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Strother Bullins on Switchcraft AudioStix DI Series

Quite often in our various professional-grade audio I/O schemes, we have adopted user-friendly, functional tools that are built to last a long time, well serving their intended purposes—multi-input/multi-zone analog mixers, for example. Especially in institutional, educational and house-of-worship or theater environments, these tools would serve us well for decades if our input sources and output destinations didn’t expand or evolve. I can think of numerous instances in which a church retired its mixer because one new audio source or destination was not provided for, thus an upgrade was desired.

Meanwhile, Switchcraft continues to expand their AudioStix DI (direct input) product line with cool new tools such as the flagship 318BT ($110 street), a phantom-powered Bluetooth 4.0 audio receiver DI—“the world’s first,” offers the company. Featuring a Switchcraft balanced XLR connector and powered via standard 48V phantom power, the 318BT wirelessly transmits any Bluetooth audio source (via 2,402-2,480 MHz frequencies) up to 50 feet away (obstructed indoor) or 100 feet (unobstructed line of sight).

In use, the 318BT performs as advertised, allowing users easy access to what is now a popular wireless audio transmission feature without having to upgrade any other component in their systems. Though a slight audible difference is evident between a “Bluetoothed” signal and a “wired” one, it’s hardly a deal-breaker in most live performance, conferencing and average PA applications.

Upon employing the 318BT at a nearby church, the pastor was thrilled. Various members of the congregation were able to play back musical selections from their own smart devices simply by popping the 318BT into an open channel on the sanctuary’s very simple analog mixer. (For use with mixers without phantom power, a USB power source will power the 318BT via its mini-USB port).

Also included in my AudioStix review package was the 314DI Passive Pro Direct Box ($99 street)—a quarter-inch mono-to-XLR direct input device with quarter-inch throughput—and the 370DI A/V Passive Direct Box ($79 street)—a stereo-summing consumer audio (eighth-inch stereo and RCA stereo input) to mono XLR direct input device. Both feature ground lift and -20 dB pad switches as well as a sturdy aluminum chassis.

Again, Switchcraft’s AudioStix tools are super problem solvers, allowing a range of audio input sources to be easily incorporated into any XLR input-equipped A/V system. Before upgrading or changing out an existing mixer to simply allow for a new, different or consumer-based audio source, check out the AudioStix line and squeeze some more life out of your pre-existing A/V system.
Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group.

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