recording/playback not same tone as raw

hello audacity world!
audacity 2.4.2
windows 10 pro
onboard sound msi meg m570 mboard

recording distorted guitar on mono tracks and tone does not seem the same on recording as raw signal, is more distorted muddy and maybe thin sounding, less full and rich. signal is not near 0 db. any suggestions or need more info?

Are you comparing like with like?
How are you listening to “raw signal” and how are you listening to “recording”?

hi y’all, what i mean by raw signal is i’m plugging my guitar into pc mb sound line in and it goes then speaker out to a little power amp then to some passive speakers. by recording i mean i’m recording that signal in audacity on a track, which sounds good on monitoring the recording as it’s being recorded, but then when i listen to that recording by playing it back in audacity it don’t be quite the same as raw, goes through same line out → amp → speakers. is that what you meant?

How are you routing the signal from the input to the output? Are you using Audacity’s “Software Playthrough”, or Windows’ “Listen to this device”, or something else?

Is it an acoustic guitar or a solid body electric?

Where is the distortion added? An effect pedal between the guitar and the “line in”?

Strange… If you are monitoring and playing-back through the same soundcard, amp, and speakers, it should sound the same.

recording distorted guitar… signal is not near 0 db

What’s making it distorted? Are you using a distortion pedal?

on mono tracks

Tracks as in multiple guitar tracks? Are you mixing?


FIY - This doesn’t explain your “difference” but line inputs and mic inputs are incorrect for a guitar pickup. The impedance is WAY too low, which knocks-down the signal and changes the tone. (I can’t remember what it does to the tone.) The mic input has gain which can make-up for the lost signal but you still won’t get the best quality. You can get USB audio interfaces with a proper guitar input. The Behringer UCG102 is popular and (relatively) inexpensive. For $100 or more you can get an interface with multiple inputs that can be switched between mic, line, or guitar/instrument. Or if you’re using a guitar pedal, it probably has lower output-impedance and it might have enough signal to drive a line-input, but that’s not what they designed for.

Also, a guitar amp & speaker cabinet is designed to have it’s own tone/character which becomes part of the instrument. If you play a guitar through a “clean” hi-fi amplifier or through your computer speakers it won’t sound right. There are “amp sims” which are software plug-ins to simulate the sound of an amplifier & cabinet.

Even with a sim “little” monitor speakers rarely sound like a real guitar amp. (They usually sound more like recorded guitar.)

Professional studios sometimes record direct with a sim and sometimes with a microphone in front of the guitar cabinet or often they’ll record both at once and then choose one later or mix them together etc. (The guitar player is almost always listening to the amp even if it’s being recorded direct.)

steve and dvddoug, so glad y’all are willing to help,
honestly don’t know how it routes from line in to speaker out, i’m guessing it runs around in the motherboard onboard sound. realtek i think is over the sound. tis solid body electric, with a boss distortion pedal, also an eq pedal to help with the right overall gain, both pedals between guitar and line in. additionally the guitar has what’s called active pickups, it has a 9v battery that runs them. also recorded a bass guitar with passive pickups and it was pretty quiet like you’re saying. and will be mixing, like with a bass, and maybe 2 guitar tracks, and planning e-drums, and vocals, but just focusing on a guitar track for now, to get good recording. the amp is a pyle 120w/channel stereo amp and the speakers are old stereo speakers from 60’s or so, with apparently about 10" midrange/bass speakers and about 3" tweeters. theyre old school speaker cabinets, there’s no way to look or get in them without bustin’ em up. good sound to me. i could try mic-ing the speakers with the guitar plugged ito the amp instead of the computer, then the mic plugged into the computer line in. its weird, how could aud be changing the tone. if it’s getting some boost in the playback, could be getting more distortion, giving that thin fuzzy sound. i’ll gestate this and do some more experiments. thanks again for your help.

In this description, am I right in thinking that the “little power amp” is the “pyle 120w/channel stereo amp” and the speakers are the “old stereo speakers from 60’s or so, with apparently about 10” midrange/bass speakers and about 3" tweeters"?

Are the speakers “PA speakers” or “Hi-Fi speakers” ?

What I’m thinking is that a PA amp and speakers are likely to substantially color the sound. What you hear through them is not what others will hear when listening to the recording on a domestic music system.

Studios will invest considerable amounts of money on “studio monitor speakers”. Such speakers are designed to be “flat” and not color the sound. The cost of good professional monitor speakers are prohibitively expensive for most home recording set-ups, so compromises usually need to be made. Some people use headphones for monitoring, some use “home studio monitors” (less expensive than their pro cousins), or Hi-Fi speakers. The idea is that monitoring should be as “neutral” as possible, and you need to be aware of the weaknesses of the monitoring equipment. If you are monitoring with small speakers that lack bass, don’t try to compensate for that lack of bass in the recording, otherwise the recording will have too much bass when played on larger speakers.

One possibility is that you may be recording at too high a level, thus creating additional distortion in the recording that is not present in the monitor feed.

Another possible contributing factor could be a psychoacoustic effect - music sounds different when playing than when listening. As a musician myself, I can say that this is true, and difficult to deal with. It takes a lot of practice to listen objectively while playing, and the risk is that listening objectively may take the joy out of playing. Personally I prefer to do one or the other; play or record, but if I have to do both (which often happens) I try to not worry about the recording while playing, and make lots of little test recordings while setting up for the recording.

Perhaps if you could post a short audio sample of the recording, (a “raw” unprocessed recording), then that may help us to see where the problem lies. (See:

howdy steve and dvddoug! apologies for taking so long with reply, am doing this in my spare time, and there ain’t much. anyway i think i got it figured out: i maxed out the sample rate and really cannot tell the difference now. thanks for your patience and thoughtful replies! talk later,