Here is my current recording setup. I run a mic and a guitar line into an Alesis Multimix 6 mixer and from there, a USB goes into a Sound Blaster Recon 3D Fatal1ty sound card. I am using Audacity to record. My problem is that whenever I record, the sound quality is very poor and very low. Whenever I turn up the volume either on the PC itself or on the mixer, I get fairly bad distortion and feedback. Is there any way to improve this sound quality? I am running Windows 7.

I have read that a pre-amp could help, but I would like to refrain from buying any more stuff. Are there any other devices or tips that could improve my sound quality? I also read that the signal in the USB cable could feedback to the mixer causing the distortion/feedback. I don't believe it's the sound-card or Audacity because I tried using the microphone that came with the soundcard and I got better sound quality than with the mixer. The only reason why I want to use the mixer is because I want to be able to control the guitar and the microphone levels separately. Oh, and I am using a Taylor 214ce guitar and a Shure SM58 microphone.

  • 1
    Have you tried the guitar or mic straight in (i.e. bypass the mixer) to narrow it down? If so, and it is still bad, I think that proves you'll need a pre-amp. Not many ways around it, at least in my experience. – nerdwaller Jun 21 '13 at 19:12
  • Yea, my one alternative was that I have a 1/4" splitter which I plugged both the guitar and mic into. The quality was a little better, but it was still quiet. Then I tried just the guitar straight in, and it was about the same as with the splitter. – Josh Jun 21 '13 at 20:28

Your mixer has an on-board USB sound card, so make sure you set up Audacity to record directly from the Mixer's USB interface. Do not route the audio through your Sound Blaster for recording (Edit -> Preferences -> Devices -> Recording). You can, of course, still use the Sound Blaster as your sound output device (Edit -> Preferences -> Devices -> Playback).

In Audacity, make sure you configure your session to record at 44.1kHz (Project Rate menu, lower left corner of main menu). 44.1kHz is the native sample rate of your mixer/usb audio interface.

Plug the guitar into channel one and set the channel level (big knob at the bottom of mixer) to unity gain (pointing straight up). Also set the "Main Vol" to unity gain (straight up). Turn the channel gain (small knob at top of channel) all the way down. Play the guitar and begin to adjust the channel gain upwards until you see the green lights on the level meter blinking. The yellow lights should not blink (or rarely). If the red lights are blinking, you may be distorting the signal.

Plug the Mic into channel two and repeat the process. Make sure your phantom power is turned off - you don't need it for a Shure SM58.

As you're playing and recording, keep an eye on the level meter. The -12db lights should be blinking regularly if you have things dialed in correctly. The red lights should not be blinking. Adjust the Main Vol or the individual channel levels / gains as necessary.

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