Audacity 2.1.1, Art USB Phono Plus, Win 7 64 bit - Sound Too LOUD (Over Cooked) on Phono

Hi Guys,

My set up:

Linn Sondek with Lingo Phono Amp / Power Supply
Art USB Phono Plus
AB Switch to direct Turntable signal to Art USB Phono Plus OR Stereo System Pre-Amp.
Audacity 2.1.1
Windows 7 64bit

I have had this set up for many years, but have not used the USB Recording route for as many years… until now.

The only changes that have hapenned to my set up, since its inception, are the dreaded Windows Updates.

When setting ‘Input’ to Phono, the incoming signal is off the scale / Too Hot / Over Cooked! The Gain control is initially set to zero and then to -10db with no success.

When setting ‘Input’ to ‘Line In’, the incoming signal is tempered and well within range, needing increments of Gain to reach an optimal setting. However, the result is very weak sound recording, which is rather painful to the ears. Perhaps an increase in gain will correspondingly increase the richness of the sound recording?

Now, I understand that I should be using the ‘phono’ input setting as my source is a turntable, which yields overwhelming results. The thing is, The Lingo power supply is also a phono pre-amp.

So, is it possible that the signal to the Art USB Phono Plus is thus too strong?

Should the Phono ‘Input’ setting only be used on a turntable that has no phono stage? In which case, should I be using the ‘Line In’ input setting?

Should I update Audacity to a newer version?

I desperately need to record vinyl and would appreciate any guidance you may have to help me achieve this.

I thank you all in advance.

A phono pre-amp boosts the signal from a turntable’s cartridge, and also applies RIAA equalization (powerful tone adjustment) so that the signal is changed from a very weak “thin” signal, to a tonally balanced “line level” signal. It is important that this boost and equalization only happens once.

I’m looking on the Linn website (Linn Product type - LinnDocs) but the only “Lingo” I can find is a “motor controller”. I see no mention of it being a phono preamp.

How did you have it set up previously? What was connected to what, using what sort of cable with what sort of plugs?

Hi Steve,

With your name, I know I’m in good hands.

Please accept my apologies, as I may have misled you regarding the Lingo. I must have had a confused senior moment / neural lapse when I wrote the post. The Lingo is not a Phono Pre-Amp, it IS an external Power Supply for the turntable. Realising this, the plot is now thickened somewhat, as there is no amplification between the turntable and the ART USB Phono Plus.

To provide more clarity I should tell you that I bought the device years ago, the version of Audacity should provide a clue as to the year. I bought it for a job that never materialised. I used it briefly upon set up and haven’t used it since.

The original phono cables emanating from the turntable are connected to the AB Switch. I have high quality phono cables connecting the AB Switch to a Linn Kairn Pro Pre Amp and the Art USB Phonoplus.

I use a high quality Type A to Type B USB cable connecting the Art USB Phono Plus to my laptop.

I have tried connecting the turntable direct to the Art USB Phono plus, taking the AB Switch out of the picture, which yielded the same results.

As I wrote this, a thought came to mind that I should try and use a different laptop and see what happens.

I hope this helps.

Many thanks


After we get this working, I’ll recommend updating to the current version, but for now let’s stick with what you’ve got.

I’m guessing that’s a passive device (no power, just a high quality switch).

Because Linn’s documentation for your turntable is so lacking in detail, please tell me which input on the Linn Kairn Pro your turntable uses. I’m guessing it’s “PH1-MM” or “PH2-MC”.

When setting ‘Input’ to ‘Line In’, the incoming signal is tempered and well within range, needing increments of Gain to reach an optimal setting. However, the result is very weak sound recording, which is rather painful to the ears.

You say “within range” but then you way it’s “weak” so I’m not sure what you’re saying… Without a phono preamp (no gain and no [u]RIAA equalization[/u]) the signal should be VERY weak with all highs no bass.

Make sure [u]Windows Microphone Boost[/u] is off (0dB) and make sure [u]Windows Enhancements[/u] are disabled. (You may not have the microphone boost option with the USB connection, but check for it.)

When setting ‘Input’ to Phono, the incoming signal is off the scale / Too Hot / Over Cooked!

Is the “Clip” light on the interface coming-on?

connecting the AB Switch to a Linn Kairn Pro Pre Amp and the Art USB Phonoplus.

I assume the stereo sounds OK?

Try connecting the phono preamp output to the ART, then switch the ART to “line”.

And/or, if your stereo has a “tape out” try connecting that to the ART (switched to line) , or test the recording setup by connect “something else” like a CD or DVD player, or the audio from your TV, etc.

You can also try using the ART as an analog preamp, connecting it’s output to your stereo to check the sound quality coming out of it.

BTW - You should be able to connect the preamp output to both the ART and your stereo system at the same time with a Y-Adapter, eliminating the need for the A/B switch. Two “loads” directly on the phono cartridge might affect the sound so that might benefit from an A/B switch, but line level signals are usually “buffered” so you should be able to connect two line-inputs at the same time without affecting the sound. (You should never connect two outputs together.)

The AB Switch is passive. It has no power.

The Pre-Amplifier Phono Inputs are PH1 & PH2 and are both set to MM. I have a Moving Magnet Cartride (Linn Adikt).

When setting to “Line In” the incoming signal is temperered and well within range => Below the Clipping ceiling, as shown in the monitor. I.E. Does not bounce into the red, stays below in the green.

Your explanation for the sound (No RIAA Equalisation) is comensurate with the experience.

When recording with the Phono switch selected I get the following:
Audacity Recording Monitor.png
The Clip light is permanently Green on Zero db. An increase of db will yield flashes of Red light. Reduction to -10bd yields a subtle flicker of the green light.

The stereo is fine.

I suspect that the source of the problem is the drivers. When I plugged in the Art USB Phono unit windows installed a new driver. I have indicated it on the attached screen shot.

I suspect "Microphone (2-USB Audio CODEC) is not the correct driver. I am suspicious of it simply because it cites Microphone. I cannot find a driver online. Perhaps you can recommend a source?

Ideally, I’d like to confirm the correct drivers before I try faffing about with various connection configurations.

I’ll have a look at what you have asked me to try.

Many thanks


Additionally, with no record playing at all… I get the strange following readings, bouncing up to -46db. So, something is being fed to Audacity when nothing is being played (i.e. The turntable is off at standstill).
Active Recording Monitor with Nothing On.png

OK, so normally your turntable plugs into “phono” (with RIAA EQ) in the Linn Kairn Pro.

So if you connect the turntable directly into the Art USB Phono Plus, you will need the input set to “phono”.
If you connect the turntable to the ART via your Linn Kairn Pro, then the input on the ART will need to be set to “line”.

I would recommend the direct “Turntable → ART (phono)” approach.

The first thing to do after making the connections, is to set the level on the ART.

  1. When connecting leads, have the “Gain” turned down all the way on the ART.
  2. Put a “loud” record on the turntable and start playing.
  3. Gradually turn up the Gain on the ART.
    The “Signal / Clip” indicator should glow green.
  4. Continue turning up the gain until the “Signal / Clip” indicator is just turning red, then back it off a fraction so that it remains green.

Your ART is now set up and the Gain level is set correctly.
Now there’s settings in Windows.

Open the Windows Sounds Control Panel and find the device that corresponds to the ART (it will show “USB” in the name).
Ensure that in the Recording tab, the device is set to 44100 Hz sample rate stereo.
Ensure that all “Enhancements” are disabled (off).
Ensure that there is no “boost” enabled.
Turn down the recording level to 50% initially - From your screenshot it looks like Audacity will be able t adjust this.

Launch Audacity, and start playing that “loud” record again.
Begin a test recording and adjust the recording level in Audacity until the waveform peaks at about half the track height (about -6 dB on the recording meter).
Note that it is not unusual to have to turn down the recording level extremely low, though not always the case - it all depends on the drivers.

This unlikely to be a driver problem. Drivers usually don’t change the gain. The user manual says it uses the standard Microsoft-supplied drivers:

NOTE: > The USB Phono Plus Project Series interface uses the standard “USB Audio CODEC”.
This driver is built into most modern operating systems, including most current versions of Linux.
Since some details of how the audio interface is set vary with different versions of Linux, the setup is
beyond the scope of this document. The main key in setup is to look for “USB Audio CODEC” as the
recording source or playback monitor output while the USBPhonoPlusPS is connected.

But, [u]here is a driver download[/u].

I get the strange following readings, bouncing up to -46db.

It’s analog and some noise is normal. :wink: That’s a little worse than I’d like to see (without the stylus on the record), but if the signal is over-amplified the noise will be over-amplified too. With the record playing, that’s in the ballpark of what I’d expect between songs.

Regular “preamp noise” would be broadband hiss, but with the RIAA EQ it will be filtered with more low-frequency energy. A high-pitch whine is probably “computer noise” coming-in through the USB power (assuming you’re powering it from USB). You probably know what power line hum sounds like, and that could get-in through a “linear” power supply or it could be from a ground loop. (You can Amplify in in Audacity to better hear the nature of the noise.)

Your other preamp may give you lower noise (using the ART’s line setting).


Thank you for your comprehensive response. Apologies for the late reply, as I could not action your instructions until last night.

I concurred with your instructions upon reading them and then carried out all the steps accordingly.

Re The ART, set up as instructed, but the Green Light is full on from the word go. Headphone monitor has loud distorted sound.

Re: Windows settings, see as follows:
SS 1.png
SS 2.png
Inspection of the properties, confirms the sample rate and bit depth:
SS 10.png
No Enhancement Boosts Confirmed:
SS 9.png
At this point I tried recording the vinyl. Alas, with no success, as again everything was over cooked, off the scale and distorted.

I went back to the windows settings to inspect further. Looking at the ‘Recording’ settings, I discovered the following:
SS 3.png
SS 12.png
I recalled reading somewhere that Windows 7 sets this to ‘1 channel’ and needs to be ‘2 Channel’. So, I looked to change it.
SS 13.png
So, changed it to 2 channel.
SS 14.png
OMG this seemed to work! The Overcooking stopped. It was getting late so decided to leave further verification testing until the next day.

The next day (today), I embarked recording on this new configuration. Alas, everything was overcooked again. I really do not understand why?!

I then notice a recording volume button in Audacity and adjusted it down, from the maximum, until things appeared normal.
SS 15.png
It now seems to work. However, having a recording volume set to 0.3 does not seem right.

Any ideas what is right or wrong here?

“NFW” (normal for Windows)