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Looking for facts or Theories about D.I

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Doley50, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Doley50


    Sep 4, 2005
    Before I ask My question, I am hoping that I can be as objective as possible about this subject, as well I am hoping We all can be.
    What I am wondering about is when We plug our bass into a D.I box and run it into the FOH board how is that signal different then when we run it through our amps?
    Lets work with just a passive bass, running into a standard D.I box, running into the board, feeding two mains and two subs, very standard set up.
    The sound that We hear is a very clean, almost a sterile sound ( Am I being subjective ? ) Why does this sound so different from what We hear from our amps?
    The boards are designed to produce a very clean unaltered sound, although all mixing boards have a distinct sound, but We rate the mixing boards pre-amp much differently then our bass amps, and our cabs our designed to reproduce the bass FQ's better then FOH speakers.
    Now We can't do anything about the pre-amps in the mixing board ( except to introduce outboard gear, but We are not going to do that ) So We are left with the boards EQ and the way the speakers reproduce the sound coming from the board.
    With the EQ flat We hear the sound of a DI'ed Bass, My question is, Is this sound mostly generated from the pre-amp or the speakers or both ?
    When We run music through the FOH it sounds great, the bass is full and tight and it is reproduced accurately from the recording. Of course We have the room to deal with.
    I think the short version of this question is, are there FQ that you can cut to soften the sterile sound, and is it possible to use a crossover for just the bass channel?
    While I usually will get a general level for the bass, I do not start shaping the sound until all other instruments are playing during sound check. which of course brings up the other question, if you are in a cover band, one song from the next is really going to benefit from a different type of bass sound, but what you going to do?
    I have listened to some of the isolated bass tracks on YouTube, a good example is Rio by Duran Duran, I was really surprised at the way the bass track sounded, and it made Me think My approach to a " good bass tone" was all wrong. This is the reason I tweak the bass tone with everyone playing now, and not worry much about the soloed bass tone as much.
  2. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!" Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    google search will give you a bunch of fodder:


    Generally speaking, a PA system is designed (ideally) to reproduce sounds faithfully and clearly. Distortion in a PA system is a bad thing. By contrast, guitar and bass amps use preamp distortion, tone controls, speaker "break-up" etc., to intentionally "color" the sound to the musician's liking, whatever that may be.

    Thus, if you really like the tonal coloration provided by your stage amp, then ideally that is what should be sent and reproduced in the PA system. It is then up to the sound mixer to "fit" your bass tone into the overall mix in an appropriate fashion, which in isolation, may sound a bit funky by comparison.

    So, if you like the way your bass is being represented via DI to the mixing console, then you're in luck. If you are not, then you may find you're about to enter a rabbit hole. If you use distortion pedals, and/or your bass amp contributes a lot to your desired bass sound, then there are hurdles to clear. In a studio, and in isolation, many producers will use a combination of tracks to work with: a DI "clean" track, a mic'd track (close and/or far mic'd), and also perhaps a "dirt" track, which intentionally adds overdrive/distortion to blend with the other tracks as desired. A mic'd cabinet may be the most desirable representation of your sound, and again, in a studio a combination of mics on a cabinet, both close and far (6" to 12" or more off the cabinet), may sound the best. The problem with live is that very few sound techs are comfortable putting a even a close mic on a bass cabinet grille, with more indulgence for this the higher up the ladder you climb in terms of size quality of venue, PA, and notoriety. Forget about far field mics. However, with some coddling and coercion, and perhaps some successful testing during an extended sound check, you can get a mic'd cab if you really push for it, and if it is the preferred sound.

    Otherwise, you would have to explore a DI solution that also employs cabinet emulation or filtering so that a direct box feed going to the main mixer is already tone shaped in such a way as to be more in keeping with a mic'd cabinet than a pristine, "sterile" direct feed. This explains the popularity of such boxes like the Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, and other such direct boxes that include tone shaping and cabinet emulation.

    see this thread: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f203/best-speaker-di-box-1025579/
  3. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Run a recording through a bass rig: Sounds terrible! So what you are doing with a bass rig is not reproducing the sound of the bass, but adjusting an exceedingly colored version of your bass until you get something you can stand.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Bass cabs and PA cabs are two different beasts. So running the exact same tone to both will produce very different results. Here's how I compromise (and that's exactly what we should do... compromise). I set what I think is a good tone that will sit well in a mix and not plow through the whole room. Then I ASK the sound guy if he can work with that. I ASK him if he needs more or less of anything. If anything they will usually tell me to back off on the bass and/or low mids.

    One other thing to consider is that you can more easily add (or enhance) bass to a tone than you can highs or mids. If you send the board all lows, the sound guy can't brighten it up no matter how hard he tries. But if you send him something a little too bright, he can usually take off the brittle highs and add some beef on the bottom no problem. This is why your "sterile" tone usually winds up sounding amazing out front. It is easier to shape on the back end.
  5. fixed.
  6. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Smartest bassist on this forum. Please move to Indianapolis.
  7. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    Save extreme treble mid and bass tone settings for your amp head.Try to send the DI/Soundtech a flat signal example if you play P or J style bass set your tone control about halfway.If the soundtech has good ears and gear you will have no problems...
  8. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Listen to your favourite CD through a PA , sounds good ?
    That's normal.

    Now listen to that same CD through your "normal"*-1 bass amp , sound is very bad right ?
    That's normal too.

    A "Bass amp" add A LOT of colour to your sound mostly happening in the cab.
    That might be a good or a bad thing.

    IMHO as a bass player , it's a bad thing.


    *-1 = By Normal I mean an average bass amp , not a full range , three way boutique cab.
  9. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!" Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Are you saying that, in your opinion, you really cannot get a good bass sound via a commonly available bass rig? Wow. I guess a lot of players have been getting scammed for a long time. :meh:
  10. No, the central idea is that a DI will not produce the cab sound in the PA, expressed ass backwards.

    I prefer to mic my cab and use relatively flat EQ, following the Two Fingers approach to getting it accepted by FOH. The TB pioneer of the Akg P2 mic simply takes the house DI feed out and puts it in the mic, says "how's this?" and waits for howls which never happen, all is well!
  11. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Another way of doing it is using full range bass cabinets and dial in a sound you like using your sound shaping on the bass, the pedals and amp, and then send the result to the PA. Since you now don't have a stage rig that colors the sound a lot you have less need for a cab simulation - the PA and stage amp have similar sound character to begin with.
  12. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    He expressly said the coloration might be a good or bad thing depending on taste. Plus, a huge percentage of bassists want amp tone coloration, which is not what you get with a clean DI, which is the point.
  13. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!" Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    yes, I understand the point. What he said is that "IMHO as a bass player , it's a bad thing." with respect to amp/cab coloration.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, certainly. I guess my point is that there are many, many bassists who would disagree that amp/cab coloration and/or distortion is necessarily, in and unto itself, a bad thing. I'm sure I'm parsing here, and that fokof meant that he personally prefers DI tone over mic'd cabinet, which is fine. I do as well sometimes. Otherwise, what he's saying is like saying vanilla is good, chocolate is bad. There is no good/bad, subjectively. We're just talking about using different techniques and sources in order to "fit" a bass tone into a mix, as a means to an end.

    If you have available channels, another approach is to use one DI channel, and a second from a mic or quality cab emulator (that includes some preamp distortion if desired). That way, where one may be deficient, the other may compliment it well.
  14. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    No what FOKOF is saying is a bass cab makes a lousy PA cab.
  15. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!" Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    OK. Fair enough.
  16. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Depends on what bass cab you're talking about ... I don't think all cabs marketed as bass cabs would make bad PA cabs. If they are designed to color the sound, like say your standard 8x10, then yes that would not sound good, but other designs with a full complement of bass, midrange and high end drivers might well work.
  17. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    They might work but still the wrong tool for the job.
  18. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    I'm saying that a lot of people likes chocolate ,fine with me , I've got no problems with that , not me , I prefer Vanilla. I'm allergic to chocolate.

    My point is that bass monitors colors the bass tone A LOT.
    The OP stated that when he listens to his bass direct through the PA , he didn't like the sound.
    I try to bring another point of view: What if (A Big IF ) it's his bass monitors that sounds bad and not the PA ??

    From OP: "The sound that We hear is a very clean, almost a sterile sound ( Am I being subjective ? ) Why does this sound so different from what We hear from our amps? "

    It'S all a question of reference.

    Personaly , I've always practiced through my studio's reference and through headphones , always direct.
    When looking for a bass monitor , I'll always prefer something that is full range and flat.

    I use a little PA a bass monitor.
  19. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I just use the DI on the back of my amp. Great tone to the front of house made easy. No muss, no fuss, no hand wringing over how the sound engineer is going to screw me on my sound.
  20. Doley50


    Sep 4, 2005
    90% of our gigs I'm the sound guy, and the short version of this post could have been " what's that annoying FQ that comes out of the FOH?" , but that wouldn't have been very useful. From some of your post and finally sitting down with my Zoom B3, I may have found the FQ that I don't care for ( around 350 hz) I am using a Par EQ and set the bandwidth slightly narrow and cut it about 10 dbs or so.I'll have to see how it works out on our next gig.
    I think the biggest problem is I have experience in a studio situation and I am so use my ( bedroom sound ) I have to rethink my approach to live sound especially when I trying to get my bass to sound better, and while I know this logically I think habitually I'am still treating it like a studio, but I'am making progress.

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