Radial Engineering DI and Re-amp Boxes

It’s a great feeling to be able to set up a session and never have to worry about troubleshooting or fixing our essential workhouse gear. We’re not talking about microphones- but the rugged boxes that often live on the floor next to pedal boards, quietly doing the work to transfer clean signals from our live room to our Protools session. In our opinion, Radial Engineering’s equipment is the only brand that we trust to get the job done right every time, and it really is essential to our workflow.

Whether we are re-amping a bass DI line to move air and fill out a part, or collecting a DI signal as a safeguard while tracking, there are few sessions at the studio that don’t use Radial equipment. Started by Peter Janis in 1991, this Canadian company has been on the cutting edge of capturing pure musical tones ever since– bass, synths, electric, and acoustic guitar signals all sound great with their equipment, and Radial Engineering always has a solution to convert a myriad of signal sources to our console. Their products range from DI boxes, Reamp boxes, amp- and channel-switchers, and of course a whole series of Line- and Mic-level boxes that are used on stages, studios and in the corporate world as well. All of their units are designed to easily convert signals and consistently deliver THE best in audio quality.

At the heart of most of the Radial products is the coveted Jensen transformer. These transformers were designed in 1974 by Deane Jensen, the son of a Norwegian Physicist. His father went on to work for RCA labs as well as many other government jobs.  Deane discovered that one of the major drawbacks of most mixing consoles was the transformer, so he developed his custom Jensen transformer which increased the frequency response and introduced the Bessel curve (which Jensen is famous for) to cut down on noise. These transformers are the secret weapons for the Radial DI box line and how they achieve such sonic quality.

The backbone of Radial’s legacy is definitely their Jensen-equipped JDI (launched in 1996) and J48 direct boxes. They really are THE BEST Direct Input boxes on the market. Not only are these the best sounding boxes but they are also incredibly rugged and reliable. We have taken these units on countless numbers of tours, dropped them, stuck them to pedalboards, had fans spill beer on them, and they ALWAYS work. You never have to second guess whether any of their products will fail regardless of what gets plugged into it.

At the studio we also use some 500 series units as well as theirSGI guitar balanced line driver, their X-amp reamp box, their Phazor which is a phase alignment tool that we use on bass, the J+4 which takes a -10db signal and boosts it up to a +4db signal, and the JDX which is a direct box that goes between and amplifier and a speaker cab, sort of like a DI box but for an amp. Radial also has a more cost-effective “Pro-DI” line. These units are not equipped with Jensen transformers but they still do an amazing job capturing a clean signal.

Radial as a brand also includes some other product lines that feature essential gear for studio recording. Primacoustic is focused on acoustic room treatment options (we use their isopads for our monitors on in our mix room to prevent any unwanted vibrations from affecting the monitor’s output). Another great product is their ABY switches, which allow you to switch between two amplifiers or combine both amp signals with a simple foot switch. We can also vouch for their Twin City Tone Bone and BigShot ABY switches, which can be essential for live performances. Basically you can’t go wrong with Radial products, and we can’t sing their praises enough at the studio. They really should be your go-to if you want to reliably get the best sounding signal every time.

What to Listen To: Greg Klein’s Playlist

GK in the studio working with Peter Himmer who recorded vibes on his latest record.

We’ve got another playlist for y’all to listen to (check out our whole playlist series here)! This one is by Greg Klein (GK), who is no stranger to Acadia. He’s recorded three records with Dark Hollow Bottling Company, one record with The Worrisome Hearts, one record with GK and the Right of Way, and we’ve been recording his latest solo project, GROW, here at Acadia this past winter thru the spring. GK has also been bringing in a ton of exceptional local musicians to play on this latest project. Look forward to hearing Drew Wyman on bass, our very own Jason Phelps sharing some tasty guitar licks, drums by Charles C Gagne of the Mallett Brothers Band, Timothy Patrick Emery on guitar, Susie Pepper singing harmonies, and Flash Allen playing organ, among others! It’s going to be a great record for sure!

We’re excited to share a little bit of what GK listens to when he’s not making music himself: Take a listen to his playlist below, along with a few notes for the songs he has included. As always, happy listening!

Sun of Bum – Jimmy Smith songs have a phrasing that I find so unique.  And somehow he sings like that and plays bass at the same time. Yacht Dance –  The way they layers guitar parts together. Man out of Time –  Its really the intro/outro concept in this tune that I used on a tune on my album. The Only Answer – He makes simple so good. Anything You Want –  The way they layer instruments is so tasty.  I love the feel of this tune. Looking Forward to Seeing You – Harmonies, hook. Car – Song structure is so interesting. Sway –  Feel, tone, testicles. O, My Soul – I love how this song evolves.  It ends somewhere very different from where it started, but it doesn’t feel that way.  Totally tried to steal this concept. 6’1” – lyrics, feel. Nobody Up Drinking – keep it simple.

What to Listen To: Jordan Guerette’s Playlist

This is the second in our new series of playlists curated by some of our favorite musicians/bands that have come in to record at Acadia! (listen to Nate Manning’s inaugural playlist here). This playlist was made by Jordan Guerette, a multi-talented musician who you may know from his guitar playing in Falls of Rauros. Jordan focused this playlist on music that influenced the first record from his latest project, Forêt Endormie (The record is Étire Dans Le Ciel Vide) which is an incredible chamber ensemble based in Portland. Take a listen and check out Jordan’s notes for each tune below:

1. “Twa Corbies” by Sol Invictus from The Devil’s Steed (2005)

For me, Sol Invictus are the epitome of neofolk, and Tony Wakeford’s voice defines the genre. This is my favorite Sol Invictus song and probably my favorite in the genre in general; the bizarre, distorted-guitar-and-horns arrangement with Wakeford’s extraordinarily melancholy lyrics and English folk melody makes it a classic.

2. “String Quartet No. 1 Mvt. I: Adagio – Con moto” by Leoš Janáček (1923)

Janáček’s syrupy harmonies and achingly melancholy melodies in this movement have made it an all-time favorite of mine. The entire quartet is more than worth any curious listener’s time.

3. “Emily” by Joanna Newsom Ys (2006)

Joanna Newsom is the artist that I cherish more than any other. Newsom’s compositions, playing, and lyrics are already fully-matured on her second album, and the results here are sublime. Please listen to this song if you have to pick one from this list. (Of course…it’s not on Spotify, so we’ve included the YouTube link below)

4. “Hung From The Moon” by Earth Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (2008)

Earth is probably the only band in the world that has an album composed of just unaccompanied guitar riffs that are actually worth listening to (Phase 3: Thrones and Dominions). This song is from their post-reunion era which features jazz pianist Steve Moore. Moore’s idiomatic improvisation in this track pushes Dylan Carlson’s composition to perfection.

5. “Stained Glass” by Kayo Dot Stained Glass (2011)

Toby Driver’s Kayo Dot is best known for changing their sound all the time. I actually like their last two albums Comets on Io and Plastic House on Base of Sky the most, but this EP was my introduction to the band and its improvisatory, almost ambient soundscape really had an effect on me. I believe that this EP was a factor in my developing love of the vibraphone.

6. “La cathédrale engloutie” by Claude Debussy (1910)

Debussy’s harmonic world has pretty much become the basis for what I write. Debussy’s musical symbolism is so evocative of this “Sunken Cathedral” that I find it impossible to not think of being submerged during the majority of this piece. Debussy took inspiration from the Legend of Ys, in which the cathedral sometimes rises above the surface of the ocean. The moments during which the cathedral arise are so obvious in this piece due to Debussy’s ability to conjure specific, concrete images with instrumental music. 

7. “Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus: 1. Regarde du Père” by Olivier Messiaen (1944)

Messiaen is another giant of French classical music, and this suite of piano pieces has its own harmonic world that uses familiar chords like the major triad in a way that is so atypical of Western music that they begin to form new identities.

8. “God Bless Our Dead Marines” from Horses in the Sky by Silver Mt. Zion (2005)

Silver Mt. Zion began as an instrumental classical-ish band and I love those early records, but this is the first Silver Mt. Zion album that I had an obsession with. The vocal round is both simple and sophisticated, hopeful and melancholy. There is also a verse about lyricist Efrim Menuck’s dog that usually makes me choke up.    

9. “Red Seas” from The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton by Clogs (2010)

This is a beautiful song from a beautiful album by Clogs, brainchild of Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner. The arrangement is interesting, including bassoon and strings, but it is really Newsome’s gorgeous vocals that make this song really special.

10. “Gymnopédie No. 3” by Erik Satie (1888)

The master of melancholy piano music. Satie is unbeatable in his understated, strange, yet immensely memorable melodies and sense of harmony. His music is so accessible, yet heady and worth academic study. The melody of this piece strikes a particular resonance with me at this moment, but I could have chosen any of his Gymnopédies, Gnoissiennes, or Nocturnes.

We’ve also included Jordan’s record Étire Dans Le Ciel Vide at the end of the playlist: take a listen and see if you can hear some of the influences! As always, happy listening!