I am trying to build a power supply unit that powers eight 9V guitar pedals (usually pedals consume 10-100mA). So, I thought I'd buy 8 cheap 9V-1A SMPS adapters and probably fix some bypass capacitors at the output to remove the ripples. This would make a very powerful isolated power supply unit with eight independent 9V-1A ports.

But this didn't work as significant humming noise was heard when connected to pedal and to amp.

I compared the performance by powering the pedal with a linear power supply which consists of a single transformer and eight LM7809 regulators at parallel outputs.

Result: Linear power supply gave very less humming noise than the cheap SMPS.

A probable problem could be that the switching frequency of the cheap SMPS is not high enough, even though I am not sure of it.

What Can I do to remove the humming noise from the cheap SMPS unit?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Replace it by a better one. \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Jan 15, 2018 at 10:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could be a trial and error job this... Stick an extra cap or 2 on the output, some low value, some high to try an filter different frequencies and see if that works, if not, get a few different SMPS ICs and try each. See which is better, then look through the specs to see what is different. A lot of trying to figure out which IC is best for these applications is trial and error (or so I find, plus it's a fun way to learn) \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Jan 15, 2018 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, it's not that it didn't occur to my mind, but I'd like to know if there's a cheaper solution to it. Did you figure out what might have caused the noise? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2018 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ "some bypass capacitors" is vague to the point of uselessness. Were they less than 5000uF? If so, try bigger ones. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2018 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ you can use both: a smps to drop the heavy voltage, a linear to cleanup the smps output. more efficient, less heat, but more parts/cost. lm78xxs cleanup audio-frequencies very well... \$\endgroup\$
    – dandavis
    Jan 16, 2018 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


More than likely the problem is twofold.

In a two-pin SMPS adapter there can be a lot of high frequency common-mode noise on the output. This is due to the switching frequency being 100 kHz (or more) and the internal transformer coupling primary and secondary windings capacitively. So, in order to pass EMC regulations, a small capacitor is connected from the output DC circuit to the primary bus voltage. This is done to reduce that common-mode noise like this: -

enter image description here

If the SMPS used an earth pin at the AC socket then the more conventional approach would be to connect CY1 from the DC output to earth so, if you can find a better SMPS you might get better performance.

This capacitor does something else - it couples 100 Hz ripple on the primary DC bus to the secondary and this becomes a problem with sensitive audio circuits - you pick-up 100 Hz or 120 Hz hum.

The 2nd part of the problem is that a guitar is an unbalanced signal so any common-mode pick-up (hum from the SMPS) will asymmetrically couple to the input and its local 0 volt signal return and the result is that this hum will be amplified by any pedal units you have.

Linear AC adapters do not use high frequencies and therefore do not suffer from this problem as much.

What Can I do to remove the humming noise from the cheap SMPS unit?

It is tricky to write an answer for that because some solutions will work on one particular set-up whilst others will work on a different set-up. Grounding the DC output (marked RTN on the picture above) is likely to have beneficial effects.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks man! Appreciate your effort. I now probably will go for linear power supply. Most pedals do not require more than 100mA, so using 8 small size 200mA transformers should be enough to build 8 isolated 100mA ports (since LM7809 eats up almost half of the current) right ? What do you think? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2018 at 11:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You may find that you can cross connect power connections on the pedals and have one common power supply. This would need some experimentation though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jan 15, 2018 at 11:08

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