DI pedal adds studio tones to your live rig.
by Teja Gerken
September 15, 2016
L.R. Baggs is a premier maker of pickups for acoustic instruments, but the company is also well known for its stand-alone preamps. The company’s Para Acoustic DI, which has been part of its line since the mid-’90s, was one of the first multifunction units to combine a preamp, EQ, notch filter, and DI into a single box. Not surprisingly, the Para Acoustic DI is now a classic piece of gear that continues to be a mainstay in performing musicians’ stage setups the world over. In 2009, Baggs introduced the Venue DI, which adds a built-in tuner, a boost function, and other features to the basic platform of the Para Acoustic DI, creating another indispensable piece of gear for many players.
More recently, Baggs introduced a new addition to its line: the Session DI, which offers some of the inherent sound of high-end mixing consoles in a convenient and affordable pedal, designed for use onstage. The Session DI is first and foremost a DI box, designed to connect a guitar’s high-impedance, ¼-inch output with the balanced, low-impedance input of a mixing board, delivered by way of an XLR cable. As an active design (it can be powered with a nine-volt battery, an external power supply, or 48-volt phantom power), the Session DI also acts as a preamp, and a gain control with an LED-based input-level display makes it easy to match it up with the guitar’s output signal.
Beyond its fundamental role as a DI, the Session DI offers two tone-processing features: Analog Saturation, and Compression EQ. The saturation function is specifically tailored for acoustic instruments, and while it keeps the tone essentially clean, it is designed to add warmth and complexity to the signal's harmonic content and overtones. The Compression EQ function is not to be confused with a standard compressor that affects overall dynamics. Rather, it's a dynamic EQ designed to affect a preset range of frequencies that are often problematic in amplified acoustic guitars, yielding a smoother overall sound, especially when playing with a heavy attack. Each function is accessed with a single knob that controls the amount of the effect.
The Session DI also includes an adjustable notch filter for battling feedback, a phase-reversal button, a battery check, a high-pass filter with four presets, and a ground lift. Input is via a standard ¼-inch jack, and besides the XLR output, the unit also has a ¼-inch output that can be used at the same time as the XLR output (for example, with one signal going to a PA and the other feeding an amp). A sturdy footswitch allows muting of the overall signal.
In this video, Peghead Nation Co-Founder/Producer Teja Gerken demonstrates the Session DI using a Lowden O-10 guitar outfitted with an L.R. Baggs Anthem SL pickup/microphone system. During the playing segments, the guitar signal is fed directly into the Session DI and recorded to hard disk, using the XLR output, with all external studio microphones muted.
SPECS: Acoustic instrument DI box and signal processor. Controls for Gain, Volume, Notch Filter, Saturation, and Comp EQ. LED VU meter. Battery check. Phase reversal. High-pass filter with four settings. Ground lift. ¼-inch input. ¼-inch and XLR outputs. Powered by nine-volt battery, external power supply, or phantom power. Metal footswitch for mute function. Aluminum, steel, and plastic construction. Includes carrying case. Assembled in USA. $359 list/$249 street. lrbaggs.com
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