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What Makes a Good DI?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by RunngDog, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. RunngDog


    Jan 22, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Up to now, I've just been using the direct out on my amp to go into the PA (and using the amp itself as a monitor), in part because I've been playing places where I don't trust the sound guys (if there even are sound guys) to do the sound properly. But I'm about to start playing some better venues with good soundmen and would like to put a DI box between myself and my amp. So I have a Baggs Paracoustic DI that I've used for acoustic instruments and I'm wondering how this will work for a bass. Most of the DI threads I've read here recommend the Radial JDI or Countryman 85. Is there something special about these that would make them significantly better than the Baggs - enough so to make a new purchase worthwhile?
  2. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    I find that an Avalon U5 makes a good DI... :cool:
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    A good DI gives clean, uncolored sound. No noise. The Countryman Type 85 is bulletproof and will last longer than you will. You literally can run over it with a truck and it will not break. In addition, it sounds superb. The Radial boxes are comparable sound-wise, and only slightly less durable. Some of the Radial boxes are a little more versatile than the Countryman, which is pretty basic. Do a Google search on Radial Engineering and Countryman Associates.

    And yes, the Avalon U5 is the DI of choice if you've got $500 burning a hole in your pocket. I have used it by itself in front of the PA, and it dominates (even without wearing Abercrombie). It has six EQ presets, of which about four are useful for bass. You can run it flat, too.

    If you want even more versatility, the SansAmp products (BDDI, Acoustic DI, ParaDriver, etc.) have been popular for a long time, but Radial's BassBone is gaining a lot of popularity. I've used mine direct to the PA with no rig, and it works very nicely.

    If you stick with any that I've mentioned here, you pretty much can't go wrong. There are many others that would be adequate, such as the ProCo line, DOD, Whirlwind and others. I'd recommend you buy a good one. Buy once, cry once. You won't need to be replacing that B-word one every other gig.
  4. e.maynard


    Nov 11, 2004
    Afton, Virginia
    Looking at a JDI or a Countryman is a great idea.

    Dare I say, for Bass, I dig the Radial JDI quite a bit more. First off - No battery, and no need to wonder if the flunky soundguy has the phantom power turned on. Secondly, the Jensen transformer is all it's cracked up to be. Linear, dead quiet and it'll let your bass sound like your bass. Plus it's $300.00 and some change less than a U-5.

    Jensen even makes a stereo DI box too:
  5. RunngDog


    Jan 22, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    I'd still kinda like to get to the crux of my question. If I were buying a first DI, I would no doubt go with a Radial or Countryman based on recommendations from this group. But since I already own a preamp/DI (the Baggs Para Acoustic DI), what I'm really trying to figure is do I need another, and if so, why? Are there features missing from the Baggs? Is the Baggs too much a preamp and not enough a "pure" DI? Is the Baggs intended to color my sound in a way the Radial and Countryman are not?

    Again, the Baggs is sort of the preamp/DI of choice among acoustic musicians. The price tag on it is pretty much the same as a Radial JDI or Countryman 85 ($160 street) Here's info on it:

    LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI

    Guys, my GAS is pretty much limited to basses. I have no desire to drop $150 on a DI if I already own a DI that will do the job well.

    PS: I also have (as part of a large rig I only rarely use) a BBE BMax preamp. How does the DI in that compare to these others? Should I be separating this from the QSC head with which it currently shares a rack unit and using it as my standard DI box instead?
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I used to use an Avalon U5 for a preamp/DI and it sounded great, but it's just too big to haul around - IMHO.

    I now have a Radial JDI. I've used it a few times and it works great. I like the no battery, no power required aspect of it. The Jensen transformer is a nice touch. It isn't cheap at $150, but I think it sounds great and should last a long time. It's in a tough steel case as well.
  7. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    I borrowed a ParaAcoustic DI from a bandmate for a few gigs and there is certainly nothing about it that made it a bad choice for bass. Keep an eye on the EQ and notch controls (make sure that they are flat and didn't get bumped, etc...) and you should be OK. Yes, it could color your sound more than a plain-jane DI. But since they all seem to have at least a little impact I don't think that it is an issue.
  8. nickname


    Jan 22, 2005
    I use an SVT4-Pro... is it necessary or will it make a big difference if I used a DI box instead? i also have the aphex bass exciter pedal... its got DI on it, which is better to use? the Aphex or the SVT? or should i get a new DI box?
  9. Being a sound guy as well as a bass player I have ran into some interesting things. I will not point fingers but some of the built in DI's on bass amps suck and some are good! experiment. If you are going to use a built in make shure you can switch it to pre EQ. Whats good on stage is different than whats good out in front. That nice scooped out sound with lots of bass that sounds great on stage might translate to mud thro the sound system. remember most sound systems have subs for that. and yes i have had this experience with pros with great rigs. The bass player side of me knows the need to send (your tone) to the sound guy, but to many times a cheap DI=$70.00 ran straight off the bass has beat out the top of the line bass amp/DI Set up. The country man, Radial, and Avalon DI's are all great. If you have some extra time at soundcheck and a long cable or a wireless play around and go out front to check some tones.
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    What? A soundman is saying that?

    From what I read here, it's usually the opposite: the bassist with nice mids, and a clear, 'speaking' tone, encounters all the soundguys who scoop the life out of his DI send!

  11. CetiAlphaVI


    May 27, 2005
    The specs read a low cut filter at 35Hz which should be OK to leave disengaged. Since that DI is designed for AG, the EQ freq choices might not be complementary to BG, however there is a mid-sweep (first, leave everything flat as suggested earlier). Gig it once. If it's not as good as what you already had going, then you lived and learned.
  12. not sure if this is worth a mention or not...

    ..ah sod it - whats the SOUNDLAB DI like? (its cheap to buy - about £30 ($65-70?) from Maplins...)...got it from ebay for £10 2nd hand and I've not needed to use it yet

    also - what do you lot think to the DI on a bass podXT? - is the DI or the "modeled" output better for going to desk? (in a gig situation...)
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If the DI on your amp sounds fine, there's no need to buy another one and I wouldn't even waste the money.
  14. cool - I've got that cheap one and a POD anyway so I'm ok if the amp dies...
  15. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I have never used the Baggs, but it looks decent enough. One thing that would worry me is all the tiny knobs. I/others tend to step on the DI so a solid metal box is a requirement to me. If you have a way of protecting the DI, no problems.

    I have the Radial Pro DI, which is the step down from the JDI. What I like about it is that it is passive and sounds clean to me. I rarely use it, but when I do it is usually a panic situtation and it *has* to work.

    A good DI that you can throw in a case or bag and forget about is something every musician should have.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I agree with that sentiment. However, it's not necessary to get a $300 DI. A $50 Whirlwind Imp 2 DI works great and I have used one in venues ranging from 100 seat bars to 10,000 seat arenas with great results each time.
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Just keep asking the same question until you get the answer you're looking for. Tell you what, I'll help you out.

    Does the LRB sound good when you play through it?

    If you answered "yes" to the above question, then you don't need another DI.

    There y'go.
    eukatheude likes this.
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I have a Baggs ParaDI and it works wonderfully...EXCEPT it lacks a ground lift switch!!! That could be a problem in some situations.

    It's most commonly used for DIing acoustic instruments WITHOUT hooking them up to an amp. For example on folk gigs playing DB I just bring the bass and the Baggs, no amp.

    It's when you also use the thru connection to an amp that you can get grounding issues. Most DIs let you open the ground pin on the XLR to get rid of buzzing caused by ground loops, but the Baggs doesn't.

    As far as the sound, it's top notch.
  19. I think that's a very important feature when you are playing different venues. I use the DI out on my amp and I can't tell you how many times I had to change the position of the ground lift switch to get rid of the hum. Works everytime to. Does your amp not have a ground lift switch? It's an Eden amp right? I would have thought that the DI on it would sound great - and as long as you don't jack the EQ all over I would have thought it would work great for almost any situation.