The 10 Best Direct Boxes

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in July of 2018. A direct box serves three main purposes: it transmits an electrical signal straight from the source, matches impedance levels, and balances the audio signal. As a result, it does away with ground loops and other technical phenomena that can cause buzzing and humming sounds during recordings or live performances. Our list includes the best available models from budget-tier to professional-grade. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Radial JDI Stereo

2. Behringer DI20

3. Rupert Neve Designs Active

Editor's Notes

February 19, 2021:

We haven't made any changes to our rankings recently, and in fact, we're impressed with the long-term reliability of all the brands represented here. The Radial JDI Stereo remains one of the most advanced, but the Behringer DI20 is right behind it, and in terms of price, the Behringer is ridiculously affordable. It, along with the Samson MDA1, are both rock-solid budget options, and the Behringer Ultra-DI400P is even less expensive than either.

Some options are intended for specific instruments, such as the Radial Stagebug SB-6 and Radial USB-Pro Active, which are meant for DJs and producers who perform through their laptops. Others, such as the Radial ProD2, are meant for keyboards, but any of these specialized models will also work for a wide range of other instrument applications. For complex setups involving in-depth sound and pedal boards, the highly compact Whirlwind Imp 2 is worth a look, and if you want an ultra-premium choice that will hold up even in large venues, the Rupert Neve Designs Active is an expensive but worthwhile choice.

October 25, 2019:

DI boxes are categorically pretty simple; when they work, they work, and you can spend as little or just about as much as you want on a good one. Radial makes some of the best high-end options, and their Radial JDI Stereo is one of the best models on the market. The Radial USB-Pro Active is ideal if you're running a signal out of a laptop or other USB output, as it promises to be compatible with 24-bit sampling. Behringer, a huge player in affordable audio devices, also has a couple great choices. The Behringer DI20 is not only one of the lowest priced, it also has just about every feature you could need.

If you're willing to make a sizable investment, the Rupert Neve Designs Active is hard to beat, though it is very expensive. You can get by for far less with the Whirlwind pcDI or Whirlwind Imp 2, which are both very durably constructed. They're both excellent for integrating effects pedals a well as equalizers. And if all you need is a single, mono throughput, the Samson MDA1 is both affordable and highly effective.

4. Radial ProD2

5. Radial USB-Pro Active

6. Behringer Ultra-DI400P

7. Radial Stagebug SB-6

8. Samson MDA1

9. Whirlwind pcDI

10. Whirlwind Imp 2

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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