Audacity won't let me record past -6 decibals

Working on Windows 8 with Audacity 2.1.0.

Trying to record speaking (I work as a play-by-play radio broadcaster) from a mixer in mono. It will not record past -6db. I’ve used Audacity for a few years. Just upgraded with a new laptop which is when I ran into trouble as I was going through and testing my equipment. Have searched the manual and haven’t found my answer.


I predict you are trying to record from your mixer or microphone adapter into the Stereo Line-In of your new laptop. Except new laptops don’t have Stereo Line-In any more. Most of them have Mono Mic-In and Headphone connections only, and Mic-In tends to overload and crash at -6dB.

You didn’t include any details with your posting, but if I hit it, you can maintain very high quality with a stereo USB adapter such as a Behringer UCA-202 or equivalent.

This is mine connected to my mixer. I have two. They’re inexpensive and they work well.

Some laptops allow you to set conditions on your one sound connection and turn it into a Stereo Line-In, but that still doesn’t give you very good quality work. Consult your instructions.


It will not record past -6db.

That’s not Audacity… Audacity simply captures the digital data from your analog-to-digital converter (technically from the drivers) formats the data, and sends it to your hard drive.

If you get a strong-enough analog signal into your ADC, it should be able to hit 0dB (or if you “try” to go over 0dB it will clip/distort). Some “cheap” soundcards will clip at less than 0dB, but you should be able to get higher than -6dB with a strong enough signal.

If you are using WASAPI Loopback to record streaming audio, there is no analog and you’re not using your soundcard. (Stereo-mix may go through a digital-to-analog-to-digital conversion.)

-6dB isn’t bad if as long as your soundcard/ADC isn’t particularly noisy. In fact for “live” recording you should leave headroom for unexpected peaks. Pros generally record at around -12 to -18dB (with high-quality 24-bit ADCs). If you are recording streaming audio or digitizing records or tapes, the peaks are more predictable so you don’t need as much headroom. With pre-recorded material, -3 to -6dB is just about right.

You can always boost the volume after recording.

In the old-analog days, you needed a strong signal for a good signal-to-noise ratio over the tape hiss. Of course with digital we don’t have tape hiss. (And the digital quantization noise is somewhere around -93dB where you can’t hear it.)

Trying to record speaking (I work as a play-by-play radio broadcaster) from a mixer in mono.

So this all comes down to how you connected the mixer to the computer.
How did you do that?

Thanks for the help guys, I decided to go with a $30 Behringer U-Control UCA222. I used a RCA cord to go from my mixer to the Behringer and the Behringer into my USB port. It works like a charm and sounds very crisp. More crisp than I’ve ever had before.

Thanks again.