Do I need two DI boxes?

Turd Ferguson

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Thinking about getting a DI box. I have guitars with active and passive pickups. Do I really need to get an active DI box and a passive DI box? Or will an active box work well enough for both?

Another question: if I use a real overdrive pedal, and plug that output into my interface (as I often do), will I see any benefit from adding a DI box?

Appreciate any input or box recommendations.
 

Mike_R

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Thinking about getting a DI box. I have guitars with active and passive pickups. Do I really need to get an active DI box and a passive DI box? Or will an active box work well enough for both?

Another question: if I use a real overdrive pedal, and plug that output into my interface (as I often do), will I see any benefit from adding a DI box?

Appreciate any input or box recommendations.

What interface? You may not need a DI box at all. A lot of newer interfaces have stepped up the quality of the instrument inputs. I've done A/B testing for myself with a few interfaces, with and without the DI box on several different kinds of pickups. With my current interface (Presonus Quantum) the instrument input is really good and I don't feel a need to use a DI box (at least for the sake of signal quality, exceptions below).*

I like the Countryman 85, and I am satisfied using it for active and passive pickups on guitar and bass. They also aren't terribly expensive. There are a few shootouts on YouTube that may help inform your decision.

*I will still, on occasion, use the DI box to either 1) take a clean DI from DI box for reamping while recording a real amp, or 2) take a clean DI from DI box and simultaneously running pedalboard into instrument input to monitor signal with effects.
 

Turd Ferguson

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What interface? You may not need a DI box at all. A lot of newer interfaces have stepped up the quality of the instrument inputs. I've done A/B testing for myself with a few interfaces, with and without the DI box on several different kinds of pickups. With my current interface (Presonus Quantum) the instrument input is really good and I don't feel a need to use a DI box (at least for the sake of signal quality, exceptions below).*

I like the Countryman 85, and I am satisfied using it for active and passive pickups on guitar and bass. They also aren't terribly expensive. There are a few shootouts on YouTube that may help inform your decision.

*I will still, on occasion, use the DI box to either 1) take a clean DI from DI box for reamping while recording a real amp, or 2) take a clean DI from DI box and simultaneously running pedalboard into instrument input to monitor signal with effects.

Appreciate the input! I have a Scarlett 2i2, 3rd gen. After doing some more googling and reading I'm not really sure I actually need one either. I don't have any issues with the interface's instrument inputs but I'm always looking to optimize.

At this point I'm thinking the main advantages for me are the same as your note regarding the additional clean DI signal. I was mostly hung up on the passive vs. active thing but that's looking to be not as important as I thought.
 

ekulggats

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I disagree with the above /\ /\

Just went through that process with a Scarlett, Gen 3. Several guitars of mine were peaking my inputs, even on minimum. It was nigh on impossible to get a DI signal that wasn't peaking and sounded good.

For getting riffs down or drafts? Sure. But if you want a *Good recorded sound, I'd reccomend a good Passive DI Box, for both your active and passive guitars/basses. It will sound a lot more natural IMO, just run the Scarlett with the 'Air on and you'll recoup any high end lost in the DI box. Radial Pro DI, JDI or countryman are all excellent. My Bass tones were better with the Passive box out front too.

Additionally- I'd tried an Active Radial J48- It did a fine job but didn't sound as natural as the passive boxes did. Very wide bandwidth but something in the natural character was lost.
 
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4Eyes

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No, you don't need it if you're running straight into interface, no matter what everyone else is saying - by doing that, you're adding two more devices (DI bix and mic pre on the interface) into your signal chain, which you don't really need. For this particular use case I kind of miss the point of decreasing your pickups signal to a microphone level and then bringing it back, to acceptable level using gain on your mic preamp.

Don't worry about active vs passive pickups. I have pickups on my guitars set for roughly same output, but generally speaking my active guitar is bit hotter while passive guitars peak higher on pinch harmonics. As soon as you don't overload you instrument input on your interface you're fine.

If you need DI box for splitting signal or whatver other task is, go for it
 

ekulggats

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No, you don't need it if you're running straight into interface, no matter what everyone else is saying - by doing that, you're adding two more devices (DI bix and mic pre on the interface) into your signal chain, which you don't really need. For this particular use case I kind of miss the point of decreasing your pickups signal to a microphone level and then bringing it back, to acceptable level using gain on your mic preamp.

Don't worry about active vs passive pickups. I have pickups on my guitars set for roughly same output, but generally speaking my active guitar is bit hotter while passive guitars peak higher on pinch harmonics. As soon as you don't overload you instrument input on your interface you're fine.

It's not about an overall level of the signal, it's about the impedance. There's a big difference between the impedance a Mic pre is most comfortable at and what a passive guitar puts out. It's not an uncommon thing to use a DI or preamp of some sort, there's a reason acoustic instruments pretty much always have some sort of battery/preamp and it's because the impedance of passive circuitry is pretty foreign to most audio equipment. So, the DI is basically a buffer to allow the Scarlett to do it's best- I'm sure there are Interfaces that can do an excellent job handling it but the scarlett seems to just get by, if at all. I play *very hard and I'm clipping the input of the Scarlett with any of my guitars, on minimum

Yeah, the Scarlett will work. Not ideally though IMO. If you have a quality passive box, you're losing pretty little of the high end, stuff you'd be rolling a lot off of anyway. You can always put a little air back in the DI track with subtle eq before you hit your plugins. For me, the natural feel and tone are worth it.
 
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Andii

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Using a DI box is always better than any interface input. In the world of recording equipment any discreet component is always better than an integrated one. The big juicy electronic parts that won't fit inside an interface are where it's at with absolutely everything. Headphone amplifiers, mic pres, DI, compressors, eq. If the quality of something is extremely important to your creative process/method of recording go discreet if you can. That's why fancy pro studios have everything absolutely separated out. Converters, pres.... everything. The big parts with the big juice are the big sound.

One thing I can tell you for sure from firsthand experience is that the inputs on ANY interface, even expensive ones, will never do passives justice.

I recommend getting a Countryman type 10. It's an active DI with a phase correction circuit in it. It makes the cleanest most distortion free phase accurate DI tracks you will ever hear with passive pickups. One and done.

As for actives, I don't think that it matters as much, but I never compared with as much detail as I did with passives to tell you firsthand just to what extent that it might matter and have no firsthand experience with trying actives with a high quality passive DI. I suspect that active pickups straight into the instrument ins are probably not so bad as passives because of how they work and from what I've heard, worked with and experienced. I would be surprised if it didn't matter at all though, it's just probably not as dramatic.

My only warning about the type 10 is that it imparts NO character. Therefore it won't warm up synths or old school jazz bass tracks etc. It's truly clean and clinical, but that's what I like for that application with guitars that are to be reamped or used through VST amps.
 

4Eyes

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If you're clipping your instrument, then yes, you may need a DI, but you may also need just to lower your pickups a hair, which would still retain the sound, but in some cases can significantly lower input signal
 

ekulggats

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I recommend getting a Countryman type 10. It's an active DI with a phase correction circuit in it. It makes the cleanest most distortion free phase accurate DI tracks you will ever hear with passive pickups. One and done.

My only warning about the type 10 is that it imparts NO character. Therefore it won't warm up synths or old school jazz bass tracks etc. It's truly clean and clinical, but that's what I like for that application with guitars that are to be reamped or used through VST amps.

I think the Countryman box I'd used was a passive- Have you compared the Active one you have to the Active J48? I felt the J48 kind of lost the organic feel, although it had super wide freq coverage.

and just in general, Turd- Changing impedance is not like a more/less. Think of it like, taking a shower with 10 gallons vs dropping 10 gallons of water on someone at once. You need some sort of mediator. Lol
 
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Turd Ferguson

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Appreciate the enlightenment everyone! Even if I don't see a huge tone difference, a DI box is the type of thing that's useful enough I should have one around anyway.
 

Mike_R

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If you can get a good signal that you are happy with, go for it! If you are like me, though - you might be worried that you are missing out. To an extent, the only way to sort that out is A/Bing the gear, which is tough if you don't want to buy/sell added gear. I think you can get a pretty good idea by doing the following, though.

I'd recommend grabbing a notepad and your best headphones or monitoring solution. Take notes on what you hear on each of inputs in this blind shootout (without looking at any of the comments):



Then compare to the results.



I thought the Focusrite did pretty well, here. I had a Clarrett which is supposed to be an upgrade to the Scarlett and I could clip the daylights out of the inputs with certain pickups, though.

The Countryman 85 significantly improved the quality of the signal I got out of a Focusrite and my old MBox 3. I've heard demos of other boxes that did seem to suck the life out of the signal, but that hasn't been my result with the 85. Even though I have an instrument input I am pleased with now, I will keep my DI box because I think it is a useful tool.
 

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if I use a real overdrive pedal, and plug that output into my interface (as I often do), will I see any benefit from adding a DI box?

No. And that's by far the easiest solution - run a pedal into the interface, or just run a buffered pedal turned off (or get a buffer pedal by itself). The big advantage of a DI box is that it's suitable for long cable runs, but it's completely irrelevant for home purposes. It also allows you to split the signal (one into the audio interface, the other into an amp), in which case - yes, a DI box might be a good idea.
 

Fader

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Thinking about getting a DI box. I have guitars with active and passive pickups. Do I really need to get an active DI box and a passive DI box? Or will an active box work well enough for both?

Another question: if I use a real overdrive pedal, and plug that output into my interface (as I often do), will I see any benefit from adding a DI box?

Appreciate any input or box recommendations.
You should check out these guys:
https://phatronics.com/splitme-plus/
 

ekulggats

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No. And that's by far the easiest solution - run a pedal into the interface, or just run a buffered pedal turned off (or get a buffer pedal by itself). The big advantage of a DI box is that it's suitable for long cable runs, but it's completely irrelevant for home purposes. It also allows you to split the signal (one into the audio interface, the other into an amp), in which case - yes, a DI box might be a good idea.

Does the impedance coming out of an overdrive pedal change significantly from the passive guitar pickups? I've actually had the thought before of just going into my SD-1 to sort of buffer the signal to go into the interface.
 

nickgray

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Does the impedance coming out of an overdrive pedal change significantly from the passive guitar pickups?

Pickups shouldn't matter whatsoever, I can't imagine why they would, it only matters to the input of the pedal.
 

ekulggats

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Pickups shouldn't matter whatsoever, I can't imagine why they would, it only matters to the input of the pedal.

No. I meant, does the impedance get changed overall from the direct pickup output to what comes out of the pedal. For the purpose of recording.
 

nickgray

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No. I meant, does the impedance get changed overall from the direct pickup output to what comes out of the pedal. For the purpose of recording

But that's exactly what I've answered - only the pedal input cares about the guitar's impedance, the output is 1k ohm per specs, it doesn't matter which pickups you plug in.
 

Koldunya

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Just went through that process with a Scarlett, Gen 3. Several guitars of mine were peaking my inputs, even on minimum. It was nigh on impossible to get a DI signal that wasn't peaking and sounded good.

What in the depths of hell were you plugging into it? o_O My 3rd gen 18i20 handles an active bass with the input control set to 9 o'clock and the pad switched on. I'm actually just really curious what these pickups are for future reference XD
 

ekulggats

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What in the depths of hell were you plugging into it? o_O My 3rd gen 18i20 handles an active bass with the input control set to 9 o'clock and the pad switched on. I'm actually just really curious what these pickups are for future reference XD

The pickups were an Alternative 8 and a Duncan Distortion. Both pretty high output. The transients were being clipped even at minimum on the instrument input setting. Other than that, it just didn't sound very good what I was able to do with it w/out a DI in front of it.
 


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