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Playing through computer?????

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by keneds, Mar 26, 2006.

  1. keneds


    Feb 18, 2006
    London Grove, PA.
    What do I need to get to be able to plug my bass into my computer and play/record??????
  2. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Get from Radio Shack a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter, then plug into the computer's input.
  3. keneds


    Feb 18, 2006
    London Grove, PA.
    Which input??????:hyper: DETAILS I NEED DETAILS !!!!!!!
  4. Your starting point has to be, what has your computer got that you can plug into?

    If you have not bought an add-on sound card, the basic motherboard soundcard may disappoint you. It is often the cheapest lowest quality that the maker thinks he can get away with. The sound you get may be more 'cassette' than 'CD' quality.

    Check the back of your PC for 1/8 inch or 3.5 mm sockets. Hopefullly you will see at least two. If they have colour coded rings, red is usually a microphone input, and blue is a line input. The headphone/line output is usually green.

    Plugging a bass directly into a microphone socket is likely to lead to input overload, which you will hear as distortion. Also, the PC socket contains a 'phantom' power source for electret microphones, and I am not sure what happens if you connect an active bass to that. At some point while you connect up, you may be connecting the bass 9v battery to the PC.

    Your best option is to connect your bass through some type of pre-amp to both channels of the line input of the PC.

    a) If your bass is active, you will need to convert from your 1/4 inch mono jack to a stereo 1/8 inch jack. A 1/4 inch jack to twin phono adaptor, connected to a twin phono to 1/8 inch stereo jack lead may be the simplest off-the-shelf solution.

    b) If your bass is passive, taking it through a preamp, or a footpedal (set to flat, not to bypass), will ensure that the sound card does not ruin your sound due to impedance mismatches. - If you do not go this route, your bass may well sound very muffled. Between the pre-amp and the PC, you will probably need the same lead as described above.

    c) It may be overkill for what you have in mind, but a cheap mixer would give you a 1/4 jack input, tone controls, and a stereo input or two for CD players etc. The output can be fed to headphones, or the PC, or both.
  5. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    This is just the thread I was looking for - keneds I hope you don't mind me jumping in here - I really want to know almost the same thing… and I am NOT good with computers, so I need full detail.

    My computer has pink (red) 1/8 inputs on the front and on the back that look to be mic inputs. There seems to be a little picture of a mic next to the pink ones, and they are next to the green headphone jacks. I tried plugging a microphone into an 1/8 inch adapter and plugged into these and tried to get sound out of the computer, but couldn't figure out how to get a sound. I haven't tried a bass yet. Is there any chance that the 1/4 to 1/8 adapter wasn't the right kind? (I don't know of it was stereo or mono or what…) Can I just plug a mic in direct like that, or do I need to go through something else (maybe mic -> 4 track -> computer to control the levels? I don't know, I'm guessing…)

    What program should I be using? I found a microsoft "sound recorder" that I was trying to use, but so far no luck. This should work just to test a sound card and see if I can get a mic and/or an instrument recorded, shouldn't it?

    How do I know what type of sound card I have? I couldn't figure that out either. The PC came with the ability to play DVDs and CDs and rip/burn CDs, has speakers and plays music etc… does any of that give me any indication of whether or not the thing has a usable sound card?

    Ultimately - What I really want to do is be able to record stereo to my PC from a four track cassette recorder, and then be able to burn my recordings to a disc. Any advice on how to get there from here?
  6. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    usually the mic input is on mute. go to the lower right hand corner of your screen (next to the clock) and try and find the volume controls. chances are you mics are muted, and thats why there's no sound.

    get audacity for free recording. its better than sound recorder. go google for it, its free.

    read the sticky too, quite a bit of info there.

    now will someone help me with *my* problem? :D
  7. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    I get a great sound running my pbass straight into a mic port, but then again that's a pbass for you.
  8. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Okay, I'm on my work PC but I see what you're saying... I'm going to run home at lunch and try this again and see if that was my problem.

    Another quick question - When I plug a microphone directly into my PC and open Sound Recorder, assuming I have headphones on or speakers turned on and my mic is on, will I be able to speak into the mic and hear it? (without recording)
  9. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Darn it - no luck... the mic is not on mute, I plug the mic in but I can't hear it... any idea what that means?
  10. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Bah - I tried my bass into the computer too and I just can't get a sound... I've tried a mic and a bass into every 1/8 input I could find, can't hear a sound. (the speakers do crackle when I plug and unplug things)

    Does this mean that I don't have a sound card, or that my sound card doesn't support any type of inputs?:confused:

    I thought I'd at least get something, even if it was low quality. :meh: Is there any way to check and see what soundcard my computer has and what it's capable of?

    or am I just doing something else wrong?


    I'm so lost.
  11. If you check out the back of your PC, you will find that there are two areas where the sockets are located. Some sockets are fixed to the back plate of the PC, and some are fixed to thin strips of metal running in a pattern across your PC.

    If your audio sockets are fixed to the same bit of metal as your lan connections, USB ports etc, then your sound card is built into the motherboard, and will have a low sample rate, giving you a lower-fi sound.

    If your audio connectios are fixed to one of the strips, like your video card, then it is an add-on sound card, and may be quite good.

    The microphone input is a stereo 1/8 jack, just like the jack on your personal stereo headphones, BUT it is wired to give you 1) microphone signal, 2) microphone ground, and 3) supply to microphone, and not mic left, mic right and mic ground. I have always understood that it was mono, but if I am wrong on that, would someone correct me.

    Secondly, you refer to plugging in a mic, but do not say what kind of mic. Computers expect to see an electret mic, designed for use with them, and a stage mic, through a plug/socket adaptor may not have the strength of signal for you to hear it.

    If you have a 4 track, or a personal stereo, and a lead from that which terminates in a stereo 1/8 inch jack, put on some music, confirm that it is playing, and connect it to the mic and then the line inputs in turn. Windows has two mixers, one for record, and one for playback. Check that your input channels are not muted, and/or set at zero, and then check that your output channels anre not muted, and/or set at zero.

    If you don't find the problem there, then I'm afraid it's beyond me.
  12. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Thanks for the reply
    So far I've tried using a cheap vocal mic into an 1/8" adapter, and I've tried a passive jazz bass into the same 1/8 adapter into the 2 mic and 1 line in plugs on the computer and nothing makes a sound. :meh:

    I'll stop by Radio Shack in a bit and try to pick up an appropriate cable to hook up my 4 track recorder and see if that does anything.
  13. keneds


    Feb 18, 2006
    London Grove, PA.
    Whatever you do... Don't ask the radio shack guy a question about your problem, They're a bunch of dullards and TELL you useless info. (usually they tell you you can't do that)

    Just my opinion/from past experiences:spit: :spit: :spit:
  14. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    This one was not beyond you, you were a HUGE help.

    I was just sticking a mic into the mic jack and expecting it to work - and it didn't. Running the 4 track into the computer with the right cord is working out great so far. I can run the mic through that and get what I expected before to happen. My recording experiment is back on track and I can do everything that I can imagine right now! It's all just a matter of upgrades from here. It does look like I'm dealing with the basic motherboard sound card. We'll just see how quality turns out, maybe in the meantime I can read up on external sound cards.

    Thanks again to everybody who posted today - huge help. I can stop flooding the recordings forum with my questions and go record now.
  15. You need to plug the bass onto a pre-amp or amp, and then using the amp/pre-amp output, plug it onto the blue input of the computer. You should hear the bass playing (just hear it, not record it yet). If you don´t, check the volumes on the volume control (don´t put the volume at the maximum level, you will hear a distorsion and a very annoying buzz). Then you can record.
  16. =========================================
    How to record my bass straight into the PC
    (Without using an expensive audio interface)

    1. Turn off your speakers.
    3. Double click the speaker icon in the system tray (bottom right)
    4a. Check that all the inputs are unmuted.
    4b. From the Options menu select Properties
    5. Click on the Recording radio button and press OK.
    6. Select Line in if your bass is going to be plugged into the Line socket.
    7. Set the recording level to minimum.
    8. Get your 1/4” to 1/8” adaptor plug.
    9. Plug your bass into the Line socket.
    10. Adjust the levels slowly until you don’t get clipping / distorted sound.
    11. If you’ve got your passive bass plugged into the mic socket then you will need to reduce the gain on the microphone input. Make sure the MIC boost option in not checked. DO THIS BEFORE PLUGGING YOUR BASS IN!
    12. Now go to your choice of sequencer / audio recorder and select the soundcard as the input for audio.
    12b. In Audacity you can select the input signal and levels directly:
    13. Adjust latency sliders so you don’t get stuttering of the audio output (which happens because the basic PC soundcard can’t process the audio fast enough). If you switch off Monitoring options in the sequencer this will stop any “delay” like effect of latency which could become annoying while trying to track a part.
    14. Note that using this method for recording records a mono or stereo signal. You’ll need to double track stuff in your sequencer to layer up sounds. If you need more inputs then you’ll need to get a dedicated soundcard.

    Alternatively, see my sig: ;)
  17. <<BEWARE>>
    Remember that raw bass signals contain a lot of low end that could potentially threaten your PC's / laptop's speakers. Bass that you hear on recordings usually has the very low end (<80-100Hz) rolled off or compressed on the EQ. On the best recordings you get an "impression" of bass kick, but without the volume. It's the low frequency & high volume that comes off a raw bass signal that can tear up cheap speakers.


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