Capturing VSTs with a secondary interface

Hello,
I just unboxed and started using my Quad Cortex today and have been watching videos on capturing VSTs. It all makes sense to me for the most part and I was able to sorta capture a VST to test, but where I’m having a little confusion is on setting the input level of my secondary interface. I was just using a little Scarlett 2i2 so I connected the left monitor output to the input of the QC. When I play my guitar as hard as I can and set the input on the QC just below clipping and set it just below clipping on the Scarlett as well, when I go to capture, the Scarlett starts clipping. I imagine this is because of the various signals the QC sends to capture the responses but is this normal/will it result in a bad capture? When I turned down the gain on the Scarlett so it was no longer clipping at all, the resulting capture was rather low gain for an otherwise high gain VST. Just wondering what the best way to do this “correctly” is. Many thanks in advance!

Hi @sunny-mittal and welcome to the community! I use a Presonus interface when capturing my plugins and for the most part, capturing plugins works the same way you would capture a live amp, drive etc. Each interface is different in how you would set the input levels but essentially you would set your QC capture INST/IN levels to just under clipping and make sure you are set to Instrument instead of MIC input etc. You will need to adjust your Scarlett levels to just below clipping and play with the gain until you don’t see any clipping on the QC. The other alternative is to try AUTO-SET on the QC if you can’t find the right gain-staging for the captures. You definitely do not want digital clipping as your captures either won’t work or will not sound correct so you will just need to find the right spot so that clipping does not occur on the QC. If you still have issues, reach out to support@neuraldsp.com and they might be able to walk you through if someone is familiar with the Scarlett etc.

I’ve used Slate and Presonus interfaces and it’s a pretty mysterious process- it’s hard to say exactly what settings are best. As long as you’re sure there are no extraneous gain stages involved (plugins, gates, comp etc) it’s mostly a game of balancing input vs output levels. Have fun experimenting