The Best DI Boxes & Reamp Boxes

The Highest Rated DI Boxes

Disclosure

We recommend all products independently of 3rd parties including advertisers. We earn advertising fees from:
• • • • •
Sweetwater
• • • • •

Amazon

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
• • • • •

Before we dive into the guide, some of you might still be wondering what a D.I. box is for. Maybe you're new to the audio engineering world and want a little primer before you buy one for your studio. If you need a primer on what a D.I. Box is and why you need one (or several) for your studio, click here.

A D.I. box is an essential piece of gear in the studio. Regardless of how good your instruments or other sound sources are, they're at the mercy of how good your signal is. D.I. Boxes ensure a clean signal going into your preamp or interface. This includes a direct recording signal for guitar or bass for VST plugins or reamping.

What is reamping? It is taking a D.I. signal from your computer and feeding it back into an amplifier with a Reamp Box. Going straight from your interface is not enough since the signals wont hit the front end of the amp the same way an instrument would. A reamp box converts a signal back into one that an amp can react to properly.

We retained the Reamp Box section from the previous editions since there is still some confusion in forums and reviews; some people have mistakenly purchased regular DI boxes for reamping and vice-versa. We'd like to help you make the right purchasing decision. You can read about the differences in the Things to Consider section.

The Best DI Boxes - 2022.11

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Best Active DI Box - Mono

Active DI Boxes first came to the scene to better capture the sound of electric basses, especially since old bass guitars had weak passive single-coil pickups. These days, Active DIs are widely available, and they are generally considered as better sounding because of their higher headroom and extra features.

Rupert Neve Designs RNDI

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Rupert Neve Direct Interface (RNDI) Active DI Box
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Mono Active DI Box.

Cons

  • Might be too colored for those seeking transparency

Pros

  • Adds harmonic depth to D.I. Tracks
  • Top-Tier build quality
  • High quality components

Started back in the '70s, the brand Neve and their preamps and consoles continue to hold prominent status when it comes to recording equipment.

So it is not surprising that their DI Box would rank high in this list, thanks to its impressively high Gearank Rating which includes many experts recommending it.

The first thing you notice is how high quality the unit is. The enclosure, jacks and switches all feel solidly built and made to last.

Interestingly, what makes this unit special is not necessarily its straightforward DI Box functionality, but its amplifier section which features the same Class-A discrete FET amplifier as found on popular Neve consoles.

Because of the design, the RNDI subtly adds harmonics to the signal. It doesn't come in the form of a perceptible shift in EQ. Rather, it feels like even raw tracks have more "depth" thanks to the harmonic content. This makes a great choice as a critical tonal element with regards to depth and richness. I might go so far as to say it imparts "preamp-like" characteristics to your sound. Recording multiple tracks with it helps blend together instruments in the mix thanks to the similar harmonic content.

This means that the RNDI isn't exactly the most transparent. While having a bit more depth from the get-go actually helps the mix down the line this might not be what you're looking for. However, having a warmer and bigger sound is harder to do in the mix and even then, it's not as good as having it upfront.

I highly recommend the Rupert Neve RNDI for bass and guitar, but it can also work well with any instrument. If you are looking to add more juice to your recordings or even your FOH sound, then the RNDI is highly recommended.

Specifications

  • 48V phantom powered active circuitry
  • Ground Lift switches for both speaker and instruments
  • 1/4" Input and Thru-put jacks, gold-plated XLR output
  • Steel chassis
  • Weight: 1.5lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Bob Thomas 98/100
Musictech Editor 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Budget Active DI Box

Samson MDA1

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Samson MDA1

Cons

  • Jacks feel less than stellar and may need regular cleaning

Pros

  • Amazingly solid enclosure
  • Great low frequency extension
  • Can be powered by Phantom Power

The Samson MDA1 is a simple active D.I. Box that can be powered by phantom 48V or by a 9V battery.

The MDA1 is able to reproduce frequencies as low as 18Hz, making it ideal for recording bass D.I. tracks

The solid metal enclosure ensures long term durability.

The MDA 1 is built like a tank and will definitely last several years. True to the specs, the MDA1 is able to preserve deep sub frequencies with good detail without being too overwhelming. The relaxed low frequency roll-off is essential for bass tracks.

Despite the solid enclosure, the first thing to watch out for are the jacks. More often than not, these are usually the first to fail (although on the MDA1, I assume it will be years before that happens). Luckily, these are easily serviceable/replaceable by a technician.

If you're looking for an active D.I. box that is able to reproduce sub low frequencies with ease and is built to last, the Samson MDA1 is a great budget pick.

Specifications

  • In: 1 x 1/4" (instrument), Out: 1 x 1/4" (thru), 1 x XLR (balanced out)
  • Powered by 48V Phantom Power / 9V battery
  • Metal enclosure
  • -15dB pad and ground lift

Best Active DI Box - Stereo

Active Stereo DI Boxes add life to backing tracks and playback from sources like mobile phones, laptops, or tablets. The signal from these sources may suffer a loss in quality over long cable runs from the stage to the mixer and back out the FOH or monitors.

Rupert Neve Designs RNDI-S

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI-S Stereo Active Transformer DI Box
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Stereo Active DI Box.

Cons

  • On the expensive side but understandably so

Pros

  • Tight component tolerances ensure phase coherence
  • Solidly built
  • Preamp-like harmonics

Expanding on the RNDI (also covered in this guide), The Rupert Neve Designs RNDI-S is the stereo version of the RNDI.

For stereo DI boxes, stereo coherence is important especially during recording from stereo sources like effects, keyboards, and loops and samples. Having stereo matched signal reduces phase cancellation and comb filtering. The better the phase coherence between channels, the better stereo tracks fit into the mix.

I can't think of any cons aside from the price, which puts it out of reach of budget-minded project studios.

Despite being at the more expensive end of our list, many users praise the RNDI-S for its sonic enhancements, phase coherence, and build quality. If you're looking to upgrade your already stacked studio, get it; it might just be that last small improvement your workflow/signal chain needs.

Specifications

  • 48-Volt phantom powered direct box
  • High rail voltage design to avoid clipping
  • 80Hz highpass roll-off filter for reducing mud and increases headroom
  • Input 1/4", Outputs XLR, 1/4" thru
  • Weight: 1.55 lbs

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace mikesc 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Passive DI Box - Mono

Passive DI Boxes provide the most convenient, easy to use, and practical straight-to-console solution for musicians and engineers alike. Note that when used with guitars and basses that have passive pickups, there may be a noticeable level drop. This can be addressed by increasing the gain on the console a bit.

Radial JDI

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
Radial JDI Passive DI Box
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Mono Passive DI Box.

Cons

  • Aside from the slightly higher price compared to no-name units? None

Pros

  • One of, if not the most reliable D.I. Boxes in the market
  • High quality enclosure and components
  • Excellent long-term durability

It is impressive how the Radial JDI has kept its high Gearank Rating through multiple editions of this guide since 2016! Keyboard virtuoso Chick Corea and artists like Adrian Belew use and recommend the unit, adding to its already superb credibility.

There aren't any extra features to speak of, but the Radial JDI does what it does excellently - removes ground hum and noise and allows your instrument or amplifier signal to get to the PA with the cleanest and clearest sound. And since it is passive, it works well with active pickup equipped guitars and bases, amplifiers, and other electronic instruments which include keyboards and laptops.

It doesn't have any major issues, which adds to its perennial position on our guides. The only downside I could think of is the price, which puts it out of reach for the most frugal among us.

More than just a great DI Box, the Radial JDI is arguably the best all-around DI Box in the market today. If you're not sure what to get, if you are a multi-instrumentalist, or if you are a sound engineer who deals with various sound sources, get this one.

Specifications

  • Passive DI Box design with Jensen Transformers.
  • -15dB input pad.
  • Merge Function
  • Single 1/4" input, single XLR and one TS Thru output
  • Welded I-beam construction.
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound on Sound Forums Arthur Stone 98/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Budget Passive DI Box

Hosa DIB-443 Sidekick

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$32
Hosa DIB-443 Sidekick Passive DI Box

Cons

  • Only has the essentials; no additional features

Pros

  • Very rugged and well-built for the price
  • Instrument/Line switch adds a bit of versatility

Sometimes you just need a D.I. Box that's within budget and won't give you any durability anxieties. Choosing a more budget oriented D.I. Box is actually harder because of all the mediocre products in this price bracket. Luckily, the Hosa DIB-443 Sidekick has earned a reputation for being reliable and good quality.

It features an instrument/line level switch to adjust to the sound source you're running through it. It's very basic but it does the job and it's built to do so for a long time.

For the price there isn't much to complain about but if you need other features like a pad, it's best to move up a price point.

If your budget restricts you, you won't need to compromise ruggedness for price. The Hosa DIB-443 Sidekick is a durable D.I. Box that gets the job done.

Specifications

  • Passive D.I. Box with instrument/line level switch
  • Solid Steel enclosure
  • Input: 1 x 1/4"
  • Weight: 0.80 lbs

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube The Angry Sound Tech 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Passive DI Box - Stereo

Passive Stereo DI Boxes don't have the lively tonality of Active DI boxes but because no other electrical source melds with the signal, a soft high-frequency roll-off and hard transient suppression can be expected, though most designs have achieved relative transparency without the need for external power.

Radial ProD2

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Radial ProD2 2-channel Passive Instrument DI Box
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Stereo Passive DI Box.

Cons

  • None as long as properly maintained / cleaned

Pros

  • Good stereo matching
  • Transient smoothing helps manage sudden jumps in signal like slap bass
  • Very tonally transparent

There's no question that Radial Engineering dominates the DI box market with their range of offerings for almost any situation.

The ProD2 is their transparent, 2-channel DI box solution for keyboards, program material, and other high output sound sources.

The box was designed to smooth out extreme transients while keeping most of the input intact. This prevents overloading your mixer or audio interface's preamp.

Worth noting is its transparent sound while smoothing out harsher transients and background noise. Where other DI boxes color the sound in obvious ways, the ProD2 remains true to the input while rounding any excess digital "harshness".

Well maintained, the Radial ProD2 can last you a long time. As with all electronics, it's best to clean the contact points from time to time to prevent scratchiness and signal loss.

Radial Engineering puts a winner in the lineup again with the ProD2. It ticks all the boxes of what a good stereo DI box should be while bringing out the best of your instruments.

Specifications

  • Full range passive direct box with Eclipse ET-DB2 transformers
  • Very low harmonic and phase distortion
  • 14-gauge steel welded I-beam construction
  • -15dB pad
  • Input 2 x 1/4", Outputs 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4" thru
  • Weight: 1.95 lbs

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube A Minor Error 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Best Reamp Box

Reamping is a practice commonly done in modern recording studios where clean DI guitar recording gets fed through a Reamp box to convert it into a signal ideal for feeding into a guitar amplifier as if it were played from an instrument. This preserves the response of the amplifier and enables the re-recording of guitar parts with different equipment, microphones, and mic placement even without the original session musician.

Radial Reamp JCR Studio Reamper

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
Radial Reamp JCR Studio Reamper DI Box
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Reamp Box.

Cons

  • Might interact strangely with fuzz pedals

Pros

  • Adds subtle harmonics to raw D.I. for added depth
  • Reamped tone similar to going through a high quality buffer
  • Simple to use

The Radial JCR is a passive reamp box. Engineered by the inventor of the Reamping process John Cuniberti, the Radial JCR is THE reamp box if you're looking for absolute simplicity.

The Radial JCR is a studio staple because it's the best at what it does: reamping studio-recorded guitars. It's an essential studio tool for modern music production and there are no substitutes. Compared to other reamp boxes, the high quality components in the JCR adds musical harmonics over the original guitar tone, much like using a boutique buffer or clean boost in the signal chain.

Although it adds a lot of depth to the signal, it might not be the best for absolute transparency. Also, some fuzz pedals might not respond properly to reamping. That's just something to watch out for when reamping through a pedalboard.

The JCR reigns as the definitive single channel reamp box. If you're looking to reamp to a stereo signal chain like reverbs and delays, the Radial X-amp might be more for you.

Specifications

  • Passive design re-amping box with custom transformer
  • 14-Gauge steel welded I-beam construction
  • Ground lift switch, Phase inverter, Mute switch, Tone Control
  • Input 1 x XLR, 1 x TRS, Outputs 1 x 1/4" TS
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Spiffo Smith 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider when Buying a DI Box

So what is a DI Box for anyway?

The main job of a DI Box is to convert your instrument lead (1/4" TS) signal 'directly' into the microphone inputs (balanced 3-pin XLR) that a mixing console typically has. Unlike a simple headphone adapter (1/4" to 1/8") it doesn't just need to change the size or shape of the connectors, it has to convert the differences in impedance and voltage between the two sides of the connection. The details of how it does this are beyond the scope of this guide but if you want to delve further into the topic then look at this DI article on Wikipedia. The main thing to consider is that due to electrical designs this conversion process can influence the tone of your instrument (in a good or a bad way) and that's why getting the right DI Box is important.

Apart from just "getting the signal to the desk" a DI Box (also called Direct Box, Direct Input, or Direct Injection Box) can also have several other advantages. Firstly the balanced XLR connection is much better for running cables over long distances without picking up noise and interference. Guitar leads, for example, can lose some sound quality at around 20 feet (6m) so if you want to cover more distance than a balanced XLR cable from the Direct box is better. Secondly, many DI boxes (especially passive ones) isolate the input and the output circuit which can help prevent ground loop hums and other electrical noise from creeping into the sound system.

Passive vs Active

There are two types of DI boxes - Passive and Active. Passive DI boxes work with no external power source, while active direct boxes require either phantom power, a battery, or a separate power supply. Active DI boxes offer more functionality and improved sound quality, while Passive Direct Boxes offer straightforward functionality without having to worry about the power supply. The general rule is to use an Active DI Box for instruments with passive pickups and use a Passive DI Box for instruments with active pickups and electronics. If you're wondering whether your instrument is passive or active it's simple - if you have to supply power or put a battery in then it's active, otherwise, it's passive.

Input/Output Ports

The most basic form of a DI Box usually has one input and one output that goes straight to the mixer. As the price goes up, they offer more options that include a separate output for amp or monitoring, while some even have multiple input/output options for complex rigs and multiple instruments. You'll want to have a DI Box with the right amount and type of inputs for your needs. If you're using a single instrument like electric bass, or acoustic guitar then a compact straightforward DI Box would be more than enough.

Ground Lift

The more music equipment you manage, the more voltage differences there may be between them, and these differences are perceived by the mixer as hum and noise. Since Passive DI boxes are transformers, they provide automatic ground lift for instant noise and hum reduction, making them important in keeping stages and studios quiet and clean sounding. Active DI Boxes also provide this feature, with some of them having a ground lift switch that isolates the signal ground from the unit's chassis ground.

Size

As mentioned above, more features and connectivity options require space, which increases the size of the box. It is important to find one that has just the right connectivity and features packed inside a unit with a size that's comfortable for you to use or carry around.

Are Regular DI Boxes and Reamp DI Boxes Interchangeable?

Because of the different purposes with both devices, it is best to choose a box specific to your needs. DI boxes are for feeding signals into a recording interface or mixer while Reamping DI Boxes convert pre-recorded signals for going into amplifiers or effects processors - these require a different impedance level to mixing consoles.

Best DI Box Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on November 11, 2022.

For this 2022.11 edition, we took the time to look at the most current ratings and reviews for 43 promising DI Boxes, along with recommendations of artists and experts. We ended up with over 17,200 comment, rating, and review sources, all of which were fed into the Gearank Algorithm. This resulted in rating scores out of 100 that numerically represent market sentiment, which we used to come up with a list of the best DI boxes, divided into five categories: Active Mono, Active Stereo, and Passive Mono, Passive Stereo, and Reamping. Finally, we added budget-friendly DI Box sections for both passive and active models, that have reasonable ratings, to make sure you know of cheaper alternatives. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Some of the recording gear I use in my studio includes the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, Focusrite Scarlett Solo, Samson QH4 Headphone Amp and Cloudlifter CL-1. My mics include Aston Origin, Aston Element, Shure SM57, Rode NT1, Rode PodMic and MXL V67G.

Contributors

Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Supplemental research, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: By Gearank.com using photographs of the Radial JDI, Rupert Neve Designs RNDI and Radial Reamp JCR Studio Reamper.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

I'm surprised to not see the

I'm surprised to not see the Countryman Type 85 get a mention for active mono DI boxes. It's a personal favorite of mine. Great neutral sound, roadworthy construction, and flexibility in use with its ability to accept speaker-level signals.

The Countryman Type 85 was on

The Countryman Type 85 was on our recommended list from the time we first published this guide back in 2016 until November 2019, but times move on and although it's still a good active DI, there are now more highly rated options available which we chose to recommend instead.

Hi, I have a Scarllet 2i4

Hi, I have a Scarllet 2i4 interface and when I record electric guitars I get some noise coming from the Pickups. My question is: would a DI Box solve that problem or the actual interface has already its own DI inside? If a new DI solve that problem wich one would be better? active or passive? Thank you

Hi Pedro,

Hi Pedro,

Noise during recording is usually compounded from multiple sources and factors. Unshielded cavities on your guitar + single coils is instantly a recipe for buzzing/hum. A bad cable can also be the cause. Some pickups, even humbuckers, are wound in a way that the two coils dont completely cancel out hum. There is also the question of how clean the power in your area is. Some establishments and houses have poorly planned electronics which contributes to noise especially when using pedals.

Your Focusrite is probably fine since the signal is converted from unbalanced to balanced internally. A d.i. usually solves the problem of Ground Noise and if you want to use a d.i. make sure it has a ground lift switch. What d.i.'s don't solve is accumulated noise from the sources I listed above. If you notice, the hum may lessen or disappear when facing a specific direction. This may be because you are near an electric device like a CPU or an electric fan. Putting your guitar close to a stepdown/stepup transformer can also contribute to that.

My advice is to test everything one by one. Are you using single coils? Try a humbucker guitar. Are the cavities of your guitar shielded? Check to see with a guitar that you know is shielded. Is your cable working right? try different cables. Is the power in your house/studio clean and conditioned? Turn your appliances off or on and see if it makes popping noises when you have your guitar turned up with some distortion.

A d.i. is handy to keep around for its utility in being able to use an amplifier and your entire rig for recording while having a dry signal go to your computer for recording. Using an ordinary splitter can affect the strength of your signal going into your rig and into the interface. A d.i. box solves this by passing your signal through one end while the other is converted into a balanced signal.

Hope this helps.

-Raph

Hi Raph,

Hi Raph,

Thank you so much for your detailed insights! My guitar is HSH and I believe is shielded (At least on the back side I see a wire solded to the tremolo. I know that single coils can cause some issues, so I avoid to use them. With the bridge pick-up I don´t have any problem at all but when I´m using the neck humbucker there´s almost always some hum that get´s worse if I switch on a desk lamp for instance. So, as you said, has maybe something to do with the electric devices around. I read above that passive DI are better than active ones on these hum problems but on the other hand active ones should be used with passive pick-ups (my case). What would be your advice in this situation? Thank you

Hi Pedro,

Hi Pedro,

Since there might be some issues with the power filtering in your area, I would advise using a good Passive D.i. instead of an active d.i. While pairing a guitar with passive pickups with an active d.i. would result in a slightly stronger signal to the interface, it would come at the risk of adding noise because of the power conditions in your area especially with less than optimal circuit designs.

I see no disadvantage of owning both if they are within budget.

-Raph

It seems like the best

It seems like the best sounding DI for guitars has either been overlooked or simply avoided. The SANSAMP has yet to meet it's match in price/versatility/durability/reliability!!! I have the GT2, Para Driver DI, and the TRI A.C. and one of them is always in my gig bag. Para Driver is the only one I have with XLR outs, but the other two can 1/4" directly into DAW or console. Can't beat THAT with a stick!!!

What, no L.R. Baggs products?

What, no L.R. Baggs products?? Their Para Acoustic DI (PADI) is still the best sounding DI I have ever used! I have several as I play several instruments (some have multiple pickups in them).

I have not tried their newer Session DI yet, but by reputation it should do nicely also.

You really should add Baggs to the list. The PADI is however (in my opinion) the gold standard for a DI for Acoustic Guitars (also works great on Bass)! I've used it on my electric too with good results (I prefer a clean sound with little to no effects, so it still works in my case, those who like many effects may understandably not agree)!

Its Parametric EQ is quite effective and the sound I get when running my instruments through it (Guitar and Banjo) is regularly complimented on by sound techs at the venues I play at.

If you haven't done so yet, I challenge any Acoustic guitarist to try the PADI! They are very well built for a reasonably good price-point.

People are happy paying 750

People are happy paying 750.00 for a reddi direct box? nonsense.
They clearly dont run sound and have never had a di stolen or lost. lose one or two of these and the price becomes an issue. in a live situation, you wont hear the difference between a 100 or 1000 di.