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tube vs solid state direct boxes

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by smcbass, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. smcbass


    Nov 17, 2010
    I'm a non-professional bassist, meaning that I don't play for money, so I don't have to have the absolute best direct box available. With that in mind, are tube direct boxes so much better than solid state DIs that the differences are readily apparent, or are the differences subtle? I cannot justify spending $350+ on a used Demeter VBTD when a new Radial or Countryman at around $160 gives me nearly everything the tube DI does. I'm currently playing through a TubeWorks 4001 tube direct box, but it's grossly underpowered (30 volts, 600 milliamps).
  2. Lots of bassists dont use a D.I at all and mic their cabinet to achieve pretty much the exact sound they are used to hearing. What kind of amp are you using?

    Also, did someone tell you that you "need" a D.I box?
  3. Hmm. I'm confused, if you're not playing professionally - why do you even need a DI, where are you playing?

    PS: IMHO, the REDDI is the tube DI to get - however, both the Counrtyman 85 and Radial DI's are great boxes too.
  4. smcbass


    Nov 17, 2010
    I play at a church, and we DI everything. No amps on stage, everything through DIs to the PA.
  5. Oh okay, thanks.
  6. ahhh
  7. smcbass


    Nov 17, 2010
    Mr. Louvar,

    Is the REDDI worth the difference in price over a Countryman or Radial DI? By that I mean, can you hear a large difference in your sound, or are the differences subtle?
  8. JeffLieby

    JeffLieby Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Orange, TX
    I am in a similar situation. I volunteer at my church. We have a few other bassists that sub in from time to time if I am working or unavailable, but I tend to be the guy that has the best gear so we generally use my stuff. All this has amounted to in the past was me leaving some sort of preamp/DI on the stage. I have gone through a number of different setups ranging from a simple passive DI box to pre/DI pedals like the ToneHammer and VT Bass Deluxe.

    Recently I have found myself in other playing situations, filling in at other churches and usually money is involved. Wanting to not only put my best foot forward, but also receive the maximum enjoyment out of hearing my bass tone I invested in a REDDI. I will not leave that at my home church. There is a passive DI that belongs to the church for the other bassists to use. I was in a position to make a move to the REDDI and I took it, because I wanted to.

    The moral of the story is that a standard DI, be it passive or active or tube or solid state, will get the job done. I have always believed that you should play the highest quality geat that you can afford that gives you the sound you are after. A Radial or a Countryman will do the job in spades, has for countless other players. What it boils down to is does it give you a sound you are happy with. If it does that is great, if not then the ongoing quest for tone continues.

    Whatever you do, have fun!
  9. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    There is a big difference when you use a solid state DI or a tube DI in terms of tone and gain on your sound.
    The best way to understand is listen to it; if you have the chance to go somewhere they have both, even a music store and, record a simple groove you'll see immediately the difference.
    Anyway from what you're looking for I think a solid state DI will be more than enough or you can also (to stay in a low budget) try a small tube preamp as the Presonus TubePre to get a more coloured sound with punchy gain.
    or you can also check the pedal DIs, as the Aguilar, Sadowsky, Ebs, they are a little price than a regular solid state DI but can give you the chance to excite or colour your balanced tone.

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  10. Yes, one can hear a difference - however, like with many things, the answer (if its worth the higher price tag or not) is subject to personal opinion. I own a Radial DI.
  11. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    The Whirlwind IMP-2 direct box is a simple, inexpensive unit that is popular, has been around for a long time and does the job just fine ...


    You can spend a lot of money on boutique direct boxes if you choose to * but (IMHO) it's primarily the sound technician's taste in sound and chops with the equipment at hand that is going to make it or break it for the quality of your FOH bass sound. A number of years ago, I played the Columbia Pike Blues Festival where they supplied the backline including a GK 800RB head along with EV 2x10 and 1x15 cabinets for the bass. Despite the GK 800RB having it's own DI, they chose to use an ultra cheap Horizon passive direct box (that I'd seen in stores for like $20) right off of my Fender Precision. A local cable access TV channel filmed the show and I got the contact number of the guy heading up the film crew so that I could get a copy of it later. Anyway, I got a dub directly from the original film source onto a good quality VHS HI-FI tape and it was the absolute best tone I ever heard of myself, despite the bare bones DI right off my bass. The mix of the entire performance was first rate, too ... the sound guy definitely knew what he was doing.

    * And it doesn't take all that long into spending big bucks on a DI that will get you into the "splitting hairs" realm. If you really want to go "Rolls Royce" without getting into silly money, the Countryman Type 85 direct box is a VERY well regarded unit ...

  12. +1, Yep.

    And again - one can hear a difference between the IMP-2 and 85 too. However, I can't hear a difference between the Radial and Countyman (but both cost about the same too).
  13. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Well, I have never owned a tube DI, but I own the Countryman 85 and have used it live and in recording sessions, and it's impossible to go wrong with that unit. It sounds fantastic, very transparent, no noise, and it's completely indestructible. I always rest easy knowing that no matter what might happen to the rest of my gear, this thing is stowed away in my case, ready.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's almost all about the player, but I definitely notice a big difference with the REDDI vs. SS DI's. Some might call it subtle, but to me it's big, especially when I go to hit a high note and the bottom is still represented just as heavy as it is with the low notes. I never got that out of SS DI's without help from distortion, but the REDDI's clean as a whistle and still has it. That said, you do have to be realistic about your wants and needs and I wouldn't blame you for going with a less expensive SS DI. For me, the REDDI is worth every cent, but I'm a career bass player who's rather fussy about his DI tone.
  15. In the end - it really comes down to the PA and who's behind the FOH console - a bad soundman can screw any signal up. ;)

    EDIT: However, with that said - I'm also in the camp that believes good sound starts at the beginning of the audio chain too. :)
  16. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    @JimmyM What tube is in your Reddi? The one I tried was very bright to my ears.
  17. JimmyM's father just passed (R.I.P.) :( so it may be a while before he gets back to this thread.
  18. I've never heard a Demeter VTDB, but from what I've read (which isn't much) and when considering you can get a new Countryman 85 or Radial J48 for under $200, I doubt the Demeter is really worth the higher price tag with its tiny transformer. If you want a real tube DI get the well known and respected REDDI tube DI box.

    The REDDI has a 6N1P tube with a big transformer.
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm using the stock Sovtek 6N1P. I tried a little tube rolling, but decided I liked its character stock the best.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Actually I haven't had as much time to get on, but it's been good to get on here a little and have some trivial fun to take my mind off things for a few minutes at a time. Thanks for the nice words on Facabook, Joe.