Problems recording bass, both direct in and mixing

I am trying to record bass guitar in Audacity 2.0.5 and having a few problems… Not too long ago I recorded some songs by using an XLR to 3.5mm cable to go directly from my amp into my computers mic input. I believe I selected “microsoft sound mapper” from the options and it worked great, no noise or anything, and plenty of volume. I also used the same plug in an SM57 microphone against my speakers and it worked well too. I am trying to record another song right now by using the same direct in method and am getting a huge amount of noise, and the sound from the track I am recording over is bleeding into my basses channel somehow… I tried using the mic and it is picking up the sound from my headphones or any other noise in the room too (this never happened before even when my headphones were loud) Can someone help me fix this problem? I tried selecting different mic inputs even unplugging my webcam incase that was recording at the same time and can’t figure this out…

Unplug and reseat the 3.5mm connection. You might clean it with a paper towel and alcohol while you have it out. I have gotten magic damage by not having the plug in all the way or have something else mechanically wrong.

This is going to be seriously difficult because what you have now is perfectly normal. What you had before is broken. So your question really is, “Help me break it like it was before.”

What does the XLR to 3.5mm look like? Anything like this, or is there one more little black ring on the 3.5?

Does the 3.5 look like one of these?


Well the cable is actually an XLR to 1/4" with a quarter inch to 3.5 adapter on it… not sure why I didn’t mention that before. The XLR does look like the one you have pictured, and the 3.5mm has the two black rings on it. I should also note that even when the XLR isn’t plugged into anything it still picks up a bit of noise.

Actually, you’re still leaving something out. The 1/4 plug only has one black ring, right? It’s the cable you normally use to plug your SM57 into your amp.

Actually, that combination should work — with the SM57 into the soundcard, not always by plugging your amp into the soundcard. I’ve done that with my soundcard (and an SM58) by building a cable that does just what yours does.

Just to cover it. Unplug the 1/4" and clean that. Plug it and unplug it several times to make sure the connections are good. I have cured many rock bands by cleaning the ranch dressing and beer off the 1/4" plugs.

Scene shifts to the computer.

It sounds like the gain of the soundcard is too high and it’s smashing the sound. Go into the Windows Control Panels and see if you have the 20dB Gain Boost selected. That’s not an option on every soundcard, but it’s pretty common.

It could also be feedback inside the soundcard.

Also fill in the questions from the red band at the top of this forum.


a…nd am getting a huge amount of noise, and the sound from the track I am recording over is bleeding into my basses channel somehow.

Make sure you’ve selected the external mic. Make sure you have not accidently selected the mic built-into your laptop (if you are using a laptop), or “stereo mix”. If you’ve got the SM57 selected and the mic is directly in front of the amp, the room noise and acoustic leakage from the headphones should be drowned-out.


This isn’t related to your current problem but the high impedance unbalanced mic-input on a consumer soundcard or laptop is the wrong interface for a low-impedance balanced stage/studio XLR mic or a (very-high impedance) guitar/bass. Also, the mic-preamp built into a soundcard/laptop is generally low-quality. It may “work”, but it’s unlikely you are getting optimal quality.

The XLR output on your amp could be mic-level or line-level. You’d have to check the specs. I assume it’s mic-level like a standard DI box.

If the XLR output from the amp is line-level, the line-input on a regular soundcard (if you are using a desktop or tower computer with a regular soundcard) is often acceptable (with the appropriate adapter).

You’ll generally get better quality using an audio interface something like [u]this[/u] that has proper low-impedance XLR inputs and proper high-impedance guitar inputs.

Ok I believe I’ve fixed the problem. I went into my computers audio management program (or whatever you call it) and found my recording gain was at +30 db. Set it to 0 and now recording is nice and clear. Kind of strange because I don’t remember changing the gain at all. But anyways it’s working fine now so thanks for all the help. Also, I don’t know if it matters now but I’ve edited the original post with all the info.

Not sure if I can edit posts on here…

Using windows 8.1, Audacity version 2.0.5 downloaded via .exe.

You should not change the information in earlier posts. It makes following your problem crazy difficult.
Good you got it to work.
As above, DVDDoug, this doesn’t normally work very well. Soundcard Mic-In is not a generic sound connection and it’s easy to overload it and/or create a noisy performance or other distortion.

I think it’s better than even chance if you get a new computer that’s going to stop working.

“I used to do this all the time on my old computer…”


You can edit your posts when you have made a few more of them.

If you do edit your posts, please write EDITED at the top and/or write something in the “Reason for editing” below the message window.