Two guitar to USB adaptors

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Amazingly, I sound worse recorded than when I am listening to myself live.

Just about always true. Your attention is divided while playing, so you don’t hear the slop quite as much.


I wanted to exchange riffs with my guitarist buddy in San Diego, so he and I went and got a pair of these things here:

I think they were $159 apiece. I wanted the ability to record more than one channel at a time (so I could send mixed stereo drum tracks from my mixing board, etc.) and also record XLR signals from single mics independent of the mixer in a pinch. Anyway, they’re powered entirely by the USB cord and promise very low latency, so I figured they’d be perfect.

Trouble is, they each came with ProTools Express, which isn’t supported past Win7. My buddy got his working okay, but I couldn’t get ProTools Express to even recognize the device it shipped with on three different operating systems (WinVista, Win7, and Win8.1). So I gave up on ProTools. Wasn’t about to spend hundreds on the full version.

But then I bought Reaper for $60, and it works perfectly with the M-Track dingus. So now I’m a happy recordist. I don’t miss sending MiniDisc Data discs back and forth anymore, and it’s also nice that I never run out of tracks.



I went a similar direction, with an old US-144MKII TASCAM box.

I was shopping for just a USB XLR interface with phantom power, but when I realized how much I’d be paying for that alone, it made sense to go with a box that ALSO had instrument-in, as well as MIDI support.


Focusrite for the win!

And you’ll be wanting some effects with that. Give me 20 minutes with Melodyne and Guitar Rig and you’ll sound like whoever the hell you want to sound like! :smile:

Not amazing. It’s common knowledge among musicians that the only honest way to critique your sound is by recording it then playing it back to yourself. It’s either the same or nearly the same effect as how you sound fine to yourself when you’re speaking, but when you hear a message from yourself on the answering machine you can’t even recognize the voice.

Yeah, back when I was in the high school jazz band and symphony, we all recorded ourselves playing on orders of the band director. And we all discovered we sucked ass, even when we could swear that we were playing flawlessly.


I’m sure it does the job, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that the Behringer is a “very nice tabletop box”…

Not a guitarist or in any sort of band, but I like what I’m seeing here. Thanks for broadening my horizons a bit guys. Didn’t even know this was a thing.

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I use that same unit with Logic Pro on a Macbook, and have been extremely happy with it. I paid $99 because I needed an emergency replacement for my FW410s- I upgraded my OS and discovered that M-Audio isn’t supporting legacy equipment.

At this point, I don’t think there’s very much gap between a $99 I/O box and a $500 one. It’s not until you get into the $800 range or have integrated control surfaces that you really start to see the difference.

My plan is to move to a Presonus Studiolive 24. With what I said before, I don’t think it’s worth any intermediate steps…


Kind of expensive when compared directly to Jason’s two options at about 30 to 40 bucks, there’s the “Real Tone Cable” made for the Rocksmith game:

No controls or adjustments possible on it, but it’s as easy as it can get for plugging your guitar straight into Logic or whatever to use your computer as an amp or recording device. There’s a safety feature built in to the USB connector that will release the cable instead of tearing your computer along with it if you trip over the cable, which is nice.

For a bit more you can also just get the game itself along with it, which is my current № 1 recommendation for guitar practice.


Some of these recording boxes obviously have need of more specialized drivers(generic class drivers for USB audio don’t exactly have a glorious history of low latency and not doing dumb things to frequency and bitrate; and if there is supposed to be interaction between a program and buttons and indicators on the hardware, you’ll at least need a USB HID device that the program knows how to chat with); but one advantage of some(though not all, and those are to be avoided), cheap mystery junk is that its vendors have neither the resources nor the motivation to push their own driver if they can stick to a class driver and let MS/Apple/etc. do the work for them.

It doesn’t necessarily make them a viable option in a given situation(sometimes the expensive experts are expensive and considered experts for a reason; and the cheap junk is cheap because its entire analog design is a horrowshow); but it’s so much nicer than the old days when you mostly had to avoid cheapo mystery hardware because it came with equally cheapo mystery drivers that were assured to cut your OS’ average uptime in half, at best.

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Behringer gets a bad rap, but given the competing 9$ interface, the Behringer is comparatively pretty nice.

Me I’ve been using the M Audio mobile pre for the last 9 years and its still not the limiting factor in my recording chain. That’s the thing about hardware, if its good enough for the intended purpose, then it is in fact pretty nice.


Audio samples using each interface would be appreciated :smile:

The class drivers are a godsend. A generic USB-audio driver for one descriptor, generic USB-HID for the other one, and you’re set across the platforms. As one trying (slowly) to get familiar with AVR USB coding, I got to appreciate this.

This said, could the latencies and the “dumb things with frequency and bitrate” in the linux audio drivers be somewhat addressed? The code is out there, are there any patches for such functionality?

In many cases, the ADCs/DACs are good. In that case you can cut the traces and mod the thing with your own. I bet there are cases where just replacing the op-amps could do wonders.

Latency is pretty much a non issue in Linux today, I’ve gotten 5-8 ms latency on a really old laptop, I’ve used a real time kernel and have seen no improvement beyond that.
I haven’t come across any “dumb things with frequency and bit rate” so I couldn’t really say.
But using Ardour ( to do some recording, things sounded just fine :smile:

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