With the advent of home-based digital recording, the search for a decent, versatile tube direct box with gain control felt like the search for the Holy Grail. The ADL G- 100 ($599 retail), is not a new piece of gear and has been available for a while. If I had only known about the G-100, it might well have found its way into my studio much earlier. I was primarily looking for a box for my home studio that would also function as a live DI box before interfacing with other gear. The fact that I play five different instruments with five different pickups was just part of the challenge. This hand-built unit allows you to hit the tube stage or bypass it completely. It has an amp standard TS 1/4" out and a mic level XLR out. The gain stage affects both the line 1/4" out and the XLR out, really allowing you to "burn to tape". Running acoustic guitar with a Fishman Rare Earth combo magnetic/mic pickup, banjo with a Pick-Up-the-World contact filament pickup, mandolin with McIntyre passive, a 12-string with a traditional piezo and Washburn acoustic bass through it provided a nice, characteristically warm, clean tube response. The bass had noticeably more punch than I expected, as well as sounding warm without too much coloration, and also needed less post EQ than normal in a mix. The gain knob also came in handy when plugging in my Telecaster. Just terrific and totally appropriate for clean direct sounds or powering a cab. The real treat that I uncovered was when I plugged in my Porch Board (see the review this issue). The ADL actually sounded as good or better than when I've run the Porchboard through a Neve or an Avalon U-5. It had a richness I hadn't previously heard. All in all a terrific deal in a real, accurate, genuine tube DI and a gain option that really puts it over the top. (www.adl-tube.com)

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

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