I’ve tried just about every DI that’s hit the market in the last ten years sans the Phoenix and Reddi. You might say I’m obsessed with DI’s. I’ve even designed a DI/EQ channel of my own so I was especially curious to test out the new Martech SS1-DI which claims to be the “world’s finest direct box”. Martech is a fine company and I like their mic pre a lot so I was eager to give the DI a run. Here’s what I found:
The DI is packaged in a smart, small, compact shiny silver box. The topography is great for those who need space (It is just a bit wider than a typical DI, say a Radial for example). It has the option of passive or active input. The active input requires 48v phantom power. I tested both with my acoustic guitar which I find to be the most particular instrument when direct-injected. I first tested the passive input section and was very pleased with the range and tone of my instrument. Very clean, clear and accurate. I actually preferred the passive input to the active with my particular pickup (D-Tar Wavelength). The active w/48v phantom power seemed to be too “heightened”, too “electrified” if you will. Not bad mind you, just not as warm as the passive input in this particular situation. You might have to listen very carefully to notice the difference in a fast session (I recorded samples which I was able to listen back to later and compare). The thru sections work great and the sound to my amp monitor was clear and clean. On various basses I was impressed with the tone and consistency and even heard subtle differences I may not have noticed before.
This is a very accurate and transparent DI. Very sweet, uncolored and pure. I used it in a few live situations and it performed better when A/B’d during soundchecks than two other popular DI’s. It doesn’t have as many features (such as high and low cut, impedance sweep correction or multiple outputs) as its closest brethren, the Radial JDV MK3, but it is super hi-fi and thoughtfully made. One advantage it may have over the Radial JDV MK3 is that it can run passively very well without power. One caution: This may or may not be the most viable candidate for rigorous road work. The box is solid but not built like a tank. A coupla’ really good wallops might damage it so I would take some caution.
Is it the “world’s finest direct box”? Hmmm…that’s a tough one. Sound-wise it’s as good as anything I’ve tested but I’d say price point and features have to be a consideration for some because it may be too close to call for most people on the fly on sound alone. However it sounded so great with my Santa Cruz OM PW that I think I’m keeping it to use as my main touring DI (and travel protected in the guitar case) and it will be a nice compliment to my already significant collection of DI’s at home. Kudos to Martech for caring enough to use the best components.