Skip to content

Best Direct Box Review & Buyer’s Guide [2023]

Best Direct Box

A direct box (DI box) is one of the most useful and essential pieces of gear for a studio or live setting. However, since there’s an abundance of them to purchase, it’s hard to determine which is the best direct box for you.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite DI boxes.

Then we’ll be going over a buyer’s guide and common question surrounding the subject.

By the end of it, you will be more knowledgable on the subject. Thus, making it easier for you to pick which DI box is best for you.

Best Direct Box Comparison Chart


Best Direct Box Review

Down below are a few of our favorite products in this topic.

We provided a positive review of each product. And as noted, each product will have a list of pros and a few minor cons after each review. Behringer Ultra-DI DI400P Professional High-Performance Passive DI-Box

Behringer Ultra-DI DI400P Professional High-Performance Passive DI-Box

First up on our list is a product from Behringer. Behringer has a decent reputation for making some pretty solid gear, and this product is certainly no different.

Let’s start with the price. It’s extremely affordable for what it can do. For something that doesn’t hurt your wallet too bad, this is a fantastic deal. Especially since it works great.

One of the main benefits of owning this product is how it can transform an older sound system.

For example, if you work at a church or somewhere where the only inputs available for the equipment you have are XLR inputs that are only intended for mics, this can transform your entire experience.

It can do so by allowing you to plug a laptop into the sound system to play prerecorded music or electric-acoustic instruments.

This is even more effective if you have a portable audio mixer that can plug multiple inputs into the mixer. Doing so by plugging everything into a single XLR jack which will allow you to balance and control them yourself.

Everything about this product is great. Considering how affordable it is, it’s surprisingly durable as well.

The size of it is quite impressive too. It’s small enough to fit on a pedalboard, be tightly kept away at a studio, and be stored away for a live setting.

If one of the largest musical equipment company makes a product like this, then you certainly can’t go wrong with it.

Definitely check this product out, you won’t be disappointed!

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Respectable Company
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Somewhat flimsy parts

Whirlwind Direct Box - IMP2

Whirlwind Direct Box – IMP2

Next up on our list is a product from Whirlwind. Just like all of the direct boxes on our list, this is another fantastic product. It’s durable, affordable, and effective.

In simple terms, it does exactly what a DI box is supposed to do. For live settings, it’s very reliable since the material is so strong and resistant.

As for the actual sound quality, it’s great. It’s perfect for a live setting and works pretty decently for recording purposes as well.

It’s a great and affordable DI box. Whirlwind has always had a great reputation, and this product does not fail to live up to that reputation. This DI box is fantastic and is very simple to use.

The versatility of the product is great as well. It works great for drums, keyboard, bass, guitar, and computer purposes.

Even though a DI box has such a simple function, this product is a true necessity for recording or a live setting. Unlike a lot of DI boxes, it can last a long time without breaking or failing.

One of the best features of the product is the ground/lift switch. It comes in handy to eliminate a buzz in a certain system.

Another useful tool for the product is how you can connect an electric guitar straight to a PA’s XLR jack with it. However, don’t forget that you’ll need an amp/cab simulator for this situation. Otherwise, this function is somewhat pointless.

All in all, this is a great product to own and use. You’ll find that it can get just about any job done, and you can’t go wrong with it. Definitely check this product out!

Pros

  • Compact
  • Versatile
  • Affordable
  • Built to Last

Cons

  • May run into some minor issues regarding the jacks

Whirlwind IMP 2 Standard Direct Box

Amazon.com amazon.com
$79.00

rolls Stereo Direct Interface (DB24)

Rolls Stereo Direct Interface (DB24)

Next up on our list, we have a product from Rolls. Just like everything on our list, this is a very affordable and easy to use product.

Despite being affordable, it feels very solid and does exactly what it’s intended to do. Something you want to see in a DI box since you’ll be using more than you realize.

Considering everything it can do, it has a very reasonable price attached to it. Let’s go over a variety of examples for what this product can accomplish.

If your board only accepts mono inputs on the main channels, and you need stereo input, then this can get the job done. The DI box can allow you to play songs from a laptop or phone despite the board only having mono inputs.

Another example is how you can use the 1/8″ stereo mini-plug input for certain devices like headphone outputs. It also has adjustable gain control for each channel.

You can even use it for two separate audio channels, which is great. Since it has a stereo mini-plug input, stereo RCA inputs, and 1/4″ stereo inputs all in one box, it’s extremely versatile.

Another great example of the product is how you can use it to record line-level if your levels are normally high. All you have to do is adjust put the microphone level with the two knobs on this device and boom. You’re all set and everything is perfect.

All in all, this product is great. You can’t go wrong with it for a plethora of reasons. I highly recommend this product, and you should definitely check it out!

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Easy to Use
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Their customer service isn’t the great

rolls Stereo Direct Interface (DB24)

Amazon.com amazon.com
$89.00

Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box

Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box

Next up on our list, we have a product from Radial Engineering. Just like everything on this list, this is another fantastic product.

It’s built like a tank, easy to use, and makes a noticeable positive difference in sound.

If you’re a musician then you know most venues already have a DI and people usually just use what they have. Whereas some smaller spots may have basic sound equipment without extra equipment like a DI box.

In a situation like this, you’ll realize why a DI box is a necessity. It can make a world of difference.

The ground lift on this device is fantastic. Using the ground lift on it can eliminate hum and buzz while keeping an instrument signal strong.

This DI box works great in every single way. It’s a true problem-solving device.

If you currently own a DI box that isn’t getting the job done, then you should switch over to this product. You’ll immediately notice how big of a difference it can make.

For recording, you can’t go wrong with this product. It does a fantastic job of converting audio signals to a proper “recording volume”. This is mainly because you have pure volume control through its gain knobs.

All in all, this is a fantastic product and you should definitely check it out! It’s built to last, easy to use, compact, versatile, and does everything it’s supposed to do. What more could you want?

Pros

  • Great Company
  • Easy to Use
  • Compact
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Slightly Expensive (Worth the price though)

Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box

Amazon.com amazon.com
$129.99

Radial ProD2 Passive 2 Channel Direct Box

Radial ProD2 Passive 2 Channel Direct Box

Last on our list, we have another product from Radial Engineering. Similar to Radial Engineering’s other product on this list, this DI box is incredible.

It’s built like a tank, does everything it’s supposed to do, versatile, and is one the highest quality DI boxes you can find.

Let’s go over a couple of examples as to why this product is so great.

For example, if you work at a church or live venue that has awful sound, then this will work great for you.

Typically, venues with poor sound can’t handle acoustics properly. Leaving you to go out and buy electronic kits to avoid potential sound issues.

However, when people plug in an electronic kit, they’ll find a ton of issues with the sound. Issues such as buzzing, humming, and much more.

These issues are usually caused by a ground loop. Something this product can completely fix.

All you have to do is install this between the drum kit and the snake cable. Once you power on the sound system, you’ll notice the difference. No more buzz, hum, or unnecessary noise of any kind. Your sound system will be completely different in the best way.

This product is great for taking a 1/4″ signal and making it sound amazing. Allowing you to never have to worry about long cable runs interfering with the sound.

The ground lift and pad make it so versatile and easy to use. It really is that incredible.

Even though it’s not the cheapest DI box out there, definitely buy it and see how good it is for yourself. You’ll find it to be one the best DI boxes out there.

Pros

  • Built like a Tank
  • Works Incredible
  • Versatile
  • Respectable Company

Cons

  • Expensive (Worth the price though)
$199.99

Best Direct Box Buyer’s Guide

Passive Di direct box 1/4" instrument to balanced & unbalanced XLR

Direct boxes (DI boxes) were originally created as a way to solve the sound mismatch between guitar pickups and studio electronics. In simple terms, they basically take an unbalanced, high impedance signal, and make it a balanced, low impedance signal.

Since their inception, they have become more versatile and commonly used throughout the musical landscape. Making them one of the most essential pieces of equipment for live and studio settings.

To fully understand what a DI box truly is, we’re going to go over our buyer’s guide. Our buyer’s guide goes over passive and active DIs, channel selection, bypass, budget, and other information surrounding the subject.

Passive DIs vs Active DIs

In simple terms, the difference between a passive and active DI is that a passive DI doesn’t need a power source and an active DI needs a power source. However, because of this, they’re functionality is different from each other.

An active DI box typically gets its power from a battery or through an XLR cable from another power source. Although this may seem like a negative, an active DI box actually has a preamplifier that allows it to provide a stronger signal with a higher input impedance.

The main advantage of an active DI box is how it can get just about any job done because of its versatility.

However, there are certainly some advantages with passive DI boxes. Advantages such as causing no additional noise to the current circuitry and having no power requirements.

Back in the day, active DI boxes were the way to go. However, today you can find incredible passive and active DIs. It all depends on your preference, and you can certainly find what you’re looking for.

Channel Selection

Most DI boxes have a single channel. Meaning that they’re not as versatile as they could be since they only a single channel. However, a lot of more DI boxes have become multichannel. Allowing them to be more suitable for a variety of needs.

Channel preference all depends on your specific needs. For example, if you own an electronic instrument like a keyboard, then you should probably get a DI box with two channels.

It all depends on exactly what you need. It’s important to do your proper research on what you need your DI box to accomplish. Otherwise, you may end up buying something that is completely useless for you to use.

Bypass and Ground Lift

If you start looking into different products in this subject, then it’s important to know what a bypass and a ground lift is.

A bypass splits an incoming instrument-level signal to a totally separate ¼” output. Meaning that you can then send signal to a separate location like an amp or a PA. You typically send the signal with a balanced XLR output.

For live settings, the most common instrument used for this is bass. This is due to the fact that a bass has a ton of frequency behind it, which makes it very loud for bassists on stage.

Doing this will allow the bass player to use their amp for on-stage monitoring only. Which theoretically will greatly decrease stage volume.

Since DI boxes can do wonders on improving sound quality by eliminating buzz and hum, some come with a switchable ground lift that makes the sound quality even better.

A ground lift prevents current from flowing between the DI and the microphone preamplifier which theoretically will eliminate further noise.

Always be on the lookout for a DI box that comes with switchable ground lift. They make a huge difference.
Livewire SPDI Passive Direct Box with Attenuation Pad

Budget

You’re probably wondering what sort of budget you should spend on a DI box. Just like anything else, it all depends on your budget. If you’re a musician who tours, then you should probably get a high-quality DI box. You never know what kind of unwanted noise can be generated from a poor-sounding venue.

If you’re a recording engineer, then you’ll want a high-quality DI box. Something that makes the sound better and does wonders for what you need it for. Otherwise, you’ll be buying something that isn’t the greatest and is pointless to use.

For beginners, just buy a basic DI box that will help you understand the functionality of them better. Once you understand their functionality, then you can buy a more expensive and more professional product.

For a high-quality DI box, they tend to vary in price. My best advice is to not cheap out. It’s better to buy the $150 USD DI box that has great reviews than the $20 USD DI box that has horrible reviews.

However, don’t think that spending a ton of money is the only solution. If you’re tight on cash, you can certainly buy a DI box that is pretty solid.

We made the list in this article for a reason, and all of them aren’t too expensive. Check them out, and figure out which product is best for you.

Other Information

Besides everything we listed, other important terms surrounding this subject that are important to know is a pad and polarity reverse.

A pad is used to prevent too much gain from overloading the circuitry. The pad is typically labeled as a switch that says -20db, -40db, etc.

Polarity reverse is exactly what the title says it does; it reverses the polarity. This is most commonly used to fix poorly wired XlR cables, and to align the absolute polarity of a signal.

Both are great functions to use for a DI box. Of the two, the pad is definitely more needed, but you may find yourself needing a DI box with polarity reverse.

Keep them both in mind so you can find the best product for you.

“Q & A’s”

Premium Direct Injection Audio Box - Passive DI Unit Hum Eliminator w/ Input Attenuator to Connect Guitar & Bass - 1/4 Inch Impedance Transformer Connector to Balanced & Unbalanced XLR - Pyle PDC21

As noted, we’re going to go over some common questions related to

Direct boxes. Down below are a few common questions

surrounding the subject and short answers to all of them.

Do electronic drums need a DI box?

You technically don’t “need” a DI box to use electronic drums, but you should. Just like electronic keyboards and bass, you should DI electronic drums so you don’t cause a ground loop.

A ground loop will only cause awful noise that’ll hinder your ability to create the best possible sound.

Having a proper DI box will completely avoid this issue and cause a perfect sounding scenario for you.

Is a DI box a preamp?

No. A preamp is used to usually increase a signal level whereas a DI box is primarily used to reduce it.

They basically serve as an opposite function from each other, but they’re both great to own.

What is DI recording?

Di recording is a way of recording without using a microphone to capture an output. You connect an instrument directly into the mixing console in your studio, so it can then be recorded directly from a DI.

DI recording is great to use in an apartment studio in case you don’t want to create a ton of noise from an amplifier.

DI recording is also great for scratch tracks since it’s an extremely easy set-up to use.

Direct Box Review Related Videos

What Is A DI Box (Direct Box)? | When & How To Use One

Do you need a DI box? A DI box (or direct box) is one of the most essential tools in audio production. In this video you'll learn what ...

Do you need a Direct Box? - Test Results!

A few weeks back we shot out a pair of high quality direct boxes against the built in DI's of the Focusrite and Audient interfaces.

Do you need a Direct Box?

Putting the question of a Direct Box vs an audio interface Direct Input to the tone test! Greatest Recording Trick: ...


HERE IS A ARTICLE YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT  JBL Tune 510BT Headphones Review

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully, you were able to determine the best direct box for you.

Other than that, you should be able to fully understand the information behind these products and why they’re needed for a live and studio setting. With factors such as noise elimination, versatility, and more in mind.

For a quick recap, we went over five of our favorite direct boxes. We went over why we liked each product and listed the pros and a few minor cons of them all.

After that, we discussed a buyer’s guide to this subject. Starting with what a DI box is and the difference between a passive and active DI.

Next, we went over channel selection, bypass, and ground lift. All of which have different advantages and disadvantages for what you want to accomplish.

Lastly, we went over a budget for the products, as well as pads and polarity reverse.

After that, we discussed common questions regarding the subject. Such as using electronic drums with a DI box, why a preamp is different from a DI box, and DI recording.

In conclusion, you should be more comfortable with deciding what direct box is best for you.

About the Author

Michael-B

Michael-B is a Music Producer, Musician, and Formally Trained (and was Certified by the Recording Institute of Detroit in 1986) Recording Engineer. As of to date, He's built 3 home recording studios go back to 1987, where he wrote, played all the instruments, and recorded his music. Michael B is also a Writer, Chief Editor and SEO of TrackinSolo.com