The Best DI Boxes & Reamp Boxes

The Highest Rated DI and Reamp Boxes

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DI Box Overview

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 adaptor (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 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 then 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.

So don't waste your precious investments on expensive instruments, recording equipment and PA systems by skimping on this vital link in the audio chain. You ought to invest in a good Direct Box if you want to get the best sound out of your gear.

For our November 2019 update, we have re-categorized our recommendations according to their operation (Passive or Active) and number of channels (Mono or Stereo). This year, the list is dominated by products from Radial engineering, inching out some of last year's picks. The Samson MDA1 remains the budget-friendly option but will the newer recommendations from this year make it worth upgrading?

We also included a new section for Reamp Boxes since we have found 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

Best Active DI Boxes - 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. The list below features five top rated active DIs, along with a low cost alternative.

Radial J48

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Radial J48 48V Phatom-Powered Active Direct Box

Radial Engineering is one of the biggest names in studio and stage audio gear. They are well known for the quality of their Direct Boxes, many of which continue to rake in sales and positive reviews. One of which, the Radial J48 makes this list because of its high ratings and expert testimonials. And if the high Gearank score is not enough to convince you, then you should consider that acoustic guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel uses one and recommends it.

Features:

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

Pros

The J48's main advantage is its simplicity and clarity, which translates into versatility, allowing it to be used to great effect with many types of instruments. While it is more popularly used for acoustic guitars, positive reviews for this product come from musicians that play various instruments types, from banjos, to bandolins and even bassists, proving its flexibility which easily ups the value and use you can get out of this DI box. Some even use it to capture clean guitar lines, so artists can focus on getting the notes right and then tweak the tone later via reamping.

Cons

It would have been nice if the price point was lower, but in this case, the saying you get what you pay for, rings true. Other than that there isn't that much else that people complained about. If you are looking for more features, you'll probably see one with the features you need among the many DI models that Radial produces.

Overall

If you're a musician who plays acoustic instruments and you're looking for the most straightforward and easy-to-use DI Box, then this is a great one to get.

Radial SGI TX/RX

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$260
Radial SGI TX/RX Studio Guitar Interface Active DI Box

Unlike other boxes in this guide, the Radial SGI system comprises a Transmitter (TX) and a receiver (RX). If the musician has to be far from the amplifier, like with being in the control room while the amplifier is in a separate live room, the signal going to the amplifier must be pristine and free from the high frequency roll off of capacitance. While DI boxes are used to create a high-fidelity, low noise, balanced signal into an interface or mixer, the SGI is meant to preserve tone and fidelity up to 330ft. This means you can also use the SGI as a signal preserve when sending your guitar's tone to an off-stage amplifier. The proprietary Drag control allows you to tweak the load on your signal chain to compensate for different pedals, buffers, or cables.

Features:

  • SGI-TX hi-Z input: 1/4" jack (buffered) with Drag control load correction circuit
  • SGI-TX output: Balanced XLR-M output
  • SGI-RX input: Balanced XLR-F input
  • SGI-RX hi-Z output: 1/4" jack
  • Ground lift
  • Weight: TX - 1.1 lb; RX - 1.1 lb

Pros

Several users who perform live say this is the best way to run an amp off stage with little signal loss from capacitance. Some studio engineers also have this integrated into the construction of their studio space to run an amp completely isolated in a different room so that the musician can stay in the control room. There are "hacks" available to simulate the setup, but community discussions say they are not as efficient or cost effective as just getting an SGI.

Cons

No reported cons except for improper usage of the system like using only one or the other box as a solo DI box.

Overall

The Radial SGI is a very specific tool for a very specific problem: cable capacitance over long distances on the stage or in the studio while going to an amplifier. Get it if you have a large studio setup with separate control and live rooms and want to preserve your tone better; or if you perform on stage with a guitar amplifier miked up in the back. Steer clear if you need -just- a DI box.

Rupert Neve Designs RNDI

97
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$269
Rupert Neve Direct Interface (RNDI) Active DI Box

At time of publication this was the highest rated mono active DI box.

Started back in the '70s, the brand Neve and their preamps and consoles continue to hold prominent status when it comes to music equipment. So it is not surprising that their DI Box would rank high in this list, thanks to its impressively high Gearank score which includes many experts recommending it. 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.

Features:

  • 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

Pros

Reviewers are consistent in saying that Neve RNDI "improved" their sound so much that it has become a critical tone element, rather than just being a mere bridge to the PA System. Reviewers report of how this unit works well with bass, acoustic guitars, keyboards, amplifiers and more. And many of them testify that it makes all these instruments sound warm and big, with little tweaking.

Cons

As expected, the simplicity of this DI Box is not appreciated by some who are looking for more control. It may also not be ideal if you're looking for something that's transparent, because the amplifier section warms up the sound. Interestingly, even those who wanted something "transparent" ended up loving the warmer and bigger sound that they got after plugging into the RNDI. Finally, you must invest a considerable amount of money for this straightforward DI Box, but based on the positive response it has been getting, it is well worth the price.

Overall

We highly recommend the Rupert Neve RNDI for bass, but it can also work well with any instrument. If you are looking to add more juice to your FOH sound then you should check this one out.

A Designs REDDI Tube

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$775
A Designs REDDI Tube Active DI Box

While most DI Boxes are meant to be transparent, the A Designs REDDI Tube DI is a different beast because it colors the sound. It is designed to reproduce the sound of the classic Ampeg B15 bass amplifier, and it does so with the help of a genuine 6NI-P tube at its core. Being a DI Box, it does all this without the bulk of an actual tube bass amplifier, and with the convenience of going straight to PA systems or recording consoles.

While it works well with bass guitars, REDDI is also equally viable for use with synths, keyboards, electric guitars and other instruments - it's especially good for adding analog touch to home studios / venues that have mostly digital equipment.

Features:

  • Combo 1/4" XLR Input, XLR Output, 1/4" Thru
  • 16dB gain
  • Metal enclosure
  • Genuine 6NI-P Tube
  • Custom wound Output Transformer

Pros

The REDDI Tube DI Box continues to get high ratings from users and experts, be it for live performances in churches and bars, or for recordings at home or in the studio. Many commend it for its warm tube tone, which improves the sound of instruments that is paired with the box. It also helps that the unit looks nice and feels solidly built, from its Neutrik connectors to the heavy duty switches and knobs, to its metal exterior.

Cons

Most users like the way it colors the resulting sound, but there are a few who did not like its tone character. And because of its ability to change the overall sonic character of your instrument, it is not recommended if you prefer transparency. There are also some who wish for a lower priced version of the Reddi, but most are more than happy with its cost.

Overall

If you're looking to add old school warmth to your instrument, be it for recording or for live performance, then check out the A Designs REDDI Tube Active DI Box.

Best Budget Active DI Box

For those with limited budgets, we've included the Samson MDA1 as a good low cost option.

Samson MDA1

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$35
Samson MDA1

The Samson MDA1 is an affordable and straightforward DI box that gets you from point A to B, converting unbalanced 1/4" instrument level signal to a balanced line level signal without drilling a hole in your pocket.

There aren't many controls to fuss about either, just essentials which include a 15dB input attenuator and a ground lift switch, both of which are practical additions that will not distract from its main function.

Features:

  • Input 1/4", XLR Output, 1/4" Thru
  • 15dB input attenuator, ground lift switch
  • Runs on 9V battery or Phantom Power

Pros

As expected, most owners are happy with their Samson MDA1 because of the value that they get for its affordable price. Overall market impression is positive, with plenty of users are more than happy to recommend the unit to others. It also gets a lot of thumbs up for its transparent sound quality.

Cons

While there are no complaints about its performance or sound, there are some who wish for more features.

Overall

If you're looking for a budget active DI Box that satisfies many owners, then check this one out.

Best Active DI Boxes - Stereo

Active Stereo DI Boxes add life to backing tracks and playback from sources like cellphones, 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.

Radial USB-Pro

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Radial USB-Pro 2-Channel Active DI Box

The Radial USB-Pro is a specialized DI box from Radial Engineering. It is not your standard DI box in that it's primary purpose is to allow you to connect your laptop into a mixer, p.a. system or recorder with a strong signal and minimal noise. Despite requiring a usb connection, it is not meant to be an audio interface -- rather become an extension of your playback device.

Features:

  • 24bit/96k stereo direct box
  • Balanced stereo lo-Z output
  • Connects to your laptop via USB
  • 2 x XLR, 1 x headphone out, output level
  • Mono sum switch, ground lift
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

Pros

Reviewers use the USB-Pro to get pristine audio signal to a mixing console via xlr. Some performers noted in music forums that it is a compact way to perform with backing tracks since Clicks can be panned one side and the backing track to the other. Others found it useful as a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) for their home audiophile setups.

Cons

For its specific purpose, no reports of negatives for performance although one user wanted an included usb cable.

Overall

Being a specialty product, it was engineered to do one thing well: convert laptop audio into a balanced stereo signal to XLR. Some may wonder why not just use a small adapter to plug into the mixer but anyone who's ever performed knows how much could go wrong in that setup. Having a secure means of outputting signal from your laptop in stereo is essential for great performances on stage or consistent program material during events.

Rupert Neve Designs RNDI-S

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 10+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$499
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI-S Stereo Active Transformer DI Box

At time of publication this was the highest rated stereo active DI box.

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

Features:

  • 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

Pros

For stereo DI boxes, stereo coherence is important especially during recording from stereo sources like effects, keyboards and loops/samples. The better the phase coherence between channels, the better stereo tracks fit into the mix. Several pro engineers consistently write about how the circuitry adds certain dynamics that recording without one didn't bring to their sessions. One user even used 7 for his touring band just for the consistency and sound.

Cons

No reported negatives for the unit itself. Price has been an issue with the RNDI-S simply being out of reach for most project studios.

Overall

Despite being at the more expensive end of our list, many users praise the RNDI-S for it's 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.

Best Passive DI Boxes - 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.

Whirlwind IMP 2

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$60
Whirlwind IMP 2

With its affordability, reliability and versatility, the Whirlwind IMP 2 is easily one of the most widely used budget DI Boxes today. While it does not boast of the same features as more expensive units, it gets the basic DI Box duties done well without drilling into your savings. And since it works transparently and with no parameters to tweak, it can easily be implemented on any instrument, or amplifier that you want to plug into your PA. A cursory scan at the reviews will reveal how users and experts feel about the Whirlwind IMP 2, it works as intended and very good at that for the price.

Features:

  • Basic 1/4" parallel wired input/output jacks
  • XLR output
  • Metal enclosure
  • TRHL transformer is riveted to the chassis

Pros

Musicians and sound engineers have been using the Whirlwind IMP 2 to solve ground loop hum and noise problems on stages the world over. Like a roll of gaffer tape that makes sure everything is in place, this portable and affordable DI Box ensures that whatever your input source may be, it can be plugged in straight to your console with the right volume/voltage levels. And since it is affordable, many can afford to always have an extra when the need arises.

Cons

Considering its price, which is less than 1/4 of other more popular DIs, there's really nothing much to expect and nothing to be disappointed about. There are some experienced users familiar with the difference that more expensive Direct Boxes bring to the table, and they recommend that you save up for something better.

Overall

Still, if you are satisfied with your sound and you just want a budget friendly way to go straight to PA, then the Whirlwind IMP 2 offers an easy and quick fix.

Radial StageBug SB-2

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$70
Radial StageBug SB-2 1-Channel Passive DI Box

Radial Engineering describes the StageBug as a compact DI box for bass and keyboard. Compared to the ProDI, the SB-2 uses the more affordable Eclipse ET-DB3 transformer and reduces the feature set for everything to fit in a more compact enclosure. To emphasize the size, Radial humorously included a tongue-in-cheek line in their FAQ section on the product saying that they do not recommend the StageBug for touring because it's small size makes it very easy to steal.

Features:

  • Compact Passive mono DI for bass, keyboards, and acoustic guitar
  • Transformer isolation eliminates buzz and hum from ground loops
  • 15dB pad
  • Stereo-to-mono merge function
  • 1 x 1/4" (input), 1 x 1/4" (input/thru), 1 x XLR
  • Weight: 0.55 lbs.

Pros

While not as transparent as many DI boxes, some reviewers and forum users noted that the StageBug has a "Neve"-like quality to the sound. It slightly compresses harsh attacks from instruments like acoustic guitar and bass in a musical manner. The added stereo to mono sum feature is also seen as a great plus for keyboard users.

Cons

Not much can be found in terms of cons except a few isolated cases of the box picking up radio signals (because of proximity to other electrical devices) and a weak stereo sum signal (probably a faulty cable messing with the phase of the summed track)

Overall

The StageBug isn't the box to go to if you want absolute transparent tone but as a means to add a little smoothness to harsh slapped bass, lively acoustic guitar or dynamic pianos. Think of it as a much needed condiment rather than a hearty sauce if you will. Get it if you want something small to bring along with you that makes your bass, keyboard or acoustic guitar direct tone smoother.

Radial ProDI

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$100
Radial ProDI

At just half the price of the JDI model, the Radial ProDi brings the company's famed sound quality and reliability to a more accessible price point. Because of its reasonable price tag, venues that house multiple instruments like churches have been getting these in buckets. And looking at its impressive Gearank rating, the quality does not stray too far from more expensive units, some even comment that differences are practically unnoticeable in most musical applications.

Features:

  • Passive direct box design with isolation transformer
  • Isolated and balanced XLR output connector to prevent chassis to ground noise
  • Radial 14-gauge steel welded I-beam housing
  • -15dB pad
  • 1/4" input and 1/4" thru-put
  • Groundift switch
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs

Pros

While it is reassuring that professionals like Terry Lawless (who plays keyboards for the band U2) endorse this unit, it still pays to heed the advice of regular users, and they have mostly good things to say about the Radial ProDI. Almost everyone is satisfied with its clear audio and solid construction, it also helps that it is compact and portable. From keyboards to laptops, and even instruments, the ProDI will get you sounding good with little hassle.

Cons

There was one who warned that the rubber footing will eventually fall off, so that maybe something to look into and prevent. Other than that, there are not that many complaints, even those that ranked this DI Box lower reported that they are very happy with it.

Overall

If you are looking for an all-round DI box for your keyboards and other electronic instruments, that's easier on the pocket, then check this one out.

Radial JDI

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Radial JDI Passive DI Box

At time of publication this was the highest rated mono passive DI box.

It is impressive how the Radial JDI has kept its high Gearank rating through multiple versions of this guide for 2017, 2018 and again in 2019. Out of the many items of music equipment we've rated, this DI Box continues to be one of the elite few that achieved the Gearank Algorithm's current second highest score. Besides many positive reviews, keyboard virtuoso Chick Corea and artists like Adrian Belew use and recommend the unit, adding to its already superb credibility.

Features:

  • 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

Pros

There aren't really 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 really well with active pickup equipped guitars and bases, amplifiers, and other electronic instruments which include keyboards, laptops.

Cons

There aren't many complaints about the unit, what with its almost perfect score! Still it would have been nicer if the price was lower, but with its versatility and sound, you're getting more than what you're paying for.

Overall

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 multi-instrumentalist or if you are a sound engineer who deals with various sound sources, get this one.

Best Passive DI Boxes - 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.

Mackie MDB-2P

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Mackie MDB-2P Stereo Passive DI Box

The Mackie MDB series was designed to be a no-frills, premium component DI solution with various models rounding out the lineup. The MBB-2P is a 2 Channel Passive DI box. Each channel is independent of the other which means it can be used as a Stereo DI box for instruments, laptop outs, or other stereo sound sources; or as a dual mono DI box for 2 different sound sources. High quality components and circuit layout ensures no crosstalk (leakage) between channels for a transparent sound.

Features:

  • Dual independent channels for stereo or dual mono applications
  • -15dB pads
  • Ground Lift switch
  • Inputs 2 x 1/4", Outputs 2 x 1/4" (thru), 2 x XLR (balanced line out)
  • Weight: 0.8 lbs

Pros

Users note that the transparency rivals even more expensive DI boxes. For the price, the convenience and transparency without crosstalk makes it a great value according to several positive reviews.

Cons

No reported negatives.

Overall

"It just works" Says one review we encountered on our research. With no reported negative in both product reviews and community discussions, The Mackie MDB-2P is a reliable piece of kit that you wouldn't be afraid of taking on the road or on the stage. Built-like-a-tank™️ (yes, it's trademarked) construction by Mackie has failed no one (not that we know of at least!)

Radial ProD2

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$150
Radial ProD2 2-channel Passive Instrument DI Box

At time of publication this was the highest rated stereo passive DI box.

There's no question that Radial Engineering dominates the DI box market with their various 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.

Features:

  • 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

Pros

Users praise its transparent sound while smoothing out harsher transients and background noise. Where other DI boxes color the sound in obvious ways, the ProD2 is consistently praised by reviewers and users to maintain more true to the input while rounding any excess digital "harshness".

Cons

An isolated report of signal loss. Community figured that the jacks need to be cleaned or cables checked as this is a rare case

Overall

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

Best Reamp Boxes

Reamping is a practice commonly done in modern recording studios where clean DI guitar 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 re-recording of guitar parts with different equipment, microphones and mic placement even without the original session musician.

Radial X-Amp

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200

At time of publication this was the equal highest rated reamp box.

The Radial X-Amp is a two channel Reamping DI Box ideal for outputting a dry signal to two amplifiers or signal chains. To help keep things congruent, it has a polarity switch in case the blend of two amps sounds out of phase.

Features:

  • Active re-amping box (15V DC power supply)
  • Two outputs to drive two separate amplifiers
  • Level control, ground lift and polarity reverse controls
  • Input 1 x XLR, Outputs 2 x 1/4"
  • Weight: 2 lbs

Pros

"It does what it's supposed to do" say several reviewers, and that's all you should need to hear about a device so simple. What people also praise about the X-amp is not its feature set but its build, component and jack quality. In our research we have not come across a unit failure or defect and that says something.

Cons

Power adaptor can be clunky.

Overall

If you're looking for an active Reamp box that allows you to split your signal from your source into two guitar amps, it doesn't get any better than the Radial X-amp

Radial Reamp JCR Studio Reamper

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Radial Reamp JCR Studio Reamper DI Box

At time of publication this was the equal highest rated reamp box.

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.

Features:

  • 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.

Pros

The Radial JCR gets universal praise from studio engineers for being the best at what it does: reamping studio recorded guitars. Many users call it an essential studio tool and there are no substitutes.

Cons

One noted that the box colors the signal on the way to the amplifier.

Overall

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.

Things to Consider when Buying a DI Box

  • 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, battery or their own 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 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 DI Boxes usually have 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 maybe 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 own 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. Please refer to our guide to find which DI Box best suits your needs.

Best DI Box Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on April. 20, 2016 written by Alexander Briones and the latest major update was published on November 27, 2019 written by audio engineer Raphael Pulgar.

For this 2019 update, we took the time to look at the most current ratings and reviews for 33 promising DI Boxes, along with recommendations of artists and experts. We ended up with over 6,000 comment, rating and review sources, all of which were fed into the Gearank algorithm. This resulted in rating scores 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 DI Boxes. Finally, we added a budget friendly DI Box with reasonable ratings to make sure you know of cheaper alternatives. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

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.

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