Mic vs DI

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by mtsens1, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. mtsens1

    mtsens1 Merle Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2011
    Kennesaw, Georgia
    I'm a bass player and just getting into building and managing a PA for my band. I got tired of others setting up their PA's and clearly didn't know what they were doing. I read a lot about sound tech's and others wanting to DI rather than mic. Is it really easier to DI than mic? Seems a amp/cab, short stand, mic, and xlr to setup wouldn't be any worse, maybe even easier than amp and DI.

    Here's my situation. Have GK MBFusion head, couple of GK 112 cab's. The amp has DI, and my wireless also has DI. I've tried both those into the PA, and don't get near the sound I want (we have a couple 12' mains and an 18" sub). I mic one of the cab's (often just use one for our gig's) and I get the cab's voice thru the PA too, which is what I want.

    I intend to keep a small rig for backline, so need my sound coming thru the PA too. So what am I missing? What's the advantage to DI over mic? While a $700 reddi would be cool, my sm57 is giving the sound I want. So I'm a gear head too and a reddi would be real cool, just trying to talk myself out of it...somebody stop me! :bassist::help:
  2. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    There's quite a bit of information on this topic if you use search. Basically a mic is prone to pick up side noise on the stage, which can hurt the mix. A mic can be knocked over during the gig. A mic introduces an extra cable laying around that might trip you. A DI sends a pure signal to the board without any capture of ambient sound. Etc. etc. Again, this is a really well-covered topic here.
  3. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    It's the old "chicken or the egg" scenario.

    I like to use my DI. . . .IF I have a good sound man. If not, I prefer to mic it.

    Each situation is different.

    Of course, with the low bass frequencies it's important to get a good mic for that. I personally use a Shure SM 27 instead of the old tried and true SM57. I find it does a much, much better job.
  4. mtsens1

    mtsens1 Merle Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2011
    Kennesaw, Georgia
    Thanks, I understand the possibility of knocking the mic over, and adjacent sound (good points for anything mic'ed), but you still have to run a cable from the DI or mic to the mixer, or am I missing something there? I'm more concerned about the FOH sounding like my cab.
  5. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    With a DI, frequently the cable is behind the cab. With a mic, it's usually snaked around to the front of the cab where you're standing.

    If you want the "pure cab" sound, I'd stick with the mic. The downside is sometimes you get into toustles with the sound person who might throw a wrench in your EQ plans. With a DI, there's less hassle when third parties are involved.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I would still be micing if I hadn't lucked into a deal on a REDDI. It's about the only DI I've ever liked as much as micing. Give me the choice of your standard issue Countryman or Radial and a mic and I'll take the mic every time, though. I find the potential drawbacks to be very limited in scope, although I'll admit it did pick up some bleed from the hi hats and cymbals on that side of the stage. But so does a guitar cab mic and nobody ever objects to them.
    FromZero likes this.
  7. again.....another 10 pager post....so here is the thing to note;

    the FOH sound will never sound like your cab cos the FOH isn't your cab. there is a lot more stuff going on in which the PA itself needs to replicate. what is more important is getting a clean sound from your bass (or from fx) to the FOH so he can get the best sound possible through the PA.

    when you mic your cab (which im not opposed to but it will sound like it) a) the mic will change the sound, and b) the sound through the PA will not sound like the cab.

    so IMO the DI from the bass itself is the best thing is to send the DI to the PA because its the starting grounds to create "your tone". from there the sound guy can try to work his magic. the hardest thing to do is to trust your sound guy. and to be honest your tone will never be replicated properly in the PA. but if the sound sucks bad then you can say something, but if not, just trust that he's doing his job...
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Sorry there, Dawg, but when I was micing, I'd say something to the soundmen like, "If you make the sound in the PA like what's coming out of my cab, that always works best for us." And those who understood would make the PA sound so close to the cab sound that I couldn't tell where the cab ended and the PA started.

    As long as you have a mic that's capable of reproducing lows, it's easily done and it's repeatable.
  9. The DI in my little GK mb200 is pretty handy.

    If you want the cab tone on a budget you can't beat a $100 Akg P2. Has full low end, unlike sm57.
  10. My thoughts........unless you are in a specifically dynamic situation which is attended by people who can tell the difference, the room is acoustically fantastic and the system is set up to reproduce those exacting tones you seek - run with the DI. easier, quicker, less interference potential and usually sounds just fine - if not great.
  11. mtsens1

    mtsens1 Merle Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2011
    Kennesaw, Georgia
    Thanks Jimmy...this is what had me puzzled, I rarely see guitar amps DI'd, usually mic'd, but many seem to want to DI the bass. I would think starting with the voice of the cabinet (assuming it's important to someone) would make mixing easier for me (in my case) or a sound tech who may have no idea the sound I'm looking for.

    Anyway lot's of pro's/con's I guess. I am trying a beta 52 which has a supercardoid pattern which should help reducing side noise from bleeding into the mix, but like you said, no one seems to mind bleed with the guitar cabs mic'd, let alone the 3 vocal mikes we use on stage. :)
  12. sm49341


    May 12, 2013
    I was curious about mixing, trying to get the cab sound, so I tried it. I got a akg d112 kick mic. Not sure I could ever tell a difference on the bass fog sound. We were having more boomy issues. Like low freq feedback. I switched to an sm57 same issues. Lot of variables here I'm not saying anyone else would have my problem. At some point I was doing some recording and realized how good it sounded, and that was direct recording, no mic just line in. So I switched back to di. You know. Di is a heck of a lot simpler to deal with . For me it ended up an expensive failed experiment. Recently I purch a high quality bass, and now I love the tone outta the pa done di. In my bass was a big part of the problem.
  13. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    For me, when I playing bass, I'm fully content with a DI. I know that in the end, my tone is of least concern to the audience and to the sound engineer. So long as he/she places me in the mix appropriately to support the band, then I'm happy. I am not a lead bass player, and that's what shapes my view on why this is acceptable to me.

    When I'm playing lead electric guitar in my other band, I need to mic the cab as my Mesa Triple Rec doesn't have a DI, and I spent a lot of money to get a very specific type of distortion. At the time I purchased the amp there weren't modeling pedals that would make that sound to my satisfaction, so therefor I need to have my cab mic'd.
  14. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    One viable signal chain is:

    Bass -> Amp simulation and then one path going to a DI with cabinet simulation and another going to an onstage amp. An alternative to the simulation is going into the DI pre EQ from an amp head from an amp.

    Sound engineers often like the simplicity of a DI, and also the idea that the sound they are getting is not affected by any EQ or volume changes you are making for onstage audibility, but you get to have some cabinet emulation in there. Ok, it's not the cabinet sound of your amp, but it might still be acceptable in the circumstances and better than very fizzy and raw distorted sounds.
  15. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    If my bass can sound good in the mix through car speakers, or ipod headphones, then I figure it can also sound good in the mix through a club's DI into their PA, mixed by the sound guy who works with that system every night.
  16. The direct sound of my bass blows chunks. Get that DI out of my face.
    Remyd likes this.
  17. peledog


    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Well, you see, that's the problem, putting a DI in your face will make your bass sound bad.
  18. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    I think we've been down this topic many times before, and one of the main takeaways is that there are DI's and there are DI's. A few (Jimmy would say one) sound pretty good and a lot sound pretty "meh".

    My personal feeling is that unless you have a very low stage SPL and very good volume discipline across the band personnel then every mic on stage is another nail in the mix coffin.

    I should have prefaced all these comments with the disclaimer that this is all targeted at your typical rock lineup which includes drums a guitars.

  19. ShoeManiac

    ShoeManiac Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    The unfortunate caveat that comes along with the REDDI is that it costs $750. For some people that's an investment in a significant piece of gear. I've heard demos of the REDDI and it sounds amazing as DI's go. I personally have a Radial JDI. I'll put it up against what most clubs have as their house DI. But when I have a choice? I like a mix of DI and a mic'd cabinet in the FOH mix.

    Having done a fair amount of live work and a fair amount of studio work, I think that it's not a clear, cut and dry scenario with DI versus a mic'd cabinet. I think it's very much situational as to which will be the best method for getting your bass's sound to the mixing desk. Factors like the skills of your sound man, availability of good microphones, bleed from other instruments and the confines of the stage all have the potential to impact the delivery of your signal to the FOH mix. Having the option to do one, the other or both is probably the best route for your own band.
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    My reasoning is that DI is so much easier when playing with different amps, house rigs etc. My sound is my bass plus my pedal board, what's on stage is just monitoring, and the PA takes care of the FOH sound. My own bass amp has a 15/12/6/tweeter set of drivers too, which isn't easy to mic anyway. So I try to go for a flat sound on my amp to somewhat emulate what I will hear from a PA, dial my bass and pedals in to get a bass sound I like, and more often than not it's then just plug into the house DI line and the sound is more or less OK right away - sound guys don't seem to complain anyway. Then set whatever monitoring sound you want on stage from whatever bass amp is there.

    It just makes sense to me, it's very convenient and takes the amp and cabinet out of the equation (which is not an option if they are integral to your sound, of course). Then again I'm not super picky about my bass sound, I would probably not appreciate the difference between any good DI box compared to the great ones like the REDDI.