What’s a DI Box? (And Do I Need One?)

Professionally sending sound from your Audio Ape to the event’s sound system.

In short: A DI Box (pictured above) allows you to run an audio signal across a distance without buzzing, humming, or other impurities. It is the “cleanest” way to move the audio signal from the stage to the soundboard

There are two basic ways to move an audio signal through a cable:

Unbalanced: The signal cable is surrounded by a ground wire to help protect it from interference.

An unbalanced signal can be sent through a very thin cable, which is why most consumer headphones and home stereo cables are this way. These cables are unprotected from interference> So why do you never hear any hum or buzz on these unbalanced ones? Well, the longer the cable the bigger the interference when it comes to unbalanced cables. Given the fact most consumer cables are just a few feet, you rarely get any interference. 

Balanced: There are two separate signal wires and one ground wire, each going to their own connection.

The magic here is that both signal wires are transmitting the audio, but one is transmitting a precise inversion or opposite of the original sound signal. As the signal travels through the cable, both signal lines pick up the identical noise – but both are traveling opposite to the other. When the line terminates, one of the signals is “flipped” so that both sounds are in phase with each other. BUT, when it is flipped, the noise it picked up is also inverted, meaning that it now is precisely cancelling out the noise transmitted through the other wire. This principle is similar to what noise canceling headphones use.

This ingenious trick is it means that you can send an audio signal from one end of a ballroom to another without worry of outside forces like electrical interference causing hum or distortion in your original audio source.

A DI Box takes a “noisy” unbalanced signal from your iOS device, and converts it into a balanced signal that can travel hundreds of feet.

Why this matters to entertainers:

You often have zero control over where the tech table has been set at an event and – even if you are providing your own sound system – there are many factors that dictate where your board and speakers should be placed, often anywhere from 20-100 feet from the stage.

Without using a DI, your audio playback device is “chained” to the position of your board. Your unit cannot be more than three-six feet from the board without dirtying up your sound.

There are two reasons to avoid this:

  1. Range: Keeping your Audio Ape receiver close by is a good idea. Audio Ape gives you the most powerful range on the market. The maximum, bullet-proof, pro solution is to use an insanely powerful transmitter (Audio Ape) AND have it physically on stage with you. We have the longest range of any remote of this type, but why put them further apart than you need to.
  2. Visual Cues: Apps like ShowCues, Go Button, and OneTrack provide a visual display that confirms the exact track – along with giving you the power to monitor your running time. These are critical pieces of info, made best by having your device (I prefer an iPad Mini for its combination of screen size and portability).

Using the DI unchains you from speaker/board placement. Put the Ape on stage with you and send crystal clear sound to the board/PA – wherever it is placed.

We provide Switchcraft DI boxes (at a very low profit margin – we have the best pricing on the internet for these) we find their combination of performance and portability ideal for working professionals.

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