Radial Engineering Introduces HDI Studio-Grade Direct Box and Preamplifier

May 6 2020, 01:10
Described as Radial's biggest product announcement in years (certainly since the company's acquisition in January 2018,) the HDI, Radial's new flagship DI Box is now shipping. Shown in prototype form at AES 2019 in NY, and officially announced at NAMM 2020 in January, the HDI is the answer to a question Radial put to in-house engineer "Hutch" Hutchinson: "If you could design any type of DI box you wanted, what would it look and sound like?"

The result is a high definition studio-grade direct box and preamp specified for studio recording, but which can also be used for live touring applications, featuring a completely new design for a Radial product. More importantly, the HDI also offers a unique and powerful feature set that Radial says will provide outstanding results with any type instrument.

The cornerstone of the HDI’s capabilities is the Color control, which allows blending of the signal from ultra-clean operation on one side to amp-like distortion and warm transformer saturation on the other. The results are both musical and versatile, allowing the HDI to shine when used on bass, acoustic guitar, and even keyboards.

The Color control is complemented by Level and Presence controls, each featuring extra-large chrome knobs for precise adjustment. The Level control allows the HDI to accommodate a wide range of input sources, while also providing the means to drive the internal circuitry harder for more exaggerated coloration. The Presence control provides an emphasis on the high and high-mid frequencies, to dial in just enough bite for the signal to cut through a mix.

Created by legendary design engineer “Hutch” Hutchison, the HDI utilizes guitar amp topology and industry-leading Jensen transformers to elicit vintage warmth and richness. Four parallel circuits are employed within the HDI, yet this complexity is balanced by a streamlined and elegant feature set that produces immediate results.
Radial Engineering’s lead designer, W.C. “Hutch” Hutchison implemented his vision and design philosophy behind Radial’s new flagship DI box, the HDI.

On the design philosophy behind the product, Hutch explains, "The HDI goes beyond the basic utility and functionality of a direct box, while maintaining the essence of a DI. I wanted to create something that was more creative, fun, inspiring and musical."

Aside from the three main controls, the HDI also includes a Hi-Z switch that approximates the Hi and Lo inputs on a vintage amplifier, and a single-control Opto compressor which allows for smooth and natural peak reduction of the input signal. A 3-position high-pass filter rolls off any excessive low end created when pushing the HDI into distortion, and a ground lift switch rounds out the front panel controls and helps eliminate any hum and buzz that might be present.

Inputs for the HDI are provided on front and rear panel 1/4" jacks along with a Thru connection for an amplifier. A 3.5mm mono Synth Input is included for easy connection to modular synthesizers. Transformer-isolated mic and line-level XLR outputs are provided for direct connection to mic preamps and recording interfaces, along with a 1/4" Processed Output for feeding the affected signal to a guitar amp or instrument effects units.  

The HDI features a milled gunmetal-anodized faceplate, and also ships with an included rack mounting kit for installation in a 2RU rack space. Two units can be mounted side-by-side for stereo applications.
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