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I have started purchasing effects pedals. The three I have so far allow the use of batteries. They are Boss Loop Station RC3, VD400 Vintage Analog Delay and tc electronic Nether.

Two are switched on by inserting a jack into the input socket of said pedals. The Boss Loop Station is switched on by inserting a jack into the output socket.

This makes perfect sense to me for two pedals that are mounted on a board where the looper is last in the chain. At the end of a gig, the guitar lead would be unplugged from the input of the effect pedal and the amp lead would be unplugged from the output of the looper thus preserving the batteries.

What doesn't make sense to me is if I have a chain of such effects that are powered by batteries, it means that I would have to unplug all the intermediate effects from one-another in order to switch them off in order to save the batteries. What a chore!

Question

If the pedals have True Bypass, is there a technical reason why they can't just switch off the pedal altogether by using the foot-switch? Why tie this function to the jack socket?

If there is a technical reason and I have a series of effects pedals, each powered by battery, do I have to unplug all the intermediate ones in order to avoid draining the batteries. If so, does it make sense to ever use batteries in the first place?


Note

From the manual of my Vintage Delay VD400 pedal enter image description here

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  • Why a manufacturer chose to do anything a particular way could only be answered by that manufacturer. – Tetsujin Nov 13 '20 at 18:25
  • @Tetsujin - In my supplementary question, I'm not asking why this was chosen so much as why it is necessary. (If it is necessary) – chasly - supports Monica Nov 13 '20 at 18:27
  • It's necessary to prevent the battery going flat. Pretty simple. If the device were to be powered off in bypass, then the circuit couldn't be guaranteed to come back to spec inside the 2ms it would take to generate a big audible thump. – Tetsujin Nov 13 '20 at 18:30
  • @Tetsujin - Thanks - That's a good answer. Are you able to provide an actual full answer for he whole question? I'd appreciate it. – chasly - supports Monica Nov 13 '20 at 18:32
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    I have pedals that could take batteries. My amp needs power, places I play have power, and powering effects from the wall means I won't get chemical leaks in my pedals. The Eric Johnson "power sag" is justifying old bad engineering IMHO. – Dave Jacoby Nov 13 '20 at 20:54
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Typically, one or other of the sockets is a physical power switch, as well as a signal connection. Remembering which socket is the switch is probably not a simple task, so the result is that every time you're not using your pedals, you should unplug the whole lot.

The reason that bypass doesn't disconnect the power circuit is that all electronic equipment takes a non-zero time to come into active service from power-on. Even if that only takes 2ms, that's a big audible thump into your amp.

If you have all your pedals mounted to a board, preventing easy disconnect between sessions, then remove all batteries* & swap to an external mains power supply.

*This is a safety precaution so that you don't one day find acid oozing out of the pedal into your nice carpet ;)

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    Good answer. Another option is an external battery pack that connects to the power jack. These often have a little on/off switch but are easy to unplug if they don't. – luser droog Nov 14 '20 at 7:25
  • Like Tim says in his answer, a power plug works as a power-off switch, because it disconnects the internal battery. When you're done playing, plug a power plug to the DC power jack. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Nov 14 '20 at 13:58
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Batteries can sometimes prevent mains-borne noise, and I used battery operation till I added a digital delay, which lasted half a gig. Before that, I plugged bare DC plugs in after use - they disconnected the batteries.

But eventually, PSU took over as the weapon of the day, making life so much easier - till a pedal using different voltage came along. Ended up with a four pin XLR lead back to the amp, and a double socket in the amp, with two PSUs feeding its cable.

Answer to question: having a separate switch means extra work inside the pedal, which could then be accidentally switched off mid solo, so fitting a switched jack socket makes sense. That apart, most players with multiple pedals end up using mains power, which is what most amps use anyway.

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  • It hadn't occurred to me to use a dummy power plug. I suppose that means I'd need one for each pedal. – chasly - supports Monica Nov 14 '20 at 15:34
  • Yes, you would. It's not an ideal solution - just a solution. – Tim Nov 14 '20 at 16:34
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If each box is self-contained for powering purposes, it's difficult to see how you could avoid each having its own power switch!

They use a bypass switch rather than a power switch because electronic circuits don't generally sound good when starting up or shutting down. At best you can expect some sort of 'ramping up' effect, at worst a nasty click or thump.

Take the batteries out and add a mains-driven power supply. Or, yes, plugging a dummy power connector into each box might work. But that still means doing something to each box. Why not have that 'something' be pulling out the jack?

Either way, one day you WILL forget to do it. So always carry spare batteries. Or get an psu.

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