Noob Alert! Need some guidence/ help with my setup

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Member Since: Jul 03, 2008

Hello there! Let me start off my saying that this is a pretty awesome site! I've answered some questions already just by scanning through previous posts. Like the topic says I am indeed a noob when it comes to recording, so please bear with me!

I'm using Acid 6.0 and the SB Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro to try and record some guitar. I'm sure you are all cringing at the Audigy 2 mention...I've read enough on this site to know it's probably not the best choice! It was from my old computer and it's all I have at the moment. Here are a couple of things I have fixed so far:

-Changed my recording devices setting on my sound card from "what you hear" to "line-in 2/Mic2" (which fixed the echo craziness)

-Changed the Sample rate to 48Hz (which allowed me to change the audio device type...which is now set to "Creative ASIO".

-Changed the Default audio recording device to "Line-In2/Mic2/Line-In2/Mic" in the Audio Device section of Preferences.

At this point I could hear my guitar. Very simple setup...guitar to effects pedal to the 1/4" jack input on the sound card. So far so good...Until I would arm a track to record which made my sound disappear. When I would play, the track showed that there was sound going to it...I just couldn't hear it. So I messed around for a bit and found if I right clicked on the track there was an option for "Record inputs" and under that was an option for "Input Monitor" which I switched to "on". After doing that I could hear my guitar again, but this time there was a delay from when I played to when I actually heard the sound out of my speakers. I believe this is called Latency? ( I said I'm a noob).

I guess my question now is, how can I fix this latency issue? I did change the "ACID type for recorded audio" to "One-Shot" which seemed to help a little, but it's still not great. I'd hate to think it was my computer...3Gb of ram and an Intel Q6600 quad core processor should be plenty fast enough, right?

If you don't think there is anything more I can do I'm sure you will suggest that I invest in an audio interface of some sort. If that is the case are there any you can recommend? The M-Audio brand has been mentioned a lot on this site...I just don't know what I'm looking for. I do know that I'm not looking for studio quality recordings here. Just enough to get ideas down...a rough cut if you will.

Ok...I'm gonna stop typing now. Sorry for the ramble! I just didn't know how else to explain my situation.

Thanks in advance to any help you can spare!


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Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jul 03, 2008 10:07 am

Welcome aboard, Neilix, indeed this is a great lighthouse on the tumultuous sea of home recording.

hah, i should write for a living =).

anyhoo, yes, input monitoring is a great thing. You can monitor from (generally) 2 places:

1) from the source. this would be listening to the signal directly from the guitar processor, like headphones jack, or right output (if there's L & R outs). This can also be done with a mixer, if you have one, sending signal to both PC and to headphones.

2) from the PC. this is what you're doing. The PC has to convert to digital, process, reconvert back to analog, and send it out to your headphones.

I'd believe that the SB card is the latency dog. You can probably set the ASIO latency, in some sort of config panel for the SB card. Often, ASIO configuration is separate from the card config. Basically, the smaller the number of samples, the lower the latency. So 512 samples would give less latency than 1024 samples. Or, it may be given in MS - milliseconds. under 10 ms is good, 20s is so-so, and 30s + is hard to work with. If you can crank down the ASIO latency, then you may get where you want to be.

If not, then I'd suggest setting up a direct type of monitoring solution, like step # 1 above. Plug headphones into your processor, and not try to hear from the PC.

After you've tracked your stuff, you can move the buffers / latency back up, so you can mix without dropouts.

Yes, a prosumer-type audio interface will get rid of most of this latency. The ESI are around 64 samples / 1~3ms. Maudio stuff is pretty close to that as well. ESI juli@ and Maudio AP2496 are both around 100$, and offer 2 channels in and out.

You'll need a preamp if you're going to use microphones though. Direct just plugs in like you're doing now.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Jul 03, 2008 10:08 pm

pjk has it all nailed down pretty good for you.

But the buffer thing is actually backwards. 128 will give you lower latency , bump up to 256 and you get a little more, but less glitches. You can go up to 512 and possibly suffer the type of latency you are getting.

YOu can certainly try setting it down to 128 with the Sb card and it might work out fine. But I might be guessing you will incur a bit of crackle as you add up the track count.

But pjk as well mentioned the two top PCI cards that work very well and have low latency as well as good sound.

Since: Jul 03, 2008

Jul 04, 2008 02:37 am

Wow! Thanks for the quick replies!!! pjk - thank you sooo much for your help! I did find the ASIO configuration and it was set at 50MS! Once I bumped that down to 10MS the latency problem went away. Now I did notice the quality decrease a little bit. My distortion wasn't as crisp...kinda subdued. Is this normal? Swapping quality for better latency? Or do I go in and turn the ASIO setting back up to 50MS after I've recorded my tracks? Is that what you meant by moving the latency back up?

Sorry for the amateur questions. Believe me, I've got LOTS of them...trying to keep them to a minimum. more then I'm done...

I've been researching some audio interfaces (thanks for your suggestions btw) and I see a lot of these USB or Firewire versions. I'm sure the PCI cards are much better as far as latency is concerned, because it's connected directly to the motherboard, but how do these USB interfaces compare? The only reason I ask is because I don't have an extra pci slot in my machine and I'm not sure I want to take out the Audigy. I play the occasional video game and I'm pretty sure the M-audio's aren't designed to handle them. Being a guitarist the Line 6 Toneport UX2 jumped out at me. It's got some pretty good reviews as far as latency goes. Have you heard anything about this one?

Damn, it's easy to get overwhelmed with this stuff! Just gonna take it a step at a time. Thanks for your help and patience!

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Jul 04, 2008 04:07 pm

Funny you should mention the UX-2. Here is a review dB and I did of the UX-1 and UX-2 awhile back.


I still use the UX-2 extensively. I have used Line 6 modeler's from the very first POD and now use a POD xt that is fully loaded and the UX-2.

The latency is very close to being as low as my higher end multi channel interfaces, but the benefits of the unit way greatly in keeping it in the studio.

In your situation it would work out very well. The install is very easy and the update software called Line 6 Monkey makes keeping it up a breeze.

I do suggest reading and following the installation instructions closely though so it goes in without a hitch. Just remember that on first install dont have the thing plugged into the USB port until the install tells you to do it.

But otherwise I use it and love it. The mic pre amp and bass amp model's are killer as well so that is a double bonus in my book.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jul 05, 2008 08:40 am

Hey, great to hear Neilix.

Changing the latency / buffers won't change any of the digital stream. It just changes how long the PC gets before it has to shove it out the other side. The packets only get changed by what your software is doing to it, not by the speed setting.

If you set your latency too low, then the PC can't keep up with the source, and will skip spots where the buffers ran out of data. This will appear in your new tracks as dropouts. It'll sound like the audio skips forward a 1/10th of a second or so. Getting one can usually be fixed if there's only one track. If there's many tracks, or there's a bunch of dropouts, then boost up your buffers some and re-track.

Is that what you meant by moving the latency back up?


After you track, and all the source material is in, then you can turn up your latency time, giving your buffers more samples / milliseconds to work with. This helps because you may have 20 tracks (or more) playing at once, so the PC needs a little more buffer room to work in. At this phase (mixing) you don't need the immediate response, because you're not comparing the played tracks against any incoming live source. So the latency can be greater.

Modern PCs usually don't have much problem mixing at low latency, but non-recording cards may hinder the process some. Play with it and see. The systems I've worked on (my own), I usually have to play with it and see what it likes. Keep pushing down the buffers until you start getting drops / stutters. Keep an eye on the perf meter helps too.

I'd concur with Noize on the recommendations. USB 2 channel seems pretty solid, and latency times stay pretty low. I've got a Line 6 riff tracker (little brother to the UX stuff) and it's working quite well.

If'n it were me, I'd sport for the UX2, it gives you 2 channels, and phantom power, should you want to use a condenser mic (good for vocals and acoustic guitar).

Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Jul 09, 2008 06:56 pm

Hey there Neilix, I used to use a PCI based card (8Channel) and then moved on to USB (8Channel) and now use firewire. The latency was very acceptable on all platforms. Now maybe if using a 24 input card at super high rates then a pci or pci express interface might help, but for your usage any of them would work and work well. Pick whatever works best for your situation and you should be good to go.

I will second the UX2, I have the UX8 right now (being sold - upgraded to 16 channel interface for live work) and plan on getting a UX2 to replace it just for the simple usage and great tones. It works great on guitars, bass and vox. The one song under my profile was done on the UX8, I mic'd the drums and vox, but all bass and guitar was modelled with Line6.

Since: Jul 03, 2008

Jul 10, 2008 04:06 am

Again...Wow! Thanks guys for the replies! I know you've answered a lot of these questions a million time before, so thanks for sticking with me!

pjk- that info was very eye opening! I'm understanding it a lot better now thanks to you!
Noize2u & CptTripps- thanks a bunch for the recommendations on the line 6 stuff! Cpt, that song sounds killer (right up my alley)! It got me really excited about that guitar modeling software!

Ok, instead of asking a bunch of noobie questions right off the bat I've spent the past few days doing a bunch of research on what I think I might need for my home recording purposes. I was hoping to get some input from you guys before I go out and buy my new gear. So, I've decided I need the following:

#1 Audio interface (usb/firewire)- My soundcard just isn't going to cut it. I'm definitely interested in mic recording my acoustic guitar/vocals and possibly doing some midi stuff (orchestral/instrumental sounds). I'm leaning toward the Line 6 Toneport KB37. It's got everything I need including a built in midi controller. Although I do have a keyboard with an option for midi (with twice as many keys as the line 6)...would it be wise to get a different interface and just plug into that for the midi? I was recommended the M-audio Fasttrack Pro from a guy at guitar center.

#2 Head Phones - There is actually a post on this site that was really helpful. I am leaning toward the Seinheiser HD 280's, but seeing as I've never used any of these higher end phones I'm not sure on what to get.

#3 Condenser mic - My friend has one of these mics and I fell in love with the way it recorded my acoustic guitar. Not sure the exact model. It's a Shure that has 3 different settings on it. I doubt I would need anything that fancy (I believe she said it was around $500). Again there are plenty of posts on this site about mics and I picked 3 that might work for me...Shure KSM27, Studio Projects B3, or the Marshall V67G. I don't know much about condenser mics...all that I know is I want to record my acoustic and vocals with it...and of course for it to sound good :) Any input on these or other mics would be awesome.

I think that's it for now! Down the road I'm sure I will be looking into getting some monitors, but the headphones will do for now.

I can't thank you guys enough for the help! All this recording stuff is new to me. I've been playing guitar since I was in the 9th grade and never got serious about recording until now (I'm 32). Hopefully I will be able to share my stuff with you guys in the near future!

Thanks again and again and again and...

All the best,


Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jul 10, 2008 08:21 am

I think you'd be fine with the KB37. I think dB is using one. The line6 stuff gives you the modelling stuff, which I've used quite a few times in tracking.

Headphones for tracking don't need to be super great, as you're just listening to the playback. If you're going to mix with cans, then certainly shoot for better quality. I think the 280s are a great pick for mixing, though I'd still reference different setups while mixing. A/B with other speakers, etc.

I have a SPB3, and like it much. I think it's a great mic for the $$$. I now also have the C1 from SP. I think the KSM27 is a few steps up from a B3, as good as it is. I don't know much about the V67G. If you're getting started, the B3 wouldn't be a bad choice, being pretty inexpensive, and very usable.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to start thinking about reference monitors, as well. The behringer truth line has some pretty good press, and the KRK has some followers as well (Noize2u). There's lots to research there as well, but figured you may want to start looking.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Jul 10, 2008 08:24 am

Yeah, man, the KB37, back when I actually had the time to record, has been a great tool, it's got the great modeling and effect processing of Line 6 (for guitar, bass and microphones!) in a convenient USB device, and add to that it's got a 37 key MIDI controller as well, it's a phenominal all in one package.

Since: Jul 03, 2008

Jul 13, 2008 09:04 pm

Awesome! Thanks for input guys! Looks like I'll be getting the KB37 interface...the HD280 headphones, and the SP B3 mic!

Now one more question and I'm done...

Where do you guys buy your gear? Is there one store you always frequent or is a mix of places...ebay, zzounds, guitar center...any recommendations?

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Since: Oct 23, 2007

Jul 14, 2008 12:12 am

Honestly? I think I speak for everyone when I say I shop with the lowest bidder. So long as it's new or reasonably used, and comes with a warranty, I buy my gear for the lowest price I can find.

A couple sites to check out are:

Happy Hunting!

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jul 14, 2008 09:06 am

I'm partial to sweetwater. You can get a sales engineer, that learns your setup, and what you're doing, then you keep him/her from then on. Also, these sales engineers are very trained, and already skilled in the field, before working at SW, so they know their business in and out already, not just 'salesmen'.

There's some conflicting opinions on SW, but I've had great results (getting dandy unlisted deals, and combos) so I still recommend them.

If interested, you need to call them and request an engineer.

Ted Hunter is my guy, you can ask for him, if you're inclined. He's one of the senior sales engineers.

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