Best DI Boxes For Electric Guitars – 2020 Ultimate Review

Thalia
| Last Updated: December 29, 2020

There is a lot of gear that you can use to add value to your sound, but when recording, there is one piece of equipment that is vital: the DI box.

There are, of course, many options available to choose from, and that can make the process quite daunting. 

So, in this guide, we will be taking a look at some of the best DI boxes for the electric guitar and some of the information that can help you streamline your decision. 

Comparison Chart of the Best DI Boxes For Electric Guitars

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best DI box for electric guitar overall
  • Increased impedance and signal matching when hooked up to mixers and amps
  • Decreased ground loop issues with the inclusion of a ground lift switch in the build
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  • Designed with a 600-ohm balanced output
  • Crafted with additional channels for sound crafting versatility
  • Built-in proprietary transformer for the conversion of impedance and isolation
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  • Best for the Money
  • Built-in high-quality isolation transformer for improved and versatile sound
  • Designed with an inst/line switch that will create a deeper natural tonal quality
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  • Designed with a metal case that extends the life of the unit
  • Constricted with Whirlwind’s patented transformer for improved functionality
  • Designed with mechanisms to help efficiently convert unbalanced signals to a low impedance balanced output
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  • Fitted with multiple input schemes for heightened usability
  • Built-in sound shaping filters improve the versatility of sound
  • Designed with the capability to emulate an authentic cabinet sound
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What is a DI Box?

This piece of equipment is a tool that musicians use to assist in the balancing or increasing of the signals. It also can be used to isolate your guitar from any electronic interference being translated into the sound. 

This unit is used to be able to plug your instrument straight into a laptop or PA without losing signal quality. You can also use a DI box to eliminate electronic hum or buzz from faulty wiring in venues due to the inclusion of a balancing transformer.

What Purpose Does a DI Box Serve?

There are many things that these boxes do for the recording or performing guitarist. Knowing the jobs that this box can do will easily help you along with the process of making a decision that will elevate your performance.

Balance

The DI box’s primary objective is to take signals that are transmitted from an unbalanced connection like a guitar or other instrument through an electronic unit to produce a balanced signal emitted through an amp or PA system. 

Elimination of Noise

Units will come with a ground lift switch, which breaks the ground wire connection between the in and out. This, in turn, eliminates the noise from wiring and electronics.

Phasing

Some will have phase switches that will switch up the positive and negative parts of the signal. This can help when using both guitar and microphone. 

Volume Control

Stabilizing and balancing the input signal can help even out the volume levels. This will help the sound quality to be enhanced, leaving the guitarist with a clear tone.

How to Choose a DI Box

You may not be familiar with the features and functions of a DI box, and even if you are, you may not know what to look for in a good unit. So, to help you with this, we have gathered together a list of the features we think you should be considering as you make this important decision.

Type

There are two styles of DI box: passive and active. Knowing which one you are looking for will help narrow down your selection of choices.

Passive 

These boxes are able to be used without any external power source. These types of DI boxes are best to be used with instruments that have active pickups.

Active

This version uses phantom power or battery or a combination of both. They are best used with instruments that use active pickups and/or are electric. 

Behringer Ultra-DI DI600P

I/O Ports

When finding the right option, you will want to find the one that has the right amount of inputs and outputs for your needs. This will be dependent on how many instruments or devices you will be using.

Size

Thinking about your intention in use will help dictate the size you need. If you are using it in a studio, a larger option may be just fine. Whereas if you are a gigging professional, then you may want a lightweight, compact option for better portability.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Here are the best DI boxes for electric guitars:

  1. Behringer Ultra-DI DI600P
  2. Radial Pro DI
  3. Hosa DIB443 Sidekick

Review of the Best DI Boxes for Electric Guitars

With all of the features in mind that you end to consider when choosing your DI box, we can now take a look at our curated list of the best DI boxes for electric guitar.

Behringer Ultra-DI DI600P Professional High-Performance Passive DI-Box,Black

PROS

  • Price versus value is awesome
  • Easily handle amplifiers for increased and controlled volume
  • Compatible with multiple sound sources for the versatility of use
  • Designed with a guitar-friendly filter that improves sound quality
  • Fitted with a ground-lift switch to decrease the ground and hum noise
  • Built-in patented Behringer transform for improved frequency response

CONS

  • Some users complain of volume compression when using
  • Issues with limited sound quality in comparison to other models

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of this unit have a lot to say, and the majority is good. Most tout the excellent sound quality as well as the decreased ground hum. Though some feel the signal gets decreased going through the unit, this is not a universal issue, and most would highly recommend this DI box.

Why it Stands Out to Us

So many things about this unit are awesome, which is why we chose it as our best overall. But the thing that really took it to this status for us was the ground-lift switch. The decreased hum and noise from the ground look to give you a better sound quality.

Who Will Use This Most

Plugging your instrument directly into a console or amp and not through an effect chain is becoming more popular, and that is what this unit does very well. That mixed with the high level of sound quality and the low cost makes this perfect for the gigging guitarist.

Bottom Line

Behringer is a name synonymous with high-quality electronics and accessories, and with this DI box unit, they do not stray from that. Designed with everything you need to optimize and stabilize your sound, adding this to your set-up is definitely a great idea.

Runner-up:
Radial Pro DI

Radial Pro DI Passive Direct Box

PROS

  • Lightweight and compact for improved portability
  • Offers the musician a solidly clear audio capability
  • Ground lift switch decrease risk hum for ground loop
  • Crafted with premium materials for an enhanced durability
  • Capable of operating without internal or external power sources

CONS

  • Issues with the durability and quality of the rubber feet
  • Some have had problems with the distortion channel affecting the sound quality

What Recent Buyers Report

Musicians who have recently invested in this DI box have a lot to say. Some feel that the quality of sound is decreased when using the distortion channels. But other than a few complaints regarding this, the unit is widely loved. Most love the decreased artifacts in the sound and the compact, easy to transport build.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The built-in transformer brings with it an elevated performance capability of this unit, and that is why we chose it as one of our best options for your musical needs. The elevated isolation and improved impedance conversion will create a stabilized output that will improve your overall sound.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit is great for electronic guitar player looking to hook their system up in small to medium size venues like a church or auditorium. Because of the inclusion of a distortion channel, this unit may also work well for the guitarist looking to add a little rock edge to their sound.

Bottom Line

This unit is durable and able to stand up to whatever you throw at it. That, combined with the exceptional design and features it comes with making this easily one of the best DI boxes on the market today.

Best for the Money:
Hosa DIB443 Sidekick

Hosa DIB-443 1/4' TS to XLR3M Sidekick Passive DI Box

PROS

  • Fitted with a male XLR input for microphone
  • Price versus value makes this a great investment
  • Operates clean and silent for artifact-free sound
  • Graphics are clean and easy to read for improved usability
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty for improved value
  • Constructed with premium-grade materials for enhanced durability

CONS

  • Some feel it is a little large in comparison to other models
  • Lack of manual included in packaging makes it difficult to figure out

What Recent Buyers Report

Sifting through the reviews, you will soon see that there are many things that users love about this unit. Besides the durable build, the artifact-free sound produced through the unit seems to be the biggest plus. The absence of a manual and the durability of the rubber legs may be a problem for some, but even these users feel the quality of performance for the price tag makes this a model they will continue to recommend.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The performance level of this unit is something we could talk about for ages, but the thing that stands out to us is the most is the price tag that goes with that. The fact that this is a budget-friendly option that offers similar quality to significantly more expensive alternatives makes this an excellent choice for many musicians.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit has so much versatility and is such a deal with its budget-friendly price tag that many guitarists could benefit from it. With that being said, the studio musician will probably get the most from this.

Bottom Line

When you are looking to expand your gear and are working with a limited budget, sometimes you feel like you have to sacrifice some quality. That is simply not true when you look at units like this. The performance level is on par with many more expensive models, and that is why it is one of the best options available today.

Whirlwind IMP 2 Standard Direct Box

PROS

  • Price versus value makes this a great choice
  • Offers splitting capabilities that rival its competitors
  • Built-in ground lift switch for decreased artifacting of sound
  • Crafted with premium high-quality materials for enhanced durability
  • Transformer is mounted to the chassis for decreased chance of damage

CONS

  • Not fitted with tone-shaping capabilities
  • Issues with the ability to work well with passive pickups

What Recent Buyers Report

Many guitarists who have added this unit to their kit love the simplistic design and its durability. Though there is some question about the sound quality and its brightness, this is not a global issue, and most recent buyers give this unit a big thumbs up.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There is a lot that we could talk about with this DI box, but the thing that stands out the most to us is the fact that rather than gluing the transformer to the chassis, it is riveted. This will give better stability as well as decrease the risk of damage.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit is a great option for a wide range of guitarists, but due to its durability and ability to efficiently translate unbalanced signals to a balanced one, the musician that plays live will get the most from this DI box. The lightweight constriction aids in portability as well, which will make it easy to take from gig to gig.

Bottom Line

This unit from Whirlwind is easily one of the best DI boxes out there. It is a well-crafted unit that offers elevated performance and durability that can stand the test of time. That, combined with a budget-friendly price, creates a unit that is a great choice to add to your kit.

Hughes & Kettner Red Box 5 Classic DI and Amp Simulator

PROS

  • Lightweight and compact for optimized portability
  • Crafted to deliver high-quality sound with premium internal hardware
  • Compatible with old school amps that elevate the usability of this unit
  • Designed to offer heightened flexibility with speaker emulation capabilities
  • Simple layout helps to make it easy to use for any musician

CONS

  • Issues with the quality of sound when recording
  • Some buyers find the tonal quality not to their liking

What Recent Buyers Report

When you talk to guitarists who have recently purchased this DI box, you quickly will see why it is rated so high. They love the fact they can use older amps with this unit and that the sound quality is superior. Though some feel that sound quality is only great when playing and lacks a little when recording, most love the versatility of the unit.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Sometimes as technology changes, those that love the old technology get lost in translation. This DI box helps those, and that is what stands out the most to us -- the capability of using this box with older amp models.

Who Will Use This Most

As we have already said, the sound quality is excellent, and with all the fantastic features, most guitarists would benefit from using this box. However, the ones that will get the most from this unit are those that are still attached to their classic amps but still want to be able to use a DI box to eliminate some of the excess noise from their signal.

Bottom Line

This unit has a versatility of use, sound, and portability that helps it stand out from many of its competitors. For these reasons, we knew we would be remiss if we didn’t include this DI box on our best-of list.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

The features are not the only things to keep in mind as you make your decision. These aspects are vital to the whole process as well.

Durability

Looking at the durability of the options is a crucial consideration. Looking at what material and the quality of that material is an aspect that will be important.

Channels

Though most artists may only need one channel, for those that want more versatility, multiple channels are the better option. So, knowing what you plan to pipe through this box will be helpful in the decision-making process.

Budget

Considering how much you are willing to spend can be crucial to the choice as well. Knowing the amount of money you have available and your must-haves when looking at the DI boxes available will allow you to choose the right one for you.

Intent

Knowing what you intend to use the box for can be an aspect that plays a part in finding the right option for you.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

You should also be very careful when choosing the box that will be included in your kit or studio setup. 

Venue

You will need to think about what venues that you will be playing in. Choosing the wrong option for the places you will be playing could be detrimental to the efficiency and use of this tool.

Instruments

You will need to pay attention to the instruments that you are using as well as the devices. Older models may not be compatible with every model available to you. So, if you are using older equipment, you will need to find ones that are compatible with them specifically.

Transformers

There are many types of transformers available, and paying attention to how they are mounted in the unit can be an important aspect to pay attention to. 

Conclusion

Now that you have all the information you need about DI boxes, we hope that the decision-making process is a lot easier on you. Armed with that and a handful of the best DI boxes for electric guitars, we know that you will soon find the perfect option for you and your musical needs.

People Also Ask

If you still have a question that haven’t been answered, take a look below to see if it is one of our most frequently asked questions.

Do I Need an Active or Passive DI Box?

The most significant difference between passive and active is that passive does not need any power to be used. Passive boxes are a transformer that uses the internal components to match the impedance and balancing with no other significant jobs.

Does a DI Box Boost Signal?

DI boxes do not boost the signal. In fact, they are specifically designed to manage balanced signals from low to medium levels and balance the signals within it. There is absolutely no gain added with the use of the DI box.

Do DI Boxes Need Phantom Power?

They don’t need phantom power to be used. Passive models do not require any form of power source to operate.

Can You Use a DI Box Backwards?

A passive model can be used in reverse; however, the active variety cannot. When using the passive model in reverse, you have to pay close attention to the signal levels. If you are not cautious, you can easily overdrive the DI.

Thalia

Thalia has spent most of her life loving two things - writing and music. Thalia's passion for music saw her learning to play several instruments throughout her childhood and teen years. This passion also led to her earning two qualifications in Sound Recording Engineering, which she now uses by writing about musical instruments, studio gear, and the processes involved in making and producing music.