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Connecting bass guitar to PC sound card?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Magneto, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. Heck, I don't know if I hit the right subforum with this question, but hopefully it will be redirected to the proper one if I missed.

    I'm wondering if it is possible to connect my bass to my PC's sound card (Turtle Beach Santa Cruz) using the line-in? I've never attempted something like this, but would like to try some recording software that I have.

    If this is possible, is there anything I need to watch out for to keep from messing something up?
    Can the bass be connected directly without some sort of a preamp?

    Ideas and experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. No.

    You will need another piece of gear between the bass and the sound card. I own the Turtle Beach, which is a nice computer-grade card.

    The bass is instrument level, so you will need a direct box that produces MIC level, such as the Countryman Type 85 or Rolls DB25. Or, if your amp produces a direct-out, you can use this. A passive bass will sound like crap unless it is connected to a high impedance (instrument) input. A good DI provides this.

    If you have an active bass, that might be hot enough to drive the card directly. Active basses do not have their tone compromised by low impedance inputs.

    [ edit ]

    The Turtle Beach uses -10dBV (consumer) level inputs, which is 0.316 volts RMS. Pro-audio gear produces +4dBu which is 1.23 volts RMS. A LINE level input to the Turtle Beach will be very hot, because the TB is expecting 0.3 volts, not 1.2 volts. There is also an impedance issue between the two levels. A balance box such as a Rolls MB15 or Rane will do the trick.

    Rolls DB25

    Rolls MB15

    Rane Balance Buddy

    Countryman Type 85
  3. bgavin,

    Thanks a million for the fast and informative reply. Man, this is a great forum..

    Question for you (if you happen by this thread again):

    I'm currently without a bass amp, and I am temporarily plugging my bass into an older stereo receiver's AUX input for practice until I can afford an amp. (Sounds better than my old Fender Bassman used to!:))

    If I've got that connection already made, could I go line-out of the stereo into the line-in on the TB sound card? I should have all the connectors and/or adapters that I need. This should put the output/input at a acceptable match, wouldn't it?

    Thanks again for your help...

  4. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Don't do it. Probably the sound is better, because you've got distortion? You'll damage the stereo...alright.. it may be cheap.

    Advice: buy a DI or a small mixing table (don't know the proper word in english, actually) or at best, both.

    Then connect it to your soundcard. This will give the best result.
  5. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    But indeed... you can connect it in the way, you supposed. But I wouldn't do it. The whole combination isn't produced for bass sounds.
  6. Thank you for the warning. I suppose the AUX input of this older receiver is more forgiving than most, as I've used it this way many times over the years with no problems.

    I will definately check into the options you guys have discussed in this thread, and proceed from there.

    Thanks again..

  7. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I do this all the time with my computer, it doubles as my practice amp.

    I use a $3 radio shack cable, 1/4 on one end, and 1/8 on the other, direct into the sound cards mic input. I have to cut the volume on my bass to get good sound, but it works great for practice, and some minor digital recording.
  8. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    I do this all the time. It is no problem at all. All you need is an adapter from 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch.... go to the dollar store...
  9. yah i do the same thing as tim seems to work for me.
  10. Thanks for the additional replies, although now I'm semi-confused. Several of you are saying that you go direct from bass to sound card with only a cable, others are saying that some sort of DI box is needed.

    I'd hate to toast my Turtle Beach sound card, but I'm eager to try this. I already have (or make my own) all the cables and/or adapters needed.

    Could some of you that go direct tell me what sound cards you're running in your computer?

    Thanks for the help..

  11. Sure you can go straight into your soundcard, there is no danger of the card "frying". The sound won´t be perfect (it will lack some "balls"), but there´s no harm in trying. If you get more serious about home recording you should consider buying a small mixer or a mic preamp with an instrument input, such as Audio Buddy from M-Audio.

    I have a Terratec EWS88MT sound card with 8 analog and 2 digital inputs - I can record a whole band (w/ real drum kit) live with it, using my bands Allen&Heath mixer. At home I use a MindPrint DI-Port stereo mic pre/AD-converter plugged straight into Terratec´s digital inputs. I´ve gotten pretty good results recording several bands - although I am still learning.

    Have fun, but beware - home recording can be dangerously addictive;)

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