I decided to tackle here a subject that has tormented me for a long time: How to connect your guitar to your PC without an amplifier, and of course how to register, with or without an amplifier, in electric or electro-acoustic.
Big question ? Not really because the answers to have something convincing are rather simple but it is this question which in front of all the more or less contradictory information found on the internet, finally discouraged me from making guitar videos for a long time. Many sites will detail the procedure for you, I myself read a lot at the time when I asked myself this question and even today, despite the multiplication of requests on the internet, I find that the answers offered are often confused and do not answer the real question asked, a simple answer, so that those who have no knowledge in the field understand !
- I don’t know how to connect my guitar to my PC !
- I have a laptop PC, can I plug my guitar into it ?
- How to configure the sound drivers of my PC for my guitar software, because no sound comes out !
Without knowledge of MAO *, MIDI etc ..
Edit: MAO (Computer Aided Music) is of course very important and super interesting later on but this is another subject that will not be discussed now, moreover it is often by the posts of those who are a little more enlightened in this area, that the threads of the beginners who were simply looking to plug their guitar into their PC are drowned in floods of technical terms and other complicated configurations unachievable when you do not know anything.
If you recognize yourself in the sentences quoted above then you have come to the right place, here no incomprehensible technical terms for someone who has not worked in a recording studio for 20 years. No !!
Simple explanations that I will detail as much as possible so that everyone can get by, with or without knowledge !!
I WILL EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS TO YOU, SIMPLY, WITHOUT BLABLA OR OUTSIDE OF TOPIC, YOU WILL KNOW HOW TO DO THIS IN A FEW MOMENTS.
1) What hardware and software do I need ?
The first thing to do if you want to play directly on a PC is to know what type of sound card and processor you have. Indeed these 2 elements will play a crucial role on the final sound rendering. If your computer is fairly recent you can connect your guitar with an adapter such as IRIG 2 HD for example and install the Asio4all drivers which will solve a lot of problems and reduce the latency, in terms of effects we will tell about that a little more, in the bottom of this page
a) An outdated processor will not support the calculation to be performed if several effects are engaged, at best the result will be a choppy sound, full of holes, crackles and other crackles, unplayable !!
b) An outdated sound card and you will have, at your choice, no sound at all, or then sound but with crazy latency which will make your simplest score unplayable.
What is latency ? Without going into technical details, it is the time lag that there is between the note played and the one that we hear coming out of the PC speakers. Make no mistake, even a minimal latency (and therefore a lag) between the two, makes any song unplayable because you will not be able to ensure an accurate tempo, a bit as if you were singing a song with headphones on your ears broadcasts you the same song but shifted with a second delay… Good luck !!
For information here is what the software “Revalver” from Peavey asks, I give the download links a little lower:
- 1 GHz CPU
- 512 MB RAM
- VST®/RTAS host or ASIO®/WDM sound card
- Microsoft Windows XP ou supérieur
Well if you are in Windows 98 on the PC that your big sister left you in 2002, there is nothing I can do, no secrets or miracles, either your pc can keep the road to a minimum, or you will have to put it in up to date or to change it altogether.
If your processor is powerful enough but your sound card leaves something to be desired (like sound cards built into motherboards, which is my case) adding an external sound card is ideal. It’s a small box that plugs into your PC by USB, you connect your guitar’s jack to it, a little driver to install and that’s it.
I owned an old “Fast Track” from M-Audio that I paid less than 100 € a few years ago and that was enough, today I replaced it with the Irig HD 2 which is exactly what I was looking for, I highly recommend it.
The new cards are powerful and versatile, here are a few sites:
In any case, don’t forget, you will have to install asio4all which allows the adjustment of certain latency parameters, etc.)
Here is for the hardware configuration, it is a very important step not to be neglected because it is here that a large majority of guitarists are blocked.
Once that is done you need to get an amp simulator software, they are often full of cool effects even in free version. If you have such effects software, here are some that are in the lead (You sometimes have to create an account to log in to be able to download):
(Non-exhaustive list but there is already plenty to do.)
Once your software has been launched, you will have to go to its audio settings and set to “Asio4all”, then select your sound card as “IN” input (The name of the latter is displayed, Irig HD 2 for me ) and in output “OUT” choose the speakers of your PC (for me it is “Speakers Realtek high definition audio”). Validate and try, if that doesn’t work close the software, unplug your USB cable, restart the software and plug in the USB, it should work.
A simpler solution (but often more expensive) is to buy an all-in-one device, which makes a sound card, amp simulator and integrates hundreds of effects, see Here (it’s for the example, there ‘ has of course a plethora of different brands and prices).
So you need a not too old pc, if the sound card is too soft you need an external sound card as well as amp simulation software (free or not) and an asio4all-like driver (free). Normally you should be pretty close to the truth.