using DI box to record instrument (Garageband)

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by 3paulx, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. 3paulx macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2009
    Hi all, Im new to DIY recording and I currently dont have any audio interface to record a live instrument to GB. I dont want to plug my guitar/bass to the mic in because i fear that it would eventually blow my Macbook's soundcard.

    Here are a couple of questions:

    (1) Can use a DI box (preamp) instead of an audio interface? [bass guitar > DI box > mc in > DAW]

    (2) If i use the DI and connect it to the mic in, will the bass guitar's signal still use the Macbook's built-in soundcard? or will it only use the DI's?

    (3) Will DI contribute to send a safe level of signal to the soundcard, thus preventing any harm?

    (4) Is it OK to just plug in an instrument straight to the mic in? (aside from the fact that doing it will produce an unbalace sound)

    (5) What are your other guerilla recording techniques that dont cost that much? aside from the line6 toneport , m-audio fast track and the likes....

    I dont mind getting a 6-7/10 rating of sound quality as I dont intend to use it for marketing purposes.

    Lastly, what do you think about this video i saw on youtube:

  2. Mattaut macrumors regular

    Oct 9, 2008
    Someone else who is more experienced can probably give a better answer than me, but since nobody has replied yet here it goes-
    1) As long as it's an active DI box then it has a preamp so you can use it instead of an audio interface to bring your signal to line level.
    2,3) I'm pretty sure it will use the Mac's soundcard, but the signal will be low impedance after going through the DI box so it won't overload the soundcard.
    4) If you do this your sound quality will suffer, honestly I'm not sure what problems could arise in terms of gear wearing out and stuff like that, but I do know you will end up with a crappy signal cause there is no preamp and you may have some hum and/or hiss cause of the high impedance output going into a low impedance input.
    5) Not sure if I can help you here, I think your DI box will be an okay "guerilla recording technique". I've read things in other forums where people use a DI box to go from guitar to computer soundcard.

    Hopefully someone with more knowledge can help you out a little more in case I am misinformed on some things, but I'm pretty sure I got the jist of it right.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    a DI is typically just a passive impedance matching device, it's not a preamp. But if it really is a preamp then you have it made. It will work just like you want.

    The DI box might work but the signal level might be to low for the Macs Line in. In fact without a preamp it WILL be to low. The reason is that your mac likely has line in not mic in. But even if it accepts a mic level input, guitars don't have much of a signal, they are very weak compared to a mic.

    What you really want is a preamp with adjustable gain. You almost have that with the guitar's volume pot. You will have to turn it up as loud as you can until it starts to clip then back off some.

    Does your amp have a headphone output? Try recording that. Send the headphone signal to LINE in. Keep the volume low at first. Maybe you have a effects loop on the amp? that would be even better send it's "out" to line in

    You could always mic the bass cabinet. Place the mic about a foot from the speaker cone. Experiment with angles or if it sound best on axis or off to the side.
  4. 3paulx thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2009
    Thanks for your reply Mattaut, this surely helps alot!

  5. 3paulx thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2009
    Thanks ChrisA, I appreciate your tips too. I will try doing those tips you guys gave me see w/c works better.

    I dont have effects loop on my amp but i'll try the headphone out. If i try the amp> mic> macbook> can i just use an ordinary mic? Ive tried to capture the sound from my amp using the built in mic but the low C in A string cant be recorded clearly, Ive tried C in E string and it improved a bit but i didnt have any probs capturing all other notes aside from the C. Any idea why?

  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Why? Because the built-in mic is literally the cheapest mic on Earth.

    So you have noticed the built-in mic has a built-in "comb filter" effect that seems to notch out selected frequencies. I'm not surprised as those mics cost about a buck each. A good mic for your guitar cabinet starts at about $100. You don't always get what you pay for, but a 100X difference in price says something. The sure SM57 is the "Standard" Yes you can use "any old mic" but you've already heard the result of using a very cheap mic. You are going to have to move up the food chain a few more links.
  7. 3paulx thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2009
    lol...okay thanks for the advice!

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