amp or DI?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jeff2287, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. Jeff2287

    Jeff2287 Guest

    May 4, 2002
    Hello. I've been looking for a new bass amp as an upgrade from my BP-15 which, needless to say, just doesn't cut it any longer. I've been waiting for funds to do so and, while waiting, I was reading Bass Player magazine when I found out that the bass player from The Roots doesn't even use an amp, but rather a DI box which he plays through to the venue's PA. Is it possible to get away without an amp if you have a DI? If so, does it work well? Would I just be better off buying a new amp anyway? Thank you.

  2. you should fill in your profile a little...

    I think every bassist should have an amp to jam with drums and guitar at a reasonable level, most here at TB will tell you you need a bazillion watts and a plethora of speaker sizes.

    it depends on you, the gigs you have and the gigs you hope to have.

    I'm 'just barely' getting by with a little 200 watt 1x12 combo... it's perfect for my 2 bands now, but my last couple, it wouldn't have held up. My current gigging band drags around a 5500 watt Carvin PA with the 1x18 folded horns and 2x15 full range towers. I could show with just a DI and be set. At my 'Jam/acid jazz/still evolving' band I'd be screwed with just DI because the PA is just enough for Vocals (which we are without currently).

    What is a BP-15? What style do you play? What venues/rehearsal rooms are you jaming? What size PA do you have in your band(s)?

    [edit]I just saw Peter Gabriel last weekend and it apeared that ALL the musicians went direct. I didn't see any backline at all... they sounded great! [/edit]
  3. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I'll bet you they had some serious monitors though, probably even in-ears......

    The problem with going through the PA is that you can't hear yourself. You can ask for Bass in the monitors but they're often not designed to handle low frequencies, so you can never get em loud enough.

    Unless, of course, you have serious sound guys with a serious PA and serious monitors. And even then, I'd still use an amp. I don't like handing over 100% control to the sound guy. I want to able to turn myself up or down as I please. I want to be able to adjust my own EQ.
  4. Jeff2287

    Jeff2287 Guest

    May 4, 2002
    I'm taking all of these points into consideration.
    What exactly do you mean when you say that you can't hear yourself on stage? Forgive me, for I have yet to play out (first gig this July 4th, wish me luck). I don't really understand. When you're hooked through a PA that's designed to be loud enough for the entire crowd to hear, why can't you hear yourself on stage? Are PA's generally set up so that the band can't hear it? If these questions sound ******** then forgive me. I just don't know.

  5. junglebike


    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    For any gig bigger than a tiny little 3-piece coffeeshop deal you'll have two essentially separate sound systems.

    There's the audience's sound, which is heard mostly through the PA

    There's the stage sound, which is a mix of the acoustic drums, player's amps, and the monitors (the wedge-shaped speakers you see on stage pointed towards the performers.)

    If you've got a DI, then everything has to go through the monitors. If the monitors suck, then you're in trouble.

    For small shows, the sound guy is out in the audience, and can't hear the stage sound at all. If you're relying 100% on your monitors, you'll all be shouting back and forth: "more guitar! Less bass! More bass! Less treble in the guitar!"

    This can go on for hours, and make everyone angry. The sound guy may start ignoring you and you'll have to start despite the fact that all you can hear in the monitors are the kick drum and cymbals. Ugh.

    Chances are, the bass player for the roots has a better sound guy than you'll have. In an ideal world, we'd be able to go to gigs with a preamp or DI and nothing else. Sometimes that works, but for all the times it doesn't you'll need a proper amp (i.e. 200W+) so that you can at least hear yourself.

    Sound guys are very important. Treat them well!
  6. Junglebike is right on. I can't hear myself at all through monitors period. Well, I can hear vocals through them, but my bass sound doesn't work coming through monitors for some reason (or at least the ones we use). It just doesn't reach my ears effectively. That's the reason I use a Biamp system. I have one amp for my sound on stage, and another that's behind it that's mic'd or direct out to the PA. Does the band have it's own PA? Is it just for vocals? If so, I'd consider a new amp+cabs / combo. A DI can sound REALLY cool if it's made for bass, and really really crappy if it's not. Sometimes it doesn't matter how good the DI is, the PA just can't handle you. If you can operate at REALLY low volumes, you might want to borrow somebody's bass DI and TRY it. but then again, don't listen to me, I'm sure it'll be a different situation for you, you probably want to go through all your options before purchasing, as both amps and DI's can be expensive.
  7. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    You can't hear what's comming through the PA because you're not standing in the firing line of the speakers. The speakers are shooting the sound out into the crowd. The band standing behind the speakers so you can't hear them very well. Plus you've got a drummer on stage with you banging away making it even harder again to hear what's comming through the front.
  8. Jeff2287

    Jeff2287 Guest

    May 4, 2002
    At the moment, I don't believe we have our own PA though the guitarist mentioned something about purchasing one sometime over the summer as well as a bunch of other equipment (I'll have to talk with him about that to make sure he doesn't do anything stupid). Also, can in-ear moniters double as ear-plugs? This is rather important because the guitarist has lousy hearing and simply doesn't wear ear-plugs. This is bad because he also turns his amp to ridiculous hights because, with the bad hearing, I suppose he thinks he's only loud enough to keep up with the drums. Because of this, both the drummer and I wear ear plugs while we all try desperately to hear the bass (understandable for a practice amp, but the guitarist should turn down still).
  9. Ahhhson

    Ahhhson Guest

    Jun 5, 2003
    ALBANY NY 518
    I would definately go with an amp. If you want to feel your bass and not just hear it
  10. Jeff: It sounds like you'll need a bass rig in your situation. As for your Guitarist, get with the drummer and STOP PLAYING! untill he turns down. If he turns up, just stop and wait till he turns down. Maybe have the drummer mute his drums some (mute rings or tee shirts or some such).

    Ahhhson: I've got 5 1x15 floor monitors, 2 folded 18 subs and 4x15 mids in the PA.... believe me, I can be FELT on or off stage without an amp.


    Like I said earlier, I'd prefer to always just go direct... but that does not replace the need for an amp.
    As stated by others... House PA and Sound guys are too varied in abilities.

    I always buy the sound guy a round of whatever he's drinking AND make it a point to thank for & compliment the mix.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    If you're working at a level where you can be confident of a reliable and suitable PA, operated by someone who knows what they're doing, you could probably get away with having a decent DI and no amp to lug around.

    Personally, I haven't reached that far yet and prefer to have an amp available when I need it. Some venues provide an amp (which makes me glad of my Sansamp Bass Driver DI, which will help me get a fairly sound out of pretty much anything) while others stipulate 'no bass through the PA - bring your own amp' or put me through the PA but have space for me to bring my own rig as well.

    I did try just taking the SABDDI for a couple of rehearsals but I found that I couldn't quite get the right kind of kick to provide a solid foundation for the music (not without overwhelming the other signals) and that particular combination of powered mixer and speaker was very boomy when I played notes around the low or mid F (don't think I tried EQ'ing around that ... but the mixer didn't give fine control over which frequencies went up or down).

    We decided it it was worth paying a little extra to rent a bass amp for rehearsals (centre of London - not an easy place to get and park with my setup for 7pm on a Tuesday evening).

    YMMV, but I think a reasonable amp and a cheap DI (or maybe a cheap but loud amp and a quality DI with tone shaping controls) is probably what you need.