DI Box on stage
One of this weeks gigs (with Hot and Horny) involved a very quick change setup. The show was for a corporate award ceremony (I never found out the industry or the name of the awards) and the room was only going to be empty for about an hour. This isn’t long to set up a PA and mic up and soundcheck a 12 piece band. The PA company was a new one to us, and they were very quick at setting up. We got about 20 minutes at the end to soundcheck, and if it wasn’t right by 7pm, it would have to be sorted out during the first set.
When they plugged me into the PA, rather than using the handy DI socket on the back of my amp, the PA guy said that he was told to take a lead from my bass and plug that into a DI box on stage, which takes the signal to the PA, as well as sending one to my amp. I don’t know why this is preferred to the DI socket on the amp, but I feel like each time that gets used I don’t get a good sound on stage. I use my amp as a monitor and relationship between the sound coming from the speaker and the way the strings feel under my fingers is quite a big part of getting a nice sound on stage.
During the gig it felt like the bass sound was getting louder and quieter – I’m not sure how this could be, as I thought the DI box was supposed to send a signal to my amp without any changes, but I can’t help but think the volume was changing and this was something to do with the DI box.
I try to trust the people who do our sound at gigs to know their job, and nothing is worse than a half-witted bassist telling a PA professional how to set up sound for gigs (it’s also a very bad idea to upset the sound people before you start playing!) but not hearing what notes your bass is making during your performance adds another level of complication to delivering a good show (which is ultimately what everyone on stage is trying to do.)
In future I think I’ll just have to remember this occasion and ask “is it OK if we try it like this?” when they’re setting up and politely plug his lead into the DI socket on the amp. It’s what it was designed for, after all!