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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: DI Boxes

3. Common Uses

Most guitars and keyboards - with a few exceptions - have unbalanced outputs. While this does save a little space and cost, it’s not ideal for sending a signal from, let’s say the stage, to the back of the hall where the mixing desk is located, or from a live room to the control room in a recording studio. This is especially so when there’s a lot of other electrical equipment around at the same time - lights, PA systems, amplifiers, ageing rockers’ life support machines etc - any of these can potentially cause interference, but this is easily cured with the use of a DI box.

Typically, your helpful engineer will connect your guitar or keyboard to a DI box, and then use a balanced microphone lead to connect this to the mixer, sometimes via a stage-box or ‘multicore’. He’ll probably then use the ‘link’ output on the DI box to connect you to your backline amplifier. The use of a DI box ensures that the sound received by the mixer is as pristine as when it left your instrument.

Many DI boxes have a useful switche for a -10dB/-20dB ‘pad’ which lowers the gain of a high output device, and sometimes also a handy phase-reverse switch, just in case your mixer doesn’t have one.

There are also many ‘combination’ DI boxes available with processing built-in, such as equalisation, compression, notch filtering and valve circuitry, giving you a lot more control over the sound, which can be highly beneficial in specific situations.

Bass Guitars & DI Boxes

Bass guitars benefit greatly from DIs as they get around the problem of rattling speaker cabinets, and provide a much cleaner sound than using a microphone, especially in a live environment. There are many units designed especially for the purpose, which will usually additionally feature at least basic tone controls.

Guitars & DI Boxes

While most guitarists prefer to play through some sort of guitar amplifier and have this miked-up, DIs can be of considerable use when recording to digital audio workstations (DAWs) via amp simulation plug-ins, sometimes in addition to miking-up an amp. One thing that always sounds poor though is an untreated DI’d electric guitar – this is because the essentially ‘lo-fi’ nature of the speakers in guitar amps has become part and parcel of the electric guitar sound we all know and love – a pure direct sound is just too good!

Acoustic guitars tend not to sound their absolute best through a DI box (the built-in pickups rarely do the instrument justice), but for live use they are more or less essential, due to the inherent problems of miking-up a relatively quiet instrument, on a stage where there may also be four drummers playing in unison…

However, there are solutions for a quiet soul with an acoustic guitar and mirrors on his shoes - some DI’s are actually designed specifically for acoustic guitars, offering features such as built-in EQ circuits, and feedback destroyers or notch filters to manually ‘tune out’ problem feedback frequencies.

Recording Pre-amp/DIs

Many different models of these are now available thanks to the low cost and great power of DSP (Digital Signal Processing). They give guitarists the ability to record directly into a computer system without the use of an amplifier or microphone. Many of these units contain convincing digital emulations of classic guitar amps and effects, and make it possible to record ‘on the road’ with maybe just a guitar and a laptop computer. Current recording software usually comes with at least one amp simulation plug-in, so you can record now, and choose your amp later - nice!

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DI Boxes overview

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Upgrade Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Digitech SDRUM Strummable Drums Arturia KeyLab Essentials 61 Stairville Octagon 20x6W Tourpack 4 Roland SPD::ONE Wav Roli Block Touch Electro Harmonix Expression Pedal Arturia KeyLab Essentials 49 Stairville Quad Par Profile 5x8W RGBW 45° Millenium MPS-150X E-Drum Mesh Set Airturn PED Pro
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Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Upgrade

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Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 (ESD); virtual drum production studio; extensively produced drum software, based on meticulously recorded samples of high end drums; recorded in 11.1 surround sound at the Galaxy Studios by George Massenburg; over 230 GB of raw, unprocessed...

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Digitech SDRUM Strummable Drums

Digitech SDRUM Strummable Drums, drum machine in stomp box format, creates drum patterns based on scatches and strums across muted strings, 5 studio quality drumkit sounds, 12 different hats/rides styles, stores up to 36 differents songs, 3 song parts programmable...

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Arturia KeyLab Essentials 61

USB MIDI Keyboard 61 Velocity-sensitive keys, 8 Velocity dynamic pads with aftertouch, A Clickable encoder, 9 Rotary control, 9 Faders, 13 Keys, Transport section with 4 function buttons, LCD display, Pitchbend and modulation wheel, Chord Play mode, Mackie /...

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Stairville Octagon 20x6W Tourpack 4

Stairville Octagon Theater 20x6W 4x Tourpack incl. Flightcase, 20x6W CW / WW / A, Complete Tourpack with 4 pieces Stairville Octagon Theater 20x6W in a stable roadcase. Professional LED Theatre Spot with infinitely adjustable colour temperature. The, Octagon Theatre is...

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Roland SPD::ONE Wav

Roland SPD::ONE Wav pad, one rubber pad playable with sticks, hands and feet, 4 GBs storage for 12 WAV samples plus click track (muted one main output) (WAV format 44,1kHz, 16 bits, mono/stereo), volume knobs for master and headphone outputs,...

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Roli Block Touch

Additional Module for Roli Seaboard Block Allows direct adjustment of the Roli Block Seaboard, Connectable with just one click, Works wirelessly with other blocks, Works with ROLIs free NOISE app (iPhone/iPad), 6 BLOCKS DNA connections, Battery: Charges via connection...

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Electro Harmonix Expression Pedal

Effects Pedal Expression pedal, The control range can be fine tuned and inverted, Polarity switch for maximum compatibility with a wide range of devices, Advanced, lightweight yet rugged polymer construction, Includes 1.8 m stereo cable, Control: Range, Push Buttons:...

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Arturia KeyLab Essentials 49

USB MIDI Keyboard 49 Velocity-sensitive keys, 8 Velocity-sensitive pads with aftertouch, 1 clickable encoder, 9 Rotary control, 9 Faders, 13 Buttons, Transport section with 4 function buttons, LCD display, Pitchbend and modulation wheel, Chord Play mode, Mackie / HUI...

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Stairville Quad Par Profile 5x8W RGBW 45°

Flat LED PAR Slim design and rich colours, even in the pastel range, Thanks to its compact size, the Quad Par Profile can be mounted or placed almost anywhere, 8 W Quad-colour LEDs ensure its amazing light output, and...

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Millenium MPS-150X E-Drum Mesh Set

E-drum Mesh Set For beginners, Including drum rack and cabling Drum module: 108 Sounds, 10 Drum kits, 40 Songs, Metronome tempo 30-280, Integrated reverb, 2x 6.3mm Mono jack outputs, 3.5 mm Stereo line-in jack, 3.5 mm...

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Airturn PED Pro

Multi-functional Bluetooth Controller with Two Foot-switches Wireless page turner for turning digital content (such as notes, eBooks, presentation programs, etc.), For Mac, PC, iPad or Android tablet computers that support Bluetooth Smart Ready, Flat construction with height of 18...

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