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Mayday! Mayday! Audio interface clipping...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Claymore, Jul 24, 2020.


  1. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    979C2B2C-0E9F-4990-B4C1-F80EAAB0BCC3.jpeg So, let me start off by saying that until recently, I've had almost zero experience recording on a DAW. I've recorded on a long line of various multi-track recorders. So I decided to build a basic setup and what I have now is a Zoom B3 (using the balanced DI output) into a Focusrite Scarlett Solo into a brand new HP running FL Studio 20 Producer.... It clips like crazy on every setting. :banghead: Both active and passive basses. I've used XLR out of the B3 into the mic XLR on the Scarlett and also the 1/4" instrument input and it clips on both. I've plugged a bass directly into the 1/4" side and it clips. The gain only makes it quieter and the entire time it's in the green, it's very audibly clipping. Not musical either but harsh and grainy. I just purchased a Radial Pro48 DI box to put between the B3 and the Scarlett but I don't know if this is going to cure the problem. It should arrive in a few days. Am I missing something? I keep reading lots of good comments about the Focusrite Scarlett Solo on TB and no one seems to be having this problem. Are all of you Scarlett owners using DI boxes? Any advice would be appreciated. I just want a clean bass signal going into my DAW. Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  2. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    I would take everything in your description EXCEPT the computer over to somebodys studio/house and see if I had the same difficulty there. Process of elimination is the ONLY way to solve these kinds of problems. I would start with the computer and DAW.
     
    Clark W and Claymore like this.
  3. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    Let's say it turns out that the computer or DAW is the problem... any suggestion on what I should look at first? Any ideas would be helpful. Wouldn't even know where to start.
     
  4. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    First off. What DAW are you using and how experienced are you with gain structure from your guitar through the Zoom and Scarlet to the input section of the DAW. There's a lot going on there. First...the DAW. What are you using and how experienced are you with it?
     
  5. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    FL Studio 20 Producer. Literally under a week of experience. Still figuring things out.
     
  6. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    How are you monitoring? Does anything indicate clipping?

    - John
     
  7. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    Just studio headphones and the clipping is very noticeable in every configuration I've tried.
     
  8. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    Connected how and what settings?
     
  9. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    Headphones into the Scarlett. By configuration, I meant the different inputs (XLR, 1/4") along with tweaking the gain and monitor knobs on the Scarlett.
     
  10. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    Good answer John. Claymore- plug some phones in to that interface and see if either of your inputs, XLR of 1/4 instrument input is distortion free. You might have to go into the Zoom and drop your output level to get a clean signal through that Scarlet.
     
  11. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    The phones are always plugged into the interface. Clipping on both the XLR and 1/4" sides. When I reduce the gain on the B3, it just makes it quieter but the clipping is still present.
     
  12. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    UPDATE: I figured something out. I don't know if it's a fix, but it's a start. For the first time, no clipping.... I ran a 1/4" cable out of the Scarlett headphone jack into a headphone amp and now my headphones are hooked up to that. Now I can hear the bass at a much lower gain level. Lots of hiss from the headphone amplifier but that won't show up in the recording. Time will tell if this was a real fix or not. Thanks, guys! :thumbsup:
     
    JeezyMcNuggles likes this.
  13. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    I use the 18i8. My guitarist uses the one bigger (the rackmount one). My producer buddy also uses that one. I have another guitarist that uses the one I have. Ive never had any problems at all. I've never used a "zoom" recorder though. I dont get that part. But, when you install the software for your focusrite, it installs a "control panel" for it. That where you set up the interface. Front inputs, rear inputs, outputs levels and sends, etc. I say open the focusrite control panel up while you play, and see what's happening. I mostly just plug straight in to input one on the front, and do my production after I record. I have a general sim set up I use for my bass, I just tweak eq a bit for different things. But, I feed my Scarlett with a straight signal.

    So...

    Is the input light green or red when you play? If its green, its not clipping, it's your headphones. When you set up your gain on the input, you plug in and hit it hard. Turn it up til its red, back it off til its green. Then, I back it off just a hair more for good measure. You can always crank your bass in the mix later.

    But, open the control panel, and see whats going on. You could just need to set up the input type (mic, instrument, line) til you get something that doesn't clip.
     
    Claymore likes this.
  14. Claymore

    Claymore

    Nov 10, 2019
    Rhode Island
    Yeah... When it's green, I can still hear it clipping. Even below green. Right now, I'm using a headphone amplifier out of the Scarlett and the clipping sound is gone. Weird. Thanks for the feedback :D
     
    JeezyMcNuggles likes this.
  15. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    For sure man. Did you check the control panel out? You can also set output gain on there. That could be the problem. Out put whackin your cans out. But, the headphone amp's able to handle it. Oh, it could also simply be your connector. Maybe that one's good for the plug on your HP amp, but not the Scarlett? I don't know? If running the extra cables and such starts to bother you, you can try a few more things. Cool it's working though.
     
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    You may have a bad interface. I have one (I also have the iTrack version). Both work fine. No clipping. Try yours without the B3. Still clipping? Could be the B3. Are you running the B3 off batteries? Try new batteries. Check the battery in your bass (if active).
     
  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Firstly, have you downloaded all drivers and interface software from Focusrite? If not, stop everything and do that. Install it, restart your machine and try again. Barring that...

    Record something with it while it’s exhibiting the clipping behavior. Look at the waveform. Is it hitting 0dbfs? If it is then you’re simply sending it too hot of a signal and the signal is clipping as it crosses the AD converter. If the waveform is below 0dbfs but you hear clipping then it’s likely the monitoring section of the interface is malfunctioning. In this case, export the file and listen to it on a playback system that you know is working, such as your phone, another computer, car stereo, etc. If you hear no clipping then it is definitely a faulty monitoring section.

    Given the nature of this particular interface it’s extremely unlikely that you’re clipping a preamp and not clipping the AD, so you can all but rule that out. The only question, which my example above determines, is whether you’re recording a clipped signal or you’re just listening through a faulty monitoring system.
     
    M0ses and OptimalOptimus like this.
  18. parttime

    parttime

    Apr 23, 2020
    Dusseldorf
    well, i'm certainly no expert, but i went through something similar when i was getting going. my issues were in the gain/volume levels of each patch in the zoom. i don't know which patches you're using, or if it clips on all of them. you said turning the volume down on the zoom reduces volume but doesn't stop clipping, but have you gone into each effect in the chain and checked those vol/gain/mix levels? if one or more of those is too hot then it could cause this issue before it hits the daw and your levels would still show green on the output. maybe you have checked these levels and this is not helpful, but it was for me. good luck man, and let's hear some recordings!
     
    Clark W likes this.
  19. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    The Zoom already is a DAW. You don't need another one. Use the Zoom and you save another A/D/A conversion.
     
  20. Howdy Claymore,
    My first guess is that's it's something quite simple that happened during your initial setup, but whatever it is, we can figure it out. I've been using the Focusite 18i20 for about 6 years, with zero hiccups, however, because it is so flexible, it can sometimes be easy to flip a switch or change a setting that makes things weird, but it's always something I did, and not the interface, and I always got it going by just going back and checking all my settings. With that in mind, let's start at the beginning:

    First of all, did you go through the registration and setup procedure outlined in the instruction manual? Did you download and install the Focusrite Control software? If not, this will be what you do first. If you did that, did you verify that the SOUND SETTINGS on your computer have been set so that the Solo is now the Input and Output device? Have you completely read both manuals, the one for your Solo and the manual for the Focusrite Control Software? I can tell you from experience that while the Focusrite Control program is super flexible and helpful, it can also be VERY confusing, especially to a novice, so you're best bet is to spend some time reading both of those manuals and especially becoming familiar with the CONTROL interface, as this will be the place that let's you monitor you levels going into the computer.

    The next thing your going to need to do is check that your FL Studio 20 Producer software is setup correctly. Did you use the Setup Wizard (that comes with the software) for that? If not, you might consider going back and using that to make sure your settings are correct, and then spend some more time reading the manual to make sure you understand how it works. Yes, it's a LOT of reading, but it will pay off in the long run.

    Now, just a brief word on gain structure. Each piece of equipment, or software, in an audio chain will present you with an opportunity to enhance OR degrade your signal, so it's VERY important to pay attention to each piece of gear and understand how it's affecting your signal. When setting up an audio chain, you start by optimizing the signal of the first element, your bass, then you optimize the next element, the Zoom B3, then you optimize the Solo, then you optimize your computer input, then you optimize your DAW, then you optimize your monitor setup. So, that's 6 elements that each need to be optimized, always starting with the first one, because if it's bad, then the following elements will also be bad.

    When tracking down a problem, you need to check each piece of gear in a logical manner, which means starting at the first, your bass. For checking your system, use a passive bass, that will eliminate any possibility that a bad battery is to blame. Then check your cable to make sure it's good too.

    Next, remove any extraneous gear from the pathway, so no DI box and NO ZOOM B3, just go straight from your bass into the SOLO using INPUT 2. Turn the MONITOR dial and both GAIN dials all the way down (left). Push the INST switch in (which switches it to passive mode). The word "INST" should light up RED. Plug your headphones into the SOLO's headphone jack. Press the Direct Monitor Switch IN (which gives you direct access to the SOLO input signal). Put on your headphones.

    Next, open up the Control Software. This will let you monitor the input visually and set the signal as high as possible without clipping using the GAIN knob on the SOLO. Then open up your DAW software.

    To optimize your bass, make sure your bass volume is turned all the way up, tone control too, then pluck a note on the bass and slowly turn up the MONITOR just a little. It might be soft, but it should be crystal clear, no clipping. Check the CONTROL panel, and slowly turn up the GAIN knob until you can play as hard as possible without lighting the RED clip light at the top of the meter. Once you've got that set, then turn up the MONITOR volume to where it's comfortable. If your CONTROL panel shows the input is ok, then it's time to check your DAW software to see if the input is ok there, and adjust as required.

    If you do hear clipping, turn the MONITOR volume down, then press the INST button so it is OUT, and the red light goes off (line level setting). Then pluck another note and slowly turn up the MONITOR volume. If you still hear clipping, then we'll need to do further investigation, but one final thing to try .... after changing a bunch of settings in either CONTROL panel or your DAW, it can sometimes be helpful to close everything, restart your computer, and then open things back up.

    Just to recap..... use a passive bass directly into Input 2, bass all the way up, now play and adjust the GAIN on the SOLO so that it shows high levels on the CONTROL panel, but not lighting the RED clip light at the top, then check your DAW levels, and finally adjust the MONITOR volume.

    And remember, when you want to listen to what you've recorded, press the Direct Monitor switch so it's OUT.

    Ok, that's enough for now. Follow some of those ideas and report back, and feel free to send me a private message if you want. Good luck.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    May 14, 2021

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