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Recording levels - Ldy, the lemony, ligerish ducttaparian's Magic Treehouse of Lost Thoughts
A classy broad's life... with footnotes.
Recording levels
Hm. This has been stumping me. Maybe you can help!

I have a problem getting decent recording levels.

I'm using an M-Audio Nova condensor mic, through a Tube MP Project Series Preamp, into the front line-in input of my Audigy 2ZS Platinum audio card (which is actually more functional than one might think, using kx drivers and dsp). I have to pretty much max-out the gain* and the output on the preamp.

I get the same thing whether I'm using ASIO in Audition, or non-ASIO (what is that-- MME?) in Audacity. I also get the same results whether I'm routing a condenser mic through a pre-amp with phantom power, or plugging a dynamic mic directly into the front input of the soundcard and using the front input onboard gain.**

Everything comes out OK when I normalize (though there is quite a lot of background noise from having the gain up so high)... but shouldn't I be getting better levels in the first place? Especially with a preamp?

Any clues, Scooby-doo?

* I actually set the gain so that I hit yellow when I speak, but never red... still, it's pretty much maxed out.
** To clarify, the front input of which I speak is both a line-in AND a mic input. When the gain is off, it functions as a line-in. When it's on, it functions as a mic-in. And if you muck around with a tiny little jumper inside, you can even switch back and forth between dynamic and condenser mics. I currently have it functioning like a line-in (more gain is more pain!), and as a dynamic mic (I believe the condenser setting just adds a powered lead for pc mics).

I'm feeling all kinds of: confused perplexed

14 tall tales or Tell me a story
ferretsofglory From: ferretsofglory Date: August 17th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Time for a mixer too!
ldy From: ldy Date: August 18th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC) (permalink)
And then I can upgrade my soundcard! And wrap my room in sound tiles! And buy an SM7B! And build a real recording studio! :D

Oh, heck. I need to make some moolah first!
ferretsofglory From: ferretsofglory Date: August 18th, 2007 12:17 am (UTC) (permalink)
all good things :)

What is the volume setting at on the line input in windows? that all the way up too?
ldy From: ldy Date: August 18th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC) (permalink)
You betcha! Good question, though-- I'm definitely looking for those "hey, ldy, you missed this completely major thing that will solve all your problems" questions! :)
thetech From: thetech Date: August 18th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC) (permalink)

Just for fun, have you tried setting the jumper to the condenser mic position? You say the mic is actually a condenser model, so you might as well use the condenser setting! Right?

Just my 2[Canadian]¢ worth :)
ldy From: ldy Date: August 18th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC) (permalink)
Hee. I don't think I've changed it back since adding the preamp and condenser mic (though I may have)... I do know that I've tried both settings with the dynamic mic, with no change in levels.
duinlas From: duinlas Date: August 18th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC) (permalink)
I don't know. If I were you, I'd get a new sound card. Quite seriously. Try the MAudio brand that has a good sound card with a breakout box that accepts XLR.

Mic XLR -> Pre-amp Input, Pre-amp Output XLR -> MAudio Breakout Box.

You Set your input to 0 on the software side of things, and adjust your gain first, and then drive if needed.

We've had great (and I mean excellent) results with our Audio Technica Condenser Mic, as well as three different Beyer-Dynamic Headset/Mics (Sort of like what they use at NBA games.)

And just from experience, you usually have to set the gain to yellow constantly, and occasionally hitting red. Obviously you want to adjust it if you're going to SHOUT so it doesn't clip. But if you're not hitting ANY red during your normal talking voice you're probably too quiet.

Lastly, you're adjusting the gain, but do you also have a drive adjust? That'll bring up the noise on the line, but it shouldn't be a problem so long as you're not whispering.
ldy From: ldy Date: August 18th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC) (permalink)
Gain is pretty much maxed, and I rarely see red. I don't think I have a drive adjust.

The M-Audio mic is da bomb-- I'm really pleased with it. In fact, it's almost a little TOO clear (once I normalize). It's perfect for spoken word.

I wish I could spring for a new soundcard with a nice xlr balanced line input, but that's just going to have to wait. :/

Anywho, I appreciate the input :)
corto From: corto Date: August 18th, 2007 02:36 am (UTC) (permalink)
blank look...
country road...
rabbit in headlights...

but go you for being impressive with the "you're a sound guru" thing.
what are you recording? and I'm already sure I should already know this... but alas... earwax.
ldy From: ldy Date: August 18th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC) (permalink)
Oh, just me :)

I'm a voice-over actor!

Details here: http://ldy.livejournal.com/441350.html

Oh, and *hugs*-- I haven't been around much lately.
bandicoot From: bandicoot Date: August 18th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC) (permalink)
Have you tried using the mic input for more gain, even though you're running the mic through the preamp? I've had to resort to that to get enough gain, as I have a similar problem.
lipid From: lipid Date: August 18th, 2007 06:10 am (UTC) (permalink)
If you're comfortable messing around with kx drivers (like the dsp stuff )... hang the peak signal analyzer thing directly off the ASIO input or wherever the first input block is coming in.

You say you get the same results with or without the pre-amp?
If that's the case, this should narrow it down to whether it's related to the card hardware or the dsp mixer?

I'd second bandicoot's suggestion at this point of exploring the other inputs the card has.

You could reconnect the peak signal dealie to each successive block to determine if it's the dsp stuff reducing the volume?

Is... is the battery flat in your condensor mic? (they normally have batteries, right?)
lipid From: lipid Date: August 18th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC) (permalink)
Oh, one more...

Whilst in my experience, creative gear isn't always happy doing this (and maybe your software won't support it)...

but you could try a higher sampling depth and frequency...
that might help reduce the noise on normalisation?
green_34 From: green_34 Date: August 20th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC) (permalink)
This might be a no brainer but there's a couple of things I'd check first if I were you. First go around all the hardware, (mic, preamp)and check all the switch positions like the phase etc. Secondly, you are aware that there's 2 modes in the windows volume control software? a playback (default) and recording, make sure the volume is up in the recording mode. And finally, leads! Check your leads, make sure that you're not using balanced leads if it's an unbalanced input (or vice versa) and you might want to check that they are wired correctly. Hope this helps.
14 tall tales or Tell me a story