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A switching power supply starts by directly converting the incoming high-voltage AC signal into a high-voltage DC signal. They then rapidly switch that output on and off to average a lower output voltage. This switched voltage is then smoothed out to create a constant DC supply at the desired voltage. Switching power supplies tend to be lighter, cooler, and less expensive, at the cost of often higher noise – both in the output voltage, and in radio frequencies (this is why they are often surrounded by a shielding cage). Many are moving to a hybrid power supply that combines a switcher with a small linear supply or regulator to get the best of both worlds.

Shortcomings with the power supply – too noisy, or not enough – tend to be at the cause of many unexpected problems in modular synthesizers.

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