I'm just messing around on my ESP Viper 401 recording into my Mbox 3 mini with PT10 and no matter what level I try to record I'm hearing distortion. I'm no where near clipping, I'm the sig/clip LED isn't red on the interface and the meters in PT have a good 3db of headroom easy. I can't figure out why I'm getting a distorted sound. If I hit one string at a time softly, there is no clipping, but any strumming or even hard picking of one note causes it (again meters never even come close to red).
Yeah, EMG pickups use batteries, they usually last a year or even more, but I change them every half to 3/4 a year, just to be on the safe side. When the voltage drops because of battery drainage, the built-in preamp doesn't have the headroom needed to produce the entire input signal peak-to-peak anymore, so it starts clipping, that's why we hear the distortion.