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Miking or DI Box?


Have you ever asked yourself whether you should pick a normal dynamic cardioid microphone like the SM57 or even get in touch with a DI Box to capture the sound of your guitar amp?

In the studio you can spend a lot of time finding the best mic position, but in a live situation you normally have to do everything as quickly as possible. The advantage which arises in using a DI Box is not only in saving time, but also in getting a pretty good and consistent sound in every conceivable situation.
Make sure you are using a dedicated guitar DI Box including filters to emulate speaker response. They are available in both active and passive versions and mostly are capable to convert line and speaker signals sourced from guitar amps into balanced, frequency-compensated, microphone-level signals with tonal characteristics of a guitar cabinet.



In the most ways the use of these tiny little helpers is easier than you would imagine. The only thing you have to do besides choosing your preferred “speaker” settings is to connect the DI Box between the amplifier output and the speaker and using the balanced output to feed the PA mixer.

There are a few guitar amps on the market which are equipped with an integrated DI Box and are capable to turn the signal into a very authentic sound.

Note: The RED BOX 5 emulates the speaker, not the microphone. In other words, signals provided by the RED BOX 5 sound like those of an actual cab rather than that of a microphone picking up the sound of a cab. The benefits are considerable: You get a fatter, punchier and more direct signal with far greater presence, bandwidth and dynamic range than signals captured with a microphone.

With the RED BOX 5, you can take the PA and playback device out of the sonic equation and deliver the sound of a guitar cabinet straight to audiences and listeners. Best of all, there’s no latency, spillover or crosstalk from other signal sources such as drums, frequency cancellations caused by neighboring microphones or any danger of feedback.
This signal is the best you can get for processing with compressors, equalizers, reverb effects and microphone simulations on stage and in the studio.
Tip: Experimentation is very much encouraged: Make the most of both worlds by mixing the signals from the RED BOX 5 and a microphone. The RED BOX 5 lends every microphone signal more girth and presence without detracting from its inherent characteristics.

In this video Thomas Blug gives you a good impression how the Red Box sounds like. He uses a TubeMeister 18 which is equipped with an integrated DI Box to do a pretty nice A/B comparison switching between the cabinets sound and the Red Box.

To learn more about cabling methods and several ways of configuring setups, we recommend you to read more about it here

And if you can’t get enough from the theory, check out the article about “Using Mics & DI Boxes On Stage” from our friends at “Sound On Sound”


First published: May 14 2014. Most recent update: October 16 2015.

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Leave a comment

Peter on November 3, 2019 Reply

Dear H&K team,

I have been enjoying playing though a new tubemiester 20.

One frustration has been that the Redbox output (even when set to mic level) seems too high (more than 1volt peak-to-peak during the initial attack, even with the master levels quite low, which seems to be much more than what I expect for ‘mic level’). The high output level is causing saturation in my mixer even with the TM20 master levels set at the lowest settings and mixer gain as low as possible. (Same thing happens on clean or lead +/- boost channels.)

I’ve considered adding attenuation into the path, but this seems like it should not be necessary.

Any suggestions?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 5, 2019 Reply

    Hi Peter, and firstly congratulations on your new TM20! We hope you’re pleased with it, despite this Red Box issue you seem to be having.

    We asked our product expert about the output level problem, and he said: “If the level is still too high for the Mic Input, then use an XLR to ¼” jack cable and use the line in.” So go with that for starters and see how you get on! (One other interesting aside: we do sometimes find the amps seem very hot when using specific pieces of gear. For example, we run a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 often, and we always find we need to have the levels down super low and activate the -10dB attenuator pad. With other interfaces, not an issue at all!)

    All the best,

    Team H&K in Germany

Dale Peters on July 12, 2019 Reply

I just bought a TM5 Head & I’m running it through a Laney 4×12 200 watt cab – I’m amazed at the tone/volume I’m getting out of this little beast!

My question is… should I let the amp cool down before turning back on after switching between running the cab &/or DI’ing into my Mac via the onboard Redbox?

I’ve read that the Redbox circuit will automatically kick in irrespective of whether the Power Soak button is engaged (when no speaker lead is connected). I haven’t got the guts (or the money) to try & see if it works.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 18, 2019 Reply

    Hi Dale! First off, glad you’re enjoying the massive tones you’re getting out of such a dinky amp 🙂 We agree 100%, by the way!

    And in answer to your question, you should be fine. If you want to let the amp cool down between uses, go for it, but there should be nothing it can’t handle. And yes, when there’s no speaker cable connected, the amp will automatically go into the silent power soak mode, thus saving you from any damage 🙂 So give it a try sometime, and rock on!

    Team H&K in Germany

Christian Surieux on November 26, 2018 Reply

Without the possibility to record with a nice cabinet and good microphone, I am trying to use the Red Box and the line out from my Grandmeister DL 40 to insert sounds into Cubase 10 DAW, using a Steinberg UR242 interface. I have a headphone (monitoring) connected to UR242 and two Yamaha amplified cabinets as output.

I plugged an XLR to the DI output of the GD40 (in mode: Modern, Large, Line, On) then plugged the other XLR end into the Line 1 socket of the UR242, disengaged the Hi-Z amp from this input, then set the gain so that the red LED does not light up and have a correct sound in the monitoring headphones connected to the UR242.

On my GD40 I use Clean channel with gain at 12H, volume limitation at 1W, a little reverb.
And with this setting, my recorded sound is rather saturated while it comes out clear of the cabinet connected to the GD40 ?

There are for sure parameters to adapt cubase and UR242 to the GD40 Red Box output and I would appreciate to have Hughes & Kettner reco fot them.

Next, I would also like to connect Line Out of the GD40 on the Line 2 of the UR242 to have the sound before amplification, without the simulation introduced by Red Box. But my tests give int the monitor headphone a totally saturated and overwritten sound ???
Again, please any reco ?

I spent a lot of time in various forums, either Steinberg oriented, either Hughes & Kettner oriented searching the valide combination of parameters but nothing found at that day.

Thanks in advance for some solid material to progress on this.


PS:help some instructions are in German here….

Antony on November 1, 2016 Reply

Been experimenting with a Micro Terror running in to the speaker in of the Red box Classic and I get clipping when I turn the volume on the amp. Is the u it defective or does it need a speaker load even though it’s solid state? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 4, 2016 Reply

    Hi Anthony, you only need a speaker load connected for tube amps, so there’s something else going on here. What are you connecting the Red Box Classic to? It might be that part of the chain…

alex on August 15, 2016 Reply

Hi Guys. I have a pretty straight forward question and I hope you can help.

I have a Tubemeister 5 and the matching (10″ i think) cab and as I am a night owl I want to be able to play through headphones occasionally.

Can you give me an explanation of how to do this, do I need an external redbox or can I just run a XLR cable with a 1/2 adapter from the redbox out on the rear of the amp head?

I also have a M-Audio M-Track here if that is going to be useful in this situation?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 30, 2016 Reply

    Hi Alex! Hmm, you can’t directly connect headphones to the amp, so you’d either need a mixer, a headphone amp… or your M-Track 🙂 Just hook the Red Box up to the M-Track to connect the amp to your computer DAW, and use the computer’s headphones out. Now you’re set!

Ryan McLean on May 19, 2016 Reply

Hi there, Im new to home recording and I am wondering how I should go about plugging my Tubemeister 36 in to my macbook pro. Should I purchase an interface such as a focusrite scarlett or something else? any help would be greatly appreciated! thanks

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on May 19, 2016 Reply

    Hi Ryan! An audio interface is going to be your best bet, yes 🙂 We’ve had good experiences with Focusrites in the past, but there are other good ones too. Just scout around and see which one would do the best job for you at your price range. Also, think about what other features you might want to have from your interface in future (for example, some can record more than one instrument at once, some have comprehensive MIDI options, some have phantom power for mics, etc., etc.). We actually did a blog about starting your first home recording studio here – it could also give you a few tips:

    Hope this helps 🙂

Tony on February 21, 2016 Reply

I have a TM36 head, running into two 1×12’s.

Can I use the redox output with a “Planet Waves XLR Female to 1/4 Inch Female Balanced Adapter” and then add a pair of headphones for silent practice?

I would leave the speaker out attached of course, and set the watts to the “0” output setting.

Will this work, so I can have a headphone out?

Any advice would be great

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on February 26, 2016 Reply

    Hi Tony, unfortunately you can’t just connect headphones to our Red Box in this way. The best way to monitor yourself is to get hold of a little mixer (they’re very cheap on the used market) and go through there – plus, as well as attaching headphones to the mixer, you can use it for other stuff too! Hope that helps 🙂

Paul on November 16, 2015 Reply

Yes! That was it! Now I can crank my baby up as high as I want to and rock on at night! Thats so great, thank you guys again for the beautiful work you are doing for us, players!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 18, 2015 Reply

    Yay, glad it was an easy fix! Now you can enjoy the full tube tone of your Meister whatever time of the day – or night – inspiration hits you 😉 Rock on!

Paul on November 14, 2015 Reply

Hi guys! I’ve had this amp for a while and it is just awesome!
Recently i bought an interface (Steinberg U22) because I need to play quiet now. The issue that I’m having is that I really cannot crank up the volume on lead channel (redbox DI -> Steinberg U22 -> MacBook with headphones plugged into the Steinberg stuff) since it is clipping on really low volumes (like 7:30 o’clock). Is there a workaround for this maybe? Otherwise this stuff is just insane, thanks for this beauty!!!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on November 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Paul, glad you’re loving the amp! Hmm, a couple of things to check here. Firstly, turn down the power soak. It does make a difference with the Red Box. Secondly, make sure you’re set to line level, not mic level! Try these and let us know if this solves your issue. By the way, there’s more details on both these points in the Meister manuals (page 12 in this one):

    Good luck, and let us know! 🙂

Randy Kisling on October 17, 2015 Reply

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 19, 2015 Reply

    Not a problem – glad to be of service! 🙂

Randy Kisling on October 16, 2015 Reply

Or am I only connecting the XLR output of the red box to my recorder and using the monitors to take the amp load, and not even using the thru output?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Randy. With the Red Box 5, you’re more limited than with the built-in ones on the Meister amps, and the best solution is going to be some kind of power attenuator. (Thinking about our first answer again, trying to find a solution using your studio monitors would also mean you having the master volume down, so that’s not going to work – the monitor speakers can’t help you turn the amp down.) A compromise to try is to have your master down, and set the Red Box 5 to Line Level. This way you’ll get a bit of the power amp tone at lower volumes, but it’s not going to be quite the same as the real thing.

    We can’t see exactly what connection options your combo has (Google search doesn’t have any high res back images!) but there are four different ways of hooking up a combo with the Red Box 5. Here they are, so just choose the one which suits your amp:

    Tube Amp Combos:
    You have four options for tapping tube-driven combos’ signals:
    The combo provides a separate jack for connecting external speakers alongside
    the built-in speaker, and the jack for the external speaker DOES NOT switch off
    the internal speaker. In this case, connect RED BOX 5’s input (IN) to the external
    speaker out and do not use the THRU jack.
    The combo provides a separate jack for connecting external speakers that
    SWITCHES OFF the internal speaker. In this case, you have no choice but to also
    connect the THRU jack to a speaker cabinet or load box in the same way you
    would connect a tube amp head!
    The combo does not provide a separate jack for connecting external speakers,
    but the internal speaker is connected to the power amp via a cord with a ¼”
    (6.3 mm) jack plug. In this case, insert the RED BOX 5 between the power
    amp and speaker in the same way you would connect a tube amp head. Plug
    the internal cord connected to the built-in loudspeaker into the THRU jack
    and connect the combo’s speaker out to the RED BOX 5’s input (IN) using an
    additional speaker cable.
    The combo provides neither an additional speaker out nor a plug-in connection
    to the built-in speaker. In this case, you cannot tap the power amp’s signal and
    will have to use the line out or FX send jack as your signal source. If you have
    connected a signal processor to the FX send jack, you can insert the RED BOX 5
    between the effect device’s output and the FX return jack. Use a shielded line
    cable to do this.

    Let us know if this works for you, or if you have any more questions!

Randy Kisling on October 14, 2015 Reply

Thanks for ur answers. I ordered the Red Box 5. I ‘ll have it in a day or 2. My amp is an all tube Peavey 4X10 classic 50. I run it in clubs with both channels turned up (pre 8, post 12) normal, 12. The tubes don’t sing right until I have the master at just above quarter to, which is too loud at my condo, but I want that sound when I record. A friend who works at a guitar shop suggested the red box, but I’m wondering if I need a power attenuator.
My recorder is a TASCAM 2488. I need to be clear about what you are suggesting to get my volume down without having to turn down the amp’s master volume. So first I connect the amp’s speaker out to the red box in. And I run a mic chord from the red box XLR out to a channel in the recorder. Now, are you then suggesting I don’t have to connect the other (thru) out to the amp speaker, but instead can connect to the recorder and use the monitor speakers to turn the amp volume down? If so, would I run the cord to a channel input? Also would it then be with an instrument cord instead of a speaker cord?

Randy Kisling on October 14, 2015 Reply

Hi. I have a question about the Red Box 5. I want to record with my tube amp, but need to keep the volume down in my condo. Could I set my amp volume rather high like in a club and then reduce the volume at least somewhat with the red box? I know I have to keep the speaker connected.
The idea being to get a good sound without being too loud in the room.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on October 14, 2015 Reply

    Hi Randy. Are you using a standalone Red Box or one that’s integrated into one of our Meister amps? Because with our integrated Red Boxes, you don’t need to have a speaker connected, and of course you can also use the power soak too to get geat tube tones even at 1 watt (or silent, hence silent recording). If you’Re using the standalone Red Box (and if so, let us know what amp model you’re using) you’re right, you need a load box/speaker connected. The best way to get manageable volumes here would be to then hook the Red Box up to your mixer/DAW and use your studio monitors. The other way to reduce volume is to turn down your amp’s Master (if it has one!).

    Just for a bit more info, take a look in the m,anual, where it explains a few other options if you’re using a combo amp:

    We hope this helps a bit, but let us know if you have any more questions!

Kevin on August 31, 2015 Reply

I own a TubeMeister 36 Head, and I have a Red Box question. Is it possible to use the built in Red Box running into a mixer while at the same time using the speaker output the run into your cab for onstage monitoring?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on September 1, 2015 Reply

    Hi Kevin, it certainly is! Like we say in the Blog, mixing the sounds of the Red Box signal from the mixer and the micced cab onstage can be awesome, so give it a try too. We’re interested to hear what results you come up with, so do let us know on here when you’ve tried it! 🙂

Tony on July 30, 2015 Reply

Damn I forgot I posted this. Is there a way that we can be notified via email when a reply hits?

Great info thank you very much. I shall digest it all now!! I haven’t gotten any software yet so I’m wide open there.


    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 11, 2015 Reply

    Hi Tony, we’re working on the automatic reply thing, so hopefully it’ll be up sometime soon! Get digesting and let us know if you have further questions 🙂

Tony on July 21, 2015 Reply

Good morning,

I have a grandmeister36. If i want to use the built in redbox for silent recording, what kind of device would i need to connect to a computer for recording.

Also i had a go at plugging the GM directly into the house at my church and it was aweful sounding. empty and tinny. Through a mic’d cabinet its awesome. Is there something that has to happen in the sound room? thanks!


    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 22, 2015 Reply

    Hi Tony, what’s your computer software? If it’s a standard DAW (like Pro Tools, GarageBand, Logic Pro X, etc., etc.) you just need to go through an audio interface (or your soundcard, if you have one that can connect via the Red Box’s XLR connector). Just do a ‘PC audio interface’ search on Google to see the kind of thing you’d need:

    Some people love the Red Box’s pure signal, but others find in some locations it can sound dry and, like you say, just a bit lacking in atmosphere or character. Churches are, of course, particularly difficult venues because of their natural acoustics! The best thing you could do here is add a little bit of echo or slapback delay to your sound, just to fatten it up – but just a minimla amount. Too much would be awfully mushy sounding Also, try fiddling the EQ slightly: cut the highs out a little, boost the mids slightly, and try and play as quietly as you can so everyone can still hear it! 😉 But a lot of this is dependent on exact venues too, so try and get a little time to soundcheck and experiment before you play next time.

    If you find the Red Box is not fat enough while recording, you can use an Impulse Response plugin (we have one available directly to download from the Red Box page on our site: These impulse responses are real recorded wave-files of a micced cab in a room, so you’re getting a micced up speaker sound without having a to actually worry about the while mic setup/placement thing… The Impulse Responses work in the vast majority of DAWs, and can really liven up a dry tone. Hope this helps, but just let us know if you have any more questions!

Lionel on July 13, 2015 Reply

So I finally got the tubemeister 18 a week ago along with the 12″ speaker cab. I notice even on 1 watt, the volume is too loud and gets a fuzzy and muffled tone (with lead boost). If I turn the master up, the tone greatly improves. My question is, can I use the redbox to plug into a PA Speaker directly, and use the redbox’s attenuator to get the saturation of the tubes, but at a lower volume?

Also, will keeping the amp on silent mode for extended periods of time damage the amp?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 14, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lionel. The 1 watt setting might be too loud if you want to use the power tubes’ saturation. You can mute the speaker out and use the Red Box out, but you can’t use it drive a speaker directly, because the level and the impedance don’t match. You’d have to connect the Red Box out to an interface – a mixer or an active box – to do this.

    Finally, using the silent mode won’t damage the amp. We made lots of tests to make sure it’d be fine to do this! But please consider: The amp gets hot if you do this! Nothing to worry about as such, it’s just the power soak in operation…

Jim on July 10, 2015 Reply

Thanks for the reply! Couple more-
What kind of power supply works with the RB5? Boss PSA120S ok?
If i did leave it in the speaker loop with a battery and no XLR plugged in, would it drain the battery?
Or does the battery become active only when an XLR is plugged in?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 13, 2015 Reply

    Hi again Jim. Anything in bewteen 9-24 Volt AC or DC will work as a power supply. The battery is activated as soon you use the jacks (the XLR won’t make a difference). This means that if you keep it in the loop, a battery is not the best solution, because it’ll get drained… Hope this helps!

Jim on July 7, 2015 Reply

Questions about the Redbox 5:
1) Is the thru signal passive- could you just leave it connected in a combo amp without battery/power supply and then plug it in when using the DI out?
2) If a battery is left in, does it activate from the DI or from the input or thru jack? If it sees phantom power, does the battery deactivate?
Looking to permanently mount the RB5 in my combo, but don’t want to burn batteries or always have a power supply plugged in if not running the DI out.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on July 9, 2015 Reply

    Hi Jim. This’ll work: you won’t need a battery, just leave the Red Box in the speaker loop!

Marcel on December 13, 2014 Reply


i have a question: do you think i can use my tubemeister 18 combo’s red box out into a guitar headphone amp (like EHX or MXR)? Or would the line level signal be too high for those to handle?



    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on December 18, 2014 Reply

    Hi Marcel – yes, a headphone amp like that should be just fine!

Rob on August 23, 2014 Reply

TY, It is now 10:30 and the kids are in bed. I want to play and even 1 watt on my grandmiester will wake my kids. They are right below where my amp is 1 floor down 🙁 I would like a way to tinker with my new toy and jam late night & the redbox modification may be a decent option if it can work. Ty for letting me know the possibility. Cheers !!

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 23, 2014 Reply

    Yep, even 1 Watt on a tube amp can be too much in that sort of situation! Give it a go then, and we hope it works for you. If you’re not sure about anything, feel free to ask us again at any time! Good luck, and keep it down 😉

Rob on August 19, 2014 Reply

Can the redbox be used as a headphone converter? Can you run silent mode into a headphone to practice?

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on August 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi Rob. The built-in Red Boxs you find on the Meister Series could be, as they have line level. We also know that some users have made a mono XLR to stereo mini jack adapter for this purpose, but it’s not perfect because the master volume determines the level. So, in short – it’s not really built for it, but there’s ways to do it if that’s what you want 😉 Hope that helps!

Chance Davis on June 19, 2014 Reply

Just Wondering….
I have a Grandmeister and was wondering if one could use the Red Box contained within the GM with another amp? I have no reason to do this, but was just wondering if one could? Thanks.

    Hughes & Kettner Hughes & Kettner on June 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi Chance,

    Good question! And the answer’s Yes and No. You can’t connect a speaker out to the the GrandMeister, but the Red Box is available as a standalone unit:

    But you can connect a preamp of any amp to the GrandMeister: connect the FX Send (Preamp-Out) to the FX Return of the GrandMeister. Then you can use the GrandMeister’s built-in Red Box Out. Hint: you can even benefit from 4 different power-amp sounds. The GrandMeister adjusts the current feedback of the power amp to the selected pre-amp channel. This also means: the selected preamp on the GrandMeister always influences the sound, even if you only use its power amp. This is a feature, not a bug 😉

    Hope that helps, and all the best!