How do you review a DI box? Here's what we did. We set up a passive DOD 265 DI ($20), the Raven Labs ADP-1 ($349) and Avalon Designs Ultra 5 Direct ($1450) in a row, all patched into the same mic pres and coming up on the mixer at the same volume (the Avalon's tone controls were off). Then we could patch a bass guitar (come on, what else do you really use these for?) into them one by one. Well, the Avalon won and I wasn't surprised. It had low frequencies down at 40 Hz as clear as day. The ADP-1 was very close though, just missing a little bit of the low end and having a very clear mid-range articulation that rivaled the Avalon. The DOD passive box was pretty damn murky in the mids and treble and certainly was missing the lows, which will cause me not to pick it up for a bass DI ever again. But anyway, we're talking about the ADP-1. This is a pretty damn good DI. I think it was designed with live bass players in mind, as it has two switchable input channels (for two different instruments) and an output for an amp and tuner on the back, in addition to the XLR. It also features a phase switch, an effects loop with a blend control that goes full dry to full wet (very handy) a mute switch and an XLR output pad so the mic pre doesn't get blown out. It can run off batteries or a wall wart, which would be handy live, and has a ground lift on the back. The components inside are high quality and the Mercury transformer is renowned for its wide bandwidth. Here's a trick I figured out with this DI too: Since it has the effects send and return you can run it into and out of a SansAmp Bass Driver pedal and pump the lows on the Driver - then blend in just a little on the effects blend and get some crazy deep reggae bass lows without getting all that Bass Driver hiss or compromising the direct signal. You can also do a similar trick with distortion. It makes for some excellent bass sounds and is one thing you certainly can't do with most DIs or even the Avalon. For less than a quarter of the cost of the (amazing) Avalon DI this is a big step up from those cheap, passive DI boxes and has some very cool features that can add to your creativity. Not bad! (

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

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