optimal D.I. box for active AND passive basses?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by fasto, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. fasto


    Mar 4, 2007
    Amsterdam, NL
    i have never used a D.I. box before, soon my band will record some tracks. my understanding so far: for passive basses an active D.I. is needed and for active basses a passive D.I.?

    My Musicman Big Al is both (active/passive) ... what would be the best D.I. solution?
  2. I'm no expert by far, but a quality DI such as a REDDI or a Radial JDI will handle both fine, rest assured.
  3. Warrior_Bass


    Mar 10, 2010

    I use a Radial JDI for recording and live use, with both active and passive. Works wonderfully.
  4. ack

    ack Why Can't We All Get Along?

    Nov 19, 2006
    Somewhere near Raleigh
    I use an MXR M80 Bass DI+. It works well with both passive & active basses.
    Great Color and EQ, but a pretty brutal distortion feature (IMO).
  5. JP Morin

    JP Morin

    Mar 15, 2011
    An other option would be a sansamp bass driver DI, but it will color your sound...

    I don't own one but I have played through a radial JDI many time in studio or on stage and it's a great device since it retain your sound pretty well... if you plug your bass direct in it will be the sound of your bass straight...

    If you go with an active device it will do it for both active or passive bass... passive DI may work with both too but you may have capacitance/impedance like issues with passive bass
  6. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    The SansAmp bass DI is a standard for a reason. :) Yes, it does color your tone, it simulates the "mic'd up bass cab" sound direct, that's what it's designed to do. So, it's ideal for recording or for sending a signal to the PA. There are other bass preamp/amp simulator type DIs, the MXR was already mentioned, the Radial Bassbone is another one, and I believe Eden makes one as well.

    General-purpose direct boxes like a Countryman or JDI are not meant to color your tone, but send the clean uncolored signal to the board. So you'll probably want some EQ or a bass amp plug in when you record. An active DI should work for either application. Just depends on what you, the band and the recording engineer are trying to do - some people want to print the amped sound to a track, others would rather track the dry tone and then change it later via an amp plug-in or whatever.
  7. bassnj


    Sep 16, 2011
    Radial JDI works for me, passive and active. I track sometimes through a JDI and a Sansamp at the same time for grit. Works real nice.
  8. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    If you don't activate the simulation on the BDDI, it will act as a straight uncolored DI
  9. DeadPoet


    Jun 4, 2003
    Passive devices are a bit more picky about what impedance they see. So DI's will sound different with passive basses, not only because of the DI but because of the pickup loading as well.

    Likewise, passive DI's will have bigger differences when used in different microphone preamps as well.

    Radial JDI into a Neve preamp clone if I'm the engineer. Will record with whatever if I'm the player.

  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    With a passive bass, you may find a passive DI rolls off some of your highs, due to the loading of the pups. Also passive DI's inherently drop the level of your signal, so if you have a low-output bass, that can be an issue with some weaker mixer inputs.

    A passive DI can sound great with a passive bass, it's just there are these considerations that may affect some users.

    With an active bass you can use pretty much any DI ever made, although some of the crappier ones may distort if your active bass has very high output.
  11. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Not really. It is not true bypass. It slightly affects your tone even when bypassed, unlike a true quality DI.
  12. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Albuquerque, NM
    Endorsing Artist: Regenerate Guitar Works, Honey Badger Pickups, Westone Audio
    It really comes down to your tonal goals, but I'll go against the grain and suggest a Radial J48.

    I've owned both the JDI and J48, and I chose to keep the J48 and sell the JDI after A/B'ing both DIs with a wide variety of active and passive basses through my RME recording interface.

    While the JDI can sound fabulous on a passive bass, there is a significant HF roll-off, and even some LF roll-off (with passive basses). Not necessarily a "bad" thing, but that depends on your tonal goals. Personally, I very much prefer a huge, wide open, full-range sound. With an active bass, the JDI was plenty full-range.

    Another thing to consider with the JDI is that the extra 22dB drop through the Jensen xfmr means the preamp on the other side must supply the extra gain. Not a big deal in some environments, but not all preamps are created equal and many lower-end pres add significant noise. Not a big deal in a well-equipped studio or stage, but very much an issue with most consumer-based gear.

    The J48, OTOH, has tons of headroom and passes the tone of the bass - active or passive - through VERY transparently. I'm almost coming to prefer it over my Aguilar DB900. It's nice not having to gain up the signal so much after the DI - keeps things a lot quieter. The *only* trouble I've had with the J48 is that the dumb little phantom power supply on my Line6 UX2 doesn't provide enough current. However, I only use the Line6 for home practice (I use the RME for real recording), so it's not a big deal; I just don't use the J48 for home practice.

    Don't get me wrong, the JDI is amazing and hard to beat for a passive DI, but be aware that it has some quirks - just like the J48 has it's own quirks (runs on phantom power only...).