Unusual Request - Music Multi-track Issue

Slipper

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I have plugged a guitar effects processor, from its headphone socket (and from its back panel), into the input socket of my laptop to a multi-track programme called Audacity. It hasn't worked. There is sound but there is a short delay to when it comes through to Audacity and the sound has a phased/fuzzy effect to it. It's also acting as if it is heavily gated by bursting through and fading away quickly. None of these effects are from the processor as I've used the by-pass on it. Turning down the input/output levels doesn't help either.

I know this is a long shot, but does anyone know how to solve this?
 

mjslakeridge

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I can't say for certain whether the Focusrite Scarlet comes with the USB cable, but my guess is yes. Looking at the picture of the back of the unit, it uses a standard USB cable.

The two channels of audio being recorded are sent to the computer over the USB cable. Also any tracks you have previously recorded are sent from the computer back to the audio interface so you can monitor that audio using your headphones and sync your current performance to what was previously recorded (this is known as overdubbing).

These units (audio interfaces) are indeed designed to connect to computers for recording audio into the computer. This product is a consumer version of what is used in professional recording studios, costing many thousands of dollars. In my case I can record up to 16 channels (tracks) of audio at the same time, while also listening to what was previously recorded. Truly professional setups can record more tracks than that.

I would think the Scarlet is pretty much plug and play (unlike my Digidesign interface). The learning curve comes with mastering the recording software (ProTools, for example). It is pretty simple to record and play back audio, but if you want to get into editing the audio (pitch correction, lining up audio to bars and beats, applying different effects to the audio like reverb, chorus, etc.), then it takes some reading of the software manual and playing around with it.

Like I said above, if you want to get started with recording audio to your computer, an entry level unit like the Scarlet is the way to go. There are of course, other interfaces. Visit Sweetwater.com and search for audio interfaces.
 

Ralston18

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Does the guitar effects processor have its own (possibly proprietary) headphones or will any headphones/headset work?

What sound card is in the laptop? Are you using a microphone port or a line-in port.

Are you connecting with a standard stereo 1/8 inch (3.5mm) TRS cable. Male to Male I expect....

Overall I am just wondering about the pinouts along the way.
 

mjslakeridge

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If your guitar effects processor has a headphone out jack, then that signal is amplified and likely too "hot" for the inputs on your computer. Does the back panel jack output a line level signal? If so you should be able to connect to the line in port on the computer. If you have a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter, what happens when you plug the guitar directly into the line in jack on the computer?
 

Slipper

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Any headphones work with the guitar processor's h/p output.

No idea what a sound card is. I'm using the small jack input on the laptop - the icon to this socket looks like a microphone. No idea where a line-input is on my laptop or what it looks like.

The cable is stereo and what I call a small jack. Yes male to male.

Pinouts? Don't understand the jargon.

 

Slipper

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Lakeridge

What does the line-in port look like on the laptop? I assume this isn't the small jack input on the laptop that has a microphone icon to it. Because I've done this for the back panel output to the processor (this has a level nob to it which when at its lowest point still didn't help) and it didn't work - same bad effects. Not checked if this is classed as a line level output.

Thought about directly inputting the guitar, but not done it yet, but this would only give me a dry sound which is far from ideal.

I don't understand, Audacity is a multi-track recorder, they must have known that people are going to want to record electric guitar and accounted for this - or is this a computer thing prior to the Audacity programme?
 

Ralston18

Dignified
Moderator
Just to respond to "pinouts".

By that I mean the various wires and connection points between plugs, sockets(ports).

Google "TR, TRS, TRRS pinouts". T = Tip, R= Ring, S = Sleeve.

You will find many images and diagrams to provide a general overview of the idea involved.

There are similar diagrams for most commonly used standards, RS-232, VGA, DVI, HDMI, USB, etc..

The pinouts are important because if you find yourself splicing cables, replacing plugs or sockets, then the associated wire connections must adhere to the standards being used.

Some companies do not follow standards and create their own proprietary connections. Then you need to either purchase their $$ cables, custom made cables, or (via pinout diagrams) make your own cables.
 

mjslakeridge

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It sounds like your laptop only has a mic-in jack and not a line-in jack. Most people who record audio to a computer (desktop or laptop) use an external interface that converts the analog signal to digital, and then connects to the computer via USB (or Firewire or Thunderbolt) to get the digital signal into the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for recording the audio. The interface can usually accept microphones, or line or instrument level signals, will have input level adjustment, and monitor out jacks to connect an amplifier and speakers for playback, plus headphone jack(s) with volume adjustment.

Look into something like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 for an entry-level interface. You will get far superior results than trying to use the onboard sound card in your laptop. I believe it comes with ProTools First, a stripped down version of the professional ProTools 12 software.

Here is a link to the scarlett:

https://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i4
 

Slipper

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You're right I've only got a microphone input. I'm keen to have the stereo feed from the guitar processor so do the type of gear you mention above do they canter for stereo feeds i.e. are the jack in/outs stereo?

Anyway, thank you for your advise.
 

Slipper

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Ralston : Just to note that my processor is a 1990,s Boss effects box so all outputs should be standard. Thanks.


American audiophile : Thank you for the info and link.
 

mjslakeridge

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No, the inputs on any audio interface will be mono, but you can feed the stereo signal coming out of your effects box into two of the audio interface inputs and create a stereo audio track in your DAW software and route the two inputs signal into the stereo track.

My stereo Chorus guitar effects pedal has two individual mono 1/4 inch jacks. Does your Boss pedal have one stereo output jack? If so you will need a "Y" splitter cable to feed the two inputs on the interface.
 

Slipper

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Lakeridge

I was thinking of the headphone output but yes my gear is like yours and has individual 1/4 jacks for left and right. Thanks again.

I can only use the reply button once here for some reason hence this type of reply.
 

Slipper

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Going back to this post, have these types of units/gear got the USB connector to the computer incorporated into it or do you have to buy this separately? (if separately how is this connected to the unit for two channels?) In other words, and as well as, are these units specifically designed for connecting to computers for audio or are they primarily for normal recording practices in studios etc. and this is an adaptation of this gear? Nervous about buying something that may not be set up for computers and needs some fiddling with - I'm not very savvy about all this computer stuff. All I can only usually cope with is buy, plug in.


 

mjslakeridge

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I can't say for certain whether the Focusrite Scarlet comes with the USB cable, but my guess is yes. Looking at the picture of the back of the unit, it uses a standard USB cable.

The two channels of audio being recorded are sent to the computer over the USB cable. Also any tracks you have previously recorded are sent from the computer back to the audio interface so you can monitor that audio using your headphones and sync your current performance to what was previously recorded (this is known as overdubbing).

These units (audio interfaces) are indeed designed to connect to computers for recording audio into the computer. This product is a consumer version of what is used in professional recording studios, costing many thousands of dollars. In my case I can record up to 16 channels (tracks) of audio at the same time, while also listening to what was previously recorded. Truly professional setups can record more tracks than that.

I would think the Scarlet is pretty much plug and play (unlike my Digidesign interface). The learning curve comes with mastering the recording software (ProTools, for example). It is pretty simple to record and play back audio, but if you want to get into editing the audio (pitch correction, lining up audio to bars and beats, applying different effects to the audio like reverb, chorus, etc.), then it takes some reading of the software manual and playing around with it.

Like I said above, if you want to get started with recording audio to your computer, an entry level unit like the Scarlet is the way to go. There are of course, other interfaces. Visit Sweetwater.com and search for audio interfaces.
 

Slipper

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Thank you for that.

I have another request or question.

And to anyone else reading this.

Because of this problem I have had, I noticed an orange speaker icon on my laptop which is called "Realtek HD Audio Manager" (this is part of Win 7). This has a 1 track recording facility like a Dictaphone. I set the gear up as follows: The guitar effect processor's headphone output was lined into the microphone input of the laptop and listen to on the headphone output of the laptop. When I listened to the guitar, before recording it on the Realtek system, through the set up just described it sounded fine (as per guitar effect processor would) but when I listened to the recorded guitar on this 'Dictaphone' 1 track facility it had a vey similar distorted sound as the one I get when using the multi-track programme I have on my laptop. This difference of sound quality between direct listening and recorded listening seems to indicate to me that there is fault within the laptop as they are both going through the same system set up, except for the recording bit, and therefore, this gear you have suggested may not solve the problem I am having? OR is there another explanation for this difference in sound qualities? Does this outcome make sense to you and can you provide an explanation for this discrepancy?

Many thanks.
 

Verndewdimus

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youre asking a lot from your pc, for one your fx unit could be driving the input too hard and for two the latency is because you dont have a usb unit buffering input lag. You could try asio drivers , but there is no really useful DSP on any general pc, although avid tried to correct that with software but the reality is, even the cheapest DSP hardware is a must for multi tracking. See if you cant get a used Mbox or phonic firefly on Ebay. I have a Phonic I dont and rarely ever used thats 24x48-192k . it would solve your issue. The bottom line is studio audio is nearly impossible with just a computer, digital signal processing just takes too much power for memory and CPU alone and there isnt any dedicated DSP for such use on pc hardware that is even small studio grade, or you would have a buffer adjustment in your pc audio settings

ive been recording on things for over 24 years and using computer recording since 2001, and have a bachelors in music production.

 

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