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Passive or active DI?


henryb_y_o_b

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Hi guys, long-time lurker here, only occasional poster. Can't describe how much I've learned from this forum - also just ordered a K10 based on recommendations. So thanks!

 

My question is -

 

Should I go for a passive or active DI?

 

I was going to go for the BSS AR-133 which is very popular here in the UK, but I've had my eye on Radial products for some time and the Pro D2 looks promising - a passive stereo box (http://www.radialeng.com/di-prodi-prod2.htm). Also I'm looking at the other Radial boxes, for example the JDI and JDI duplex.

 

Any opinions/advice?

 

Thanks!

 

Henry

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Or Switchcraft, which also has Jensen transformers. Don't know if they're available in the UK. It's what I use with my set up, going from my boards and to my K10. I have the passive SC800.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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As I understand it, active DIs are useful when 1) input signal is very low, 2) very long stage cable runs are necessary, 3) passive DI induces audible "load" (when used, for instance, on passive bass guitar). Used with line outputs from an electronic keyboard, typically none of these factors are in play.

 

Highly recommend Radial. I've used Radial DIs for many years - currently using a duplex JDI passive stereo. More than worth the money paid.

 

I've said it before on this forum, I had the opportunity to A/B most of the popular passive DIs in the worship ministry I ran some years ago - Radial is head and shoulders above anything else I used in terms of signal quality, timbre reproduced, build quality. You'd be shocked in an A/B environment how much most popular DIs suck the life out of your instrument. I was.

..
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I'm using the Radial Pro D2 - does a very good job for me. Use it usually with the keyboards, but occasionally with my bass or guitar to get a Hi-Z input.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I own a K10 too. Please explain to me why I need any type of DI. The few times I've used the direct outs on the back of the speaker neither myself or the soundman have had a problem.....

 

You don't.

 

...unless you want/need a ground lift.

 

...or need to pad the output so you don't overdrive the FOH mixer.

 

;)

 

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As Sven says. I don't always use the DI, Much of the time, I just plug into the back of a K10. I'll add a third - there are times I want the flexibility of changing one of the level pots on the K10, and DON'T want the feed to FOH to also change. (The individual outs for each channel are supposedly pre-volume control, but the combined out is post-volume control).

 

A DI (or two) is another tool - not used on every git, but a lot better to have in the toolkit and not need than to need and not have. A LOT of places have dodgy power, and poor grounding, just the ability to give a ground lift can make a big difference.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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Thanks Sven. "pad the output"? sorry, not sure about that term...lol

 

LOL... basically it serves to reduce the input level to the DI (for example, on the Radial ProD2, each channel has a 15dB pad, individually selectable), to prevent overdriving the input stage on some mixers.

 

Pad = reduction in volume, in Mixerese. ;)

 

Not a factor actually with your K10, with individual volume controls, but if you have two wildly disparate output levels from your keyboards, it might be a handy feature to pad one channel to get'em more in line with one another. :)

 

Ground lift, though, that's the money shot right there. :cool:

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There are a lot of times a place you play will provide DIs for you. But they're just a damned convenient tool for you to have ready when you do need one. Heck, they even make good splitters if you simply need to do that.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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As I understand it, active DIs are useful when 1) input signal is very low, 2) very long stage cable runs are necessary, 3) passive DI induces audible "load" (when used, for instance, on passive bass guitar). Used with line outputs from an electronic keyboard, typically none of these factors are in play.

 

This is correct.

 

I would also add that using active DI's on line level outputs (ie Keyboards) tends to give the attack transients an abruptness and a harshness that isn't desirable, at least imo. YMMV.

 

A high quality passive DI like the Radial JDI will give you a smooth, even signal at the board with close to zero phase distortion or signal degradation.

 

Also active DI's require power either by battery or phantom power. Passive DI's will save that extra headache.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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I can't comment on active vs passive but what I will say is that I'd pay the extra to have lots of interfacing features as numerous times my Little Labs Red Eye has proved useful in connecting different bits of gear. Pads, phase inverts, re-amps etc although I never intended to use them in the first place have been handy to have around.
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I second what Tim and Ian said about why passive is better than active for (most) keys. An exception might be a vintage Fender Rhodes, as I seem to recall they had extremely low output. Also some early 80's synths (such as Casio CZ-series), which need some active circuitry to bring it up to a usable level.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Apples to oranges here, but I used to have the behringer 8ch active DI, and after many problems (ground loops and other noise, etc, not to mention coming apart)' i bucked up for the 8ch passive radial. I was shocked by the difference in sound quality and absence of noise issues.

 

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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+another one for radial. I have three JDI's and use them exclusively. I prefer passive because some of the places we go that have their own pa don't have/supply phantom power,(as I always say to the guitar player with the wireless - "NO I DON"T CARRY BATTERIES!")

 

Pete

 

"all generalizations are false" ~Mark Twain

 

Kurzweil K2000, ME-1 and (2)PC3, Casio PX-350 AND PX-360, EV sXa 360

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+1 for passive (with a ground lift switch).

 

To the OP: I use whatever the sound engineer provides (ART DIs last gig) but keep two inexpensive Behringer DI400P in my gig bag. Lots of Behringer hate and horror stories posted from the other side of the pond. I've only owned these and a little mixer - no problems.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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I have a Radial Pro D2, and I have to echo all the positive feedback it's getting here. Sounds great, and is super convenient. If necessary, like if the club doesn't have a working DI, you and the bass player can both run through it in mono (has happened to me). I also have a Radial JDIV in the studio, for those absolutely mission critical recording situations.

 

I think every keyboardist should carry a decent passive DI with them as part of their regular kit. Many clubs will only have one working DI, and that will usually go for the bass player. An active DI requires the soundguy to send you phantom power, and he may very well be using all dynamic mics across the stage, so phantom is one more thing he has to deal with (which, sadly, may be beyond the capapcity of many soundguys I've dealt with). The XLR out on your amp might fail, or there might be a ground loop, etc. The Radial is like $130, and it's about the best in class, so it's not gonna kill you to get one to keep in your gig bag.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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Admittedly this is :deadhorse:

 

...but a few of us have had the occasion (for one reason or another) to compare different brand DIs side by side. It's not something that most KB players go out of their way to do as DIs are usually viewed as an optional convenience (or a necessary evil).

 

But I would argue that if your rig's signal uses a DI to get to FOH (and thus, is the crucial link to what the audience hears), it pays to invest in value and consider sound quality. Even more so than your stage amplification.

 

If you A/B Proco, Whirlwind, Countryman, DOD, Behringer, and the rest of the popular passive DIs to Radial, you'll never, never choose one of the other brands if you can help it.

..
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On our last gig the soundman complained a bit about thin sound from the keys on the soundcheck. Since i don't use any eq in the mix to the foh it could have been the LA audio active DI's they provided.

So i ordered the Radial JDI duplex. It is expensive but it should be very good.

It can be more expensive to buy cheeper and have to buy something else later on.

I am curious how well it will sum to mono... :)

 

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How does effectively does the merge function work on the radial JDI? Or is the second input like the back seat in the old fiat spider (It's there but you don't really want to use it)?

 

It will sum through a resistor so it will be like a simple mixer i guess. A resistor does not cause phase cancellations by itself. The transformer should be transparent, if not saturated, so it will not do anything with the signal.

So it is just another point in the chain where summing can be made.

The merge function in the JDI might indeed be viewed on as 'the back seat in the old fiat spider' if you have other ways to sum.

 

Hans

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