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June 2017 Giveaway

Hands On: Radial Engineering FireFly

Looking for the ultimate direct-instrument interface? Whether “ultimate” means sound quality or functionality, you must check out the Radial Firefly. The Firefly just may be the most full-featured direct box I’ve ever seen. This tube- and transformer-driven DI has two instrument inputs, each with its own level control. Using a front-panel switch, you can toggle between the inputs. There are a tuner output and an input for a mute footswitch, so you can tune without running through the PA or monitors. An insert point lets you connect guitar pedals or rack gear, and a switchable Thru jack routes your signal to a stage amp either before or after the insert jack and the tube stage. An XLR output with a level pot up front feeds your mixer or DAW with anything from mic to line-level signals. Other features include polarity reverse and ground lift, and there’s an adjustable low-cut control for removing rumble, thump, or resonance. One of the coolest features is the trademark Radial Drag control, which matches the DI’s input load to what your instrument’s pickup wants to see for best tone.

Sonically, the Firefly is rich and full sounding. I tried it with an electric 12-string guitar as well as a 6-string acoustic with a pickup, and it sounded great for both. With the Drag control, you can really make a passive pickup sing.

For stage use, the Firefly is unequaled – Radial clearly spent a lot of time thinking this one through. All those features are also useful in the studio. And in both cases, the sound is exemplary. The Firefly may be the last DI you ever need!

Mitch Gallagher

About Mitch Gallagher

Sweetwater Editorial Director, Mitch Gallagher, is one of the leading music/pro audio/audio recording authorities in the world. The former senior technical editor of Keyboard magazine and former editor-in-chief of EQ magazine, Gallagher has published thousands of articles, is the author of seven books and one instructional DVD, and appears in well over 500 videos on YouTube. He teaches audio recording and music business at Purdue University/Indiana University, and has appeared at festivals, conventions, and conferences around the world.
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