D.I. needed for straight to P.A.?

Discussion in 'Keyboards' started by oildrops, Mar 13, 2018.


  1. oildrops

    oildrops Supporting Member

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    I'm wondering how much my keyboard sound would improve by picking up a passive DI. It's a casio XW-P1 synth if that makes a difference. I also run it through a few pedals, aquapuss, mxr chorus, and an alesis microverb 1/3 rack unit.
     
  2. oildrops

    oildrops Supporting Member

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  3. The Axecutioner

    The Axecutioner Member

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    Just wondering why you would need a D.I box, Keyboards in general will have low impedance outputs that work fine into a mixer/PA system, usually D.I boxes are needed to take a high impedance signal and convert it to low for PA/Mixers, Audio Interfaces etc. If you want to improve the liveliness of your keyboard sound, maybe looking at something like the BBE Sonic Maximisers - https://www.thomann.de/gb/bbe_sonic_maximizer_482i.htm and you can get stomp box versions as well.
     
  4. Stokely

    Stokely Member

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    I would not look at a DI to "improve" your sound--it would be used to prevent the sound from degrading. I would use one if going long distances from your keyboard/mixer IF that output is not balanced. You'd have to check your keyboard for this. Even with unbalanced, you can go a ways and perhaps not have any issues.
    One benefit of a DI is that you can use standard mic cables and those are usually much easier to find in a pinch. I always think: what if this cable goes bad? I have a backup for everything.

    I'd have one in your pocket just in case. I have a cheap "livewire" brand and I haven't noticed any difference in recordings as far as quality (with vs without). Pros will say that it makes a huge difference, and get a Radial or similar--but I'm not sure I'd agree that it's a "huge" difference, especially for smaller non-pro gigs where the PA in general may not be top-of-the-line :D

    Edit: forgot to say that DIs also can help with grounding issues if you have them.

    I'll mention this since this has affected me--make sure that whatever is bothering you isn't your monitoring system (speaker, amp, in-ears, whatever). I found after hearing recordings from the console that my keys sounded way better than I thought they would! My powered speaker I was using to monitor with basically stinks...it works to let me hear myself (to some degree) but I lost the quality. I now use IEMs and can finally hear the nuances in the sound and can tweak with confidence.
    Also check- mono vs stereo. A common keyboard issue is to work on the keyboard with headphones (stereo), set up patches--then they sound terrible with the band (which is usually in mono). Some patches on my Motif in particular just died in mono due to phase issues. You are using pedals so I expect you are all in mono so this probably isn't a thing!
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  5. oildrops

    oildrops Supporting Member

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    Thanks, I wasn't sure if it's one of those things I'm suppose to be running between the keyboard and P.A. or audio interface. It sounds okay, but my PA is old so I honestly wouldn't know what is degrading the sound. That said, if a $20-$30 box could improve it and save me from harming my other gear it's worth it to me.

    So, basically I can run a 1/4" straight into the PA or interface without issue?
     
  6. Devnor

    Devnor Member

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    XW-P1 has unbalanced output so just use a guitar cable to connect to your mixer or interface.
     
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  7. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Yikes.

    OK, for a "PA" like you're playing on stage and the mixing console is at the other side of the room or across stage from you - or 3 feet from your keyboard, you need to use as short of an instrument cable as possible, go to a direct box, then that runs to the PA with XLR to the console however far it needs to run.

    For a small in home setup that's close by, you can use a standard instrument cable. But generally speaking, the shorter the better.

    For running into an interface, same deal.

    Basically, a D.I. converts the high impedance unbalanced signal the synth is putting out to a low impedance balanced signal. The reason this is typically done is that long cable runs of unbalanced cables pick up noise and hum. So you convert it to balanced as close as you can to the source, since balanced signals can travel way further without picking up as much noise.

    Short cable run, unbalanced is OK (instrument cable).
    Long cable run, need balanced (XLR/Mic cable)
     
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  8. Jr Deluxe

    Jr Deluxe Member

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    Di boxes are cheap . It will reduce noise and keep you from losing highs. I say yes. Get a DI box.
     
  9. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Why not get a mixer? It would give you a lot more control over your sound than a DI box
     
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  10. motidave

    motidave Member

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    A decent DI is more like $70-$100, really good ones are $150 to $200. recent comparison tests did find differences in sound quality based primarily on the quality of the transformer circuitry.

    DI doesn’t “improve” sound - it can at best not degrade it. What it does is protect your keyboard or monitor amp from phantom power coming back at you, lets you eliminate stray ground noise from AC power system, allows you to send a direct “clean” signal to FOH while you run your own monitor amp, as the output from your amp can also have signal degraded vs clean. in some models you can sum stereo outs to mono - lets you run stereo to your monitors while mono to FOH which may have a value for you or not.

    Its a good practice - I always use a DI.
     
  11. mattymel

    mattymel Member

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    Depends on the keyboard. Some have quality outs. Like Korg SV1 for example.
     

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