One way to record guitar, bass, and synthesizer is through a DI box. DI stands for direct input or direct injection, and a DI box allows you to send your instrument’s signal to a microphone preamp rather than to an instrument amplifier. This not only offers a unique and easy-to-manipulate sound but also eliminates the need to use an instrument amplifier or microphone. This can be very convenient if you are recording a lot of sources at once and you don’t want an instrument to ‘bleed’ into the mics used on the other instruments or if you’re not dedicated to a particular amp sound at the time of recording.
A DI box also allows us to split the signal coming from the instrument. In addition to the XLR output for the mic preamp, many DI boxes include a ¼” Thru jack so that you can still plug into an instrument amplifier, allowing you to record both the DI sound and the amplifier’s sound for the same performance. It’s great to have both of these tonal options when it comes time to mix.
If you record only through the DI box, you can still get an amplifier’s sound later on through the process of re-amping. A re-amp box will send a previously recorded signal to an amp for “re-amplification.” The re-amping process requires sending your digital recording through a D/A (a digital to analog converter), then the re-amp to any effects pedals, and then the amp. This is the other benefit of recording directly: you can change amp and effects settings during the recording process to find a sound that fits exactly what you are looking for.
Often, as a musician or home studio engineer, you don’t have access to the best gear or all the gear that you may want on an album you are recording. Most studios can offer re-amping services for your instruments if given DI recordings. This is often a great solution for bands and musicians who want certain effects and tones on an album but don’t necessarily want to own all the gear needed to make these effects and tones.