Should You Use a Linear or Switching Power Supply For Your Analog Synth?

February, 2013 by

If you’re looking for a power supply for your analog synthesizer, you may be trying to decide between a linear power supply and a switching power supply. Whether you’re building your own analog synth, putting together a modular, or buying a power supply for a used vintage keyboard, you want to make sure that you don’t have to deal with any power issues. Obviously digital synths can utilize either a linear power supply or a switching power supply with no problems.

What’s the difference? A linear power supply uses large capacitors that are recharged at the frequency of the incoming AC power to store its energy. A switching power supply uses a switching regulator to convert electrical power, and unlike a linear power supply, it constantly switches between full-on and full-off states and minimizes wasted energy by spending very little time in the high dissipation transitions. Every computer uses a switching power supply, and many other high-power electronics also use them.

While many synth buffs would recommend using a linear power supply over a switching power supply for analog synths, especially modular synths, the conventional wisdom on this topic seems to not have kept up with changing technology. Today, many models of switching power supply offer smaller, cooler, and significantly more efficient power than linear power supplies. Even when used with modular synths, a switching power supply can offer efficient and surprisingly quiet operation. Many old-school modular enthusiasts, in particular, argue against the use of linear power supplies for analog synths due to their perceived added noise, but a modern switching power supply is often just as quiet as a linear one. While they aren’t perfect for every application, there are many cases where a switching power supply is perfect for the job.

Tempted to build your own power supply? While many owners of modular synths see it as a more economical solution, a homemade power supply will lack the stability and safety of a good switching power supply. Think of all the modules in your rack. An errant surge or an internal power failure in a homemade power supply could easily destroy all of your synth modules. Don’ take that risk. Use a good switching power supply, and you won’t have to worry about that occurring.

If you’re looking for a power supply for your analog synth, there’s no reason not to choose a switching power supply. Despite the objections of many older synth enthusiasts, today a high-quality switching power supply can provide the same quiet power to your analog synths that a linear power supply can. Ignore the conventional wisdom that a switching power supply should never be used with an analog synth, and you’ll enjoy more efficiency with a switching power supply.

If you’re searching for switching power supply, CyPower provides the most efficient way for engineers and buyers to locate and purchase the specific power supply you need. No other website provides quick, easy access to the search tools and data available to today’s top manufacturers of power supplies. Research, compare, and purchase on one website. Call a CyPower sales rep at 800.477.0021, email, or visit

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