Old 08-06-2010, 06:40 AM   #1
XoechZ
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Default Guitar to PC question - using VST ampsims

Hello Forum!

Another question from my side.

I have used a POD X3 Live as audio device for some time. It was ok but not perfect.
Now I have discovered the power of VST amp sims and cab IRs, which sound much better than my POD. So I don't need the POD sounds any more.

I also have installed my old M-Audio Delta 2496 sound card which is much more stable and has much lower latencies than the Line6 drivers. Ideal for recording, using VST amps.

But I still have my POD X3 Live running, because I need a connection from guitar to PC. I can't connect my guitar directly to the Delta's input. I am using SPDIF for this, going from the POD's SPDIF out to the Delta's SPDIF input. Then I turn the POD into tuner mode which bypasses the guitar signal through it.

So far so good, here comes the question:

What do you think of this solution? Is this the best I can do in my case? And what do I need if I want to get rid of the POD completely?


Thanks in advance for useful suggestions,

XoechZ
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:52 AM   #2
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I've got a Pod X3 and an M-Audio 2496 soundcard.

I found the same thing. The Pod X3 is OK for direct monitoring using its built in sounds but I couldn't get the latency low enough to record using amp sims.

With the M-Audio 2496, I can use it at 128 spls, which Reaper reports as 3.8/3.5ms, but I did a measurement (with Centrance I think) that suggests it might actually be up to about 10ms latency. However, the latency from my M-audio doesn't bother me, so I can record using ampsims.

I started off by using the SPDIF output from my POD X3 going into the SPDIF input of the M-audio card. But I'll swear this adds a small amount of extra latency that I can feel. It's enough to bother me - maybe it's just me

When I tried the line-outs from my Pod X3 going into the audio-in on the M-audio, there was extra latency as well (if I recall correctly it didn't sound that good either). I did a loopback test that suggests that the audio latency through a POD X3 (i.e. the delay between the audio in and the audio line outs) is about 2ms. Although its miniscule on its own, adding this to the M-Audio latency pushes it to a point where I can feel it. I think I start to sense the latency once it gets above about 10ms.

I ditched the idea of using my Pod X3 with the M-audio and ended up getting a separate preamp. Firstly I tried an Behringer Tube Ultra Gain Mic 100 which sounds OK but was too noisy on high gain ampsim settings. Now I'm using an M-audio DMP3 preamp in front of my M-audio 2496, which sounds good and is low noise. However, even at its lowest gain setting, the DMP3 has got quite a high output. If you've got high output guitar pickups you might find the DMP3 output is a bit too much. It's just about OK (just under 0dB) with my Strat pickups.

edit: my question at the link below led me to the DMP3
http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.p...highlight=dmp3


Pete

Last edited by stratman; 08-06-2010 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:04 AM   #3
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I just use a small 6 channel Tapco mixer into Delta 2496:
http://www.tapcoworld.com/scripts/sh...X60_3-4Rgt.jpg

I sometimes use a separate preamp also, but less so lately, for convenience.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:18 AM   #4
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+1 for MAudio DMP3 type stuff. I have the OmniStudio version (older, pretty much a DMP2). Clean sound, very nice, easy to use.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for your answers! You guys are really very helpful!

About your suggestions:

I think I don't need a preamp. All I really need is the connection from guitar to soundcard.

I do already have a small Behringer mixer which looks almost like the Tapco mixer that carbon suggested (same connections and layout). That's good, because that way it seems I don't have to buy another unit.

But I am not sure how to use it to connect my guitar. Can I simply plug the guitar cable to a mixer input, and connect the mixer's output to the soundcard?

Currently I am using the mixer in another way. I have connected the sound card's outputs to the mixer's "tape in" and the mixer's main outs to my active studio monitors. So it works as a volume control for the monitors. And I can connect headphones to the mixer, which is nice when I record at night :-)

Can I combine both functions with the one mixer?

Sorry for so much questions :-)


Thanks,

XoechZ
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XoechZ View Post
But I am not sure how to use it to connect my guitar. Can I simply plug the guitar cable to a mixer input, and connect the mixer's output to the soundcard?

Currently I am using the mixer in another way. I have connected the sound card's outputs to the mixer's "tape in" and the mixer's main outs to my active studio monitors. So it works as a volume control for the monitors. And I can connect headphones to the mixer, which is nice when I record at night :-)
I use it this way:

* guitar straight in (there's plenty of gain available) or sometimes through a guitar pedal/preamp.

* Mixers "main out" to the soundcard inputs

* Mixers "control room out" to my amp/speakers

* Soudcard outputs to mixers "CD/tape input" - "tape to control room/phones" option selected

* (Optional) soundcards SPDIF output to my amp/speakers
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Old 08-06-2010, 11:02 AM   #7
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Thanks again carbon!

I think this should be possible with my mixer too.

I will try it and see... :-)


Thanks,

XoechZ

EDIT: Unfortunately this method does not work with my mixer because it has no "Control room outs". Just main outs, tape out and phones. Too bad.

Last edited by XoechZ; 08-06-2010 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:08 PM   #8
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Hi XoechZ, if you use the line in/ mic in of your mixer you will need a DI-Box, cause of a thing called impedance matching. If you go direcly with the guitar into the mixer the guitar will sound dull. On better preamps you have a Hi-Z input. Here you can put in the guitar direcly!

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Old 08-06-2010, 12:24 PM   #9
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Well, I thought of a D.I. Box too.

But do I need the mixer then?

Can't I simply go from the D.I. Box into the input of my M-Audio Delta?

Guitar -> D.I. Box -> sound card input



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Old 08-06-2010, 01:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XoechZ View Post
Well, I thought of a D.I. Box too.

But do I need the mixer then?

Can't I simply go from the D.I. Box into the input of my M-Audio Delta?

Guitar -> D.I. Box -> sound card input



XoechZ
No, you will need the mixer or a preamp, cause the guitar signal is to weak for the soundcard input.
You donīt need a fancy di-box. A simple passive one from for example "palmer" is good enough!

This is a good one:

http://www.thomann.de/de/palmer_pan_01.htm




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Old 08-06-2010, 07:30 PM   #11
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Oh god, this is confusing me totally!

Sorry, but do I need a mixer or preamp AND a D.I. Box? Btw., the mixer input channel has a built-in preamp with a gain knob, level knob and 3 band EQ and pan. So isn't this mixer channel a preamp which makes my guitar signal ready to go into the soundcard? Why a D.I. Box then?

In my current situation, using the POD for this, I bypass the guitar signal through the POD (no processing in it, just leading the signal from the input to the output). This gives me a good signal peaking about -10dB in Reaper, which is way enough to drive VST amp sims (Using a normal guitar with passive humbuckers). So, what is the POD doing here?


XoechZ

Last edited by XoechZ; 08-06-2010 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:09 PM   #12
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your guitar is "instrument level" which is exceptionally quiet. the DI brings it up to "mic level" which then would plug into a mic preamp. This signal then becomes "line level" once it's gone through the preamp. Line level is amplified signal. mic and instrument level are "source signal" from their respective sources and are very weak.

to answer your question if your mixer/interface doesn't have Hi-Z or instrument inputs then you will need a DI box to bring it up to mic level which every mixer accepts. the main outs from the mixer are line level which can go into the sound cards line input.
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:20 AM   #13
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So your suggestion is:

Guitar -> D.I. Box -> Mixer -> sound card

Ok, but carbon wrote:

"* guitar straight in (there's plenty of gain available) or sometimes through a guitar pedal/preamp."

I also did a little forum search and found this (old) thread: http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.p...ehringer+ub502

In post #12 smudge8 writes:

"The ideal way to connect your guitar to your computer, from my experience, is through a cheap mini sound desk. You can buy something like a Behringer UB502 (http://www.behringer.com/UB502/index.cfm?lang=ENG) for about US$40. You connect your guitar to the TRS jack on channel one, then hook the Tape Out of the desk into your line in via a stereo RCA => stereo mini-TRS lead (like the one you'd use to hook your computer to your stereo). Plus you can add a couple of other sources if you want, and it adds in an extra EQ. Of course, when I do it, I go through a cheap Alto tube pre-amp first, then into the desk, but that's just me.


The Behringer UB502 is exactly the mixer that I use, so should work without a D.I. Box.

But I think it is best if I just try it and see what happens :-)

Thanks to all for your answers!

XoechZ
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:41 AM   #14
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The more of this thread I read, the more I think the OP's original solution was the best one.
My thought has always been, the fewer components in a signal chain, the better.
So letting the Line6 handle the impedance matching and A/D conversion and sticking with the SP/DIF input on the 2496 is probably going to be the easiest way to go about it.
At least, until the OP decides to move up to a real interface.
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:34 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DuraMorte View Post
The more of this thread I read, the more I think the OP's original solution was the best one.
My thought has always been, the fewer components in a signal chain, the better.
So letting the Line6 handle the impedance matching and A/D conversion and sticking with the SP/DIF input on the 2496 is probably going to be the easiest way to go about it.
At least, until the OP decides to move up to a real interface.
Yes, maybe you are right and I should leave it the way it is. But on the other side, the POD is a little overpowered for just acting as an A/D converter.
So I thought I can find an easy solution to get the POD out of the signal chain and sell it, or whatever.

Btw., what do you mean with "move up to a real interface"?


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Old 08-07-2010, 02:04 AM   #16
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Btw., what do you mean with "move up to a real interface"?
I mean, purchasing a piece of equipment that has more I/O than MIDI and SP/DIF.

A cheap USB interface from Presonus, Lexicon, etc. will run you $150-200, and you'll have much more flexible input and output options, as well as an actual instrument input (no pre-amp or DI box necessary).

I had a Presonus Audiobox for several years, and quite liked it; the inputs were extremely hot, so I had to get a DI box (I just needed the -20dB pad), but other than that it worked great.
I've also heard good things about the Lexicon Lambda.
The Alesis iO2 looks like an awesome little piece of gear (has 2 mic/line/instrument ins!); I have it's granddaddy, the iO26, and I love it.

There are a lot of options out there for small, affordable interfaces.
Do yourself a favor and spend a few hundred bucks on a piece of gear, and stop dealing with that spiderweb of stuff you've got going on now.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:20 AM   #17
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Well, I like my M-Audio Delta 2496. It is rock solid, stable and offers real low latencies for recording. And honestly I do not need more I/Os than this card has to offer.

But one interesting thing would be a good, affordable preamp to get my audio signals into the Delta. After a little search I found this:
http://www.thomann.de/at/samson_cvalve.htm

Would this be an option? Looks like what I need, has a digital out and is quite affordable.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:27 AM   #18
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Line 6 UX1, M-Audio Mobile Pre, Line 6 Guitar Port, M-Audio Fast USB, etc.

There are numerous USB sound cards that will do what you need.
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Old 08-07-2010, 03:00 AM   #19
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Line 6 UX1, M-Audio Mobile Pre, Line 6 Guitar Port, M-Audio Fast USB, etc.

There are numerous USB sound cards that will do what you need.
Sorry, but I think you did not read my post right above yours. No sound card needed :-)
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Old 08-07-2010, 04:36 AM   #20
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I've just done some checks with my M-Audio 2496 and my Pod X3.

Latency Comparison
If I run Centrance I get 7.26ms latency from my M-audio 2496 for 128 samples (see pic below). For this measurement, my DMP3 preamp was in the loop.



If I do the test using my Pod X3 Spdif output into the M-Audio 2496 Spdif input, I get 8.78ms (see pic below). Note I bypassed all the effects in the Pod X3 for this test.



The results weren't as bad as I recalled.
The weird thing is, I'm sure I can sense some latency when I play via the Pod X3 Spdif, even though the total latency is only 8.78ms. But it's a bit subjective. It's in the zone where I'm not sure whether I'm imagining it or not .

I suppose the conclusion is, if you don't notice any latency, then use your Pod X3 Spdif output.

Sound Comparison
The sound using the Spidf Output of my Pod X3 is OK. Perfectly acceptable, depending how fussy you are.

But the sound using my DMP3 preamp is definitely better (fuller).

Pete

Last edited by stratman; 08-07-2010 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:35 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XoechZ View Post
Oh god, this is confusing me totally!

Sorry, but do I need a mixer or preamp AND a D.I. Box? Btw., the mixer input channel has a built-in preamp with a gain knob, level knob and 3 band EQ and pan. So isn't this mixer channel a preamp which makes my guitar signal ready to go into the soundcard? Why a D.I. Box then?

In my current situation, using the POD for this, I bypass the guitar signal through the POD (no processing in it, just leading the signal from the input to the output). This gives me a good signal peaking about -10dB in Reaper, which is way enough to drive VST amp sims (Using a normal guitar with passive humbuckers). So, what is the POD doing here?


XoechZ
Ohh, I wouldnīt confuse you -
I thing a di-box belongs to every musician household. This would be one of the first things I would buy, cause itīs helper in many situations -> recording bass, e-gtr, acc-gtr etc, splitting signals etc pp.
The signal flow is the following: instrument -> di-box -> preamp or mixer -> input of your soundcard!
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:44 AM   #22
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Quote:
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Ohh, I wouldnīt confuse you -
I thing a di-box belongs to every musician household. This would be one of the first things I would buy, cause itīs helper in many situations -> recording bass, e-gtr, acc-gtr etc, splitting signals etc pp.
The signal flow is the following: instrument -> di-box -> preamp or mixer -> input of your soundcard!
I thought that a DI box wouldn't be necessary for guitar or bass, if you've got a Hi-Z input on your preamp or mixer? I haven't got a DI box.

Pete
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:12 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by stratman View Post
I thought that a DI box wouldn't be necessary for guitar or bass, if you've got a Hi-Z input on your preamp or mixer? I haven't got a DI box.

Pete
Yes, thatīs right! If you have a preamp with hi-z input you donīt need a di-box! You can plug your guitar directly into the hi-z input!

Ciao
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:25 AM   #24
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Sorry, but I think you did not read my post right above yours. No sound card needed :-)
Oh sorry, not sure how I missed that. :-(

Must've scrolled past it or something. I'd latched on to the idea that you wanted to get rid of the POD.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:26 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XoechZ View Post
Well, I thought of a D.I. Box too.

But do I need the mixer then?

Can't I simply go from the D.I. Box into the input of my M-Audio Delta?

Guitar -> D.I. Box -> sound card input

XoechZ
Sorry if I'm speaking out of turn here. But, is your "sound card" a M-Audio Delta 1010 (or 1010lt)? If so, then yes, you can go straight into one of the mic preamps on the 1010. You don't need a mixer. However, you can use a mixer if you want.

If you use the mixer then you should probably go into a line input or change the jumper on the card for the mic input to use line level.

Wolf
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:32 AM   #26
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Sorry if I'm speaking out of turn here. But, is your "sound card" a M-Audio Delta 1010 (or 1010lt)? If so, then yes, you can go straight into one of the mic preamps on the 1010. You don't need a mixer. However, you can use a mixer if you want.

If you use the mixer then you should probably go into a line input or change the jumper on the card for the mic input to use line level.

Wolf
It's an M-audio 2496 mentioned in the OP. If it's the same model as my 2496, it doesn't sound good if you input the guitar directly into the card.

Pete
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:48 PM   #27
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As posted by stratman anything with a high z input will do. I use a dbx 163x compressor. A good purchase would be a mic pre with a high Z in as you can use it with a mic also. Using a guitar amp with an effects loop works well also, and can give a different sound to an ampsim Guitar->amp amp effects out or line out to soundcard. If you don't want to hear the amp plug a blank jack in the return.

I like to run an amp off the send on the ampsim track. I don't record the amp just get sustain with it
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:56 PM   #28
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I've got a Pod X3 and an M-Audio 2496 soundcard.

I found the same thing. The Pod X3 is OK for direct monitoring using its built in sounds but I couldn't get the latency low enough to record using amp sims.

With the M-Audio 2496, I can use it at 128 spls, which Reaper reports as 3.8/3.5ms, but I did a measurement (with Centrance I think) that suggests it might actually be up to about 10ms latency. However, the latency from my M-audio doesn't bother me, so I can record using ampsims.

I started off by using the SPDIF output from my POD X3 going into the SPDIF input of the M-audio card. But I'll swear this adds a small amount of extra latency that I can feel. It's enough to bother me - maybe it's just me

When I tried the line-outs from my Pod X3 going into the audio-in on the M-audio, there was extra latency as well (if I recall correctly it didn't sound that good either). I did a loopback test that suggests that the audio latency through a POD X3 (i.e. the delay between the audio in and the audio line outs) is about 2ms. Although its miniscule on its own, adding this to the M-Audio latency pushes it to a point where I can feel it. I think I start to sense the latency once it gets above about 10ms.

I ditched the idea of using my Pod X3 with the M-audio and ended up getting a separate preamp. Firstly I tried an Behringer Tube Ultra Gain Mic 100 which sounds OK but was too noisy on high gain ampsim settings. Now I'm using an M-audio DMP3 preamp in front of my M-audio 2496, which sounds good and is low noise. However, even at its lowest gain setting, the DMP3 has got quite a high output. If you've got high output guitar pickups you might find the DMP3 output is a bit too much. It's just about OK (just under 0dB) with my Strat pickups.

edit: my question at the link below led me to the DMP3
http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.p...highlight=dmp3


Pete
Ive also been using a DMP3 into Delta44 for awhile now with great results. I have a pretty stout machine so I have No issues with running super low latency's.

Would love to know what settings your using between the DMP3,Maudio Control Panel,Reaper. Ive always felt my Input/Output levels were all wrong.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:02 PM   #29
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It's an M-audio 2496 mentioned in the OP. If it's the same model as my 2496, it doesn't sound good if you input the guitar directly into the card.

Pete
Sorry. I realized that after I posted.
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Old 08-07-2010, 05:32 PM   #30
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I'm using one of these with a M-Audio 2496 card - sounds great for guitar, not at all bad for mics either, although I'd rather a dedicated preamp. Seriously, you don't "need" any more than this, but once you get into wanting more, and better you also need a bottomless pit of money




http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipmen...t-mixer--32397


It sounds fine without a DI for guitar (I do have one, but it doesn't sound any better IMO, and only means more cables)
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:11 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Tedwood View Post
I'm using one of these with a M-Audio 2496 card - sounds great for guitar, not at all bad for mics either, although I'd rather a dedicated preamp. Seriously, you don't "need" any more than this, but once you get into wanting more, and better you also need a bottomless pit of money




http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipmen...t-mixer--32397


It sounds fine without a DI for guitar (I do have one, but it doesn't sound any better IMO, and only means more cables)
you must be cranking the gain on the channels to bring the guitar signal up enough. it looks like it's fairly quiet though so that might not be a problem
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:54 AM   #32
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you must be cranking the gain on the channels to bring the guitar signal up enough. it looks like it's fairly quiet though so that might not be a problem
I have the exact same mixer - gain is in the middle position (with vol rolled down to 7 on the guitar - if I max the volume on the guitar, I need to back off the gain), channel level and master level little below that.

If I raise the gain the clipping (peak) indicator will start flashing.
If I raise level, I'll get clipping from the soundcard.
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:59 AM   #33
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It sounds fine without a DI for guitar (I do have one, but it doesn't sound any better IMO, and only means more cables)
Great to hear that, I was starting to get stressed about spilling more money.
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:27 AM   #34
Tedwood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoso2 View Post
you must be cranking the gain on the channels to bring the guitar signal up enough. it looks like it's fairly quiet though so that might not be a problem
No I'm not, half way up on single coils, even with the guitar volume rolled off a little. All of my guitars sound great. I had the same with my Spirit mixer before it broke

I think technically you may be right, but if it sounds good without DI (which I have) it sounds good. End of story

You know, now I think of it, the only reason I bought a DI was because I was told it would sound better, and it doesn't
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:43 AM   #35
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Thanks again for all your suggestions and participation in this thread.

I did a little testing and tried a few things out with my gear to see what works best. And I have to say that I keep my POD and go through it into my Delta. This is the simplest, best sounding and most noiseless setup, due to the SPDIF connection I think.

Although the POD is a little overpowered for being used just as A/D converter, as I mentioned somewhere above, itīs good to have a hardware modeler as a backup device and to have the possibility for additional sounds (I can still record the POD-modeled sounds if I like).

And with this setup I can keep my small Behringer mixer at the Deltaīs outputs to control my monitoring environment.

All the other options, concerning preamps and new interfaces, would cost me a lot of money to get what I want. Too much money for me, even if Iīd sell the POD.

Thanks to all,

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