I'm using an ART Tube MP preamp with my guitar and I'm plugged into an M-Audio Audiophile 2496. I'm using Guitar Rig as my modeling software. All my guitars have passive pickups.

I have everything adjusted so that it's not clipping (most of the time), but occasionally if I play aggressively on the high strings of the guitar I'll get some clipping showing in the M-Audio control panel. Will this damage my sound card? Clearly I could just lower the gain on the preamp, but doing so will also lower 99 percent of the other audio that doesn't clip just to prevent clipping on the other 1 percent that does. But of course I don't want to damage my sound card and can lower it if necessary. None of the output meters in Guitar Rig or the VU meter and clip indicator on the preamp are showing any clipping at all. Everything sounds fine as well.

In the picture below, the fader "1/2 In" is where the clipping is. As you can see, that fader is muted and turned all the way down. If it's not muted and/or turned down, the dry guitar comes out of my monitors in addition to the processed signal from Guitar Rig. However, I wouldn't think that it being muted would prevent damage if damage were to occur.

The preamp has an output limiter switch which is supposed to prevent the output signal from clipping but obviously it still does sometimes. The specs for the preamp say "Max. Output Level +28dBu (XLR), +22dBu (1/4)". The specs for my sound card say "Peak Analog Input Signal: +2dBV". I don't know much about this subject so I don't really know how dBu and dBV relate to each other.

Even though I don't know much about it, I was able to find a dBu to dBV converter HERE. According to that, +22dBu equals around 19dBV. If that's the case and I'm correct, I'm REALLY overloading the inputs on the card since the specs for the card say it can only handle +2dBV. The confusing thing is that the manual for the sound card said that if you're planning on plugging an instrument into the card you need to use a preamp...

Anyway, if you have any info you can share I'd appreciate it.

Last edited by Rick540 at Sep 7, 2009,
No it won't harm your sound card. But you should lower your gain. You don't need to be running a higher level on the quieter stuff. If you are mixing more tracks then you need more headroom anyway.

You need a preamp for more than amplification. The spec for sound card inputs has a much lower impedance than the input to normal grear (pedals, amps). This results on excessive load and tone suck on the guitar pups. Just because the voltage is high enough to get a signal doesn't mean that you aren't affecting the frequency response.
Last edited by fly135 at Sep 7, 2009,