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I bought a used bass some time ago to teach myself some basics and have fun. I don't have a dedicated bass amp so I play it over my audio interface (Behringer U-Phoria UMC22), DAW (Reaper) and PC speakers.

Problem is, even when maxing out both the gain on the bass itself and the interface instrument input and also plucking the strings pretty hard, I'm still not even close to maxing out the meter in Reaper. I can scale up the signal digitally, of course, but this results in a LOT of unpleasant noise. The 9V block battery the bass contains is freshly replaced, so it probably can't be the issue.

I'm just starting into the whole electric music category, so I don't know a whole lot about it. Is a bass even meant to be plugged directly into the instrument input of an audio interface? Or do people normally put their bass amp (which I don't own) in between the bass and the interface to ramp up the gain? Could be anything wrong with the bass itself (other than the gain issue, it sounds fine and looks fine on both the outside and inside, as far as I can tell)? Or is it just normal equipment behaviour and I need to put up with it?

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  • Which input are you using? The mic/line one or the inst2 one? If there is a battery in the bass, it is not a passive bass right? – Tom Oct 9 '20 at 13:09
  • @Tom 2nd one (6.3mm jack). As far as I'm aware this is the dedicated instrument input. The 1st one (XLR) is for microphones only, I think. – MaxD Oct 9 '20 at 13:10
  • Nope, you can put a jack in there too. As your bass is pre-amplified, the impedance matching will probably be better there. – Tom Oct 9 '20 at 13:11
  • Hard to say, obviously when you max out you lose some quality. But it does say that you have some room decrease the gain of this input and likely get a better sound as less gain means less noise (and max out is extremely noisy). – Tom Oct 9 '20 at 13:23
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From the information you provide, it seems that your bass is already fitted with a pre-amplifier. It is thus giving a line signal.

On your sound card, the Mic/line input (which is a combo input that can accommodate XLR or Jack) is low impedance input and thus will have a better impedance matching with the pre-amp of the bass and might give you more juice than the second input which is meant to receive signals from passive (high impedance) instruments such as normal electric guitars.

You can try on the Line input to see if you get more signal, it should be more coherent to plug it there (beware not to have phantom power activated).

Another point is, if your signal is strong enough compared to the background level, this should not bother you for recording as you can very likely push a bit the gain inside Reaper while keeping a good sound quality!

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  • Would a device like this thomann.de/gb/… enable me to plug the bass in the 2nd input without the current issues? I'd really like to reserve the 1st input for my microphone, as I want to use both simultanously. – MaxD Oct 9 '20 at 13:23
  • @MaxD as this is also acting like a DI unfortunately you will likely get the same problem… – Tom Oct 9 '20 at 13:25
  • Is there a similar device that would create the desired effect? – MaxD Oct 9 '20 at 13:26
  • @MaxD Arf, recommendations are a bit offtopic here, but basically anything with more than one line level input! Could be a sound card, or a small mixing table (that you feed after to your card) for instance. – Tom Oct 9 '20 at 13:27
  • Active basses generally give out higher signal levels than passive ones, so they can drive hi-Z instrument inputs just as well as low-Z line inputs. Impedance matching is not really necessary for audio. That this doesn't work for the OP indicates theres something wrong with either the bass, or the input, or both. – leftaroundabout Oct 9 '20 at 19:37
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I finally found the problem. In Windows Settings -> Sound -> Device Properties (at "Input") for some reason the volume was set to 76%. I turned it up all the way to 100% and have had more than enough gain ever since.

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  • Are you using the ASIO drivers? – topo Reinstate Monica Mar 16 at 9:33
  • @topoReinstateMonica I'm using FlexASIO, but only because the UMC22 doesn't have its own driver. Why you asking? – MaxD Mar 16 at 9:41
  • I was just interested whether that setting you mentioned has any effect with ASIO drivers. Sounds like it does! Strange that there's no driver, I thought I recalled installing one for my UMC404. – topo Reinstate Monica Mar 16 at 9:58
  • @topoReinstateMonica Yep as far as I know the UMC22 is the only Behringer interface without a dedicated driver. Not sure what you mean with the first part. – MaxD Mar 16 at 10:01
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    anything above about 12-14ms starts to be (generally) perceived as late/echo/unique event. the shared mode WASAPI starts at 20ms due to fixed buffers – Yorik Mar 17 at 16:59

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