We run all of our drum machines through DIs before we hit our consoles’ mic pres, to minimize noise (via the ground lift) and balance the audio to a mic level signal.
For our traditional sample packs, we opt for clean, solid state DIs, because they have less noise, and preserve transients. But tube DIs can be a wonderful and fun way to achieve some RMS and harmonics on the way in.
What most people don’t realize is – the volume of your *source*, not the volume on the DI, is what affects the amount of saturation.
To demonstrate this, we recorded the 909 (analog, so hits the tubes nicely) cleanly, and at 3 different levels through the (awesome) REDDI DI.