If you’re a guitar player, odds are you can’t imagine a world without DI boxes. They’re the secret weapon of recording engineers, session players, and gigging guitarists the world over, and it would definitely complicate the recording process if we didn’t have them.
The question is: How do you choose the best DI box? There’s a ton of different models on the market, and it would definitely be understandable if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed with trying to figure out the best direct box for your rig and your budget.
If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you all the information that you need to make an informed purchase, as well as give you five great recommendations to help aid you in your search.
- What Is A DI Box?
- What Should I Look For In A DI Box?
- The Top Five DI Boxes
What Is A DI Box?
Simply put, a DI box is a tool that helps balance and/or increase input signals and isolate your instrument from electronic interference. Yeah, that’s kind of technical, but it’s really not as complicated as it sounds.
First, a lot instruments (especially instruments with passive piezo pickups) don’t put out enough signal. This means that when you plug into an P.A. or a recording interface your signal will be weak. This is why if you’re recording straight into a laptop you generally use a DI box to help boost the signal of your instrument. A DI box is also commonly used for the same reason with acoustic instruments and bass guitars.
Second, a DI box generally has a balancing transformer. A balancing transformer can help weed out some annoying electrical interference (this is kind of technical, but essentially it does this by being balanced, which causes your signal to reject outside interference), like a ground loop or potential electrical safety issues that can occur in venues with faulty wiring.
What Should I Look For In A DI Box?
First thing first, a good DI box should be built like a tank. DI boxes will get so much use and will be hauled to and from so many different places that they need to be a bet more durable than most other pieces of equipment.
Also, it’s super important that a DI box is made with high quality electric components. You can get away with cheap stuff on a lot of pedals because they don’t deal with electrical current in the same way that a DI box does. A guitar pedal mildly manipulates a signal, while a DI box will fundamentally change it.
Lastly, make sure that you consider your needs when thinking about whether you want a passive or active DI box. Active DI boxes are actually preamps. Therefore, the general rule of thumb is to use active DI boxes on low output instruments while passive outputs are great at handling the hum on higher output instruments. Think about how you want to use your direct box in your setup before focusing on a particular manufacturer or model.
The Top Five DI Boxes
As always, it’s important to remember the purpose of these articles. They’re aimed at informing people, and giving as many of you as possible a viable option for your next purchase. While we recognize that a professional quality piece of equipment is always going to be superior to something that’s aimed at hobbyists, most people can’t justify the expense. It doesn’t matter how good a Reddi Tube direct box is if you literally can’t afford to purchase it. So just keep in mind that the best option for you may not be the best option for your neighbor, and vice versa.
Still unsure where to start on your hunt for the best DI box? If so, you’re in luck! The five recommendations below are all sure to be a stellar addition to your rig. Happy shopping!
Countryman Type 85 Direct Box
Radial Engineering Pro DI
Tech 21 Para Driver V2
Radial J48 Direct Box
Whirlwind IMP 2