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How do I record Line Level Signal?


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I have the necessary components to create tones that I find pleasing to the ears at line level.  How do I get that into a computer or recording device without coloring the sound and dynamics?  I'm looking to get something so recommendations for a specific device will be appreciated.

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This probably doesn't entirely help, especially as it's been a long, long, time since I've fell down the home recording rabbit hole trying to get amp sound clips... but from what I do recall: I used reaper for the software; and for the USB interface, I remember starting with some higher end PreSonus box, and we didn't get along very well. Kept getting crackling and light pops on playback, and couldn't figure out why... returned it, then someone recommend a $50 M-Audio box instead. Was pretty basic, had a mic in and a 3.5mm in, with RCA and USB out, a couple for input and output signal levels... but it worked great; as far as clean sound without any odd pops/crackles/background noises anyways. Not sure that I ever got recordings I was truly 100% happy with, but likely more so in my failing to get good line level signal to begin with. I recall trying all sorts of different mics, placements, baffle boxing, etc... so not so sure I can genuinely recall or vouch for lack of tone altering. 

Hopefully someone else will come along with some actual confirmed useful advice, LOL. 

 

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some USB cards - if that's what you're using - do not have Line level inputs, like the PreSonus Audiobox96 as an example
 

I think you are interested in impedance matching
a passive or active Direct Input Box (DIBox) that will match the impedance from your line level in to a audio card is the device, there are many, you can easily understand that with a web search

OR, some audio cards have Line level switches on the inputs that you can select when/if needed

an example of passive DIBox could be a Mackie MDB-1P
it's a mono so you'll need to duplicate the mono to stereo in your DAW or whatever software you're using for the take

HTH

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Yep, that is what you need. An "Audio Interface". That connects to the computer and you can record it. If you want to start out Simple just making basic recordings, AUDACITY is a open source DAW.  It doesn't have all the plugins/etc to cook the sound afterwards, but if you like what you are hearing through headphones, it doesn't sound like you need that.

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Gentlemen - Thank you.  You've sent me directly to where I wanted to go.  I'm looking for stereo input (L & R XL input) so I searched for units with two mono inputs.  Based on your expertise, I'm looking at:

Mackie MDB-2P

and

Presonis AudioBox iTwo

There's about $100 difference between them.  The more pricey one (Presonis) has controls in-line with my comfort level and records the two channels individually.  As I stand on top of the "Buy it now" button, are there other characteristics I should consider?  Essentially I'm trying to copy a sound without coloring it.

 

 

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Another one that people like is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Scarlet2i2G3--focusrite-scarlett-2i2-3rd-gen-usb-audio-interface

I guess another question is, what type of output does your setup create? XLR or 1/4?

The Mackie is pretty much a direct box, I don't see it having an ability to attach to a computer.

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Thanks TBone.  I'm going from a mono 1/4" instrument cable at line level (2 cables = stereo).  That 2i2 and the Presonis appear in line with my requirements. 

You guys have helped immensely!  MUCH appreciated.

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I don't think you'll go wrong with the Scarlett 2i2.   Another good option would be the Motu M2.  

If you don't have recording software,  I would recommend Reaper.   Its free to try, and only $69 for a license, and it gives you a full DAW.   I use it for all my multitrack work.  It's pretty efficient, so you don't need massive computer power.  Cakewalk by Bandlab is also available, and it's free. 

Audacity is a good audio editor, but has some limitations in that it doesn't support ASIO drivers, which is what most interfaces will use if you're in the PC world. 

I use both Reaper and Audacity, depending on what I'm doing.  

 

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I called a friend this eve to ask what he's using.  He recommended the Motu.  I may go that route so I can commiserate with another.  I (briefly) thought about the UA Apollo Twin X.  Being over four times the price, I'll pass until I become famous = never...

I have the Adobe audio editing software.  I'll most likely start there (and go downhill fast).

Thank you all for the leads!

 

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not sure if he meant Motu USB Audio card, in that case you can have lots of alternatives of decent quality and affordable prices

one factor for me is desktop ergonomics, if the audio card is an external USB one I prefer to have all the XLRs and monitor outputs on the rear of the device and on the front only the headphones

for example the M-Audio AIR 192|14 (no affil) satisfies that criteria
but you can find a Focusrite Scarlett (which has been a very wide used USB card) on the used market for very good prices and good conditions (Reverb, eBay, FB Marketplace, etc.)
another good one IMO is the SSL2+ (no affil)

there's the number of XLR inputs to take in to consideration, for example, if you'd want to sing while playing - it's something that before buying a USB card seems not important but later you might want to have it
 

HTH

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I'd rather not use a card.  That requires having a dedicated computer nearby to record.  Desktop computers are nefarious noise generators.  I like the small footprint of these little boxes. 

I looked at UA's Volt 276 with interest.   I'm not sure I like the idea of a non-external power source.  One of the others connects to an IPad for data and a separate USB for power.  The amp simulators, compressor and other software don't particularly thrill me.  I'm still looking but have narrowed it down to three.

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I did not mean to use a desktop PC only
and you'd be surprised of how silent they are (if you do not use junk PCs clearly)
I use a Dell Precision Workstation at 1.5 meters from my Oktava MK 012 for recording my D-28 and D-35, no noise recorded - believe it or not, and I'm not the only one like that

with the electrics I do not use a microphone, I use a Two Notes Torpedo Captorx as a cab sim and plug the outputs in the XLR inputs of my usb card attached to my Thinkpad runing Ardour on Linux

there's lots of things to say, know and learn about Audio
I'd suggest to avoid jumping to conclusions 😉

HTH

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Make sure to read how to optimize your computer operating system for recording. Learning how to set up your computer will save many hassles down the road. And I would recommend the M2 or M4 by Motu as reasonably priced interfaces with great convertor specs! I personally use RME interfaces as they have the best windows drivers made and they support their gear for many years with software and firmware updates! I just today bought another RME UCX!

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Or.....become a Mac user....preloaded with GarageBand.....easy , peasy.

Looks like you may have an iPad?

GarageBand loaded will also do the job as long as you have enough memory under the hood.

Very easy learning curve compared to some of the other daw's, especially the older versions of GB

I have my hard drive partitioned on my iMac with Snow Leopard and GarageBand for that os, easy on the eyes and well laid out.

IMHO GarageBand went downhill from here...more bells and whistles...harder to navigate and the dark format is just stupid.😳

Good luck with your endeavour   @Steiner

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The end game here is to get recorded sound that isn't colored by the electronics.   The small footprint of the AI boxes fits the bill.  The Presonis and 2i2 look quite promissing.

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With the new interfaces,  they draw USB power so you don't have a wall wart to deal with.   They really are transparent in terms of give you back what you put in.  Typically, they are flat from 20-20kHz with less than a dB of variation from mic input to output.    I hear lots of differences in microphones and speakers, but very little difference in the sound of the interfaces themselves.   Most of the difference is in usability issues like added features and somewhat in reliability.    Even a lowly Behringer UMC404HD will give you decent performance.

Julian Krause does a lot of testing of interfaces.  Here he gives a quick rundown of a half dozen low cost interfaces.   He was specifically testing for noise with dynamic mics, which require lots of gain and can sometimes create problems.   Listen to the examples and see if you hear massive differences in tone...

 

Long term support is somewhat important, there are lots of orphaned units out there because the last driver was written for Windows XP 15 years ago.   Thankfully, the prices of interfaces have dropped significantly over the past 5 years and the sound quality is pretty comparable.   If you go with a Windows 10/11 supported interface, you're probably good for another 5-10 years.

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Thanks TRich.  I've never seen this guy before; it's nice to know what EIN describes.  There are a whole bunch of individual evaluations of AI units that show up after your video.  Oh boy... I see a rabbit.

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2 hours ago, tbonesullivan said:

I just picked up a used Focusrite Scarlet 2i2, I think the previous generation, but still very good. I'm going to use it along with my Two Notes CAB M+ as a recording setup for pedals and preamps.

Does the unit connect to a computer via USB?  When recording, does it have to be connected?

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2 hours ago, Steiner said:

Does the unit connect to a computer via USB?  When recording, does it have to be connected?

yes as all USB Audio Interfaces
it's only the Interface, it's not a recorder
 

are you probably interested in a recorder?
example: Zoom H6

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I've got both recorders and an interface.   At the past PSPs,   I've used my Zoom R24 for recording.   There were mics (7), and the line out from the PA mixer all fed to the Zoom for recording.   It's standalone.   It records to an SD card which can be plugged straight into a computer and the files can be used in any DAW software.

At home,  I have a Tascam interface which also has 8 mic inputs and the recording is done straight into the computer DAW.   Unless you are wanting to do portable recording,  it's the way to go. 

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14 hours ago, TalismanRich said:

I've got both recorders and an interface.   At the past PSPs,   I've used my Zoom R24 for recording.   There were mics (7), and the line out from the PA mixer all fed to the Zoom for recording.   It's standalone.   It records to an SD card which can be plugged straight into a computer and the files can be used in any DAW software.

At home,  I have a Tascam interface which also has 8 mic inputs and the recording is done straight into the computer DAW.   Unless you are wanting to do portable recording,  it's the way to go. 

not only standalone TRich, some (or most) of them can even be used as a USB interface

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