Okay, so a guitarist friend recommended me to get some of these DI boxes for the cleanest possible recording of hardware synth modules.
I've been struggling with noise, feedback, crosstalk from my midi modules for a couple years now and honestly, these DI boxes seem to be my ticket for the cleanest possible recordings to start with.
It's great for the cleanest audio signal transmission from just about anything that's got jack outputs, from analogue synths to electric lead and bass guitars, with even a ground lift switch specifically for devices that suffer from ground loop interference.
If using the ground lift switch causes a buzz, then for your specific audio source you don't need to use it and it's best left off.
There's also a -20dB attenuation switch at the back for audio sources that are enormously loud to begin with.
The gain knob's pretty self-explanatory, it goes from -8dB to +8dB and snaps in place when set to the middle.
You can flip the Passive/Active switch to best reflect your ideal settings for your particular guitar pickups.
There's a few sound-shaping options like the Z-Tone knob and the JFET transistor switch.
The Z-Tone knob goes from left to right, with the middle setting being neutral.
Going all the way left to "sharp" emphasises the higher frequencies from your instrument a bit and helps maintain a crisp tone to them, while going all the way to the right to "bold" boosts the mids and bass a bit, seeming to fatten up the sound there.
When recording rhythm guitar tracks you can play around with these settings for each individual track to further diversify the tone of your sound right from the source.
Finally the JFET/Pure switch basically allows you to activate the JFET transistor circuit, which has a slight addition of midrange "warmness", whilst the Pure circuit preserves the original audio signal just the way it is without any additional colouration.
This last aspect is something that many other DI boxes, even the best, from other companies have been criticised for: the users rarely if ever had any control over how the sound they input was coloured, which is a welcome change here with IK Multimedia's box.
The front inputs are pretty basic: you insert a typical 1/4" audio jack into the left one as a mono source, and on the right there's the "Link" input which allows you to mix it with another sound.
The back outputs are also pretty simple, but distinctive:
The balanced output is an XLR microphone output, which can work out pretty well with most USB audio interfaces that support them.
The XLR microphone input on such audio interfaces also acts as a power supply when 48V phantom power is engaged.
But on the other hand there's also a 1/4" jack output that works well with the typical guitar amplifier, in case you're outputting your guitar signal to one.
The catch with the latter approach is you'll need to use a 9 Volt battery, for which there's also a slot on the back that you can safely insert it in.
Now that that's out of the way, I can safely say that the build quality for these boxes is pretty great.
They're built like a tank and can take some abuse (which I wouldn't advise giving them, but hey).
If there's any slight cons I can give this box it's that the Z-Tone knob doesn't have the same snap in the middle part that the gain knob has, but whether that's a problem for you depends mostly on personal taste.
The free Amplitube 5 SE voucher you get with this is a nice bonus and a great opportunity to start testing guitar tones with, but I suppose people with the kind of cash for these kinds of boxes already have much better hardware and/or software in stock.
Great hardware, warmly recommended and I wish I'd thought of getting it much sooner.