De-mystifying the Capture Process (setting levels)


After surveying the forums and experimenting with different ways to set levels, it seems clear that there’s no real consensus on how to optimize. I think I came up with a way to get consistent results that get the target device and capture levels as close as possible. I haven’t solved the difference in gain levels issue (QC seems to sample less gain than the target device) that has been widely noted, so if anyone has any suggestions for that specific problem, please share them here. Gaining the target device up a bit prior to capture seems to help.

Here’s my approach. See if it works for you.

  • Use a looper pedal and record yourself playing at the top of your dynamic range. Try hitting big 1st position open chords as hard as you can.

  • Using your recorded guitar, set the Inst Level as high as possible without inducing clipping as mentioned in the manual. Don’t be afraid to push the level. Right now I’m capturing my Bad Bod Boost and the sweet spot is all the way up around +8db (meter occasionally blips orange).

  • Use Auto-Set to set In 1 Level. Let your looper play 3 or 4 times (as many as it takes) to find peak loudness. The level will bounce around quite a bit, which is ok. Just watch the levels closely and figure out where it tops out. Then set the level to about -1db or so lower than that peak level. In my case with the Bad Bob Boost cranked to about 3 O’Clock, it seems to top out around -9.6db.

  • You’ll notice that the higher the output of your target device, the lower the In 1 Level will be. Just run this routine each time your capture and should get a pretty consistent result.

Try it out and let me know if your results improve!

This refers to level settings only, I think electrical matching (impedance) is an important factor too, here it is set to 470Kohm, (imput level makes a huge difference, you can make a Deluxe sound like a high gain amp) first thing I listen for is the bass response when comparing a capture to the reference, as soon as I hear the bass strings lose their hair, like a flat wound string I reject the capture, I don’t even have to compare, I got different options to capture, I have a Powerstation1, 2Notes live, a BSS DI box and a Marshall SE 100, as far as I know the first reactance load box I haven’t used lately, sometimes a capture on the PS will give that flat wound string thing, doing the same thing on 2Notes live will yield better results and visa versa, some amps are easy to capture some don’t, like I have a boutique amp FXLR, a fantastic amp that I only can capture with a mic, some of my capturing devices come close but not close enough for me regarding this amp, been trying different impedances on in1, it makes a difference but I’m not too familiar with the differences, I have the impression that capturing via XLR yields better results, like the BSS DI.
I have a few wishes though, 48V phantom power off by default, so you won’t fry a ribbon mike, a pilot tone to set the levels would be welcome, maybe white noise to accurately position a mike, I would love reversed tape delay, my 2 cents.