Is a "Direct Box" absolutely necessary?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by bearclaw, Aug 31, 2001.

  1. bearclaw


    Nov 13, 2000
    I'm contemplating whether or not to use a DI box for some home recording. I did plan on using the signal from the pre amp of my SWR head into a Sansamp DI, sent thru the board of my VS890 Roland recorder.

    I was hoping some of you experienced axe-men, could enlighten me on what setup works best for this type of direct recording. I do plan on making
    this sound like a professional recording too. Not to mislead anyone into thinking that it's for demoing purposes only. Thanks everyone,

    Joe B.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You can get really good results without one. But a good D.I. can save you a lot of hassle.

    Here's some info about D.I. boxes and what they do:

    info courtesy of:
  3. It's not impossible to get good results without them, but every single professional studio I've ever seen has them, and most semipros as well.

    Here's my question, though: you've spent a couple grand on SWR, VS, presumably other stuff too, like speakers, headphones, and let's not forget basses. Rather than ask this question in the abstract, why don't you just go out and buy a DI and see for yourself? You can get a decent one for significantly under $100. Or borrow somebody's.

    One thing: personally I wouldn't see the point of running the SWR into a SansAmp DI. The main reason to get a SansAmp DI, to me, is the amp emulation, but I wouldn't use that on top of the amp signal you're already getting--that would be like preamping a preamp. With the emulation switched out--that is, as a clean DI--I don't think the SansAmp is as good as some things out there for near the same money, such as the Countryman and the BSS. Just my $0.02.
  4. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    DI Boxes (active ones) are necessary for plugging in directly into the mixer because the sound you get is of better quality, and you won't get the problem of high impedance going into a low impedance input (as mentioned in JMX's post). Some mixers have an active DI input built-in, which would mean that you can bypass using a DI. But for myself, I always record using an active DI. It sounds better IMO.
  5. the best result I ever had in recording my bass , was microphoning my fender BXR 100 combo , using a normal low impedance mic, with a fender 4 channel mixer.. I recorded into my laptop..

    but.. the thing is.. You don´t necesarily need a DI box
  6. Oysterman

    Oysterman Guest

    Mar 30, 2000
    But without a DI you'd have a need to mic your amp, and a good microphone costs just as much (or more) as a good DI, and is more complicated to set up. :)
  7. bearclaw


    Nov 13, 2000
    I just wanted to thank everyone for their useful tips, which were quite invaluable! Thanks again,

    Joe B.
  8. For just bass the best results I ever got (and the cheapest as they cost about $3 on top of the cable I alreayd owned) was getting a 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch converter and plugging right into the line in or mic port on my sound card. I know I have to be carefull about my min in settings but thats not exactly rocket science.. I'm playing with passive Jazz too and even through my line in (on a SB Live) I get enough level.. Ah yes.. recording for 3 dollars.. Gotta love it :)
  9. arvidgunardi

    arvidgunardi Guest

    Mar 18, 2001
    Jakarta Indonesia
    The article above regarding DI says it all. So doing any other way without a DI would be considered a risk. However, it has been done.

    Ideally, one should use a DI simply because of the technical reason mentioned. You might want to check if your SWR has a direct out built in. You might just want to use that without using any extra DI. Built-in DI on amp head are usually not as good a quality compared to stand alone DI(passive or active).

    Some console's 1/4" input maybe designed to handle signal direct from instruments. But most do not. That means you are at more risk of distortion which are caused by unmatched impedance, etc.

    Some hi quality DI however, will enhance your signal considerably; ie. warmer tone etc. It shouldn't "colour" the tone too much. If it does, then use different ones.

    But again, if you manage to get good result in recording your bass without DI, and despite what the book says, or what the expert says, you simply found a workable, 'new' way to record bass.

    Experiment, that's just my opinion;)
  10. Littleboot

    Littleboot Guest

    Aug 30, 2009
    I use a Pro-Co DI Box when recording from my bass direct to the board and... when performong live I use a box to split my direct single from my bass guitar out to the DI box input. The Balance line out goes to a PA board and the 1/4 inch jack out goes to my amplifier. This gives me control of my amp and it gives the sound guy control of my bass in the PA system. I've done this in the recording process as well.

    When I've done this in recording. I run direct to the DI box to the board and my amp. I then mix my clean input to the board and "Mic" my cabinet. I usally record the cabinet using the mic as a room mic. My cabinet gives me more of a rock sound. The two blend together really well.
  11. Hang on..

    You want to come out of the preamp of your SWR right? well you don't need a DI! the preamp will be a line signal out, by that point the signal will be the correct impedance, a 'standard' audio signal if you will. A DI will just tweak the signal in a potentially damaging (to the audio, your gear should be safe!) way. also, you would then have to get another cable, a female XLR to jack, to go into a line input on your soundcard/desk. If you didn't you would be putting a line level signal into a mic preamp (where you would normally plug a DI into), and the preamp would probably overdrive at a very low volume etc.

    so yeah, there is definately an alternative to micing a cab or DIing, you could also use a power breaker after the speaker outs.

    also, Richard Lindsey is correct, both with the reasonings and the using of the sans amp, its an amp sim which you don't really need if you have a good amp, and the clean DI is not great compared to a good 'normal' DI!

    so - you need a DI to go direct to board from Bass. coming out of a bass preamp you can go into line in, no problem. coming out of a speaker out you need a power breaker, DON'T try this without one! then theres micing a cab of course, where most of the fun lies :)
  12. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Absolutely necesary for a soundguy, not so much for a bass player.
    One will be provided pretty much every time it's needed and we all know PA dudes prefer to use their own gear.
    It can be a life saver to have one around but I wouldn't say it's mandatory.
    villegastx likes this.
  13. kalle74


    Aug 27, 2004
    you don´t need one after your preamp.
  14. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    A good clean di is especially nice when you have a decent mic pre that you're plugging into. If you're running from the pre out on your head, then it might not be necessary..... you need to experiment though. I bought a Black Lion Auteur mic pre a few months ago, and we've been using it for our current recording project...... I love it for my bass! It's a very "honest" sounding pre, but has a "hit you in the chest" quality about it.

    Lot's of options out there..... you've got to experiment..... and having a decent di will help you take advantage of a lot of those options.
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I've used the DI out on my Eden 400 since 1997 and no sound men complain at all.
    The SWR DI out should be a good quality overall. No need to double up with another.
  16. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    We did a recording and I used the DI out from my Mesa Walkabout and it sounds so very bad, I will need to re-record most every song. I learned my lesson the hard way.
  17. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Use a DI, or even the SansAmp itself...while plenty of amp DIs and preamp outputs sound okay live, they're generally noisy, or cut/boost frequencies that you don't want to cut or boost in a recording situation.

    YMMV, but most people adjust a head's preamp to compensate or adjust the tone coming out of their bass rig...the same settings won't necessarily sound good as a recorded bass sitting in a mix.

    Try recording through a good DI (several have been mentioned) or even the SansAmp first. Most line outputs are an afterthought on an amp, and sound like it, too. I don't know of anyone who regularly records through them.