January 03, 2018
Get Ready to Say “Oh, hi” to the Ojai! (Ugh.) A Hands-On Review of Strymon’s Ojai R30 Power Supply
Anyone who knows me knows that I go through pedals like water. I buy, trade, and sell on a regular basis, perhaps like many of you, but I also like to audition power supplies almost just as frequently. Power supplies are, of course, not nearly as exciting or glamorous as checking out pedals, but they are absolutely essential pieces of gear for any pedalboard or practice space. I am currently between pedal layouts, and was in need of a new power supply when the Ojai R30 caught my eye. It’s a remarkably flexible unit that provides a wide range of power opportunities in a small, sleek package, complete with the attractive matte finish that Strymon pedals all sport. If its specs and design haven’t already caught your eye, perhaps its relatively modest price point of $169 might. At this price, the Ojai R30 is priced comparably with the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power Plus 2 (also $169), Walrus Audio Aetos (also $169), MXR Iso-Brick ($149), and Cioks DC5 Link ($159).
Despite its diminutive size, the Ojai R30 boasts five isolated inputs, each providing a whopping 500mA of juice at 9V. Two of these inputs are also capable of being switched to 12V of 375mA, and 18V of 250mA of power. These switches are semi-recessed silver toggles which are very easy to use, a welcomed change from confusing and difficult to switch dipswitches of other products. With these, hitting them by accident is virtually impossible, however, they are also easily accessible if you do need to change voltage – the perfect balance of caution and accessibility. Most standard pedals run at 9V, and very few will require more than of 150mA of power, which means that using a Y splitter cable to chain two pedals to one input can be achieved safely, confidently, and still with plenty of milliamps to spare per input. This is how I conducted my first demo of the Ojai R30. I connected 10 Boss pedals, and put each pedal through its paces. The Ojai R30 had no problem providing the clean power needed to run these devices. I say “clean,” because that is the primary reason for needed an isolated power supply such as the Ojai R30 and any of the other ones listed above. The Boss Super Overdrive is a classic and affordable overdrive pedal that always tends to make un-isolated power supplies hiss even when not engaged – not the case here. The Ojai R30 is put through the same quality control rigors as the company’s effects pedals, so you can be assured of clean and superb performance from this unit. What’s more, you can link another Ojai R30 using the handy 24V Thru input.
If I have but one minor quibble with the unit, it would be the positioning of the input/output jacks, and the design of the power cord. The Ojai R30 strays from all of its competitors by having all of the jacks on the same side of the unit, and also by not having an onboard IEC jack, instead opting to have a barrel-tip connector which leads to a box in the middle of the power cord (think of a laptop power cord). While these choices lend to a clean design aesthetic, they can hinder the practical performance of the product. When you think of it, most pedalboards have their power supply’s power cord exiting the front or sides of the board (away from the player in all three of those directions), while the power cables going from the unit to the pedals are traveling to the rear of the board (towards the player). I can’t imagine a scenario where all of the inputs/outputs are coming from/going in the same direction. This would not be so much of a problem if the supplied power cord had a right angle tip, but it does not. The laptop-style power cord component box can also get in the way when playing live, as it is going to end up somewhere on stage, depending on where the outlet you are plugging it into is. Neon tape applied to the power cord’s box may be in order to prevent tripping over it in dark settings.
Despite my grumbling about the power cord and the position of the power jack, the Ojai R30 is, in my opinion, best in class. For the money, there is not a better power supply on the market in terms of versatility, ease-of-use, and quality. This supply swings way above its price point, and will likely compel its competitors to upgrade their current offerings.
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