Bass recording and listing to play along

Hey guys,

I have a question and I really don’t get an answer in the www. So it’s simple… I would like to hear me playing over a song or play along on my computer with headphones. I hope that makes sense but let me explain…

Most of the time when I practice, my bass is connected to the amp and over the speakers I’m listing to the play along or song etc. That’s working for the most time. But in the night time I can’t turn up the amp because the people in my house would like to sleep. So I put headphones on. But the problem then is I only hear my playing or I hear the play along.
And now I would like to connect my bass to my computer. Hear me playing and hear the play along for the same time.

So if I’m right, I need a DI. But do I need something else? For my understanding the DI directs / records the bass signal to my computer. And if I put some headphones in the DI I can monitoring my sound but I’ll not be able to hear the play along, right?

I hope you understand my problem… :sweat_smile:



If your amp has a headphone out then a female/female/female Y splinter and 2 male/male cables would be the easiest/cheapest solution. Unlikely with the current involved but this could damage one of your components.


The safer/more expensive solution would be a mixer.


A DI box with built in headphone amp would be the most expensive solution.


Be very careful with volume levels doing anything I am about to suggest. Every time you change something, turn everything all the way down and gradually bring it up. I cannot overstate that - any time you are running different level signals around between gear you need to be careful of input levels.

Ironically this is often easier with PC than mac as well (I do both though).

If your amp has a line in and headphone out, you’re done. All you need is to run the line out from your computer sound card to the line in on the amp and plug your headphones into the amp. You need to be very careful with levels though, and make sure it’s a line out and not a headphone out on your computer. If all you have is a headphone out (i.e. a mac), be extremely careful with the output level on the computer. Start at minimum.

If your amp doesn’t have a line/aux in, you need to buy something. The cheapest option i found was the Vox Amplug:

These are little headphone preamps that plug into the guitar and have an aux in you can run the output from your computer to.

You will probably need to buy some cables to connect it all together as well, and maybe a cable adapter, depending on your amp.


Here’s a related thread with some more options:

tl;dr, the best long term solution, especially if you want to record yourself, is to get a DAI (not DI, that’s entirely different and mostly matters for live use.), or to do something with a mixer like @Korrigan suggests. If all you want is to play along, computer line out to amp aux in is totally viable.


I was just thinking about this yesterday: I had a backing track on Youtube and was recording a vid of me playing along, but when I played it back the amp sound was cutting out and the volume level wasn’t consistent, so basically I sounded like kept stopping playing or was missing notes. I’m on a Mac and from the comments above it sounds like this may be less than ideal.

I have some headphones that I haven’t hooked up yet but quiet practice is only half the deal, isn’t it. Playing to actual music is what’s helped me get back into learning.

So have I read the suggestions correctly: get a mixer!


If you want to record yourself I would suggest getting a DAI. @Gio and I made a couple suggestions in the other thread.


@PeteP and @howard - there are some great tips here:

I know I recommended an Audio interface (super affordable dealio) on another thread, but couldn’t find it. Here it is again:

Using a Mac for me has been my single best help in composing, arranging and practice of late. It may just be your gear / connections.


Thank you guys @howard and @Korrigan for your advice! So my little Fender Rumble 15 actually has aux in and headphone out. Yeahy!
But I guess for the long term I’ll invest a little bit money in a DAI.
For example this is a DAI, right? And all I have to do is, connect this DAI with my computer, the bass with the DAI and then I’m able to hear what I play and can listen to the play along?



Thanks @howard. Good to know since my laptop only has a headphone out.


Yep that’s a DAI.

What a DAI will do is give you a good, non-dodgy instrument audio input into your computer. This will allow you to do lots of things around recording and hearing your bass on the computer. Generally all of them will require software on the computer but a lot of that software (GarageBand, Audacity, Cakewalk, many others) is free.

The other cool thing, though, is that for many (all?) DAIs you should be able to use it as a USB output as well. So you can hear both your bass and computer through the DAI, into phones or through your amp. At least mine works that way.