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ad46
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Apr 10, 2018

Direct Box

I have never used a Direct Box.  Is it advisable and will it help with either a passive acoustic guitar or microphone.  Also, which one do I use; Passive or Active?  I'm still confused there.  I am using a T1 with a S1 Pro and also a T1 with L1 B1.

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CityFolk
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Jun 4, 2018

Re: Direct Box

I’m by no means an expert on this topic, but from an experience perspective, I’ve found using a simple passive DI with my passive K&K pickup equipped acoustic that uses a 1/4” cable provided a stronger/louder signal. I haven’t tried an active DI as that’s just one more battery powered thing to worry about. If your mic uses an XLR cable, I haven’t found it necessary to use a DI. I don’t think you’ll notice much, if any, difference. I found it more useful for 1/4” type cables.

Again, I’m not too well versed on the underlying technical DI aspects, just what I hear when using them. It has to do with balanced (XLR type cables) vs unbalanced (tip-sleeve 1/4” cables). Note, there are 1/4” cables that are tip-ring-sleeve (like used in stereo headphone cables) that can be balanced just like an XLR. Typical 1/4” guitar cables are tip-sleeve are non balanced.

In addition, with a DI you can use longer (over 15-20 feet) balanced XLR cable runs from the DI to wherever your mixer is located with little signal loss. For example, I when I need to put my mixer further than 20 feet away from where I’m performing, I will use a multi-input snake to tidy up the myriad of cables (guitars, mics) where I plug into a XLR junction block and then have one long thick cable to the mixer which splits into various channels from there. I don’t use it all the time, but it makes for a cleaner setup and easier tear down. 

Hope this helps.

Mr__Hoon
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Jun 3, 2018

Re: Direct Box

I use passive DIs on all 1/4" devices going back to either my T1 or aux PA board. I feel that you get a better, cleaner signal...especially if you have a 15' or more run to the board with a bunch of crisscrossing cables laying about a stage. My two cents...

ad46
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Re: Direct Box

Thanks! I've gotten mixed info from the so-called experts.  Seems that most say you should use an Active DI for a passive connect, like the acoustic without an onboard amp.  Some said, 'don't waste your time, it won't make any difference when using the Tonematch.  Most also said that it is not needed for the microphone which is again confusing....why do companies sell them for mics?  Anyway, glad to hear from you because I am also using the K&K Pickup in my acoustic and yes, one less battery is a good thing. Do you mind telling the brand/model DI you are using?

CityFolk
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Re: Direct Box

@ad46 actually I use the Red Eye preamp from Fire Eye in Austin TX which has a built-in DI for my K&K acoustic. What’s nice about it is that it can use phantom power if available through the XLR cable vs it’s internal 9v battery.  So it can operate either way. If you’re not using a preamp already, I highly recommend them. They’re built like tanks and offer exceptional customer support. I’ve had one for several years when the boost switch broke. They sent me a brand new unit, no questions asked! (I had to send the old one back.) PM me if you want to hear more details. Also, I have no business interest in Fire Eye, I’m just a happy customer.

I don’t use a Tonematch, but I believe it already has preamps built into the various input channels so you wouldn’t need an active DI. I know the mixer I use has preamps on all the XLR channels so that’s fairly typical.

Just a side note, I’d recommend having a preamp for the K&K, either built in with your mixer or an external one like the Red Eye. You can get away without one, but it just give you a more robust signal with some headroom.

The passive DI I use is the IMP 2 from whirlwind. You could probably find a used one out there and just give one a try as they’re not that expensive. Bottom line with using a DI with an unbalanced cable input, you’ll get a stronger, louder signal.

I, too, would be interested to hear why I would use an active DI with a dynamic mic like a SM-58. Maybe there are some specific mic types, like condenser mics, that would take advantage of a DI. 

What mic are you using?

CityFolk
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Jun 4, 2018

Re: Direct Box

This looked like an interesting article on DI boxes from Sweetwater that may explain some things. 

Mr__Hoon
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Re: Direct Box

I use Whirlwind EFB1 passive DIs. Great article reference, CityFolk. Thanks for posting. 

ad46
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Re: Direct Box

CityFolk posted:

@ad46 actually I use the Red Eye preamp from Fire Eye in Austin TX which has a built-in DI for my K&K acoustic. What’s nice about it is that it can use phantom power if available through the XLR cable vs it’s internal 9v battery.  So it can operate either way. If you’re not using a preamp already, I highly recommend them. They’re built like tanks and offer exceptional customer support. I’ve had one for several years when the boost switch broke. They sent me a brand new unit, no questions asked! (I had to send the old one back.) PM me if you want to hear more details. Also, I have no business interest in Fire Eye, I’m just a happy customer.

I don’t use a Tonematch, but I believe it already has preamps built into the various input channels so you wouldn’t need an active DI. I know the mixer I use has preamps on all the XLR channels so that’s fairly typical.

Just a side note, I’d recommend having a preamp for the K&K, either built in with your mixer or an external one like the Red Eye. You can get away without one, but it just give you a more robust signal with some headroom.

The passive DI I use is the IMP 2 from whirlwind. You could probably find a used one out there and just give one a try as they’re not that expensive. Bottom line with using a DI with an unbalanced cable input, you’ll get a stronger, louder signal.

I, too, would be interested to hear why I would use an active DI with a dynamic mic like a SM-58. Maybe there are some specific mic types, like condenser mics, that would take advantage of a DI. 

What mic are you using?

I'm using the ElectoVoice ND767 mostly.

ad46
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Re: Direct Box

Hey, you guys are GREAT!  Thanks for all the info

ST - Pro
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Re: Direct Box

Hi ad46,

The T1 1/4" (6 mm) inputs on channels 1, 2, 3 provide

  1. High impedance inputs and this is useful for passive piezo pickups. 
    • The input impedance on these T1 channels is approximately one megohm
  2. Ample gain to bring the signal from a passive piezo pickup up to a  usable level
  3. Deeper in the T1 you the ParaEQ.
  4. Deeper in the T1 you have the Acoustic Guitar Presets
  5. When you choose an Acoustic Guitar Preset, the zEQ changes the settings for Low Mid High to frequencies optimized for Acoustic Guitar.



Most PA mixers do not have these features built in. An Active DI can often be helpful with PA mixers. A Passive DI won't help much with a passive piezo pickup.

The first two features - impedance match and signal gain, are common in Active DI boxes.

The third feature - Parametric EQ is found in higher end Active DI boxes.

The fourth feature - ToneMatch Presets are Bose proprietary, but some products have something similar.

The fifth feature - I've never seen anything quite like this outside the Bose ToneMatch mixers - T1, T4S/T8S

Passive piezo pickups have very low output voltage. Ideally, you want to amplify the signal as close as possible to the pickup. If you have a preamp built into the guitar you're all set (and we no longer refer to your guitar as having a passive pickup). If you have a long cable between the piezo pickup and the first stage of amplification, you may suffer signal loss and pick up noise. When you lose signal, you need to add amplification. If you have picked up noise along the way, you will amplify that noise as you bring the signal up to a usable level.

If you have passive piezo pickup, you want the shortest possible cable from the pickup to the DI/preamp.  If you have the T1 close to you (e.g. on your microphone stand or table near you), then use a short cable.  

If you must run a long cable to the T1, then you may want an Active DI connected as close as possible to your guitar. Then run the output of the Active DI to the T1.

I have a couple of great guitars that have passive piezo pickups.  I use a short cable (about 6 feet) when I plug these into the T1 mounted on my microphone stand. 

I also have a small DI/Preamp that I can plug directly into the output jack of the guitar. I use that when I need to use a long cable to the T1.  It also has a volume control, so this is convenient when I'm not close to the T1.

Do you need an Active DI for your guitar with a passive pickup?

  • The impedance match is done within the T1
  • Amplifying the signal is done within the T1



If you're happy with the sound of your guitar connected directly to the T1, you don't NEED an Active DI. I retired all of mine when I got my T1 (except for the one I can connect directly to the guitar). 

If you can't get a good strong green light on the T1 channel input trim light, then an Active DI can help.

If your connection is noisy, using an Active DI close to the guitar can help.

If you put a DI between the passive piezo pickup and the T1, you may get a louder signal, and you can compensate for that with the T1 channel input trim control.  Most people find that a little bit louder ->  sounds better. But again, you can do the same thing with the input trim or channel volume.

Questions?

ST