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m21

audio interface for electric guitar

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Hey guys. I don't know anything about audio interfaces but I'm looking for some good one. I want to plug in electric guitar into it and play with some effects from my DAW (also record some stuff) because I dont have any guitar amplifier. And in the future I may buy a midi keyboard and mic so could you tell me what audio interface could be the best in my case. When I will go to the music shop what should I asked for and for what should I look for. Also I have a question is my laptop parametres important here? I mean is there a possibility that I will buy audio interface which won't be working cause of my weak laptop?

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If you don't have a guitar preamp you'll want an interface for guitar, something like the axe io.

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/axeio/

You'll want one of the inputs to have a 1 MOhm impedance. Many IFs will say hi Z input, but they won't be 1 MOhm. An under powered laptop will have more latency. If your laptop is under powered you may want to consider an amp modeler like the nux mg 30. It will give you amp modeling + fx and an audio IF.

https://www.nuxefx.com/mg-30.html

 

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Posted (edited)

For guitar as said above you'll get better tone if the impedance is correct. My solution to that was a $75 Zoom G1on. https://zoomcorp.com/en/ca/multi-effects/guitar-effects/g1on/   I don't know if they still make it,  but there are 100's of guitar multi effect boxes out there and real cheap used. 

Then any audio interface will be ready to roll. The effects box will handle the impedance issue.  And the Zoom pedal gives all sorts of goodie like a tuner.  I actually like a lot of the sounds it makes. I wasn't excepting that as I am old school stomp box and tube amp guy.

If you plan on using In the Box Guitar sims you do need a low latency system. Most of the new interfaces are good enough these days but your computer needs the processing power to take advantage of low buffer settings. Laptops rarely fall into that category unless you pay $$$,  I solved that problem by only adding the Guitar VST effects after I record the track. 

I made a video with tips on what to think about before you buy an interface. Most important choice is how many inputs and outputs you'll need. Sounds like you'd be fine with a 2x2 interface. Just make sure it comes with ASIO drivers. There's a few low end Behringer's that don't. 

 

 

 

Edited by John Vere

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Posted (edited)
On 7/17/2021 at 9:25 AM, m21 said:

I mean is there a possibility that I will buy audio interface which won't be working cause of my weak laptop?

How weak is it, what is CPU and ram and how many hardrives does it have. Is it a Dell or HP? what is the model number some are better than others.

If your looking to use it as a guitar amplifier and also for a midi keyboard as well as a mic then there are some interfaces I would recommend depending on what the specifications of your laptop are.

Edited by Tezza

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You need an audio interface with an "instrument" input.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is probably the most popular interface. The newer 3rd gen interfaces are reasonably priced but you you can get some good deals on a used 2nd gen.

Slightly cheaper is the Presonus AudioBox, or if you're on a budget something like the Behringer UMC202HD will do fine. 

All of these interfaces are bus-powered from your USB port and should work fine with a guitar.  I actually use a 1st gen 2i2 with my laptop for recording guitar when I'm not in my studio.

Before you get anything however, check that they have native ASIO drivers available for download - you don't want to use ASIO4ALL if you can avoid it.

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In terms oflow latency I was never satisfied playing into Cakewalk through a vst  amp sim. Even with a very powerful computer there was just too much fiddling around  required to get the latency to a reasonable level. I found that Guitar Rig 5 run in standalone mode alongside Cakewalk got me very good realtime sounds and allowed me to record in Cakewalk at the same time. I use an Audient ID22 which I love. 

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On 7/18/2021 at 10:17 AM, Tezza said:

How weak is it, what is CPU and ram and how many hardrives does it have. Is it a Dell or HP? what is the model number some are better than others.

If your looking to use it as a guitar amplifier and also for a midi keyboard as well as a mic then there are some interfaces I would recommend depending on what the specifications of your laptop are.

It's dell. 12 GB RAM. CPU AMD A12-9700P RADEON R7, 10 COMPUTE CORES 4C+6G   2.50 GHz. And one hardrive.

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2 hours ago, m21 said:

It's dell. 12 GB RAM. CPU AMD A12-9700P RADEON R7, 10 COMPUTE CORES 4C+6G   2.50 GHz. And one hardrive.

That should be plenty fast enough for low latency operation.

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Any interface with a female 1/4 input will likely work and (as mentioned) the Focusrite Scarlett is an affordable good quality one.

As mentioned, computer processing speed undermining latency is important. I just went Thunderbolt (available on laptop?) and am very happy

I have vintage Marshalls, Fenders, Gibson amps, but I just finished an LP using only S-Gear Scuffman software for guitar sounds. I love it! You can listen to David Gale "Down in Smoke" album to hear both clean, crunch and heavily distorted sounds.

By the way, you will find support on  this Forum to be terrific....very helpful. Take it from me, some who knows very little about such matters....

 

good luck,

 

 

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One thing I would add about choosing an interface, is think about what you might need in the next 2-3 years.

I'm not saying spend a fortune on a 32 in / 32 output interface, but think about scenarios where:

  • You might want to record more than just one or two channels
  • Will you always be using VST effects, or will you be reamping via a real amp in the future, or might want to use external effects processing?

So for example,  something like the Scarlett 2i2 is a great interface, but you've only got 2 ins and 2 outs... and the 2 outs will invariably be connected to your monitors. The Scarlett 4i4 gives you 4 inputs and 4 outputs for an extra 30% - 40% of the cost.

In general, you can't use more than one interface at once ( due to technical restrictions with ASIO / wordclock sync issues ), so if you do have to upgrade your interface your old interface will be redundant. 

One exception to this rule is interfaces that have an ADAT input.  If you buy an ADAT converter, this will give an ADAT equipped interface an extra 8 inputs. 

The Scarlett 18i20 / 18i8 both have ADAT inputs.  They're not cheap interfaces, but in saying that the Behringer UMC1820 essentially has the same feature set as the Scarlett 18i20  - i.e. 18 inputs (8 analog, 2 SPDIF, 8 via ADAT), 20 outputs (10 analog, 2 SPDIF, 8 via ADAT) - but is the same price as the Scarlett 4i4... although it's arguable that the Scarlett preamps are superior.

Anyhow, all I'm saying is you might want to consider getting something slightly more than what you need now to save money in the future.

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Also to consider: not all interfaces have Midi connectors. If you intend to use an older keyboard that only has the 5 pins connectors (no Midi over USB), you may not be happy with the cheaper interfaces. For example, the Scarlett 2i2 does not have Midi connections. The 4i4 or the previous generation 2i4 do.

Although I am a guitar player, I have an old Midi keyboard I use as controller. I settled on the 2i4 a few years ago.

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14 hours ago, m21 said:

It's dell. 12 GB RAM. CPU AMD A12-9700P RADEON R7, 10 COMPUTE CORES 4C+6G   2.50 GHz. And one hardrive.

That sounds plenty enough in terms of ram and cpu to function as a DAW and to get "low" latency for using guitar amp sims or to plug in a midi keyboard. Some Dell laptops have problems with low latency for some reason, best to check yours out by doing a google search for latency and ASIO driver compatibility of your laptop.

It sounds like a newer model, would it have a USB-C port. If it does, there are a new bunch of excellent interfaces that can pair with that. The one limitation you may be up against if you end up using samples, loops and for greater multitrack recording stability is the single hard drive which is a common limitation of laptops.

This is unlikely to affect the performance that you will get from the amp sim. You should be able to record ok but it is recommended that you have at least one other hard drive to hold your projects and to record to. Best to give it a go as is, see how it goes, You can download guitar rig player for free to test it all out.

I am a fan of audio interfaces that have a DSP chip and FX chip, you don't need to worry about latency if you are recording vocals or any audio source and there is also a cab sim to use a guitar with no latency.  Generally, you have to plug in these sorts of interfaces to the wall but that has changed now with the Steinberg USB-C interfaces which provide you with this functionality running off bus power.

I would take a while to look at all the options available, You don't really know how your computer will perform latency wise until you try it. Latency is the time it takes from when you play the guitar to when you hear it, there can be a delay which might be not an issue, tolerable or really annoying.

I personally don't like it, but my computer is not that powerful, it's not an issue for me because i have a UR44 which has the DSP and FX chip.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

For a guitar and a mic input, you would do very well with a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. The 2 inputs will easily accommodate both at the same time, or you could get by with the Scarlett Solo if you only intend to track one at a time. The Focusrite ASIO drivers get reasonably low latency for this price range.

Your laptop should be more than fine for that use.

If you also add a new MIDI keyboard, those typically connect with MIDI over USB, so no need to worry about MIDI ports.

Edited by abacab
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First of all thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate that. Next week I will be in the city and I'm gonna search for some music shop and see what they will offer me. If there won't be anything what would fit my preferences I will buy something online.  I feel like i'm gonna choose this focusrite scarlett but I may go with solo because I won't be recording two things (like vocals and guitar) at once.  And the only difference between 2i2 and solo is just inputs/outputs? Correct me if i'm wrong (i hope there is no difference in sound quality).  I'm also considering interfaces from behringer, presonus, img stageline, steinberg and komplete audio from NI. If you got some experience with these then share with me please. I need to spend some time on internet and see some comparisions to find the best which won't be too expensive and will work for me. I dunno if it's important information but when I will be playing/recording guitar I will have to do it with headphones most of the times. And in the case of midi keyboard is there some kind of wire? that I could plug into audio interface and it would let me use my midi keyboard?  I heard that if plug midi keyboard straight to the laptop it might have some problems with latency so I'm just asking in case.

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23 minutes ago, m21 said:

First of all thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate that. Next week I will be in the city and I'm gonna search for some music shop and see what they will offer me. If there won't be anything what would fit my preferences I will buy something online.  I feel like i'm gonna choose this focusrite scarlett but I may go with solo because I won't be recording two things (like vocals and guitar) at once.  And the only difference between 2i2 and solo is just inputs/outputs? Correct me if i'm wrong (i hope there is no difference in sound quality).  I'm also considering interfaces from behringer, presonus, img stageline, steinberg and komplete audio from NI. If you got some experience with these then share with me please. I need to spend some time on internet and see some comparisions to find the best which won't be too expensive and will work for me. I dunno if it's important information but when I will be playing/recording guitar I will have to do it with headphones most of the times. And in the case of midi keyboard is there some kind of wire? that I could plug into audio interface and it would let me use my midi keyboard?  I heard that if plug midi keyboard straight to the laptop it might have some problems with latency so I'm just asking in case.

You shouldn't experience any difference in audio quality between the Scarlett Solo and 2i2. But you don't get a separate headphone volume control on the Solo, like the 2i2 has. Both have direct monitoring available, which avoids DAW latency by directly routing the interface hardware inputs to the outputs (your monitors).

Quote

Headphone level – adjusts the output level at the front panel stereo headphone output.

But for your reference, here are the manufacturer specs (hint: mic/line/headphone audio specs are identical):

https://focusrite.com/en/audio-interface/scarlett/scarlett-solo

https://focusrite.com/en/usb-audio-interface/scarlett/scarlett-2i2

Quote

Using Direct Monitoring You will frequently hear the term “latency” used in connection with digital audio systems. In the case of the simple DAW recording application described above, latency will be the time it takes for your input signals to pass through your computer and audio software. Latency can be a problem for a performer who wishes to record while monitoring their input signals. The Scarlett Solo is fitted with a “Direct Monitoring” option, which overcomes this problem. Setting the front panel DIRECT MONITOR switch to ON will route your input signals directly to the Scarlett Solo’s headphone and main monitor outputs. This enables you to hear yourself with zero latency – i.e., in “real time” – along with the computer playback. Your inputs will be summed to mono, so both mic and instrument will appear in the centre of the stereo image. Note that the input signals to your computer are not affected in any way by the use of Direct Monitor. When Direct Monitoring is set to ON, ensure that your recording software is not set to route its input (what you are currently recording) to its output. If it is, you will hear yourself “twice”, with one signal audibly delayed as an echo. Monitoring with DIRECT MONITOR set to OFF can be useful when using an FX plug-in to your DAW to create a stereo effect which contributes to the live performance. In this way, you will be able to hear exactly what is being recorded, complete with the FX. However, some latency

MIDI controllers do not make any sound by themselves, so a headphone jack would be totally useless with them.

You need to plug MIDI controllers into a computer, and use them to control a virtual instrument. However a synthesizer keyboard or digital piano with on-board sounds will need an audio input (1 for mono, 2 for stereo) to record an audio signal at line level. It is easier and cheaper to record a soft synth in the box, if you can tackle the latency.

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14 hours ago, m21 said:

First of all thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate that. Next week I will be in the city and I'm gonna search for some music shop and see what they will offer me. If there won't be anything what would fit my preferences I will buy something online.  I feel like i'm gonna choose this focusrite scarlett but I may go with solo because I won't be recording two things (like vocals and guitar) at once.  And the only difference between 2i2 and solo is just inputs/outputs? Correct me if i'm wrong (i hope there is no difference in sound quality).  I'm also considering interfaces from behringer, presonus, img stageline, steinberg and komplete audio from NI. If you got some experience with these then share with me please. I need to spend some time on internet and see some comparisions to find the best which won't be too expensive and will work for me. I dunno if it's important information but when I will be playing/recording guitar I will have to do it with headphones most of the times. And in the case of midi keyboard is there some kind of wire? that I could plug into audio interface and it would let me use my midi keyboard?  I heard that if plug midi keyboard straight to the laptop it might have some problems with latency so I'm just asking in case.

This new video from Creative Sauce just came in this morning. It's a review of IK Multimedia's interface for guitarist. A little more expensive than the Focusrite, as you will see at the end of the video, but you get more features for guitarist and Midi connectors.

 

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15 hours ago, m21 said:

<snip>

I'm also considering interfaces from behringer, presonus, img stageline, steinberg and komplete audio from NI.

<snip>

If you're using (or considering) Studio One you should seriously consider a Presonus interface.

 

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