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FATpick supports virtually any audio interface or input device: from the built-in mic, to a Real-Tone cable, to a multi-port audio interface device, and everything in between - however you prefer to connect your guitar to your computer (as long as your operating system recognizes it as an "audio device").

To give you a better sense of what is possible and to help you understand some of the benefits and tradeoffs of each option, this document provides several examples of how the audio input can be set up within FATpick.

While the possibilities are fairly open-ended they generally fit into a few broad categories or usage patterns - notably microphone-based capture of actual over-the-air sound waves, direct guitar-to-PC connections via specialized adapter cables, and the use of an audio interface or other type of intermediary device that sits between the guitar output and computer input.

See below for more detailed examples of these categories.

Microphone-based Input

While FATpick can take advantage of (and may benefit from) the higher-fidelity audio (and isolated signal) available via a direct connection to the guitar's output signal, such a direct connection is not required. Actual sound-waves captured by a conventional microphone is very much a supported use case. In fact microphone-based input is by far the most commonly used audio configuration.

Acoustic / Electro-Acoustic

Acoustic (and electro-acoustic) instruments that generate a clear sound without amplification allow for the simplest possible input audio configuration: the "naked" sound of the instrument picked up by an internal (built-in) or external microphone.

Schematic of an audio configuration in which the internal mic captures sound-waves generated by an acoustic guitar
Microphone Capturing Sound-Waves Generated by Acoustic Guitar
(Internal Mic Case)

Schematic of an audio configuration in which an external mic connected via aux captures sound-waves generated by an acoustic guitar
Microphone Capturing Sound-Waves Generated by Acoustic Guitar
(External AUX Mic Case)

Schematic of an audio configuration in which an external mic connected via USB captures sound-waves generated by an acoustic guitar
Microphone Capturing Sound-Waves Generated by Acoustic Guitar
(External USB Mic Case)

While this unamplified configuration may work to a limited extent with an unplugged electric guitar we strongly discourage that approach. The accuracy of the note detection will be significantly worse. (Perhaps to a greater extent than you might expect based how the instrument sounds to your ear. Your brain.)

Electric / Amplified

The microphone-based setup for an electric guitar is similar. Simply connect your instrument to an amplifier and allow the mic to pick up the sound waves generated by the speaker cone.

Schematic of an audio configuration in which the internal mic captures sound-waves generated by an amplified electric guitar
Microphone Capturing Sound-Waves Generated by an Amplfied Electric Guitar
(Internal Mic Case)

Schematic of an audio configuration in which an external mic connected via aux captures sound-waves generated by an amplified electric guitar
Microphone Capturing Sound-Waves Generated by an Amplfied Electric Guitar
(External AUX Mic Case)

Schematic of an audio configuration in which an external mic connected via USB captures sound-waves generated by an amplified electric guitar
Microphone Capturing Sound-Waves Generated by an Amplfied Electric Guitar
(External USB Mic Case)

Note that this configuration works best when the microphone (or computer, in the case of an internal microphone) is positioned directly in front of the amplifier (in order to reduce unrelated sounds picked up by the microphone).

Consider using an instrument-specific microphone rather than a general-purpose mic if one is available.

Direct Guitar-to-Computer Interfaces

Another common configuration is to connect the instrument output signal directly into the computer. For this you'll typically need a specialized "adapter" cable with a quarter-inch guitar jack at one end and something your computer can accept (like AUX or USB) on the other.

A popular, and generally superior, category of these guitar-to-PC adapters is a guitar-to-USB cable - with a 1/4" male guitar jack on one side and a male (typically full-sized) USB plug on the other.

RockSmith's Real Tone cable is a well-known, branded example of a guitar-to-USB adapter. And a Real Tone cable works equally well in FATpick. But that's just one of many available options.

Schematic of an audio configuration in which the guitar output signal is connected directly to the computer input via USB
Direct Guitar-to-Computer Interface
(Via USB)

Guitar-to-AUX cables - adapting a 1/4" male guitar jack to 1/8" male AUX jack - are also fairly common, but come with some reservations. These are almost universally passive devices that only enable an analog, electrical connection from the guitar output to the AUX input: essentially just a bit of conductive wire. Since the guitar output is meant to drive a high-impedence device like an amplifier, it can easily overpower the AUX input, causing significant distortion in the audio signal.

(Active guitar-to-AUX adapters that are less susceptible to this issue are far less common but they do exist. These are easy to identify because they require an external power source. If there's no battery, AC/ USB adapter, or other power source the guitar-to-aux cable is almost certainly passive)

If you have the option available you may be better off connecting your guitar to an amplifier and the amplifier to the AUX input rather than driving the AUX input directly from the guitar.

If you must use a passive guitar-to-AUX interface we recommend that you keep the volume level on your guitar itself quite low to minimize the distortion.

A guitar-to-USB adapter will almost always be the better option - yielding higher audio quality and better end-to-end performance than a typical guitar-to-AUX interface.

Schematic of an audio configuration in which the guitar output signal is connected directly to the computer input via AUX
Direct Guitar-to-Computer Interface
(Via AUX)

Some electro-acoustic guitars may have a "standard" 3.5 mm AUX port - or even a microphone-style XLR port - instead of or in addition to the 1/4 inch port found on a typical electric guitar. This may lend itself to alternative guitar-to-PC connections.

Using a Dedicated Audio Interface Device

The most robust class of audio configuration is perhaps the least commonly used, as it requires an additional piece of equipment: a dedicated audio interface - a stand-alone device that converts an analog audio input into a digital format in high-fidelity, low-latency way.

Under this configuration, you connect the guitar output to audio interface (via a standard 1/4" guitar-jack "instrument cable") and the audio interface output to your computer (via USB).

Schematic of an audio configuration in which the guitar output signal is connected to a dedicated audio interface which in turn is connected to the computer
Guitar to Audio-Interface to Computer
(Via USB)

This configuration is likely to yield the best experience. Notably: (1) It benefits from the high-fidelity, high-performance characteristics of the audio interface (and relative to the AUX or microphone input scenarios offloads the analog-to-digital conversion away from the computer itself onto dedicated hardware); (2) Like the other non-microphone set-ups it captures the input signal of your instrument in isolation, independent of other background noise; and (3) The audio interface is likely to generate a higher quality (and allow greater control over the) overall tone.

In the absence of a true audio interface device there may be other audio components that could play a similar role as an intermediary between the guitar output and the computer input to provide a higher quality audio signal than a direct guitar-to-PC connection. For example many practice amplifiers provide an AUX output port (typically intended for headphones) that could connected to the AUX input on the computer via a male-to-male AUX. An amp head in isolation may offer AUX, guitar jack or even USB output options together with finer grained control over the audio quality than is available from the guitar alone.

Schematic of an audio configuration in which the guitar output signal is connected to amplifier which in turn is connected to the computer via the AUX input
Guitar to Amp/Headset to Computer
(Via AUX)

As is the case with the genuine audio interface device running the guitar signal through an intermediary (in this case, the amp or amp head) may yield a better sound (higher quality audio signal) than is available directly from the guitar.

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