George's Pedal Steel Guitar Web Site

Wiring for recording into the computers sound card

From time to time on the forum, I always find people asking how to hook up so that they can record into the computer's sound card. This is the way that I wired into my computer and it works well for me. I make all of my own cords but I will give you a list of components that can be purchased through your local RadioShack and together with the diagram you should be up and running in a matter of minutes. This setup allows me to be able to hear the steel and the background music at the same time while I'm recording. The first thing you need to do is to plug your guitar into your amplifier and turn your amplifier on when you get ready to record or no matter how hard you try, your just not going to get any thing recorded. I'm assuming that you all know how to do this.
Most amplifiers have a "LINE" or "PRE AMP" output. This is normally a 1/4" jack and this is where you need to take the output from to get it into your computer's sound card. Adapter #1 is a 1/4" plug to 2 phono jacks (commonly known as a "Y" connector). This is RadioShacks Cat.No. 42-2150 and is a 1/4" mono plug to two phono jacks. Plug this adapter into your amplifiers "LINE" output. Next you need to get a cable with a phono plug on each end. Actually you need 3 of these cables. RadioShack has a variety of different sizes to choose from but I'll give you the number for a 12 foot cable. Your cable lengths will very as to where and how your components are placed. The RadioShack Cat.No. for a 12 foot phono plug to phono plug cable is 42-2368. Once you have these it may be a good idea to put a piece of tape around them and mark them as cable #1, #2, & #3 so that you don't get them confused. The last thing you will need in the way of adapters are 1/8" mono plug to phono jack. These are RadioShack Cat.No. 274-330. You may also want to mark these with some tape as #2 and #3. Now lets play connect the cables. Plug one end of cable #3 into one of the "y" adapter's end that is now hanging out of the back of your amplifier. It dosen't make a difference which one you choose. The opposite end of this will be pluged into your computers sound card. Next plug the opposite end of this cable into adapter #2. Now plug this into your sound card's "LINE" input. My sound card is a SoundBlaster PCI 16 and the color of the jacks may be different for your sound card. My sound card's "LINE" input happens to be a "BLUE" color. Since sound cards differ I've put up another picture of the symbols on the sound card's attachment plate. Your Cards may very but I've yet to see the symbols very. With just these connections you can record but you won't be able to hear any thing because you haven't hooked up the mixer. Now I'm telling you what works for me. I'm a guy who will take the most inexpensive way out that I can possibly find. Yeah, alright I'm a cheapskate. The Mixer that I use is a 2 channel stereo mixer from, you guessed it, RadioShack and the Cat.No. is 32-3005. This mixer is a hundred dollars but for people with newer home stereo's, you can achieve the same thing. Most Stereo's have an auxilary channel that can be used. Your connections would plug into your Stereo instead of the mixer and now you use your headphone's in your home stereo. Either way the last connections to be made is to connect Adapter #3 into your sound card's "LINE" or "Speaker" output and then connect cable #2 to adapter #3. The opposite end of this will connect to your mixer or your Stereo, which ever you choose. The last connection is to connect cable #1 to the one last open phono jack on adapter #1 and then connect the opposite end to your mixer or your Stereo. AS they say a picture is worth a 1000 words so, Connection Photos  Main Page  Send me your questions here.