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How can I record stereo guitar through my Profire 610 device?
February 15, 2014 10:16 AM   Subscribe

How can I record stereo guitar through my Profire 610 device?

I'm a total amateur. Until now I've had a mic on my Fender cabinet running into the #1 mic input, mono. But so I could experiment with stereo/panned guitar more, I got an XLR->1/4" adapter with a second stereo adapter to run through inputs 3 & 4 in the back of the Profire.

But the signal only comes out in one channel even though it's being split through the stereo adapter. I've tried switching the adapter, but it just switches to a single channel, never true stereo. Any ideas?

Bonus question: it's also much much quieter than the front mic inputs which have their own volume knobs. In the Profire onboard mixer app, everything's turned all the way up. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.
posted by deern the headlice to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
 
Just a stab in the dark here - I've never seen a ProFire - but I think that the answer to your bonus question can be found here.

For your non-bonus question: I have no hard and fast answer for you but wouldn't it be easier to record the guitar in mono, because that's the kind of signal that your amp generates, and then double it and pan it in your recording software? In general, it's easier to do that than it is to kludge together a bunch of converters and splitters.

If you have a really good reason why you need to do the stereo split before going into your interface, you probably want some sort of active DI box (that's a "direct input" box for converting your instrument-level signal to a line-level signal, and "active" meaning that it gets electrical power from a battery) to do it for you.

(But I'm not a guitarist, so I dunno for certain. I mostly posted so I could answer your bonus question.)
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 10:33 AM on February 15


Well, when I record in mono and pan it, I don't really get a true pan. It just gets slightly less loud in one of the channels. I was always under the impression that stereo guitar was always ideal for recording?

Update: I also had a lightbulb moment, realizing I could use the stereo splitter to go through the front 2 inputs which definitely work. But same result: when the track is recording, the waveform clearly shows a stereo signal being recorded. As soon as I hit Stop, the waveform is entirely in the left channel, rather than stereo. Darn it.
posted by deern the headlice at 10:55 AM on February 15


In response to your update: you might have an unbalanced-to-balanced 1/4 inch converter, that looks exactly like a mono-to-stereo splitter.

Is stereo always ideal? I'd always wind up with stereo everything given my recording practices, but I'd capture guitar in mono unless the guitarist had an FX chain that generated stereo output, like a reverb footpedal that had stereo outs.

I have no idea what recording software you are using but your reports of "slightly less loud in one of the channels" sounds like you're tweaking a pan knob in your workstation on a mono track. That should change the position of the mono guitar recording in the stereo field, but it won't make it a stereo track.

(I'd suggest spending some time at a forum like those at Harmony Central, where the question-and-answer format you seem to need won't look like threadsitting to the mods. Or maybe another poster can tell us where this decade's Home Recording 101 is located?)
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 11:21 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I'm not a recording engineer, so maybe I'm misunderstanding the question. But how does doubling a mono signal using a splitter to your audio interface differ in any way than doubling the mono signal in software after the fact? They're both the same signal, doubled. The point of stereo is that each signal is slightly different, isn't it?

As for the bonus question, what BrunoLatourFanclub said. Your front inputs have preamps and are meant for use with microphones or direct inputs from instruments with pickups. Your back inputs are expecting a signal that's already gone through a preamp, which your mic -> splitter -> input thing doesn't do.
posted by hades at 11:24 AM on February 15


What DAW software are you using? Maybe it's smart enough to recognize when a "stereo" input is just a doubled mono input, and condense it.
posted by hades at 11:29 AM on February 15


Just Garageband
posted by deern the headlice at 12:40 PM on February 15


BrunoLatourFanclub and hades are totally correct on your bonus question.

As to the main question, I'm not sure I understand, is this your signal path: guitar --> amp --> mic --> splitter --> two inputs --> stereo track in garageband?
posted by verysleeping at 2:09 PM on February 15


Also, in general, when engineers talk about stereo guitars, doubling the guitars actually means playing/recording the part twice. You throw the first take in the left channel, the second in the right channel and it is the slight variations in each take which creates space/depth/dimension.

Having two tracks of the exact same performance, recorded through the same signal path and panned left/right, is no different than a mono track panned at center. Does that kind of make sense?
posted by verysleeping at 2:21 PM on February 15


is this your signal path: guitar --> amp --> mic --> splitter --> two inputs --> stereo track in garageband?

Correct

Having two tracks of the exact same performance, recorded through the same signal path and panned left/right, is no different than a mono track panned at center.

In theory yes, but when I hard pan the mono track to the right or left, it's still a bit audible in the other speaker, which is what tipped me off that (I thought) I was doing something wrong.
posted by deern the headlice at 3:51 PM on February 15


It sounds like you're confused on some of the fundamentals here.

Well, when I record in mono and pan it, I don't really get a true pan. It just gets slightly less loud in one of the channels.

That's what panning is -- increasing the level on side and decreasing it on the other. I'm not sure what you're thinking of as a "true pan."

For a signal to be stereo, it must have different information in the left and right channels. Unless you're adding some kind of stereo effect onto your guitar before it reaches your computer -- e.g. chorus, stereo delay, etc. -- your guitar is producing a mono signal, and it makes no sense to record it in stereo because there is no stereo information to record.

Typical ways to "stereo-ify" guitar recording might include the following: record a single performance with a stereo pair of microphones; record two different performances and pan them differently; record a performance in mono and add stereo effects in your DAW.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:24 PM on February 15


when I hard pan the mono track to the right or left, it's still a bit audible in the other speaker

If you google "garageband hard pan bleed" there are enough results that I think this might be an issue with GarageBand. You could try downloading Audacity and seeing if the problem persists there.
posted by hades at 4:40 PM on February 15


The other time engineers talk about stereo guitars is recording the sound of the guitar in a room with a stereo microphone, which also ensures that different information reaches each channel.

Remember, "stereo" doesn't mean "two". It means "solid". The idea of stereo is that it is a trick we can use to make music feel more real, like it's really going on in a place. Now, the notion of what is "real" gets pretty confusing when your instrument is the electric guitar, because what comes out of an electric guitar is not sound; it is electricity.

So in the modern world, we use the stereo field to do all sorts of things: make spectral space, make music feel bigger or smaller, etc. But for this to work, you need different stuff to come out of each channel. If you are going to be recording direct, there is no reason to record more than one channel, but you might enjoy trying some of the following things:
- split the signal and pan it, and delay one side
- same thing, but modulate the delay times slightly
- add effects to hard-panned outer channels but not to a duped center version

Your brain gets different information from each ear. This is how the brain decides where noises come from. Even if you leave the mix with one direct guitar track and put that direct track right in the middle so the same sound is coming out of both speakers, your ears will get different signals because the sound will bounce around the room and interact with the pinnae of your ears differently. This is how you can tell where the speakers are.

As you face the speakers, and pan the single track and hear it appearing to move in space in front of you, that's because when you increase the volume of the track in the left speaker (That's all pan does. Super old stereo mixing consoles actually only had three settings: Left Center Right that just disconnected the signal from one of the channels) your left ear is getting a louder signal than your right, and so your brain decides that means the guitar is physically placed to the left of you. This is, of course, nonsense. It's the same ones and zeros, coming out of speakers in the same place, you've just changed which speaker is louder.

But this is the point of stereo. Solidity. A sense of placing things. Not two-ness. There is no reason to mess with recording two identical copies of your guitar signal. It's not going to help you in any way. If you are going to fake it or manipulate it, you can fake it all in the computer. If you want it to sound the way it does in the room, then you are going to need to mic the sound of that amp in that room, and consider doing that in stereo.
posted by jeb at 5:18 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Ambient miking, perhaps?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:38 PM on February 15


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