Pro Audio

Dr Alien Smith: DirtBox

CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY! Take the power of your vocal effects into your own hands with the Dr Alien Smith Dirtbox.

Let me be honest with ya, you can’t trust the random venue soundperson to run your vocal effects; they’ve definitely got weird soundperson tastes (and probably set up the PA pumping either Tool bootlegs or fuckin’ Jeff Buckley), most likely never heard your band before, and (I *might* be casting aspersions here) can’t wait to go home and get back to their online pony-tail measuring contest, or whatever it is venue soundpeople do after hours.

OK, so after that, the Dirtbox isn’t just for live situations, nor just for vocals, but I’m trying to paint a picture here. What we’ve got is another cool, creative sound-shaping product direct from the Doctor over in Perth, Western Australia.

I wrote a deservedly glowing dissertation about his Capsule8 mic because it truly caught me by surprise (and arrived at a timely moment too, my AKG D12E had just completely shat itself), so let’s see what we’ve got here, how it actually sounds, and why it ended up on Billie Eilish’s live drumkit.

phantom powerWhat we’ve got is a phantom-powered inline XLR distortion box; a single knobbed, LED lit  unit that the Doctor has again tried to hinder me from taking a peek inside. I managed to get a bit of a squiz inside, and it’s a transformer balanced single transistor distortion circuit doing the work.

So why not just plug a mic into a distortion pedal? Well, you’ll probably get all sorts of issues with volume drop and impedance, whereas this piece is custom built solid as Mount Augustus for its proper purpose of distorting microphone signals.

So, how does it sound? It’s a gritty, transistor distortion; turn the knob to zero and nothing comes out, and slowly ramp it up to 10 and hear your source get ramped up and overdriven. It’s almost Rat-esque I’d say. As you crank the knob the distortion increases, but you don’t get a brutal volume jump, rather, just a distortion increase. Nice.

Throw it on a vocal mic, guitar mic, bass mic, drumkit single mic, it’s all good!

“But I don’t want all distortion all the time!”, says the studio engineer crybaby. Don’t you fret my pony-tailed child, the Dirtbox ships with a Y splitter cable to plug into your source mic, so you can run it with a completely clean path too, and blend to however conservative (or extreme) your tastes may be.

The Dirtbox is yet another creative tool in the arsenal from DrAlienSmith. I truly respect this guy making unusual studio (and live) sound-making pieces – sometimes all you need to spur creativity is a distorted push, and the Doc here will have ya covered.

distortionAnd hell, wanna go back and reamp something in a mix? Because the Dirtbox is transformer balanced on both sides ya can do so with ease! Just remember to supply phantom power and you’re ON.

I’ve got no idea how it ended up in Billie Eilish’s live set up, I guess they’re just people with creative minds and cool taste in sounds.

The Dirtbox retails for $250 Australian direct from https://www.draliensmith.com/, comes with a 2 year warranty,  and ships worldwide for your dirt needs.