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Greetings all,

If I have to plug my guitar direct into a mixer during a live gig through a direct box, what is the difference when connecting the other end into the mic input vs the line input of the mixer? Is it better going into the mic input, if so, why?

Thanks for any advice!


moonbaby Thu, 03/15/2012 - 11:47

What type of "guitar"- electric or acoustic-electric? Typically a D.I will have an XLR output to the mixer, and that should be connected to the MIC input on the mixer. Most guitars run through a DI do not have enough "juice" to drive a Line Input.
If this is an electric, why are you doing the DI thang as opposed to an amp?

RockNRoll Thu, 03/15/2012 - 21:10

Hello! It's a Variax, and I get you what you mean about the DI box and mic input. Sometimes for those quick gigs, they would have a very simple PA setup with just a mixer, in which case, I would have to go direct with my Variax thru a DI box. I'm not too familiar with using direct boxes. Another quick question, I presume that with a guitar plugged into a mic input, you could boost or attenuate gain on the mic channel as you would normally a standard mic connection? Thanks again!

RemyRAD Fri, 03/16/2012 - 00:30

One of the reasons why DI boxes go into the microphone input is because the input level to the DI box is actually reduced in level at the output. It's reduced to the level that is similar to that of microphone levels and so, it needs to be plugged into a microphone input. Plus, a proper DI box for a guitar whether it's acoustic or electric should be of the active type DI boxes. That's because, the active DI boxes present a much higher input impedance that a guitar pick up once to see and be loaded into. Transformer direct boxes only have an input impedance of 50,000 ohms where a guitar needs to see approximately 1-2 million ohms. So those transformer direct boxes " load down " guitar pickups too much. Those are more appropriate for active outfit guitars, guitar amplifier outputs, electronic keyboard outputs which all feature low impedance outputs unlike a guitar pick up which is a very high impedance. One can utilize a transformer DI box but you should know, the frequency response and the overall sound will suffer. Some of that is correctable with equalization but it still affects the guitars sound in an adverse way. If you are a person that also utilizes certain stomp boxes, those can easily feed a transformer or a active DI box. And the microphone input will generally receive a hotter signal than most microphones deliver some noise should not be an issue that way.

Tear it up and break it down
Mx. Remy Ann David

moonbaby Fri, 03/16/2012 - 08:18

I use a stereo DI box made by Radial for my Roland GR33 guitar synth, which, like your Variax, is a line level output instrument, so you aren't loading down a pick-up, per se. I agree with Remy regarding the potential issues with a transformer-based DI (some response loss on the very low and high extremes), but I feel that a good tranny has minimum tonal loss and better CMR, which means that it is less susceptible to extraneous noise interference (RFI). If you are constantly doing different venues with questionable sound systems and/or electrical issues, this can be a real help. Many of the churches that I've worked with, as well as your neighborhood pub/coffeehouse fall into that category. Anyhoo, the Radials are very good products, even with their own trannies, and the models with the Jensen trannies are even better. Buy the best you can afford, it will hold up longer and perform better.
BTW, another great DI that IS actively-balanced is the ubiquitous Countryman. These don't load a passive instrument pick-up and are built like a brick, too.

RemyRAD Fri, 03/16/2012 - 10:41

Moon rock baby has it right. Radial transformers are better than most Chinese transformers because they are built in Canada. And I don't know anybody from Canada that doesn't do things better than most. Sure, the Jensen's are a lovely luxury. And I loaded down plenty of guitar pickups back in the day before we had active DI boxes and were relying strictly upon transformers. I didn't look up your precise guitar and didn't know it had active output pickups? I couldn't figure out why you were putting your guitar through a varyac? And more than one? Stupid me. My bad. It was after four in the morning when I answered that, sorry. Nevertheless, is also great for us insomniacs. Where we can teach things at hours that we would only teach our most intimate partners about, under the covers...of darkness. Though it's 1:40 PM and at this hour, I have no excuses.

Stop snoring!
Mx. Remy Ann David


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