Straight from bass to computer.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by autodidact, May 3, 2012.

  1. I was wondering if there's an easy way that I could plug my bass into my my computer without using an interface like a Line 6 pod or something. My idea was to run my bass or guitar into my Paradriver for an EQ and then do they make like a 1/4" to 1/8" cable that I could use to plug the Paradriver into perhaps the mic input on my computer?

    Id be working with Mixcraft (basically garage band for windows). I'm just curious if its possible because I want to record some ideas but I don't have the scratch for an interface right now.
  2. The mic input on your computer is 'an interface like a Line 6 pod or something'. Almost certainly a very, very cheap and poor sounding one, but yes, you can plug stuff in to it.
  3. Yes that will work. Just make sure the volume is down on the paradriver because a hot lead will be way to loud for a computer soundcard.

    Also, use your headphones or monitor BEFORE you the line in to the computer so if there is latency you won't hear it. You will hear your real time playing.
  4. Wannaflea


    Jun 7, 2011
    Jersey, CI
    I use the mic input on my mac for rough ideas. It sounds poor, so don't be disheartened when you hear how bad your bass sounds! Just a 1/4" to 30mm (I think that's it, the standard ipod connection) cable will be fine for that
  5. So sound wise id probably be better off just picking up of the cheaper line 6 recording interfaces if its just for fun?
  6. Sound-wise... yes. A recording interface will almost always make better quality recordings than a computer, built-in sound card. But, simple and easy-wise, the interface can be more complicated. Not too much. Most people can figure stuff out themselves.
  7. Said it in the OP, I already have a Paradriver :) basically a BDDI with a mids selector.
  8. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    The reason a simple direct connection doesn't work very well is electric current. Non-active pickups barely produce any. They seem to make plenty of voltage, but no flow.

    A simple mental exercise for voltage and current: If you're unfamiliar w/ electronics, you can think of it like water in pipes. Voltage is like pressure, current is volume. The pickup is like a pump, and the rest of the wiring is a big circle. In this case, we are talking about alternating current because that's what pickup produce. That is, it moves back and forth, rather than in just 1 direction. So the pump pushes water back and forth. It does this w/ great force, but just barely moving the water. That is, you would have trouble stopping it by blocking the pipe, but you probably wouldn't be able to tell the water was moving anyway. So you need to amplify the flow without really affecting the force. You could do this with a valve that adds a secondary supply of water based on the force of the first.

    And that's where transistors come in. They are basically voltage controlled electron valves. That's probably where the term "valve" comes from in vacuum tube technology because they operate the same way and in fact you could use one of those too, but I'm not a tube guy.

    Anyway, if you're interested, it's a pretty simple circuit and if you're at all good w/ a soldering iron, you can piece one together for a couple dollars worth of radio shack parts and maybe some extra junk you have lying around.

    What you want is a buffer amp. This is the same thing sometimes called a FET booster or even a simple preamp. It can be made with as little as 3 resistors and a transistor and the right connectors and a supply of electricity. You might also want a capacitor in there, but I think most soundcards have that part built in anyway so I left it out of mine. Here's a final picture of what I did:

    These types of circuits are built into those recording interfaces and the DI's serve the same purpose(and more). This one just gives clean, unaltered bass sound to the soundcards line-in or mic input.

    From there, you can mess w/ the sound digitally.
  9. Your computer sound card is crap. Look around. You can find used interfaces for less than $50 on Craiglist.

    btw.....I'm using Mixcraft 5 as well. Great program....easy to use!
  10. bill reed

    bill reed

    Apr 2, 2012
    I'm using the Line 6 GX tone pod and it works great. you also get the pod farm, the effects and amp and cabs with it too. its like an external sound card. works great with both Cakewalk and Cubase. even works great with the low Bs of my 5 string bass.
    you also get Ableton live 8 free so you have a good daw softwear program to get you going.
    one of the best buys i ever made the little Line 6 GX.
  11. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Sure, my soundcard may be crap. But I don't care. I'm not recording anything that is going to be heard by more than... whoever is in earshot of my computer. A used interface might cost less than $50 on CL, my but my solution cost me about $1.50.

    As the OP said, "I don't have the scratch for an interface right now".
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004

    Many PCs and laptops have very good sound cards, MB audio.

    Just match the levels right.
  13. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    Levels , like everyone said, record at low levels , you can add gain later with your mixing device.
    I don't have an interface either. So I plug the headphone out from amp to mic in on my soundcard. Free hi-Q is my recorder[free and you can set levels] and audacity for mixing.

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