Old 07-16-2019, 04:29 PM   #1
pipelineaudio
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Default Real World Gear Tests - Direct Boxes

I have been working on tests of claims by the Marketing Machine, forum "experts" and audio industry "educators"

I am especially tired of newcomers to our communities being told they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on basic devices just to do basic recordings.

I was very curious about just how much "character" devices actually impart. Just how non linear are they?

I couldn't find an apples to apples comparison, so I have begun working on one. Here is the first one on Direct Boxes (so far)

https://pipelineaudio.net/gear-refer.../direct-boxes/
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Old 07-16-2019, 04:41 PM   #2
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I am especially tired of newcomers to our communities being told they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on basic devices just to do basic recordings.
Well somehow I've never seen this? Anybody with a few hundred bucks and a few thousand hours can do great recordings at home.
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Old 07-16-2019, 05:02 PM   #3
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As far as the DI boxes that you would use on a stage, or on the floor of your studio, varying percentages of the cost goes towards build quality as well as internal components, which skews the "you get what you pay for" argument to some degree...

I have a cheap (inexpensive) Hosa passive DI box that I cannot hear any appreciable difference in sound quality as compared to my more expensive but built-like-a-tank Radial passive DI (the ProDI, not the premium JDI)...the only difference for me is that I would not take the Hosa out on the road...
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Old 07-16-2019, 05:13 PM   #4
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I'd have to say that good AD/DA trumps a good DI unless it's a necessary part of the equation.

In other words A good DI won't necessarily improve your signal if your interface already has the correct inputs for your source.
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Old 07-16-2019, 05:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jelloman View Post
As far as the DI boxes that you would use on a stage, or on the floor of your studio, varying percentages of the cost goes towards build quality as well as internal components, which skews the "you get what you pay for" argument to some degree...
Well in this case, the Rapco and the Radial are built like absolute tanks, and the 325 is so fragile you wouldn't dare take it on stage, so still, from that parameter, cheaper isn't just better, its MUCH better
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Old 07-16-2019, 05:26 PM   #6
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I'd have to say that good AD/DA trumps a good DI unless it's a necessary part of the equation.

In other words A good DI won't necessarily improve your signal if your interface already has the correct inputs for your source.
Wait till you see the A to D charts! Lots of suprises there.

And no, the deviation between DI boxes is MILES above the deviation between any decent Analog to Digital converter (including even the oft crapped upon Behringer ADA8000)

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Old 07-16-2019, 05:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tests... Just an aside/side comment for everyone else... one doesn't even need a direct box to record 99% of the time.

I wish you wouldn't call interface instrument inputs DIs, they are just hi-z inputs and just like a stomp box input which is essentially exactly the same isn't called a DI. I know we disagree, they do similar jobs, and it's plausible to argue, but they aren't exactly the same thing - that has nothing to do with these tests (it doesn't affect them), we just need to separate them in discussions to avoid confusion IMHO.
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Old 07-16-2019, 05:45 PM   #8
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I remember you saying something. What really was the difference? I could change the wording in the title "DI's and interface instrument inputs" or something
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Old 07-16-2019, 05:46 PM   #9
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I remember you saying something. What really was the difference? I could change the wording in the title "DI's and interface instrument inputs" or something
Oh don't edit posts over it, it isn't that important. They do enough for these tests comparisons and I just woke up. DIs are usually converting unbalanced to balanced and often for long cable runs in addition to handling hi-z. To be honest if an interface is doubling up the mic and instrument in into one jack, it probably converts to low-z too in order to get it into the balanced preamp before the A/D. So really really close, and I'm just being a little pedantic.
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:06 PM   #10
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In my limited experience, recording through a good DI into crappy audio cards that had no instrument input wasn't as good as recording into good audio cards with no DI. From that I assume that the AD/DA conversion is the main thing affecting quality.
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:24 PM   #11
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I think in the case of gear where you can't bypass the mic preamp, that these are probably active DI's. I think ti really becomes a distinction without a difference in practical terms
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:09 PM   #12
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That's the point, those pins on the interface are the preamp, a DI isn't that, even an active DI only provides buffering - if an active DI adds gain (beyond not losing any due to passive insertion loss), then it just became a preamp. For that keyboard that doesn't need a preamp, you plug into one of those line inputs that isn't a mic/inst combo. If all you have is the combo, that doesn't magically make it a DI, it makes it having to go through the pre cuz you don't have a dedicated line in.

^That doesn't affect your tests but one is a preamp input, the other does an impedance and balancing conversion and possible buffering if active. This time is for our understanding of how they work because it is helpful to know.
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Old 07-17-2019, 01:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
That's the point, those pins on the interface are the preamp, a DI isn't that, even an active DI only provides buffering - if an active DI adds gain, then it just became a preamp. For that keyboard that doesn't need a preamp, you plug into one of those line inputs that isn't a mic/inst combo. If all you have is the combo, that doesn't magically make it a DI, it makes it having to go through the pre cuz you don't have a dedicated line in.

^That doesn't affect your tests but one is a preamp input, the other does an impedance and balancing conversion and possible buffering if active. This time is for our understanding of how they work because it is helpful to know.
Big Amen on that !!

I always loved anything passive with decent build quality and Jensens.

The Radial stuff is great, haven't used Rapco DI's, have used their cables and snakes, good stuff.

After years and years and years of trying everything my favourite is still the 4 string passive bass into a Jensen DI into a good preamp -- e.g. Great River for a Neve vibe, Sebatron for a Fender vibe, etc. with possibly a mic'd amp/cab.
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