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DI vs Mic Pre-Amps Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 9th September 2011
  #1
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DI vs Mic Pre-Amps

Was wondering if anyone here has any preference on what to use in the studio. A mic pre-amp or a DI box. I've used the DI box for my synths, but now I'm going to go ahead and invest in some mic pre's. I also was reading that the mic pre's can double as a DI box too. Any thoughts on which you prefer?
Old 9th September 2011
  #2
mic pre-amps, DI don't do things a mic pre can. DI's are mostly used in live situations where you need to double output for on-stage monitoring an PA amplification. DI's are also usable to connect guitars or amp-speaker outputs to mixers!
Old 9th September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mroekalea View Post
mic pre-amps, DI don't do things a mic pre can. DI's are mostly used in live situations where you need to double output for on-stage monitoring an PA amplification. DI's are also usable to connect guitars or amp-speaker outputs to mixers!

Ummmm, recording through a DI is a very common method and has been for a long time. Bass comes to mind, as well as guitar for the purposes of amp modeling. As far as keys are concerned, it all comes down to sound.

To the OP:

Preamp vs. DI for home project studio

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...ter-synth.html

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...d-preamps.html
Old 9th September 2011
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummerman42 View Post
Was wondering if anyone here has any preference on what to use in the studio. A mic pre-amp or a DI box. I've used the DI box for my synths, but now I'm going to go ahead and invest in some mic pre's. I also was reading that the mic pre's can double as a DI box too. Any thoughts on which you prefer?
Both a DI and a mic-pre can, at times, do similar things.

A mic-pre, such as the ART MPA II, will give you increased gain and can affect the tone in positive or negative ways (depending on your ultimate goal). I've used my MPA II as a bass DI for tracking, as running the signal through the tubes sounds "better" to my ears than simply running it through a DI.

I like to use the DI that I own to split guitar signals; sending the same performance to different amplifiers gives me more sound options during a recording.

They're both useful and do have uses that overlap slightly, but differently.
Old 9th September 2011
  #5
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

When you say DI Box do you mean a DI Pre amp? Or a Passive/Active DI box with Mic level out?
A Mic pre needs a DI Box for the HiZ input..
I prefer a DI pre amp..Replaces BOTH..
And IF its for Gtr for example I prefer a DI pre Designed FOR Gtr..But that's me..
Old 9th September 2011
  #6
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You didn't mention which instrument you were talking about.

If it's bass, many swear by the sansamp DI. I can tell you that I love what a cheapo ART TPS preamp does for bass.

If it's a keyboard a DI is just fine.

While we're on the topic of DIs, I never realized what a good DI could do for the sound of live acoustic guitar into a PA until I bought myself a Radial passive DI. The sound guys were full of praise when they saw the DI I had and I understood why as soon as I heard that sweet sound. And my guitar is ok but not the best. It's a $400 Alvarez. It sounded tinny before. Wow! Go figure.
Old 9th September 2011
  #7
People are getting a little muddy on terms here. A DI is something that changes impedance from high to low, most commonly so that an instrument with a high impedance output can be sent through a mic preamp expecting normal mic impedances.

DI's may have other features, pads, phase, and others, but this is what makes it a DI.

That being said, many mic pres have built in instrument inputs, removing the need for a dedicated DI. Though not all DI's are the same, and many people might still prefer to use their favorite DI rather than the instrument input on their mic pre. In the case of synths which are line level, you won't really be using much gain if any, so I would probably just use the line in on a mic pre, saving the use of a nicer DI for instruments like electric bass where it'll make a larger difference due to the amount of gain added after the fact.
Old 10th September 2011
  #8
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dickiefunk's Avatar
I would personally go the mic pre route.

I love the way bass guitars sound through the UA Solo 610 DI.

Similarly I love acoustic guitars through my Eureka's DI.
Old 10th September 2011
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Good stuff here. I was trying use my DI box which is an Active box, for an acoustic guitar in the studio. I noticed that when I plugged the DI into the guitar and then into the board we got a lot of noise from the DI box. The same thing happened with the electric guitar off the pedal board for efx's and stuff, we got too much noise from the DI box. When i use it for synths, the sound is really clear. But appreciate the help, but I think I will be investing in some Mic pre's since, the general consensus is that they do some pretty good stuff. Besides, a lot of mic pre's have more options to play around with then many DI's...
Old 10th September 2011
  #10
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decocco's Avatar
 

As has already been said, the point of a DI box is to convert a high impedance unbalanced signal into a low impedance balanced signal.

A mic pre is designed to amplify a low impedance, balanced signal. Mic's and DI's output said low impedance balanced signals.

A passive electric guitar outputs A very high impedance, low voltage signal (instrument level). An electronic keyboard outputs a relatively low impedance, high voltage signal (line level). This is why you can plug an electronic keyboard right into the line inputs on a mixer or preamp, but the guitar signal requires a DI (to convert high to low impedance) and the additional amplification of a mic preamp.

If you plug your guitar straight into the line inputs, the impedance mismatch makes it sound pretty terrible.
Old 10th September 2011
  #11
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The DI on most preamps is an afterthought and often not such a big deal. A great DI is a great DI.
Old 11th September 2011
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

If you're talking about keys, what you use will matter very little as the keyboard already has a line level relativly low impedence output (the DI is just acting as a device to balance the signal for longer cable runs with less noise). Most mic pre/DIs do provide extra gain and are good for hi impedence instruments like passive guitar & bass pickups. Then there are Active DIs. These are a different animal all together (as long as you get a good one). They add gain yes but they are also VERY high impedence which is what you want for things like piezzo pickups (and some finiky single coils). Not putting too much load on the pickup preserves the tone (loading down the pickup, suck all of the bottom end out of the signal, screws up the top end and leaves you with a generaly midrangy funky tone). The higher impedence the input of the DI, the better (careful all of that extra gain CAN add noise). The Radial Active DIs are about 3-4 meg ohms. The Countryman Type 85 (my favorite) is about 8-10 meg ohms. Both of these will give you outstanding results but they come at a cost. Cheap active DIs are just noisy phantom powered mic pre's in a box and will still muck up your tone (keep in mind that this only applies to extremly Hi impedence sources). Use the right tool for the right job. Anything more is wasted money.

Last edited by Dogoth; 11th September 2011 at 06:13 AM.. Reason: typos
Old 11th September 2011
  #13
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thepilgrimsdream's Avatar
 

A live sound DI usually converts TS instrument cables to XLR or a balanced output. (trs).

Sometimes high-z inputs on preamps are referred to as the DI, but this also allows you to adjust the gain to make it at the right for the convertor unlike a regular DI
Old 14th September 2011
  #14
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Does seem to be a little confusion about DI's..
It simply means Direct Injection, as Most know...
A DI Box CAN be either Passive or active with a Balanced Mic level output.
A DI Pre amp is to replace BOTH the DI box AND Mic pre and produce a Balanced +4dB out WITH gain adjustment..

A DI Box ONLY is more like a Buffer stage, and it has several intended purposes; One so the Gtr for example can drive a Longer cable run NOW that it is balanced AND Low impedance..And for splitting the signal; one for the long Mic cable run, the other for the Gtr amp..
Another advantage of being a balanced signal is you can drop the ground IF needed to isolate the chassis..VERY good reason...

As for "Some DI's being an afterthought".. Can only comment on the DI Pre I designed/built specifically for the Gtr AND bass..
Old 14th September 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
As for "Some DI's being an afterthought".. Can only comment on the DI Pre I designed/built specifically for the Gtr AND bass..
what I said was "the DI on most preamps..." meaning microphone preamps. Look into them and get back to me on which ones typically praised here you think are stellar for guitar or bass.
Old 14th September 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
Does seem to be a little confusion about DI's..
It simply means Direct Injection, as Most know...
A DI Box CAN be either Passive or active with a Balanced Mic level output.
A DI Pre amp is to replace BOTH the DI box AND Mic pre and produce a Balanced +4dB out WITH gain adjustment..

A DI Box ONLY is more like a Buffer stage, and it has several intended purposes; One so the Gtr for example can drive a Longer cable run NOW that it is balanced AND Low impedance..And for splitting the signal; one for the long Mic cable run, the other for the Gtr amp..
Another advantage of being a balanced signal is you can drop the ground IF needed to isolate the chassis..VERY good reason...

As for "Some DI's being an afterthought".. Can only comment on the DI Pre I designed/built specifically for the Gtr AND bass..
Does the buffer in say a Boss pedal convert the signal to low impedance? I was wondering this the other day.
Old 14th September 2011
  #17
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by witchfeet View Post
Does the buffer in say a Boss pedal convert the signal to low impedance? I was wondering this the other day.
All I know is that most devices I can think of such as a FET, Bipolar transistor, Op Amp has a high input impedance and a low output impedance..And also Buffers the source driving the input..
So every pedal I have seen does this, unless designed for some other use/reason..
Even a Mic Pre the input impedance is higher than the Mics output impedance..or else loading/loss of SNR occurs...
Some mics specs show more than the 1:10 ratio, 1:20 for the Blue Mouse for example..50 Ohms into 1K input.
Old 14th September 2011
  #18
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
what I said was "the DI on most preamps..." meaning microphone preamps. Look into them and get back to me on which ones typically praised here you think are stellar for guitar or bass.
Was not being a smart &*^%.. Just making a point..Some DI's on SOME pres are NOT great...Some Mic Pres are NOT great..
Old 14th September 2011
  #19
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Check your interface. Most of them have as standard a Hi-Z input which removes the need for a DI box when plugging in a guitar or bass.

Same your self the cash....
Old 16th September 2011
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
what I said was "the DI on most preamps..." meaning microphone preamps. Look into them and get back to me on which ones typically praised here you think are stellar for guitar or bass.
The MPA gets praised as a bass DI (thru the hi-z input in the front of the unit) and I would concur; it sounds great.
Old 30th September 2012
  #21
Hobbs_Won
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
I would personally go the mic pre route.

I love the way bass guitars sound through the UA Solo 610 DI.

Similarly I love acoustic guitars through my Eureka's DI.
Sorry to bump an old thread....

But I am on the verge of purchasing a Solo 610 because I noticed it can be used as a DI OR a Mic Pre.

The thing is....I basically want to run the outputs of my interface into the amp and back into my DAW. I just want all my ITB sounds and samples to have some analog character to them.

I know that I can't run the pre in Mic mode for this... I'd obviously have to do this with "DI" selected. But I am confused on two things..

Aside from the mic/di selection there is a Hi-Z and Lo-Z selection....what would apply to my scenario?

And, will I get the coloration and benefits of driving the tube using it in DI mode?
Old 30th September 2012
  #22
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The switchable input impedance affects both mic and DI inputs. When the DI input is used, the options are 47k(omega) or 2.2M(omega), while the mic input can see 500(omega) or 2k(omega). The high-impedance mode could be considered the default condition, being ideally suited for 90 percent of circumstances, but the lower value provides an alternative flavour that may prove useful. In particular, dynamic mics often sound more interesting when loaded with 500(omega) or so.
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