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Lots of background noise when using guitar vs mic on audio interface

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  • Lots of background noise when using guitar vs mic on audio interface

    I just bought my first ever audio interface yesterday and spent hours setting it up and adjusting settings. The model is the Presonus Audio Box. I got it on sale for $80 and it has all of the features I was looking for.

    I'm a drummer who plays guitar for fun and really don't need something high end. I'm not picky about recordings that aren't flawless. Everything seems good with this unit except one thing: When I plug my acoustic/electric guitar into the interface it makes a loud background noise. When I record this with Audacity it shows up even if I lower the levels. It's so bad it seems useless for recording anything. Now, my mic has a little noise but not nearly as bad and that's what I was expecting with the budget models.

    The only thing I can think of is my cable but it was working fine last time I used it on an amp. For the features I am looking for it seems the next model would be a Focusrite which is $170. I want the midi inputs. I may sacrifice using midi inputs if the Focusrite Scarlett for $100 will significantly improve this issue.

    I am ready to return this unit if the issue is not with my cable but can anyone tell me if this is normal for it to be that bad with lower end models? When doing searches online, it seems people have problems with some of the mid level models as well.

    I don't want to return it and have the same issue with a more expensive unit. Like I said, I would be completely satisfied if the background noise was the same as I get from when using the mic which is tolerable.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Does your acoustic/electric guitar have a battery in it?

    I have an AudioBoxUSB which works fine with an electric guitar plugged directly in. I will dig it out and try it with an acoustic guitar plugged directly in. My guitar does not have a battery (preamp) so I normally use an active direct box with it.

    Are you using the AudioBox with a Mac or a PC?
    Every worm, every insect, every animal is working
    for the ecological wellbeing of the planet.

    Only we humans, who claim to be the most intelligent
    species here, are not doing that. ~Sadhguru

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    • #3
      Originally posted by onelife View Post
      Does your acoustic/electric guitar have a battery in it?

      I have an AudioBoxUSB which works fine with an electric guitar plugged directly in. I will dig it out and try it with an acoustic guitar plugged directly in. My guitar does not have a battery (preamp) so I normally use an active direct box with it.

      Are you using the AudioBox with a Mac or a PC?


      Thanks for the quick response. Yes, my acoustic does have a 9 volt battery in it. It's an Ibanez with Fishman Pickup. I've never changed the battery out and have had the guitar for over 10 years. I don't play it much though and I've recorded with a Tascam Pocket studio in the past and it sounded very good……probably because it wasn't an audio interface.

      I'm using this with a PC with Windows 7 Service Pack 1. The PC has 6 gigs of ram and quad core processor.

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      • #4
        I would suggest changing your battery. It's simple, quick and inexpensive.

        If it fixes you problem then you're laughing.
        Every worm, every insect, every animal is working
        for the ecological wellbeing of the planet.

        Only we humans, who claim to be the most intelligent
        species here, are not doing that. ~Sadhguru

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by onelife View Post
          I would suggest changing your battery. It's simple, quick and inexpensive.

          If it fixes you problem then you're laughing.
          Ok I will definitely do that when I get home. That would be great if that fixes it. I'll let you know. Thanks.

          Also, unrelated to that, do you know if plugging a line in (smartphone) to play along with songs in the Audio Box can be done in stereo? I tried it out and it's in mono. I'm guessing this is normal for interfaces in general? I get stereo if playing an mp3 directly from my PC though.

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          • #6
            If you think of your computer and audio interface in terms of a hardware mixer then the interface is like the connections and the computer software is like all of the knobs, sliders and switches.

            You could plug your phone in and use mixer software (Audacity or Studio One) to pan the inputs to L and R. You would then turn the Mixer control on the front of the AudioBox to Playback.
            Every worm, every insect, every animal is working
            for the ecological wellbeing of the planet.

            Only we humans, who claim to be the most intelligent
            species here, are not doing that. ~Sadhguru

            Comment


            • #7
              One life probably nailed it. If the battery is near dead you may be maxing out the volume on the guitar and interface and getting very little signal.

              The other question is do you have the interface and drivers set for instrument level when you plug into it. Most interfaces have Mic level which is high gain because mic signals are weak, then a combination of Line to instrument level. Instrument level is higher then line level so you'd adjust the input signal down when connecting a line level device and adjust it up for an instrument.

              These signal levels are likely based on the Jack type you use. If you plug into the XLR jack its mic level and you have an extra amplification stage for that. If you use the 1/4" jack its line/instrument level. I'm guessing your acoustic outputs instrument level because you've used it with amps before. You shouldn't try to use the XLR connection. Its high gain and it will amplify any background noise from your guitars preamp and give you the problem you're having.

              Interfaces usually install drivers too. They vary quite a bit but many contain DSP based mixers and settings. For example, thay may let you pan the inputs hard left or right and even have a zero They may let you pan the inputs or adjust the input gain levels. The setup instructions for your interface should have a guide you need to follow for the units setup so be sure you've followed the instructions setting the unit up properly and understand the settings.

              If you use win 7 or above, interfaces are routed through your windows audio settings too. Make sure your interface is setup to handle all your audio programs and devices and your on board audio card is muted or disabled.

              Latstly is this noise consists of pops and crackles, you may have the buffers or latency set to low. Within the driver settings and daw audio settings you should find the buffer and asio settings which may need to be increased. My bet is you're battery is nearly dead so try that first before anything else.

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              • #8
                I had a Takamine that was, indeed, suffering from an old battery. Great diagnosis here; I will be shocked if that doesn't fix things.

                As far as a 'more expensive' interface, the Presonus shouldn't be so noisy that it's noticeably worse than ambient miking, so I don't think the answer here is money.
                https://soundcloud.com/danhedonia

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