Rode NT-USB mic, Windows 10, Audacity 2.3.2
Just purchased Rode NT-USB mic to do some overdub vocals. Using Audacity, I loaded a pre-recorded song which shows a strong signal on track one. But when I record my live vocal on track two, the signal is very weak. The Rode has no gain control. I’ve played with the gain control for the live track in Audacity. Doesn’t seem to make a difference. I’ve tried “normalizing” the recorded live track, and that helps, but the signal / volume is still weak.
I’m pretty new at this. What am I missing? Are there any online tutorials about this? Thanks.
Just quickly checking the specs the NT-USB is rated up to 110dB SPL (acoustic loudness) so that should correspond to 0dBFS (digital) so you’d expect low digital levels with normal voice.
I’ve played with the gain control for the live track in Audacity. Doesn’t seem to make a difference. I’ve tried “normalizing” the recorded live track, and that helps, but the signal / volume is still weak.
Normalizing adjusts the level so the maximum peak on your recording hits (about) 0dB which is the “digital maximum”. That’s as “loud” as you can go linearly.
After Normalizing or Amplifying, try the Limiter effect set for soft limit or hard limit with make-up gain applied. You’ll probably need at least 6dB of limiting to get a significant amount of boost. Limiting works by “pushing down” the peaks, and then make-up gain boosts the overall/average volume. You can also try the Compressor effect (also with make-up gain) but with compression there are more settings to fool with and it’s easier to mess-up the sound. (Limiting is a kind of fast dynamic compression.)
You can also use some compression/limiting on the final mix if it doesn’t turn-out loud enough. Compression & limiting do affect the character/quality of the sound so listen carefully to make sure you like the results.
The backing track is probably more “dense” and it will likely “sound louder” than the vocal track. Mix by ear, reducing the backing track as necessary.
to do some overdub vocals.
Note that mixing is done by summation so to prevent clipping (distortion) when you export you’ll probably have to reduce both tracks by about -6dB (50%) before exporting. (The Amplify effect can be used with a negative dB value.) Or, you can export the mix as floating-point WAV which won’t clip. Then open the mixed file and Normalize to bring the level down (or up) and re-export to your final format. (Even if you use a format that goes over 0dB without clipping it’s “bad practice” because the listener’s analog-to-digital converter will clip if they play at full digital volume.)
Doesn’t seem to make a difference.
It won’t. Audacity doesn’t adjust the volume of digital devices during recording. Audacity also doesn’t apply effects, filters, or corrections during recording. If you’re on Windows, sometimes you can go into the Windows sound control panels and adjust recording volume there.
There’s an effects trick. Select the voice track and Effect > Amplify… > OK. That one swipe will boost the voice volume as high as it can go without overload damage.
If you have backup copies of all your tracks, you can reduce the volume of your backing track to get a good idea what it’s going to sound like when you get done with production editing.
As DVDDoug above, commercial music tracks are usually artificially loud and you’re never going to get a good volume match to a simple home recording.
Also Select your voice track and File > Export > Exported Selected Audio and save your voice as WAV for backup so if anything happens to Audacity, you won’t have to live record it again.