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Q. Does a DI box raise the signal level?

Published December 2004
By Hugh Robjohns

Even active DI boxes like Samson's S•Direct don't provide any gain.Even active DI boxes like Samson's S•Direct don't provide any gain.

At a band soundcheck the other week, I tried to put my dynamic mic into my guitar effects unit, a Boss ME8, then into the desk for the PA. The sound engineer inserted a DI box after the Boss unit, but said the level was too low. He said the DI box only brings a level down, and won't bring it up to produce a stronger signal. I thought what DI boxes do is increase a low signal to a high signal. Who's right?

SOS Forum Post

Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: I'm afraid that the sound engineer was right! DI boxes are designed to take an unbalanced low- to medium-level, high-impedance signal from a guitar or similar and convert it to a mic-level, balanced and low-impedance signal intended for connection to a sound desk microphone input. Most DI boxes also have an earth-lift facility to help break ground loops, and many have facilities to accept line-level and speaker-level inputs and reduce them to mic level as well. Not even the active DI boxes provide gain.

Published December 2004