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This article was originally published in issue #44
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The Stadium Bass DI from LR Baggs is more than just a DI and it’s not just a simple utility pedal either. Let me explain…
Around the front panel it’s far removed from what you may be used to plugging in to at the local venue - that DI box that is dumped on the corner of your amplifier that looks like it has been in a fight with several pints of sticky beer and a floor load of fluff and gaffer tape!
The Stadium DI offers up pristine audio - no surprise because, as I understand it, the LR Baggs team originally created the prototype for their own needs using premium components but decided to release it for the world's bass players too.
There are five controls on the front, which include a gain for setting the optimal input level. Going around clockwise on the front panel there's a VU meter for a visual guide to setting your input level, which also doubles up as a battery indicator too which tells you how many hours you have left via a pair of indicators.
The Stadium DI features a very interesting and for me very welcome inclusion. If you've seen my review recently of the TC Spectracomp you’ll have seen me refer to the benefits of multi-band compression. Well, like the Spectracomp, the Stadium DI also has a three band compressor on board whose parameters are controlled by one knob marked Comp EQ. In the video I have hopefully been able to demonstrate that effect, but I would urge you to get out to try one of these for yourself as the effect is a lot more pronounced 'in the flesh'!
Now for the Growl! ‘Bass specific distortion’ takes on many flavours. Some hit the mark, some sadly miss it - but LR Baggs is not going for the full-bore metal drive here. The Growl control is designed to saturate only the low frequencies of your bass signal - to add warmth and 'rich harmonic content' they say. However, if you want to get some top end bite into your drive too, then reach for the drive button that will enable the saturated drive to affect the entire signal range.
Down at the bottom of the box lives a foot switch to engage it - which means that this DI Box can also be used as part of your performance, a pedal too rather than a ‘sit at the back’ never to be seen tool.
On the subject of growl, we often like to add bite to our sound too and the Stadium has an Attack control knob that takes care of top end boost. Starting at the top of the dial and advancing will add top end, but you know, sometimes you want to back off the highs too and thus you've not been left wanting there either as the pedal allows you to back off top end anti-clockwise from the noon position.
The Stadium comes with lots of nice touches which show that the manufacturer knows exactly what it is doing. For example, the master volume adjusts the output across both the XLR output and the 1/4” unbalanced output at the same time and for further punch, the Stadium DI features a bass boost function in the shape of the FAT button offering either 0, +3db or +6db of additional thumb centred at 150Hz. This has clearly been designed by people who use these devices – not always the case with gear as we sometimes find out when we take products on stage!
An external power supply can be used to drive the Stadium, with an option of using between 9 and 12 volts DC, using the same common connection as ‘standard pedals’. Battery life is said to be up to 100 hours and if neither of these options are available the whole unit will take phantom power too! Finally for compatibility, the XLR output has a ground lift switch which is useful for attempting to remove ground loop noise; there is also an output PAD function switch for the XLR too should you have a PA that needs to receive either -10dbV or +4dbV signals.
That’s the run through done, but in reality, what’s it like in use? Well, I can happily say that I found a very pleasing setting in the video whereby there was a noticeable fattening and ‘polishing’ of my bass sound. What really impressed me is that I found that setting very quickly. You don’t need to be spending ages getting a sound together. I like that and as musicians on the road, or recording, we need that.
Of course there are a lot of DI boxes on the market today but I urge you to make sure this one is near the top of you 'ones to try' list because bridges the gap between being a professional DI box and a bass pedal, rather than being just a bass pedal with XLR socket.
This is a really great product and I'd happily use one.