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Issues with Recording Guitar through Audio Interface for Amp Sim plugin
Old 25th May 2020
Here for the gear
Issues with Recording Guitar through Audio Interface for Amp Sim plugin

Hi guys,
I'm going insane with issues recording my guitar directly through an audio interface for amp sim plugins, hope someone can show me the light.

I've been happily using amp sims for years through my beloved Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP. Then one day I decided to get a new interface to achieve lower latency, and that's when issues started.

I first got a Presonus Quantum 2, and to my shock my guitar sounded completely different (worse) than the with Saffire. Best I can describe it is metallic, hollow, squashy, unnaturally chimey. I returned it, thinking it was either something wrong with the interface, or with the way I was setting it up.

I now got a Focusrite Clarett 2Pre (Thunderbolt). With horror, I discovered I'm getting the same exact (bad) sound as with the Quantum 2.

I then came to the conclusion that I must be doing something wrong with the new interfaces, that I wasn't doing with the Saffire.
Potential causes I've already discarded:
- Impedance: both the Quantum and the Clarett have Hi-Z instrument inputs (I made sure I've selected them), so it shouldn't be an impedance problem.
- Direct input monitoring: I have disabled direct input monitoring from the interface, so I'm not getting the dry signal mixed in (if I mute the daw I get no sound while playing my guitar.
- The only thing that the Quantum and Clarett have in common that's different than the Saffire is that they are Thunderbolt, while the Saffire was Firewire, though obviously that shouldn't make any difference?

Here's a link to a back to back recording from the Saffire, then Quantum, then Clarett (also attached below):
For context, I am playing a telecaster and the amp sim is a Fender Twin Reverb preset ("US Double Norm" in Helix Native as a plugin loaded into Logic Pro X on macOS Catalina.

I am extremely frustrated and demoralised, so I hope some of you can help me solve this mystery!
Attached Files

Saffire vs Quantum vs Clarett.mp3 (489.7 KB, 192 views)

Old 25th May 2020
Lives for gear
guavadude's Avatar
Try using a pedal that has a buffer before the interface. That can help with impedance issues even if bypassed, something like a boss pedal or tuner.
Or try a DI box.
Old 26th May 2020
Lives for gear
Funny, while it's an MP3, the Saffire version sounds muffled like a blanket was thrown over the amp, bright switch off and treble down.

I'd say try moving the tone controls on your amp sim first, but what you're hearing is a higher quality version of your guitar signal... I'd rather mix with the latter 2.

Can you record just the DI signal, no amp sim, no nothing so we can understand how much the amp sim is coloring things?
Old 26th May 2020
I get a feeling that you maybe used the Saffire interface with Hi-Z setting off. Have you tried that on the new interfaces?

And no. Thunderbolt vs Firewire is definitely not the issue here.
Old 26th May 2020
Here for the gear
Guys, thank you so much for the replies, infinitely appreciated!

Attaching a new sample with just direct signal, no amp sim or anything else (again, it's Saffire, then Quantum, then Clarett).

@guavadude, do you think that the a pedal or DI box would make the sound of the latter two (Quantum and Clarett) better? Based on what I read online a DI box shouldn't really be needed for this type of interfaces, as they should already be Hi-Z in their Instrument inputs, though I could give a try to a cheap Behringer DI.

@nedorama, attaching without any amp sim, just dry signal. DO you confirm that the latter two are how a DI guitar is supposed to sound? So the "weird" one was actually the Saffire I used to have? That's so interesting, I wonder if it's just that I'm used to the Saffire then. I would still puzzled though as to why the Saffire sounded so different then. As far as I'm aware I didn't set it up in any weird way. It did come with DSP effects including EQ, but I didn't set any up. I've already sold it so no way to check that.
All amp sim presets sound weird to me now though, brittle and squashy, would you then put a high cut filter before the amp sim plugin then? Is that standard practice? I thought the amp sim presets would have already been calibrated to sound good with straight DI signal with no pre-processing.

@thedberg thanks! I did select the Instrument input on the Saffire, which is Hi-Z. Same for Quantum and Clarett as far as I understand. Does the Saffire sound to you as if it's recorded through a Lo-Z input, or as if it was through Line input?
Attached Files
Old 26th May 2020
Lives for gear
guavadude's Avatar
A pedal can help by lowering the impedance. All you can do is try every thing and go with what sounds best.
You might have to tweak your rigs. Using the Celestion IRs instead of the speaker simulators makes a huge difference too.
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