Turning down guitar volume when going DI?

Engine Swap

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I was having trouble getting a non-harsh sound when recording DI to garage band.

Here’s my signal chain: guitar > Scarlette 2i2 > Ipad

The preamp levels were not overloaded, but I was getting a harsh sound. Worse with humbuckers.

I found that if I turn down the guitar volume 1/4 to 1/2 things sound way better.

Is this typical of a digital interface? I’m new to digital and previously only recorded through a miked cab.
 

Beebe

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I'm not that familiar with garage band.

Can you zoom in on the recorded harsh signal waveform and see if it's squared off at the top? If it is not, could it be distorting at an output, maybe at an effect in the signal chain?
 

tubedude

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That's one way to kill an overly crisp tone. If you're not overloading the front end, maybe it has a higher impedance.
Some downstream EQ might be in order.
 

Mouth

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Do you have the INST button engaged?

Screenshot_20220128-225818_Gallery.jpg
 

Engine Swap

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Thanks for the replies - I still very new to digital, but I’m liking it a lot.

Previously, I was getting a nasty crackling noise, which turned out to a sampling setting. I’ll dig more into the settings.
 

codamedia

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Thanks for the replies - I still very new to digital, but I’m liking it a lot.

If you come from an analog background... disregard the traditional views of "record as hot as possible".

In digital... you want to record around -12db to leave yourself enough head room. -12db is the approximate equivalent to 0 on an analog VU meter and there is no benefit to recording any hotter like there used to be with tape. At -12 you will likely still peak around -6.... that's fine, but if you record at -6 you will peak way too hot, possibly even clip.
 

clayville

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Open up the "Amp Designer" in GarageBand and have a look at how much gain and overdrive you might accidentally have dialed-in. Same goes for plug-ins and the stuff on the "pedalboard" you may have turned on. Excessive gain can creep in from several directions... and opening a new project and track in GB (I'm pretty sure) keeps the same "amp" settings you last used, so... if you were frustrated last time, you'll be frustrated next time unless you adjust things.
 

klasaine

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As mentioned in previous posts: keep the Scarlett in the green and maybe hitting in the yellow a bit.
Check in GB that you're not pushing above -6. The -12 advice is really where you want it to be always 'safe'. And if you're using a GB amp, check those levels too.
The Scarletts can be harsh when you start getting into the orange.
*Once you're more experienced with all this you can push all this a little more.

Also, there's nothing inherently wrong with backing off your guitar's volume control a bit. Many players do this always - recorded and/or live. I have several axes that don't like the vol ctrl 'up all the way' and I'll back it off to between 7 and 9.

For my own music I record at -6 most of the time. When I track for other folks, I keep at -12. (I also use a UAd Apollo interface which has a super clean, ultra linear preamp.)
 

Audiowonderland

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I was having trouble getting a non-harsh sound when recording DI to garage band.

Here’s my signal chain: guitar > Scarlette 2i2 > Ipad

The preamp levels were not overloaded, but I was getting a harsh sound. Worse with humbuckers.

I found that if I turn down the guitar volume 1/4 to 1/2 things sound way better.

Is this typical of a digital interface? I’m new to digital and previously only recorded through a miked cab.
Its typical if you have the gain too high. Where are you peaking on the meters? Should be around -18
 

matman14

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My bet is on a setting on garage band in a virtual amp or something.
And remember too, that if you are listening to just the guitar signal in Garage Band with no amps sim, it's going to sound very thin/tinny/harsh. The amp, speaker and cab are a huge piece of the final sound of an electric guitar.

While it is good practice to shoot for the analog signal hitting the converters in the interface around line level, also called 0VU, also known as +4dBu (for reference according to the published spec on the 2i2 line level on the instrument input would show up as -8.5dBFS on your Garage Band meters), for a properly designed, stand alone interface that is electronically balanced (no transformers or tubes), with no other gear in the chain, it's not strictly necessary. The ICs in the interface should be able to remain clean up to the point you clip the signal. If they don't, the design of the unit is flawed.

Look at what is going on in GB first, it should be pretty hard to get enough voltage out of a passive guitar pickup (with no pedals in the chain) to clip the converters in a 2i2, unless you are really cranking the gain on the interface. If you're using active pickups or pedals that add gain, then that's a different story.
 
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chulaivet1966

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If you come from an analog background... disregard the traditional views of "record as hot as possible".

In digital... you want to record around -12db to leave yourself enough head room. -12db is the approximate equivalent to 0 on an analog VU meter and there is no benefit to recording any hotter like there used to be with tape. At -12 you will likely still peak around -6.... that's fine, but if you record at -6 you will peak way too hot, possibly even clip.

Howdy Engine Swap....see above tip(s).

It's an important one to remember in the digital world we're in.
As you get to know your interface and recording technique better you will know where you can fudge a bit on occasion. :)

Keep us informed.

Have a great day everyone....
 
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chulaivet1966

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Also, there's nothing inherently wrong with backing off your guitar's volume control a bit. Many players do this always - recorded and/or live. I have several axes that don't like the vol ctrl 'up all the way' and I'll back it off to between 7 and 9.

For my own music I record at -6 most of the time. When I track for other folks, I keep at -12. (I also use a UAd Apollo interface which has a super clean, ultra linear preamp.)
Howdy Ken....

I agree.
One can always bump the clip up a db or so if need be after it's recorded.

Back to it....
 

Rich_S

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Craig Anderton wrote an article a few years ago about his “transient tamer” project. A Google search will find it. It gives a lot of good background on the hows and whys of setting gain for direct guitar recording, as well as a simple circuit to make ur easier.
 

studio

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Its typical if you have the gain too high. Where are you peaking on the meters? Should be around -18
Yes, and as most DAWs out there one should also be checking in with the RMS level.

Even a -12db can get you in trouble if your dynamics aren't being tamed by something.

The headroom available on digital equipment is large so you don't have to reach for a close to zero level like you would with analog. Its not the same scale at all. Minus 18 is the new Zero!

A good rule for a new digital student is to keep levels low on input recording and that headroom will help when you crank up the stereo volume when listening back to your mixed tracks. Thanks.
 

Ben Harmless

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The ICs in the interface should be able to remain clean up to the point you clip the signal. If they don't, the design of the unit is flawed.

Look at what is going on in GB first, it should be pretty hard to get enough voltage out of a passive guitar pickup (with no pedals in the chain) to clip the converters in a 2i2, unless you are really cranking the gain on the interface. If you're using active pickups or pedals that add gain, then that's a different story.

Unfortunately, those converters (or at least the circuits surrounding them) *are* at least a little flawed. At least on the 1st and 2nd generation units, the instrument inputs had zero headroom, and it was exacerbated by almost all of the gain being in the last 7% (approximately) of the knob's movement. You could clip the inputs with the weakest pickups. Focusrite themselves basically acknowledged this when they updated through generations, and touted better headroom, etc but on a friend's 3rd gen 18i20, at least the knob issue is still present.

I'll definitely say that I'd expect the clipping indicator to light up, but either way, I'd have no issue believing that it's input clipping that's causing the problem. Turning down is indeed the solution.

I actually really like the Scarlett range, and use it, but this is a weakness of theirs, and one of the reasons I use external amp sims (Tech21, Joyo) which give me better control, and don't require much finesse from the Focusrite pres.

Never had an issue with any microphone though. Just the instrument inputs.
 




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