Reviewed: Radial Engineering J33 Phono Preamp DI

Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au |Expect To Pay: $349

You’ve got to hand it to those Canadians; they certainly know how to build a solid DI box. The team at Radial Engineering have come up with so many clever products over the years, but they have certainly revolutionised the DI world with a specific direct box for just about every task at hand. Be it on stage or in the studio, these units are built for the rigours of one and they offer the quality required for the other. You know that no matter where you use a Radial DI, you’ve made the right choice. That is why so many of you will surely want to get your hands on the J33 Turntable Direct Box. This is a great little problem solver that doesn’t compromise on build or audio quality – exactly what Radial is renowned for doing.

If you’ve ever used any Radial DI, you’ll know they are built like the proverbial. The solid chassis is always built into the same framework with a folded metal plate wrapping around three sides of the box, with overhanging edges to protect the connections and controls from unwanted damage. This means you can leave this box lying about on stage and not be concerned about it being trodden upon. It’s quite alright; it’s designed to handle this sort of abuse. Everything is will protected under the rim of the casing, yet it’s all kept neat and tidy in a very compact shell. It’s solid, heavy and built for stage use, but it will certainly perform in the studio or even in a home audio environment when even the most scrupulous of ears will be impressed with the results. One side of the casing has a stereo RCA input, along with the standard ground lug for connecting your turntable. You’ll also find outputs in the form of a stereo RCA pair, a stereo 6.5mm TRS jack and a stereo 3.5mm TRS jack. The other end of the casing offers two balanced XLR outputs for running into your stage box, mixer or preamp inputs in an audio interface.

 

This is a thirsty little unit in operation, but it will accept phantom power from the XLR connections if available, which is ideal for stage use. Otherwise, a 15 volt power adaptor is connected between the two XLR outputs for use with the other connections. The sound is just what you should expect from Radial, clean and vibrant. There is very little noise to be heard, with a low pass filter on the input stage and a rumble filter available for stage use to reduce any resonant feedback. Be it a turntable on stage running into a big PA system, or an audiophile listening suite in a trendy inner-city townhouse, you can expect beautiful audio from this unit. A clear, yet warm audio response is delivered to each of the optional outputs, so you can connect to any device you wish to integrate with the Radial J33. It just goes to show what spending a few dollars can do for your vinyl collection. Don’t settle for any old budget phono preamp you find on eBay. With the Radial J33 on offer, you will want to hear more from your records, and you will.

Hits and Misses

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Warm audio delivery

Low noise

Stupidly solid build

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PSU connection placement isn’t ideal. It’s just nit-picking, really

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