There has always been a bit of a hole in the direct input box market, even with plenty of models available from a range of manufacturers, it seems that they all tend to offer much of the same and there isn’t really a range out there that ticks all the boxes unless you are prepared to spend big and get yourself some boutique engineering. Well, Samson have gone and changed all that with their new range of DI boxes in the S-Max series which sees five new products that are going to change the way we think about the common DI.
MD1 PRO – MONO PASSIVE DIRECT BOX
The compact purple box in the range, I thought I’d start with this one as it is the littlest and cutest of the three that I got to try out. But, just because it is small, doesn’t mean that it is without merit. This passive mono DI offers a lot more than many other simple boxes might deliver. On the input side of things, you get a 6.5mm input and thru jack. On top of that, there is a pad switch allowing you to pull the input back by 15dB or 30dB for really hot signals. Around the other side, a ground lift switch helps with any unwanted interference and a single XLR output gets you to where you need to be.
MD2 PRO – STEREO PASSIVE DIRECT BOX
The MD2 PRO is the bigger, black version of the little purple box. Built into a larger housing to fit all the connections, it also weighs quite a bit more as well. Both inputs have thru ports supplied for sending the original signal on to another destination, like running a guitar through to an amp. For this model, you get a slightly more restrained pad switch with reductions of 10dB and 20dB on offer, both with separate switches in the event that you want to use this as a dual mono device, rather than as a true stereo DI. And speaking of that, around the back you will find a switch to assign the device to either stereo or mono operation, along with separate ground lifts for both XLR outputs.
MCD2 PRO – STEREO PASSIVE PC DIRECT BOX
The red box in the range is one that many of you will have been wanting for quite some time, and a device that should be in every live engineer’s tool kit. The MCD2 PRO is designed for use with computers when a USB interface isn’t in use. Let’s face it, there are far too many times when someone wants to plug a laptop into a PA system without any idea of how this will affect the entire signal flow, with interference from power or a poor signal from an unbalanced headphone output. This is the box that takes care of all those problems and even goes so far as to assume the correct cables are probably not going to be offered with the computer either. So, inputs are available on two 6.5mm unbalanced jacks, two RCA connectors or a single stereo 3.5mm jack input for those who use such a cable from a headphone output. A simple 12dB pad is included for impedance matching with certain devices, so you should be able to connect any laptop or tablet now without any worry. Like its partner, this unit also allows for stereo or mono operation, but only offers a single ground lift in lieu of the fact that there will most likely be only one device plugged in with one of these boxes.
Overall, this new range of direct boxes from Samson is a real win for live sound engineers and AV operators. They are all built into a solid metal chassis that has a stiff lip running around all the sides with connections and switches. So, anything that is important is recessed and kept safe for the abuse they are likely to receive. The fairly low profile designs will allow them to sit on the ground on a stage and not get in the way. At the same time, they stack easily with a foam-padded underside, so you can place them on delicate surfaces, or stack them up without fear of scratching anything.
For more info on Samson products, visit www.elfa.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Extremely rugged build
All connections and switches are recessed for protection
Great range of possibilities
You can now use you old DI as a door stop
They are heavy for small units