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Recording Bass - Is a DI Box necessary?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by javierpuga, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. javierpuga

    javierpuga Guest


    I've been recording my own music for quite some time, but I never really mastered recording the Bass Guitar. I don't use an amp, but I don't use a DI Box. I plug it into a preamp, then to my soundcard. Is a DI Box necessary? If so how do I use it...Can I still use a preamp for tone?

    Also...I never used an actual compressor (not plug-in) and I would like to start using an outboard one, especially for bass. Is there some kind of Bass DI box with a built in compressor. Essentially, I want a specific little box I can use for recording bass...some kind of DI-Box/preamp/compressor.

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think you might find that the " POD" line of products are exactly what you are looking for. Most commonly known for their guitar boxes, we also have a bitchin' bass box. It has exactly what you want and is a very high tech DI to plug directly into most any sound card.

    If you would like to build the smorgasbord route, I would recommend an active DI and not a transformer DI. Your bass needs to see an extremely high impedance input which is generally only available from an FET or, field effect transistor input, which has an input impedance of many millions of ohms. A transformer only offers approximately 50,000 ohm input impedance and will " load down" your guitar pickups which reduces the audio quality. Then you could find yourself a compressor/limiter such as a DBX, Alesis and others that are reasonably priced, which then could be input to your sound card.

    In answer to your question regarding your preamplifier, YES, you could use that and instead of taking its output into an amplifier, go directly to your sound card line input! Your bass preamp, is basically an active direct box. If anything, you may only need a compressor/limiter from the output of your preamplifier to the compressor/limiter and into your sound card.

    How low can you go???
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Like Remy said you can definitely use your preamp, that's fine. Hardware compression is also a great idea and I like my Pro VLA in that role personally (with 12AT7 Mullards that are a little "wooly").

    Remy mentioned the POD and I like the POD stuff too. Lately for bass I've been using the TonePort, feeding the analog outputs to an ElectroHarmonix 12AY7 tube pre then into the Pro VLA into my 1010LT. Been getting some very round and chewy bass DI that way. Use your imagination because there are so many different ways to DI bass but I'm convinced that hardware compression along the way really helps.
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    As we say around here, "Remy's Right"...We have a POD for the bass, and that does work pretty well. So does the Tech 21 Sansamp Bass, but that is a bit limited in that it has no compression. The compression on POD gear is software-based, functional, but not great. You might look on e-Bay for a used dbx, FMR, or ART analog box that will keep the bass "tonefully-tamed".
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Thanks Moonbaby! I have equally enjoyed every one of your postings. I always look forward to see what you have to think because you usually get it right on the mark.

    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. Lerxst

    Lerxst Guest

    javierpuga, I don't use a DI either. Another opinion says you don't really need them unless you have to travel some distance with your signal. On the other hand there may be some desired "effects" from using a DI in the chain.

    There are no rules. (Some will always try to argue the science - but my ears say different sometimes)

    Anyway some of the methods I use with ear pleasing results is simply using a good pre. I have a couple of Ampeg tube pre's, one that's built into an amp, and one that is a stand alone pre. Then I also have an LA-610 which with it's comp is fab on the bass - and generally gets rid of any fish smell in the air. ;)

    I have a few DI's but typically only use them when I have some impedance mismatches or great signal lengths to travel.

    I'm not a fan of the POD stuff - at least not for six string guitar, but the the Sansamp has got some good tones.

  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Remy...I have both, Sansamp (a Tri-AC) and a POD for the guitar. They both seem to sound better run through a small tube amp, usually a 1964 Fender Princeton, run clean. Then I mic that, sometimes take a direct out from the processor as well.
    The Sansamp bass is more like a DI in function, where the Pod Bass is more of a "total sound in a box". They both have their place. Different strokes...
  8. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    Tech 21 (sansamp makers) used to have a DI box with a built in compressor that was pretty nice. Can't remember the name, and it's not up for sale anymore, but if you look around...
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    That was called the "Comptortion", I believe. The "American Woman" replaced that. I have 1 of those, too. I really like Tech 21 gear and they provide very good- excellent, really- support. I wish that I could find a studio channel strip with the quality and support that Tech21 provides. I'd buy the damned company! Or at least trade in my boat and MGB!
  10. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Active Member

    I like the Sans Amp BDDI a lot for live work as a stomp box but I never really was impressed with it as a DI for recording. The limitation of the Sans Amp BDDI is not the fact that it has no compression, it's that it just doesn't sound that great. I found it blurry, indistinct and lacking punch. I get a MUCH better bass sound using a Radial Engineering Pro D2 (passive transformer) into an ART Pro MPA / ART Pro VLA. The sound is more articulate, warm, full, and pitch accurate than with the SABDDI.

    As for the transformer loading down the pickups mentioned by a previous poster, that is possibly true of some "passive" basses (although I have no problems using the Pro D2 with my passive Fender MIA Precision). It certainly would not be a problem with an active bass.

    If you're looking for "toob character" fine, use the Sans Amp > preamp, but I think you can get a better bass recording by using a DI > mic preamp > compressor.

    If it's an all-in-one solution you seek, I think the Focusrite Trak Master channel strip (not the Pro, the older one) does a very commendable job for bass. It has built-in compression and EQ and can be used as a vocal mic preamp in a pinch. I paid $200 for mine used and although I get somewhat better bass tracks from the ART Pro MPA/VLA the Focusrite Class A circuit does a pretty good job with a kinda "chunky" sound.
  11. frogga

    frogga Guest

    Hi Remy,

    That was an interesting idea you've just put into my head, and I wonder if you or someone else could clarify if this would be a good way to go forward.

    So far I have been recording Guitar and Bass through a preamp/compressor (trackmaster) then into soundcard... But...

    ... I have a Pod v2 (for guitar obviously) which I haven't used for a year or so as not playing live for this period . Could I (with better results)?...

    Plug either Guitar and Bass into the Pod v2 (obviously not at the same time) and set it to a clean setting (of choice) then plug it into the Trackmaster then into the Soundcard (I have a MOTU 896HD). And should I switch on/off the pre on the soundcard? I guess the Trackmaster gets the output to +4.

    Recording Bass is my weakest element - guitar is not "too pad" but could be better... What I do like though is Guitar Rig 2 which I believe has some great distortions and effects, that once combined with my other plugs (UAD-1 and Powercore etc) can sound very nice - I just want the initial tracking sound to be better.

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