1 Record direct from your guitar into instrument input on audio interface
If you have a USB Mic, do you need an interface as well?
Aha, this is such a common question and a source of much confusion! You tendto think of an audio interface as a box with various inputs for mics,instruments etc and outputs for speakers and headphones. But there are lots ofother devices that are effectively “audio interfaces” too. A USB mic is aclassic example.In fact, if you are confused you may find our article on a USB Microphone vsAudio Interface useful.Effectively a USB microphone is a mic that contains an audio interface. Thismeans you simply plug the mic’s USB lead into a USB port and it will work. Youdon’t need any other equipment. It may just be a recording mic or it may alsohave a headphone output too and be a complete input and output device.There are other USB audio adapters that fit into this category. They work ontheir own and don’t need any other equipment. So you can get an XLR-USB cableto connect a mic up to your computer, and also guitar-USB, line out to USB etcetc.
Use A USB Digital Interface
An audio interface is an external device that is essentially an improved soundcard. This allows your computer to connect and process different analog ordigital signals, such as microphones, instruments, and MIDI with much moresound reliability. An audio interface also provides a more accurate digitalclock and superior analog circuitry that improves the overall sound quality.This will take you one step towards sounding much more professional and italso opens the door for you to start considering recording good qualitymaterial. An audio interface is the absolute most important element in arecording studio, whether it’s a pro recording studio or a home studio.There are many USB Audio Interfaces that come with a digital audio workstation(or DAW) for free. Some other interfaces come with their unique software totransform your sound though “amp modeling”, which we will discuss later.Here’s one of the most popular USB Audio Interfaces purchased by beginner homestudios:
What is the best guitar audio interface right now?
(Image credit: IK Multimedia)Every audio interface here is a worthy product, but IK Multimedia’s Axe I/O isamong the best. Featuring two instrument inputs (plug your electric guitar orbass guitar in here!) and dual phantom powered combo inputs (for use withcondenser mics and line level signals), the Axe I/O offers plenty of, er, I/Ofor recording your, erm, axe. Simple!The ace in IK’s pack is the included Amplitube 4 Deluxe amp/FX modeller – thenot quite flagship but still impressively featured plugin/app you can use inplace of your ‘real’ gear. Even if you’re dead set on using hardware, thepotential for tonal experimentation before recording is worth the price ofentry alone.Today’s best IK Multimedia AXE IO USB AUDIO INTERFACE dealsIK Multimedia AXE I/O USB…
The best guitar audio interfaces available today
(Image credit: Press Material)The best guitar audio interface for its range of tones and effectsLaunch price: $349/£347/€349 | Connectivity: USB 2 | Audio resolution:24-bit/192kHz | Analogue inputs: 2 | Analogue outputs: 5 | Digitalconnectivity: None | MIDI I/O: YesComes with Amplitube 4 DeluxeVariable input level for active/passive pickupsAmp out socket for easy reampingThe tuner could be betterTone is an essential consideration for every recording guitarist, and the AxeI/O comes with bucketloads of options, thanks to the inclusion of IKMultimedia’s Amplitube 4 Deluxe amp/FX modeller which features digitalamplifiers, cabinets and stompboxes, as well as an eight-track recorder andlooper.If you prefer ‘out of the box’ recording, the Axe I/O has you covered withtwin mic/line connectors for stereo recording and a reamp option to re-recordDI’d parts through a favourite amplifier.And with phantom power for condenser mics, MIDI/expression pedal connectionsto control Amplitube, as well as an onboard tuner, the Axe I/O proves to beone of the best equipped audio interfaces available for guitarists. If it’sgood enough for Joe Satriani…Read the full IK Multimedia Axe I/O review(Image credit: Focusrite)
Mixers without a USB Audio Interface
These are the most affordable mixers on the market, but they are designedmainly with live performances in mind since they can’t record directly to aPC, pendrive, or SD card.Now, let´s say you had a regular mixer at home, one with no multitrackcapabilities, and wanted to record eight channels from it to your computer;This would require not just the mixer, but an Audio Interface with enoughinputs to record those eight tracks coming from the mixer.While you could definitely do that, you would need eight cables going from theMixer to the Interface, which is just a hassle and something I wouldn’trecommend.So, getting a mixer with a built in Audio Interface, though more expensive,might be a great investment if you know how many inputs you need.
Do you really need an audio interface?
Even though your PC, Smart Phone and Tablet also have built-in audiointerfaces, these are not up to par with the external ones you can buy. They all do the same thing which is Analog to Digital conversion, however thequality of the sound you can achieve with an external interface will be muchbetter, and the output signal will also be of a much greater quality.
Can you use a USB mixer as an audio interface?
If the mixer has a built-in Audio Interface then absolutely. Now, some mixers can’t do multitrack recording which means that they will mixall of the tracks onto a single stereo file, which will then be recorded ontoyour DAW.
Firewire Audio Interface Vs. USB – Why Chose A USB Audio Interface?
One of the biggest debates in the recording world is whether you should chooseFirewire over USB. While Firewire might have been the obvious choice severalyears ago, it’s 2013 now, and a lot has changed since then.First of all, Firewire is known to have problems playing nicely with differentcomputers. Unless your computer uses a Firewire chipset manufactured by TexasInstruments, FireWire interfaces are likely to act buggy.For example, I’ve found out that they don’t call it FIREwire for nothing.Whenever the Firewire audio interface is plugged in, my Macbook Pro getsinsanely hot even when it’s idle, going up to 80-85C at times.I didn’t care that the laptop is too hot to touch. My problem was that thefans get so loud that it’s audible in the background while recording vocals.Like most DIY musicians out there, I record in my bedroom where I don’t haveroom for a vocal booth, so I can’t live with the noise.After doing some research it turns out that this IS a common issue withMacbooks and Firewire devices.Secondly, less and less computers have Firewire ports these days. USB, on theother hand, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.When it’s time to replace your computer several years from now, you wouldn’twant to be limited to choosing between models that only have a Firewireconnection.Lastly, there’s the issue of speed. Yes, it’s true that Firewire is fasterthan USB. But unless you’re recording more than 16 instruments at a time (notlikely unless you’re building a pro studio), the difference in data transferspeeds are almost negligible.For most home recording musicians, there are other factors that are far moreimportant than the interface connection — your processor, RAM and hard drivespeeds. Until this is fully optimized, there’s no need to worry about the typeof connection your interface has.Learn More About The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
1: Record direct from your guitar into instrument input on audio interface
What you’ll need:Connect the audio interface up to your computer (or using a powered cameraconnection kit, to your iPad). Make sure you follow the instructions with youraudio interface. Then simply connect your guitar direct to the instrumentinput on the interface.You may not like the sound – in fact you almost certainly won’t! However, whatyou do is enhance the dry signal from your guitar with various plug-ins. Thesewill allow you to get a really decent guitar sound by adding distortion,delay, chorus etc. or by simulating amps.The great thing about this is you can keep tweaking and changing the sound ofyour guitar after you have recorded.There are literally hundreds of fantastic fx and amp simulators to choosefrom. Start with Garageband for free, and work your way up. Or try is GuitarRig from Native Instruments.
2: Record direct from your guitar via guitar-usb interface
What you’ll need:Other than your guitar, you just need a guitar-usb interface. These aredevices designed as a one-stop solution, so you can record your guitardirectly on your computer with one purchase. The iRig Digital Guitar Interfaceis a good example.This is a good budget solution, quick and easy. You will find these devicesare not so well reviewed as the audio interfaces. However they are cheaper.But, if you also want to record vocals, and other instruments, either now orin the future, then you might want to purchase an audio interface or USB mixerfor that extra versatility.
2. Record direct from your acoustic guitar output into instrument input
on audio interface What you’ll need:If your acoustic guitar is an ‘electro-acoustic’ and also has a 1/4″ output,then you can record direct from your guitar. Do this by connecting it to theinstrument input on an audio interface.The disadvantage is the signal you record will be quite ‘dry’ and probablywon’t sound the same as the way you hear it when you play. Nor will youcapture the sound of your fingers attacking the on the fingerboard.However, the advantage is you don’t have to worry so much about the acousticdifficulties of your recording space.
USB Audio Interfaces For Recording Guitar
Although the computer guitar cable is a simple and cheap solution, there are awhole range of dedicated devices which will offer massive improvements inquality. For the guitarist with a slightly bigger budget seeking a higherquality solution, there are a tremendous range of USB devices which have beenspecifically designed from the ground up to with your recording needs in mind.All of these eliminate the need to use your existing sound card for recordingand provide a dedicated external solution with all the hardware and softwareyou need to record your guitar. We are big fans of these dedicated devices,they are easy to use and install, have special inputs for guitar, usually comewith a great software package and will massively improve the quality of yourrecordings.If you need more information before reading on then we have a whole articlethat explains exactly what an audio interface is for complete beginners.If you are right at the budget end, and just looking for a simple connection,then you can buy guitar-USB linking cables which will easily and cheaplyenable you to connect your guitar (electric or electro-acoustic) directly toyour computer. You’ll then be able to record, add effects etc and you will getmuch better results than just going straight to the generic line-in on yourcomputer.However, many guitarists also want to be able to record vocals, so prefer tolook for a device which will successfully record both guitar and mic.Fortunately there are plenty of dedicated interfaces available especiallydesigned for guitar and microphone to USB recording and there is something tosuit every budget.All the USB audio interfaces that have guitar and mic input can be used torecord guitar alongside a dynamic vocal mic. (Look for devices which also haveon-board phantom power if you want to use a condenser mic too or instead – seebelow). These all-in-one devices offer great value because you need verylittle additional equipment to get started – just the device, a guitar cable,a decent microphone and then a pair of headphones or powered speakers andyou’re away. The idea is they are all the computer hardware a guitarist needsto record guitar and vocals and most come with software too.If you want to build a small guitar recording studio around a studio condensermic, you’ll need to spend a bit more and be sure to purchase a device withphantom power. The condenser mic will also cost more than a dynamic mic. Forstudio recording, if you can stretch your budget this far you will get a goodresult .Don’t forget, these USB Audio interfaces bypass your built-in sound card togive a great result, but you will need to listen to them through headphones orpowered speakers (monitors) , as the sound will no longer come out of yourexisting computer speakers. Newbies often plug them in, start recording, thencontact us because they can’t hear anything! The added benefit of buying oneof these USB audio interfaces for recording your guitar and/or vocals is youcan also set it up as your default audio output device (or sound card) so itgives your whole audio set-up on your computer a complete upgrade. Great forYouTube video and general music playback