Many musicians use battery-powered "stomp boxes" and wireless microphones. When do you change the batteries? You can't have a device running out of power halfway through the show. Do people put in fresh batteries for each show and give away the half-used ones?

5 Answers 5


My job involves helping my boss film academic talks and presentations. This involves ensuring that our cameras and wireless mics and whatnot do not die. Our rationale is that the potential cost of having batteries of an unknown age run out during a recording is greater than the cost of just replacing them every time we shoot.

I personally tend to use the mountains of half-used batteries to power my remote controls, alarm clocks, and RC helicopters afterwards.

  • 7
    You can also use the used batteries in rehearsals. Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 14:06
  • 2
    Maybe use rechargables to reduce the "waste" batteries? It's pretty easy to plan for charging overnight between performances, and you won't have to worry about having a pile of batteries laying around that are half-used.
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 13:38
  • @Pulsehead that sounds like an answer. You could expand a little and submit it as one.
    – user393
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 19:22
  • @User393, nah... to my mind, it's not really a "new" answer, so much as a "value-add" to Babu's good answer.
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 12:41

For anything that can be powered directly (stomp boxes), do that. There are power strips that will lock down your transformer bricks, and also breakout boxes that will provide you directly with a number of DC terminals.

Wireless mic battery packs should be replaced for each performance. Unless you're only performing for a small group of people and the space is intimate enough to offset needing to take time to change a battery pack, you're going to want to avoid that kind of disruption at all costs.

And yes, this means that in, say, a musical production with 15 wireless mics and four performances (plus two dress rehearsals), I'd budget for 60 batteries (Duracell) plus 30 for dress rehearsals (store brand for these). What you do with them afterwards is up to you, just don't chuck them in the trash--find out how to recycle or dispose of them properly if you can't give them away to be used.

  • While I understand that running batteries until they fail is not an option, replacing after each performance a battery that could last many dozens seems wasteful. I would think that if doing daily performances one determines that the shortest-lived battery can be expected to last a month, replacing all the batteries on a fixed weekly schedule should be as good as replacing them daily. Not that batteries are hugely expensive, but why waste them needlessly?
    – supercat
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 17:04
  • @supercat Wireless transmission is rather power-intensive. In my experience even a couple of days is pushing it, when you consider the pack is going to be powered on for up to 5 hours per day assuming a long performance and prep time.
    – NReilingh
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 17:11

When I was performing I used a power adapter for my stomp boxes. There are splitter cables for connecting the stomp boxes out there.

For example:

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  • FYI, since this will be for a performance, you should spend the extra few minutes (and money) for a noiseless variety. Otherwise the hum of these power-chains gets a bit loud. Good enough for my practicing, but I would never go on stage with my current setup.
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 13:14

For floor hardware, use transformers wherever possible.

Just use batteries in mobile kit, and always use brand new batteries for a live gig. Those ones you take out can be used in rehearsals or the studio until they die.

Keep a battery case in your gig bag - for 9v batteries you don't want them discharging against each other or against sensitive kit so a case will hold them safely and insulated from anything else. New batteries stay in their packaging until use. Used batteries stay in the battery case until discharged, then delivered to recycling.


As others have said, use transformers wherever possible. When batteries are unavoidable, use rechargables and recharge them fully for each show. With one recharge cycle per week, common NiMH batteries last about 3 years before their capacity degrades so much they won't last for 2 hours (down from ~4 hours in the same application).
Recently I've started using NiZn batteries for our wireless mic transmitters. These are brilliant: more than 8 hours on a charge. They produce 1.6 V rather than the 1.2 V of NiMH cells so you don't get problems with devices that want more than 1.2 V.

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