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I have a magnetic pickup... How can I use it to record the sound of a guitar to a laptop?

I was told magnetic pickups should not be directly connected to a laptop (and that might be true, because I hear a lot of noise). What should the magnetic pickup be connected to, before I can input the sound to my computer?

Should I have used a simple microphone?

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migrated from Jan 27 '14 at 15:02

This question came from our site for engineers, producers, editors, and enthusiasts spanning the fields of video, and media creation.

This is an exact duplicate of the question you asked here… – Ian C. Feb 17 '11 at 6:06
@Ian C: And on topic on both places, showing the futility of splitting musician sites like this. – Lennart Regebro Feb 17 '11 at 7:32
@Lennart: I don't disagree in the least. At the very least, linking them is called for so good answers in one site propagate to another. – Ian C. Feb 17 '11 at 13:30
@Ian C.: Very good point. In any case, I started a discussion on merging, as there is already such a discussion on guitars.SE.… – Lennart Regebro Feb 17 '11 at 14:08

A magnetic pickup, like a dynamic microphone, doesn't require phantom power and can therefore be connected to any microphone preamplifier that can amplify the signal enough. Magnetic pickups tend to have high impedance, which not all preamps like, which can result in that the higher frequencies get dampened.

Your noise can be caused either by your computers microphone input being crap (highly likely) or that you aren't using shielded cables (less likely), which you need to do when using a microphone, or because the pickup isn't shielded (also highly likely). It can also be because you haven't been able to set the levels on your sound card correctly.

In general it's a good idea to invest in an external preamplifier at least in the long run. There are many available with USB or firewire inputs that you can connect to your computer and have a good quality input from any sort of microphone. Many of them have both stereo inputs and stereo outputs and are then usually called USB audio interfaces. Make sure it take high-impedance sources (most do) for your guitar.

If you get a preamp, a stereo preamp. They aren't that much more expensive and it's good to have stereo.

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