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Mesa Boogie Bass 400+ Direct Out; live or recording direct... what's your experience?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by EatMoreCarrots, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. The only complaint I have EVER had about my 400+ was about it's direct out. I always felt it was rather worthless. Where I got this notion? I've recorded a lot. I've gone direct to the board, to the board through the 400+'s direct out, through a SansAmp RBI, mic'd cabs of all sorts, etc. Through all this, I was disappointed to discover that of all these options, the direct out on the 400+ was always the worst. Very thin and compressed sounding. Mic'd cabs can be hit or miss, and, really wanting to root for Mesa, I was also disappointed to admit that the SansAmp RBI was always the best sounding direct solution.

    Don't get me wrong. for playing through my cabs, on stage or at practice or whatever, the 400+ reigns supreme, as it should. BUT my less than desirable experiences with using the DI on the back for recording left me very closed to the idea of using it in a live situation. SO... I've always insisted on mic'ing the cab live or nothing at all (I hate going straight into the board with a direct box or other; pre gain and eq signal always sucks.)

    I wondered if anyone else has had similar or contradictory experiences with their 400+'s direct signal. I hate feeling limited life and I hate feeling like my amp isn't all it should be or could be.
  2. anderbass


    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    Yeah I wasn't to pleased with my 400+'s somewhat grainy sounding DI through the PA or recorder either. I seem to remember hearing its tapped from the powertube/output stage so Its a fairly dirty signal at most any higher volume levels.

    Have you tried plugging most any DI box into the 400+ Effects-Send jack? You'd end up with a balanced preamp signal like most other amps use for their DI. Give it a shot, I think you'll like it.
  3. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I've never recorded with my 400+ but I've been very happy with its DI. In fact, I think the fact that the DI takes the signal off of the OT rather than just the preamp is one of its major selling points as an all-tube head. Sound engineers have been pretty happy with the Mesa. I once let one of my friends use my rig after my band's set during a benefit gig. I really liked the sound that was coming out of the FOH.

    I haven't tried micing a cab with this particular head, but I've been curious as to how that would sound.
  4. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    haha, i cant believe ive never tried this. i dont love the DI on the 400+ so much, either. when faced with situations where i have to DI, i just use what they want me to, or my el-cheapo that lives in the gig bag. i play better when i like what i hear, and i will always have an amp on stage. besides, it gives the soundman more time to concentrate on making the gui**** sound good :bassist:.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    really? i never knew that. if that's true, i agree it should be a big selling point and a big improvement over regular di's. maybe it's just the way they're set. mesa does have the fender tone stack, so that could be changing the sound negatively for some of these guys.
  6. Nightlyraider


    Sep 30, 2009
    In my limited recording experience with the 400+, I have found the DI "different" from any other amp I've had a line coming out. It's not bad, but plugging into my basement pro-tools get up and it requires a completely different approach than the standard clean DI.

    I personally like using a microphone (Audix bass/kick mic) because it sounds just like what I can hear standing next to my cab. I know it would be more accurate or whatnot using the DI, but it is personally easier to EQ my sound in a live in-home environment and just sample that, rather than try to recreate the sound that makes me happy.
  7. Grooveman1961


    May 8, 2006
    One important aspect to consider about the mesa 400, and the 400+, is that the DI is taken off the secondary of the output transformer. If I remember correctly (I've owned the 400+, and currently own a 400) you are not supossed to use the DI by itself. You need to have a nominal load on the output. A speaker, or a dummy load. I bet it sounds like crap with out, and its really bad for a tube amp not to have a speaker plugged in.

    For recording, I beleive mesa recomends using the effects loop, blend control all the way up, and the master vol off, so that you don't drive the output section. Check the manual to be sure....my memory is not what it used to be.
  8. Grooveman1961


    May 8, 2006
    So here's a chunk out of the manual for the 400+, and yes, you've gotta have a speaker plugged in.

    The Slave system is an adjustable Direct Output that can be used to feed a mixing board
    or another power amplifier. The signal is taken right from the output transformer where the
    tone is best and loading problems are avoided. When using the Slave, be sure to first get
    the desired sound on the Bass 400 with the Slave Level at zero. Then turn up the Slave
    Level until the proper output level is achieved.
    A three-pin male XLR jack is provided for connecting to the balanced 600ohm
    transformer. Again, the signal is taken from the speaker jack for best results. This output
    has a fixed level of about 2 volts peak-to-peak (when the Bass 400 is at clipping level). It
    is therefore suitable for either “mic” or “line” inputs on a mixer, although line-level would
    be preferable. When using either the Slave or the Balanced XLR output, it is important
    that a speaker (or suitable load resistor) be used.
  9. whoatherechunk


    Apr 4, 2008
    i've always thought the di on mesa was sub-par but all these other suggestions are great so i'll definitely have to try em.
  10. Grooveman1961


    May 8, 2006
    Here's the deal about the effects loop:

    Two pairs of Send and Return jacks are provided; one on the front and one on the rear of
    your Bass 400 Plus. So whether you use effects devices on the floor or in a rack, patching
    with your Bass 400 is clean and professional. A unique Blend control located on the upper
    rear amplifier chassis (where it won't get broken or damaged) enables you to mix “dry”
    and effected signals. With the Blend control at 10, all signals will pass through the
    accessory effects. Set at 0, the Effects Loop is fully bypassed, as it should be when no
    effects are used. Most players find an ideal setting between 2 and 5.

    The Effects Return jack can also be used to plug directly into the 400's power section. The
    Master can regulate sensitivity, and the Graphic EQ will be functional. If you wish to use
    only the preamp section of your Bass 400, you can use the Effects Send jack as a preamp
    output; be sure to set the Effects Blend at 10 and the Master to 0. This will prevent signal
    from driving the power section, so running the amp without a speaker or load resistor will
    be OK.
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