Power Hungry Polara

The Digitech Polara is an amazing reverb pedal. I really enjoy working with guitar pedals on synths and drum machines (inspired to some extent by sonicstate’s wonderful clip), and I like the fact that many pedals today seem to be designed towards use with a wider range of instruments than “just” guitar and bass. Certainly the necessary audio quality for recording is present these days, and there’s something to be said about pedals having physical controls with big sweet spot settings that can make them almost an extension to your other analog gear.

There’s a thing with the Polara though, that I haven’t seen mentioned too often. I don’t know whether this applies to the other range of Digitech pedals as well, as I haven’t had the opportunity to test them out. But as it turns out, it may not work as advertised with your standard pedal power supply, and it may appear broken when it doesn’t. 

When I received my Polara in the mail, I immediately plugged it into my pedal board, consisting of a Boss MO-2 and TE-2 powered by a Roland 9V/1000mA dedicated supply and a chained connector.

Things were strange, though. The Polara seemed unresponsive, and often on/off clicks would not register. Also, what’s worse, was that out of the 7 programs, only one seemed to work. The others just passed the signal through, or added an audible rhythmic clip to it. This was confusing. Did I just get a pedal that was DOA? Googling things like “Digitech Polara problem” did not turn up anything suspicious, if anything, people seemed to laud its sturdiness and reliability. Really?

Finally, among Amazon reviews, I found someone raising a warning finger that “it is power-hungry”. But surely 1A would be sufficient for a guitar pedal? So, I tried powering just the Polara from the power supply – but the end result was the same. Broken pedal – or broken power?

As it turns out, I needed my Roland supply for other, greater things (such as powering a TR-606) so I went to my local electronics store and bought a switched power supply with multiple connectors that could be set to various voltages between 5-15V. And, to be safe, I got one that managed to deliver 5A (5000mA) when set to 9V. Remember that high current will not damage your equipment, as they draw as many amps (current) they need. Low current may cause your power supply to overheat though. 

Got it home, plugged it in, and guess what? The Polara worked as a charm.

So, moral of the story: If you think your Digitech pedal is broken, get a bigger power supply. You may not need as much as 5A (Digitech themselves specify 1,2A in the manual) but if you need to power multiple things, it may be a good investment. Also, after learning this, I sincerely question the marketing material for the Polara, which from almost every resellers states “can be used with your standard power supply for your pedal board”.

No, it can’t!

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8 comments

  1. Thanks bro. I have the same problem with my polara yesterday.. Only 2 modes seems work after i changed my power supply. I thought my pedal was broken 😦

    *pardon my english

  2. I work in a guitarshop and Polaras should draw 75mA. And they do for the most part. If you have one that needs more it’s broken. Please stop posting pseudo-scientific WRONG information on the internet, people believe this s***!

    • Hi Jacob, thanks for chipping in.
      I actually returned my first Polara thinking it was broken, but I got suspicious when the second one exhibited the same behaviour. Perhaps they changed the design later to draw less current, but It’s still a great pedal.

      I have to say I’m glad I didn’t buy it from your shop, though, if this was the response I would get.

      • The polara should advertised as only needing 75ma. Unless you or someone else can show amperage draw with a ohm meter or something, I can’t help but think you are doing something wrong.

  3. Hi! I’m late to the party but the exact same thing happend to me this week!

    I returned my first Polara because only two effect modes were working. Plate, Reverse, Modulated and Halo were simply bypassing the signal while Hall and Spring were both actually just “Spring”. I also noticed that in some modes the foot switch was unresponsive. You had to hold it down for a second or two before it turned on/off.

    Today I tested the second Pedal and it was the same. My “wall-wart” power supply was powering another pedal without issues so I assumed the Polara was faulty, again. I got really frustrated with the vendor and only after I filed another return did I stumble across this blog.

    After reading I got curious and hooked up the Polara to my bench power supply where it eventually worked perfectly. However, it seems to have quite the inrush current when powering up. I had to crank the current up to around 400mA before the power supply would start normally (your milage may vary). Any value below that and it would go into over current protection, meaning the device was trying to draw more amperage than was dialed in.

    Like the not so pleasant Jacob said, the Polara does indeed only draw about 72 mA continously when operating, but you certainly need way more than that to get it running smoothly in the first place.

    Thanks for writing this down!

  4. Same issue here, please help!
    First I tried with 450mA no success at all, after that I tried with an adaptor of another original Digitech pedal (RP300 multieffect) with 1.3 A but still have the same problem, only two effect modes were working the others are just the audible rythmic clipping… So what should I do? What kind of power supply I need now?
    Many thanks!

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