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I want to know your opinion on if it's possible/feasible to input an instrument (guitar, bass...) to a sound card and then output the signal to an actual amplifier (guitar, bass...). Let's suppose the the sound card has unbalanced outputs.

What disadvantages do you find? Is this feasible for live performances? What gear would I need to achieve this?

  • If you're just trying to capture and amp the raw signal, many amps have a line out passthrough you can patch into your audio interface to record the unprocessed signal – Linuxios Jan 6 '18 at 19:34
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You want a DI Box. Virtually all models provide:

  1. A balanced output which can be connected to your sound-card (or a mixing console, etc.)
  2. A "Thru" output which is the original signal which you can connect to your amp as usual.

You may also be able to connect the output of your sound-card to an amp, but you may end up encountering the issues in Tetsujin's answer, and those are highly dependent on your computer specs and a number of other issues.

You may have better luck with a device like these which has both uses in mind (They function as an audio interface while also providing an unprocessed output AND a processed output with the proper impedance for instrument amp.

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Feasible - yes.

Reasons why not...

  • Latency - hardware amps don't have any
    to reduce latency to near zero the buffer size would have to be very small & therefore the machine would be working hard to keep up.

  • potential to crash - hardware amps don't crash

  • random system stuff - Windows decides to do some housekeeping & your audio stream gets jumpy.

  • Computer falls asleep...

  • any other reason.

If you want modelling, buy a modelling amp.

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