Sonic Farm 2di4 Bass Gear review
By Tom Bowlus
A great name piques your interest
and sometimes hints at things to
come. The name “Sonic Farm”
certainly does both. Thought of in
their best light, farms are
wholesome; they are natural; they
grow the things we need to survive.
Translated into the
amplified/recorded (“sonic”) world,
preamps and direct boxes are
certainly things we need, and we
definitely want them to be
wholesome and natural. So far, so
good. While something has to be
extremely good “to die for,” even in
the non-literal sense, Sonic Farm
has turned this slang phrase into a
formal noun. This play on words
(well, play on letters and numbers,
really) has multiple levels. At the
heart of its name, the 2di4 is a DI,
so that works. It’s also two DI’s in
one (a pentode tube DI, and a triode
tube DI). And, without spoiling the
ending, it is extremely good. I’m
still working on the “4” part,
though...
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gear
Farmers Unite
Sonic Farm Pro Audio is the
brainchild of two men whose
friendship spans not only decades,
but continents, as well. Zoran
Todorovic and Boris Drazic met
back in 1966, in the former
Yugoslavia, when the two musicians
formed a band and started gigging
the Adriatic coast. Both studied
electrical engineering, graduated,
and got steady jobs. The two started
their own recording studio in the
early ‘80s, and experienced a good
bit of success. However, the
conflicts in their homeland led them
to seek their fates elsewhere in the
early ‘90s. Boris went to Germany,
then on to Canada. Zoran ended up
in a recording studio in Los
Angeles, and stayed there for 15
years. In 2009, however, the two
joined forces in Vancouver, British
Columbia, and formed Sonic Farm
Pro Audio.
Any field of manufacturing has its
celebrated icons, and the audio
recording world is no exception.
Neve and API are hallowed names,
and with good reason. They set the
standard for studio preamps, and
have lead to many boutique builders
offering clones, or slightly tweaked
versions of their circuits. This is a
world which Sonic Farm seeks to
steer clear from. They believe that
focusing on yesterday’s designs
limits tomorrow’s possibilities. One
of their founding premises is to
come up with pro audio equipment
that the world market is not already
saturated with. Furthermore, they
attach no mythical benefits to any
one type of technology or design.
To that end, they don’t care if their
products use tubes, transistors, op
amps, or IC’s, so long as it gets the
tone they are after.
With that background in mind, let’s
see what happened when they
decided to make a DI...
What’s a DI, Anyway?
We use them all the time, but do
you really know exactly what a DI
does? Or what those letters stand
for? Well, it’s the box the sound
guy makes you plug into when you
ask him to mic your rig, and he
says, “No, use this,” right? Sort of,
but there’s more to it. Whether you
call it “direct input,” “direct
interface,” or “direct injection,” a
DI connects a high-impedance, linelevel, unbalanced output signal to a
low-impedance, mic-level, balanced
input. The most typical scenario
where we bass players see a DI
used is to send the signal coming
out of our bass into a mixing
console, either live, or in the
recording studio. Our rigs are
designed to accept the signal right
out of our instrument, but those
pesky mixing boards are not. Still, it
seems like a simple task, right?
Your DI is actually doing more than
you might think. It is matching
levels, balancing the signal,
eliminating ground loops and
minimizing noise and distortion
(either through active buffering or
passive impedance matching).
Especially in a live setting, you are
typically playing your bass a goodly
distance from the mixing board, so
the DI needs to send your signal a
long way, without losing anything
along the way. And it’s doing all of
this while sitting between YOUR
bass, and YOUR rig, so it darned
well better not get in the way or
screw up the mojo you’ve been
dialing in for years.
In its most basic form, the typical
DI box has a 1/4” input (from your
bass), a 1/4” output (to be sent on to
your rig), and an XLR mic-level
output (to be sent to the mixing
console). Hopefully, there’s a
ground lift option, as well. These
devices may be found in either
passive or active form (hint: if it has
a power cord or takes a battery, it’s
an active DI).
and back panels a bit. Up front, we
of course have the requisite 1/4”
input (labeled “In”) and 1/4” output
(labeled “Amp”). But check out all
this other stuff! The big white knob
controls the final output level, and
it’s a straightforward affair, but the
rest deserve a little explaining. The
two white push buttons are labeled
“Gain” and “T/P.” The Gain button
provides a signal boost of either
5dB or 9dB, depending on the
setting of the next button. The T/P
button allows you to run the EF86
tube (which is the heart and soul of
the 2di4) in either triode mode or
pentode mode (the technical aspects
of this are discussed in detail in
Tom Lees’ Amp Lab portion of the
review). The bottom row of controls
also features a bi-color LED which
glows green when a signal is
present, and red when the input
signal begins to clip (though this is
more of a “rough estimate”
indicator of clipping; more on this,
below). The LED set between the
Gain and T/P buttons glows blue
when the unit is powered up. The
two small holes above the Trim
label are actually level (gain)
controls for the Lo and Hi Boost
functions.
Moving up to the top row of
controls on the front panel, we find
three mini-toggle switches. The first
one has settings for 0 (no gain
reduction), -12dB and M (which
mutes the signal after the tube stage
and before the output buffer). Since
the 2di4 does make a very audible
“pop!” when switching between
triode and pentode mode, I would
strongly suggest that you engage the
mute before hitting that T/P switch.
Note: the -12dB attenuation setting
occurs post tube and preamp output
stages, so instead of being there to
knock down the level of a hot input,
its intended use is for adjusting the
output to avoid overloading a lowheadroom device, such as a
computer interface/AD converter.
Next up, we have the two 3-way
switches for Lo Boost and Hi
Boost. In the middle position, no
boost is applied. Options 1 and 2
provide fixed boosts to the lower
frequencies or higher frequencies.
These are gentle shelving controls,
and so they impact a fairly wide
range of frequencies. For the
specifics on what frequencies are
affected by each switch, I once
again refer you to the Amp Lab
portion of the review.
Turning our gaze to the back panel,
we find two XLR outputs; one
labeled “D.I. Out,” the other “Line
Out.” The D.I. Out is your more
traditional output, and it delivers a
balanced, mic-level output via a
Features To Die For
The 2di4 covers all the DI basic
function, but offers some very nice
“value added” features. Let’s
familiarize ourselves with the front
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29
more tailored Lo and/or Hi boosts,
but not both at the same time. Zoran
Todorovic explains, “The unit
provides more than enough gain for
any bass guitar on the market. The
idea behind the Gain switch was to
drive the tube harder, when
desired.”
very nice Cinemag transformer
(which also protects the device from
accidentally engaged phantom
power). The Line Out is also
balanced, but this time via op-amps,
and it delivers a significantly hotter,
line-level signal. Sonic Farm lists
the max gain on the Line Out as
+54dB, versus +32dB via the
transformer-balanced D.I. Out.
Other back-panel details include a
ground lift switch, on/off switch,
300mA fuse, IEC power cord
socket, and Mains Voltage switch
for 110v or 220v operation. Clearly,
Sonic Farm has covered all the
bases, and then some.
Harvesting Sonic Crops
As previously indicated, there are
several ways that you will likely use
a DI, and you want your unit to
excel at all of them. What most
people will hear (whether it’s at a
live performance or via a recording)
is what’s coming out of the
balanced outputs. Most sound
engineers will likely use the D.I.
Out, but in some situations, the
hotter signal from the Line Out may
be the ticket. Fortunately, they are
simultaneously available. Both
outputs deliver a faithful
reproduction of the input signal, but
with a most pleasing blend of
organic warmth and detail.
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Listening to the two of them (after
gain matching), the signal from the
D.I. Out sounds ever so slightly
more full and “girthy.” Credit likely
lies with the sweet Cinemag
transformer. However, the Line Out
is no slouch in the fullness
department. It’s just that D.I. Out
nudges ever so slightly ahead in
back-to-back comparison.
The EQ options available from the
Lo and Hi Boost switches are not
likely to replace a full tone stack (if
you need one), but are good at
making very musical nudges in one
direction or another. Powerful EQ
can offer a wide range of tone
sculpting, but EQ can do very bad
things, as well, and I have always
found too much EQ to be much
harder to deal with (either in a live
mix or in the studio) than little or
no EQ. The gentle slopes chosen by
Sonic Farm and the use of
capacitors and inductors mean that
the 2di4’s boosts won’t muck up
your tone. I found them to be very
useful, and a very welcome feature.
It is worth noting that the Lo and Hi
Boost are only available when the
Gain switch is not engaged. This is
a result of the design of the tube
gain stages, where you have the
option of either a global frequency
boost (hitting the Gain button) or
The variety of gain control options
are very nice, and this will allow a
wide range of instruments to
effectively interface with the 2di4.
Since this is a tube-based device, it
also means that you have the ability
to dial in varying levels of tube
saturation. Not all tube-based DI’s
allow you to intentionally push the
input signal into clipping, but the
2di4 happily does so. Personally, I
am not likely to seek a saturated
tube overdrive from a DI box, but if
you want to put just a bit of “hair”
on your signal, Sonic Farm has you
covered. The tube saturation in
triode mode is probably a bit more
familiar-sounding for bass or guitar,
but check out what pentode mode
has to offer, as it does have a
somewhat different character. Of
course, if you like to keep things
clear and pure, have no fear. The
2di4 has a very wide range of
tones/gain available before you are
anywhere near clipping. On that
topic, though, I must point out that
the front panel indicator LED is not
your best tool for determining when
you might be hitting tube saturation.
As always, use your ears.
“Ah, but Tom, what about this brick
getting in the way of your stage rig;
your pride and joy?” Well, the Amp
output is a direct copy of the input,
albeit a buffered copy. At first
blush, it seems completely identical
to the input signal, but after a little
A/Bing, you can notice the effects
of the buffering – which is not
necessarily a bad thing. Using a
passive Carvin PB5, the buffered
signal was just a touch more full
and meaty. Switching to an active
Skjold Exotic Custom 4, the low
end was identical between the direct
signal from the Skjold and the Amp
output, but the high end coming out
of the Amp output had and extra
layer of detail that was quite nice.
In short, I’ve got no problem
running the 2di4 in between my
bass and rig. In fact, I dig it a lot!
Direct Comparisons
Although their “job” seems very
simple and direct (excuse the pun),
your DI will, to a greater or lesser
extent, impart its on sonic signature
on your bass tone as it gets sent on
up to the FOH or recording studio
board. With the 2di4, at the very
first listen, it strikes you as an exact
copy of the signal from instrument.
However, more careful listening
shows the 2di4 to be organically
warm, clear and detailed, and
somewhat more harmonically rich
than the input signal. That it can do
all this without changing the natural
character of the individual
instrument is impressive. In this
regard, it reminds me of another
favorite tube DI, the Demeter
VTDB-2b Tube Direct. Comparing
the two of them back to back, the
2di4 is a tad more warm/round, and
the Demeter is a tad more
articulate/detailed, but the two were
very close – which, again, is an
impressive feat, considering the
VTDB-2b’s pedigree.
Just for kicks, I also compared the
2di4 to a very plain-Jane, pedestrian
DI, the passive Groove Tubes Direct
Box (model PDI). While the PDI is
an entirely competent device, there
is an immediately audible difference
which is best summarized by the
responses to each: “Eh,” versus,
“Wow!” Feature sets aside (the
GT’s features start, and end, with
the ground lift switch), the 2di4 has
more life and dynamics.
The Bottom Line
If you are a gigging bassist or a
studio musician, you need a DI. The
DI’s job seems simple, but it’s very
important that it doesn’t screw it up.
Yes, you can get the job done with a
fairly inexpensive piece of kit, and
to be honest, if you’re just getting
your feet wet as a bassist, or if you
routinely play to less than
discerning crowds, perhaps you’re
just as well off with a more modest
box. However, if you really care
about that recording; if you need to
nail that live tone; if you want to be
sure that your Fodera sounds like a
Fodera, both at your rig and at the
board, then a high quality DI is
your best friend. There are some
very nice options out there, but few
– if any – can match the build
quality, feature set, and sonic
excellence embodied in Sonic
Farm’s 2di4.
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31
test
bass
gear
Sonic Farm
2di4
ENCLOSURE
Material:
Dimensions:
Weight:
Rackable:
Inputs:
Mode:
Tubes:
Input Impedance:
EQ Type/Features:
Compressor/Limiter:
DI Output:
Effects Loop:
Dedicated Tuner Out:
Construction:
Additional Features:
GENERAL
Steel
11 3/8”L x 6”W x 5”H(with handle)
5.4 lbs
No
Company:
Sonic Farm Pro Audio
Vancouver, BC, Canada
(310) 402-2390 (US)
(778) 863-1613 (Canada)
www.sonicfarm.com
PREAMP
Country of origin:
Year of origin:
Warranty:
List price:
Street price:
Options:
Accessories:
Available colors:
Canada
2013
1 year
$850 (Canadian)
$850 (Canadian)
None
None
Red
Acquired from:
Dates:
Locales:
Test gear:
Sonic Farm
November 2013-February 2014
Ohio
Carvin PB5, Skjold Exotic Custom 4, Stewart World 2.1,
Bergantino HT110, Bergantino IP112, GK MB200, Demeter VTDB-2b,
Groove Tubes Direct Box
1 x 1/4"
Tube/Solid State
1 x EF86
> 1 Megohm 200 Hz, 200mV Sin
Lo and Hi shelving boost
N/A
Transformer Balanced
N/A
N/A
PCB
Instrument out, DI out and Line out; Ground Lift
POWER AMP
Mode:
Tubes:
Outputs:
Impedance Options:
Power Supply/Transformer:
Cooling System:
Line Voltage Options:
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
TEST RESULTS
1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)
In-Hand
MEASUREMENTS
Full Bandwidth All Controls At Noon:
20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.2 dB; 250 mV swept sin input
Limited Bandwidth All Controls At Noon: 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.2 dB; 250 mV swept sin input
Limited Bandwidth (Optimally Flat):
20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.2 dB; 250 mV swept sin input
POWER
4
8
Continuous Power:
Measured Voltage:
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Burst Power:
Measured Voltage:
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Input Signal:
Wall Voltage DUT:
THD+N:
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Features:
Tonal Flexibility:
Ease of Use:
Aesthetics:
Tone:
Value:
On-Bench
4
4
4.5
4
5
3.5
Internal Parts
External Parts
Overall Assembly
Ease of Repair
Instructions/Manual
Quality Per Price
Layout/Cooling
In-Hand Score
average
4.17
On-Bench Score
average
3.93
SONIC PROFILE:
Lows: Full, tight, controlled
Mids: Clean, pure, slightly warm
Highs: Smooth, detailed, inviting
TONE-O-METER
The 2di4 is faithful to your instrument's voice
and character, but adds a touch of warmth and
harmonic excitement, while keeping things clear
and controlled. In addition, it offers multiple
ways to subtly, yet meaningfully, tweak your
signal (gain and tone).
4.5
4
4
4
3.5
3.5
4
AMP
LAB
Tom Lees’
Fig. 1 Gut shot
Sonic Farm 2di4
The 2di4 is a bold name to bequeath to a piece of
gear so pedestrian as a direct injection box. Come
on, shouldn’t this name have been saved for
something much more muscular and glamorous? If
this name is to stay, it better deliver the goods. In
my neck of the woods, I can purchase a budget DI
for under $50. My Radial boxes cost a bit more than
these budget DIs, but they typically do such an
admirable job that I rarely see a reason to look
further. Now, the 2di4 list price is $850 Canadian. I
have no hesitation paying that price for something
that truly is to die for, but I am setting the bar for
this product pretty high before I can say that I am
impressed, given that this is … well … a DI box.
Construction
Red is my favorite color, and the large, shoebox
housing really appeals to my stylistic sensibilities.
In this regard, the 2di4 scores high on external
appearance. The jacks, switches and buttons feel of
quality. I like the look of the chicken head knob on
the trim control setting off the black and white
labeling on the front panel. Regardless of opinion of
the front panel, it is really hard to find fault with what
is under the hood. The internal construction drips of
quality. There are two main circuit boards, including an
amplifier board and a power supply board. The circuit
boards are thick, with gold-plated pads and a double
copper layer. The power supply board provides
regulated power to the tube and analog circuitry of the
amplifier board. The amplifier board boasts boutique
signatures, including a gold-plated tube socket, a
Cinemag transformer and high quality passive
components.
The Circuit
The signal path of the 2di4 is simple and clean. The
2di4 boasts a single ¼” input, which is buffered and
folded back to an unbalanced ¼” jack labeled “AMP”
on the front panel. This lets the musician connect to an
amplifier with a buffered, instrument-level signal. This
is a really nice touch, and a welcome part of this DI.
The 2di4 offers four independent means to shape the
gain structure through the DI circuitry. The four means
include a trim switch, a GAIN button, a Triode/Pentode
bass
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33
(T/P) button, and an Output knob. The 2di4 offers a
first means controlled by a pad switch that allows
the user to select one of three options: 0dB, -12dB
or Mute. Flip the pad switch to the mute position for
quick instrument changes, use the -12dB position to
accommodate low-headroom devices downstream of
the 2di4, or leave the pad switch in the 0dB setting
to effectively bypass attenuation at the pad switch
circuitry. Switching between Triode and Pentode
mode (discussed below) can sometimes cause a pop
because of the way that the circuitry is reconfigured.
As such, switch the pad switch to the mute position
when toggling the T/P switch.
A second means is controlled by a GAIN button on
the front panel. Depressing the GAIN button affects
the signal level, adding a fixed gain. The 2di4
features a single active gain stage, which is
implemented by an EF86 vacuum tube. The gain
added by the GAIN button is created by bypassing
the current setting circuitry designed around the
cathode of the EF86.
A third means is also built around an EF86 vacuum
tube. The EF86 is normally a pentode vacuum tube
that can be operated in either triode mode or
pentode mode, selected based upon a
Triode/Pentode (T/P) switch. In short, the T/P
switch “rewires” the tube to operate in pentode
mode or triode mode. The T/P switch also
reconfigures the bias for proper operation. The
triode and pentode modes are discussed in greater
detail below.
A fourth means is the Output control, which is
adjusted by the output potentiometer. The EF86 has
FIG. 2 EQ options
34 bass
gear
a high output impedance. As such, the tube
output is buffered before the signal is coupled to
the XLR output jacks on the back panel. The
Output control is after the gain is applied, so
tube gain and tube overload are unaffected by
the Output control. However, the Output control
does affect the level at which the output buffer,
transformer and connected output device are
driven.
The 2di4 also offers a few equalization options,
including two low-frequency options, selectable
with a LO switch, and two high-frequency
options, selectable with a HI switch. A neat trick
here is that the tonal shaping is performed by
providing frequency dependent elements
(capacitors for the HI boost, and inductors for
the LO boost) in the cathode circuitry of the
EF86 tube. The benefit here is that the circuitry
is clean and the signal path is as short as
possible. The tone-shaping elements are not in
the direct signal path. The disadvantage here is
that because the GAIN, LO and HI all operate
on the cathode circuitry around the EF86 tube,
the GAIN switch, when engaged, defeats the LO
and HI tone-shaping options. As such, you have
the option of no gain/no EQ; gain with no EQ;
or EQ.
Referring to Fig. 2, a frequency response plot
shows that the LO and HI options each provide
subtle shelving boost relative to the flat setting
(LO and HI switches in the center position).
Although subtle, the EQ is effective in its role as
a DI tone control. If you need major
equalization, you need to make
adjustments at the source (or replace
the source). Note that the response
illustrated in Fig. 2 is merely
illustrative of the shape of the EQ
curves. The ultimate level of boost is
determined by a number of factors,
including other DI settings. In this
regard, the controls are interactive and
work together. Moreover, there are
two small trim controls (labeled
TRIM – located between the T/P
switch and Output knob) that you can
tweak with a small screwdriver to
adjust the overall level, to obtain
slightly more, or less, gain.
The output of the EF86 tube gain stage is buffered,
and the buffered output is coupled to a Cinemag
transformer-balanced DI output that connects to a
first XLR jack on the back panel. The buffered
output of the EF86 also feeds an op-amp balanced
line output that is connected to a second XLR jack
on the back panel. As such, the 2di4 provides an
instrument level output, a transformer-balanced
microphone output and a line output, which are
simultaneously available.
A signal indicator designated OL is located between
the input jack and the GAIN button. The LED glows
green if a signal is detected as being present. If the
signal exceeds a predetermined threshold, then the
LED glows red.
To get a sense of the gain of this device at both the
line and mic levels, we set the trim switch to its 0dB
position, and set the GAIN and T/P
switches out. We calibrated the line
level out to provide 0dB as our
baseline and ran a frequency sweep.
Regardless of switch settings, the
frequency response was similar. We
measured approximately 28dB
difference between the mic and line
levels throughout the tests. Under
our test conditions, engaging GAIN
switch resulted in about 4dB gain.
Engaging the T/P switch resulted in
about 7dB gain. However, engaging
both the GAIN and the T/P switches
resulted in just under 18dB gain.
Switching our tests, we measured
about 35dB gain in pentode mode
and approximately 28dB in triode
mode, with a THD+N under 1%.
The nature of the particular design in
this product allows for measureable
distortion levels well over 1%
without any sign of nasty distortion.
I would not hesitate to call the signal
“clean” at levels over 2% THD+N.
In this regard, gain in pentode mode
can reach into the 50+dB range.
Triode/Pentode Switch
Before getting into the function of
this switch, let’s take a minute and
address this whole pentode/triode thing. Let’s start
with a triode, because that will make the pentode
easier to understand. A triode has basically three
controllable electrodes (hence tri-ode), including an
anode, cathode and grid. Each electrode is accessed
by the designer as a pin on the tube. A triode also
has heaters that heat the cathode, but let’s not
concern ourselves with them, for this discussion.
Basically, the heated cathode releases electrons that
are attracted across the vacuum of the tube to the
anode (an electron migration). An input voltage
applied across the grid is injected into this electron
migration, such that a small change in input voltage
is converted into a large change in current. Circuitry
attached to the anode converts the change in current
to a voltage.
Now, a pentode is basically a triode with two
additional electrodes (which we see as two
FIG. 3 Gain
FIG. 4 Linearity
bass
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35
additional pins on the tube), including a screen grid
and a suppressor grid. Without getting too techy, the
screen grid provides two functions. It accelerates
electrons towards the anode, thus providing
increased gain over a conventional triode.
Moreover, it reduces capacitance that forms
between the grid and anode. However, the screen
grid adds artifacts that are undesirable. These
artifacts are corrected for by the suppressor grid.
Now, the neat trick is that if the screen grid is
connected to the anode, and the suppressor grid is
tied to the cathode, the resulting configuration is a
triode.
Life does not come without tradeoffs and
compromises. Even though the Pentode position
gives more gain, you have to give something in
return, and that something is headroom. To see
these tradeoffs, take a look at Figs. 3-5. Under our
FIG. 5 THD+N ratio
FIG. 6 Scope trace triode mode 3.15 Vrms input
36 bass
gear
test conditions, we set the trim switch to 0dB, we
set the GAIN switch to its out position, we dialed
the Output potentiometer to noon and swept our
input signal level from off to 5 Vrms. Pentode
mode is illustrated in the red trace and triode mode
is illustrated in the blue trace.
As illustrated in Fig. 3, for low signal levels, the
Pentode mode has about 7dB more gain compared
to the Triode mode. However, the gain of the
Pentode mode starts dropping off at about 1.5 Vrms
(indicating the onset of clipping), whereas the gain
in Triode mode stays clean up to an input signal of
about 3.5 Vrms.
As illustrated in Fig. 4, for low signal levels, the
Pentode mode and the Triode mode are extremely
linear, tracking gain as a function of input signal
with precision. Fig. 4 is consistent with Fig. 3 in
that the difference in gain between
Pentode mode and Triode mode is
about 7dB, with Pentode mode
providing more overall gain.
However, the Triode mode
demonstrates consistently more
headroom. Note that when reading a
linearity graph, distortion begins to
onset when the slope of the line
begins to flatten out.
As illustrated in Fig. 5, the tube
characteristics of this device are
clearly apparent. The design of the
circuitry in the 2di4 allows the
THD+N measurements to reach a
few percent before you would even
begin to notice. In our tests, THD+N
as high as 2-3% yielded no signs of
clear, nasty clipping. For low signal
levels, both Pentode mode and
Triode mode are clean at well under
1% THD+N. However, in Pentode
mode, under our test conditions, the
distortion quickly increased for
inputs above about 1.5 Vrms,
whereas the signal remains relatively
clean in Triode mode to over 3 Vrms.
To illustrate this, refer to Fig. 6. We
input a 3.15 Vrms input signal in
Triode mode and measured about 2%
THD +N. As the scope trace
illustrates, whereas a critical eye might suggest that
there are signs of compression rounding
out/fattening up the peaks, there are no signs of hard
clipping.
Keep in mind that headroom is not the only
difference between the Pentode mode and the Triode
mode. Each offers its own harmonic signature. For
instance, compare Fig. 7 to Fig. 8. Fig. 7 shows the
1% THD+N in Triode mode, whereas Fig. 8 shows
1% THD+N in Pentode mode. Both modes show
that the second harmonic is about 40dB down.
However, the Triode mode harmonics show a
gradual “stair step” response, with the third
harmonic over 30dB down, compared to the second
harmonic. Comparatively, in Pentode mode, the
third harmonic is about 15dB down from the second
harmonic. Moreover, the higher-order harmonics
exhibit a relatively flatter response.
overload indicator as a “rough approximation,” but I
would trust my ears over the LED color when
determining whether an adjustment is necessary.
Then again, I think that is good practice, no matter
what the gear.
Due to gain differences, biasing differences and
other effects of the tube configuration, the
Triode/Pentode switch offers not only the
opportunity to trade off input gain for
headroom, but also to alter the harmonic
signature of the device.
Conclusions
On the bench, the 2di4 appears to be a strong
contender for supreme DI. Yes, I am impressed
with this DI. Is it 2 di 4? Well, as far as DI
boxes go, this box should deliver the goods. If
you own a studio, this DI should be on the short
list of additions (assuming that you do not
already own it). If you play bass, the wide
range of headroom, the tube character, the subtle EQ
shaping, the instrument out, DI out and line level
out make this product extremely versatile.
FIG. 7 1 % THD+N triode mode
Do you truly need a DI will all of these bells and
whistles? Maybe not. But if you are looking for the
ultimate DI, I would start, and likely end, my search
right here.
If I had one complaint, it would be that the overload
indicator was not as precise as I had expected. It
seemed to sometimes “latch” onto an overload
indication, even when the input signal clearly fell
below clipping. Also, under certain conditions, the
overload indicator turns red when the observable
scope trace looks clean. As such, I would use the
FIG. 8 1% THD+N pentode mode
bass
gear
37
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