New ways to save

0% up to 48 Months on over 110 Brands!

New & Current Vintage King Card Holders

$ 799 .00
No interest if paid in full within 12 months Learn more
Ships directly from Useful Arts
Note: This item may not be returnable or could require a restocking fee. Contact one of our Audio Consultants for more details. This item ships directly to you from the manufacturer. To ensure that the manufacturer currently has stock, please chat, call or email for the latest availability status.



Please note: this item is available for purchase in the United States only.

Useful Arts BF-1 Tube Instrument Preamp/DI

Tube instrument preamp/DI with 20 million ohms input impedance, Class A tube preamp, 2-band EQ, low-gain/high-gain operation, thru jack, and balanced/unbalanced outputs

Product Description

The Useful Arts BF-1 Tube Instrument Preamp/DI is an all-purpose interface for any instrument with a pickup that enhances clarity, detail, audibility and dynamics whether used between the instrument and amp, the instrument and a PA or recording device or all of these at the same time. Whatever you plug into it just sounds better. This isn't because the BF-1 changes the sound of the instrument - it's because it preserves it in a way that the input stage of an amplifier or a console simply can't. Once you feed your amp, console or converters a strong representation of what's actually coming out of your instrument, you'll be amazed at how good it really sounds.

The signal generated by magnetic pickups is beautiful, nuanced, detailed and incredibly weak. That's even more true of piezoelectric pickups. It's not just a question of the level of the signal (a voltage concept), it's a question of the power of the signal (a current concept). All amplifiers make the signal do actual work to drive the input stage. The problem is that the most delicate parts of the signal aren't capable of doing that work, and are forever lost.

It boils down to input impedance. The higher the input impedance, the less work the signal has to do before it is safely amplified. Consoles and recording devices usually have an input impedance of around 10,000 ohms - way too low for a pickup. Plug a guitar or bass directly in and it sounds lifeless, small and completely lacking in detail and low end. With a piezo pickup, it sounds thin, buzzy and grating. Guitar and bass amps have an input impedance of several hundred thousand ohms - a big improvement. Instruments sound bigger, fuller and more detailed. This is why the traditional approach for recording or live gigs has been to run the instrument into a DI for the console and back out to the amp. The normal DI replicates the input impedance of the amp, converts it into a signal the console can use, and all is well.

What if instead of a few hundred thousand ohms there was an interface with 20 million ohms input impedance? Well, this is what Useful Arts has created. And the results are astounding. Now you can observe even the tiniest details in the signal without ruining it, and pump the results out to an amp or console with the full detail in useable form. There's no reason to plug an instrument into anything else. The BF-1 can simultaneously drive an amp through its 1/4 ing output jack and a pro audio device via XLR. Everything sounds better.

It turns out that tubes are uniquely well-suited for this task, because they are inherently capable of creating ridiculously high input impedances. Passive DIs use transformers, which can't effectively create such high impedances. Active Dis use low-voltage FETs, which sound like .... transistors. And they usually offer input impedances far lower than a good tube stage anyway. But wait! You already have a tube amp - won't that do the trick? Nope. Amps use tubes as high gain stages, and that drastically lowers their input impedance. They benefit hugely from the BF-1. The BF-1 uses the input tube the same way as a tube microphone - to convert impedances without the high gain.

There are other tube DIs out there, sure. But most of them resemble a traditional tube amp input and give you a nice low impedance output for the console. Useful Arts took a different approach that offers better sound and way more flexibility - all for a ridiculously low price in a package that's small and rugged enough to put in a gig bag and use every day.

Instead of stopping at massive impedance conversion, the BF-1 also offers a Class A tube preamp, a two-band EQ and dual outputs that can be used simultaneously for your amp and console. But we didn't stop there. Bypass the EQ, and you have a choice of low gain (much like a traditional DI) or high gain, which gives you the ability to go straight to the converters for pure high-fidelity line level recording with no other amplification needed.

For bass players, the BF-1 can actually eliminate the need for an amp altogether. Feed a console with the tubes in the BF-1 and it will sound better than any bass amp output you've ever heard. Crank the low band of the EQ, and say goodbye to the windows and drywall in the venue.

Product Specifications

Condition New
Chassis Desktop
Impedance 20,000,000 ohms
Input Connectors 1/4-inch TS
Output Connectors 1/4-inch TS, Analog XLR

Product Reviews

No one has written a review yet. Be the first!

* Required Fields

Share Your Opinion

The best gear advice always comes from those who use it the most. That's where you come in! Let the pro audio world hear your voice with a review of the Useful Arts BF-1 Tube Instrument Preamp/DI . Once you submit your review, please check your email and verify your address to have it posted.

How do you rate this product?
I would like to thank VK for the wonderful sales assistance, service and prices. This was my first purchase with you and it won't be my last. I only wish I'd discovered you years ago!
Matthew R.
I had two Grammy wins this year - Ray LaMontagne & Carolina Chocolate Drops. Both made with help from Vintage King!
Ryan F.
In almost 20 years in Pro audio buying, never did I receive a unit so well packed and exactly as described. Works flawlessly. The whole process has been so smooth. I will never hesitate to do business with you guys in the future and will recommend you to everyone I know.
Martin C.
This was my first experience buying something from Vintage King (although I surf the "used" categories on the website frequently!), and, despite being on the other side of the world, I had absolutely no trouble and everything went very smoothly.
Phil T.
The speed of delivery exceeded my expectations! I was VERY pleased that my shipment arrived in time for a scheduled vocal tracking session. The packing insured that my order arrived safely. And the sales staff responded quickly to questions regarding the product.
James P.
Thank you so much! Vintage King has been so fair and easy to work with. I can't thank you enough. It feels good to trust such a hefty purchase to folks who are so helpful and knowledgeable. Vintage King is a sound designers dream store.
Noa L.
You guys have excellent customer service and I am excited about the next upgrade I complete on my fifth recording facility. I've been in the studio business for forty plus years. The salesman I worked with at Vintage King was the best of the best. You all rock!
Robby T.
I would recommend Vintage King to any one looking for top-class gear, unbeatable customer service and the best prices on the map!
Jake D.
My experience with Vintage King was excellent. The order was here fast considering it was out of stock. The sales person had SKB send it to me directly and I couldn't have been more pleased.
Michael D.
From the minute I placed my order I was kept well-informed through each step in your process. Even though I was buying a comparatively modest piece of gear, your attention to detail made me feel like I was purchasing a six-figure mixing desk.
Thomas W.
I am a new customer of yours. You guys provided me the absolute best deals in ordering all the equipment to power my brand new recording studio. Your customer service is amazing and i will always deal with you from here on out.
Rob M.
Thanks for your great service and getting this out today. You guys really are the Kings!
Alan B.
Better than expected! Truly impeccable service. Your team was professional, knowledgeable, provided speedy delivery above and beyond standard. Vintage King Audio is definitely my go to for all of my audio and information needs.
James O.