instrument DI box bang-for-buck

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by drumsound » Sun Jan 17, 2021 1:20 pm

The Scum wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:41 am
If "Bang for the buck" means "inexpensive but still useful", then I'd say the basic passive Whirlwind/Rapco/Proco offerings.

I've got a pair of Rapco DB-100's that were $30 each in 1991 dollars, that still get regular use. The DB-1 appears to be the newer version of it.
I think I have 4 of the Rapcos and they do exactly what is asked of them.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by Recycled_Brains » Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:08 am

CraigS63 wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:49 am
What does going through a DI into your interface buy you, vs. straight in?
Needs a through output. Interfaces never have those (that I know of anyway).
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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by Recycled_Brains » Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:13 am

I think there is definitely a difference in quality with DI's, if not just in terms of durability and ability to ward of weird noise interference or grounding issues.

If you can find a used Groove Tubes Brick for a good price (god help me if even those have become "vintage" fetish items), they are great. And you get a really nice sounding mic preamp as well.

Radial is always a good bet. They are built like tanks. I have the ProDI model and it works well. I suspect the JDI is a step up from that. I've been doing some digging around to find transformers to build some myself. It seems pretty easy. DIY Recording Equipment has a kit even.
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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by markjazzbassist » Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:27 am

i record most of my stuff direct since i'm recording at night in my attic. i have owned a ton of different DI's from fancy $1200 tube ones to cheap ass vintage ones. if you are handy with a soldering iron, you can make a high end passive one for cheap, i did this with vintage UTC A10 and A11 transformers and they have a definate heft to them (thanks UTC!). It's basically the Acme Audio Motown DI, just with UTC tranny instead of Triad.

passive boxes
Radial ProDI - the best cheapest passive box, same as a JDI with a non-Jensen (but damn close) transformer, and less bells/whistles
Radial JDI - said to be a step up and has more bells and whistles, i doubt you hear a difference. Their published specs are better
Whirlwind/Proco/IMP/etc - smallish tranny, definate low end loss, only use for guitar/synth/high end stuff you don't need bottom end to
Sescom SM-1A - these old boxes are cheap and have what looks like their clone of the old Reichenbach/Jensen Transformer, more low end than the whirlwind, but nothing like the Radial or a UTC tranny


tube stuff and other fancy stuff
A-Designs REDDI - this is an Ampeg B15 in a box, massive trannies (power and output), thick warm sound, will not overdrive
Eclair Evil Twin - Nice thick sound, overpriced IMO, just didn't have the "WOW" for me.
Summit TD-100 - decent yet somewhat polite sounding tube box
Groove Tubes - cheap for a tube unit, transformer in/out, i still found it less wooly/warm than the A-designs
Altec 1566 - the warmest and wooliest unit, definately super expensive, can overdrive easily if you want that sound
Universal Audio 610 - Thick warm, but it's got "that sound" for that old school tone. really one trick wonder if you like that trick
Avalon U5 - If you like super clean solid state sound, this is it. Pretty pricey for what it does honestly


my recommendation is Radial ProDI if you need best/cheap, you can get more of them too. Second best would be buying transformers like i did and make your own, it will cost the same but you can get cool sounding old transformers with nice color. UTC A10 is great for bass (light top end, thick massive bottom/mids). UTC A11 nice for everything else (more extended top end, tighter bottom end).

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by FNM » Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:15 pm

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:08 am
CraigS63 wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:49 am
What does going through a DI into your interface buy you, vs. straight in?
Needs a through output. Interfaces never have those (that I know of anyway).
Yeah, but good point brought up earlier that I just need a splitter to achieve the same thing. I may just do that, or I've been looking at the hammond DI transformer for a possible DIY. I'm gonna keep an eye out for used deal while pondering, which may be the most economical in the long run. It's true I don't need to go high end for something that may not even be used that much. Thanks for the input.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by vvv » Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:24 pm

+1 on The Brick (all I use, into a dbx 160XT, and in parallel with a Meek VC3Q).

And yes, it's a great pre for vox and gtr amps.
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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Jan 18, 2021 4:53 pm

CraigS63 wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:49 am
It's true I don't need to go high end for something that may not even be used that much. Thanks for the input.
I just think the point being made by many here is that if you spend a bit and get something solid (even if it has more features than you need today) it'll be a tool that will stay and evolve with you as your needs and approach evolves. Something cheap and not so great will likely end up getting swapped out down the road.
Nothing wrong with DIYing with a Hammond, they make great stuff. Just remember that if you amortize the cost over a working life it's not a big splurge. I know that's a hard place to get your head to when funds are low and you need something now.

Beyond that, DIs are always a meh kind of purchase but something you need. Might as well get something decent so you never have to think about it again.
I've must have close to a dozen DIs at this point and I don't even like recording direct! Give me an amp and a mic any day.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by drumsound » Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:32 pm

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 4:53 pm
CraigS63 wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:49 am
It's true I don't need to go high end for something that may not even be used that much. Thanks for the input.
I just think the point being made by many here is that if you spend a bit and get something solid (even if it has more features than you need today) it'll be a tool that will stay and evolve with you as your needs and approach evolves. Something cheap and not so great will likely end up getting swapped out down the road.
Nothing wrong with DIYing with a Hammond, they make great stuff. Just remember that if you amortize the cost over a working life it's not a big splurge. I know that's a hard place to get your head to when funds are low and you need something now.

Beyond that, DIs are always a meh kind of purchase but something you need. Might as well get something decent so you never have to think about it again.
I've must have close to a dozen DIs at this point and I don't even like recording direct! Give me an amp and a mic any day.
I don't really have a problem with DI bass, Wurly or synths. I just reviewed the Useful Arts DI, for the magazine and its EQ it simple and great on top of a nice tube path in the first place.

I also noticed tonight that I think Free Ride has DI guitar with serious compression (LA3?) and it sounds cool. I've never once gotten a good electric guitar DI without driving the shit out of it to sound like George Harrison.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by Recycled_Brains » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:18 am

FNM wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:15 pm
Recycled_Brains wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:08 am
CraigS63 wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:49 am
What does going through a DI into your interface buy you, vs. straight in?
Needs a through output. Interfaces never have those (that I know of anyway).
Yeah, but good point brought up earlier that I just need a splitter to achieve the same thing. I may just do that, or I've been looking at the hammond DI transformer for a possible DIY. I'm gonna keep an eye out for used deal while pondering, which may be the most economical in the long run. It's true I don't need to go high end for something that may not even be used that much. Thanks for the input.
I see some DIs that are like $700 or more and that's the dumbest fucking thing I can possibly think of, especially if your connecting your DI to a nice preamp (unless, I suppose, DI recording is the only thing you do), so yea, maybe not "high end", but get the best tool for the job that you can afford so you never have to upgrade, even if you only need it once in a while. Every piece matters.
Last edited by Recycled_Brains on Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by Recycled_Brains » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:22 am

drumsound wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:32 pm
I don't really have a problem with DI bass, Wurly or synths. I just reviewed the Useful Arts DI, for the magazine and its EQ it simple and great on top of a nice tube path in the first place.

I also noticed tonight that I think Free Ride has DI guitar with serious compression (LA3?) and it sounds cool. I've never once gotten a good electric guitar DI without driving the shit out of it to sound like George Harrison.
Since the pandemic started and I have rare access to a room where I can be super loud, I've been using DIs for bass/synth more lately and am warming up to it. The DI in the Hamptone JFET preamp that I picked up is incredible sounding, so I think that is changing my opinion on recording that way.

Guitar... I can't get into DI guitar, but I keep trying. If I daisy chain the channels on my Hamptone tube preamp and use ch1 as pre, ch2 as a master volume, I can get a really sick fuzzed out guitar tone, but it still misses that thing a mic'd cab gives you. I've actually been meaning to try this:

guitar - hamptone ch1 di - hamptone ch2 - reamp - guitar amp.... use it like a pedal basically.
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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by markjazzbassist » Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:58 am

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:18 am
FNM wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:15 pm
Recycled_Brains wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:08 am


Needs a through output. Interfaces never have those (that I know of anyway).
Yeah, but good point brought up earlier that I just need a splitter to achieve the same thing. I may just do that, or I've been looking at the hammond DI transformer for a possible DIY. I'm gonna keep an eye out for used deal while pondering, which may be the most economical in the long run. It's true I don't need to go high end for something that may not even be used that much. Thanks for the input.
I see some DIs that are like $700 or more and that's the dumbest fucking thing I can possibly think of, especially if your connecting your DI to a nice preamp (unless, I suppose, DI recording is the only thing you do), so yea, maybe not "high end", but get the best tool for the job that you can afford so you never have to upgrade, even if you only need it once in a while. Every piece matters.

yeah as my previous post showed i have tried the expensive ones (tube DI are popular on bass, also if you tour just in-ears no amps). my conclusion is the best tone and bang for your buck is a simple passive DI like the Radial JDI, ProDI, or build your own with a quality transformer. The tone/depth difference was less than 5% and it was hundreds of dollars more. not worth it.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by kslight » Tue Jan 19, 2021 8:14 am

My strategy for direct electric guitars (TBH, unless I am recording someone else, direct is my jam) is either

1. Guitar - pedals - Two Notes Cab M+ into computer

2. Guitar - pedals - amp - Two Notes Torpedo Live into computer

3. Guitar - modeler - into computer


I personally am a big fan of #1 especially...more often than not I do not feel like I need an amp at all, the Two Notes fills it out. The Cab M+ is probably my bang for buck solution for this task.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by drumsound » Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:13 am

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:22 am
drumsound wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:32 pm
I don't really have a problem with DI bass, Wurly or synths. I just reviewed the Useful Arts DI, for the magazine and its EQ it simple and great on top of a nice tube path in the first place.

I also noticed tonight that I think Free Ride has DI guitar with serious compression (LA3?) and it sounds cool. I've never once gotten a good electric guitar DI without driving the shit out of it to sound like George Harrison.
Since the pandemic started and I have rare access to a room where I can be super loud, I've been using DIs for bass/synth more lately and am warming up to it. The DI in the Hamptone JFET preamp that I picked up is incredible sounding, so I think that is changing my opinion on recording that way.

Guitar... I can't get into DI guitar, but I keep trying. If I daisy chain the channels on my Hamptone tube preamp and use ch1 as pre, ch2 as a master volume, I can get a really sick fuzzed out guitar tone, but it still misses that thing a mic'd cab gives you. I've actually been meaning to try this:

guitar - hamptone ch1 di - hamptone ch2 - reamp - guitar amp.... use it like a pedal basically.
I can't really get into direct guitar, but haven't done a bunch of experimenting either. I have a steel and 6-string player who is amazing who I will take direct through his AxeFX and that works fine. He's also spent a lot time getting his sound together.

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by cgarges » Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:01 am

Do you want a DI that's going to add to/change the sound coming off the guitar or something that's just going to give you the pickup?

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Re: instrument DI box bang-for-buck

Post by joninc » Tue Jan 26, 2021 1:45 pm

I was speaking with a local producer/engineer who also happens to be a great bassist about bass tone and DI and he and another local fantastic player have been through all the fancy high end ones (Reddi, Acme, Je-DI) and have both settled now on the JDI as their favorite (into a nice tube pre)...

these are great players favoring vintage passive fender basses.

That's a pretty good endorsement of a Di you can find used online for $100 ish US.
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