DI recording guitar (noob...still!)

DI recording guitar (noob...still!)


I have an EMU Tracker Pre as my Audio Interface (to Cubase Artist 6).

I need to record electric guitar via direct input, and I have managed to do this, but it’s so loud that I have to turn down the recording level so much that, A) I fear I’m going to be holding back when play to avoid clipping, and B) I’m turning it down so much to avoid clipping that I’m losing dynamic range.

Attached is photo of how I’ve achieved sound input so far.

That’s an ordinary guitar lead plugged in to 1L. Cubase is set to use that input as a mono source.

What are my options, folks?


I read that people were having these issues with the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 interface. That’s the reason I decided against buying the 2i2 and instead chose to buy the Scarlet 2i4. The 2i4 has pads on the input. I new from past experience that pads are VERY important for me, personally.

You can still get around the problem by purchasing a DI box. I’m not sure, but maybe you can find something that has a -10 db, or more pad, on it. I haven’t had a use for a DI box in a very long time so I don’t remember much about them.

I read that some guys were suggesting to use the line input, if you have one…, but I always thought the line input would be more prone to increase your volume. Google around to make sure before you try that…I doubt you’ll cause any harm to your interface but you want to be safe.

Why can't I hear send/insert effects?

I’m curious what you mean by this. Do you mean that the waveform appears very small when you turn down to avoid clipping? If that is the case, there is no need to worry because, if you’re recording at 24bit, according to the specs you have over 100dB of dynamic range.

Is there a switch to enable the Hi-Z input for guitar?


Are you pickups active? If so, you don’t need to set the input to Hi-Z. That may get you a few dB of headroom.

The last thing you ever need to worry about ever is lack of dynamic range. You could be peaking at -20dB and it would still be a non issue. Just turn it down to the point where you aren’t clipping and you should be fine.



Ah, okay, that’s good to know.

Thanks to all (inc. Wicked)


Doesn’t the interface already have a -10 pad on it? Most that I’ve used have one. Shouldn’t have to use a DI box for that.


You’ve lost me.

Here are the specs of the unit (with two photos, including one of the back, whereas the manufacturer’s website only has one photo, which is of the front!): http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/e-mu-tracker-pre-usb-2.0


Just to be clear, there is only one box…


aw bummer. It doesn’t have one built in, however, you can just use one on your DAW. I forget where it is on Cubase.


One of what though? I’m not sure what you’re suggesting.


Holster is referring to a PAD switch…Your interface appears to not have any. If you had a PAD switch/ button, you would be able to simply cut 10 db of gain in your interface. That’s what I was mentioning in my first post.

If you don’t have a PAD switch on your interface then you can run into trouble when you’re trying to get optimum preamp levels IF you have your input volume set at 0 (zero) and you’re still clipping, then you need a DI box…If you’re not clipping then you don’t have a problem, as long as you’re getting enough signal to record properly…,which you likely are getting, as long as you’re recording at 24 bit. I prefer to have PADS on my inputs because they allow you more control and balance when setting your input levels.


Is your issue hearing the guitar while you’re tracking? You need to get the input to stay below clipping, but if what you are hear is affecting your playing, you may just need a headphone amp to get better monitoring levels. Also, lots of players will use a compression pedal between the guitar and the interface to have more control over the dynamic range on the way in.


No clipping today, and what I’m getting recorded seems pretty good in terms of signal.

Hmm, not sure how to check that, but I’ll rummage about.

No. The issue was that I had to reduce the recording level so much that I was worried about losing dynamic range.

Ooh! Interesting idea. Years ago I bought a Boss compressor, but then shortly after that a Boss GT-8 board, which effectively made all my individual pedals redundant (even though some of them were genuinely better than the FX built in to the GT-8). But now it sounds like it might have a resurrection!


Just plugging into a guitar pedal and out again (ie. any ‘non true bypass’ guitar pedal) should change your guitar signal impedance from hi to lo. This will allow you to use the line input on your interface instead, without fear of ‘losing signal quality’ or clipping.

The line level input is likely expecting about 12dB MORE signal than a typical guitar outputs so should be ‘padded’ down to allow for this.

Just to be clear, the pedal WILL need power (eg a battery) but does NOT need to have its FX ‘Engaged’ or ‘ON’ for this to work.

True bypass pedals are relatively expensive so you probably wont have one of those. :}


I thought using a DI Box and those Hi-Z inputs were two separate things entirely. Unless the specs on Hi-Z inputs differ unit to unit.


For my first home recording project (using a Scarlett 2i2), I actually realized I’d made the mistake of recording at too high a level because I was worried about weak signal. Turns out I didn’t need to worry as there are plenty of opportunities to boost through the DAW.


Although your problem is most likely impedance mismatch which others have addressed, I noticed that you have insert jacks on your interface and I thought I’d share how I use mine for tracking direct instruments.

I have an outboard dbx expander compressor limiter. This is connected via the insert Jack and it allows me to get the levels I want while taming any clipping.

In the days of tracking to tape you really wanted to get your gain staging right so that you hit the tape at the highest level you could without clipping. But using a digital Daw you are usually in good shape peeking around -12.

Hopefully this is helpful!