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Would a pre-amp boost my Jazz bass when using a PC audio interface and solve distortion problems? Looking for some advice


Jolltax
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I am looking for a bit of advice on solving a problem with the output of my Harley Benton Jazz Bass when playing via my Focusrite audio interface into my computer.

 

Been learning for a few months now, I have two basses - A Sire Marcus Miller M2 and a Harley Benton JB-75, I tend to alternate between them on a daily basis when practicing and enjoy them both.  I practice almost exclusively wearing headphones and using my audio interface as it minimises the disturbance to others in the house. I cable straight from the bass into the audio interface input.

 

I find that my Sire, which has is active and presumably has plenty of output has no issue playing this way and I can boost the volume relative to my other sources on my PC without distortion using the gain on my Audio Interface.  My HB jazz bass is a different story, what ever my Focusrite audio interface has under the bonnet seems unable to boost the signal enough and starts to distort in a horrible way when I turn up the gain and with the volume on the bass at max. 

 

My 'out-loud' setup with a Warwick Gnome i Pro amp and homemade speaker has no issues with either, the amp doesn't appear to have a pre-amp out unfortunately. The Jazz bass also seem noisy compared to my Sire, but I have read this is not unexpected with a passive bass.

 

Would I be correct in assuming that the Audio Interface just doesn't have enough juice to lift the signal from the passive bass without distortion?

 

As a potential solution I have been looking at bass pre-amps like the Aguilar Tone Hammer and wondering whether they would be a good potential solution, although very cool it seems expensive (for someone at my stage anyway!)- maybe something second hand would be an option?

Has anyone else encountered this issue and what would people recommend as solutions? 

 

I got the input switched to 'Inst' and I usually use a DAW on the PC (to add effects or whatever) and listen via the headphones, it works out really well for playing along with YouTube etc

 

Cheers!

 

J

2i2.jpg.27e4082bc458f15321d99dc92fd06acc.jpg

 

 

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Silly question, but could you lower the volume of the other audio sources on your PC so the HB is audible without distortion?

 

I have a very similar setup for most of my playing, but my interface has a blend knob on the headphone out so I can just tweak the balance of my bass and whatever is coming out of my PC to taste. 

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Hi,

I had a similar issue - I couldn't get enough volume from the Interface and found I pretty much always experienced distortion issue at any decent volume.

I think this is partly because my 80 Ohm impedance Headphones need more power than the interface can happily output.

Tried a Soundcraft  Notepad 5 Mixer  instead of the interface - direct USB input from PC into mixer,  plus Bass  into channel one.   This was better but not perfect.  Decided to add a Headphone amp (works with either interface or mixer) and this was the best option.   Used A Schiit Magni, as it has a high output level.  Second hand around £80 on eBay.   Now everything's a lot better - although bass isn't the best thing to playthrough headphones!   

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it might be worth splashing out a paltry £20 and getting one of these , they come in handy in loads of situations anyway (amp failure during a gig for example). It will also boost your passive signal.

 

https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/Behringer-BDI21-V-TONE-BASS-/art-GIT0007406-000?campaign=GShopping/GB&ProgramUUID=5G_AqJarZwoAAAFl0FZyjI8V&gclid=CjwKCAjw64eJBhAGEiwABr9o2BUwkzk5BLaz_DpkbPpUm1DWN3MRd8oJPMqtD1ufg5SvUbklyTIGJhoC_MsQAvD_BwE

Edited by skidder652003
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20 minutes ago, skidder652003 said:

it might be worth splashing out a paltry £20 and getting one of these , they come in handy in loads of situations anyway (amp failure during a gig for example). It will also boost your passive signal.

 

https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/Behringer-BDI21-V-TONE-BASS-/art-GIT0007406-000?campaign=GShopping/GB&ProgramUUID=5G_AqJarZwoAAAFl0FZyjI8V&gclid=CjwKCAjw64eJBhAGEiwABr9o2BUwkzk5BLaz_DpkbPpUm1DWN3MRd8oJPMqtD1ufg5SvUbklyTIGJhoC_MsQAvD_BwE

Seconded. That’s the other thing I have in my signal chain when playing at home and it can make a fair bit of difference. It has some great sounds packed in as well. 

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14 hours ago, theyellowcar said:

Silly question, but could you lower the volume of the other audio sources on your PC so the HB is audible without distortion?

 

I have a very similar setup for most of my playing, but my interface has a blend knob on the headphone out so I can just tweak the balance of my bass and whatever is coming out of my PC to taste. 

 

Not silly at all.  I can use direct monitoring but my current Focusrite interface doesn't have a blend knob it just has a switch i.e. 100% raw signal.  Using it means I also can't apply any effects in my DAW - unless I use 'Direct' when the audio comes via USB to the PC it is already mixed 

I do also however have another audio interface (a Behringer) which does have a blend knob - it still means I can't apply any effects.

 

1 hour ago, skidder652003 said:

it might be worth splashing out a paltry £20 and getting one of these , they come in handy in loads of situations anyway (amp failure during a gig for example). It will also boost your passive signal.

 

https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/Behringer-BDI21-V-TONE-BASS-/art-GIT0007406-000?campaign=GShopping/GB&ProgramUUID=5G_AqJarZwoAAAFl0FZyjI8V&gclid=CjwKCAjw64eJBhAGEiwABr9o2BUwkzk5BLaz_DpkbPpUm1DWN3MRd8oJPMqtD1ufg5SvUbklyTIGJhoC_MsQAvD_BwE

 

I was thinking the same thing and almost pushed the button on this as I know its a bargain, after a lot of thought (and googling) I decided to instead buy a Zoom B1 four  and try that, its a bit more expensive but for a first pedal it has a few other very cool features (tuner, looper, drum samples).  

 

2i2.thumb.png.43644044773784f4ed301c186f263f97.png

 

Something like this look right?

 

I really appreciate all the helpful replies, thanks so much!  I'll let you know how it goes if the DPD guy ever finds my house (this is a bit of a lottery)

 

J

Edited by Jolltax
I dun speld it gud
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48 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

I’ve got one of those, where does it go in the chain if your using the focusrite and headphones 🙂

I don’t have the focusrite, I have a pretty basic old M-Audio interface (M-Audio Fast Track, the original version), and I run bass -> BDI -> interface using the guitar in rather than XLR in. 

 

I then have my headphones plugged into direct monitoring on the interface rather than monitoring through GarageBand which always has enough of a lag to mess with my head when I’m playing 😂 

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1 hour ago, theyellowcar said:

I then have my headphones plugged into direct monitoring on the interface rather than monitoring through GarageBand which always has enough of a lag to mess with my head when I’m playing 😂 

 

I also used to use direct monitoring for the same reason (horrible latency) but (on my PC) I eventually worked out how to solve the latency issue by ensuring I was using the right ASIO driver and adjusting the buffer settings in the software. The main advantage really is that you can then use all the software pedals, emulators and effects in your DAW which is kind of cool, and of course you can record directly into the DAW if you are composing (not something I do)

 

I'm sorry I wouldn't know where to start on an Apple computer but my guess is its probably solvable in the software if you know how.

 

Anyway, hopefully my pre-amp / Zoom thing will hopefully give my JB a bit more juice plus a few cool options

 

J

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I am largely learning my favourite punk / ska songs to then put on YouTube, so I just tinker with whichever bits and pieces I want to once the bass track is recorded. Basic, but it works for what I need! And to be fair, my interface is 15yrs old, and my Mac is pushing 6 or 7 so a bit of latency is no more than I would expect!

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