Bass Direct Inject – DI Box vs Apollo vs Bass Pod Pro XT

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Recording | No Comments

Hey all, welcome to the first of (hopefully) many blogs about recording or just music in general.  As many of you know, I’ve been a bassist for some time and still like to use a real bass in my songs, EDM or otherwise.  Now there are a number of ways to record bass and during my bands I’ve used each of these methods:

  • DI Box
  • Direct from the Amp
  • Good old fashioned microphone

Honestly, I’ve heard all 3 of these can sound good, it really just depends on what type of sound you are going for.  The perks to the second two methods, are of course, more of ‘live’ tone.  At the same time, a lot of the important stuff comes right from your bass and with a little eq, compression (and imho overdrive), a bass recorded via DI Box can sound quite good in a mix.  More importantly, its a lot less to setup if you can just DI.
Warwick Corvette

With that being said, Studio Laminar has come a long way and it turns out that I’ve actually have 3 potential methods of DI’ing a bass.  This lead to the question – is there a difference?  Should I use one method over another?  I did some googling and sure enough, some DI Boxes do come with their own color so it seemed worth a quick experiment.  Today we’ll compare the results of three direct recording options I have available, which are:

  1. UAD Apollo – my new toy has wonderful hi-z inputs on the front.  These are quite convenient.
  2. Beringer DI100 DI box  — a long time ago I acquired this DI box from an ex girlfriends father.  I’ve used it before and liked it so Ii’ve held onto it.  The DI box is routed into the Apollo Mic input.
  3. Line 6 Bass Pod Pro XT — a long long time ago I picked this bad boy up trying to beef up my options.  I never really used it that much for live setups, my amp always seemed to do the trick.  In the studio it provides me with a myriad of interesting options in amp simulation.  The pod will output a direct signal, so I thought this to be worth a try.  The Pod is routed to the Apollo’s line ins.

Before we look at the samples, I want to note a couple of things:

  • In both the Apollo Direct and the DI Box method the signal is being processed by the Apollo’s preamps.  This is not the case for the Bass Pod Pro because its routed via a line input.  Part of the difference in sound can potentially be attributed to these PreAmps (unfortunately I don’t have other pre’s around to play with..)
  • In the case of the Pod, well, its a digital device, but I’ve hooked it up via analog.  I tried to determine if their Direct line is really direct or if its going through a digital conversion and back before making it to the apollo (where its of course, converted again).  We know that poor converters can certainly hurt a sound, so if you have info as to how the Pod handles direct signals, let me know as this may very have an effect on the sound produced by the pod.
Alright, with that being said, the proof is in the pudding.  Here are the three recordings after normalization (oh, for the wickedly curious the bass is a Warwick Corvette Standard with Dean Markley medium strings (50-105))

 

Apollo:
bass-apollo

Pod Pro:
bass-pod_di

D100:
bass-dibox

Here is my two cents as to which recording sounds best to me.  Both the Apollo and the DI box are incredibly close.  I’d say there’s something very subtle that the DI Box gives the sound which I do find appealing, at the same time, the ease of use of the Apollo’s front Hi-Z inputs will probably have me using that on the regular.  Unfortunately the pod’s direct signal just falls short.  It seems to lack a little something on the top that takes away from the general growl of the bass and the sound isn’t as clear to me.  Perhaps this is the converters, I’m not sure.  I guess in a future blog I’ll need to run some signals through is analog vs digital and find out just what’s going on there.  Something to look forward to 😉

Of course, this is all subjective to my ear.  I’d love more thoughts on these, so comment away.

Coming soon: We’ll take a look at the Pod’s amp modeling vs my SVT-4 Pro and take a look at running the Pod in full digital mode vs analog.  See you soon!