Difference between waveform and waveform (dB)

Hello :slight_smile:

I am an audiobook narrator and I’ve been using audacity with a basic blue USB mic with pretty good results. I’ve now invested in a better mic and audio interface to hopefully get a more professional sound. Well, now when I record the waveform display makes it look like I am whispering even though it actually is pretty loud dB wise. At the same decibels according to the waveform (dB) view and when I’ve amplified it to a top of -1 dB, it still looks pretty tiny. it sounds loud in my headphones but I am confused as to why it looks so different in the waveform display. Is this something I can fix? And, is it something I even need to fix? Does it matter?

Thanks so much!

There’s a reason the blue waves go with percent and the meters use dB.

Step one: The default meters are almost useless. Grab the right-hand edge and pull sideways so the meters are enormously bigger.


That’s a perfect recording. The blue waves and the bouncing sound meter are exactly where they’re supposed to be. If you try to make it really loud during the actual performance, you will without question overload peaks and create distortions difficult to fix. If you record slightly low, you will get a good, clean capture and you can apply effects and filters in post production to adjust the show wherever you want it.

The waves are in percent because most of the important stuff happens near the top. 0.5 or 50% is only -6dB. 25% is -12dB. 12% is -18db. Please note that you are already smashed down at the bottom of the blue waves (12%), but only a fraction of the 60dB you can hear. 18dB out of a possible 60dB. It’s an oddity of your ear.

You can force the blue waves into dB (menu at left) but you may not like to mix like that. It’s very hard to see what you’re doing in Waveform dB.

I can’t tell if you’re complaining that your performance is quiet, or you can’t tell if it’s quiet, or you think the meters and waves are contradictory.


Can you post us some screenshots?