What Direct Boxes are You Folks Using

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Ric Vice, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I played one of those outdoor festivals this weekend and since
    the Walter Woods Ultra has a 1/4 Jack on the "Send Mix" output
    the engineer used it to connect a DI to for the PA. It sounded pretty good, but I was wondering if I purchased a better quality DI, would the sound would dramatically improve.

    As, I've been doing a little reading about these devices, I discovered that those same Piezos (that are notorious for overloading inputs on our amplifiers) can overload the DI as well. So, are there specific DI boxes that can handle piezos.

    Ric :confused:
  2. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I have always used the DI output on my Raven Labs PMB-II...but if I had to get a stand alone DI, I would look into the Radial Engineering units.
  3. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I use a TubeWorks 4001 tube DI.
    I use it as a preamp too.
  4. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    That's precisley the unit that I was looking at this weekend.
    It's built like a tank. Unfortunately, Walter can't fit a DI into the
    Electro Acoustic design. I'm just trying to figure out if a Realist will overload the Radial JDI Passive Box.
    I don't usually use a my Fishman Pre A II with the Realist
    as a piezo buffer. If I take the signal from the Send on the Walter Woods for the DI do I need to buffer the input from the Realist?

    Ric Vice
  5. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    A couple of questions 1. Are you using the TubeWorks with your EUB or a Double Bass? 2. Are running the DI between the instrument and the amp, or using a send out on your amplifier?

    Ric Vice

    PS: Thanks for the info, always a big help to us novices
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I use the DI out of my SWR SM-500, but if I don't have that, I use a Whirlwind Imp 2. People goof on it because it's so cheap that they think it can't possibly be any good, but I've used it to record and I've used it for gigs as small as a 100 seater up to 10,000 seat arenas, and it always has a really good sound and always works. I keep one in my cord bag at all times JIC.
  7. jrduer


    Jun 27, 2005
    Georgetown, TX
    Ordinarily, I use the DI in my Ashdown head, and I like it really well.

    Once, I got to a gig with a borrowed SWR. When I plugged it in, nothing came out but a sizzling sound. I pulled my Fishman Pro-EQ Platinum Bass out of my gig bag, plugged it in, and ran through the PA only. Lots of folks (including my bass player son) commented on how good the SWR sounded in the mix, not knowing it was not even turned on. (I left the amp onstage, so I'd have somewhere to set my drink...)

    Anyway, I like the Fishman, although it may not be rugged enough for constant gig use, unless you're able to keep it in a padded box like I do (it's plastic).

  8. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Like JimmyM, I usually just use the DI on my SWR amp too. Sounds fine for most gigs where there's a sound system involved.

    However, my favorite DI box is the Countryman. I've had this old dog for many years and it still continues to amaze me. It's especially good in the studio. It has some pretty clean specs (I'm not a techie) but from my understanding it's excellent for converting a piezo level signal to soundboard friendly line or mic level.

    I think it's important to get an Active DI, not a Passive one, especially when dealing with piezo pickups.
  9. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I had one of those and sold it. What a mistake. They sound FANTASTIC.
  10. FidgetStone


    Jun 30, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I use an L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI. It has a nice array of uncolored tone controls and has proven to be worth its weight in gold.
  11. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    I'll just put on my flame retardent coat.

    I recently picked up a Behringer V-tome acoustic ADI21 and it's great! $30 US delivered. It's a DI and a pre-amp. In DI mode it's dead quiet and in pre-amp it's still quiet and the controls really shape the sound if I want. The "blend" adds characteristics to really even out the sound but a little goes a long ways.

    I expect some might berate this little box, but don't dismiss it until you try it.
  12. robgrow

    robgrow Supporting Member

    May 1, 2004
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The Countryman DI has been around for a long time, and is still an industry standard. And for good reason: It provides a buffered, high-impedance input with a transformer balanced output that provides good isolation when it's really needed. The Countryman can be used successfully with almost any source, and always sounds great.

    If all I wanted to do was to connect my amplifier with an unbalanced, line-level output to a remote mixer, I might consider using a passive direct box with a Jensen or other very-high-quality transformer.
  13. A couple of things.
    1. Whatever is first in the chain should have a high impedance input to be ideal for piezos.
    2. Walter recommends a passive DI box if you go into his amp first then out through the 1/4 inch.
    3. I didn't have much luck with the direct out from my Woods. The direct out from my Focus, OTOH, is very strong and clean.
    4. If you've got money to burn, a truly great DI box is the Aguilar 900. I think it's like 20 Meg input impedance.
    5. Do a search in the BG forums, there's a long thread on DI boxes over there.
    6. OK that was more than a couple.
  14. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I have used a really cheap Proco or IMP passive DI on the Woods direct out. Sounds decent and works well. I still use my Raven Labs preamp as Walter doesn't do phase switches. So I use the Raven for a phase reverse, a little bass cut and then use the DI out for a send to the PA. I run the Raven into the front of the Woods. That sounds excellent and always gets thumbs up from the sound-person. Also gives me a line independent from the Woods that will still run if the Woods dies during a set.

    I really wish Walter would dump the effects loops and bring back the phase switch. And a nice DI transformer. Those loops are a huge waste of space and energy and I don't know anyone that uses them. I hate carrying around a battery sucking preamp that I really don't need instead of having everything in one box.
  15. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Sorry for the late reply, my home computer crashed yesterday.
    I'm playing an EUB only.
    Yes, between the instrument and amp.
    It has a 1/4" unbalanced output for the amp, and a XLR balanced output for the PA or whatever.
  16. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    No problem really, I just appreciate all the help that
    people on TB are providing me with. My concern with using
    a DB between the instrument and amp, is that the Realist will
    actually "overdrive" the DI, if I don't get the correct type. It has a very hot signal. When I tried using my Fishman Pre A II that's suposed to work with piezos to correct the mismatch between the Realist and my Walter Woods, it actually sounded worse! It sounds
    like the way to go is run the DI of the amp and use a Passive DI with a Jensen Trnsformer. The other option would be to find anctive DI that will cope with the high output from the Realist, but that could be pretty pricey.

  17. I've used various pieces of crap over the years. Most of them being inexpensive passive DI's. Now I've been relying on my trusty Raven Labs MDB-1 (no phase, oh well) and the venerable Demeter 201s. I've used the Avalon U5 with mixed results. Some of my basses don't really like the 'presets'. I tracked with an old Hofner and it squashed it too much.

    I recently tracked through the single-space Aguilar pre and liked the sound. I have yet to try one of the Millenia Media products. I'm familiar with the STT-1 on vocals and horns but I haven't gotten a chance to plug my bass into it.
  18. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I suppose that tube DIs have a higher input voltage capability.
    However the 4001's front end is solid state; only the output uses a tube.
    Its input voltage is 3.8VRMS max, in instrument mode.

    The Fishman B-II spec says -20dBV max input voltage.
    If 0dbV = 1 Volt, -20 dBV = 0.1 Volt, which seems rather small. (and could explain why it's clipping)
  19. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Thank you so much. You're help in converting that spec was invaluable. I guess the Fishman only works with their BP-100,
    but since they don't provide you with specs on the output of their
    transducers you can't tell what piezos are compatable with
    their buffer/pre amp. Sounds like all piezos aren't uniform in their
    output. It's looking more like the way to go would be a DI from the ampilfier.


    PS Thanks to all who have posted their comments so far
    very informative and useful stuff. This is complicated! :rolleyes:
  20. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Right. In fact piezos are very sensitive to what they are plugged in to. The relationship between the piezo and the preamp is crucial to getting a good tone from them. Piezos sound really different depending on what they are plugged into. The Woods has an excellent relationship with piezo pickups. The Raven Labs does too. Most regular DI boxes don't mate up directly with piezos as well which is why I avoid direct injection from a piezo without a matching preamp. If you have a preamp you like the sound of with your piezo and it has a DI attached to it i'd use that. A passive DI on the output of the Woods sounds great too, although it seems less consistent from room to room even when using the pre EQ signal. I'm not sure why.