Compression settings for "vocal only".

Here’s an experiment I did. Can you help me to get the results I need?
Using Audacity and my desktop computer … I record 10 seconds of “vocal only” (no instruments), singing 1 note “ahhhhhh” for 10 seconds into a good quality condenser mic plugged into a UR22 interface.
During the mastering of this 10 seconds, no matter what I try I can’t get the volume level up to professional volume levels without it becoming distorted at those higher volume levels. It always ends up with clearly audible distortion at pro volume levels.
I need to get about 30% extra final mastered volume “without” any audible distortion to the vocal sound. I am 100% happy with the vocal sound itself, it’s just that I get distortion when I try to achieve pro level final mastered volume. At lower volume levels there’s definitely no audible distortion.
My microphone and interface are in perfect working order.
The Audacity compression and limiter settings I’ve tried don’t solve the problem.
Here’s my question ------ do you know of any precise Audacity compression and limiter settings that will solve the volume problem by enabling me to get fully pro volume levels without that distortion? i have no problems getting the volume up to pro level, it’s just that there’s distortion at that volume level.

Correct me, but the UR22 has no “normal” volume green lights? All it has is that one red PEAK light which turns red when it’s too late.

You should be careful with that “professional audio” assumption. Most people only hear pro singers after the company and experienced operators have beat up their voices for hours in a large mix-down studio to make them as loud and dense as possible. Nobody can sing straight into commercial release audio.


Once you get a clean recording, one of the other elves may have some ideas for compression and processing.


Thanks for the reply. I’ve noticed that many amateur singers who have recorded themselves at home get the vocal volume levels I’m after too. Lots don’t of course, but I’ve heard many amateur recordings on forums, You Tube etc etc over the years that have high volume levels without distortion. It obviously can be done, but I’ve been unable to do it so far. I need about 20% to 30% extra final mastered volume without it adding distortion.
I’m not talking about a huge, big, full professional production with hundreds of hours of work on everything … I’m talking about getting the same volume levels on a single vocal recording only; in other words if Paul McCartney went into a studio and sang “ahhhhh” into the mic for 10 seconds (that being the only sound on the recording).
I can easily get a clean recording. I am 100% happy with the sound. The only problem is I can’t get the final mastered volume up to the level i want without getting distortion.
All my comments are in reference to the 10 seconds of solo vocal I mentioned (no instrumentation).

LevelSpeech2.ny plugin is worth a try :
it’s quicker than Audacity’s native compressor, and has a built-in limiter.

[ Do check all audio-enhancements applied by Windows & your sound-card are off,
enhancements could add distortion which you’re only hearing when the sound is loud ]

What is the db at when you attempt to sing at the pro level? If your singing loudly makes it sound like you amplified the track up about +80db, then try singling softer, because if everything sounds overly loud, then it probably is.