It wasn’t until I owned a Neve console that I truly understood the cumulative value of recording through circuitry designed by the legendary Rupert Neve. Rupert Neve Designs’ RNDI provides comparable sound quality in the form of a direct interface (DI). The RNDI is an active, mono direct injection box built within a rugged steel chassis with custom transformers, a Class A discrete FET amplifier circuit and an LED current consumption meter with ground lift and speaker/instrument switches.
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI The 1.5 lb. RNDI measures 6.25 inches x 4 inches x 1.5 inches and includes a blue LED power indicator that illuminates when phantom power (required for operation) is present. The box’s +21.5 dBu input headroom can handle any instrument or professional line level source without needing a pad. In speaker mode, it can handle the full output level of a massive 1,000 W amp (yes, +41.5 dBU). The box’s high 2 Mohm input impedance ensures consistent performance with a wide variety of instruments and its Class A design prevents crossover distortion. The majority of the RNDI’s harmonic content is 2nd order with some 3rd order content present; these musical harmonics become a sonically pleasing addition to the original signal. The box’s phase coherence is amazing; this keeps the sound natural and results in a better outcome when blending the direct signal with a mic on the same sound source.
RNDI, which has a frequency response extending below 10 Hz and beyond 100 kHz, produces a potent and energetic direct sound that easily and faithfully reproduces the sonic depth of bass guitar and analog synths. In my comparisons to other direct boxes, I found that regardless of the audio source, the RNDI added a sonic depth to the sound that wasn’t present in my other DIs (even active tube DIs costing several times as much). The RNDI produced a deeper, fuller bottom end, smoother, richer highs and better clarity without any brittleness. The box’s low impedance, transformer balanced output is perfectly suited to drive long cable runs, making it a perfect option for sound reinforcement situations. It’s built like a tank so I’m sure it will easily bear the burdens of life on the road.
During my review period, I used the RNDI on keyboards, acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass guitar, and it performed wonderfully in every instance. During a live recording, where the direct acoustic guitar tone was unusable with the guitarist’s DI, switching to the RNDI was as drastic as switching instruments. Gone was the hollow, brittle sound of the guitar’s piezo pickup; instead, the guitar sounded warm, smooth and full. The change was solely the result of switching DIs; everything else remained the same. I had similar results in a live recording with a mandolin. Where the RNDI really shines is bass guitar, where it adds wonderful harmonic content to the bass’ mid-range tone, making it practically jump out of the mix while the bottom-end retains the smooth, rich fullness of a completely transparent DI.
The RNDI is a truly amazing device and at a street price of only $269, it should be top consideration for any musician, studio, engineer or sound company in need of a high-quality DI.
Rupert Neve Designs