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DI Box / No DI Box


djdisbro

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This question is directed to those players that run multiple boards through a personal mixer. Do you DI your keyboard outputs or just run straight into your mixer. I know it's best to DI before running to FOH for isolation purposes/phantom power mishaps, but what about when the mixer is only dealing with your stuff.

 

Use case: JunoDS, Numa Compact 2x and Cantabile laptop running several VSTs into a Behringer XR18 mixer. VST outputs are sent to the XR18 via USB which acts as an 18 in/out USB audio interface with each VST assigned a pair of mixer inputs. Main outputs are sent to FOH and personal monitoring is done via the Headphone output. The big question is should I DI the audio outputs of the Juno and Numa before running into the mixer or just plug them straight in?

 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

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In your situation with that Behringer X18 I'd just run it all into the mixer. The Behringer provides two balanced XLR outs to FOH which you can run in stereo or if you prefer - use panning to run two monos. Maybe with your VST stuff on the right and your hardware keys on the left. Or, you can pan your synthy and orch struff to the right and your pianos/e.pianos/organs to the left so the guy on the board knows which channel to go for when boosting or cutting one or the other.

 

You can use an send to aux to balance your own mix at your monitor. I presume you're running the software for the mixer on your VST PC?

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You don't need a DI in between your keys and mixer. Balanced outputs are best from the keyboard to the mixer to maximize signal to noise ratio but I have run unbalanced outs from my keys to my mixer. This is not possible if:

 

- your keyboard doesn't accept TRS cables (some older Nords use TS only)

- your mixer doesn't accept TRS cables

 

even if they don't you still can run TS cables, in some cases you might get a hum depending on the equipment. If you do add a DI in between the Mixer output and whatever the monitor source is.

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil Forte7 & PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

Delaware Dave

Exit93band

 

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In your mixer be it software or hardware take a pair of outs with their own volume control separate from stage.

You dont want to change FOH Levels just because you realize you need more volume on stage.

Last thing you want to do is piss off FOH.

TS/TRS to Snake, which is a Direct Box to FOH.

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Also, if your keyboard and other gear are all on the same power circuit (same ground) as the mixer, you should be fine without a DI.

 

I'm an EE who is conscious about grounding, and this is not always true. I had to lift ground on the Andromeda in my studio to eliminate a ground buzz although I don't have that issue in my stage rig.

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Similar question: my SP6 user manual includes a full page insert advising you to run balanced cables out from the keyboard. I have a small Yamaha mixer with unbalanced inputs but have a hard time detecting if running my balanced outputs into unbalanced inputs without a DI box makes any difference. Is Kurzweil somehow different in its output electronics? Ive asked Kurzweil directly but have not been satisfied with the answer.
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Similar question: my SP6 user manual includes a full page insert advising you to run balanced cables out from the keyboard. I have a small Yamaha mixer with unbalanced inputs but have a hard time detecting if running my balanced outputs into unbalanced inputs without a DI box makes any difference. Is Kurzweil somehow different in its output electronics? Ive asked Kurzweil directly but have not been satisfied with the answer.
I don't think that Kurz is any different. Most keyboards built today are designed for balanced cables (TRS). Many mixers also accept TRS, my Alto mixer accepts TRS but my Rolls mixer does not. When I use the Alto I use TRS cables; when I use the Rolls mixer I use TS. Depending on the club I sometimes get a hum using the TS cables with the Rolls in which i take the Rolls output into a DI first, hum disappears.

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil Forte7 & PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

Delaware Dave

Exit93band

 

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Similar question: my SP6 user manual includes a full page insert advising you to run balanced cables out from the keyboard. I have a small Yamaha mixer with unbalanced inputs but have a hard time detecting if running my balanced outputs into unbalanced inputs without a DI box makes any difference. Is Kurzweil somehow different in its output electronics? Ive asked Kurzweil directly but have not been satisfied with the answer.

Makes no difference. You have to have balanced at both ends or any advantage is lost.

 

Having balanced 1/4" jacks is a nice touch for those times you might need to run some long cables. For most connections you can use regular unbalanced tip-sleeve cables and they'll work fine but the connection will be unbalanced. Having said that, imo this feature is not a real plus for bigger shows where you normally connect to a FOH system through DI boxes. Of course you could use a 1/4" to XLR adapter and plug in to the house without a DI box and stay balanced, but you lose the isolation (and DC blocking of phantom power) that a DI box gives you.

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Most keyboards built today are designed for balanced cables (TRS).

This is not the case for Nord Electro and Stage 3, which have unbalanced outputs. But this doesn't seem to be a problem for going short distances, and, for long distances, it's good to use a DI anyway (e.g., for isolation).

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Most keyboards built today are designed for balanced cables (TRS).

This is not the case for Nord Electro and Stage 3, which have unbalanced outputs. But this doesn't seem to be a problem for going short distances, and, for long distances, it's good to use a DI anyway (e.g., for isolation).

That's why I said most, and not all.

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil Forte7 & PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

Delaware Dave

Exit93band

 

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Most keyboards built today are designed for balanced cables (TRS).

This is not the case for Nord Electro and Stage 3, which have unbalanced outputs. But this doesn't seem to be a problem for going short distances, and, for long distances, it's good to use a DI anyway (e.g., for isolation).

That's why I said most, and not all.

Yes, I was just highlighting an instance where this is not the case, and adding that I found the situation to not be a problem.

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Probably answered already.... But no. The DIs go after the Mixer but before the Front of House between your rig and the snake.

 

Do your own keyboard sub mix. Monitor the same mix you send. I use two buses set exactly the same. That way I can adjust the master volume on my monitors and not change what goes to FOH.... But there are different approaches such as receiving your monitor mix from the front desk or monitor desk if your production is that big.

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When I used a submixer, I ran straight to our main PA mixer, which was on stage. No issues, probably did this for 100 gigs or so. I have used both the main out(s) and an aux out to go from my mixer to the PA mixer--not sure if either or both was balanced.

 

Right now I'm gigging with one keyboard (with an emergency backup in the car!)...and I'm using a DI, but only because our mixer has space limitations and the only spot for me is an XLR in. I could get a TRS to XLR 30 ft cable I guess, or use adapters...instead I just use the DI. I always have one with me anyway just in case, amazingly we have done gigs where a sound company doesn't have one for me....

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I use a Radial stereo DI box with my Nord Stage 3 and any keyboard used live going into the PA. In fact, I also use them between my keyboards and powered monitors in my home studio. It could be my imagination, but I like the sound better when using them. Seems subtle, but I think the high end is smoother when using them at high volumes.

NS3C, Hammond XK5, Yamaha S7X, Sequential Prophet 6, Yamaha YC73, Roland Jupiter X

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I play single board so there is no need for me to bring my little mixer. if i run 2 boards and self-mix - i'd also say no - I wouldn't put a DI between my boards and my own mixer. I'd put a DI downstream as Craig recommends - between FOH and my system.
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The big question is should I DI the audio outputs of the Juno and Numa before running into the mixer or just plug them straight in?

 

 

No. Unless you are hearing problems from the XR18 outputs, a DI would be unnecessary. For example, if you are hearing 60-cycle from both the main outs and phone outs, and you can isolate the source as one of the two keyboards, I would first make sure both the mixer and all boards are using the same power circuit, which would be normal recommended practice. If the hum persists, a DI might be the solution. But this is rare in common practice.

 

Presuming you aren't hearing any undue noise or hum at present, you should be able to simply plug standard 1/4" cables between the two boards and mixer and all should be fine.

 

However, as noted by others, an isolation device may be useful for connecting to FOH. Your XR18, like many mixers, doesn't have a built-in way to lift ground in the event your rig is causing 60 cycle in FOH due to a ground loop. The solution here would be an Iso device, BUT a standard issue DI typically offers 1/4" inputs (often with 1/4" throughs) and XLR outputs, and this would not be immediately useful as you're using the XR18 XLR outs to feed FOH (no XLR inputs on a normal DI).

 

Rather, the better solution would be something like Radial's Twin-Iso 2-channel Line Isolator, which appears to be purpose-built for applications just like yours, with XLR ins and outs.

..
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+1 on the twin Iso Radial, works great....
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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks for the input everyone. So the consensus seems to be when running to a personal mixer, no DI box required but will need a box for the feeds to FOH.

 

Correct.

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