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so I'm a recording newb looking for some advice. I have an M-Audio Fast Track Pro that I'm using for guitar recording, and I'm not sure how I should be hooking it up to speakers or monitors for monitoring or if there's a right way to do it with what I currently have or not.

I currently do not have studio monitors, just these Bose Companion 3 speakers/sub plugged into the back of my motherboard:

Bose Companion 3

There is a control pod that comes with these speakers that has a secondary 3.5mm input jack. I figured I could use this for the output on the audio interface for monitoring, through either the audio interface's headphone monitoring output or one of the TRS outputs on the back. Both of these outputs take a 1/4" TRS plug though. But I have a 3.5mm audio cable and a 3.5mm to 1/4" TRS adapter. So I can connect the audio interface to the computer speakers like this, with the adapter on the audio interface end:

enter image description here enter image description here

Is there anything wrong with doing it like that? Or any possibility of damaging something? It seems like it "works", but it does seem like I have to crank the volume up on the control pod pretty high to be able to hear myself playing guitar, and at that point I'm hearing some kind of high pitched humming / squeaking sound. Should I get some studio monitors to plug into the TRS outputs with actual TRS cables? Would that eliminate the humming and allow me to hear myself without cranking the volume? Does anyone use studio monitors and computer speakers at the same time while they're recording? Or would I completely replace my computer speakers with studio monitors and use the studio monitors for regular listening as well?

Any advice here would be really appreciated! Thanks!

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    This question is in no way related to sound design. Please go to forums like gearslutz.com for music-gear related questions. – Tobias Schmidt Mar 18 '14 at 7:21
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    Not a sound design question and you're asking if it's OK to fiddle with one of the too many variables on the i/o/monitoring chain, and set yourself up for various future problems such as e.g. the noises in this case. It isn't, and it brings the problems you're having quicker than following the rule book. Read up on -10 vs +4 and on single channel TRS. Also, homerecording.com/bbs . – georgi Mar 18 '14 at 8:58
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    This is a perfectly legitimate audio production question. Until/unless the scope of this site changes, questions that were on-topic at AVP (audio wise) are on-topic here. – JoshP Mar 18 '14 at 12:25
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"Should I get some studio monitors to plug into the TRS outputs with actual TRS cables?"

Yes.

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Though I agree that this is not a sound design question, here's the answer anyway.

Until you have studio monitors, get one of these cables:

enter image description here

The TRS outputs on the back say left and right. So plugging a cable in one of them is not going to get you a stereo signal. The one on the front says headphones, which works in the way you tried, but is not ideal. From your picture I can see that you haven't turned up the volume controls on the M-Audio to their maximum. If you have a low output level, there's no harm in turning up the M-Audio and leaving it there. That said, just get the above cable.

  • @AJHenderson if you look at the photo, the Fasttrack pro has RCA outputs, which would be a good fit for the consumer speakers he is trying to connect. Getting a dual quarter inch to stereo cable means running the risk of getting improper connection of a balanced output to an unbalanced input. Of course, this can be figured out, but that would be more difficult than just getting the above cable. And more expensive too. – EMV Mar 18 '14 at 18:17
  • Oh, gotcha, I was confused about what you were trying to do with it and thinking the RCA end was for the other direction. (I also missed the RCA output.) I follow now, though isn't tape out a lower level signal than what the computer speakers would expect still? Most PC speakers expect headphone output levels where as RCAs in that context I thought were more appropriate for consumer amps and recievers. – AJ Henderson Mar 18 '14 at 18:19
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I would recommend sticking with the headphone out as that is most likely to match the impedance of your speaker's input, but you would be better served quality wise to switch to studio monitors which are designed to work with professional audio signal levels (which differ significantly from consumer ones and will cause issues (though minor if you are starting out) when mismatched.

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