Palmer PDI03JB – "The Master DI-Box". A test report by Soundcheck.

The German manufacturer Palmer has been largely present in the DI boxes sector for years. And not without success. The best proof of this for us is likely to be the test on the Joe Bonamassa Signature Edition.
Palmer PDI03JB - The Master DI box - A review by Soundcheck
Simulating a guitar speaker using a DI box is a sensitive issue, as it replaces a fundamental element of a guitarist’s the signal chain with a simulation. An electronic replica offers many advantages when playing live in particular: Instead of an expensive microphone, vulnerable to events on the stage, the electronic solution delivers fast and consistent sound quality, free from crosstalk.

The sound box would help to reduce stage noise. Even where incredibly quietly levels are needed, the appropriate equipment can help, especially when recording. Finally, having a speaker simulation around in the event of a box defect is always a good safety net.

Thus, the 19-inch PDI03 model with an integrated load resistor has proven its worth many times on stage. In contrast, this sister model is a significantly more compact, cheaper and passive device without a load resistor. The name is deceptive, because we’re talking about the PDI03 JB rather than its big sister PDI09 (The Junction), as the PDI03 has the same sound characteristics but has been extended by a mid boost added at the request of Joe Bonamassa.

The single-channel device is housed in a black steel case that can be screwed in if necessary to a box, amplifier or stage box.

The PDI03 JB is connected via a jack. The device is therefore also suitable for amplifier outputs of up to 200 watts, thanks to a triple attenuator for both preamp signals. Since the load resistance is absent, it is necessary to supplement it using a Thru jack or running a box in addition. So you can get the familiar sound on stage and the technician will receive a more reliable simulation.

The primary output is an trafosymmetrical XLR jack with the microphone level, that can be connected directly onto the stage from the stage box. Hums are eliminated via the ground lift switch. Due to the passive construction, the output level is not regulated and is dependent on the input signal; meaning that power supply units cannot be accidentally disconnected via a jack coming out. There is an asymmetrical jack output with the same level available in parallel.
The Signature Edition provides a mid boost compared to the original
EQ and Sound
The PDI03 JB provides a frequency corrected signal that comes close to a microphoned guitar box via the analogue filter circuit. Since not every box sounds the same, Palmer has provided three three-position switches, which serve to shape the sound. The bass and treble response can be regulated using a switch.

There is also a JB switch, which based on the request by Bonamassas, gives the signal a wideband mid-shift that lets the guitarist create more power. The PDI03 JB manages to create a round, natural sound, which is characterised by pressure, a considerable bass foundation, and in the right position, clarity.

I would not say that careful microphoning is therefore superfluous, as the results are heard and are available instantly, anywhere.

In fact, the control of the three frequency ranges allows intuitive taste- and genre-based pre-filtering, with the mixer providing a solid base for such. The PDI03 JB can even cope with strongly distorted sounds. In comparison to its competitors, the sound is harder and brighter than the Behringer Ultra-G model harder, whereas and brighter, whilst the polyphonic Red box 5 by Hughes & Kettner sounded audibly flat in comparison. The more expensive Palmer product has got a head start here, but the bass has to be occasionally curbed.

The active Cab Rock by Musician Sound Design also achieved good results here. With variable line-level outputs, two-band EQ and a Hi-Z input for effect pedals, the device subscribes to a slightly different concept. Working with impulse responses, savable Two Notes Torpedo CAB is significantly more expensive. It is fair to say that this can be seen as a winner in terms of flexibility.
Palmer PDI03JB
All in all,
the Palmer PDI03 JB is an excellent, passive speaker simulation. Just a small amount of money gives you a great opportunity to send the guitar signal directly to a mixing console. The quality is beyond all doubt. Otherwise, Joe wouldn’t have let us put his name on it.

Technical data:
Class: DI box
Effect types: passive speaker simulation
Simultaneous effects: 1
presets per user: No
electricity: passive
measurements: 14 x 9.5 x 5 cm

+ solid construction
+ excellent value for money
+ very good sound
+ compact dimensions


Source: Soundcheck magazine:
Author: Ulf Kaiser

Learn more about the Palmer PDI03 JB here:

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