James Taylor captures his live sound
with the Radial PZ-Pre.

The StageDirect makes changing instruments
easy when on stage.

The interaction between the PA and the acoustic
space can cause feedback. Changing the
polarity can often solve the problem.
StageDirect™ Development

Over the past few years popular products such as the Radial PZ-Pre™ and Bassbone OD™ have given artists more control over their stage sound than ever before. This has made them favorites with many of the world's most elite players including James Taylor, Zach Brown, Marcus Miller, and John Petrucci. The truth is, these powerful products are overkill for most musicians. Most players do not necessarily need all of the bells and whistles. This is where the StageDirect comes into play... literally. It was designed to streamline the process by providing the artist with exceptional sonic integrity, while giving them the extra control of being able to mute the signal for tuning and quick access to changing instruments on stage.

So why have a mute footswitch in the first place?

  • Quiet on-stage tuning
    There is nothing worse than having to hear an artist tune his guitar through the PA system. It makes the band seem unprofessional and for many patrons, they do not understand the reason for all of the noise. The StageDirect eliminates the problem because it mutes both the signal going to the stage amp and the signal going to the PA system so band members can tune quietly in between songs.
  • Eliminating feedback
    Few realize that one of the primary sources of feedback on stage is caused by instruments that are not in use but are resonating because they are left on by mistake. For instance, a sound from a bass amp can cause the top of a guitar to vibrate which will cause feedback. Turning off instruments and microphones when not in use eliminates the feedback.
  • Eliminating noise
    With less noise on stage you not only enjoy a better mix, but a more comfortable stage as you will have less noise in your monitors or in-ears to contend with. A more comfortable stage sound is immediately apparent for those in the audience as they can see when musicians are grooving and having fun! It's infectious!

Why have remote control?

If you are fortunate enough to have a guitar tech, the StageDirect adds another dimension by enabling the tech to mute the signal as he walks on stage to bring you a guitar and then un-mute the signal when he walks off stage. This almost 'magical' switch occurs silently and professionally by connecting a momentary (non-latching) footswitch to the designated ¼" input which, in turn, is used to mute the StageDirect from any remote location. You can even use a MIDI momentary contact closure to automate the process for a fast paced theater.

Why have an instrument selector on stage?

  • Changing instruments on stage
    With a regular DI, changing instruments without causing a huge pop in the PA system or through the stage amp requires muting the guitar amp and turning down the input channel on the mixer. The StageDirect solves the problem with a simple AB footswitch to select the active input. You can make even more 'wardrobe changes' by muting the active instrument on stage using the StageDirect's mute footswitch. This turns off all of the main outputs allowing you to switch guitars without the usual pop in the PA. Muting these outputs by simply stomping on the mute footswitch really simplifies the whole process
  • Less work for the engineer
    Eliminating stage resonance, excessive noise, bleed from one instrument into another and cutting the extra work of having to prepare for when the musicians may change instruments, will make the sound engineer a lot happier and a happy FOH engineer generally results in a better sounding mix!

Establishing the feature set

Although the StageDirect is designed to bring greater control to the stage, it is essential that it first be able to perform as a proper direct box. This, of course, means we had to outfit it with several essential features. As an active DI it must be able to handle various input levels so we added a pad switch to reduce the sensitivity. This enables the StageDirect to work with high output instruments, like active basses and keyboards, which can often overload the input of a DI box.

A key feature found on many Radial DI's is a 180° polarity reverse switch. This reverses the phase at the DI box output by toggling pin-2 and pin-3 on the XLR. Reversing the phase can be very helpful for eliminating 'hot spots' on stage that can cause feedback. When the sound from the PA collides with the echo in the room, two frequencies can combine to amplify each other when in phase causing a peak at a given location on stage. This can manifest itself as feedback. Reversing the polarity can often eliminate the 'hot spot' by cancelling out the wave.

Another culprit that causes feedback is excessive low frequency resonance. This causes acoustic instruments to vibrate which can result in resonant feedback. Reducing excessive bass also helps by eliminating low frequency clutter which makes the instrument more difficult to mix. As you reduce excessive bass, you also increase the headroom which equates to less distortion! To address this problem we added a 3-position high-pass filter that removes resonance for a cleaner sound. Simply set to where it sounds best.

The StageDirect is unique in that it can either be powered by 48V phantom power or by using an external 15V DC power supply. This enables the StageDirect to be used as a simple mute switch on stage when not connected to a PA system. Switching is automatic.

To help eliminate hum and buzz caused by ground loops, the StageDirect is equipped with an isolation transformer on the instrument output that breaks the electrical connection between the StageDirect and the other audio connections. This is augmented with a ground lift switch on the balanced XLR output that lifts pin-1 on the XLR.