Old 10-12-2017, 12:20 PM   #1
mykrobinson
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Default Recording Amp and Dry Signal with Guitar

I don't claim to fully understand impedance and line level versus mic level versus instrument level, etc...

If I want to record a guitar through and amplifier, but I also want to record the dry signal for reamping later (not in the traditional sense, but using VSTs), do I just need a direct box? I'd like to be able to route the guitar to the amplifier and put a mic on the cab, but also capture the guitar dry before it hits the amp.

If a direct box is all that I need, are there certain things I need to look for on the box for specs, inputs/outputs, impedance, etc?
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Old 10-12-2017, 03:21 PM   #2
Stella645
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The majority of DI boxes designed for guitar use will have an XLR out at mic level and a 1/4 jack out labelled thru or amp that will be at correct level for a guitar amp input.

You'll need to decide whether to go with an active or passive DI...there is a rule of thumb often touted that active work best with passive instruments and vice versa but there may be exceptions so do a little research for your specific needs.
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Old 10-12-2017, 06:33 PM   #3
WolfJames
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You could choose a direct box that will do this, but I recommend a Boss LS-2 line selector. It works great for what you want to do, with separate level controls for each line.
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Old 10-12-2017, 06:42 PM   #4
DVDdoug
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What kind of audio interface do you have? (BTW - I wouldn't recommend a regular soundcard unless you are recording line-level signals from a mixer or preamp, etc.)

There are lots of USB audio interfaces with instrument inputs (often switchable between mic & instrument). These are high impedance and should have no effect on the sound going to the guitar amp (via a Y-splitter).
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:17 PM   #5
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It might work fine with just a straight-wire split (y-cable) as long as you go to a hi-z input on the interface. I'm pretty sure that I would notice the difference in the top end, but some people play through those spiral cables all the time.

I would at least buffer it first. Any pedal works when it's on, and any that aren't true bypass usually work when they're off, too. Then you can split about as many times as you'd care to, and don't really have to worry about any of the in-Zs at the other end. But IME, its more likely than not that you'll end up with some kind of ground loop noise.

The best way to fix that is to plug everything into the same power strip, but that doesn't always work. You can try living the shield of one of the cables, but that can have its own side effects.

So the ground lift switch on a DI can come in handy. I definitely agree that an active DI is usually better. Frankly, I'd prefer a unity-gain active over a stepdown passive on every source. It's basic gain staging. Don't turn something down just to turn it back up at the other end of the cable. A passive DI always sucks tone from passive pickups, and always attenuated everything.

My ideal would be a buffer (guitar pedal) and a y-cable. If this is something you're going to want to do regularly and often, then you should figure out any grounding issues you might have and make that work.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:34 PM   #6
maggotspawn
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Direct box is what you need.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:06 AM   #7
emarsk
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The "proper" solution is a DI. This is exactly what they are designed for.
The Behringer Ultra-DI DI100 is active and about 40€. It's good enough to be THE standard active DI. You can see it everywhere, especially on concert stages. It's like the Sure SM57 of the DIs. The passive version DI400 is about 20€, but I've never used it, and I don't remember to ever having seen it.
There are better and more expensive ones, of course, but you probably don't need them.
The Boss LS-2 could work, but it probably lacks impedance matching, which you will want if you sound card has no hi-Z input but only line and mic inputs. And it's 100€.
I'd advise against y-splitters: with a y-splitter you put the amp and sound card impedances in parallel, thus lowering them both and having them interact with each other. A DI works hugely better without being much expensive.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:47 AM   #8
mykrobinson
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For those who asked, my audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlet 18i20.

Thanks for all the answers, by the way
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:05 AM   #9
Goldreap
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Just as a BTW, and while you're waiting for your new DI to arrive...if you have an FX pedal with stereo outs you can use that (just turn off the FX)...I used to do this with an old Boss stereo delay pedal.
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:50 AM   #10
emarsk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldreap View Post
Just as a BTW, and while you're waiting for your new DI to arrive...if you have an FX pedal with stereo outs you can use that (just turn off the FX)...I used to do this with an old Boss stereo delay pedal.
The Scarlett has a hi-Z input, right? So yes, you can use this trick without a DI.

EDIT:
Just a clarification: "high impedance input", "hi-Z input", "instrument input" all mean the same thing: it's an input with a high impedance value (similar to a guitar amp) where you can plug a guitar directly without the signal loss you would have using a low impedance "line" input.

Last edited by emarsk; 10-14-2017 at 12:56 AM.
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