#1
Hi, I bought the Mackie Onyx Blackjack about 3 months ago.
I used my Fender Telecaster to record with it with the HI-Z knob pushed (Guitar mode)
and I has to set the gain knob 5/8 up to play without clipping.
Yesterday I bought the amazing EBMM Majesty guitar that has active hambuckers and my guitar clipping so bad that i have to put the gain knob only quarter up. I can record like that because the volume isn't loud enough.
any suggestions how to fix it without changing the audio interface, and without to affect the sound?
Please help, I invest so much money on new equipment and I want to record my Majesty so bad!
#2
Just turn down the guitar until it stops clipping. Done.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#3
Quote by Cajundaddy
Just turn down the guitar until it stops clipping. Done.

I did it but the volume is to low with that...
#4
Try switching it to line level for the guitar with active pickups. If that does not work, you may have to record at low volumes and then normalize the track after recording. Normalizing takes the entire selected track and raises it in volume so that the highest peak volume of the track reaches a decibel rating of whatever you have it set to, usually -1db (right before clipping). But if you are recording multiple tracks/playing with a backing, you may want to set the normalization to a few db lower than -1, so maybe -3 or -4. When multiple tracks are played that are normalized around -1db, it makes the output of your software clip.

You can also get external pads/direct boxes. The Behringer Ultra G direct box has two -20db pads, and it is really cheap at $39.99 USD. You would run something like that in between the guitar and audio interface.

Also, the opinions on active pickup guitars are mixed; some like them because the signal is really strong, but others hate them because they make everything clip or that they do not clean up (reducing gain with the guitar's volume control) like a passive circuit allows you to do.
Last edited by Will Lane at Mar 25, 2016,
#5
Quote by Will Lane
Try switching it to line level for the guitar with active pickups. If that does not work, you may have to record at low volumes and then normalize the track after recording. Normalizing takes the entire selected track and raises it in volume so that the highest peak volume reaches whatever you have it set to, usually -1db (right before clipping). But if you are recording multiple tracks/playing with a backing, you may want to set the normalization to a few db lower than -1, so maybe -3 or -4.

You can also get external pads/direct boxes. The Behringer Ultra G direct box has two -20db pads, and it is really cheap at $39.99 USD.

Thanks but if I'll buy DI what would he do? and if it will affect the sound?
#6
Quote by yuvalmaster
Thanks but if I'll buy DI what would he do? and if it will affect the sound?
They are not designed to affect the sound- they convert the unbalanced 1/4 signal to a balanced XLR signal. The Behringer Ultra G just has a few bells and whistles along with it, like the volume-reducing db pads.
#7
Just turn down the Onyx gain until it stops clipping, you should be able to find a setting where it will work and you won't have to get a DI, it just sounds to me like you can't find the right gain stage - just keep on playing with the right hand picking as hard as you would and monitor your signal level in the DI until you are about 6db away from the 0.

Unless you really have to, don't get a DI and don't get Behringer, go for Whirlwind or for Radial which is probably the best you can get for the money.

http://www.music123.com/pro-audio/radial-engineering-prodi-passive-direct-box
Last edited by diabolical at Mar 25, 2016,
#8
^Yeah, if yuvalmaster is able to spend that much on the DI and they really need it, go for it. I just suggested the Berry because it is cheap and I have positive experiences with it. But like you said it is just a gain staging matter.
#9
Quote by yuvalmaster
I did it but the volume is to low with that...

This is a misunderstanding.

An active PU simply adds a gain stage at the guitar (small onboard preamp) which adds about 20db +/- to the signal. This is similar to adding a clean boost pedal in front of an amp. All you need to do is normalize your input gain and get a good level to your DAW input section. This can be done several ways.

1. Plug into the guitar input on your interface and adjust input levels and/or guitar volume control until you get -10db at your input meter.

2. Plug into your interface line input and adjust input levels or guitar volume until you get -10db at your input meter.

3. Run your guitar into a D/I box with pad, plug into the 3pin interface input and adjust levels until you get -10db on your input meter.

All three methods work fine and if you note the common theme, all will get you to a -10db input level which will no longer be clipping. All three methods are viable for recording and with low impedance active PUs, will not affect guitar tone in any measurable way. We are not attempting to drive an input preamp tube so there is no benefit in having the guitar volume wide open or having any sort of boosted input signal. Just do what you need to do to get to -10db on your input meter and that nasty clipping will stop.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Mar 25, 2016,
#10
You don't want hardware gain in your recording. You can use daw to push output gain.
#11
Not to derail the direction of this discussion, but to add what's probably a newb question - is it normal to go electric right to an interface to record electric or is it more common to mic an amp? I've only recorded/mixed/mastered acoustic instruments and vocals, so I'm surprised to hear this application. My first instinct would be to get a great tone from my rig and try to mic it to my interface?
#12
Quote by TomInReno
Not to derail the direction of this discussion, but to add what's probably a newb question - is it normal to go electric right to an interface to record electric or is it more common to mic an amp? I've only recorded/mixed/mastered acoustic instruments and vocals, so I'm surprised to hear this application. My first instinct would be to get a great tone from my rig and try to mic it to my interface?

All the kids are going direct. Some of us old timers are miking amps.
#13
Quote by diabolical
All the kids are going direct. Some of us old timers are miking amps.


I guess now I know. I can't wrap my head around how you can go from a humbucker directly to a computer and retain anything in the way of tone from at least an electric guitar preamp? Are all of the effects/tone adjustments done with a digital "pre-amp" in the recording software? That's all I'll add, because it's out of the scope of this discussion, but I'm obviously confused.
#14
Digital software has come a long way. Going direct into software with the proper analog/digital conversion can get you very usable, very professional tones.

But like diabolical said, there are still those of us who mic amps- either out of preference or ease of use or whatever.
#15
Thank you all but I have another question.
My EBMM Majesty has a build in gain boost, and even if I go with the methods that you write, I can't use it because it clipping too.. So I should not use that? Or there is a way I'll able to have it in the recording too?
#16
I imagine the gain boost is there to goose the tube of a preamp channel so it gets even silkier distortion as you'd want to use on a lead. If you clean is clipping then your boosted clean will punch a deeper hole into the recording. This is something that doesn't work with digital at all.

Maybe you'd need to get something like this which will react to your boost as well, kinda an in between, best of both worlds scenario.

http://www.musik-produktiv.co.uk/laney-ironheart-irt-pulse.html

Personally, I record all my personal stuff live or reamp it through a real amp. There are some project sessions that pay and I get by with modeling it is still not up to what I can get my a real live amp rig.

For the most part, anything that has to do with metal (not djent) sounds best through a tube amp. Same thing with rock and blues, maybe you can get away with it on jazz or pop rock where the guitar is not that important and up front. I also notice that I get away with it easier on leads, maybe because of the higher processing involved, but if you want to play against the amp with feedback or note sustain, forget about doing that on digital.
#17
Quote by yuvalmaster
Thank you all but I have another question.
My EBMM Majesty has a build in gain boost, and even if I go with the methods that you write, I can't use it because it clipping too.. So I should not use that? Or there is a way I'll able to have it in the recording too?


You should be able to run your guitar directly into the "line in" on your interface and adjust gain to -10db. Do not use "instrument hi Z" with gain boosted active PUs or it will clip like a mad dog. If the "line in" signal is still too hot (I can't imagine it) turn off the gain boost. Guitar straight in only, no distortion or OD pedals in the signal chain. Just turn all that s..t down until you get a green signal with no input clipping.

Once you get a good clean input signal, let the DAW processing add all the dirt, sustain, and feedback you need. It really does work. Completely clean -10db guitar input signal 1st though.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Mar 28, 2016,
#18
Quite a few consumer-level interfaces have clipping issues with their instrument/Hi-Z inputs. Focusrite especially is notorious for it (Saffire owner here).

Speaking from personal experience, get a DI box. Decent one. Fixes all clipping issues AND improves the sound by far.
#20
Quote by diabolical
It also depends on your guitar - if the sound doesn't change if you dip the volume level on the guitar you could just use that to attenuate the gain level.
Goes beyond that from what I've found. The guitar volume almost always alters the overall sound of the guitar, but also plugging straight into the instrument input on the interface lacks a ton of dynamics and even adds some mud versus if you used an external DI and went into the mic preamps.

If I ever stop being lazy I'll post audio examples comparing the sound of DI box vs instrument input. Sound difference is huge.
#21
In my case with my Presonus and Edirol interfaces a DI is an extra step in the signal that has had no auditory difference, and I use a Radial passive DI. I even have some sound tests with a $1500 preamp in between and still almost negligible difference. So unless your guitar is clipping, you don't want that extra stage.
Now, since he has an active guitar, depends on the wiring, but on some when you lower the volume, the sound doesn't change. You'll just have to adjust your gain stages in the DAW.
#22
Quote by diabolical
In my case with my Presonus and Edirol interfaces a DI is an extra step in the signal that has had no auditory difference, and I use a Radial passive DI. I even have some sound tests with a $1500 preamp in between and still almost negligible difference. So unless your guitar is clipping, you don't want that extra stage.
Now, since he has an active guitar, depends on the wiring, but on some when you lower the volume, the sound doesn't change. You'll just have to adjust your gain stages in the DAW.


This is typical with EMGs or other active PUs. Since the 1st preamp stage is in the guitar it essentially sends a line level, low impedance signal to the interface. Changing the volume on the guitar vs the interface makes no tonal difference unless the guitar is broken. I see no benefit to a DI because the signal is already normalized. This is very different from passive PUs which have a very high impedance and tiny signal. Acoustic PUs are also active but usually very high impedance and benefit from a DI to normalize the signal.

Different tools to solve different problems.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#23
Quote by Cajundaddy
This is typical with EMGs or other active PUs. Since the 1st preamp stage is in the guitar it essentially sends a line level, low impedance signal to the interface. Changing the volume on the guitar vs the interface makes no tonal difference unless the guitar is broken. I see no benefit to a DI because the signal is already normalized. This is very different from passive PUs which have a very high impedance and tiny signal. Acoustic PUs are also active but usually very high impedance and benefit from a DI to normalize the signal.

Different tools to solve different problems.


Yup, I concur. Just turn the volume down so it doesn't clip. You might want to mark it somehow so you stay on the same level between takes.
#24
Quote by diabolical
In my case with my Presonus and Edirol interfaces a DI is an extra step in the signal that has had no auditory difference, and I use a Radial passive DI. I even have some sound tests with a $1500 preamp in between and still almost negligible difference. So unless your guitar is clipping, you don't want that extra stage.
What models of each? They likely have the instrument/DI input done correctly assuming they're higher end.

In my case (Focusrite Saffire) and likely his, the company cheaped out on the instrument-level inputs and made the microphone preamps the priority. Use of a DI box will bring the Hi-Z instrument level signal down to mic level allowing proper use of the interface's preamp.


Here are some audio clips I recorded between projects to show the difference (VST amps), one signal was through DI into mic input on Saffire, other was parallel out at inst level (lowest possible gain), Seymour Duncan JB pickup bridge:

Lead Guitar:
DI Lead
Focusrite Lead

Significantly around 32 seconds, the dynamic increase is HUGE.


Metal Rhythm:

DI Metal
Focusrite In Metal

This is more subtle, but individual notes have more definition with DI + Mic preamp.
#25
Edirol/Cakewalk UA-4FX ($120 interface)
PreSonus FP10 ($500 interface initially)

Focusrite are probably the worst when it comes to direct input, yet for some reason everyone goes head over heels recommending them on this forum.

Vulpine, if I bought such a POS device, I'd return it right away if I can and get something else in the price range. From what I know very few of the other interfaces in that price range and even some cheaper ones have had that problem. As far as the Mackie is concerned, this poster is the first one as far as I am aware that has had these issues, I am thinking maybe due to the fact that his guitar is hotter than usual. Mackie overall have made some great studio and live stuff so it is strange, we might be missing something.

OP - check with Mackie and see what they say about your issues, make their cust. support work for their money. There might be some tweak somewhere in the software that could do it.
#26
According to Mackie, no separate DI box needed with this interface. They build quality gear and are not prone to BS in their manuals. My best guess is the TS should be running "line-in" with EMG active PUs. The guitar is generating a line level signal.

http://mackie.com/products/onyx-blackjack
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#28
Quote by diabolical
Edirol/Cakewalk UA-4FX ($120 interface)
PreSonus FP10 ($500 interface initially)

Focusrite are probably the worst when it comes to direct input, yet for some reason everyone goes head over heels recommending them on this forum.

Vulpine, if I bought such a POS device, I'd return it right away if I can and get something else in the price range. From what I know very few of the other interfaces in that price range and even some cheaper ones have had that problem.
Yet they simultaneously easily have the best microphone preamps in the range, easily (though I have yet to try Steinberg's new models), which was why I purchased the Saffire. At the time I didn't do ReAmping yet so I didn't look for the best direct input, just recording guitar amps and vocals.

I've definitely tried a few others with clipping issues, namely the Digidesign Mbox Mini and lower dollar Tascam interfaces. Granted they're both lowest-of-the-low but it's not uncommon for this to occur.

Quote by Cajundaddy
According to Mackie, no separate DI box needed with this interface. They build quality gear and are not prone to BS in their manuals. My best guess is the TS should be running "line-in" with EMG active PUs. The guitar is generating a line level signal.

http://mackie.com/products/onyx-blackjack
Focusrite is also considered to be a quality brand yet advertise the same exact thing, yet I can't record even single coil leads without clipping issues when using built-in DI/Inst Level. At lowest gain level.

Surprisingly yes, EMGs put out around 1.25v peak which is in the ballpark of +4dBu (line level). I would've thought they'd try to design them like acoustic-electrics or some keyboards that put out an inst level since that's what most clean amps are designed to take.
Last edited by Cherry Vulpine at Apr 1, 2016,
#29
I worked with Focusrite pres in the studio, I think the 8 channel preamp was originally around $1200 and it was "meh" at best, they had a few ok features like clipping limiter but honestly nothing that exciting, like some really good pres where you have a revelation when you plug something into.