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Author Topic: A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3  (Read 6549 times)

Tyler Burns

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A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3
« on: March 12, 2011, 01:56:30 pm »

I recently tested 3 direct boxes:

-DW Fearn PDB (passive)
-Radial JDI Duplex (Passive)
-DW Fearn VT-3 (active/tube)

The preamp used in this test was an NPNG DMP-2NW with 35 dB of gain.

To maintain the "lowest common denominator" in my setup, I tested these units with my Nord Lead 3, which, with some types of sounds, exhibits an exasperating dithering noise from the analog outputs. (It has to do with the unit's D/A converters.)

Thankfully, the passive direct boxes (PDB and JDI Duplex) eliminated 98% of this unwelcome dithering noise AND maintained the intended sound perfectly. While both units sounded extremely clean and clear and "hi-fi," after many days of listening and testing with gain-matched midi sequences, I preferred the DW Fearn PDBs. They are the same as the JDI, but slightly punchier in terms of bass response. Although I already own a JDI Duplex, I spent $600 and bought two PDBs.

The DW Fearn VT-3 is another beast entirely. First off, it has a slightly louder output than the aforementioned passive direct boxes. Second, it is, as to be expected with tubes, a bit noisier. The VT-3 has a HUGE, round sound, but it must be coupled with an extremely high-quality instrument output, because it is extremely revealing. For example, I personally found it unusable with my Nord Lead 3 because it exacerbated the dithering noise. Since my Nord Lead 3 is a mainstay in my current setup, (and one of my favorite synths to program), I found the VT-3 unsuitable. However, if I were only using instruments with clean outputs, I would seriously consider the VT-3, especially if coupled with the VT-2 dual channel tube preamp.  However, I might still prefer the quietness of the PDB.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 03:29:16 pm by burns46824 »
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Dave Ferris

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Re: A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 12:09:27 am »

Thanks for the nice review Tyler. Not a lot out there about the VT-3...

I'd always considered the VT-3 for recording my digital pianos ;Yamaha CP5, Nord Piano, Korg SV-1. (Both the CP5 & SV-1 have XLR direct outs) But at around 2K, it seemed a bit expensive for the little amount of recording I do with electronic keyboards. From your impressions it sounds great though. I've found a local Pro Sound store that rents the VT-2 but never have heard of anyone with a VT-3 to check out.

Have you used the VT-3 live at all ? I'd be curious to hear how it would affect digital pianos live through my fairly high end RCF speakers. Would you in turn need a high end preamp for live or would the board pres of a modest A&H ZED10 suffice?

For my studio I have a Jim Williams/Audio Upgrades modded Soundcraft Delta board. The pres in the board aren't up to the level of his high speed mic pre or other high quality dedicated pres like the Fearn, Forssell,  NPNG, etc. but they're very good after Jim did his mods....

Charles22dean

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Re: A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2011, 02:57:51 am »

I recently tested 3 direct boxes:

-DW Fearn PDB (passive)
-Radial JDI Duplex (Passive)
-DW Fearn VT-3 (active/tube)

The preamp used in this test was an NPNG DMP-2NW with 35 dB of gain.

To maintain the "lowest common denominator" in my setup, I tested these units with my Nord Lead 3, which, with some types of sounds, exhibits an exasperating dithering noise from the analog outputs. (It has to do with the unit's D/A converters.)

Thankfully, the passive direct boxes (PDB and JDI Duplex) eliminated 98% of this unwelcome dithering noise AND maintained the intended sound perfectly. While both units sounded extremely clean and clear and "hi-fi," after many days of listening and testing with gain-matched midi sequences, I preferred the DW Fearn PDBs. They are the same as the JDI, but slightly punchier in terms of bass response. Although I already own a JDI Duplex, I spent $600 and bought two PDBs.

The DW Fearn VT-3 is another beast entirely. First off, it has a slightly louder output than the aforementioned passive direct boxes. Second, it is, as to be expected with tubes, a bit noisier. The VT-3 has a HUGE, round sound, but it must be coupled with an extremely high-quality instrument output, because it is extremely revealing. For example, I personally found it unusable with my Nord Lead 3 because it exacerbated the dithering noise. Since my Nord Lead 3 is a mainstay in my current setup, (and one of my favorite synths to program), I found the VT-3 unsuitable. However, if I were only using instruments with clean outputs, I would seriously consider the VT-3, especially if coupled with the VT-2 dual channel tube preamp.  However, I might still prefer the quietness of the PDB.

Very nice information for all instrument lovers.I have confusion, is VT-3 that similar to the passive DI?
Which one is better to use?
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Doug Fowler

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Re: A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2011, 12:35:41 pm »

Very nice information for all instrument lovers.I have confusion, is VT-3 that similar to the passive DI?
Which one is better to use?

Charles22dean, please go to your profile and put your full name in the Name field.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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Pascal.Pincosy

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Re: A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2011, 10:53:31 pm »

Don't the JDI Duplex and the PDB use the exact same Jensen transformer inside?
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Pascal.Pincosy

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Re: A Review: DW Fearn PDB vs. JDI Duplex vs. DW Fearn VT-3
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2011, 08:11:56 pm »

Don't the JDI Duplex and the PDB use the exact same Jensen transformer inside?
Yeah... so I'm going to assume the only advantage the PDB has over the JDI is the lack of features, cool red paint job, and higher price tag...  ???
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