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What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

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What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Mudchild » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:05 pm

Hi folks

I'm looking to get a school music kit dept kitted out with a way to get guitar signals into a bunch of iMac workstations. There is really NOT much budget for this, so decent audio interfaces (while obviously a preferable solution) are not feasible at present. If there is a cheaper way (that works), like one of those guitar USB leads or perhaps some other simple little USB guitar-jack-only box, that would be the the thing to go for.

So I'm looking for recommendations really. What's the cheapest most effective way to solve this?

Any advice appreciated.

Thanks

Alex
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby ef37a » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:28 pm

Hi Alex,
The cheapest interface I have seen is the Lexicon Alpha at £50.
There is the Behringer UCG 102 at £32 but that only seems to be a mild step up from the inline jack things I think you mean and I have no idea how easy they are to use.

It has just struck me as strange that you have expensive macs but are now struggling to buy interfaces! I bought my son a second hand Dell XP laptop for £199 and with my old Fast track pro he is up and doing for a fraction of mac prices. You don't of course need much computer horsepower for one guitar and one mic.

Another option is a pedal to buffer the guitar and then go into the line input (maybe the technology dept' could build you some buffers?)

How are the recordings being listened to?

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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby hollowsun » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:35 pm

Maybe THIS ... Alesis Guitar Link ... jack to USB. Bloody well good and handy.

A £tenner at that link (plus P+P, of course ... but you might be able to negotiate a bulk P+P)

I have the LineLink - very good indeed. Damned useful for getting analogue signals into the 'puter without faffing around with audio I/Os, drivers and whatever else - real plug n play. Does what it says on the tin.

No affiliation with the sale at the link but did work with Alesis as a sound designer for their Fusion synth and had the opportunity to try this - was good.
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Richard Graham » Fri Nov 29, 2013 11:25 am

I can vouch for a guitar to USB cable being a really good way of getting electric guitar signal into your PC or Mac. The one I bought has some low-level interference which seems to be related to the flashing LED on the top, but it's only really noticeable at higher than clean gain settings, when the guitar isn't playing or the note is dying out. Personally, I cannot see any need for the LED in the first place, so I am going to drill it out. But it might be best if you get ones without an LED.
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby ef37a » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:03 pm

Richard Graham wrote:I can vouch for a guitar to USB cable being a really good way of getting electric guitar signal into your PC or Mac. The one I bought has some low-level interference which seems to be related to the flashing LED on the top, but it's only really noticeable at higher than clean gain settings, when the guitar isn't playing or the note is dying out. Personally, I cannot see any need for the LED in the first place, so I am going to drill it out. But it might be best if you get ones without an LED.

I might just get one of those gizzmos to try out.
But my concern in the OP's case is monitoring. Getting a signal INTO a computer is only half the job.

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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Mixedup » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:27 pm

Note that some such devices — including the Alesis IIRC — make it bloody hard to monitor the signal while playing. Some feature a no-latency headphone out so you can at least hear the twanging. Eg the Behringer Guitar Link Ucg102. Slightly pricier but still pocket money. You might be fine using the audio out on the iMacs of course (usually a worse problem on PCs without a dedicated AI). But worth checking that before purchasing a bunch of them.
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby ef37a » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:37 pm

Mixedup wrote:Note that some such devices — including the Alesis IIRC — make it bloody hard to monitor the signal while playing. Some feature a no-latency headphone out so you can at least hear the twanging. Eg the Behringer Guitar Link Ucg102. Slightly pricier but still pocket money. You might be fine using the audio out on the iMacs of course (usually a worse problem on PCs without a dedicated AI). But worth checking that before purchasing a bunch of them.

Don't know macs Mix' but generally DAW software cannot record on one device and play out on another.

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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Mixedup » Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:31 pm

ef37a wrote:
Mixedup wrote:Note that some such devices — including the Alesis IIRC — make it bloody hard to monitor the signal while playing. Some feature a no-latency headphone out so you can at least hear the twanging. Eg the Behringer Guitar Link Ucg102. Slightly pricier but still pocket money. You might be fine using the audio out on the iMacs of course (usually a worse problem on PCs without a dedicated AI). But worth checking that before purchasing a bunch of them.

Don't know macs Mix' but generally DAW software cannot record on one device and play out on another.

Dave.

That's one area in which Windows is exceptionally poor. On OSX you can create aggregate devices that combine different interfaces together. But despite the functionality being there, I've had latency 'issues' when trying to do that in the past... which suggests its not great for tracking guitar!
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:59 pm

Mixedup wrote:
ef37a wrote:
Don't know macs Mix' but generally DAW software cannot record on one device and play out on another.

Dave.

That's one area in which Windows is exceptionally poor.

Windows standard drivers are actually fine with this. It is Steinberg's limited ASIO driver model that is the limitation for many programs. I've been using Reaper with 2 interfaces with MME drivers with no problem apart from the high latency which makes real time monitoring difficult (mind you, I've not tried to do anything to reduce the latency at all).
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Mixedup » Fri Nov 29, 2013 7:06 pm

Actually, convoluted as the process may be, it's possible to aggregate devices under an ASIO wrapper in much the same way. But Reaper or Cubase, I've never managed to get a workable, sync'd aggregate working on Windows with anything like as low latency as I have on OSX... and it's already more than unworkably slow for monitoring on OSX! Much, much better to use a device that gives zero latency input monitoring or near-zero software monitoring.
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby mhaigh » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:11 am

don't forget as a school you qualify for educational discount - have a look at http://www.mveducation.com/icat/Computer+Music/3439/ for an idea of cost...

also it might be worth looking at charities who support musical education such as http://www.youthmusic.org.uk/
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:34 pm

Mixedup wrote:Actually, convoluted as the process may be, it's possible to aggregate devices under an ASIO wrapper in much the same way.

If you are talking about something like ASIO4All then there's little point with Reaper as it uses MME natively. It also uses other newer driver models so there are potentially other alternatives too.
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Mudchild » Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:18 pm

Thanks for the responses guys. So I'm still not quite clear though - does it seem unlikely that I would be able to get workable monitoring latency with one of these things? Would need to be monitoring through Garage Band guitar FX on an iMac for it to be of any use really...
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Re: What's the CHEAPEST reliable way to get your guitar signal into your DAW? Guitar USB inputs?

Postby Richard Graham » Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:23 pm

Mudchild wrote:Thanks for the responses guys. So I'm still not quite clear though - does it seem unlikely that I would be able to get workable monitoring latency with one of these things? Would need to be monitoring through Garage Band guitar FX on an iMac for it to be of any use really...


I'm using mine with a 2012 MacBook Pro on OSX Mavericks, and i have no problem monitoring in real time using Logic's guitar amp sims through the headphone jack while playing. I should think your iMacs will be the same. So you should be fine!
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