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Why Do So Many Preamp Pedals Have a DI?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Smallmouth_Bass, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Why do so many manufacturers include a DI in their preamp pedals (without the option of one that does not have it)? I am thinking about these popular choices: Sadowsky Preamp DI, SansAmp Bass Driver DI, MXR M80 Bass DI +, MXR M81 Bass Preamp, Mesa Subway Bass DI Preamp. I am sure there are many more.

    For live sound most, if not all, amp heads have decent built in DI's or either the player and/or the venue has their own DI.

    It seems like an added cost for a (potentially) unused feature. With the exception of the Tech 21 VT Bass, I am not aware of a manufacturer that makes a DI and non DI version.

    What say you?
  2. abracadunphy


    May 22, 2015
    I have the Ampeg SCR-DI, and for me the the Di is great to go ampless, keep always "your" sound, no matter what amp are you using, also great for recordings.

    Ampeg have the Preamp pedal without DI too.

    ppiluk, Ultradust and pudgychef like this.
  3. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Northumberland, UK
    I think a lot of people use them, so companies keep them there. I use mine (and I have a few!) in 3 different ways.

    1. Consistency, always get the same sound on provided-backline gigs.
    2. Independence. By that I mean I can do what I like with the amp eq (not all can be set to pre-eq) and not worry about the house sound.
    3. Going ampless.
    Btbp, Leo Smith, gregmon79 and 3 others like this.
  4. Dr. Octabass

    Dr. Octabass

    Dec 28, 2015
    I would never buy one without it. Small venues can be played ampless, plus you can do a pedal board mix and run a dry sound to your amp and get a fantastic mix for bigger clubs and outdoor shows. Bass players these days are doing as many as 3 mixes to the board.
    ppiluk, Btbp, Ikkir and 5 others like this.
  5. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    That sounds like a lot of work!
  6. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005

    That makes sense. I guess my particular use for these types of pedals is for the sound of the preamp only and not for the use of the DI. And, if you're using multiple pedals that have them, you end up having several DI's that don't end up getting used.
  7. My Preamp has a DI
    My Amp has a DI
    One of my Comp's has a DI
    One of my other pedals has a DI

    I'm glad I've had all of them, because if something goes wrong with one of them, I've got back-up.

    I'm no longer using the comp with DI, but still — I wouldn't want any less than two DI so even if I'm going straight to the board and don't need my amp or using backline, I've always got two DI with the preamp and the extra DI-pedal.
    ppiluk, Btbp, gregmon79 and 3 others like this.
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Business decision by the manufacturers, no doubt based on profitability. It's expensive to produce two slightly different versions of the same pedal, especially given the following: I can't think of anyone who would refuse to buy a preamp pedal simply because it had a DI that they would never use. OTOH, there are quite a few players who would refuse to buy a preamp pedal without a DI.

    Speaking for myself: I can't remember the last time I've used a pedal DI. I use my pedals as effect units or EQ, and at gigs I use my amp's DI when I need DI. When I go pedal shopping, DI is not a factor. Note that this works both ways: doesn't bother me if the pedal has no DI -- but it also doesn't bother me if the pedal does have one! And actually, as others have said, pedal DI is a "nice to have" because it brings peace of mind: if my amp blew up or got stolen, then Plan B would be to run a pedal DI into the sound system.
    punchclock, kikstand454 and bass12 like this.
  9. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I agree, but I find myself in the position of wanting to buy two preamp/"effects" pedals that have DI's. I have a DI on my amp head (and backup amp head) as well as have my own stand alone DI. I guess I just don't want to spend money for a feature I don't need or won't use.
  10. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I'm in the same boat. I prefer the idea of such pedals without the D.I.s but can understand why manufacturers include the feature.
  11. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    I use my DI to connect to my powered Cabinets.. so it’s an important feature for me.
    The Mesa Subway pre actually has two.
    One goes to my cab .. the other to the board.
  12. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    My go-to for a number of years has been my JDI, and either my Xotic BB, or Xotic RC. It's really flexible for me this way. I landed on this after quite a lot of experimentation, and on the fact I use backline a lot and this gives me control, regardless of the onstage amp and whatever DI the venue has.
    If Radial and Xotic would do a collab and release a BB/RC/JDI hybrid pedal, I'd buy it in a heartbeat!
    Btbp and wmmj like this.
  13. Imo they are great for when you don’t want to use an amp; going ampless live, recording multiple tracks of bass(instead of running everything in series you can Split the signal and record each preamp onto their own tracks which can be mixed however you want after the fact. I actually did that on our last album with a sans amp on one track and a b7k on another

    Some people who use these types of pedals really only use their bass head as a Powerman amp. And sometimes it’s easier to plug the cable into your pedalboard than having to find the connection in the back of a rack on a dark stage. Lot of bass players who use provided backline run to foh from their pedalboard.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Send it to me and I'll take it out for $40 :D
    Brad Johnson, mobdirt and bholder like this.
  15. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    My Countryman DI gets my pre-effected signal when I am recording as my safety track than can be re-amped, if necessary, or when playing live, it can be used at any point in my signal chain.

    The DI in a preamp is designed to send a tailored sound to the board, that you control, as opposed to a straight DI box that gives the bare sound of your bass.

    I have two pedals with DIs built-in, that I just got this week: a Boss BC-1X Bass Comp and a Boss AD-2 Acoustic Preamp. Now I'm thinking of adding a Boss BB-1X Bass Driver, which *also* has a DI.

    And then my Mesa Walkabout head also has a DI, which I probably wouldn't use, since my amp is my stage sound, and that may or may not be appropriate to feed to the FOH PA.
    wmmj likes this.
  16. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    +1 needed 100% for ampless gigs and for getting a repeatable sound on provided backline gigs (via effects loop bypassing provided amp's pre)

    I have a gig this weekend - only one set (12 songs) and it will be ampless. Can walk-in with bass, pedals and whichever pre/DI I opt for (Markbass Super Booster, Sans Amp or Moen Buffalo) in gig bag...takes a moment to set up/take down and I know it will sound good.

    I wouldn't buy one without a DI for this reason.
    ppiluk, kodiakblair and amper like this.
  17. Teijo K.

    Teijo K. Commercial User

    Sep 8, 2014
    Jyväskylä, Finland
    Endorsing Artist: CCP
    Active di as a part of a preamp is easy and cheap to produce.

    It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
    ppiluk, Btbp, Ikkir and 4 others like this.
  18. reddesert


    Mar 19, 2015
    A stand-alone DI has to adapt a high impedance passive instrument to a low impedance balanced XLR output, and this is often done with a transformer (and also active circuitry, if it's an active DI).

    If the box is already doing preamp functions, then it has an amplified, low-impedance signal from the preamp, and it just needs a couple of op-amps, a few resistors and capacitors, and an XLR jack, to make a balanced DI out. This is what a pedal like the Sansamp or BDI21 does. The cost of this extra circuitry is small - the parts aren't expensive and the design seems to be simple (I'm looking at the BDI21 schematic).
    ppiluk, Btbp, amper and 2 others like this.
  19. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Why Do So Many Preamp Pedals Have a DI?
    To me that would be the whole point of a pre amp pedal.
    ppiluk, Btbp, Basshappi and 3 others like this.
  20. if you use the XLR out on a pedal that has it you will get a better signal then a standard 1/4 inch. Kind of like speakon vs 1/4 inch speaker cable as well. I agree that it’s often not needed but also can be useful when recording if you like the sound of your DI for studio stuff.
    Btbp likes this.

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