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Which stereo DI for keyboard?
Old 19th November 2009
  #1
Gear Head
 

Which stereo DI for keyboard?

Hi,

I'm looking for a stereo DI for use (probably mostly live performance) with my Nord Stage EX keyboard. I'm tossing up between the Radial JDI Duplex Mk4 and the Cable Factory DI-PRO-ST. Which one would people recommend? And why? Or would people suggest alternative products?

I hear good things about the Cable Factory DIs from the seemingly few people who use them and they're cheaper than the Radial products. However, I know that the Radial DIs are good from personal experience and the JDI Duplex seems to have more features (e.g. low pass filter, polarity reverse, RCA inputs/throughputs etc) than the Cable Factory stereo DI.

And one last question. Are there issues with running two different instruments through a stereo DI, in a live performance setting? If so, I'd wonder if I'm better of buying two DIs rather than one stereo DI.

Thanks heaps for your help.

Regards,
Matthew

Last edited by msum; 19th November 2009 at 05:25 AM.. Reason: Changed for clarity, ease of reading
Old 19th November 2009
  #2
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travisbrown's Avatar
They are both good DIs. I think the Cable Factory DIs have Lundahls in them, which I like. I'm really partial to Countryman Type 85s. Tape a couple of those together and you'd have a good two channels of DI too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msum View Post
And one last question. Are there issues with running two different instruments through a stereo DI, in a live performance setting? If so, I'd wonder if I'm better of buying two DIs rather than one stereo DI.
A stereo DI is just two DIs in one box. Unless the ground-lifts are ganged or the channels are somehow linked or interdependent, don't think of it as stereo; think of it as two mono channels.

Both companies make DIs boxes with up to eight channels.

For keyboards and acoustic guitars, etc. I like active DIs. For bass and things that need punch I tend to like passive DIs. So you may want to be judicious about what you are mixing and matching.
Old 19th November 2009
  #3
Gear Head
 

travisbrown,

Thanks for your advice.

Yeah, the Cable Factory DIs have Lundahls, which I hear are nice. Unfortunately, Cable Factory doesn't have an Australian distributor, so I probably won't be able to hear one in person, hence me seeking advice online.

What do you like about the keyboard and active DI combination? Seems like it's traditional to pair keyboards with passive DIs. Not that tradition necessarily means a lot.

Cheers,
Matthew
Old 19th November 2009
  #4
Registered User
I have a bunch of JDI (passive Jensen mono) boxes which I love for unbalanced keyboards. The unbalanced outputs of keyboards can create ground-loop hum issues if your power connections aren't perfectly star grounded. For that reason, I think the true transformer isolation of a good passive box is a great foolproof precaution. An active box is yet another device to power.

We don't think twice about running mic cables from relatively low output microphones. I don't see the need to worry about strong keyboard outputs being converted to mic level with a good passive box.

Transformers do change the signal, whereas a transformer-less active DI might be cleaner, if that's your bag. But I think digital keyboards benefit from a transformer to take the sharp edges off, and put a bit of harmonic girth into the low mids. The JDI are pretty clean, but they still change the sound - generally I prefer this.
Old 19th November 2009
  #5
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msum View Post
What do you like about the keyboard and active DI combination?
Meh, just taste and imagination. I guess it really depends on the patch you are using, but for pads and the like it just seems to add a bit to them. Probably wouldn't if I was doing, say, monosynth basslines or a wurli patch or something.

Not that I really care either way. Keys are a probably the last thing I DI in a live setup and probably use whatever DI is left over, at least for the bands I play with. In the studio, I'd just plug straight into the preamp and use whatever DI is in it. I give higher priority to bass and guitars and rhythm devices because 99% of the time they are more up front.

Cable Factory is just down the road from me. Radial is actually almost equidistant the other way. I seemingly live in this nexus of excellent DI manufacturers.
Old 19th November 2009
  #6
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mudrock's Avatar
 

Im going to throw my two cents in and add one thought: Use a passive DI. If it is mostly going to be live use, a passive DI is much more reliable. Active DIs have to be powered, either with phantom or a battery.
I am a fan of simple and reliable. Passive DIs sound great, too!
Old 19th November 2009
  #7
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foldback's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudrock View Post
Im going to throw my two cents in and add one thought: Use a passive DI. If it is mostly going to be live use, a passive DI is much more reliable. Active DIs have to be powered, either with phantom or a battery.
I am a fan of simple and reliable. Passive DIs sound great, too!
I totally agree. I would use a good transformer based passive D.I. box for keyboard interface in a live situation, you just can't beat the electrical isolation and simplicity.

Last summer we did a bunch of double blind A-B comparison tests using Radial (passive and active), Jensen homebrew D.I. boxes, and some other American made low cost transformer D.I. boxes like you might find in a music store. The speakers were my custom built Meyer HD-1's.

The only one that was obvious was the Radial active, it had a zing in the highs that was easy to hear but it was not the first choice for tone.

The Radial passive had a Jensen transformer in it and was basically indistinguishable from the home built Jensen based D.I. boxes.

The inexpensive transformer based direct boxes faired very well tone wise once all the volumes were nulled and we were only hearing the tone difference, not volume difference.

I would definitely buy two individual direct boxes rather than one stereo unit but that's just the way I am (if one breaks they both are not out of service while in repair shop).

Let sonics (not hype) be your guide.

Best of luck with your selection.
Old 20th November 2009
  #8
Gear Head
 

Thanks all (i.e. Kiwi, travisbrown, mudrock, foldback) for chipping in. You've provided some useful opinions and advice.

Yeah, the simplicity of passive DIs for live use is nice.

foldback, I'm interested to hear your A/B experience. Nice to know about the highend on the Radial active boxes. How are your custom Meyer-HD1s, by the way?

travisbrown, I guess you're from Canada then? :-) What other nice professional audio stuff is made by Canadians?

I'm still interested in people's experiences with the Cable Factory DIs. Anyone want to chip in?

Thanks again guys.
Old 20th November 2009
  #9
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The MPCist's Avatar
 

Radials are nice. I use them on a lot of stuff along with the DI's on the SSL....
Old 21st November 2009
  #10
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msum View Post
travisbrown, I guess you're from Canada then? :-) What other nice professional audio stuff is made by Canadians?
.
Hmm... off the top of my head:

RADAR/iZ, Ward Beck, Ayotte drums, Canwood drums, Larrivee guitars, Godin, Traynor, Apex, Yorkville, Rexx, ART, Empress guitar fx, Diamond guitar fx, Burtch, Heintzman/Nordheimer, Mr. Ho....

And this is by Canadian companies, not necessarily 100% made in Canada...

I'm sure I'm missing lots. Lots of boutique companies.
Old 21st November 2009
  #11
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
RADAR/iZ, Ward Beck, Ayotte drums, Canwood drums, Larrivee guitars, Godin, Traynor, Apex, Yorkville, Rexx, ART, Empress guitar fx, Diamond guitar fx, Burtch, Heintzman/Nordheimer, Mr. Ho....

I forgot about L'Arrivee and Godin. They make some nice guitars. Not a bad price point either (at least the L'Arrivees as far as I remember).

I didn't know that Yorkville and ART were Canadian.

I guess you guys know how to make audio gear. Moreso than us backwater Australians... Having said that, I'll put in a plug for Maton and Cole Clark guitars. Very nice for live use in my estimation.

Sorry to carry on about this like a broken record (pun intended), but anybody else want to chip in about the Cable Factory DIs?
Old 21st November 2009
  #12
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msum View Post
I forgot about L'Arrivee and Godin. They make some nice guitars. Not a bad price point either (at least the L'Arrivees as far as I remember).

I didn't know that Yorkville and ART were Canadian.

I guess you guys know how to make audio gear. Moreso than us backwater Australians...
Yorkville has always been Canadian. ART was acquired by Yorkville, so not Canadian so much as owned by Yorkville. Yorkville started at Long & McQuade in Toronto, the Canadian version of Guitar Centre.

In my opinion the average Larrivee guitars aren't as good as they used to be. The expensive ones are still great, but the middle-of-the-road ones now come out of a machine, so all sort of sound average. Mine is from back when everything was done by hand so they were all a bit different. You could find the one you liked. I find the same with Taylor guitars too. It's the difference between and boutique guitar and factory-made.

You guys have Røde, don't you? And Red Witch is from New Zealand. but I heard you Australians don't like those guys. Or maybe that's just from watching too much Flight of the Conchords.
Old 21st November 2009
  #13
Gear Head
 

Yeah, there's a rivalry of sorts between Australians and New Zealanders. But I like to think we mostly get along well on an individual-to-individual level (I won't comment on a political level because I don't know much about politics). Having said that, we're probably not shy about poking fun at each other.

As Australians, I reckon we're pretty quick to adopt successful New Zealanders as our own (e.g. Neil Finn and Crowded House).

Yeah, Rode is an Australian company. I hear mixed things about their products though. I can't say I've used any myself. I guess their pricing is fairly competitive for Australian made products.

Beez Neez is another Australian mic company which seems to get reasonable reviews.

One thing I'll say about New Zealand, though. Based on Flight of the Conchords, I'd say that New Zealand produces much better comedy music duos that Australia ;-).

What "modern era" Larrivees do you recommend? Oops, hijacking my own thread.
Old 21st November 2009
  #14
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msum View Post
What "modern era" Larrivees do you recommend? Oops, hijacking my own thread.
I'm not up on all the new models, but I like the OM series and the Rosewood traditionals. They make a really nice one with a slotted head. Was like some of the Santa Cruz guitars I've tried, and that's a good thing. There was a bluegrass dreadnought I thought was really nice.

I like the Larrivees (and generally all guitars) with gloss finish. Seems most of these are made in California and the matte finishes are made down the road at the Vancouver plant.

When I got mine, there were only about 6 models and came out of a tiny shop. Now it seems there are about 60 models.
Old 21st November 2009
  #15
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synthoid's Avatar
 

Given that this is for live performance, a high-end DI box on a keyboard that is already putting out line-level signals seems like massive overkill to me. The chances of the audience appreciating the sound of the DI box are pretty slim. The only reason you would need one at all is for electrical isolation from the console. A 1:1 isolation transformer, something like one of the Jensen ISO units, would be just fine.

-synthoid
Old 21st November 2009
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Every keyboard I record goes through my favorite DI....ADL Stereo Tube DI!!
Use the tubes or not. In fact I have several kinds of DI that are collecting dust since I bought the ADL Stereo and the ADL mono DI's.
I don't think they even make the stereo version any more. A SWEET PIECE!
Larry
Old 21st November 2009
  #17
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Eloheim's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foldback View Post
Last summer we did a bunch of double blind A-B comparison tests using Radial (passive and active), Jensen homebrew D.I. boxes, and some other American made low cost transformer D.I. boxes like you might find in a music store.
Quote:
Originally Posted by foldback View Post
The Radial passive had a Jensen transformer in it and was basically indistinguishable from the home built Jensen based D.I. boxes.

The inexpensive transformer based direct boxes faired very well tone wise once all the volumes were nulled and we were only hearing the tone difference, not volume difference.
Hey your post caught my eye (among other things because I'm a fan of blind trials). Main reason being that I've had a Radial ProDI (NO Jensen) passive box for a long time now that I've used for direct recording of bass guitar, analog synth, samplers etc. I always hear people raving about Radials Jensen-based JDI but I've never had the chance to try one. It sounds like you compared the two, or boxes much like them, right? Was there a really noticible difference?

Thanks and if anyone else can add in that's great.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #18
Gear Head
 

I'm going to bump this thread to try to get it back on track after I derailed it.

Anybody have experiences with Cable Factory DIs that they can share? I'm particularly interested in negative feedback. All I've heard in other threads (and other forums) is positive, but there isn't much feedback at all in absolute terms. I suppose not too many people use the Cable Factory DIs.

Thanks again.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #19
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travisbrown's Avatar
I don't think Cable Factory has actually been marketing their DIs for that long. They've made them for a while, but I always thought they were custom jobs for their installation clients. It's only in the last while that I've seen them actually built and distributed as a retail product.

If this is the case, I'm not sure that there is the same user base yet as with the Radial products.

I think you are splitting hairs though. Pick whether you want a passive or active DI, and then pick a Radial or a Cable Factory (or something comparable). You'll be happy either way.

There isn't much magic to plain old DI boxes. It's a box that balances impedance. Even the worst DI ever built is passable.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
I don't think Cable Factory has actually been marketing their DIs for that long. They've made them for a while, but I always thought they were custom jobs for their installation clients. It's only in the last while that I've seen them actually built and distributed as a retail product.

If this is the case, I'm not sure that there is the same user base yet as with the Radial products.

I think you are splitting hairs though. Pick whether you want a passive or active DI, and then pick a Radial or a Cable Factory (or something comparable). You'll be happy either way.

There isn't much magic to plain old DI boxes. It's a box that balances impedance. Even the worst DI ever built is passable.
Well, I have been known to get into arguments about how many angels can dance on a pinhead ;-). Thanks for the reality check.

Is Cable Factory big in the Canadian audio installations market?
Old 22nd November 2009
  #21
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by msum View Post
Is Cable Factory big in the Canadian audio installations market?
Canada's a big place. Very few companies command a country-wide market here in anything. Cable Factory is probably the best local wiring company for British Columbia, or the best that I've had experience with. They have their own CNC machine so they do really nice connection boxes and interfaces. That being said, they aren't a huge company. They just moved into a new shop to which I haven't been yet, but their last location was just a little warehouse shop and a few guys working there.
Old 6th June 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Here's another option. I was looking for a good stereo direct box for my acoustic guitar pedal board. I found this. Although not a direct box, it is transformer isolated which makes it a DI IMHO.

Radial J+4 Stereo Line Driver - Details






Old 7th June 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by qtuner View Post
Here's another option. I was looking for a good stereo direct box for my acoustic guitar pedal board. I found this. Although not a direct box, it is transformer isolated which makes it a DI IMHO.

Radial J+4 Stereo Line Driver - Details






Bingo..!..I like this type of application for line-level gear..As I've found passive DIs tho' good, have sometimes adverse effects depending on the preamp you use behind it..A line driver with a variable gain as of this ( ie..U-5Phoenix DI, etc.) keeps the signal at line-level and not dropping back to mic level to put the preamp in question..Tho there are some good sounding passive DIs/pre combos out there..Good luck.
Old 7th June 2011
  #24
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ionian's Avatar
I've never even gave this much thought - I've played live from dive bars to arenas and most of the time in my bag I usually keep some ProCo CB1s! They're tough and cheap. To be honest, a lot of the places I've played, even in stadiums and arenas the soundmen there use ProCo. That little bright blue box is everywhere!

They get the job done live.

Regards,
Frank
Old 26th November 2014
  #25
Gear Addict
 
fretless's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
Canada's a big place. Very few companies command a country-wide market here in anything. Cable Factory is probably the best local wiring company for British Columbia, or the best that I've had experience with. They have their own CNC machine so they do really nice connection boxes and interfaces. That being said, they aren't a huge company. They just moved into a new shop to which I haven't been yet, but their last location was just a little warehouse shop and a few guys working there.
I just called them today for one of their DI's super nice folks over there and they ship to the U.S. direct . I can't wait for this Lundahl D.I.
Old 26th November 2014
  #26
I regularly use Countrymans, Radials (Jensen, passive, active and otherwise) and an IPB and I can say that the non-Jensen Radials are a very good value.

In fact I have a Jensen JT-TB that I've been too lazy to wire up as my Radial Pro DI is so good. I kind of wish I'd got the stereo one, although keyboards are an area in which I'm least picky about having an external DI--- the instrument inputs on my various pres are good for this. For bass I'm much pickier.
Old 26th November 2014
  #27
Lives for gear
 

+1 on Radial, add a plus for JDI. Not only sounds great, but stupid durable. Haven't had one go down yet.

To add to the list of Canadian companies, Retro-Sonic pedals are exquisite. Plus all the others mentioned...big Godin fan here. And of course, Radial!
Old 26th November 2014
  #28
Demeter tube DI; the original tube di and still the best at adding (without over doing it) the needed warm to the Nord.
Old 26th November 2014
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildplum View Post
Demeter tube DI; the original tube di and still the best at adding (without over doing it) the needed warm to the Nord.
I just recorded a Nord C2D through a Leslie last week, I was very impressed with how it turned out. No DI— (2x KSM44, Heil PR30, all to Neve 33114s).
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