How To Connect A Guitar Amp To An Audio Interface - Easy Set Up Guide - stampsound.com
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How To Connect A Guitar Amp To An Audio Interface – Easy Set Up Guide – stampsound.com

Audio interfaces have revolutionized the way music is recorded. These affordable, easy-to-use devices allow musicians to essentially create their recording studios in any location or environment.

The question “how to connect a guitar amp to an audio interface” is an important one for many guitarists.

Reading: How to connect amp to interface

The easiest way to connect a guitar amp to an audio interface is through an output labeled “line out” on the amp. this is sent to the input of the interface via an audio cable, where the signal from the amplifier can be recorded.

How easy it is to connect your guitar amp to an audio interface depends on the specifics of the two devices.

The amplifier must have a suitable output on its control panel and the audio interface must have an input that is capable of receiving the output signal.

In this detailed guide, I will explain all the steps you need to take to do it successfully.

Can I Plug My Amp Directly Into an Audio Interface?

Connecting your guitar amp to an audio interface should be pretty easy, as long as you have the necessary inputs and outputs. many solid-state and combo guitar amps include a line output, which is designed to send the signal to another device.

If your amplifier has a ‘line out’, all you need to do is plug in a ¼ inch jack cable and then connect the other end of the cable to one of the line level inputs on your audio interface. the input can also be tagged as “instrument” or “line/inst”.

Before turning on the guitar amp, it’s a good idea to zero out the gain settings on the input of the audio interface. That way, you can gradually add gain to the signal until it reaches the desired level, without experiencing clipping or digital distortion.

If your audio interface has direct monitoring capabilities, this should allow you to hear the guitar amp signal through your monitors or headphones. It’s important to make sure the levels aren’t too high when doing this, as you could damage the speaker cones if the signal is too high for them to handle.

once you’ve successfully connected your guitar amp to your audio interface via line out, you can open your chosen daw and hit record on an audio track. the input must be set to the correct number that the amplifier is connected to on the interface.

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Next, you should make a test recording by playing your guitar and checking the level of the waveform. if the waveform is clipping, simply reduce the gain level on the input or reduce the volume setting on your guitar amp or guitar volume control.

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You should now be fully configured to record the output of your guitar amp directly into your daw via your audio interface.Any effects or modeling settings you apply to the amp will be present in the recordings > that you convert in the software, just like any pedal you play your guitar with.

outlines explained

A common mistake made when trying to connect a guitar amp to an audio interface is confusing the speaker and line outputs. Some amplifiers do not provide a line output, so it may seem logical to use the speaker output instead. however, this should be avoided as it is not suitable for this connection.

check out the popular scarlett audio interface (pictured above) here on amazon

  • Line outputs are specifically designed to send a line level signal.

This is commonly referred to as the standard professional audio signal level because it is provided by the vast majority of audio hardware. external equipment, such as compressors, EQ units, or delay and reverb machines, operate predominantly at line level.

Audio interfaces are designed to accept line level signals on their inputs. therefore, sending the signal from the amplifier’s line output allows it to be successfully received by the audio interface.

From a technical point of view, line level signals produce the highest level before amplification. therefore, it is very important to avoid sending a line level signal from your amplifier to an input on your audio interface that is only designed to accept microphone or instrument level signals.

Fortunately, most decent audio interfaces have multi-level inputs.

These can combine xlr and ¼-inch jack ports, or the instrument and mic inputs can be kept separate. be sure to check the label on the input and look for the word “line” before connecting the output of your amplifier.

can I use a speaker output to connect an amplifier to an audio interface?

The speaker outputs produce a speaker level signal, which is very different from the line level signal I just explained. this signal has been subjected to amplification and is designed to be received by studio monitors or other types of loudspeakers.

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If your guitar amp has a speaker output, you must be very careful not to connect it to a microphone, instrument, or line level input on your audio interface. if you do this,there is a high chance that your equipment will be irreparably damaged. only speaker level inputs should receive speaker level outputs!

If you look at the back of your audio interface, you can find inputs for speaker level signals. this is not the case with all interfaces, but is common on larger and more extensive models.

The inputs on the front of the interface should never receive a signal from a speaker level output, under any circumstances. This will not form the proper connection between your guitar amp and the interface no matter what type of cable you use.

  • The speaker level outputs should only be used with speaker cables.

These differ from line level jack cables in that they are not shielded and the cables are thicker. using a thinner cable, such as an instrument connector, is not suitable because they are shielded and therefore could melt or be damaged.

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The following table illustrates the differences between the various audio signals commonly found in guitar amplifiers and audio interfaces:

use a microphone to record your guitar amp

If your guitar amp doesn’t have a line output, you may be wondering if there is another method you can use to record it using your audio interface. Fortunately, using a microphone, this is easily possible.

Dynamic and condenser microphones are great for recording guitar amps, so it doesn’t matter which type you have at your disposal. condensers will produce a brighter sounding recording with more detail, while dynamic mics will produce heavier midrange recordings and are better at handling high volumes.

first, you will need to connect your microphone to the corresponding input on the audio interface. if you’re using a condenser microphone, you’ll need to turn on +48v phantom power on the interface, as these microphones can’t record without this increased voltage.

Check out my article on phantom power if you’re not sure what it is. you can read it here.

Ideally, use a microphone stand to position the capsule in front of the amplifier’s speaker cone. you can adjust the position accordingly once you make a test recording, but for now, just place it in the center of the speaker about 30cm away from the amp grille.

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If you don’t have a mic stand, it’s possible to run the xlr cable through the handle on the top of the amp and allow the mic to hang in front of the speaker. As long as it’s stable and doesn’t move, this is a good temporary solution to not having a stand.

now you can turn on the amp and play your guitar through it. check the levels at the input of your audio interface to see that they are not clipping. once you’re happy with the levels, open up your daw and do a test recording. if the waveform looks good and you’re happy with the sound, you’re good to go.

This video provides helpful tips on how to record a guitar amp with an audio interface.

You will most likely find that you need to adjust the position of the microphone in relation to the amp several times before you get the correct levels and tone you are looking for. capacitors are more sensitive and therefore you may need to place them further away from the guitar amp speaker.

related questions

can guitar pedals be connected to an audio interface?

Guitar pedals can be plugged directly into an audio interface, as long as you use the correct input. the output of the pedal’s signal chain should be sent to the hi-z instrument input on the interface or used with an amplifier and microphone.

what are the outputs of an audio interface for?

The vast majority of audio interfaces offer a pair of ¼-inch stereo line outputs. these are designed to connect to your monitor speakers. you can also find analog outputs that allow you to connect other audio hardware to the interface.

can you plug your guitar directly into an audio interface?

If your audio interface has an input labeled “instrument” or “inst”, you can plug your electric guitar directly into it. this will record your guitar signal completely clean, and you may need to use an amp modeler to get an amplified tone.

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