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First of all, I am very very new to digital audio recording and working with audio interfaces, so apologies in advance for possibly sounding like an idiot!

So I bought a focusrite scarlett 2i2 audio interface to record a few covers as a hobby and have been loving it so far. I also have a zoom g7.1ut guitar effects console. I love some of the effects the console has so I tried connecting it to my audio interface (which is connected to my laptop). However, the recorded audio lacked clarity, was very distorted (not the good kind of distortion) and "noisy" which was pretty disappointing.

When I connect my guitar directly to the audio interface, the recorded audio is pretty good. I am just wondering if there's anything different I should be doing with my setup which is as follows:

Electric guitar -> 1/4 cable -> g7.1ut -> L/Mono output (1/4) -> focusrite 2i2 -> Laptop (Audacity)

Should I just drop the effects console altogether and use software guitar effects from a DAW?

Also on another note, the G7.1ut operating manual (https://www.zoom-na.com/sites/default/files/products/downloads/pdfs/E_G71ut.pdf) states that the g7.1ut itself can be used as an audio interface. But I have never tried doing that.

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It might be an impedance problem: electric guitars are high-impedance, meaning you should set the audio interface to "inst" mode. On the other hand, powered effect processors will usually output the sound at "line" level.

Few suggestions:

  • switch the audio interface to line input if it is not already the case
  • reduce the output level on the effect processor
  • reduce the gain on the audio interface…

Not much but hope it may help…

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To expand on @Tom_C’s answer which has all the right suggestions, I looked at the diagram of the back panel of the Zoom and I would say try setting the output switch on the back to -10db. Use both the Zoom output knob and the gain on the 2i2 to get a good level between them.

I have 2 other suggestions:

Why not record in stereo? You probably have some nice stereo effects on the Zoom and 2 inputs on the 2i2 so take advantage of that and record in stereo.

Since your Zoom does have USB why not consider and explore bypassing the 2i2 altogether for guitar recording? You would have a more direct signal chain into your computer that way and then you can switch to the 2i2 for recording other tracks, playback and mixing once the guitars are done. If this is too complicated then I’m sure the above suggestions and some trial and error will help you to get a clean signal for recording.

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  • I looked at the Focusrite but not the zoom! If there is no good sound in the end now… – Tom Jun 20 at 22:04
  • @Tom_C You’ll get it! – John Belzaguy Jun 20 at 22:15

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