Active vs Passive DI

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by MLG Audio, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. MLG Audio

    MLG Audio Member

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    Been looking at expanding my DI collection as some recent shows have had me scrambling to borrow a few extras (dudes show up with 4+ keyboards).

    What are the real differences between the two options. Currently I only own passive DI boxes. And while they're pretty cheap ones, I never really have much to complain about the quality of signal I'm getting.

    Is there a big advantage to going active?
     
  2. Badside

    Badside Member

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    I've always heard:
    Active source -> Passive DI
    Passive source -> Active DI

    Though I'm sure this is not set in stone.
    I pretty much only use passive DIs, which are basically just a matching transformer in a box with jacks. They require no power, will outlive a nuclear blast, and can perfectly separate grounds to cure hum issues.
    However, a good transformer is more expensive than a good... op amp chip. But even the 25$ Digiflex boxes have always been up to the task for me. We run our backing tracks through that and the 808 type sounds can shake the house so I guess they don't roll off the low-end much.
     
  3. Geetarpicker

    Geetarpicker Member

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    I like the extra reliability of a good quality passive DI. I've even had a few occasions where I needed to go from XLR to high impedance 1/4" (backwards) and that his something a typical active unit cannot do. I think active does help if the sources are quite weak, but with keys and bass you will probably have no level problems at all going passive. A well made transformer can actually have less noise than an active circuit. That said, I have a pair Radial JDI units (with Jensen transformers) and they have been rock solid:
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...e=&network=g&gclid=CMqPl_vensQCFQyEaQodcSUAkw
     
  4. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  5. Rockinrob86

    Rockinrob86 Supporting Member

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    keys are typically 10k to 50k ohms, which works nicely with passive.

    A bass guitar is 1M, and needs an active for the intended frequency response. Also some acoustic guitars put out 1M, some are 10k. Have a variety!

    The Bo Hansen 1975 active DI is hard to beat for bass.
     
  6. MLG Audio

    MLG Audio Member

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    Thanks for the input, guys! Seems the general consensus would be to mostly use passives, but have an active on hand for things like bass gtr. That sounds like a plan to me.
     

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