I'm looking at recording DI guitar and I have a few questions regarding setup input levels and dealing with noise.

My current setup:

  • Ibanez RG321MHE (EMG h4 passive humbuckers)
  • Behringer UMC204HD audio interface (I have tried a Steinberg UR22 with similar results)
  • Cubase 11 LE (I have tried ProTools and Reaper with similar results)
  • Bias FX 2 (though I've tried Pod Farm and Amplitube with similar results)
  • Windows 10

After reading countless articles on impedance, DI boxes, gain levels for DI, avoiding clipping, noise floor, audio interface setup I'm left with a setup that generally do not sound accurate to amps / effects I'm trying to model, they either have way too much bass and lack clarity, or they have excessive noise.

I have done the obvious, such as ensuring the interface is set to instrument levels (impedance), and that

I have been trying to target a maximum of -3 DBFS to avoid clipping the guitar, below is the frequently analysis for my neck pickup.

No strings muted and no equalizer:

No muting, no equalizer

With the strings muted:

Muting, no equalizer

With a high-pass filter of 60hz and muted strings:

Muted strings, 60hz high pass filter

Immediately strumming open strings with the high-pass filter of 60hz

Strumming open strings, 60hz high pass filter

For the above samples, I ensured that I reset the peak Db levels on the meters to show the ambient noise being generated.

I typically play high-gain amp models as I like to play metal, but either there is a lot of noise on the output level of the amp-sim, or if I turn down my interface's gain then clean tones lack volume or even high-gain tones have different tone characteristics (i.e. distortion sounds flat / less punchy)

The actual questions

  1. Is the gain / noise setup in my configuration typical for recording guitar?
  2. Is it fine for the meters to read ~-75dbfs while not playing?
  3. Is reducing the 60hz necessary? (I just did this to make the graphs look better and because other people have said they do it, I haven't heard a tangible difference from doing this)
  4. Should I be targetting -18 dbfs average for my levels as other articles / tutorials instruct, or record as "hot" as possible without clipping, or some other magic numbers?
  • What is the actual issue you are trying to fix? Your title mentions a DI but you don’t seem to have one? Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 4:07
  • Perhaps I'm using the wrong terminology then, I mean a guitar cable to the instrument TS connector on the interface.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 4:14

1 Answer 1


You have 4 questions there - and we really want only one question in a post, however they are all very related so:

Especially when playing high-gain metal, electric guitar is noisy - you pick up mains hum, possibly physical and contact noise from the cable and body of the guitar etc. Your amp sim setup seems quieter than the setups I use until I enable a compressor / noise gate. Reducing your mains hum (60Hz in US, 50Hz in UK) is useful, but as for your other questions, I'd just answer "yep - if you want."

Your preamp gain will need to be played with as it determines where you get your overdrive and distortion before you get to any distortion effects.

If you want to remove that -75dbfs, use a noise gate. In practice it is often unnoticeable when playing with other instruments.

  • Thanks for the response, so the numbers / graphs provided seem reasonable to you? In which case I should focus on the mixing side of things when doing my recording as the inputs in are "good".
    – Matthew
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 19:48
  • Yes, I would reckon they look fine. In normal working, I would hardly ever pay that much attention to the graphs. Instead, I'd tweak by ear.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 11:38

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