When I connect my Yamaha Pacifica guitar to Vox DA 5 amp and connect the amp to the M audio 2496 sound card input by taking the output from the Vox phones output, I get a hum while playing the bass strings and recording it in the software. How to rectify this problem?

  • Can you upload the hum you've recorded? – Jack L. Nov 28 '12 at 13:46
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    Does your Yamaha guitar have single coil pickups as opposed to humbucker pickups? Are you recording with a flourescent light turned on in the room? Sometimes either situation can cause hum in the recording. – user1044 Nov 28 '12 at 13:59
  • Is all the gear plugged into the same outlet/breaker? – filzilla Nov 28 '12 at 20:07
  • What kind of cable are you using? I would expect a headphone out to be an unbalanced TRS (stereo unbalanced on one 1/8", 3.5mm, 1/4" phono plug at -10dB). You may need to customize a breakout cable... the vox site says it's a line/phones cable, but those are two fundamentally different things (generally) and there's no selector switch. Are you saying it only hums when you play the lower strings and not when you play the higher? – David Axtell Moore II Dec 6 '12 at 6:29

It sounds like you are saturating ("peaking") the signal.

Turn down the volume on the amp and adjust the input volume on the 2496 so that the meters in your recording software never show the input signal in the red.

Play hard on the guitar, to ensure you are testing actual playing levels rather than just plucking notes while testing the input volume. Some notes will peak the input more than others (some chords as well).

There are very basic stages to recording: 1) getting good samples ("clean" signals); 2) mixing those clean signals to the volume you want for the end result.

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  • I'm not sure we have enough information to definitively determine this is saturation (although I agree it's a possibility). Especially since the OP describes this as a "hum" - I would expect clipping or distortion if they were peaking the input. – Josh Darnell Nov 28 '12 at 16:07
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    I agree, but depending on the person's experience and vocabulary, they might not know what clipping is or how to describe it. Also, electrical humming is most noticeable when you are NOT playing, so I am gambling a little. – horatio Nov 28 '12 at 17:12
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    Valid point, horatio - and good answer. – Josh Darnell Nov 29 '12 at 14:32

Hum is typically caused by ground loops, i.e. multiple points where the signal chain is grounded. By far the best way of dealing with this is to use balanced inputs and outputs everywhere but the manuals of your gear didn't say and I doubt it's balanced. The second best way to get rid of hum is to use an isolation transformer or direct box with a ground lift between the amp and the sound card. Something like this http://audiopile.net/products/DI_Boxes/FDB-101/FDB-101_cutsheet.shtml (disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with the company in any way, but consider them an excellent source) with the right adapters to make it work. It's also possible that the power supply of the host computer isn't that great. That's easy to to test by recording from a different source and see if that's clean. A good choice for a recording test is an battery powered player such an IPod, since there is no possibility of a ground loop.

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  • Ground loops would explain a constant hum, but the question says "I get a hum while playing the bass strings". – slim Dec 4 '12 at 14:08

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