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active DI / passive DI Direct Injection & Re-amp Boxes
Old 19th August 2007
Gear Nut
gyom's Avatar

active DI / passive DI

Hi all!

What's the difference between an active and a passive DI? I know the passive DI don't need power...

Which one is the best, and why?

Old 19th August 2007
Lives for gear
lowfreq33's Avatar

Passive D.I.'s use a transformer, actives use an amplifier. I like the passive ones better. They just sound more natural to me.
Old 19th August 2007
Gear Nut
gyom's Avatar

Thanks for your answer!
Old 19th August 2007
Lives for gear
hangman's Avatar

to be a little more precise... a passive direct box uses ONLY a transformer.

the Active Direct boxes always have some kind of an amplifier, But can also utilize a transformer.

if you go Passive, spend some money on it. the cheap ones are pretty bad.

you can find pretty good passive DIs for similar prices to some of the cheaper active ones. If it was between those two, I would go passive Any day of the week.
Old 19th August 2007
Lives for gear

Of course a passive DI requires a great preamp with a mic input. Some active DI's output at mic level (so it's actually attenuating your instrument output). Others can output at line level, and therefore don't require a mic preamp as well. If you have a good A/D converter with line level input, such a DI can be the ideal shortest path high quality solution for tracking an instrument.

All DI's sound different. Some are better at handling bass than others. Some are noisier than others. Some offer subtle harmonic distortion that can be desirable - others are clean as.

I like the Radial stuff - the JDI is a great passive DI.
Old 19th August 2007
Gear Nut
gyom's Avatar

Thanks all.

Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
I like the Radial stuff - the JDI is a great passive DI.
That's why I asked. I'm hesitating between the JDI and the J48
Old 19th August 2007
Lives for gear

If going active I would prefer to have one that can replace the preamp. I'm not sure if the Radial ones can do that. Passive DI's don't add hiss. Active DI's make a little hiss, and then if followed by a mic preamp that will amplify it. I would rather have a one box solution, rather than one box to reduce your instrument level to mic level, while adding hiss, and then another preamp to raise the whole lot back up to line level.

The Avalon U5 is worth a look. Also the tube ones like the Telefunken and REDDI.

It's also worth considering some great preamps that also have instrument inputs.

I use JDIs with my Neve Portico 5012, because it lacks instrument inputs. My API A2D's have excellent instrument inputs.
Old 19th August 2007
Lives for gear
DeadPoet's Avatar
In a recent thread somebody said: active DI's for passive sources (guitar, passive bass) and vice versa...

that being said: Will a passive DI like the JDI be harmed when someone accidentally feeds it +48v ?

Old 19th August 2007
Gear Maniac
lblstudio's Avatar

I have two Radial J48s and they work beautifully on everything from bass to keyboards. You have to power them with phantom, therefore, you have to use a preamp with them, but there is no hiss added to the signal.

I used to use a couple of Groove Tubes passive direct boxes and noticed a significant difference when I switched to the Radials. Low end was more precise, high end was clearer, etc.

Of course, comparing the GT passive box to the Radial J48 is like comparing apples to hundred dollar bills.
Old 5th March 2008
Gear Nut
truthnlife13's Avatar

sorry to interject but

I have been searching the threads and have not seen a definative answer.
If I am getting into reamping and am buying a DI, I understand passive seems to be considered better. However the radial page recommends the active box for guitars with active pickups. I am using a les paul with an emg 81/85 combo should I infact get an active DI or will a passive work just as well. I am leaning towards a radial aby switcher - Radial prodi - with a radail rmp as my reamp box mostly because it fits my budget Opinions please !
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