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Which DI Box has lots of midrange and agressive sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by rubo, Jan 23, 2005.


  1. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    My current set up is Fender Jazz Bass with passive pickups. Midas Venice 160 mixer & Retrospec Juice Box (http://www.slidingdelta.com/retrospec/juice.html) all this is going into RME ADI-8 Converter thru Digi 001 into Pro Tools.

    The Juice Box has crystal highs with boomy and deep lows, and a this is rounded or smoothen by a nice round a layer, but no midrange. Well if you know the Marcus Mueller sound this it.

    I want more midrange and dirt and not a lot of low end from my bass, I can EQ the low end, addle don't leek the round or smooth sound. Kind of looking for modern bass sound but still having the Famous Fender J vintage sound.

    Which one from this list would be best for my set up:

    1) Aguilar DB900
    2) Avalon U5
    3) D.W. Fearn Passive Direct Box
    4) AMB Tube- Buffered Direct Box
    5) Little Labs Multi-Z
    6) Manley Tube DI+EQ
    7) AMI - Tab/Telefunken V71 DI
    8) Groove Tubes The Brick or Ditto
    9) Radial J48, Radial JDI or JDV Mk3

    Some links:

    http://www.mercenary.com/diboxes.html

    http://www.groovetubes.com/studio_electronics.cfm?ObjectGroup_ID=125

    http://www.radialeng.com/dis.htm


    I don't have any experience with Tube gear, so my Juice Box is the only one, what is the general tonal characteristics of tubes, do they all round or smoothen up the sound, and not a lot of bite or snap to.

    Also what is the general characteristics of Jensen Transformer, does it also gives fat round smooth sound.

    Next is the Passive vs. Active debate, which one is better suited for my needs?

    I remember using ISA 115 unit for about a month, now that was fat and punchy as hell, any idea what components they used to make that unit, maybe it will help me find a DI which has similar components to the ISA unit.

    Cheers
     
  2. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    FWIW - a DI shouldn't be adding a whole lot of color to your sound. To me, that would be the hallmark of a not very good DI. Better to go to an external Pre that has a post EQ DI that you can send if you really need to add the color. At least then you get some choice as to what goes down the pipe to the mains / board.

    The ART Tube Channel would work nicely. You can find those used in the 175 to 200 range fairly often (one of the folks at the Dudepit offered me one for sale a couple of weeks ago. I had to pass as my toy budget is shot ...) I used the Tube Channel as my main pre for a while. It is way better than you would expect ...

    Another possibility would be the ART Phat Boy. If is a floor based multi-effector and PRE with a DI built in. Has BMT controls. Cheap used and quite a useful tool. I have one in my bag for special occaisions.

    You could also look at some of the better pre's. The Demeter VTB201 is available with a Jensen DI and is switchable pre or post EQ. The tone controls aren't real extreme on that one though. It's a very hifi pre. I recently replaced the ART with a Demeter. It loves my Jazz (also the L2000 & Rumblefish ...) a very, very quiet and transparent sound. It is also why my toy budget is shot ;~)

    Or - just get a Countryman and send that signal. Add the EQ on the other side ... that is probably the cheapest and best approach. If you're working with multiple sound co's you might also invest in a dedicated Pre/EQ/comp setup for the FOH. Just ask that your signal runs through your gear before going to the board. Some sounds guys will love the idea, some will hate you for it ...
     
  3. mgmadian

    mgmadian

    Feb 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    You left out one of the best, the Demeter tube DI. Deep, warm, organic and still detailed. Active box with a Jensen transformer.
     
  4. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Sounds like you're looking for a PREAMP with built-in DI, not just a DI . . .
     
  5. 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
    You also left out the Countryman Type 85. I sure like my U5, though.
     
  6. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Well I can't afford a good pre or compressor, so why buy a cheap one and suffer with it, I'd rather just have a good D.I.

    I'm looking more into boutique made unit like these three:

    http://www.pickledick.com/valvotronics/products.html#2

    http://www.musicvalve.com/directbox.html

    http://www.anthonydemarialabs.com/products.html#ADL300GDI


    So it's most likely between Avalon U5 and these three. When people say that Avalon is a clean sounding does that mean crystal clear with no added low,mid or highs and I can hear all the noise and plucking as well. I do like the tone feature on it, but have no idea how effective it is in changing the tone. Any thoughts?

    Cheers
     
  7. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    ummm... If you can afford an Avalon, you can afford a decent Pre. I've used the ART Tube Channel as a channel strip for a couple of years. With a good tube installed (JJ Ecc83) it is nice and warm although it does not grind... very clean and clear though and has EQ & comp to boot. I take the bass to the unbalanced in which is a 1meg ohm (I think) input. I send the unbalanced out to an aux in on my Tascam DAW and the balanced feed a side of my power amp as I like to move a little air. Sometime's I'll mic the cab as well and blend the two. Less and less often though as there are other way's to fatten up once the signal is recorded. Doesn't sound budget at all... and my Demeter set me back less thn a U5.

    I'd back off the Countryman for your purposes. Great live DI and built like a tank. I missed that you were recording with this setup.
     
  8. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    since it seems like you're doing mostly recording, a dedicated bass preamp might be overkill for you. still that's where 90% of your tone shaping should be in the first place. a nice Eden Navigator or Ashdown RPM-1 sound like exactly what you need.

    but in your case, i think a Sansamp Bass DI in place of the retrospec would fare you well. the Sansamp has a feature that allows you add a bit of dirt, and the EQ is pretty flexible. and when that tone section is bypassed, the DI is pretty neutral and clean the way a good DI should be.

    course, my fav DI's are the U5, and the Demeter Tube DI. they're both as clean, and detailed as you can possibly get. the retrospec is a great DI, but like you described, it is a bit colored.
     
  9. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    The purpose of a DI is to take the high impedence unbalanced signal from the instrument and convert it to a low impedence balanced signal to go to a mic pre or directly to a recorder input. The earmark of a good DI is that it does this transparently, with no tonal change whatsoever.

    But it doesn't sound like you want a DI. You want a bass preamp that has a balanced output. I don't think the Countryman or the Avalon would make you happy. Look into the Demeter, the Sadowsky, the Yamaha, the Aguilar, the J-Retro, the Sansamps (RBI and BassDriver), the BBE pres, and even a used Alembix FX-1. These are all in your price range and any of them would be good contenders for your needs. Now do some searches because each one of these has been discussed in depth here.
     
  10. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    My Midas Venice Mixer has a good pre-amp in it and a very musical EQ, but I have to crank the gain a lot , and that brings up noise. Plus I do think you can shape the tone with a good D.I. as well. Also the other pres or pre-amps you guys mentioned are not high end in my book. When I think of high end it's over 2k, otherwise I would just use plug-ins. How effective is the Tone knob on the U5?

    Cheers
     
  11. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    Don't confuse cost with quality. The U5 and Alembic FX-1 are extremely high quality designs that do very simple things well. The others I mentioned are all professional level designs dedicated to bass use, and would suit your needs. Up in the $2K+ range there are extremely high quality designs that do more things well, which sound excellent on bass but may be overkill for your needs (Manley VoxBox, Millennia and Great River mic pres, etc).

    And no, a DI does not shape tone. There are devices which shape tone that include a DI. But that is not the same thing, and they are not part of the same circuit. My mixer has a headphone out. It is not a headphone amp. My MOTU AD/DA interface has a headphone out. It is not a headphone amp. My Rane headphone amp has four headphone outs. It is a headphone amp. But it sucks as a converter or mixer. You dig?

    And speaking as someone who has a lot of "high end" gear (by your description) and an army of plugins, I don't reach for a plugin for gain or tone- that's what good FET and tube designs and quality transformers are for. Plugins are for gentle tone shaping, dynamics control, and time-based effects. But the source has to be good to begin with.
     
  12. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    That's exactly my point plug-ins are for gentle shaping, for extreme quality change you'll need super high end and an engineer with good ears. I'm trying to get as close as possible to the sound I want without altering to much in my chain, like EQ or compression. If I had the money I would spring for some Chandler, D.W. Fearn and other fun toys, but I'm not even close to that kind of budget. So my final choice is U5 or Valvotronics, I'm leaning more toward VLV, because its harder to get, and I can always get the U5.

    Cheers
     
  13. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    Well, all I can suggest that if the bass sounds good, the U5 will sound good. If the bass sounds bad, the U5 will put that bad sound into your recorder. It doesn't do any magic- it just preserves good sounds.
     
  14. 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
    The Avalon can give you extremely clean tone straight through, and about four of the six tone pre-sets are useable for bass. And, yes, it is very effective at changing the tone, from scoop to aggressive mids and more. Try one. You'll never go back to sheep.
     
  15. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Does anyone have the frequency chart for those 6 tone selections, like what is cut/boosted at what frequency? Also what about the other 2 tones - are these only for Electric guitar?

    Cheers
     
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Oh gawd. Frequency charts? Man, if we have to use charts to get a sound, we're probably using the wrong gear. :D

    I agree with the several other voices, that a DI "by definition" does not color your sound at all. The purpose of a DI is to get an accurate rendering of your pickup signal into the following gear (usually for live work that would be a PA, but in the studio it could easily be the line-in of your board, or a digital input into ProTools or something).

    Personally, I've had the most luck with DI's by using them "as intended", in other words, just to get the sound from my bass into the board. 99% of the time, your bass sounds just fine and it doesn't need any external tone-shaping gear during tracking. All that EQ stuff can be done "after the fact" (and there's probably plenty of good reasons why it "should" be done that way, as distinct from trying to capture "the perfect sound" during tracking).

    For the ins and outs of DI's, visit the Jensen transfomers site www.jensen-transformers.com, and look into the sections labelled "white papers" and "schematics".

    It sounds like, from the original wish list, my preferred approach would be to get a DI for tracking, and EQ after the fact. I mean, if you really want to capture the perfect sound when you're tracking, you're kind of on the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum, and in that case why not just get a bass POD or something? :D
     
  17. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    I'll decided to go with U5, so my juice box in up for sale.

    Cheers
     
  18. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    For some reason I'm not allowed to post in the FS section - which never happened before? Can one of the admins contact me or check up on this matter please.

    Cheers
     
  19. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    then i guess only a Phil Jones T-500 will do for you. :smug:

    and FYI, you can get freak charts in the manual on avalon's website. must we do everything?

    prolly, cause what you're selling isnt cheap enough... :p
     
  20. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    I've looked at the spec sheet, but the tone chart is not there. As for high end, I didn't say you need high end to make great recordings, I just said mid priced units can't be built with high quality components and not have a huge price tag, and nothing I've tried in the mid range price satisfied me, so why waste money. For some it works for others it's not. I guess I'm spoiled, ever since I tired the Neve stuff I can't get the sound out of my head, so I always compare everything to that sound quality.

    Cheers