Various Ways To Interface Your Instrument To Your Computer



Various Ways To Interface Your Instrument To Your Computer
If you're like me,​ you are obsessed with home recording .​
I've spent a​ lot of​ time and money figuring out the​ best way to​ connect my microphones and guitars to​ my computer over the​ years .​
Here are the​ routes I​ chose and what worked best.
Platform
From the​ beginning I​ decided to​ go with the​ Mac platform,​ just because I​ had played with their iLife included software GarageBand and was somewhat satisfied with its recording capabilities .​
I​ don't think it​ has everything,​ but I​ got a​ Powerbook G4 in​ 2003 and now own a​ MacBook Pro.
Straight Line-In w/ Radio Shack Adapter
The first thing I​ tried was to​ use the​ built-in line-in on​ my Mac,​ which is​ a​ 1/8 inch female stereo port .​
So,​ I​ got a​ 1/4 inch to​ 1/8 inch adapter from Radio Shack .​
This was the​ worst way to​ interface my guitar to​ my computer .​
The part from Radio Shack didn't fit my instrument cable just right,​ it​ caused undue wear on​ my Mac's port,​ and the​ sound was super tinny.
iMic
The iMic is​ basically the​ same as​ the​ Radio Shack adapter,​ only its got a​ short cable on​ it​ and it​ fit my instrument cable better .​
I​ still got a​ pretty tinny sound.
M-Audio Fastrack USB Audio Interface
I had my first fruits of​ success with this $99 audio interface .​
Essentially it​ takes your guitar's or​ microphone's analog signal and turns it​ into a​ digital one .​
It sends the​ digital data via USB to​ your recording software,​ and voila!
This solution was my first experience of​ semi-professional sounding recordings,​ paired with some GarageBand post-production mixing and effects .​
There was still a​ problem with buzzing and feedback,​ however.
I also borrowed a​ friend's mixer which would allow me to​ do some mixing,​ and balancing,​ and pretty soon I​ was making stereo recordings .​
It sounded pretty good,​ but the​ interference increased .​
I​ had too many connections and cables and opportunities for signal loss and corruption.
Alesis 8-Channel USB Mixer
This is​ the​ solution that has worked best for me for a​ small home-grown budget while getting virtual recording studio quality .​
This mixer was around $200,​ but acts as​ both a​ regular analog mixer,​ and a​ USB interface (both parts of​ which can be used independently of​ the​ other) .​
This mixer/USB interface removes some of​ the​ seams of​ the​ rig,​ allowing for purer sounding,​ higher quality recordings .​
The mixer also features 100 different pre-amp effects.
So,​ essentially,​ the​ signal goes from my guitar,​ through a​ cable to​ my USB mixer,​ through the​ USB cable straight to​ my computer .​
There are very few analog connections involved.
Behringer iAXE 393
There is​ one more option that has even less analog connections .​
The Behringer iAXE 393 has a​ USB port right on​ it,​ allowing you to​ plug it​ straight into your computer digitally .​
This is​ quite an​ incredible idea,​ allowing seamless digital recording .​
Hopefully more guitar companies will jump in​ and add their own USB versions of​ their guitars.
I tested the​ iAXE,​ and I​ must say that although the​ action was a​ little high,​ the​ guitar sounded great,​ pumping data straight into Garageband.





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