In this post I’m gonna show you how to play Rocksmith using a normal cable. If you’ve never heard about Rocksmith, well, we could say that it’s like Guitar Hero played with a REAL guitar. And when I say REAL, I’m not meaning a controller made like a real guitar, like the ones you can use in Rock Band 3: i mean a real guitar, like the one you could already have at home, or even a bass. I’m not gonna discuss the possibility to see this game as a tool for learning to play an instrument, but personally, as a guitar player, i’m enthusiast of being able to play a game that gives you an authentic guitar experience and, at the same time, lets you practice guitar and learn new songs. Plus, with the included gears, you can play like a rock star!
If you want to learn how to play Rocksmith 2014 without the Real Tone Cable, read this post instead!
The Rocksmith Real Tone Cable
How does this game work? Everything is possible thanks to the so called Ubisoft Rocksmith Real Tone Cable: a cable that connects your electric guitar jack output to a usb port on your pc (or XBox or PS3). You can buy the bundle containing the game and the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable (or even the Rocksmith Guitar Bundle), or buy them separately, so I was thinking: would I be able to play Rocksmith trough my pc’s sound card using a normal 3.5 to 2.5 adaptor, or through my M-Audio Fast Track USB 2? If so, I could avoid to buy the Rocksmith guitar cable.
If you ask to Ubisoft, they will tell you that the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable is a must for playing the game. Of course the requirement of this cable is a way to (try to) stop piracy. Like in Guitar Hero, you could copy the game, but you can’t copy the controller. But for Rocksmith you can use your own guitar, and the Real Tone Cable is, well, just a usb guitar cable. Obviously, if you try to play the game using a normal cable, it will ask you to connect the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable to be able to play.
Looking on the internet about this topic, I found lots of people with my same question, and somebody with a solution: a patch that allow you to run Rocksmith using any audio input in your pc instead of the Rocksmith pc cable. This includes the mic input and external audio cards. So I spent some time experimenting and, finally, I’ve been able to play the game with a very simple setup.
How to use a normal guitar cable to play
First thing i did was downloading
this patch and extracting it to the Rocksmith folder (C:\Programs and Files\Ubisoft\Rocksmith). You will need to run the extracted file as an Administrator everytime you want to play (Right click on it) to avoid a blank screen issue. Of course you can tell Windows to always run the file as and Administrator (in the file properties).
Next, you should go to the Control Panel and disable all the audio inputs, except the one that you want to use as the guitar input, otherwise Rocksmith will tell you that you have too many instruments connected.
First I tried to set up my M-Audio Fast Track, wich is a good USB sound card, but I got no luck: the problem is that it has two mono input channels: the first is used for recording a microphone, and the second for recording a guitar. Rocksmith treats the first channel (the mic’s one) as the game audio input, so basically no audio arrives to the game. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to select the second channel as the unique audio input in Windows, and of course I couldn’t plug the guitar in the Fast Track microphone input.
So i plugged the guitar directly into the mic input in the pc sound card, using a cheap adapter. Some people seemed to have success using the line input, so you may have to try it too. In both case, remember to disable all the other inputs in the Audio Properties in the Control Panel, to avoid the “too many instruments connected” issue.
In the Recording Properties, you should then select the microphone and go to its properties. In the ‘Enhancements’ tab, somebody had to uncheck “disable all sound effects” and check “DC Offset Cancellation” and “Noise suppression”. I personally found better to check “disable all sound effects” to avoid audio latency.
In any case, in the Advanced tab set the recording quality to “2 Channel, 16bit, 48000hz (DVD Quality)”.
The game should run now, but you could encountered some other problems. My first problem was that I wasn’t able to complete the game “sound check”. The “Noise meter” got the guitar input the first time, but after that, nothing more. The solution was to edit the Rocksmith.ini file (in the Rocksmith folder) with Notepad and put these values:
(VisualQuality is set to 2 just because my pc is not so powerful, so I lowered the graphic quality to the minimum in the game. You can leave the value you already have).
After that, the game ran, and I was able to complete the “soundcheck” (I had a problem tuning the guitar, but it was probably due to a bad cable. I changed and the problem was solved).
How to achieve low latency
The next problem I encountered was the high latency in the guitar sound. It was pretty impossible to play that way. In the Ubisoft forums I found a nice post and I was able to eliminate the guitar delay. You have to open again the Rocksmith.ini file. I’m not gonna explain the theory about buffers here. What you have to do is to set the value of LatencyBuffer to 0 and MaxOutputBufferSize to 1024. Then try to decrease the MaxOutputBufferSize by values of 256, then run the game. If your sound crackles, then the value is too low. Change it again, then run the game. You have to find a value that removes audio lag without ruining the sound. If the sound is bad even with the value 1024, then you should put LatencyBuffer to 1 and try again. If this is not clear, follow the good-written post on the Ubisoft forums. With a little tweak I am now able to play with a very low latency.
It can happen that, after a short playing, Rocksmith stops to recognize notes, even if you can hear the guitar sound. On the internet somebody suggested to close all the programs before running the game, and this helps. When it happened to me again, I checked the Task Manager: I’ve got the impression that Rocksmith started to take more and more RAM (not sure about that). I just stopped some services and the game ran well after that.
DLC songs are additional songs you can download and play in Rocksmith. You have to create a folder called “Content” in the Rocksmith program folder and place the DLC songs inside it. With my initial setup, I wasn’t able to see any new song in the game. The solution was to use the new patch instead of the previous one (remember to run it too as Administrator)!
Hope this helps. Let me know your results in the comment section below!