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Banished to the DI Zone

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by socialleper, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    How did this happen to bass players? How did we almost all universally get shoved into the DI zone while our guitar playing brethren still get mic'ed without question?
    I know this isn't a new thing. When I was a young buck reading paper copies of Bass Player in the 90s it was common knowledge that you were going to get DI'ed live and in recording sessions. I didn't question it at the time; it was just how things were.
    But how did we get here? As much as people on TB love old recordings, where they mic'ed the cabs, no one bats an eye at having that part of our tone taken away from us.
    Live, mic'ing a guitar cab just happens. No discussion. Bass players have to fight to get mic'ed, sometimes even bringing their own mic to try to coerce the sound engineer into doing it.
    Hours are spent tweaking cab placement, selecting mics, and placing the mic at recording studios. Bass? "Here's cable, just plug into the board."

    Was it the transition from tube heads to SS heads? Was it the advent of full digital recording?
  2. A DI was good enough for Jamerson...
  3. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    So was maxing out at 100w... things improve
  4. unbridled


    May 26, 2005
    Endorsing Artist-Compton Compensated Custom Bridges (for Gretsch 6ers)
    As far as recording, I think part of the answer is in your question.
    "Hours are spent tweaking cab placement, selecting mics, and placing the mic at recording studios." Why spend that long on the bass, when they want the cleanest signai possible? We don't need our rigs running full boar to get a good sound.

    I'm sure engineers would love to be able to just D.I. a guitar, but an electric guitar that's not going through some kind of amp sounds like crap.
  5. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Because often the bass sounds "better" through a (quality) DI, without the limitations of the speaker and bleed from surrounding noise sources contaminating the signal.

    The answer to your question resllybus "it depends". If you are looking for low frequency extension and low distortion at the lower frequencies, IME a DI is often a better tool.

    It's not a matter of a guitarist getting treated "better", they don't have that bottom octave of extension to deal with. Actually, it's more like the bass player is getting treated "better" with a solution geared towards their different signal's challenges.
    unbridled, Lfsbera, gillento and 71 others like this.
  6. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    At least in part, it is physics. Bass signals are pervasive when projected from the stage, making the FOH engineers job difficult, because the bass contaminates some of the other feeds.
    unbridled, BooDoggie and Wasnex like this.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Guitar sounds like garbage when DI'd 99% of the time. So they have to do it the hard way. This is not them getting preferential treatment. It is trying to compensate for their limitations. And lack of ability to improve.

    Bass has been getting DI'd since the 60's. It sounds good that way. The only reason not to DI is for speaker distortion. Which usually sounds terrible on bass frequencies.

    If you think power amp distortion is a vital part of your tone, get a DI that can safely go between the power amp and the cab.
  8. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I just read about the "DI" Jamerson used. That was one sophisticated piece of equipment that did a lot to impart a lot of amp-like tube quality to his tone. I'd say it was a far cry from the basic SS DI boxes most venues use, or going straight into an interface like a lot of studios do.
  9. The main place our band plays at was DIing my guitarist, and I can tell you, he was not a happy guy. This DI was emulating a cab but I don't have any details on name or what cab (Peavey 1x12?):woot:. I believe this practice was stopped after a few gigs but likely our band had little to do with this decision. I've come to the conclusion that my name is not Billy Sheehan or Geddy Lee so I don't get any input from the venue's soundperson on how I should sound to him. FYI, he usually DIs me from my GK MB500 amp even though I have a VT Bass DI which he could grab the signal.
  10. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    FWIW, the guitarist in my cover gig, which is ampless, uses the Avid Eleven rack, and sounds spectacular.
  11. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    @agedhorse @lz4005
    There is a difference between what sounds "cleanest" and what sounds "real" isn't there?
    Much of what makes a guitar amp and cab sound right in a recording is all the imperfections, or rather the character of it. Mic placement, rooms, etc are about trying to recreate the sonic finger print of a live performance of a guitar. The choice of amps and cabs are to purposefully color the guitar's tone.

    I am starting to feel that too much clarity in a bass signal doesn't do the bass any favors in some cases. Me of a year ago would punch me of now in the nads for saying that, but I'm starting to change my mind.
    What is the rig everyone gets all happy in their pants about? The SVT-CL and 810 fridge. Neither are pure, or uncolored. After mucking about with sims, IRs, and an actual 810 in a rehearsal space, I've realized that the imperfect, slightly scooped, and a little wooly tone of that beloved rig is what makes it sit "in the mix" so well. It finds that sweet spot in the lows that aren't too subby, and the lack of super crisp high mids is pretty forgiving. When I recorded a bass line straight out of my Mesa D800, it had trouble locking in with a guitar riff played through an Orange sim\IR. When I put it through a SVT-CL + 810 sim\IR, it grabbed on to it perfectly. It sounded more "real" even thought it was going through some digital voodoo because it was trying to emulate what we are used to hearing when we see a live band. A head right into a DI or board, without a cab, without any room noise, isn't what we are used to hearing, so it doesn't sound "natural."

    Does that make any sense?
  12. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I have a little 5w Blackstar tube amp with a "cab simulated" out. It didn't sound right going into my interface. Too fizzy. Something about a cab and a mic smooths out those sizzling edges. It also gets it out of your face a little. "Air" I guess is the goofy term people would use for it.
  13. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Every time I've been recorded straight into the board, I've sounded great.
  14. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    A sophisticated amp simulator isn't a DI signal in the traditional sense. In recent years many of them have gotten to the point where they sound great.


    You're talking about using a giant cabinet as an EQ. Use EQ to EQ.
    Rickter, pellomoco14 and bucephylus like this.
  15. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    True; but that is the kind of thing you have to do IF you want a good DI send. Point being that the gear exists for the DI only types of gigs, while still having great sound. But, you have to put the effort in.
  16. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    In the studio, the engineer I have been working with the last few years, takes both DI and mic'ed cab signals from me. The cab is in a separate room, the DI is from my Shuttlemax 12.2. Since I am pretty much a supportive type bass player, my cab sound is pretty clean, no effects. I work with a producer who KNOWS what type of bass tone he wants on his recordings, so, I leave it up to him. No complaints from me, as I am pretty much a hired hand. Live, its pretty much a crapshoot, but I hardly ever get mic'ed, and the really huge, pro FOH gigs I do are typically festival, outdoor gigs, where the band is usually on the bill with other bands, 45 minute sets. Don't really have time to argue the finer points of live bass sound with the FOH guys, as I'm usually trying to figure out the backline amp I am provided with, so I leave it to them. Once in awhile I will get asked how I want to sit in the mix, but mostly I figure they know what they are doing.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
    Mr_Moo, djaxup, hardtop and 2 others like this.
  17. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play ampless all the time. I work on making the signal coming out of my pedalboard as good as I can get it, so the sound guy has a fighting chance to make it sound great. With a good sound guy, and 5 to 20KW of power through a decent PA with enough subs, I honestly don't think I could find an amp that sounds that good, where I'd want to mic (and haul) it.

    A DI is not punishment. It's a tool - it does what it does (which frankly isn't much - for the most part, Di's are very transparent). If you work with it and the sound person, it can be part of your sound, and that sound can be very good.
  18. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ellicott City, MD
    Endorsing: Spector Bass Guitars
    Ime it’s a laziness thing. I’ve never once had a sound guy ball at micing me when I carry my own mic + stand and even set it up for them.

  19. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi socialleper :)

    Another D.I. thread? :D Okay I am in!

    I think it happend when the first bassplayer decided to have a clean tone! :crying:

    It' s all our fault!!!!! :laugh:

    D.I. is easy. Just plug in and play.

    Don' t forget, when it doesn' t sound great,

    it 's still your fault, because the tone is in your fingers! ;)

    may the bass be with you

    Ekulati, Dr_Benway, mbasile and 3 others like this.
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    You can buy a faithful recreation of what he used for less than your amp costs. It'd also be a heck of a lot easier to lug around than your amp. If you're always being plugged into a DI, and wanting to sound good, get your own DI. I don't know a single sound guy that wouldn't at least try your DI if you brought one with you.
    Luigir and jnewmark like this.

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