Optimum gain/volume settings for active pickup and Para DI
I have just purchased a Para DI (not received yet). I have two guitars, one with an M1A and the other with an Element Active with volume control only. I will be running into a mixer but have not decided if I will use the 1/4" output of the Para DI or the XLR output. Assuming the choice of output doesn't matter, where should I set the gain on the Para DI and the volume control of the pickup for the optimum sound? The Para DI manual doesn't mention either of these pickups in the section on setting the gain nor does it talk about the volume control of the pickup. I realize I will have to play around a little, just looking for the best place to start.
The M1A and the Element should be pretty close to each other in their output levels, depending on the guitars that they are installed in. So you should be able to use the same gain setting for both pickups. I would recommend setting the gain with the Element plugged in, since it likely has a slightly hotter output compared to the M1A.
Start by turning the volume on the pickup to full. Then play the guitar as loud as you are likely to during a given performance. Turn the gain on the Para DI up until you hear clipping or distortion in the signal. At that point turn the gain down slightly until the distortion stops. This should give you a good amount of headroom and gain with either of your guitars, without clipping the DI.
I usually leave my Para DI's volume set at 0 (12 o'clock), but depending on what you are plugging the DI into, you may need to attenuate it a little in order to avoid clipping the amp or mixer's input. You can also use the volume control to make up for any output difference between the two guitars too.
This is definitely more of a suggested starting place, but I hope that helps.
Thanks Caleb. The PADI just arrived today before I saw your reply. I played a little with my Martin dread which has the Element. I liked what I heard so far!