run down the full list of features and get to the real review.

Features:

Rotomolded for durability.

Hardtop cover.

SKB-PS-55-Stagefive-Pedalboard-Review-Best-Powered-Pedalboard-Case-02

4 standard 9VDC 100mA jacks for Boss, Electro Harmonix, etc.

2 variable DC 100mA jacks for any voltage from 4 V to 12 V.

2 9/12 VDC 100mA jacks for more boutique and vintage pedals.

2 1.3 amp VAC jacks for pedals from Digitech and Line 6.

1 18 VDC jack for MXR EVH Flanger, etc.

1 24 VDC jack for boutique and vintage pedals.

All DC jacks have polarity switches.

SKB-PS-55-Stagefive-Pedalboard-Review-Best-Powered-Pedalboard-Case-05All power outputs are completely isolated, filtered, & regulated.

All power outputs include short circuit protection.

Built-in cable tester.

Headphone amp and buffered preamp.

Cable management system for easy cable routing.

Angled velcro mounting surface for easier reach.

Includes velcro tape for mounting pedals.

Capable of “true stereo” setup (route pedals to the front AND effect loops of two different amps).

Detachable main power cord with international power supply.

Power cables included.

Visit SKB for more info about the PS-55 Stagefive Professional Pedalboard Management System.

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Performance:

From the moment you pull the SKB PS-55 Stagefive pedalboard out of the box, you’ll notice that this is a solidly built piece of hardware. It certainly has that rugged feel that SKB cases are known for. The SKB PS-55 Stagefive pedalboard gives you a comforting sense of security that your pedals will be very well protected.

Like most pedalboard solutions, the SKB PS-55 Stagefive uses velcro to adhere your effects pedals to its surface. While the velcro alone is strong enough to keep most pedals secure during transit, this pedalboard provides an addition layer of security thanks to SKB’s cable management system.

The cable management system provides a convenient way to route your cables beneath the surface of the board and also helps to ensure that your pedals stay securely in place. Once you get all of your pedals in place with velcro and route your audio cables below the surface, you won’t have to worry about them coming loose during transport. Thanks to the ingenious cable management system, the SKB PS-55 Stagefive provides more stability and pedal security than any other pedalboard that uses velcro.

The SKB PS-55 Stagefive comes with a ton of options for powering pedals. (See the features above for details.) And they’ve packed in plenty of power cables. The best part? The power cables are all extra long, so you’ll have no problem getting power to any part of the pedalboard. If you’ve ever used a multi-pedal power supply and kept finding yourself having to rearrange things to compensate for short cables, you’ll be very pleased that SKB have made this a non-issue. And the cable management system lets you tuck away all the excess length.

The polarity of all DC jacks can be reversed although for most pedals you’ll probably keep the switches in the negative center position. Two of the jacks even have variable voltage which is really great for that “dying battery” sound. Try it on your favorite overdrive, fuzz, and distortion pedals. The DC jacks all output 100mA which is good for most power needs. Be sure to check the power requirements of your pedals to ensure compatibility.

One of the most professional features this pedalboard offers is its true stereo operation. You can run your stereo effects to your amp with dedicated outputs. The SKB PS-55 Stagefive even has two separate effects loops for routing into two different amps. The most creative guitarists might even find some other clever possibilities for all of this generous routing functionality.

But the bells and whistles don’t stop there. The SKB PS-55 Stagefive even has a built-in cable tester. You’ll only need to be in a situation to use this once to fully appreciate its inclusion. I have a box of over 40+ cables, and I once misplaced a shorted patch cable in with the rest. Thanks to the SKB PS-55 Stagefive I was finally able to weed out that bad egg from the rest. This particular patch cable revealed its short right before a show. Scrambling to figure out which one was dead right before showtime wasn’t fun. This handy function would have resolved that situation much faster.

If you’re on tour and need to warm up on the road, the SKB PS-55 Stagefive has you covered. With the built-in headphone amp, you can even use your full range of effects pedals to keep up your guitar chops on the go or in the bedroom.

All in all, SKB has a winner on their hands with the PS-55 Stagefive Professional Pedalboard Management System.

Let’s see the final result.

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Overall-Rating-4.0

The SKB PS-55 Stagefive pedalboard is one of the best all-in-one pedalboard solutions out there. If you need the flexibility to power and transport a wide range of pedals, this may be the pedalboard for you. The option for true stereo operation with twin effects loops make this a noteworthy choice for guitarists with stereo pedals. The wide range of powering options, convenient cable management system, and road-tough SKB construction result in a real contender for the best powered pedalboard case out there. The SKB PS-55 Stagefive pedalboard is definitely worth more than just a look.

That concludes our SKB PS-55 Stagefive pedalboard review. Thanks for reading.

 

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