The ACME Audio Motown D.I. WB-3 direct box has a pretty nifty backstory. ACME initially tracked down around 50 of the vintage transformers that were used in the Wolfbox, the first passive DI unit, designed by Ed Wolfrum, responsible (in part) for the legendary bass tones on countless Motown recordings. (James Jamerson anyone?) ACME then created a nearly exact replica in their WolfBox III direct box. After selling out quickly, for obvious reasons, ACME painstakingly recreated the sound with the new Motown D.I. WB-3.

I had an opportunity to record a throwback Motown-style band, and we grabbed all of our DIs (we have quite a few), plus a couple of preamps that had instrument inputs just to be thorough. The best of the bunch didn't come remotely close to producing the unmistakably vintage and "Motown-y" sound that we were looking for. You can add the WB-3 to the list of gear that has "it."

While the WB-3 may not be ideal for every situation, it can definitely be used in combination with other pieces of gear, as long as you're not afraid of warmth. I could see it pairing well with an Ampeg Portaflex or other smaller bass rigs. If you find yourself recording a lot of throwback-style music, the WB-3 is a must buy.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

Or Learn More