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Old 01-08-2013, 07:24 AM   #1
pushkar000
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How to use laptop as amplifier?

Hey everyone, happy new year!

ive been wanting to use my laptop as an amp and ive been trying to look stuff up on the net, but i generally dont understand whats going on, or i **** up somewhere and dont really understand why, or it costs money.

can you guys help me out?

i have guitars, effects and a 1/4" to 1/8" converter.

ive tried audacity, but it only plays back recordings
ive tried amplitube(and a couple of other similar programs), but all i get for some reason is static.
i have Cubase LE AI Elements 6 which i dont know the first thing about but am willing to learn.
ive connected my guitar to my effects and straight into the mic in.

is there something wrong with what im doing? or are my raw materials insufficient?
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:29 AM   #2
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try REAPER its a pretty straight forward program.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:40 AM   #3
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Read the VST sticky, it will help you out so much more than a bunch of one liner posts recommending X Y or Z.

EDIT:

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1541771

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1522593

Last edited by Wesbanez : 01-08-2013 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:53 AM   #4
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You definitely need to read the Interfaces sticky that Wesbanez linked to. I guess you can be forgiven for not realising you needed to look in the recordings forum for this kind of equipment, but that thread along with the VST thread he also linked to will definitely provide you with the answers you're looking for.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:22 AM   #5
pushkar000
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thanks for the help guys!

but the thing is i dont want to record, i just want to hear myself play.
i went through the articles linked, but as far as i can understand it, thats all for recording(and they cost money sadly). i am going through the amp sims right now. i tried a few earlier today and they didnt work, only producing noise for some reason which i couldnt quite figure out.
is there a simple program that i can use which doesnt involve anything other than making the laptop play my guitar sounds?
im taking a look at reaper right now though.

thanks for the help again!
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:27 AM   #6
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You've misunderstood im afraid, those threads are NOT specifically about recording. The difference between recording and hearing yourself play is nothing except for the press of a "Record" button on a program like Reaper.

To hear yourself play, you still need* an interface and a program into which you can load VSTs.

Please re-read the Interface sticky and you'll understand hopefully.

* I hesitated to say need because technically you can just wang your guitar into a bog standard sound card and play, but it will sound terrible and could damage your equipment.

Standard PC sound cards are NOT designed to have electric guitars plugged into them.

Check out Live Professor at http://ifoundasound.com/. Its specifically designed as a platform to load VSTs into for live use i.e. not recording and is far simply to understand and configure than Reaper.

Last edited by Wesbanez : 01-08-2013 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pushkar000
thanks for the help guys!

but the thing is i dont want to record, i just want to hear myself play.
i went through the articles linked, but as far as i can understand it, thats all for recording(and they cost money sadly). i am going through the amp sims right now. i tried a few earlier today and they didnt work, only producing noise for some reason which i couldnt quite figure out.
is there a simple program that i can use which doesnt involve anything other than making the laptop play my guitar sounds?
im taking a look at reaper right now though.

thanks for the help again!

Of course the equipment you need is going to cost you some money. Did you think it would be free?

Look at it this way - by spending a small amount of money on an interface that allows you to use as many different VSTs (many of which are free) as you like is a lot cheaper than spending a large amount of money on an amp.

Most of the software recommended in those threads won't work unless you're connected to it with the appropriate equipment. If you want to do this, you NEED to buy an interface.

If you don't want an interface, the alternative is to forget playing through your computer and buy an amp.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #8
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i know im i noooo help whatsoever to this, but once you find out would you mind telling me which way you did ikt best? thank you so much
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkknight9
i know im i noooo help whatsoever to this, but once you find out would you mind telling me which way you did ikt best? thank you so much

You get the same advice TS gets - go read the stickied threads in the recordings forum.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pushkar000
ive been wanting to use my laptop as an amp and ive been trying to look stuff up on the net, but i generally dont understand whats going on, or i **** up somewhere and dont really understand why, or it costs money.

can you guys help me out?

i have guitars, effects and a 1/4" to 1/8" converter.


i can't address what you have tried and hasn't worked, i can only state what i do.

amplitube is an easy software example:

1) i use an ipod/TRS patch cable with a 1/4" TS male to 1/8" TRS female adapter
2) i plug the 1/4" male part into the guitar, i connect other end of the patch cord into the computer's input
3) open amplitube, go to options and select the input that gives best results
4) profit

this is my setup when i am on the road for work, for playback i may use some computer speakers. at home i use interfaces and the such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesbanez
* I hesitated to say need because technically you can just wang your guitar into a bog standard sound card and play, but it will sound terrible and could damage your equipment.

Standard PC sound cards are NOT designed to have electric guitars plugged into them.


i hear this quite a bit but i have been able to get acceptable results plugging into a native soundcard. does it sound better when i go through my interface? yes. but it also sounds better when i go through my channel strip into the interface, as you get better equipment the sound will improve to the point of diminishing returns. but the point i was trying to make is that i have gotten acceptable results just plugging it into a native soundcard.

here is a track recorded straight through my soundcard (with amp emulation of course)

http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/...usic/play733334

here is a song with one guitar track done through my amp into a mic through the interface and the other track is plugged directly into the soundcard.

http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/...usic/play702960

i am interested in the 'damaging equipment' part too. i am not aware of any damage that can occur, but i have heard the claim before and when i have asked people what kinda risk i am taking but no one has ever responded.

what risk do i have of damaging my equipment by plugging my guitar straight into a native soundcard? if there is seriously a risk of hurting something then i would prefer not to do it.
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Last edited by gumbilicious : 01-08-2013 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:33 PM   #11
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Nah i doubt youd damage your soundcard plugging in a guitar, guitars and dynamic mics work the same way.

By all means if you just want to hear yourself play, plug straight into the mic port, spend a couple of dorrar on a decent jack adapter, the shit ones fall apart and get crackly.

You lose quite a bit of resolution and volume from the impedance difference. Plus computer preamps are shite. And latency tends to be an issue unless you've actually spent money on your soundcard, asio drivers help a little.

Laptop speakers sound like death anywayz.

A 2nd hand microcube would probably sound better, and you could use the line out to record from if you wanted to.

and er generally in this software youll have to go through the settings and configure where it wants to recieve the sound from, cause theyre usually looking for an audio interface.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beckyjc
Nah i doubt youd damage your soundcard plugging in a guitar, guitars and dynamic mics work the same way.


that is pretty much the same conclusion i came to.

native preamps and A/D conversion are pretty weak, i is amazing how much better amp emulation sounds when you upgrade those parts of the signal chain and play them over better speakers.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gumbilicious
that is pretty much the same conclusion i came to.

native preamps and A/D conversion are pretty weak, i is amazing how much better amp emulation sounds when you upgrade those parts of the signal chain and play them over better speakers.


Its certainly never happened to me; but not being an expert in sound engineering or electronics I thought it best to include a non-definite warning, hence the "could".
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
Of course the equipment you need is going to cost you some money. Did you think it would be free?

Look at it this way - by spending a small amount of money on an interface that allows you to use as many different VSTs (many of which are free) as you like is a lot cheaper than spending a large amount of money on an amp.

Most of the software recommended in those threads won't work unless you're connected to it with the appropriate equipment. If you want to do this, you NEED to buy an interface.

If you don't want an interface, the alternative is to forget playing through your computer and buy an amp.


thanks for trying to help out but i specifically mentioned at the beginning of the thread that yes, i wanted something for free. so anything that involves me shelling out money to get anything beyond what i already own isnt gonna be an option, which is pretty restricting i guess but thats just how it is for me at this point. maybe once i understand this area well enough and once i start finding myself in situations without my amp a lot more, ill buy something.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:27 PM   #15
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The "I have effects" is a bit vague. If you have a multifx then you can plug right into the sound card input and switch on playback monitoring in the sound card settings. Since you didn't state your OS, it's hard to say exactly where to access your settings.

You don't need any software to do this. You say that you can record with Audacity so that means you've got it hooked up. You just need to turn on playback monitoring. For example in XP you go to the mixer dialog and uncheck the mute button for the input you are using.

edit: Oh I see you can only playback audio files with audacity, but not record? Hard to decipher your post, because how did you record it?
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pushkar000
thanks for trying to help out but i specifically mentioned at the beginning of the thread that yes, i wanted something for free. so anything that involves me shelling out money to get anything beyond what i already own isnt gonna be an option, which is pretty restricting i guess but thats just how it is for me at this point. maybe once i understand this area well enough and once i start finding myself in situations without my amp a lot more, ill buy something.


You could go directly into your line in. You just need to make sure the input source in amplitube or whatever program you're using is set to your computers line in. The problem is that a computers line in is in no way meant to handle the signal from a guitar. Even with the volume turned way down you're likely to clip the input almost right away. What does that mean? It'll distort and sound like crap

You really need an interface of some kind, and unfortunately unless you get the five finger discount you're just going to have to pay for it. On the bright side, you can get a used one dirt cheap.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:52 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by darkknight9
i know im i noooo help whatsoever to this, but once you find out would you mind telling me which way you did ikt best? thank you so much


hey so i think ive got it figured out!
i downloaded REAPER (http://www.reaper.fm/index.php)
and i plugged in my guitar directly to my mic in.
after you add a new track in the program, theres an option(its on the track bar itself where other track options like arm, I/O etc are there.) that says "record monitoring".
i turned that on and i can hear myself now, the sound is terrible but i guess thats what you get when you wanna go cheap.
theres latency which im trying to figure out how to reduce but yeah this is pretty much how i did it.

btw thanks to everyone who posted! really helped me out! i hope someday i can repay you all in the future
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by pushkar000
theres latency which im trying to figure out how to reduce but yeah this is pretty much how i did it.


Download and install ASIO4ALL.

Unless your laptop/PC is really fudging old, that should improve matters drastically.
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