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When you can’t use a mic, your best bet is a DI box, and when a respected microphone company makes a DI box, it’s worth checking out. Telefunken’s new TDP-1 DI has all the quality and engineering of their amazing microphones, condensed in a small, practical DI box.
Like all DI boxes there’s not a lot to it, function-wise; the usual 1/4” input and thru connections, as well as the XLR output. The only adjustments come from ground lift and a 15dB pad. Simply plug in an unbalanced cable, and connect the XLR to a mixer or DAW input. The thru output can connect the signal back to an amp for personal monitoring if need be. DI boxes take a lot of physical abuse, and thankfully the enclosure features a hefty aluminum chassis, and the heavy-duty switches are low profile, and recessed to prevent any breakage, as are the input and output connections.
Now this is a passive DI, meaning it doesn’t need any extra power to be used. Instruments with active preamps and EQ systems are a perfect pairing with this. Users of passive pickup systems are not going to miss out, though.
We put it through its paces in a live recording session, with an electric bass guitar fed into the TDP-1, and running out to the DAW. DI-ing a bass in this kind of situation is usually a given, however it’s not uncommon for it to just be a throwaway or scratch track, to be re-done later. The TDP-1 made the tone in the bass track a keeper right from the start! The bass sound was full, rich and dynamic, sitting right where it needed to be in the mix. There’s no unusual, un-musical coloration or signal degradation. Even the bassist monitoring on headphones said they loved the tone. Getting into the groove and feel live is way easier during tracking with the band, rather than in an overdubbing situation. Using the DI in this application saves time later on, having to re-do tracks, rather than using the DI signal right from the start.
Later on, we connected an acoustic guitar’s 1/4” output to the DI, and also mic’d it up with a Telefunken M60. Again, as in a lot of cases a DI is a safety net to any microphone, but in this case, it was a complete complement to the microphone. The added DI track had plenty of usable sparkle and punch, without any of the usual “crispy-ness” that can be found while DI-ing an acoustic’s piezo pickup.
Inside, it’s clearly evident why it sounds so good; with gold plated traces on the circuit board, and high-grade custom-wound OEP/Carnhill transformers, Telefunken engineered this unit right, at a great price. If your DI tracks aren’t being used because of their sound quality, stepping up to one of these could make tracking and feeding a live PA a whole lot easier.
Well designed, useful applications, doesn’t color audio signal.
Only one channel (but nitpicking since the TDP-2 is also available)