I recently bought a focusrite soundcard and when i tried to record my guitar (while connected to the amp) on audacity 2.3.0 the recording was slightly distorted (even though i was playing with a completely clean tone that when i plugged my headphones on the soundcard could hear it as intended,but the audacity recording wasnt satisfactory.And yes i made sure to minimize any gain or volume possible to make it sound barely audible and still noticed this effect.
Any ideas?

Distortion occurs when any part of the signal chain is overloaded.
Distortion may occur during recording or playback.

A typical signal chain:
Microphone → pre-amp → A/D converter → Computer → Sound card drivers → Recording software → HDD ->//
→ HDD → audio software → drivers → D/A converter → Amplifier → Headphones.

Trouble shooting distortion problems is a matter or checking the signal level, starting at the beginning of the chain, then working through the chain, ensuring that each step is distortion free.

i tried to record my guitar (while connected to the amp)

The amp??? Are you also directly-connected to an “instrument” input on the Focusrite interface? I assume you’re NOT using a microphone* in front of your guitar amplifier?

Is there a clipping indicator on the interface, and is it coming on? …It’s OK if your signal is low. It’s not OK if your signal is too hot.

even though i was playing with a completely clean tone that when i plugged my headphones on the soundcard could hear it as intended

It’s probably possible to [u]clip[/u] (overload and distort) the analog-to-digital converter without hearing distortion through the analog headphone output. But, the clipping LED on the interface should warn you.

There is an interface with a reputation of being too sensitive with guitar (even with the gain control turned-down all the way) and I think it’s a Focusrite. You should be able to turn-down the volume on the guitar as far as you want, but some guitar players claim this affects the “tone”.

If you have a stereo interface but you are only using one input and recording in mono, clipping will occur at -6dB (50%). But, the clipping LEDs on your interface are still correct. The left & right inputs from the interface are being reduced digitally before mixing to mono so with this particular setup, both inputs would have to be near-clipping to get near 0dB in Audacity. If you have this situation, you can Amplify in Audacity after recording to bring the levels up.


  • A microphone in front of the guitar cabinet is probably the most common way to record electric guitar in pro studios. That way, you get the tone of the guitar, amp, and cabinet together. (At home it’s usually better to record direct and then optionally use an amp sim plug-in, and the pros often do both.)

I also had distortions when recording voice on top of background minus.
I had two tracks:

  1. back minus
  2. recorded vocal

The voice recording I was doing on track#2, while track#1 was playing back…
The voice was ok during recording, the recorded signal was also in the allowed limits of amplitude, but after recording, during playing back of the both tracks, I always heard the distortions…

Then I decided to do not sing at the same time with track #1, I played back from another digital player, but recorded to track#2 in Audacity… everything was fine…

So, therefore, it would be either Audacity (Software) or sound card…

I have cheap external sound card KX-2, just because I try to get an experience first, then will upgrade it to this one . (I’m not the seller, and do not advertise it, but it looks cool to me… there are 3 important plugins in it:

  1. preamp
  2. DSP effects like reverb and EQ
  3. even the compressor…
    but the price is also heavier :slight_smile:

Audacity works with two streams at the same time in my case: output for back music and input for mic…
If I was mixing the output with mic and recording the already mixed on track #2 then everything was fine… but PLAYING TWO TRACKS at the same time was creating the problem…

Then I understood that the cause would be just in summation of two output streams at the same time!!! It is not visible in graph, but your speakers they “feel” it when this stream goes to through sound card…

So, these distortions are because of low frequency volume in both signals. one track overloads the output signal with its low frequency amplitude… because the voice (in my case) has its band threshold about 8-10 kHz and any additional volume in that band will influence to the resulted signal.

So, you try to check - which one of your streams fills the same band where your guitar plays…

For professional purposes, in studios, they use professional hardware mixers… and compressors and more and more to control the resulted signal…

What sound card do you use?