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High end DI box or line level shifter for synths? Studio Accessories
Old 12th March 2008
Lives for gear

Thread Starter
High end DI box or line level shifter for synths?

I have a calrec minimixer which sounds great and does all i need. however, some of my synths don't spit out enough gain to the calrec's line inputs and i end up having to crank them sometimes to maximum.

I have a phoenix Nice DI which is great and adds plenty of gain but it's of course only 2 channels.

since i'm happy w/the tone of my calrec and not really looking to "warm up" or otherwise add character to my synths (though i wouldn't mind a 4-6 channel DI full of tubes or something fancy) i wonder if something like an ebtech line level shifter (see sweetwater link) would do the trick.

Ebtech Line Level Shifter |

i'm not against the idea of getting a DI and there are certainly many nice ones around that add gain to an input but if i can spend a little less money and still get great results that's what i'd rather do..

i've thought about a multi-channel radial DI but i'm hesitant (even though i know their reputation) because i wonder if i'll get all the gain i need w/a DI that has no gain knob?

any thoughts suggestions welcome?
Old 12th March 2008
Lives for gear

Most DI boxes drop Instrument down to Mic level. Which means you then need Mic preamps to raise the level up to Line level.

I have a bunch of Radial JDIs and they work well with good preamps. I prefer passive transformers, because they kill ground loop hum which tends to be a problem with unbalanced synth outputs.

Some DI's have Line level output - the Avalon U5 for example. And your Nice DI, evidently.

I think the Ebtech LLS is worth a look at as a cheaper, passive alternative. I bought one, and their Hum Eliminator, recently - just haven't got around to testing it. I got the one with XLR version - it looks good.

Being passive, it's just a transformer, and it can work both ways. So although it's best used for dropping +4 down to -10, it can work the other way to provide some voltage gain. It would do so at the expense of current, but your synths and your mixer are probably not starved of current, and this may not affect your tone adversly. Worth a try. I've read some rave reviews from people who have used it this way. I'm not expecting it to sound as great as my JDIs into Neve or API preamps, but it will be interesting to compare. (I bought it mainly for solving ground loop issues in non-critical monitoring mixers in other rooms).
Old 12th March 2008
Lives for gear

Thread Starter
thanks for the input. yeah, I know a DI drops level down to mic level but haven't researched if the pre's on my calrec have more mic gain vs line gain on the inputs which may be the case. if so a radial DI into the mic pre's might work fine. not sure though.

anyway- thanks for the advice on the ebtech. if you end up testing it i'd love to hear about it. i certainly don't want to 'harm' the tone from my synths any.

btw - the Nice DI is really great and has TONS of gain. i've had it for a couple years now. it's a keeper.
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