Audio clipping or distorting?

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scottly99
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Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:11 pm

Hi Everybody
I've just bought my first audio interface to record guitar tracks.
Not even professionally, or even youtube worthy.
I've been using plain old "line in" direct with Realtek on-board audio (shudder)... for many years quite happily jamming away with Guitar Rig.
Once I hit record though - it was muffled...
Hmmmm.. why?
Impedence is wrong etc etc, much reading and learning.

Fast Forward to now.
I got a Steinberg UR12 interface, being the cheapest and closest one available at the time.
it has 1 mic preamp input, and one Hi Z instrument connection with gain control.

I'm so new to this, I didn't even realize that the output would only be via the monitor outputs or headphones!

ANyway I plug in - remove my old ASIO4ALL drivers and start playing...
It sounds horrible... really too bright and harsh.

I was actually somewhat happy with the sounds I was getting from the line in - and I don't htink it's just getting used to the newer, cleaner sounds.
The input has a PEAK indicator which only lights up if the gain is dialled upto 90%, and if I pick notes loudly.

When I record dry into reaper it seems to sound ok, bright and jangly.,, if a tad TOO bright.
(using a cheap Single Coil Chinese Strat Copy).. I replaced the ceramic pups with alnico ones.

Once I start using Guitar Rig... it takes an AWFUL lot of fiddling around to even get a remotely playable sound. levels are driving me crazy.
I'm either too THIN and trebelly or boomy and bassy (even with bridge pickup).

I'm CONSTANTLY adjusting the gain on the Steinberg.
I see other people with similar audio interfaces on YouTube swapping between clean and high gain presets and not adjusting the gain on the audio interface... and they sound ok.

I can JUST ABOUT get something I'm happy with in Guitar Rig, but if I start Amplitube, the levels are just all over the place - and I seem to be clipping the audio badly... lots of artifacts.

The UR12 doesn't have a switch to say Hi Z or line - so I'm assuming it's just Hi Z?
It apparently got 1MOhm resistance.

I've seen videos of people reviewing the UR22 and 2i2 and they complain about the Hi Z inputs on those being too hot - but the 2i2 you can visibly see if clipping is occuring.

I recorded a dry track in reaper and set the gain to 100% and strummed some stuff, and really went for it in one bit, and I did see it clipping and only JUST...

But It FEELS like it's just FAR TOO sensitive to my guitar.
I build a high gain attenuator to try and help - it did a bit... I used 0.5 watt as opposed to 1/8th watt resistors - not sure if thats important.
I've since ordered a DI Box and XLR cable to and try if I can calm down the signal using the mic pre-amp with a balanced input...

I'd be able to load up 100's of presets in Guitar Rig and jam away - some were good, some weren't but they weren't BAD sounding like now.

It's been driving me crazy - is the input on the UR12?
I know my guitar isn't good, but it should sound better than this.

So can I get a distorted signal in 0 even if it's not clipping?

I guess I can upload some dry and wet audio clips if anybody is interested.....

I was routing the audio back from the Steinberg into the line in and just LISTENING to the device - so I can hear it - I've been on headphones too, but get awful clipping type sounds there too.

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Pickasso
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby Pickasso » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:41 am

Sounds like nothings easy....

First, check the obvious- strings, cables, and connections.
Then try this- if your driver software has any kind of mixer interface, look at the recording level, make sure there is plenty of headroom space above the hardest hit on the guitar. Then check Reaper, I usually set the gain on the interface so the hardest possible spike can only read -6 db on that tracks meter. Most of the time the signal will be between -12 and -6. Then listen back to the recording. It's VERY obvious if there was clipping- it sounds distorted, and there are clicks and snaps at the spikes.

So, if your gain is set at zero on the interface, and you are still getting clipping, try lowering the pickup's height on the guitar by adjusting the screws with a screwdriver, that will lower the output.

If your preamps are really inferior on the UR12 (have no idea), then yeah a d.i. box can help.


Post a short sample of a clean d.i. track, someone can test it.

scottly99
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:21 am

Hi
Thanks for the fast reply!!!

It's just so frustrating!
I thought getting a nice little audio interface would make things better - but I'm at a point where I'm not even enjoying picking up the guitar now...

I recorded a dry recording last night in reaper. I put the gain knob to max on the UR12 and strummed away.
I was able to make it clip by REALLY going for it... and could see the clipped signal in the waveform as it was recording.
Dry it seems to sound quite nice - a TAD bright, but overall ok (reminded me of when I had my nasty ceramic pups!!).

One thing I noticed last night, as I was pressing the direct monitor button on and off, I could actually HEAR the clicking of the button IN THE HEADPHONES That doesn't sound right.

I recorded with the gain settings around the level you suggested previously - then applied some FX plugins and they sounded - "too hot".

I'll try and get some DRY and WET recordings.

I've ordered a passive Behringer DI400P DI box and XLR cable to see if that'll help - maybe the MIC preamp is a bit better than the Hi Z one?

scottly99
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:37 pm

Righto.
I recorded some clips last night.
My guitar playing has seriously gone down hill - as I've been focusing on the signal - not the FEEL of what I'm playing...
so please excuse extremely sloppy playing!! :-)

I've done some DRY and WET clips.
I searched for an online sharing site for audio - the one I used seems to be ok, but unsure if you can then download the file yourself...

I guess what I'm really keen on - is if somebody would be able to use my dry recording and see if they can really improve the tone...

I realize on the Heavy Riff - higain one, the gain is INSANELY high.

The one called "indie riff" was recorded into reaper, used a free tube screamer plugin, lepou cab, eq adjustments (I'm seriously new at that) and a bit of a noise REAFIR cancellation.
it was recorded directly from Guitar -> Line in on back of on-board RealTek sound card.
I'm actually happy with that result!!!

Maybe I'm having a trial by fire and crashing against a brick wall??

Anyway - clips here:

Plain guitar - dry
http://chirb.it/gbPhcf

Plain guitar - wet - basic amp settings - I hear a "clippy" sound to it - for lack of better description.
http://chirb.it/AM8zKE

Heavy riff - dry
http://chirb.it/MCctem

Heavy riff - wet (I realize the gain is too high - but interested in whats going on with the TONE)
http://chirb.it/chmFNr

Indie style riff - recorded wet through line in.
http://chirb.it/3fr1tD

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Pickasso
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby Pickasso » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:56 am

Sounds ok from what I can tell from the chirbit site- no clipping or distorting. Can you add a downloadable link for the 'heavy riff- dry' clip?

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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:00 am

Here you go.

http://www3.zippyshare.com/v/IJ312I4W/file.html

Was playing some more tonight and getting g better sounds...
Bias FX not so much.. still crackles and too harsh
Amplitude via reaper was not bad.
But best was lepou plugins.

Don't know ifs its just me developing better hearing now or this is showing up all the amp Sims..

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Pickasso
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby Pickasso » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:41 pm

Tested your d.i. clip out. Amp modeling and tone is very subjective, and possibilities are endless, still here's my suggestions (what I would do, not necessarily the right thing)
*Noise is a big factor. There is some extreme hum and buzz going on. I think you mentioned single coil pickup- it could be that, or the low signal volume, or some other problem. Until that improves, try this as the first effect in your chain: http://pvamps.blogspot.com/2015/05/pvnonoise.html. Also a noise gate for when you are not playing.
*Volume is way too low. If you gauge using reaper's meters, aim for adjusting your interface for -6db peak, should be twice as loud as the clip is. That may possibly reduce some noise, too.
*Record in mono. No need for stereo guitar d.i.'s- there's no extra information you get, and files will be smaller.
* For the tone, try an EQ before the ampsim to do some pre-adjustment. I loaded ReaEq, default setting, dragged the low shelf down, and boosted the high shelf.

With those adjustments, here's a test:
D_I_Test_ (2).ogg


order: Kuassa Creme+Valhall Impulse/Kuassa Creme+internal cab/Legion+valhallir/EZ Mix/Kuassa Creme custom preset/Creme mid amp 1/Creme overdrive-distortion preset.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

scottly99
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:38 pm

Hi Picasso.

Thanks for that.

I really liked those examples.
Maybe I'm still getting used to hearing the additional sounds the interface is picking up?

Some of the tones you got from my clip were fantastic!!

Its a bit of a sanity saver tbh.
Although is till hear some slightly nasty scratchiness in the upper midrange part.

One of the loops you did a pretty good job of bringing that down under control.

I can't thank you enough for your time spent on this.
Thank you.

Interesting about how I recorded it too low... As I when I did put it through an amp Sims it really ramped up the signal strength too much.

scottly99
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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:25 pm

Hi again.

Youentioned extreme noise... Do you think that is the cause of the scratchy and fizzy tone?
I thought that noise was just the background hissing etc...

In the second last version you did there is a "Spanky" harsh quality to it... That's the stuff I'm trying to avoid.

I tested again with line in, and preferred its warmed tone..
Also tested with a Rocksmith realtone cable and I was getting less noise and better upper frequencies...
I've since ordered one!

Also waiting for arrival of a di box.. I heard that they can help reduce hum and noise floor...
Would that help clean up my signal?

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Re: Audio clipping or distorting?

Postby scottly99 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:58 pm

Update to this.

I've been away for work - and will be away again for another 5 days - so LIMITED TIME for testing.

Pickasso - I LOVE those samples you did with my dry DI track.

I've since got my DI box into the Mic of the UR12, and I *think* it seems a tad softer - in a nicer way.
I've also been playing around with making sure my gain on the UR12 is as loud as I can go without clipping - so strumming the open strings as hard as I can and dialing back the gain knob.
Now that I know where that SHOULD be, I've been playing around again.
BUT only a small amount.
Missed the wife and kids being away.

Anyway - i subjectively think the DI signal before the UR12 seems better.
ALthough my noise levels are through the roof!!!!!

I also had a small test a week ago with a friend who has a Rocksmith realtone cable.
I thought the sounds from that were great... not as much high end as the UR12, but in a way - it was a good middle ground for me - I'm not recording professionally, heck still learning to play notes and chords without stuffing up!
It's for bedroom and the ODD recording...
The noise levels are GREATLY reduced with the Rocksmith cable, in fact I can turn off the noise gate on most amps and sims!!
I was dialing in - what I thought - were great tones... tones that INSPIRED me to KEEP PLAYING and WANTING To pickup the guitar again.
Not that horrible "spanking" fizzy nasty stuff I was getting.
Again, it could be that the UR12 was picking up a PERFECT input signal and my signal from guitar is terrible.

BUT for me the Rocksmith cable is the way to go for practicing and light recording.

I'm able to quickly get nice sounds from most amp sims and tweaking to get it just right.

I'm a happy person again!!!!!

Now to have a job that doesn't require so much travel.


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