In the music world, the means of how sound is transferred is essential for a live or recorded performance to be a success. The sound engineer must assure that all the signals being sent by the musician is received on their end at the desired quality. In the bassist’s end, you wouldn’t want your carefully tailored tone sounding crappy going out from the PA system. To achieve this goal, the use of direct boxes are utilized. But of course, with the quest for tonal excellence being subjective, what are the things to consider in getting the direct box that would best suit your taste?
Instrument type: This is in direct reference to the type of instrument you are going to use with the direct box. Are you planning to use it on an acoustic guitar with an active preamp, or are you planning to hook your bass guitar directly into the house mix?
Input: How many instruments are you planning on using with that direct box? Of course it is ideal that a ratio only one instrument per direct box should be utilized, but there are a number of direct boxes out there that could deliver the job just as good with half the price.
Tone quality: Of course clean tone transfer is ideal in any signal chain, but there are a few direct boxes out there that add just a bit of “flavour” to spice up your low end groove.
With these things to ponder on, here are our recommendations on the best bass direct boxes.
A Designs REDDI Tube Direct Box
If you love the old Ampeg B-15 vintage sound, then the REDDI Tube from A Designs is just the right direct box for you. The REDDi has an input jack that accepts both a quarter inch plug or an XLR, a thru jack to send your signal to your pedalboard or amplifier, and an XLR out where you send your signal to the house mix. The great thing about the REDDI is it is a tube di box, which equates to thicker and warmer sound for your bass. The box also comes with an attenuator in case you would need to increase the signal sent to the mixer, and a ground and lift switch to remove those unwanted hums. A great tube di box with a vintage tone.
Radial Engineering JDI Duplex Mk4 Stereo DI Passive Direct Box
The JDI Duplex from Radial Engineering is the “Swiss army knife” of direct boxes. It features a quarter inch plug for instruments, a 3.5 mm TRS and RCA for unbalanced inputs, and an XLR input for +4 dB balanced sources. Has a ground and lift function for getting rid of unwanted hums, and a thru signal for your amplifiers or effects board. The great thing about this passive di Box is, it does all the great features mentioned before, and multiplies it by two! Plus the clean unprocessed signal you’d get when using it, so you can be sure that what goes in will come out exactly as intended. A must have for bassists or any musician and sound engineer alike!
Radial Engineering JDV MK3 Direct Box
The JDV MK3 direct box is one of the most versatile class A direct box in the market today. It features a 30-volt internal rail voltage, a 3.9 meg-ohm input impedance for instruments with piezo pickups, a ground and lift control for zero noise reduction, and a tough exterior for on the road applications. The MK3 is also equipped with a drag control with which you can attenuate to the precise impedance the system might require. There is also a selectable A to B channel input for added flexibility. A remarkable direct box that is built in Canada – this alone speaks for this direct box’s quality control.
Countryman DT85 Type 85 Direct Box
The Type 85 direct box from Countryman is as simple as they get – what goes in must come out. This direct box gets its power either from a nine volt battery, or runs from phantom power which would give you the assurance of going dead onstage. The most basic controls and inputs are available on this box – an instrument or amplifier input, an XLR output, open or ground switch, and a pickup or speaker selector. With the Type 85, you can be sure that your tone will truly be heard without coloration or signal distortion.
Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box
Being one of the more affordable direct box in the market today, the Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box has definitely found favour with a lot of musicians and sound technicians alike. This direct box features a thick rugged casing, a ¼ plug input and a thru, XLR output, and a lift switch. The impedance conversion from 20 Hz-18 kHz assures a clean signal transmission all throughout. With its heavy built chassis, this direct box is sure to handle all the abuse that goes its way.
Hosa DIB-443 1/4 inch TS to XLR3M Sidekick Passive DI Box
The Sidekick Passive DI Box from Hosa is one of the most affordable di boxes in the market today. All the basic features that you would need in a direct box is here – ¼ instrument input / output, XLR output, and a ground / lift switch. The best thing is because of the price, you can easily get another one for backup just in case, or a ready provision for any instrument that might be needed to be hooked directly to the live mix. Clean unprocessed signal transmission is of course the strongest point of Hosa Sidekick Passive DI Box.