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What is a di box?
 
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What is a di box?


(@jim-bodean)
Eminent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 21
Topic starter  

Hopefully someone can help out someone who understands very little about sound equipment --

I've been reading and hearing about di boxes, but I really don't know what purpose they serve. I play an acoustic/electric (Ibanez PF5DENT) through a small PA system (Sound Tech PMX200R). The di box I've been reading about is this one:
http://accessories.musiciansfriend.com/product/LR-Baggs-Para-Acoustic-DI?sku=307160

My question is -- What, if anything, would a di box do for me? My understanding is that the electronics on my guitar are the preamp. It has an equalizer, as does the PA system. The ad says it boosts the signal and gets "the best out of any pickup."

One concern I have is that my PA, unlike an acoustic amp, makes my guitar sound more like an electric guitar than an acoustic. Would this Acoustic D.I. improve that situation?

So if any of you have knowledge in this area, I'd appreciate your feedback. Thanks.


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

I am not an expert on these things, but the main purpose of a DI box is to convert a high impedence signal (like your guitar cable) into a balanced low impedence signal (like a XLR microphone cable). This allows you to have a longer cable without losing signal and lessens noise as well.

Here is an article from Musician's Friend that might be helpful.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/document?doc_id=102219

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

Wes is correct.
At it's most basic, a DI is just a box with connectors a transformer. The transformer does the impedance matching, and also provides DC isolation of the guitar(and effects chain and whatever else it is plugged into) from the board.
This type of DI is passive, and requires no power.

More advanced DIs will have active electronics to do the balancing/impedance conversion and may also contain a pre-amp, equalizer, or other features. They may be powered by batteries or phantom power supplied from the board VIA the XLR connection.

Almost every DI I've seen also has a "ground lift" switch, which connects or isolates the ground (shield) of the guitar cable from the ground (pin 1) of the XLR connector facing the board. This is used to reduce ground loops, and the hum that results from them.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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(@jim-bodean)
Eminent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 21
Topic starter  

Thanks for your replies. I guess if its main function is to reduce hum, I don't feel it's going to make my guitar sound more acoustic than electric. Maybe it would. I guess I'd like to hear the difference sometime.


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(@gabba-gabba-hey)
Reputable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 355
 

Specific to that Baggs box, it has a preamp as well, which will probably color the sound a little bit compared to running directly to the PA. It may make it sound more like an acoustic amp, or a mic'd guitar... give it a try and let us know!


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(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

Can't it also be used to connect the guitar as in insert bypassing the pres on the mixer? If the mixer has crappy pres, but is okay apart from that, that's one reason to consider getting a DI box.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

That LR Baggs unit that you linked to is more of a pre-amp/EQ with a DI built in, than it is "just a DI". I'd guess that Gabba is right that it's tinkering with your sound (which is one of the features of that particular unit.

Given it's pre-amp capabilities, you might be able to run it as Scrybe suggests, but it would probably still be massaging your sound a bit.

Now, as to your PA making your guitar sound like an electric... What kind of pickup does your guitar have?
If it's a magnetic pickup, then that would explain it.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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