Never wonder again which gear an AC adapter is designed to power
by Craig Anderton
This is literally a “hot” tip—because it involves a soldering iron.
Many pieces of gear have very specific requirements when it comes to “wall wart” AC adapters, and most manuals will include a warning about how you must use only the supplied adapter. This isn’t just a way to get you to buy a spare (although that’s always a good idea!), but some adapters give a higher voltage than specified because the associated piece of gear will load it down to produce the desired voltage. Others might have an unusual connector; and while some adapters provide a DC voltage, others provide an AC voltage.
Labeling an AC adapter is a good idea, but labels can come off, writing can fade, and adhesive can cease to become sticky—any of which could leave you with an unlabeled adapter. Fortunately, there’s a sure-fire way to brand it for life: Use a soldering iron with a fine point tip to etch the name of the device it powers into the adapter’s top or side. About the only caution is to do this outside, or at least, in a room with really good ventilation; the smoke from burning plastic is not something you want to breathe.
Try this hot tip, and you’ll never have to wonder again what an AC adapter is for, or plug the wrong adapter into the wrong gear.
Craig Anderton is Editor in Chief of Harmony Central and Executive Editor of Electronic Musician magazine. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.