In my office, I have a badass computer.  MacPro tower, dual quad-core CPUs, 32G RAM, 3 monitors, etc.  I use this system for work and it’s awesome. I finally invested in myself and threw-down on a killer rig that lets me work at my demanding pace and not have to wait on applications.

If it's too loud... die already!Anyway, in my office, when I take a break, I like to bust out the git-fiddle and jam a bit.  I’ve got a rockin’ guitar rig (the REAL thing – lots of physical amps, a stack of rackmount boxes with blinky lights, and loads of shit to step on to make funny noises)…but the trouble is, it’s in the basement and on the other side of the house.  It’s not really convenient to go fire up the reactor and warm up the tubes when I’ve got 5-10 minutes of downtime here and there at work.

Enter the desire to be able to plug the ol’ axe into something in my office.  While some folks would think to themself at this point, “self, why not just use a damn amp?”…I like to make shit harder than it needs to be sometimes.

See, I’ve also got this kick ass piece of software called GuitarRig (the virtual kind of Rig)…and it’s got even more toys than my basement…so naturally I want to be able to play around with this beast as well.  Seems like the perfect option for my office – a small-footprint “rig” that makes all the cool squeals and nasty growls I want to hear.  Now to just sort out how to actually play through the damn thing.

A couple months back I purchased an Apogee ONE so that I can plug a guitar directly into my Mac to then ‘jack-into’ GuitarRig.  It’s a pretty cool little unit – nice and small – with a single volume knob and jacks for 1/4″ and XLR.  It hooks to my tower via USB.

To get sound into GuitarRig via the Apogee, it takes some trivial audio setup.  Connect the ONE and install the bundled Maestro 2 software.  Fire up Maestro 2, select the input device named ‘Inst’ (for INSTrument – ie, the 6-string weapon of choice) and make sure you’re seeing input and output in the Maestro level meters.

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Once the guitar levels are recognized by GuitarRig via the ONE, I jack-in, hit some strings, and see the input levels in GuitarRig start flashing away.  The ONE is overall a pretty sweet little gadget.  There’s one catch to the design though.  To actually HEAR the output of GuitarRig, you are supposed to jack headphones or external speakers into the Apogee ONE.   Call me stubborn but I want to be able to hear the damn output without having to put on headphones or clutter things up with a second set of speakers.  I’ve got nice speakers already hooked to the MacPro and want to just listen to the output via these.

Should be easy, right?

Not so fast.  The way the signal path routes, the ONE can’t for example send it’s output back through the USB…it’s ONLY way out is via the 1/8″ jack.

So how do we take the output of the ONE and then feed it back into the computer? The MacPro has a ‘Built-In Line Input’ 1/8″ jack on the back next to the speaker output jack.  Can I perhaps connect a stereo 1/8″ audio cable from the ONE output to this input?

I did a bunch of digging around and found that it’s not possible in OSX by itself to take the input from the system’s ‘Built-in Line Input’ and have that output directly to the system’s ‘Built-in Line Output’.  I did find out however that there’s a kick-ass free add-on utility that CAN accomplish exactly this.  The utility is called aptly, LineIn.

Getting this operational at this point was a breeze.  Install LineIn – Fire it up.  Once it’s running, select the ‘Input from:’ value of ‘Built-in Line Input’, select the ‘Output to: value of ‘Built-in Line Output’ and click ‘Pass Thru’.  DONE!

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Once this utility is running, fire up GuitarRig, crank up the axe’s volume, and slap some strings.   You should see input levels in GuitarRig from the git-fiddle, output levels in GuitarRig for the noises yer making, and activity levels in LineIn for the audio as it’s passing through.

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Tune your signal levels at each step to make sure things are sane and not clipping out the ass, and you should finally be able to hear that sweet sweet sound of Rock-n-Roll bleeding through your fingertips and out your speakers into your noiseholes.  Enjoi.

A diagram of the signal-path is below:

Signal Path - Guitar to ONE to MAC to GuitarRig to ONE to MAC to speakers