A review of things I am learning in order to use a PC as a (cheap) guitar amplifier (and effects, etc).
- PC hardware: I gather most recent sound cards are “good enough” for this purpose. I am using a laptop, which only has one jack input (“mic”). Unfortunately, a sound card is the kind of thing that has to be inside the PC box, so there isn’t much room with laptops. A desktop PC seems to be preferable.
- Connector: a standard jack cable should work, but much better results are achieved by a guitar interface. An inexpensive choice is the Behringer guitar link2
- Drivers: ASIO is the word. Any device should have an ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) driver in order to reduce latency (another important word). If you don’t have one, there is the asio4all project, which worked nicely for my mic.
- Recording: audacity is currently the leading open application to edit and record sounds. It is quite amazing (see what I did in about half an hour — but the effects are all post-processing), but not a full DAW (yet another word!): Digital audio workstation. I am trying Steinberg Cubase, a well-known commercial DAW (an old version: SX_3.0). There are many others.
- Playing: again, there are many digital amp simulators. I am trying Guitar Rig (version 3, which is also a bit old). This one, and many others, can be used stand-alone (just start the program, play and record), or as plugins to the DAW, which is much more powerful and professional.