Countryman Type 85 vs RME Built-In DI vs Radial JDI (Guitar DI)

The Production Geek

New Metal Member
Jun 22, 2015

Download the DIs here:

Gear used:
-Countryman Type 85 DI Box
-RME Babyface Pro
-Radial JDI DI Box
-Schecter Blackjack ATX (Seymour Duncan Blackout Active Pickups)

Info about the Video:
For each DI, I used Pod Farm for the tone and then L1 just to control a little of the dynamics. The settings for all the DIs are identical.

I was not able to acquire a 3 way splitter, and even if I did, I wouldn't really trust splitting a signal into three. The way I set it up was I connected the guitar to the Countryman DI box, connected the DI box's output to a mic input on the RME interface, and used the "AMP" jack to send the original signal to the instrument input of the interface. Then, I recorded again with the JDI. That means that the DIs from Countryman and RME are from the same performance, but the JDI ones are from a different performance. Therefore, the test is not controlled or scientific (it is not meant to be so). Despite that, I believe that the test results will still reflect the differences among these three pieces of gear, because most of the time hardware characteristics are consistent. For example, in a studio, if you want to test out the 1176 compressor and the Distressor on a vocalist you are about to record, you simply have to ask him/her to sing to the mic and record a take with each compressor--you don't have to conduct a scientific test to hear the differences. Same applies to this test.

Another limitation would be that the recorded DIs are all being converted by RME Babyface Pro's built-in AD/DA converter, which definitely affected the signals, but this converter is a high quality one, so I would say at least the DI quality is not butchered.

One other limitation is that only active pickups was used. I believe that the test results will be quite different if tested with passive pickups as they have much higher output impedance than active ones.

One important variable to be aware of is your DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) when you are listening to the YouTube video or when you are testing my DIs in your own DAW. Different converters will affect what you hear. With cheaper/budget interfaces, such as the Focusrite Scarlett and Saffire series, the PreSonus ones and the Steinberg ones, you mostly likely won't hear as much difference as or as accurately as with higher end interfaces, such as the RME interfaces, the Audient ones, the Apogee ones and anything above.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Countryman Type 85 is active and the Radial JDI is passive, but because I used active pickups, using active DI box for it will not introduce any loss of information. Generally, a DI box with impedance of 10 times the impedance of the output impedance is needed to record the full frequency response of the instrument. Countryman Type 85's input impedance is 1M Ohm; JDI's input impedance is 140k Ohm; Babyface's instrument input impedance is 470k Ohm; Blackouts' output impedance is 1k Ohm. As you can see, there is not any "mismatch" of impedance that would make the test results erroneous.

Between the RME DI and the Countryman DI, the difference is surprisingl small. The DIs recorded with JDI, however, have a very different tone than ones recorded with the other two. The JDI seems to color the signal quite a lot, which is probably because of the Jensen audio transformer. According to Radial Engineering, the Jensen audio transformer is supposed to "[deliver] a smoother, warm sounding Bessel curve, reminiscent of the finest vintage gear." In this test, I don't think one is better than the other; the differences are of characteristics/color rather than of quality.

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