Frequently Asked Questions

For sales questions, please check out our Sales FAQ page.

Weren’t you PAiA? (a short history)

Didn’t you used to be PAiA Electronics, but didn’t they go out of business or something?

We’re the same PAiA and we’ve been in continuous operation since even before our incorporation and introduction of first commercial products in 1967. In fact, as early as 1959 PAiA Electronics existed as a father-son partnership for the purposes of research and development (and expensing an electronics hobby for tax purposes).

Our first commercial product was a circuit board that accompanied the “Cyclops Intrusion Detector” which appeared in the June 1967 Issue of Popular Electronics. This was not a successful product and if there had not already been a second product already in the publishing pipeline (the Omni-Alarm, September 1967 PE) PAiA would probably not have gone any further.

We were very busy during the ’70s, settling into a pattern of innovative products that addressed the needs of a new breed of musicians and artists who embraced technology and were not afraid to learn what the knobs connected to. Many PAiA products were very influential on the spirit of the times and some of these are shown in our photo album. Our users group magazine became Polyphony magazine, then some years later was renamed Electronic Musician magazine before being sold by PAiA to Mix publications. Electronic Musician has changed hands many times in the past decade, but is still published today.

During the ’80s, Do It Yourself electronic assembly waned in popularity as the emerging Personal Computer attracted much of the attention of the electronic hobby community. The new Digital and quasi-digital musical instruments were a whole new world to explore. While we continued to sell kits during this time, most or our research and development efforts were on products for other companies.

In the early ’90s, as PCs became more tool and less toy and the borders of the digital domain became more defined, interest again began go grow in DIY. More people remembered what Mark Vail of Keyboard magazine has called “the sweet smell of solder”. Through the Internet a younger generation discovered that digital doesn’t invalidate analog.

Some of the neatest products that we’ve ever done have been released over the last four years. And the products coming up this year are even neater still.

How do you say PAiA?

How do you pronounce PAiA?

Pie-ya. It’s Hawaiian There’s town on the island of Maui named Pa`ia, which is pronounced slightly differently (pah-ee-ah) but as cool as it is, we’re not named for the town. Here’s a wav file.

Can I put together the …?

Can I build the ….. ? How long will it take? What tools will I need?

Most of our kits assume that you don’t know a thing about electronics. Color codes or special markings of parts are given and assembly is detailed and step-by-step. Kit assembly instruction manuals are posted on PAiA Talk. You will need the mechanical skill of soldering, if you’ve ever repaired a guitar cord you probably qualify. If not, it wouldn’t hurt to practice some.

But it should go without saying that the builder brings a lot to the building experience. A patient attitude goes a long way. Trying to build something tonight for a studio date in the morning is guaranteed to be problems.

Our manuals also focus on the how’s and why’s of the design and most people pick up a lot of technical understanding while building, testing, using and perhaps hot-rodding their kit.

It’s difficult to answer how long it will take to assemble a given kit, we hear a surprisingly large range of times. For all but the simplest kits you should plan on multiple assembly session of a few hours apiece. To give you a range, Our Vocoder and FatMan are probably the most complicated assembly jobs – most people will do them in 15 – 20 hours. The quickest will be EPFM kits, maybe 3 or 4 hours for most of them. If you ask about a specific kit, we’ll tell you the times that have been reported to us.

For tools you need routine things like pliers, wire cutters, screwdriver, knife, ruler and so on. You need a soldering iron, not a soldering gun, and kits do not include solder. We write all of our assembly manuals assuming that you do not have any test equipment and all testing and calibrating is done by ear. If you become involved in electronics as a hobby you will want to acquire an inexpensive Volt Ohm Meter (VOM) to read resistances, voltages and currents, but they are not required. Here are Kit Assembly Tips with info to help ensure your PAiA kit builds are a success: Kit Assembly Tips

What if it doesn’t work?

If I order the … Kit and build it and it DOESN’T work… what do I do.

The first step would be to go through the trouble shooting section of the manual to see if there’s help there. Second step would be to contact us by email or fax or phone – emailing with photos of your build showing the soldering and control wiring is most productive. You’ll get as much attention as you need this way and I have to say that Scott Lee, who handles tech help, is a wonder at diagnosing problems remotely and as patient a man as ever lived. Here is some of his advice on trouble shooting DIY project in general and a few specific examples of PAiA kits. You can reach our Scott by email at

Worst case, we have a repair service.

What about cases?

I notice that some products have complete cases and others have only front panels available. What’s the story?

Many PAiA products are designed so that the circuit board attaches to a front panel with “L” brackets. Liberal shielding of wiring between circuit board and front panel controls prevents pick up of ambient noise fields and in most cases physical protection for the electronics is provided by the rack cabinets in which the equipment is housed. We have two “universal” case back that attach with “L” brackets to single and double high rack panels to completely enclose the electronics. These cases require that 6 or 8 additional holes be drilled in the front panel.

When cases are absolutely required for shielding or to protect especially delicate electronics, they are available.

Tube input stages?

I’m very interested in your Tube Mic Pre. I am wondering if it has an actual tube for the first stage and not a solid state pre with a tube following it. What is the plate voltage and what tube is used 12AX7, 12AT7? Are there any technical specs you can give (s/n, response etc.)? I’m not expecting a super quiet, clean, transparent mic pre……I want to use this to warm up some things on my sometimes “sterile” sounding ADAT while not adding a ton of distortion.

The TMP uses a low noise 5532 OpAmp for the diff input stage and then drives two stages of 12AX7 (Sovtek) before driving the final 5532 output stage. The circuit is a starved tube configuration with 50V for the plate supply. One of the unusual features of the TMP and the TubeHead is a front panel “blend” control that allows you to pan between a perfectly linear and sterile Solid State circuit or the signal after it has been processed through the tube stages. If carefully assembled, you should expect an 85 – 90 dB noise floor from the TMP – it’s quiet. Design bandwidth is from 16Hz – 30kHz. The schematic Is for a single channel.

The TMP essentially combines two other PAiA products, Jules Ryckebusch’s Phantom Power Pre-Amp and the TubeHead tube preamp. If you already have a phantom power mic pre that you like (in your board, for instance) there is not much benefit in buying the TMP since the lower cost TubeHead can be used as a “warmer” for your existing Pre.

My country has 220 Volt power. Do you have 220VAC power supplies?

My country has 220 Volt power. Do you have 220VAC power supplies?

No, not at this time. International builders usually replace the 110VAC wall-mounted supply with a locally acquired 220V equivalent. Our kits can be ordered with or without this power supply (look for the “international version” on the product pages). If you’re not sure what specs would be required for a specific replacement we’re happy to help.
Email to will bring advice.

How do I pick and use a 220V replacement power supply?

How do I pick and use a 220V replacement power supply?

The specifications you need to match are:

  1. Local input voltage: select 220V (220VAC); and, Take the following specs from your PAiA kit manual
  2. Output voltage
  3. Output voltage type: DC or AC (this is important!)
  4. Output current – you must supply at least this much current.

Don’t worry about the connector on the wire end of your power supply. That connector is always removed. DC supplies are polarized – you must check the polarity of the output before you install them, using a voltmeter: when the red probe is on the plus wire and the black probe is on the minus wire, the reading is a positive value; with the probes switched, the reading is negative (indicated by a minus symbol before the digits). Again, if you have any questions, please email, we’re ready to help!

May I link to the PAiA Web site?

PAiA’s so cool, do you mind if I link to your web pages?

Now let me think … is it OK if you tell people around the world that you think we make neat stuff and we’re a good company to do business with? You sure can and here’s apage of logosyou can use on your Web site to link to PAiA. Check out the details for claiming a merchandise credit to your PAiA account in the readme file.

Are you wondering about something that hasn’t been discussed? Email your questions for quick reply and possible inclusion in the FAQ.