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#2937381 - 07/11/18 12:38 PM Direct box or ?
llatham Offline
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Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
Joining a band. Has PA, but no direct boxes.

My experience has always been that DI are "PA Gear" and go with the PA and not usually part of the player's arsenal, but I hey I have my own mic stands and amps just in case so it's probably time to get one.

Maybe.

So I have a Roland FA 06 which has your typical pair of Stereo Outs.

My understandings are - and correct me if I'm wrong on anything here:

1. The outputs are balanced and can do balanced or unbalanced.

2. If only the Left Jack is used, balanced or not, the stereo signal is summed to mono.

3. So I can, I believe, take either an unbalanced single out of the Left jack into a Direct Box, and on to the PA Channel, or I can use a Balanced 1/4" TRS to XLR cable to do the same.

The latter is what I think the soundguy is planning but I'm not super keen on the idea of having that 1/4" jack sticking straight out of the back of the keyboard - since I've seen some with XLR ar the other end that are pretty bulky.

I'd rather have a Right Angle going straight down to a Direct Box on the floor. I just don't like the idea of the strain on the jack with a straight plug - it's fine for an instrument cable but and even though TRS can be the same exact plug, often when coupled with an XLR they're not - plus there's more of a chance of a pull here - with a Direct Box I usually had a foot or so of slack before the direct box would move and pull the cable taut.

But will this balanced thing work?

If so, I might just buy my own Right Angle TRS to XLR if I can find one. Unless of course it's more expensive than a direct box, in which case I'll just buy one of those.

And for that, I'm open to recommendations. Cheap is good. Either cheap enough to replace if it doesn't hold up, or or cheap and sturdy enough it'll work fine!

Not looking for a Countryman or anything like that...

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#2937386 - 07/11/18 01:11 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
RudyS Offline
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Using a DI is always good. It also prevents more problems than the TRS to XLR cable, such as ground loops.
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#2937387 - 07/11/18 01:18 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
MotiDave Offline
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Registered: 12/04/12
Posts: 1794
Loc: San Diego, CA USA
don't hook your board directly to a PA board. If he accidentally runs phantom power (e.g. used to power Mics) into that cable, you can fry output components.

This forum will advise, and i agree, always have a buffer between you and the PA board. DI is perhaps easiest, cheapest, smallest to carry (you can get an inline isolator, i don't know who uses them). Most venues have DIs just because they are used to having to run sound from a keyboard that only 1/4" unbalanced outputs. But alot of keyboardists have their own just in case (or preference)

My recommend - get a stereo DI box. Then you have the option to either use one channel and run L/Mono from your board or you can run a paired L&R stereo output into the two channels on the DI, depending on if the PA will give you two channel stereo. XLRs (1 or 2) plug into the DI output.

Another advantage of DI is it will give you a "thru" signal channel you run to a personal monitor, if needed. which I do.

I have two different ones:

- Radial Pro D2
- Samson MD2

Experts here can discuss which have the best DI transformers etc. The "Jensen" line that Radial carries are reportedly higher quality signal pass-thru. also double the price. I personally don't hear a difference in a band setting but I don't have perfect hearing. My 2c is these are both good for band play.

The Samson is different in that it has a stereo-to-mono switch.
By a flip a switch it will sum stereo inputs to a mono XLR output. Advantage is you could still run stereo thru-signals to two monitors even if FOH will only accommodate a single mono channel.

you are looking at $100 - $150, so that begs definition of cheap.
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#2937390 - 07/11/18 01:31 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: MotiDave]
RudyS Offline
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Good post motiDave! I agree with you regarding the differences between those DIís. I have the Samson as well.

But the radial Pro D2 doesnít have the Jensen Transformer I believe. Those are I the more expensive DIís of radial. Personally I think this is a studio DI.
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#2937392 - 07/11/18 01:46 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: RudyS]
Ulf Offline
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Registered: 10/23/14
Posts: 347
I also consider the DIs part of the PA, and most half-decent engineers will happily provide this gear to you (and in case of a real pro they will want you to use their gear, better the devil they know....).

That being said, I always bring my own (Radial) boxes in my gig bag (both when playing keys and bass). Just in case.

The Radials are really good, but I also have a pair of Washburn DIs which works perfectly fine if you are on a budget,
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#2937395 - 07/11/18 02:04 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: RudyS]
Zalman Stern Offline
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Registered: 03/21/18
Posts: 42
I'm hardly the most experienced in this area, but my take on DIs is if you're going to spend some money, get a Countryman. If not, Behringer, ART, etc. make a variety of products that are perfectly fine for not much money. These are really not a complex engineering challenge.

There's also the question of whether to go passive or active. If one can rely on having phantom power, a good inexpensive active DI may well be a better bet than an expensive passive one. One can also always use two mono DIs instead of a stereo one, which given the price points on the cheap units, may be a reasonable way to go. If is not actively using the stereo output from a keyboard, mono is simpler and cheaper.

Often the 1/4 inch DI connection is unbalanced TS, but it doesn't matter much as it's a short run from the instrument to the DI.

-Z-

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#2937398 - 07/11/18 02:13 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: RudyS]
MotiDave Offline
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Registered: 12/04/12
Posts: 1794
Loc: San Diego, CA USA
Originally Posted By: RudyS
Good post motiDave! I agree with you regarding the differences between those DIís. I have the Samson as well.

But the radial Pro D2 doesnít have the Jensen Transformer I believe. Those are I the more expensive DIís of radial. Personally I think this is a studio DI.

Correct: Radial Pro D2 is their mid-level "pro" line. They have a top line Radial JDI XX (Stereo for comparison here) that utilizes what the fabled Jensen transformer technology.

For price comparison of stereo (e.g. 2 channel) DIs, picking the same (sweet) online seller for consistency:

Radial Pro D2: $149.99
Radial JDI Stereo: $299.99
Samson MD2: $99.99

One other difference
- Radial DI's have two output attenuation settings: 0dB and -15dB.
- Samson has three settings: 0, -10, and -20.

I leave the samson at -10, pro d2 at -15 - if FOH says signal is too low, i'll bump up to 0.
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#2937402 - 07/11/18 02:42 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: MotiDave]
mate stubb Offline
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I have never pulled my JDI Duplex out of the bag and had a soundman prefer to use his own box.

In fact, I have to watch closely on teardown to make sure I get my DI back!
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#2937406 - 07/11/18 03:16 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: mate stubb]
Joe Muscara Offline
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I've had gigs where the provided DI had problems like noise or whatever so I swapped in mine (a Switchcraft with a Jensen transformer) and everything was fine. I tell the sound guy that their DI was the problem in case it makes it up the chain and the bad unit gets taken out of service. Help your fellow musician and all that.
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#2937424 - 07/11/18 06:06 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: RudyS]
llatham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
Originally Posted By: RudyS
Using a DI is always good. It also prevents more problems than the TRS to XLR cable, such as ground loops.



Excellent point I completely forgot about - ground lift switch!

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#2937426 - 07/11/18 06:12 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: MotiDave]
llatham Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
Originally Posted By: MotiDave
don't hook your board directly to a PA board. If he accidentally runs phantom power (e.g. used to power Mics) into that cable, you can fry output components.


Is this true?

I know a lot of mixers have Phantom on ALL outputs rather than selectable ones so if true I'd be done on the first try.

For some reason, I knew I was right that I should use a DI and that the "balanced cable" solution is typically not used because of at least some reasons - and now I'm beginning to reformulate a lot of them in my mind.

I asked on another forum as well because I saw a $19 Berhinger! I hate B because their stuff breaks, but at that price I could buy 2 and have one as a backup or use both when I can run stereo and if one fails I can still go mono and replace the other for 20 bucks.

I know how it is with the transformers and all that stuff. The guitar forum guys are probably more nuts about stuff like that than you guys are!

But I'm fortunate in that I really don't know what it "should" sound like so I have no reference point. And since monitor mixes are usually you at their mercy, I'll never hear what it sounds like out front anyway. So in my case, "piano like" and "organ like" are probably going to be close enough that the average listener isn't going to notice the difference, nor will I.

But I might go up to an Imp2 or the $70 Radial.

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#2937428 - 07/11/18 06:28 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
timwat Offline
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I've said this a few times on the forum over the years: You never know how much a cheap DI degrades your sound until you have a chance to compare several different DI boxes side-by-side in the same controlled environment.

I did that several years ago when I was running a worship ministry in a church. I'll spare the boring details but suffice to say the only DIs I found that I'd want to use is either the Countryman Type 85 or Radial.

Now of course since several years ago, many companies have new models. But what I found was you get what you pay for.

I gig a Radial JDI Duplex that has been bulletproof for years, and I own a few other Radial DIs, and presently use the Radial Key Largo.

Yes their stuff is expensive. But if my sound is the only thing I'm really giving the audience, it matters to me. Hope that helps some.

Tim
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#2937431 - 07/11/18 06:41 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: timwat]
Delaware Dave Offline
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Registered: 04/21/11
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I've owned two Rapco DB100's since around 1992. Never failed me and is never any worse than what a soundman has ever handed me.
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#2937433 - 07/11/18 06:59 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Delaware Dave]
KeyMoe Offline
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Radial Pro D2 - if you can afford it. I have used one for years. Or or Samson is also a good choice. I also advise not to go direct to the FOH for a lot reasons....
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#2937445 - 07/11/18 07:58 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
MotiDave Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 12/04/12
Posts: 1794
Loc: San Diego, CA USA
Originally Posted By: llatham
Originally Posted By: MotiDave
don't hook your board directly to a PA board. If he accidentally runs phantom power (e.g. used to power Mics) into that cable, you can fry output components.


Is this true?

I know a lot of mixers have Phantom on ALL outputs rather than selectable ones so if true I'd be done on the first try.

For some reason, I knew I was right that I should use a DI and that the "balanced cable" solution is typically not used because of at least some reasons - and now I'm beginning to reformulate a lot of them in my mind.

I asked on another forum as well because I saw a $19 Berhinger! I hate B because their stuff breaks, but at that price I could buy 2 and have one as a backup or use both when I can run stereo and if one fails I can still go mono and replace the other for 20 bucks.

I know how it is with the transformers and all that stuff. The guitar forum guys are probably more nuts about stuff like that than you guys are!

But I'm fortunate in that I really don't know what it "should" sound like so I have no reference point. And since monitor mixes are usually you at their mercy, I'll never hear what it sounds like out front anyway. So in my case, "piano like" and "organ like" are probably going to be close enough that the average listener isn't going to notice the difference, nor will I.

But I might go up to an Imp2 or the $70 Radial.

Yes it is true - you can permanently damage your keyboard. I donít know FA design specifically but its a common risk across most keyboard lines. There are multiple forum posts of members frying their PPA speaker due to plugging directly into FOH and having phantom power fed back into the signal out. Same thing can happen to a keyboard.
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#2937470 - 07/12/18 12:01 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: MotiDave]
Quai34 Offline
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Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 95
Loc: Canada, MB
I doubled check with Radial (Being in Canada and having metr them few times in stores here...), my Mixer has Balanced outputs, then, they sais that it should go durectly to the line input of the main mixer, in order not to add another preamp if you go through the snake...The issue is that a lot of sound guy don,t want o make a difference and they just prefer to plug everything into the sanke/XLR...I met some who even didN,t know that you could have a balanced line output and asked me to go thru thier berhinger DI...I couldN,t undetsand why they needed to switched on the -20db on the DI AND on the mixer in order to get a proper signal...I told them, mine was a +4db Balanced output...
So, if they really insists, I have the JDI Duplex, yes, expensive but ask everyone what they think about the Key Largo, it's the same transformer in it...
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#2937507 - 07/12/18 06:57 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
CowboyNQ Offline
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Registered: 06/14/15
Posts: 841
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
For all the reasons articulated above I always run through a DI if using a PA.

I always ask the sound guy to provide stereo DI in the tech advance. I also carry my own as a backup in case something gets miscommunicated.

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#2937649 - 07/12/18 06:42 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: CowboyNQ]
Tom Williams Offline
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Like Quai34, I've always run balanced outputs from my Kurz directly to the PA mixer to keep the doohickey count to a minimum; nowadays I run it (and two other 'boards) to my own keyboard mixer, and then send the XLR output from my mixer directly into the snake. But the warnings about phantom power make sense to me. Gotta rethink this....

Are there any isolated DI boxes that honor a balanced input?
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#2937650 - 07/12/18 07:07 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Tom Williams]
J. Dan Offline
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Sorry, but in my experience, would always run through a DI and always use my own just for consistency and avoiding potential problems. Even if you only have problems 10% of the time when not using a DI - rather than the chance of having to go through all the troubleshooting an eventually using it anyway....why not just use it? Of course the potential answer would be signal degradation which is why a good DI is important - ONE time investment and you're set for life.

Lots of sound guys use cheap DI's and even ones who START to use their own, once they see my radial, generally prefer to use that.

I have used many DI's and there IS a difference. It may be subtle in a live context but there IS a difference. I don't typically bash Behringer on other stuff and the DI's are good for the money but the DO ABSOLUTELY color sound. I used them for years and when it broke I bucked up for Radial and IMMEDIATELY couldn't believe how much better it sounded at a live gig through IEM's - VERY noticeable. Of course for an 8 ch DI the difference was something like $80 vs $650 so it BETTER sound better. Using the Pro D2 these days. I would call Radial a good middle of the road. They aren't nearly as expensive as the high end DI's. On the lower cost stuff the decent ones come from ProCo and Whirlwind in my opinion. Higher end starts at Countryman and goes up from there. I really think Radial is the best balance, IMHO.
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#2937654 - 07/12/18 07:23 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
JazzPiano88 Offline
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Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: llatham
Originally Posted By: MotiDave
don't hook your board directly to a PA board. If he accidentally runs phantom power (e.g. used to power Mics) into that cable, you can fry output components.
Is this true?

It depends on your equipment. My GK 200MK Keyboard Amplifier speaker was taken out by the phantom power. I observed the massive displacement before I could do anything. The "woof" and thump was impressive.

After that it was all my own self contained stereo keyboard stage monitor PA with submix feeding my or their DI's to the snake.
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#2937677 - 07/12/18 10:42 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Tom Williams]
Throbert Offline
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Originally Posted By: Tom Williams
Like Quai34, I've always run balanced outputs from my Kurz directly to the PA mixer to keep the doohickey count to a minimum; nowadays I run it (and two other 'boards) to my own keyboard mixer, and then send the XLR output from my mixer directly into the snake. But the warnings about phantom power make sense to me. Gotta rethink this....

Are there any isolated DI boxes that honor a balanced input?
this and 2 others available here
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#2937697 - 07/13/18 06:03 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Throbert]
Outkaster Offline
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I use a multi-director and a ashly mixer and it usually surprises some techs at shows that I even carry my own.
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#2937704 - 07/13/18 06:50 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Outkaster]
Stephen S Offline
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Registered: 10/07/13
Posts: 41
Ditto. I have a similar setup - a rack with Ashly LX308 mixer and MultiDirector, as well as a Radial JDI Duplex that I bring when I don't need the rack. I have seen a lot of really beat up/questionable DI's provided by sound companies (broken switches, etc), so I always make sure that I have my own. This way i am nearly 100% certain as to the quality of signal going to FOH/monitors. And - i make sure to keep my JDI Duplex well-labeled to avoid any confusion as to whom it belongs. smile
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#2937731 - 07/13/18 08:26 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Stephen S]
llatham Offline
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Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
OK, so a couple of different views here.

It seems that both posters who mention phantom power are talking about damaging speakers, not the keyboard itself.

But I will say I talked to the guy who will be running sound who initially said "just run a balanced cable" and I told him a number of keyboardists (I've heard it elsewhere too) had expressed concern about Phantom Power and he said "I'd never run Phantom on a keys channel" and I was like, "but some boards don't have Phantom selectable per channel" and he said "I'd never use a board like that".

Then I found out he won't be running sound at the gig, it's hired out, so I don't know who the company will be and what console they'll have.

So, Direct Box makes sense. I haven't see any info on input requests but I'm going to ask for stereo DI unbalanced.

I did go ahead and buy one of the Berhingers.

Another good point about running through the Pre was brought up - I forgot about that.

It seems like to do it "right" we should use a Direct Box that converts to balanced, but use an XLR at the DI side and 1/4 TRS at the mixer side to go into the Line Level in to bypass the Mic Pre.

But does a DI not only balance the signal but drop it down to mic level...

What I will do is hopefully make enough coin with this band to upgrade to a stereo Radial.


Edited by llatham (07/13/18 08:26 AM)

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#2937740 - 07/13/18 09:14 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
Stephen S Offline
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Registered: 10/07/13
Posts: 41
The output of a DI is typically mic level, so you would use a standard mic/XLR cable to go out of the DI and into a mic (XLR) input on the mixer.
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#2937747 - 07/13/18 09:29 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: RudyS]
MotiDave Offline
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Registered: 12/04/12
Posts: 1794
Loc: San Diego, CA USA
Originally Posted By: RudyS
Good post motiDave! I agree with you regarding the differences between those DIís. I have the Samson as well.

But the radial Pro D2 doesnít have the Jensen Transformer I believe. Those are I the more expensive DIís of radial. Personally I think this is a studio DI.


there are frequent discussions on differences of various DIs. I don't doubt it. Anyone have any comparison between a Radial Pro (D2) vs Samson MD2. I can't tell from the stage if there is a difference in FOH or not. I hear no difference on the thru-signal to my monitor but I would expect the thru signal is not affected by most any reasonably designed DI as its not going through the transformers.

just curious ...
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#2937798 - 07/13/18 02:01 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: MotiDave]
RudyS Offline
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Registered: 11/06/02
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Loc: Groningen, The netherlands
I have the Radial Stagebug DI as well (cheaper version than the D2). I canít hear any differences between that one and the Samson.
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#2937829 - 07/13/18 10:10 PM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: RudyS]
llatham Offline
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Registered: 02/06/11
Posts: 327
Well the Berhinger arrived. I've got a rehearsal next week and I'm going to try it then. Won't be the best environment but at least I'll know if it's a dud or not.

Bought some other gear as well and the $40 capo I bought turned on not to work on my guitar so I should have just stuck with what I know on that one. Would have saved 20 bucks.

It never ends.

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#2937836 - 07/14/18 12:47 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: llatham]
RudyS Offline
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Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 2295
Loc: Groningen, The netherlands
Originally Posted By: llatham


It never ends.


This is very true
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#2937837 - 07/14/18 02:30 AM Re: Direct box or ? [Re: Throbert]
Quai34 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 95
Loc: Canada, MB
Originally Posted By: Throbert
Originally Posted By: Tom Williams
Like Quai34, I've always run balanced outputs from my Kurz directly to the PA mixer to keep the doohickey count to a minimum; nowadays I run it (and two other 'boards) to my own keyboard mixer, and then send the XLR output from my mixer directly into the snake. But the warnings about phantom power make sense to me. Gotta rethink this....

Are there any isolated DI boxes that honor a balanced input?
this and 2 others available here


Il have this one between the two TASCAM mixers that I Have In my set up, the first one, "Master one" has ALL the keys and the second one goes info The Main Master inout AND receives Ipad, DRUMBOX, other modules etc....
It's is exactl'y a DI that keep the unity gain AND isoale the two devices....
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