I'm looking for an economical way to play my guitar and possibly record on my computer without purchasing an amp. I'm hoping this will save me some money and still produce reasonable quality output for casual play and experimentation. My thought is, instead of buying an expensive Line 6 modeling amp or effects processor, I could do most of that in VST software with plugins (e.g. Guitarix, Audacity, Ardour, etc.).
However, I still need to connect my electric guitar to my computer (which currently just has onboard sound). So far, it looks like my cheapest options are:
- A simple 1/4" TRS to 3.5mm cable — $3.56
- A USB audio interface, like Behringer UCG102 (couldn't find a Firewire interface that was less than $50) — $39.99
- A cheap passive DI, like the Pyle-Pro PDC21 1/4" Instrument To Balanced & Unbalanced (1/4" / XLR) Direct Box, plus a 1/4" TRS to 3.5mm cable — $10.12 + $3.56 = $13.68
The first option is obviously the cheapest, but the direct box + adapter is still quite a bit cheaper than the UCG102, and I'm wondering if I'll be trading quality/versatility/ease-of-use for the savings.
As a side note, the PDC21 has 2 outputs, a 1/4" TRS and a balanced XLR, but the 1/4" TRS is labeled "Parallel Passthrough (Link)" — does that mean the 1/4" output is just the original high-Z non-line-level signal?
Or do I need an active DI (the Stellar Labs DI-50 claims to have both 1/4" TRS and XLR inputs and outputs for a mere $24.99, but there are no reviews of it) or some other 4th option?