Tuesday, 12 January 2016

MyVolts 5 way power splitter cable - Review!

Now nearly two years old, Korg's set of analogue grooveboxes continue to be a source of useful sounds and musical experimentation. While you do have the option to run all four Volcas from batteries, as each unit needs six AAs it's a far more economical proposition to buy a power supply for each one. Sacrificing portability for sustained play also has other advantages; when the batteries start to run low, users have reported sync and volume issues with the units, likely due to the analogue nature of the internals. However, Korg neglected to include a power supply in the box and instead give you a set of rather dodgy looking batteries to keep you going. 

Step in MyVolts, who have recently released a 5-way power splitter designed specifically for the Volcas and I picked one up as soon as it was released. Here's a look at what you can expect.

Power Up


If, like me, you hadn't heard of the company before, MyVolts specialise in USB power connectors and after-market power supplies. A quick search on their website will reveal both USB 2.0 connectors and compatible power supplies that can power the Korg Volcas, as well as other music hardware. At the time of writing, the 5-way supply cable is available via the Amazon marketplace, though I expect this will get added to their website in the near future. Delivery was less than a week; especially of note as this was slap bang in the middle of the Christmas holidays.

The product is fairly simple; it's a five way splitter cable that plugs into either a standard 9V power supply or a USB power adaptor and can power up to five Volcas on the same power supply. If you have a power supply with a standard tip, you can use that to power the five-way cable, if not, MyVolts supply either the USB or wall wart as additional options at purchase. As I already have a few power supplies, I thought it would be a good call to grab the USB adaptor at the same time. 


On its own, the USB plug is a smart little lead for a USB 2.0 plug with plenty of length for desktop machines or to trail across a desk for getting to your gear in the optimum position. In fact, if I didn't have the splitter cable, I would have considered getting a few of the USB connectors to run my Volcas off a powered USB hub. Either way, the 5 way splitter cable plugs directly into the USB adaptor and starts working straight away.

Both the splitter and the USB adaptor come bundled with long cables, giving you plenty of room to reach behind computers and across desks. At no point did it feel like a chore to spread my gear out across a desk, with plenty of length between the split point in the cable and the five heads to work with up to five devices. In my case I have the cable dangling out of the way across the top of my PC's case; literally a fit and forget solution for power when I next use my Volcas.

Alternatives

While I have pointed out in the past that this it is not difficult to come across power supplies for hardware like the Korg Volcas, it can also be expensive. For example, I opted to buy a multimode and multi-connector solution from Maplin (on the premise that I could also use them for other gear if I needed to). In fact, I actually bought four of them so I could power the three Volcas and my Mini KP2 together, which uses 4.5V with the same connectors as the Volcas, but at £15 a pop, this is an expensive answer to the question of how to power the units. Mind you, if you thought this were bad, I was quoted £30 plus p&p when I last phoned up Korg directly to enquire after their official power supply. Not to mention that I need to use a separate 4-way power plug from the wall and when I am already running two PCs and other outboard gear, space and free power plugs are already at a premium. Then there's the safety concern of plugging a four way power adaptor into another multi-way adaptor....

Conclusion

Quite simply, this is a hands-down essential purchase for any owner of multiple Volcas, it's a miracle that someone hasn't already thought of something like this. While power is not exactly a glamorous part of music making, without it you're not going to get anything done and freeing up a few more plugs is always a good thing if you want to run loads of outboard hardware like I do.

It's relatively cheap to buy and you're going to save plenty by using this cable instead of separate supplies and the advantage of being able to power this with your laptop makes your Volcas more portable without any of the issues of low power under batteries.


A solid thumbs up for me!

Note: I have yet to test the cable as a 5 way splitter for use with Korg's Kaossilators, which use the same connector and need 4.5V, but I am hopeful that this will allow me to run all my Kaossillators together as well!

Links:
http://myvolts.co.uk - MyVolts Website