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DIs: built-in or box? Which is better?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by KingOfAmps, May 13, 2002.

  1. I've noticed some amps (SWR, Trace, Ampeg) feature built-in balanced XLRs. Is this superior/preferred vs. a separate, freestanding DI box? What are some of the pros/cons of each in a recording scenario and/or a live PA situation?
  2. When I do live sound (I live in the music dorm here and do sound for a dozen or so shows a year), I really prefer to use the DI feed off the amp if it can be switched to pre-EQ, because so many bassists like to scoop their mids. Obviously, if I had access to a nice active DI box like a Countryman, I would use it, but I usually have cheapo DOD passive DIs to work with.
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    There are advantages both ways...

    If you make extensive use of effects or tone controls on the amp, you'd want to use the onboard di, set to post-preamp so that the tone shaping would get out to the house.

    Since I rely mostly on the bass for tone and use amp eq flat with no effects, I prefer a good outboard di box. I do lots of gigs with rented or house backline and I can't always be sure of the reliability of the amp I'm using or the tone of it. It's just a monitoring tool for me. If the amp goes down, at least my signal still remains in the house feed and they can jack me up in the monitors to cover the rest of the show.
  4. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Most soundguys I've worked with want you to run through their box. hey claim some onboard DIs are too hot. I think they just want to deny me any external tone control.
    I argue against it, then I just give in and change it up later. I'm not about to let some chump eq me. If he's a pro that I know and am happy with, I can work with that.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The reason live sound guys like to use separate DI boxes:

    1. It's their box, they know what to expect

    2. If your amp dies, there is still bass in the house

    3. Some amps just have lousy sounding DIs, many lack ground lifts

    The "too hot"" things is not BS either. Passive DIs usually pad the bass signal by about 20 dB but amp DIs ususally pass the signal with either no padding at all or in some cases a boost!

    In the studio it all comes down to what sounds best. In a good studio they will usually have DI boxes that sound much better than your amp's DI. If you're just four-tracking at home though, sure use the amp DI.
  6. Much thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts. I really do appreciate and respect your insight.
  7. hey i have a question about di's i posted in the amps forum but didnt get much respons. my question is , can i use a speaker output jack to a di box with an attenuator to my mixing board, because my effects loop is before processing oours and i want to shape my tone a lil before it goes to the board
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Use the FX send. According to the Hartke 2000 pdf manual it's post-EQ and post-compression.

    Never use the speaker output, unless you have a good power brake that tones the signal down to line level.
    But here it's unnecessary.
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts

    You can use a speaker output to the DI as long as the DI box is designed to handle this.

    Some are, some aren't. Usually if it has a large attenuator setting (20 to 40 dB) it can handle speaker level signals.
  10. Speaking as a live sound guy and a bassist, I tend to prefer a good outboard DI (Passive or Active) to amp DIs. I don't find them too hot or anything, they just don't sound very good, with the notable exception of the Aguilar one. I like to take a DI signal straight from the bass and mic a cabinet, that way I have the best of both worlds. A lot of the time a post EQ/FX send from an amp sounds crap anyway. You're eq'ing your amp with respect to your cabinet and the stage space. This is often not a desireable signal for house sound. If you want your amp's sound and FX sound in the house, push for a microphone. I know a lot of so-called sound guys are against this, I just don't know why. My advice: Screen your soundguys carefully if at all possible! You have my sympathy if you've been victimized by a clueless drunk posing as a sound engineer..... :p

    My faves for live sound: Countryman Type-85, BSS, Radial Engineering JDI and JDV.

    Some DI's can take speaker level signal. The countryman can. You just flip a switch. If you want to do this make sure the DI can take it...
  11. i was just looking at the schematics, the say the fx send is pre e.q. and i was interested in the PDB Passive Direct Box mad by ART. It has a attentuator that can be set to 0dB, -20dB, and -40dB. what should i set it to. or how about the rolls db25 it says it has "An attenuator cuts the signal from speaker or line outputs, so the audio mixer input does not distort." this means it would work right? but would it work with the art on too?
  12. My SWR IOD offers two DI outputs: one is pre-EQ, the other is post-EQ. I use the pre-EQ for the sound man, and the post-EQ DI (xlr) to drive my power amp. This is one of the reasons I bought the SWR. Both DI have separate volume controls.

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