Conflicting db Levels

Hi everyone, and thanks in advance for the help.
I am running Audacity 3.0.5 on Windows 10.

My mic goes through an Audient ID14.

In audacity, when I measure/monitor the db level it is peaking at -18db, however the mixer in Audient shows it is not -18, but it is peaking at 0db instead.

I am trying to find out which of these is correct, or if they are both wrong. Someone else mentioned to see if one of the settings is showing dbFS instead of just db, but I don’t see an option in Audacity or the Audient mixer to change it. Audacity seems to only have the option to change from db to linear.

I’ve attached a picture showing the conflicting levels.

Thanks again for the guidance!


I trust Audacity for the actual levels in your digital files. (It does use dBFS which is the “digital standard”.)

There is a “trick” to checking your peaks (after recording). The Amplify effect will default to whatever gain (or attenuation) is needed for 0db peaks. So for example, if Amplify defaults to +3dB your current peaks are -3dB. (You can cancel the effect if you don’t actually want to amplify (or attenuate).

…There is a (intentional) “quirk” if you record in mono from a stereo interface while using only one input. Audacity reduces the level of both channels by -6dB (50%) so both channels can hit 0dB and the left+right mix won’t exceed 0dB. But that’s a 6dB difference from what your interface is showing, not 18dB.

In your screenshot, the recording meters “maximum peak” indicator (the blue vertical line) is showing about -13 dBFS.
I don’t know why your Audient app is showing a much higher level, but Audacity’s meters correctly show the level of the audio in Audacity. Maybe Windows Sound is reducing the level before the audio gets to Audacity.