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Father Goose

A couple-o-queries on direct to PC recording

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Hi all

I've a couple of questions on 'guitar thru amp to PC' recording; thru the PC Line-In jack, using REAPER.

When you do this,

1. obviously the ambience and 'bounce-of-the-wall-sounds' cannot be captured.

Of course if you were to miked the amp, you'll be able to capture the full spectrum of sounds as its heard.

But I dont have a (good) mike, so is there a way to replicate this (the ambience etc with fx) if you were to connect the amp directly to the PC?

EDIT: Saw the thread onVANDAL.... Could this be of any help/

2. the guitar recording sounds 'clipped' & compressed even though the recording input levels are set VERY low (03 db!).

What could've cause this? It sucks :( and the guitar sounds like mozzies on ice.

BTW, I've tried Audacity & for #2 above, it isnt that bad except for the 'lag' which is horrendous. So I'm sticking with REAPER.

Hope for some ideas.

Thankies :)

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sounds like your pc soundcard is your culprit, most built in's aren't designed to record guitar. when i first started trying to record, i did the same by running through the line jack on my pc, sounded bad "besides my playing".... so i took a chance "because i didn't have a clue!" and bought an external soundcard designed by line 6 called the ux1. came with pod farm software that has way more amp mods. than i'll ever use. worked great, no probs. with it whatsoever. i'm just a casual user of course...

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Hi Father Goose,

Yes, you can simulate the ambiance sounds with reverb effects. There are also various types of reverbs that give different results, the one you are looking for it probably room type reverb that simulate the reflections off the walls in a typical room setting. There are also more ambient type reverbs with longer decays like hall reverb that simulate larger spaces and can give the result of recording in a large cathedral or something. Plus many more types of reverbs... So there are lots of options here for simulating reverb.

However, there is a BIG difference when it comes to miking a guitar amp and putting reverb on the direct output of the amp. The sound you are missing isn't from the room reflection but the sound of the speaker(s), which is what makes a real amp sound so good. In my experience of recording real amps the direct sound was horrible and not even close to as good sounding as the amp was in person, nor when the amp was miked. The last amp I recorded was a Crate tube amp and I miked the amp and took a direct output of the amp and recorded them both so I would have "options" while mixing. But I ended up scrapping the direct sound because it was so bad.

So I would say that even more than the sound card, it is just the fact that going direct out of the amp is really, really bad sounding. Try plugging a pair of headphones directly into the amp and see if it sounds the same when you listen to the recording on the computer with the same headphones. Do they sound similar?

EDIT: Saw the thread onVANDAL.... Could this be of any help/

Absolutely! I love Vandal but it may be a bit spendy at $200 (USD)... A decent mic on the other hand is about $50. But IMO you will likely get much better sounds with Vandal.

In either case (Vandal or a mic) a decent recording interface will probably be needed. If you're using a mic, you will need the interface for the mic preamp. If you're using Vandal, you will need the interface for low latency (latency is the delay in sound cause by the time it takes to process the signal) so that when you play you hear the sound instantly instead of 2 seconds later.

So unfortunately, this recording stuff can get kind of spendy pretty fast. :( On the FREE side, you could try recording your guitar direct (guitar --> line input) and then use some free guitar amp plugins to process the sound. These may or may not sound better than the guitar amp direct ouput, but it's worth a shot. :D

Check out my list of freebie effects here (I have a few guitar amp simulators listed too):

http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/tekkers-lessons/5735-freebie-list/

the guitar recording sounds 'clipped' & compressed even though the recording input levels are set VERY low (03db!).

What do you mean by "03db"? Do you mean -0.3dB, 0.3dB, or -30dB?... Hopefully not +30dB! :scared: :scared: :scared: lol

-tkr

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Dang! Expensive stuff there.

Tks for the Freebie links. I'll check them out :)

Its +3db. Tried to go lower, but i could hardly here what i'm playing LOLz.

Recording the guitar 'dry', i've tried. Cant get the tone i like and the let-loose feeling of 'pounding the strings' just isnt there ;) .

Know what i mean.

I suppose the best way to do this is to invest in a good mic.

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Its +3db. Tried to go lower, but i could hardly here what i'm playing LOLz.

Is +3dB your recording level? If so, you can't go above 0dB otherwise you get clipping and you don't want any clipping in digital recording. You should also leave yourself some headroom when recording (about 3dB or more) so that you make sure your signal never clips.

Recording the guitar 'dry', i've tried. Cant get the tone i like and the let-loose feeling of 'pounding the strings' just isnt there ;) .

This is where the amp sim plugins come in because they try to simulate the sound of a guitar amp and give better tone than the original dry guitar sound. This is what I did in the audio example I posted in the Vandal thread, I plugged my guitar straight into my M-Audio recording interface and then used Vandal and other effects plugins to get the tone I wanted. So the guitar sound I actually recorded is completely dry and sounds nothing like the finished product. A cool thing about doing it this way is I can totally change the sound of my guitar without having to re-record it. I can take the same performance and change the settings in Vandal to get a totally different sound, like a clean amp with chorus and delay or whatever I wanted. Or if I decide later that I had to much distortion, I can turn it down and tweak the sound to be the way I want without re-recording it. This is why I'm so excited that there is FINALLY a good sounded amp sim plugin for high gain distortion.

There's another plugin called Nebula (that's even cheaper than Vandal at $120 for the full version) that can actually sample hardware equipment and replicate the sound of the original hardware. Unfortunately it can't do high gain distortion yet, but they are working towards that goal and when they get there it will be THE BEST THING ON THE PLANET for guitarists! :thumbup:

-tkr

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electric guitar to the best of my (limited) electrical or electronic knowledge has a very high output signal.

which is why you need some kind of guitar interface - designed to take the high output signal - which i would presume your soundcard

is not.

i have just (last 2-3 weeks) started mic'ing my amp with an inexpensive shure c606 retail about £30 (i paid £10)

i'm very happy with the results.

i don't have an issue with sims they are mostly great.

however to my ear you can't beat the real thing.

you can't really simulate the sound of airwaves being disturbed and forced around a room (not accurately as it must be programmed)

only limitation for me is recording time...i record in the bedroom, and

can only record my amp at certain times........worth the slight inconvenience tho..:smilinguitar:

cheers...

Paul

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electric guitar to the best of my (limited) electrical or electronic knowledge has a very high output signal.

which is why you need some kind of guitar interface - designed to take the high output signal - which i would presume your soundcard

is not.

Guitars actually have a very low output signal (higher than microphones for sure, but microphones are WAY low) and you can plug them into a normal sound card just fine. The problem with standard pc sound cards isn't the output level of the guitar, but the fact that standard sound cards are simply very poor quality for any kind of audio recording and are made for gamers not musicians.

-tkr

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Guitars actually have a very low output signal (higher than microphones for sure, but microphones are WAY low) and you can plug them into a normal sound card just fine. The problem with standard pc sound cards isn't the output level of the guitar, but the fact that standard sound cards are simply very poor quality for any kind of audio recording and are made for gamers not musicians.

-tkr

hmmm....... from what i'm led to believe guitars have a relatively high

output impedance. as i say no expert. i do know however plugging your

guitar into an input designed for any other application usually gives bad results.

i.e plug your guitar into a normal hi-fi with a mic input and there is a good chance of wrecking your equipment blowing your speakers etc.

also a guitar really requires a high impedance input more than 220k ohms.

i do know guitar is much higher output signal than mic and a line out signal higher again.

but we are talking guitars so

best just plug into a guitar amp imo

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hmmm....... from what i'm led to believe guitars have a relatively high output impedance.

Yes, guitars have high impedance, but impedance doesn't give any indication to the output level as impedance is only a measure of resistance to AC current and you need to know more about the source driving it. In an electric guitar the source is the guitar strings vibrating through the magnetic pickups and this source doesn't produce much power, so the overall output signal is low.

i.e plug your guitar into a normal hi-fi with a mic input and there is a good chance of wrecking your equipment blowing your speakers etc.

It is perfectly safe to plug your guitar into the mic input of a sound card. The mic input has a built in mic preamp (as it's expecting a very low signal from a mic) and since the guitar is at a higher volume than a microphone you could get distortion if you crank up the volume on it. So you just need to make sure you set the volume control so that you don't get any clipping/distortion. The only way you could cause damage to your speakers is if you have the mic volume up to loud so you get distortion and you have your speakers up loud enough so that the distortion would cause damage to the speaker cones... But this is true for anything. If you crank the speakers to loud and get clipping/distortion, you can damage your speakers. But all of this is controlled from the computer's volume controls, you can have the guitar all the way up and as long as you keep the mic input's volume at a level where you don't get distortion, you should be good to go.

However, in terms of sound... if you're going to plug into a standard pc sound card, it's best to use the line input as it bypasses the built in mic preamp in the mic input, which are really, really bad quality.

The main difference in an audio/recording interface and a pc sound card is the interface is designed to sound good recording musical instruments. Plus they often offer extra features that musicians need (like XLR mic inputs, phantom power, multiple channels, etc.)

The one thing that will destroy your equipment, is if you plug a powered output that is meant to drive speakers (like from a power amp, a powered mixer, the cab out on a guitar amp, etc) into your computer or into anything other than a speaker.

-tkr

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nice one tekker! as i say i have limited techy knowledge

good to know some of this stuff.

i don't have a problem myself recording direct as i have an external soundcard (m-audio black box) and good amp sims including the black box which has it's own in-built along with fx etc.

however for me best sound and easiest option is guitar plugged into an amp.

which is funny as i have really only just sussed out direct recording

using cubase and i get good results zero latency etc. (asio?)

however i now have a valve amp so why emulate.

as i said before my only drawback is limited time to make noise.

that said i can use my sims to record and then when i get the chance go back and re-record guitar using amp mic'd up.

just works for me.

i have to say tho amplitube2 is the best sim i've used hard to tell the difference - (but i know!)

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Yeah, a recording interface is the way to go. I too have an M-Audio interface (the Profire 2626) and it is awesome. M-Audio makes great gear! :thumbup:

As for the amp sims, have you tried the Vandal demo? If not, you gotta give that one a try. I've used Amplitube, Guitar Rig, and a few others but none of them come even remotely close to Vandal IMO. :)

-tkr

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hmmm....plug-in

i have problems with plug-ins..i.e 1GB ram doesn't seem to be enough to use cubase with plug-ins.

when i use amplitube. i use it as stand-alone software, and record to

my BOSS BR864 8track.

so i may not be able to get the benefit of vandal.

will download demo once i have paid for more internet access (pre-paid access via mobile phone)

Paul....

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That's strange, I don't see why 1GB would be to little to run plugins. There are certain plugins that are very CPU/memory intensive, but the vast majority of plugins shouldn't use that much memory. I don't think Amplitube used very much memory, so there may be another issue that is causing problems with Cubase.

-tkr

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