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DI for bass guitar...

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DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Tue May 15, 2018 2:29 pm

Sorry, possibly a bit of a lazy question but I've tried searching briefly with no success. A few months ago in a thread about bass recording / DIs etc someone posted a link to what seemed to be regarded as a pretty good but inexpensive (I think around £30-£40) bass DI.

Can anyone remember or have similar recommendations? Or is it really worth going for a slightly higher budget (times are tight!!).
Ta ever so..!
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 15, 2018 2:40 pm

Hard to beat the Orchid Electronics active DIs...

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/orchid-electronics-di-boxes

http://orchid-electronics.co.uk/products.htm

I have several (micro and muting), and have just ordered a couple of custom stereo DIs.

I have a variety of traditional active DIs, including the ubiquitous Radial J48, BSS AR113, and Canford active DI, but the Orchid ones are cheaper, smaller (in the case of the micro), and sound as good if not better (and have more headroom, too).

The only time I use one of the traditional models is when the galvanic isolation of an output transformer is warranted.

H
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Tue May 15, 2018 6:50 pm

Thank you Hugh, much appreciated, those look familiar.

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The only time I use one of the traditional models is when the galvanic isolation of an output transformer is warranted.

H

Can anybody recommend a suitable University course for me to go on to understand that? I'm guessing SAE or something....My budget is around, well, not much. :headbang: ;)
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Logarhythm » Tue May 15, 2018 7:01 pm

The Bunk wrote:Can anybody recommend a suitable University course for me to go on to understand that? I'm guessing SAE or something....My budget is around, well, not much. :headbang: ;)
How does free sound?
No idea what the content is like, but recalled seeing that some universities offer free online courses/modules in scientific and engineering disciplines, amongst others.
MIT for example: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/find-by-topic/#cat=engineering&subcat=electricalengineering
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 15, 2018 7:51 pm

The Bunk wrote:Can anybody recommend a suitable University course for me to go on to understand that?

No need for the uni course. Galvanic isolation means 'no direct electrical connection' -- something that is often achieved in a DI box by using an output transformer. The input and output sides of the transformer are completely separate insulated coils of wire, so electrically isolated from each other, while the audio signal passes from one to the other in the form of an alternating magnetic field.

That electrical isolation is very useful in a DI box because it means that if there's a major electrical fault in the guitarist's gear, for example (eg, a missing safety earth meaning the gear potentialy becomes live), it won't be able to reach and damage the PA equipment -- and vice versa. It can also help in avoiding ground loops.

So, if I'm running the PA at a gig and I'm not 100% certain of the quality of the band's gear (or if it's an outdoor gig where a spontaneous cloudburst might occur), then the extra safety factor of isolating transformers in the DI boxes separating their and my gear gives welcome peace of mind. The same applies if I'm gigging with m keyboards and I'm not convinced of the PA system or those operating it! ;-)

All passive, and most active, commercial DI boxes have an output isolation transformer, although the Radial J48 and the Orchid boxes are amongst the exceptions -- they use active electronic outputs instead. The benefit is less weight, lower cost and better quality because good-sounding transformers are heavy and expensive, and cheap ones introduce audible distortion... But the downside is a direct electrical connection between source and destination equipment, so a major fault on one side can potentially reach the other..

Consequently, I am very happy to use the excellent (and very attractively priced) Orchid boxes on my own projects where I know everything I'm using them with is well maintained and safe... And I use boxes with transformers for their electrical isolation if I have any concerns.

I hope that helps.
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Dave B » Wed May 16, 2018 8:24 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote: have just ordered a couple of custom stereo DIs.

Interesting. Passive or active? And, if may be bold, how much?
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Wed May 16, 2018 10:48 am

Thanks Hugh and Logarhythm, seriously very useful :thumbup: I'm always impressed with the detail given by you guys even for a spare-bedroom producer like me....!
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Martin Walker » Wed May 16, 2018 1:58 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I am very happy to use the excellent (and very attractively priced) Orchid boxes on my own projects where I know everything I'm using them with is well maintained and safe... And I use boxes with transformers for their electrical isolation if I have any concerns.

Beautifully summed up Hugh! :clap:


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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Elf » Wed May 16, 2018 3:06 pm

This is an easy one for me. When I first heard a DI bass through a J48 it was the sound I'd always had in my head. One day I should compare with an Orchid (I really like everything I've had from Orchid), but when you find what you're looking for you stop looking...
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Wed May 16, 2018 3:19 pm

Actually, just another probably noob-type question...up til now I've just plugged my bass straight into my Focusrite 2i2 and have achieved highly satisfactory results, with some judicious tweaking. Not that I mind spending money on gear but is one of the less expensive Orchids going to make a noticeable difference? Or have I just managed to somehow "get away with it" until now (I especially want a pretty highly driven bass sound for a current project)??
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed May 16, 2018 3:38 pm

Short lead, Hi Z input? Probably not.

The usual purpose of a DI is to convert a line or instrument signal to balanced and reduce it to mic level completely transparently so, in theory, it shouldn't affect the sound at all. I suppose whether it does or not in your context depends on how the Focusrite handles the Hi Z input and whether your chosen DI has transformers or not (and whether your bass is active or passive....... and a few other factors).

IIRC the less expensive Orchid DIs matched the more expensive Radial for performance in the SoS review a few years ago (Radial slightly better on some parameters, Orchid better on others) so I'd venture to say, if the Orchid made no difference the Radial almost certainly wouldn't either.

I have 4 x Orchid DIs myself and my mate with the PA company has around 20.

How are you getting the drive on your bass sound at present?
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Wed May 16, 2018 4:09 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:How are you getting the drive on your bass sound at present?

To be honest, probably using the the musical equivalent of blue-tack and sellotape!! Generally I've just gone in clean via the Focusrite (and yes, very short lead) and then used Izotope Alloy to treat it, using its bass presets. Most of the stuff I've done hasn't really needed much drive although anything that has I've used their "Growling Bass" preset. Maybe I have got away with it, maybe I've been kidding myself but I've had comments from others on this board who've heard some of my output which haven't really picked up on the bass. Occasionally I've fudged it a bit and used a Boss guitar multi-FX pedal but very carefully. The current project (I've posted about it before up here) is Skids' Into The Valley which has that belting (distorted?) bass intro. I haven't got a bass amp (just a Blackstar HT-1 for guitar). The sound I've got for "Valley" is, well, OK but in reality I know it's just the best I can do as opposed to it being exactly what I want...hence the question in the first place really!


*ahem, "Into The Valley" Classic Track feature..???!
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby James Perrett » Wed May 16, 2018 7:59 pm

Is it an active or passive bass? If it is active you can plug it in to almost anything and still get a reasonable sound. If it is passive it will be designed to work into a high impedance input. Fortunately your 2i2 has a high impedance (1M ohm) setting on its jack inputs so there's no need for a DI - the 2i2 will work fine on its own.

A good bass amp will almost certainly be designed to colour the sound so this is one instance where you could use more extreme settings to get the desired result.
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu May 17, 2018 8:46 am

Dave B wrote:Interesting. Passive or active? And, if may be bold, how much?

Dual-channel active micro-DI's but with added buffered outputs for input link purposes. Not settled on the final price, but under £50 each.

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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu May 17, 2018 8:52 am

The Bunk wrote:...is one of the less expensive Orchids going to make a noticeable difference?

Difficult one to answer -- there are always differences between different electronic circuits, but most active DI boxes and instrument inputs on mixers, preamps, and interfaces present a suitably high impedance (typically around 1meg-Ohm). There are differences in headroom and particularly hot guitar pickups or active basses might hit the endstops on some designs.

But if you're getting the results you need with the Scarlett then I wouldn't be seeking alternatives -- like the Elf says, once you've found what you need you can stop looking! :-)

However, if you are finding you are having issues with headroom and overloads on peaks, or if there are noise issues, or you just don't like the sound character, then it is worth trying the alternatives.

The Orchid DIs are very clean and neutral-sounding and have significantly higher headroom than many active DIs. Some DIs are designed to impart some musically-benign distortion to add character, and/or to overload in a musically appealing way. So you pays yer money and makes yer choice.

Also bear in mind that guitar (and to a lesser extent bass) amps/cabs impart a great deal of the musical character to the instrument, and so a straight DI from the instrument can often sound rather thin, bright, and generally lacking in the character normally associated with its sound through an amp/cab. That's where the various hardware and software emulations come in so useful.
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Thu May 17, 2018 9:52 am

Thanks Guys; I think both James and Hugh have nailed it, in that for most of what I've been doing, my current set-up has worked but on this occasion I do need a bit more character. And it's only a realtively harmless case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome given the cost!
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby garrettendi » Thu May 17, 2018 10:08 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:That's where the various hardware and software emulations come in so useful.

And don't forget we're spoiled for choice of amp simulators, including in the free sector. Even the major amp solutions have free version that you can add to bit by bit, if you don't want to go for random plugins you might find on KVR.
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby ef37a » Thu May 17, 2018 3:50 pm

Spend nothing Bunk! (maybe a couple of jack cables)

You already have the means to "DI" that bass

Plug the bass into the HT-1 and you should get enough level to play it quite nicely. Sure, you are not going to rattle even a doll's house windows but it should be usable. (if you can get your hands on a speaker cab, any impedance, so much the better.)

To feed the AI simply come out of the headphone/emulated jack. Ok, the 'emulation' is for a six string but you are going to mangle it in software anyway! Unfortunately you cannot have the speaker on and the DI out but you can use monitoring in the interface.

I am sure you and others here are aghast at the suggestion of putting a bass through that wee amp? So long as you keep it clean, i.e. don't go for blasting distortion I am sure things will be fine. Usually it is speakers that suffer from bass guitar but IIRC that speaker is rated at 5W (might be 10) and the amp really is JUST one watt.

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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby The Bunk » Thu May 17, 2018 4:56 pm

ef37a wrote:
I am sure you and others here are aghast at the suggestion of putting a bass through that wee amp? Dave.

Not at all, it has crossed my mind and I intend you try it as you suggested; in fact I may have done it before, can't remember, but with my limited set-up it's about doing the best I can with what I've got.
For this particular song though I have (as has been suggested elsewhere) gone with double-tracking it - one clean straight into the Focusrite and one through a guitar FX pedal with a tiny bit of distortion. Seems to be working so far...!
Haven't attempted to sing the b*gger yet but at least I only have to gabble away some completely indecipherable lyrics. I can pretty much do what I want when it comes to that!
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Re: DI for bass guitar...

Postby ef37a » Thu May 17, 2018 5:12 pm

The Bunk wrote:
ef37a wrote:
I am sure you and others here are aghast at the suggestion of putting a bass through that wee amp? Dave.

Not at all, it has crossed my mind and I intend you try it as you suggested; in fact I may have done it before, can't remember, but with my limited set-up it's about doing the best I can with what I've got.
For this particular song though I have (as has been suggested elsewhere) gone with double-tracking it - one clean straight into the Focusrite and one through a guitar FX pedal with a tiny bit of distortion. Seems to be working so far...!
Haven't attempted to sing the b*gger yet but at least I only have to gabble away some completely indecipherable lyrics. I can pretty much do what I want when it comes to that!

Good! Too few people experiment with their gear these days. "if it ain't on the store shelf, I don't know what to do"!

If/when funds permit you might consider a speaker cab for the HT-1. The Greenback 55Hz model should sound really good on guitar and not to bad for bass either, be nice to mic up a cab?

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