A Direct Box, or DI Box may not look like much, but it is an indispensable tool for both the stage and studio. Its primary function is to convert unbalanced signals to balanced signals. Common instruments like electric guitars, basses, keyboards, and many instrument amplifier line outputs are unbalanced outputs that accommodate your standard quarter inch cable. The signals from these instruments can be susceptible to buzz, hum, and interference, especially when running these cables long distances. This is not always avoidable, as it often occurs that the mixing console or your amp is far away from where you’re standing.
Mixing consoles are typically equipped with balanced inputs, which accommodate 3-pin or XLR connections. Pin one is a grounding pin, and pins 2 and 3 are out of phase signal pins, which helps to reject unwanted noise. For this reason, microphones most commonly utilize balanced connections. No one wants to hear singing mixed with static!
It is a very common practice for engineers and soundmen to want to plug your instrument directly into a mixing console, especially with bass and keyboards. A DI Box is absolutely essential in this case, as it will convert your instrument’s unbalanced signal into an optimal balanced one. Plugging your instrument directly into the board would likely result in a weak signal that’s riddled with background noise and interference. This is because while unbalanced signals are high impedance, the balanced audio connections found on a mixing console are low impedance. Using a DI Box, with its internal transformer that matches each of these impedances, will ensure the cleanest, loudest signal possible with the least noise.
Even if you’re not plugging into a mixing board, a DI Box is indispensable in reducing the noise content in your signal, which is something that could save your show!
When choosing a DI Box, it is important to keep in mind that this is a piece of gear you will transport and use often. As such, it is important that you choose one that is not only loaded with the right features, but durable and well-built as well. Carvin Audio’s FDR60 Direct Box features heavy-duty construction and will endure frequent use on the road. It comes equipped with the essential paralleled quarter inch inputs and XLR output, and also goes the extra mile with helpful features like a ground lift, which further reduces unwanted noise and hum, and an input attenuator for particularly high output instruments. All of the features on this little box are designed to help you sound your best!