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The skinny on nice DI's

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by J.Wolf, Mar 23, 2009.


  1. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    So I'm sure there is alot of info available through searches about DI's, but my specific question is: I'm wanting to get a really nice sounding DI. in addition to regular club/venue gigs, I do alot of work with a guy where I'm playing bass unaccompanied, and a great sounding DI would go a long way for me in that setting. The ones I've been looking at are the Reddi, U5, TD100, and the JDV.

    So the question is: is it really worth shelling out a few extra hundred bucks for one of the boutique units, versus, getting a passive radial, or one of the other approx. $200 units. The turn off for the u5 and the reddi is the size and weight, but I'm willing to lug it if its worth it tonally. thats where your input comes in.

    So whats the deal, is it worth shelling out, or is it a matter of diminishing returns at that price point?

    I appreicate any advice or suggestions, thanks!
     
  2. NickRich

    NickRich

    Oct 13, 2008
    Quebec, Canada
  3. It's a pretty easy decision process IMO:

    1) If you like the pure sound of your bass (i.e., no 'tube character from an amp' no extreme EQ, etc.), then get the highest quality, simple passive DI (IMO, the Radial JDI) if you have a relatively high output active bass, or a high quality active DI (IMO the Countryman is the industry standard) if you have a passive bass. Simple, small, pure, quiet, perfect for most situations IMO and IME! A large step above the cheap stuff without going crazy dollar-wise or size-wise.

    2) If your bass 'needs some help' or you particularly like some coloring to your tone, a more voiced DI like the Reddi, the SansAmp, the Sadowsky, etc., etc., etc. can help get you there if you can't mic your amp (which is, of course, the best way to translate your tone if you depend on your amp for a significant portion of your tone.. like a grindy SVT through a sealed cab or whatever).
     
  4. joeyjazz

    joeyjazz

    Feb 6, 2009
    Chicago
    If I were only going to own one DI for multiple uses it'd be a Countryman Type 85 or Radial JDI. You can find both for under $200 and anything that costs more is just going to give you a different flavor that won't necessarily be better, not worth the price or (in the case of the tube units) the weight.
     
  5. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    thanks guys, this is very helpful info.

    Mainly I'm using my F basses (AC5 & BN6), and while they're active, I wouldn't say they have a super hot output. I'll also probably use it for my passive DJ4 and maybe an incoming Nordy if that pans out. Sounds like the easiest and best bet would be a JDI for me. I do really like the U5 and how it just kinda smooths things nicely when you run it thru into your amp, but again, the weight issue.

    Thanks again, let me know if there is anything else I should know..
     
  6. As much as I love the tone of a good DI, my approach is to separate the DI and preamp concepts. I like my DI to be transparent and basically "not there", and I'd rather use an actual channel strip or pre/comp combo if i was looking for something that would be involved in tone shaping. I used an Aggie DB900 for a while and it is a very nice DI, but lugging a heavy tube DI around got to be a drag unless I was recording. I've stuck with a Radial ProD2, and it is a rock solid DI. I have played with a REDDI and I totally get the appeal, but I also think it is pretty much an expensive way to get an old school saturated transformer sound, and one which will never be represented by the majority of PA gear.
     
  7. John C. Reilly

    John C. Reilly

    Feb 24, 2004
    i would suggest getting a passive transformer Di like the radial or a jensen equipped and then audtion some Fancy hi end units like a Eclair evil twin, reddi, avalon u5 etc. that way you can compare with your own ears. my favorite di so far has been the reddi i also like a V72 module or the tab funkenwerk di v71 when i want to emphasis the mids more than the 30-40hz region uber lows.
    Avalon U5 I've tried a few times, in a studio with less than stellar monitoring, but it stould out as very quick and clear. there was no hiding.








     

  8. Sounds like a Countryman DI for you! The FBasses have quite low output, even with the preamp engaged.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I hear a lot about "the audience can't tell the difference," but the truth is they can. Or at least, they can tell a good mix from a bad one. And if it didn't matter, we'd all be playing Behringer and First Act gear.

    But when you get into DI's past the $150 mark, you're talking about varying degrees of fantastic tone. A lot of hit records with smokin' bass have been cut on Countryman and Radial DI's. My logic for not getting one is between the noise of the crowds, the fact that most rooms are not built for sound, and the varying degrees of PA quality out there, a REDDI is a bit of overkill for live work. It's godly tone, but a VT Bass pedal weighs less than a pound and gets me close enough to that tone for live work when I'm forced to DI.

    OTOH, I'm lugging an SVT or B-15 so I'm no stranger to lugging a ridiculously sized piece of gear because it's the only way I can get that sound. So if it means that much to you, get the REDDI. You only live once, and it really is the only way to get that sound without an Ampeg tube amp.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    +1. Besides, I like them better because you can run a speaker DI with them. If you have a tube amp, you run a speaker DI with it and you've got yourself a DI every bit as good as a REDDI.
     
  11. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    I've been considering a Rolls PM351.. this is a combination Headphone monitor and high + low impedence DI

    Any feedback?
     
  12. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Jake, I've also been looking into a new DI. I use both active and passive basses and decided that an active DI would work best for me. I think I'm going for the Radial J48.

    Can anyone tell me if they hear any difference between the J48 and the Countryman? Why would you pick one over the other?
     
  13. Hey Andy!

    Both top of the line IMO. I've used both in live situations, but have never been out front the hear!!!! I guess the Countryman has been around longer than the Radial J48, and seems to have the lion's share of the market in the 'transparent active small DI box' category. The Radial JDI seems to be more of a 'one of a kind' thing... a really high quality, Jensen loaded passive DI that won't break the bank.

    I think one of the differences is that the Countryman can run on phantom power or battery, and if my memory serves, the Radial needs phantom power. So, I guess if you are playing some really small clubs with more 'head' style PA's, the Countryman would be more useful, since some of those heads do not supply phantom power. That's probably a pretty rare situation though.
     
  14. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY

    Thanks Ken!

    I wasn't sure if the J48 could house a battery or not....but can you use a power supply with it? That's what I've always done with my MXR M80 anyway.
     
  15. I don't think you can. I think it only runs on phantom power. However, I'm not totally sure. That would be the primary issue to check between the two IMO.
     
  16. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Yeah, I'll have to look into that for sure. I wouldn't feel safe if I couldn't power it another way.
     
  17. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    What a shame...I just looked and Ken was right about the J48...hmmm.....you have to upgrade to the JDV to be able to power an active DI with something other than phantom power...and that's a significant price jump....Looks like I may go with a countryman after all.
     
  18. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I have been using the built in on my Genz Benz head. For live use I'm not sure if a Radial, Countryman, etc., would make a noticeable difference. The GB guys say probably not, as do many others.

    I have used a Radial JDI with great success. I also liked my Avalon U5 a lot, but as you say, it's hard to justify the expense and hauling a large piece of gear around. I am not a fan of the Ampeg/TUbe tone so the REDDI, SansAmp, etc., are not for me.

    I tend to play active basses so the active/passive isn't debate doesn't apply to me, but I think if I had a mix of basses, I'd lean to an active DI.
     
  19. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    hey Andy-

    wow thats good info thank you Andy and Ken, I would have been considering the J48, but that power situation seems too limited for the random and odd FOH scenarios I seem to encounter all to often. I may just stick with the JDI unless I get a wild hair to try the JDV.

    I'll be in Nashville tomorrow for a gig, and will have some time before we play, so I'll probably poke around corner music and see what those guys have to say. The trick for me is finding a DI that will reliably sound good with the output from my F's and from a passive jazz bass. Although, I agree with Ken that the output from active F's is low enough (as long as you're not boosting too much eq) that it is still in the ballpark of a passive J bass.

    I gotta say, if the TD100 sent its tube tone thru the parallel 1/4" out to the amp to incorporate that units sound into your rig, I'd be all over that. What a great sounding little unit.

    I'm going to agree with JimmyM as well. People say that the audience don't respond to good or bad bass tone, and I absolutely think they do. They may not identify it as good tone or bad tone, but people respond to things that sound nice, even if they don't know why they like it. You don't have to be an artist to appreciate a nice painting, even if you don't know what it is that makes it good art, there is a part of you that recognizes the quality in something good. I think that goes for live sound, album mixes, etc....
     
  20. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Jake, I was also considering the JDI, but I've read a few times that it can at times not have enough signal for a passive bass.

    I just found a great price online for a countryman...let me know if you want that link.
     

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