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So, I own an electric guitar, and I would like to record it using my laptop. I live in a place where I can't possibly play without headphones, so I can't mic the amp. My idea was to buy a cheap USB audio interface (I'm looking at a Behringer U-PHORIA UM2), since I don't need anything fancy.

I have a Marshall MG30DFX, which supposedly has an emulated line out. So, my question is this: given that I'm not looking for anything professional, would I get an "acceptable" recording, connecting my Marshall's line out to the UM2's line in, and the UM2 then connected via USB to my laptop?

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    Is there a mic jack on your laptop? You could try running the speaker-simulated out from the MG to that and see if that is adequate for your needs before buying new kit. – jonrsharpe Sep 21 '15 at 6:26
  • @JamieBrace an interface will be better, but acceptability is in the ear of the beholder and you can try it for nothing! – jonrsharpe Sep 21 '15 at 8:36
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    @jonrsharpe true, I've just never heard anyone get an acceptable sound from using the mic jack on a laptop, especially if he has the budget for an interface! – Jamie Brace Sep 21 '15 at 8:38
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Really, the answer to this question depends entirely on what you are willing to spend. If your budget is low, then I would suggest a Line 6 UX1, as that comes bundled with POD Farm, which is a decent piece of starting amp modelling software. You could also possibly get the PreSonus AudioBox USB (can personally recommend that, fantastic little interface and also has 48V Phantom Power in case you ever need to record with a condenser mic or use a DI box) and if you're lucky and they're still doing the bundle, you could get some good software and a good large diaphragm condenser.

In any case, emulated line outs are never really a good idea for recording, you'll be surprised at the tone you can get if you buy a decent interface and use some amp modelling software (such as PodFarm, Revalver, Guitar Rig, Amplitube, whatever takes your fancy). In general, you'd be much better off plugging your guitar straight into the interface and using software on your laptop than using the line out on your MG30.

Either way, once you get started into the world of recording, the world is your oyster to try out any ideas that come to mind, whether that's using the mic jack on your laptop, spending £100's on a complete recording solution or messing around with software amps, you literally can do and try anything!

  • @Syl4r39 having a look at the UMC22, it should do what you're after no problems! Dave mentioned above about monitor latency, but with this you should be alright as it is a proper interface. Have you got any monitors or would you be using headphones? At least from here you can open yourself up to so many options, whether it's using your amp as a line out or using software amps, just play about and see what you come up with! (also there's nothing wrong with your English at all!) – Jamie Brace Sep 22 '15 at 8:37
  • simply, it's the delay between you playing the note on your guitar and then it coming out of the monitors. On good interfaces, the latency is so low it's practically nonexistent, however the more software you introduce into the signal chain, the latency will get more and more until there is a noticeable delay between you hitting the note and the sound coming out, which in turn will make things essentially unplayable. It's all about learning to strike a balance between what software you use and what you want to hear, however this is moving more into the realms of mixing and producing! – Jamie Brace Sep 22 '15 at 8:50
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My first audio interface was a "cheap" one, which I upgraded a year later.

I still regret it to this day because I have hours of unplanned jam sessions with skilled musicians I'm no longer in touch with, and the recordings are in poor quality with an audible hum in the background whenever you have either a quiet period in a piece, or multiple tracks.

Jamie has basically answered what I would have said about software and mics. But I must insist that you never go cheap on your audio interface.

I always recommend looking for a decent 2nd hand, low noise, low latency interface:

  • 2nd hand is cheaper and can be sold for the same price you bought them if you dont like or never use

  • They wont annoy you if you do ever record something good and can never really use it because of hum / noise

  • Monitoring, lots of latency makes it unplayable because it puts your off, software effects add more latency so you don't want an interface that adds even more

  • Thanks for the answer! ...you have a point there....the problem is I can't spend more than 50-60 €. My main use would be for putting video on Youtube, and I used to do that using a really cheap amp connected via headphones jack straight to my "line in" input in my desktop's sound card...so a cheap audio interface would still be quite a step up for me – Syl4r39 Sep 22 '15 at 4:44
  • If money is your concern think of it this way. If you could raise that to 100/150 Euros, you would be hitting the low end professional quality second hand interfaces. When you buy something professional quality for second hand prices (after the majority of its depreciation), its an investment not an expense. Like shares or savings in a bank. When you buy cheap equipment, it can become almost worthless and you lose all your money. – Dave Engineer Sep 22 '15 at 10:52
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I believe the UMC22 is a great interface. Listen man, just find some tutorials about how to reduce the latency time on the software you use. You'll find there are plenty of solutions despite the interface or method you use. You're not the only one dealing with small budgets, and this interface won't cause you any trouble. Besides, if you buy it new and it doesn't work for you, just return it. Just give it a try and share some of your recordings with us.

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