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Connecting a laptop into a vintage-style amp


KnewMono

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I have a twin reverb and I'm thinking of making some music with a friend who is into electronic music (beats, samples, midi keyboards/synths etc). Basically, I need a way to connect all his midi gear (which goes to his laptop) and make the signal come out through my twin so we can jam together and I can hear his samples etc while I play. I was looking at studio monitors but I have doubts that they will be loud enough to compete with my twin and I'd rather not have them being moved around from place to place on a weekly basis. Neither of us own a PA system and I would rather plug both the guitar and laptop into the twin for convenience sake (sound quality doesn't have to be pristine as we're not recording, rather figuring out song arrangements etc). I have read that various audio interfaces can convert signals but my knowledge of them is almost non-existent. Can someone school me and suggest some ways I can get this to work?

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It will sound {censored}ty no matter which channel you'll use. I tried the same thing with my '74 twin reverb, also for rehearsels with midi files, keyboards, etc...

 

Figured a loud clean amp should work fine. So I figured wrong. If you can't get a hold of a decent pa or keyboard amp, you're better of trying an old stereo system or something, or maybe even a bass amp.

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Would it make a difference if I plugged into the normal channel?

 

 

Not really. The main issue is the relatively narrow frequency response of guitar speakers, which typically top out at around 6-7kHz. Full-range monitors and PA systems usually go up to 20kHz.

 

You can use the normal channel for his audio feed and the vibrato channel for your stuff, but there will be a sonic "hit" involved insofar as the overall sound quality of his computer generated tracks.

 

As thom said, a bass amp, keyboard amp or PA system is a better choice for amplifying the signals from the computer. Any audio interface - even the one that's built-in to the computer (if it has one) should suffice.

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Hmm okay. So you guys would go PA ahead of studio monitors? I would lean towards studio monitors because we have to get them anyway however my main grip is the fragility and maybe volume issues when playing with a twin....

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Unless you're willing to reign in your Twin and play it at modest / responsible volume levels, you'll be better off with a PA, bass amp or keyboard amp. I can match or beat your Twin with my studio monitors, but most affordable systems can't put out anywhere near that amount of volume.

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I don't know if you have any budget for this, but on the relatively cheap tip you might want to check out a simmons da 200 drum amp. It's intended purpose is for amplifying electronic drums, but it seems to handle synths just fine. They can be had used from guitar center all day long for 179 bucks. When i was looking for something to amplify my ekit it was the cheapest solution i could find and I've been very happy with it. I also oute my vox through it when I'm having impromptu basement jams and recording sessions.

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ambient, you're one of the most consistent and positive posters here. I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your thoughtful and knowledgeable posts. :phil:
:wave:

 

Thanks a lot Phil, you made me blush.

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Given your description of your friend, I assume he has a reasonably decent output option for his laptop, at least to a 1/4" jack. I am not embarrassed to say that I have actually recorded from iPads and iPhones with a 1/8 to 1/4 cable (Hosa makes one for $6), with a BBE Sonic Stomp to contour the sound a bit.

 

Frequency response of speakers and your purpose for playing together will dictate your choice. My guess is that (like ambient said) you are looking to write together, and probably start recording if the results are enjoyable. I think monitors would be a great choice.

 

As you noted, you're going to need some sort of monitor arrangement at some point - and (ducking here) while playing with your friend it might be more helpful for you to put your guitar through a POD or preamp/mixer through the monitors instead of your Twin. When you start to record, you can mike the amp for separate takes, or if you want to track with both of you playing simultaneously/live, then your cheapest route is just to get a loud, reasonably priced SS keyboard amp and duke it out in the traditional practice space style.

 

I have a strong fondness for tube amplification, but when sorting out arrangements and writing in combination with keyboards/drum machines/sequenceers, I often just go GUITAR > PREAMP > DECK > MONITORS because the preamp and deck have so many handy inputs, and I can hear things at their proper proportionate volumes in the (eventual) mix. Then later when I track I go back and search for tone (e.g., miking tube amps). That's obviously a lot of bother for jamming.

 

Conversely, when I'm using a sequencer for rhythm stuff (I often use a Kaossilator Pro), I have in fact run that through guitar amps and while it's not terrific sound, it was 'good enough' for the writing/noodling activities.

 

Personal observation is that you are asking about playing with one friend who has a laptop, but also you are at a wonderful point in your musical trajectory, which is that you are looking to increase your role in producing recording projects. Great! As a friend once said to me, "recording is like a whole other instrument to learn."

 

For writing and jam sessions, "less is more." An ideal would be an easily-lifted SS amp with two inputs. You could have a smaller multi-effects /amp sim type unit in your gig bag, and you and your friend can plunk down anywhere and let the spirit take you. I like the idea of a shared amp just because it's less parts than a PA. YMMV.

 

Then, you'll need a more fleshed-out system for optimizing your ideas during the recording process. For that, you'll eventually need monitors.

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Given your description of your friend, I assume he has a reasonably decent output option for his laptop, at least to a 1/4" jack. I am not embarrassed to say that I have actually recorded from iPads and iPhones with a 1/8 to 1/4 cable (Hosa makes one for $6), with a BBE Sonic Stomp to contour the sound a bit.


Frequency response of speakers and your purpose for playing together will dictate your choice. My guess is that (like ambient said) you are looking to write together, and probably start recording if the results are enjoyable. I think monitors would be a great choice.


As you noted, you're going to need some sort of monitor arrangement at some point - and (ducking here) while playing with your friend it might be more helpful for you to put your guitar through a POD or preamp/mixer through the monitors instead of your Twin. When you start to record, you can mike the amp for separate takes, or if you want to track with both of you playing simultaneously/live, then your cheapest route is just to get a loud, reasonably priced SS keyboard amp and duke it out in the traditional practice space style.


I have a strong fondness for tube amplification, but when sorting out arrangements and writing in combination with keyboards/drum machines/sequenceers, I often just go GUITAR > PREAMP > DECK > MONITORS because the preamp and deck have so many handy inputs, and I can hear things at their proper proportionate volumes in the (eventual) mix. Then later when I track I go back and search for tone (e.g., miking tube amps). That's obviously a lot of bother for jamming.


Conversely, when I'm using a sequencer for rhythm stuff (I often use a Kaossilator Pro), I have in fact run that through guitar amps and while it's not terrific sound, it was 'good enough' for the writing/noodling activities.


Personal observation is that you are asking about playing with one friend who has a laptop, but also you are at a wonderful point in your musical trajectory, which is that you are looking to increase your role in producing recording projects. Great! As a friend once said to me, "recording is like a whole other instrument to learn."


For writing and jam sessions, "less is more." An ideal would be an easily-lifted SS amp with two inputs. You could have a smaller multi-effects /amp sim type unit in your gig bag, and you and your friend can plunk down anywhere and let the spirit take you. I like the idea of a shared amp just because it's less parts than a PA. YMMV.


Then, you'll need a more fleshed-out system for optimizing your ideas during the recording process. For that, you'll eventually need monitors.

 

Thanks for your reply :) I think I'm going to try using some old stereos first I have lying around the house and play with pretty low volume on the twin. If it doesn't work out/maybe in the not too distant future we might invest in some studio monitors and try playing through some plugins

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As thom said, a bass amp, keyboard amp or PA system is a better choice for amplifying the signals from the computer. Any audio interface - even the one that's built-in to the computer (if it has one) should suffice.

 

 

Is there anything small like a Micro Cube or VOX Pathfinder (price-wise) that would fit this bill?

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Is there anything small like a Micro Cube or VOX Pathfinder (price-wise) that would fit this bill?

 

My bass player uses a Roland Bass Cube 100 for his laptop. We're mainly running keys through it, sometimes samples, but were running the XLR out from the Cube into the mixer and using the amp moreso as a stage monitor. It's handy.

 

If you're adamant on using the Twin however, you could 1/8" to 1/4" his computer into a "Power Amp In" input on the back. This bypasses the preamp and gives you straight tube amplification of the signal. Granted its still coloured by the speakers, but its a little more true to whats being put out by the computer. You can see it here on the far right:

 

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Worst comes to worst, get a Behringer powered monitor for him for like $180 and rock that.

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You can get a single powers pa speaker. The dude who sits in with us playing keys just has a high powered pa speaker (forgot which model) and he plugs in to it for shows and rehearsal and its plenty loud and sounds good.

 

 

Yup - a JBL EON 305, Yamaha MSR400, etc. etc. Any of those self-contained medium wattage powered monitors would be fine for their purposes, and one would be all they'd need to get started.

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