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Recording my bass amp's output via an external microphone results in subpar sound quality. Is it possible to record direct to my computer (I use Audacity for recording audio) from my amp?

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    Technically you could, IF you computer provides an Audio Input channel, which many no longer do today. So an audio-interface as mentioned by @Tetsujin is the option. // AND your amp needs to provide a line out. Which amp do you use? // HOW do you record with an external mic at the moment?
    – MS-SPO
    Nov 6, 2022 at 18:14
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    Thank you. // According to the manual there is a Rec out for recording. However, there is a chance to have mismatching voltages/impedances. I'm sure someone else here has more details on it. In principle a stereo cable from Amp to Recording device would do. // In the recording there is both noise (usually mismatch of impedances, or bad levels) and some hollow sound from comb effects. Once peer reviewed, you can find some links here in this tag music.stackexchange.com/tags/microphones // But: HOW do you connect the Mic to cour computer at the moment? Is there an input?
    – MS-SPO
    Nov 7, 2022 at 16:20
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    Ok, thanks, almost got it. Which laptop model do you use?
    – MS-SPO
    Nov 7, 2022 at 18:13
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    In your sample, I heard room sound that was not flattering to your tone. If you're going to mic your amp, put the mic a few inches from the speaker. You may have to turn the amp down to avoid overloading the mic or laptop input. Nov 8, 2022 at 2:58
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    Yeah, I wish! To have that kind of talent... Nov 8, 2022 at 13:31

2 Answers 2

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Yes, you could record directly to a computer provided it has a line input (a mic input won't work). This input will likely be on an 1/8" jack, which will require an adapter to accommodate an amp's 1/4" line output. Getting levels set properly, without prominent background noise or distortion, could be a challenge. 1/8" connectors are also quite fragile. Catch your foot on the cable just once, and you could easily destroy the input jack.

Why hassle with it? Just buy an audio interface. Keep it simple: buy a USB audio interface with two input channels (even one would do it) . Connect your bass amp's line output (1/4" or XLR) to the interface. Set your levels. Record away. Even a cheap USB audio interface should give you excellent sound quality.

For example: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ScarSG3--focusrite-scarlett-solo-3rd-gen-usb-audio-interface

Some interfaces (like the Scarlett above) have an instrument input, which changes the input impedance to better match an electric guitar or bass. You could then plug directly into the interface if you want the pure, direct sound of the instrument. Monitoring becomes a bit trickier with this setup, as you'll now have latency (delay) to deal with.

In short: unless you've already blown your music toy budget, there's no reason to record directly into your computer.

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Thanks for answering my detailed comments. Now I can show you more clearly what to do. You need:

  • a stereo cable, perhaps a y-cable, which splits stereo into two mono lines
  • an attenuator
  • perhaps some adapters.

Your external microphone will be replaced/bypassed by this setup.

Manuals: amp , laptop

Direct connection, output from amp

Your amp has a so called line-out (REC-OUT), which is intended to record the signal directly, i.e. bypassing the speaker. The options from the manual also shed some light on the kind of connections you need to make:

git amp, line-out

The easiest thing you can do is using connctor "4" and draw a stereo cable to a stereo recorder (old fashioned tape, nowadays digital recorder) ... which you probably do not have. So let's look at the computer, next.

About sound quality: the block diagram suggests that you bypass output amp+speaker via REC-OUT. So besides nuances from distortions and accoustics the sound will probably be "almost the same".

block diagram

Notebook, direct conenction

I assume this is where you attached your external micro:

notebook, mic-in

However, you'll encounter some problems in trying to do so.

Levels

Now, line-output voltage is 1 V, while mics are about 1/1000 of that. So, even if you could plug the cabel in, you'd blow up the amplifier inside your laptop.

Solution? Look for an attenuator, line-out to microphone levels.

Cable for mic-in

Now, the microphone you have most likely is mono: 1 channel, 1 line only. So you need some y-splitter (looks like a Y) as shown above at the Mixer input.

Adapters

Now, also audio connectors follow many standards. So most likely you need some adapters to just make the right mechanical/electrical connections (diameters etc.)

If you have access to a local store which sells all those things, it may be wise to ask for help there.

A word of caution: cheap will be cheap. Almost all Chinese products will fall apart after a few times of using them, especially with cables and adapters.

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  • Wow, this is really "above and beyond" what was expected. Fabulous! I'm going to try to transfer some points to you, if it's possible with as few as I have. BTW, I recorded the bass line from Peggy Lee's (Max Bennett's) "Fever" with the mic right next to the turned-down amp, and the sound quality was sound-years better (light years would be an exaggeration) Nov 10, 2022 at 1:40
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    Thank you. That‘s why we are sometimes „picky“ here :) // However there‘s a downside, noted in the block diagram: using REC-OUT will switch off your amps speaker. Because the headset connector is used, while recording via Audacity, you probably can only listen through your computers speakers.
    – MS-SPO
    Nov 10, 2022 at 9:39
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    Listening through the computer speakers will come with some delay that may or may not interfere with your playing. But ditching one of the stereo channels and the attenuator (what kind exactly, and where would I get one?) are already bad enough ideas.
    – ojs
    Nov 10, 2022 at 14:21

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