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DI box to record a bass

Member for

21 years
I am looking for a DI box to record a bass in my home "studio" (if you can call it that).

Am I going to need to drop a wad to get a useable sound? Or can I get away with a 50$ box?




Member for

16 years 7 months

moonbaby Mon, 12/31/2007 - 05:38
Do you have a bass amp? If so, chances are that it has SOME sort of "line output" that you can put to work driving a relatively inexpensive DI box. Specifically, both ProCo and Whirlwind offer "passive" DI boxes in your price range. A passive box uses a transformer to balance and load the signal, as opposed to an "active" opamp circuit.
If you do NOT have some sort of preamplification after the bass but before the XLR connection, you will need to look at an active box, and this is where things get pricey. A cheap active box is prone to RFI noise issues, load instability that will affect your tone, and level shifts. Countryman and Radial both offer great versions of this type of DI (so do Whirlwind and ProCo), with the Radial line starting at around $130 (the Countryman is around ($180). Try to stay away from the cheap-o Tapco and Samson, etc. active boxes, as they can create more issues than they solve.

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Mon, 12/31/2007 - 06:16
I know it seems like a lot to pay $150 or $180 when it's "just a DI," but I don't know anyone who has shelled out for the Countryman or a Radial and wished they'd made do with a cheaper box. A P-bass through a Countryman is a darned good bass sound. Simple, cheap, no tears.

With that said, good quality passive boxes can come in handy as well. (I've had a couple of weird situations running live sound where I got a hum with an active box but not with a passive. Still don't understand why, but you go with what works.) So, as Moonbaby said, if you have a line out from a bass amp you can get away with, say, a Whirlwind passive, and you wouldn't be buying junk.

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 12/31/2007 - 14:42
Ok, so THATS what the line out on the bass amp is for :-).

Makes perfect sense. Thanks a lot guys, I will look into a "whirlwind passive" like Bob suggested.

Just to double check

Bass->AMp->Passive DI Box-> Mixer

Thanks once again guys, y'all are as they say in the hood, "The Shit."

Member for

15 years 11 months

RemyRAD Mon, 12/31/2007 - 15:31
Bob has discovered what many of us live recording folks have discovered. Transformers are our friends! They provide for electrical isolation and free passive gain or loss, depending on what direction you run them in as they are bidirectional. Active direct boxes are not bidirectional and can only be used as high impedance in, low impedance out. With the transformer, it can be used either way. Very handy in many applications.

The one thing that is bad about the transformer isolated direct boxes on a bass guitar is if the bass guitar is utilizing passive pickups like most electric guitars have. Passive pickups really want to see a higher impedance input than 50,000 ohms, which is what most transformer inputs offer. The active direct boxes that Bob Rogers had problems with is one of the best active direct boxes made and has a much higher input impedance which will not loaded down the pickups on the guitar causing the sound to become squeezed but because it isn't an active direct box, without a transformer, it is more susceptible to such problems as the "ground lift" can not be truly or fully lifted with an active circuit. There has to be a ground somewhere. But not with a transformer.

So there you go. You can do it with a Radio Shaft high impedance to low impedance adapter gizmo for $13 or a quality Whirlwind Director DI box for around $100. You could also consider something like a POD? It's more than just an active direct box but an active direct box with specialty emulations that can sound fantastic at just over $300. Don't be confused by some quality microphone preamps that feature a " Direct Input". Those DI inputs may in fact NOT be of a high enough input impedance of the 2 million ohm input a passive guitar pickup would like to see. But I've even gotten good results from utilizing a transformer direct box on a passive bass guitar. Whatever works.

Audio out = dollars in
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

15 years 7 months

TVPostSound Mon, 12/31/2007 - 15:56
That would be:

Bass->AMp->Passive DI Box-> MIC PRE-->Mixer

IMHO, the BEST passive DI's are based on Jensen's design:

That being said, an engineer friend of mine built a Jensen based DI called the "Fatbox" in the 70s and 80s for Wally Heider studios, many Platinum albums were made using that "Box", they are hard to find today, but RADIAL makes an identical box, the RadialJDI

Whirlwind uses the same design, but I personally think Radial has far superior construction.