Jump to content
Jim Feeley

OT: Best all-round DI box?

Recommended Posts

Friday night at the local high-school jazz concert, the DI box they were using failed. It was one of the lesser brands, shall we say. I want to buy them a new one or two. But I'm only really familiar with Countryman Type 85 boxes and that familiarity is from a long time ago. I googled around but there's a lot of talk about DIs...yes, I could dig into gearslutz etc but there's LOTS of DI chat there; appropriate for that forum but I'm looking for shorter, though hopefully informed, answers.

 

The high-school program mainly uses DIs out the back of the bass amp, and mainly to feed into the monitoring system. Sometimes with a keyboard if they're outside and not using an acoustic piano. Sometimes for simple rehearsal recording so they can hear how they're doing (i.e., not for serious recording).

 

Seems like Countryman and Radial are leading DI brands these days.

http://www.countryman.com/di-boxes/

http://www.radialeng.com/radial-products.php

 

So what do you all think? Countryman Type 85 or 10? Something else? Do active DIs still have a notable advantage over passive? What else has happened in the last few decades?

 

Thanks!

 

Jim

PS: 

nextgen.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep 4 Radial PRODI and 1 each of JDI and J48 in my kit. They sound great, are built like tanks and never fail. I have no reason to look for anything else.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always used the Countrymans on acoustic guitars and such. The Radial DIs are allegedly very good. For simple unbalanced line to balanced mic, and on sources where 'loading' is not an issue, the low cost passive Rolls DB25 works, has three-way attenuation settings and a ground lift. The DB25a has a variable rotary pad.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve used both and prefer Radial these days because of the diverse range of DI boxes they offer. Although I have no issues against countryman. Passive vs active really depends on your source. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Choosing a good DI box requires thought about the application.

 

The description of a Bass amp output, a electronic keyboard output suggests that a passive device will be ideal.

 

The better passive devices have many advantages over the active systems, at least for the those who agree that a good transformer input offers benefits over "transformerless" inputs.

 

The primary feature that some active systems offer is exceptionally high input impedance that is useful with high impedance low voltage output devices such as traditional electric guitar and bass pickups. If the bass player is plugging the instrument directly into the monitor/mains system without the amp, and the bass uses a passive high impedance pickup, then an active direct box is a good idea.

 

The bass amp's line out and the keyboard's mystery meat output will work very well with a passive system, and will work well with an active system as well.

 

Countryman have long been top quality active systems while Radial has aspired to become a top quality supplier. Radial has become so popular that they purchased the world renown Jensen Transformer manufacturer to insure a consistent supply of world class audio input transformers for enthusiasts who enjoy using transformers.

 

Radial JDI passive: 140kOhm input impedance

Countryman 85:       10MOhm input impedance

 

 

I think its great that you want to support the kids and their music making. Good luck with your choices!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I want most in a Direct box is to isolate me from whatever signal I want to record.

I want a transformer, a 20 db pad and a ground lift

 

History

200px-WolfBox2.jpg
 
A vintage Wolfbox custom-made by audio engineer Ed Wolfrum in the 1960s.

Passive direct boxes first appeared in the United States in the middle 1960s, most notably in Detroit at radio stations and recording studios like "Motown", "United Sound Systems", "Golden World Records", Tera Shirma Studios and the Metro-Audio Capstan Roller remote recording truck. These DIs were custom made by engineers like Ed Wolfrum with his "Wolfbox" and by concert sound companies to solve certain problems associated with amplifying electronic musical instruments, especially electric guitars. These boxes typically contained an audio transformer (like the Triad A11J through 1974) with a turns ratio from approximately 8:1 to 12:1, and thus an impedance ratio of around 144:1. With this kind of transformer, the output voltage of the instrument is stepped down to a range compatible with the typical mixing console's microphone preamp. The typical console preamp input impedance of 1,500 ohms would appear to the electronic instrument as a high input impedance of 216,000 ohms.[1]

The passive direct box was suitable for most electronic musical instruments but it negatively colored the sound of ones with weaker output signals, such as Fender Rhodes pianos and Fender Precision Basses with single-coil pickups. To accommodate these instruments, active direct boxes were designed containing powered electronic circuitry which increased the input impedance from about 200,000 to above 1,000,000 ohms. In 1975, a 48-volt phantom powered active direct box was designed for Leon Russell's recording studio, its circuitry published in dB, the sound engineering magazine.[2] The sound company Tycobrahe, known for supporting large rock festivals such as California Jam, offered an active direct box for sale in 1977, a model capable of +9 dBm line level output, with a built-in attenuator to compensate for various input levels.[3][4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DI_unit

 

Build your own passive direct box.

https://www.diyrecordingequipment.com/blogs/news/15851820-how-to-build-a-boutique-passive-di

 

Deane Jensen

http://www.jensen-transformers.com/history/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone.

 

btw- My kids went to that high school, but they've all graduated. Still, a great music program that truly benefits our community (and the students!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an older model Whirlwind DI box which has saved the day quite a few times and never let me down when required, even after 100’s of flights in a Pelican case. 

 

They now produce passive or active models. One model with Jensen transformers. 

 

 http://whirlwindusa.com/catalog/black-boxes-effects-and-dis/direct-boxes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×