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Thread: Pluging a guitar/bass guitar directly into analog line level inputs

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    Question Pluging a guitar/bass guitar directly into analog line level inputs

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    Here is the story. My audio interface is ESI juli@. It has analog line level inputs. I always used to plug my guitar (passive pickups) directly into that analog line input. It sounded shitty and I was concerned about it, I tried to look for some info on the web, some guy on some random forum said that it's totally ok to plug your guitar directly into line input and this is the way it has to be. So I was like "Well, okay... Maybe I just need to process that sound harder". So I did. It still sounded shitty as hell, but for some cases it was possible to make it sound "Ok". Few days ago, on the official ESI webpage I found this: "Juli@ / Juli@ XTe provides analog line level inputs and outputs with +4dBu and -10dBV signal level. To connect a guitar or a microphone, you need to use a separate preamp or a mixing desk. This means that a direct connection of an electric guitar or microphone is not possible."
    And here comes the question: How was I able to get a sound from a direct guitar connection, if it's "not possible"?
    And what kind of "preamp" do I need? I have a crappy Cort CM10G 10watt amp, will it do the trick? It has one out for headphones, can I use it to connect it to my audio interface? If not, what is more suitable in my case: a preamp or a DI box? Active or passive? Are there any articles about that on the internet? (I couldn't find one.)
    Thank you.

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    It's a mismatch. The level from instruments is -usually, quite a bit lower than optimum for line level inputs, and pickups want to have a higher impedance input than line in's have.
    Yes you can get the signal in, and boost it but it's tone is apt to be degraded.
    Some amps have line outs, otherwise, an inst or regular preamp with an inst in. A D/I will help- with impedance matching, but (usually) not the level.
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    Yeah, it's mostly about the impedance. You can deal with a low level pretty easily, but once you've killed all the treble from plugging into a low-Z input, you'll never get it back.

    The amp will handle that part - its input is high Z and fine for a guitar, and its headphone out is low Z and should work find into the line inputs - but what it end up sounding like will be completely up to the amp. It's worth a try, but I'm not sure I'd trust it.

    A passive DI box will give you a bit better impedance, but it lowers your level even more and is really not a great idea. An active direct box often works better, but those get expensive. One of the best things for it actually is just a non-true-bypass guitar pedal, powered but not necessarily on, between the guitar and the interface. If you happen to have one around you're ready to go. Otherwise, even a $20 Behringer or Dano pedal will do the trick.

    Also, you should be okay to plug dynamic mics into those holes also if you find the right cables. Most mic pres have even lower in-Z than most line inputs, so there's no problem there. Level will be a bit low again, but I've made it work in a number of situations. Gain is easy, clean, and quiet once you get in the computer.

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    A passive DI box usually runs into your mic preamp, so that's where you get the gain from.
    That's how I record DI bass, although using an active DI box is another option.

    I think you'd generally plug straight into a line-input if you have active pickups. Maybe that's what the guy was talking about?
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    Thank you for you help, guys. Now I get it. And I've just realized how ignorant I am.

    Quote Originally Posted by ashcat_lt View Post
    The amp will handle that part - its input is high Z and fine for a guitar, and its headphone out is low Z and should work find into the line inputs - but what it end up sounding like will be completely up to the amp. It's worth a try, but I'm not sure I'd trust it.
    So it worth a try... Should I be careful with a "volume" knob on the amp? Am I risking burning/blowing up my audio interface?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    I think you'd generally plug straight into a line-input if you have active pickups. Maybe that's what the guy was talking about?
    Yeah, I thought so too. But that's the point – He wasn't.

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    Something like this will be what you need. I don't know if it is available in your part of the world. But you might be able to find something similar.

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    With active pickups, you can plug straight into a line input.

    With passive pickups, the level will be low and the tone will suck.

    with passive pickups and a passive direct box, you could still lose the high end because the pickup gets loaded down.

    An active direct box will work in any situation.

    You can use a pedal that does not have true bypass to buffer the signal from passive pickups, so you can plug into a line input.
    Jay Walsh
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    If you are considering getting a preamp or a DI box, consider the pros and cons of upgrading your interface instead. Most outboard interface units these days seem to come with a Hi-Z option.

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    Yeah just get a new interface. Done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvtsdmn View Post
    So it worth a try... Should I be careful with a "volume" knob on the amp? Am I risking burning/blowing up my audio interface?
    .
    It could be a little hot, so you'll have to watch out for clipping, but it won't hurt anything unless one or the other is already broken.

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