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Old 24th April 2012, 08:43 PM   #1
carlitos
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Guitar / bass into USB

Hi all I am looking for the best USB interface for playing string instruments to a MacBook Pro with garage band. I see Apogee Pro or irig but not sure if I need FX on the guitar at the input or would be better served applying them by using pedal fx in garage band. Thanks.
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Old 25th April 2012, 03:16 AM   #2
Sam.I.Am
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In my (admittedly) limited experience there is a noticeable difference between the input using pedals versus post processing with software. The former has a more "real" sound to it unless there is a hundred thousand dollar plus recording studio doing the post processing.

Take that for what you will.
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Old 25th April 2012, 10:27 AM   #3
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I experience a bit of a latency delay with USB 2.0 even on a beefy system with 8g of ram.
I would have chosen the Firewire option.
Lots of online reading on the subject.
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Old 25th April 2012, 10:45 AM   #4
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Thanks. I guess I used USB as generic term for connection. I will find something for FireWire. Latency would drive me nuts.

I'm Not used to playing instruments with effects pre input so pretty clueless. My Sax is "plug and play"
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Old 26th April 2012, 12:02 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
Hi all I am looking for the best USB interface for playing string instruments to a MacBook Pro with garage band. I see Apogee Pro or irig but not sure if I need FX on the guitar at the input or would be better served applying them by using pedal fx in garage band. Thanks.
I use an Alesis Multimix 8 USB. They're fun because it comes with built-in effects!
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Old 26th April 2012, 12:43 AM   #6
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Use a run of the mill soundcard, USB or firewire, connect it to your computer and experiment.

The short answer is that it depends. Guitar: It's common to use some pre FX to "tape" (like a overdrive pedal) on FX you are sure is a part of the sound, which many guitarists often are. If you are unsure what your sound actually is, you should probably go post.

Most every soundcards today are "latency free", because they use a direct channel for monitor, and the taped track is compensated for latency in playback. That also often means that you cannot monitor heavy software FX.
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Old 26th April 2012, 01:56 AM   #7
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Carlitos, you'll get as many answers as there are people answering so take this as just another personal choice.

I bought an Alesis iO2 Express

It does everything I need/want it to do.
I use it to record vocals and guitar into Garageband on my Mac and have no latency problems.

As for FX pre or post record, it's another personal preference one really.
I'd usually advise adding any FX afterwards. The reason being that if you record 'dry', you can add what you want, but if you record with FX, you can't take them away.

If you set your guitar track in Garageband and add the Garageband FX at the set up stage, it will still be recording your track 'dry' but you hear the FX added in your monitor mix.

Also I don't use the USB interface 'monitor out' to monitor while recording, I just use the Mac headphone output.
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Last edited by Stray Cat; 26th April 2012 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 26th April 2012, 02:42 AM   #8
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I use a Fast Track Pro myself, and while it is an OK interface, it has it's problems (mostly driver related)

By the way, it is USB1.1 and I don't experience any latency at all so if you are running just a couple of instruments through it USB will be fine. If you plan on recording a full band then definitely get Firewire.

On FX, I use Cubase on a PC so there are plenty of VST options out there for me that sound very decent, for Garageband, i'm not entirely sure, I think it only supports AU plugins so you are quite a bit restricted.
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Old 26th April 2012, 03:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by maggot9779 View Post
On FX, I use Cubase on a PC so there are plenty of VST options out there for me that sound very decent, for Garageband, i'm not entirely sure, I think it only supports AU plugins so you are quite a bit restricted.
True it only supports AU plug-ins, and maybe restricted in relation to what's available for Cubase and Protools but there are still plenty to go at.

Here is just one website offering free ones (you'd be looking for the plug ins with the orange logo). The same website has commercial ones too in the other tab at the top.
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Old 26th April 2012, 07:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Stray Cat View Post
Carlitos, you'll get as many answers as there are people answering so take this as just another personal choice.

I bought an Alesis iO2 Express

It does everything I need/want it to do.
I use it to record vocals and guitar into Garageband on my Mac and have no latency problems.

As for FX pre or post record, it's another personal preference one really.
I'd usually advise adding any FX afterwards. The reason being that if you record 'dry', you can add what you want, but if you record with FX, you can't take them away.

If you set your guitar track in Garageband and add the Garageband FX at the set up stage, it will still be recording your track 'dry' but you hear the FX added in your monitor mix.

Also I don't use the USB interface 'monitor out' to monitor while recording, I just use the Mac headphone output.
Thanks. I think this is almost exactly what I'm going to try first. Irig is cheap enough, I can always try that too.

In my research, I found a Mac geek who used GarageBand tracks for a live gig with some success.

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/artic...ls_and_No_Amp/
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Old 26th April 2012, 08:40 AM   #11
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There's also this:

Ubisoft Rocksmith Real Tone Cable

I plan to get this for PC when it comes out at the end of this year (already out for PS3/Xbox360 -- for half the price, I might add).
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Old 26th April 2012, 09:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
Thanks. I think this is almost exactly what I'm going to try first. Irig is cheap enough, I can always try that too.
iRig will be OK for guitar, but it wont be too good if you need/want to plug a mic into it as they operate at a different line level and I can't find any info that says the iRig has a mic level setting... just something to bear in mind, but you may not need a mic.

Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
In my research, I found a Mac geek who used GarageBand tracks for a live gig with some success.
http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/artic...ls_and_No_Amp/
I have also wondered if a Mac/PC and something like Garageband could be used as a digital mixer for live gigs. With a higher end interface with at least 8 channels (Focusrite Saffire or such like), That way you could save whole mixer board settings for each venue and have easy set up everytime you return. And get quality multi-track recordings for the live gig.
I wouldn't do it myself, but it's fun to think about the possibilities.
I even started to design a dedicated DAW laptop that didn't have a keyboard but a mixer/control surface.

I've just sold my Fostex R8 tape machine and Proline 16-8-16 mixing desk on eBay this week, having realised I won't be using them again and they took up so much space.

Anyway, if you get the iRig, You'll have to report back what you think of it.
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Old 26th April 2012, 10:22 AM   #13
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The Alesis unit sounds good for me as it will be easier than the current USB thingie I'm using to do horn tracks now. And I just found one for $69 on eBay, along with iRig for $15. Now for a new microphone...

Fostex R8, wow. This stuff is sounding very vintage in the digital age. I just bought virtually every pedal / amp / cabinet available for $15, and a recording studio that would have cost $100k in 1985 came free with my Mac.

Last edited by carlitos; 26th April 2012 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 26th April 2012, 10:29 AM   #14
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I use a Behringer sound board going into my computer's sound card. Not very portable, though, so that my not be appropriate for your needs.
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Old 26th April 2012, 10:41 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
The Alesis unit sounds good for me as it will be easier than the current USB thingie I'm using to do horn tracks now. And I just found one for $69 on eBay, along with iRig for $15. Now for a new microphone...
Bargain!

Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
Fostex R8, wow. This stuff is sounding very vintage in the digital age.
Yup, it kind of was. I hadn't used any of it for about 8 years, since I bought a Yamaha AW16G, which I then stopped using 3 years later when I got Garageband,

Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I just bought virtually every pedal / amp / cabinet available for $15, and a recording studio that would have cost $100k in 1985 came free with my Mac.
Sickening that I bought the Fostex R8 for £900 and the mixing desk for £650. They sold for £150 and £100 respectively. Not to mention all the outboard gear I sold a few years ago... But if I hadn't invested all that money in toys with flashing lights and twiddly knobs, I'd have only frittered it away on food and heating.
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