Help Balancing Levels!! ACX

Audacity 2.4.2
Windows 10

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen
AudioTechnica AT2020V Condenser Mic
Pop Filter
Isolation Shield
Mic Windscreen

I’m sure there have been posts about this so far, but I’ve been reading through posts for the last two weeks and haven’t found my specific problem and/or a solution. Any help is greatly appreciated!!

Even when with both my interface’s (Scarlett solo) and audacity’s levels all the way up, I cannot get my RMS levels high enough. That being said, my noise floor is (understandably) incredibly high. I’ve been playing with levels to reach a good medium and play with effects to reach my goals, but cannot find a good medium. It’s either noise floor is incredible high or rms is far too low.
I did find an article about RMS Normalize and it has helped some, but once I use that, my noise floor will stay steady around -47db. This is after using RMS Normalize ( target -20db) and a Limiter which doesn’t seem to make a difference one way or another (Soft, 0, 0, -3.5, 10, NO). And I do seem to sound slightly overprocessed, but I’m not sure if that’s my being biased or not.

I try not to use Noise Reduction as I know that can definitely make one sound overprocessed, but even when I do, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference. Tips there would also be appreciated if possible.

The room is closed off and covered with acoustic foam. I’ve tried with the windscreen, without the windscreen. With the levels close to correct, even sitting completely still, I pick up enough sound to set the noise floor slightly too far- this is also around the level I’ve found that I get closest to that happy medium.

RMS Normalize and Limiter effects set to the levels I mentioned above. I’m only about three inches from the microphone when I record.
Recording with Scarlett set gain knob set to 5 out of 10 and Audacity recording levels set to .7

3-5 seconds of room noise levels:
Peak: -61.68
RMS: -73.15 (Fail)
Noise Floor: -75.18 Fail, too quiet)

Peak: -34.28
RMS:-48.07 (Fail)
Noise Floor:-73.73 (Fail, too quiet)

After RMS Normalize and Limiter:
Peak: -6.51
RMS:-19.7 (Pass)
Noise Floor:-45.58 (Fail)

Recording with Scarlett set to 7 out of 10 and Audacity levels set to .7

3-5 seconds of room noise
RMS: -65.26 (Fail)
Noise Floor:-66.66 (Pass)

Peak: -24.28
RMS:-37.42 (Fail)
Noise Floor: -61.03 (Pass)

After RMS Normalize and Limiter:
Peak: -5.68
RMS: -20.00 (Pass)
Noise Floor: -48.45 (Fail)

These are as close as I’ve gotten to correct. As I’ve said, any help is very much appreciated!! TIA!

Forget Audacity for a minute.

The microphone is side-fire. You should be speaking into the side grill just up from the company name. If you look on the back of the microphone, it’s labeled “Back.”

On the Solo, turn AIR off. Turn 48V on Turn GAIN 2 all the way down. Turn Gain 1 all the way up.

Pull away all the stuff between you and the microphone. Get within about 8 inches (one Hawaiian Shaka).

Speak (never blow into a microphone). Can you make the Solo volume knob turn green? Can you make it turn red? Can you make Green or Red even if you yell? Yelling is OK. That’s covered in the microphone high volume ratings.

Let’s stop there. Sound systems frequently have little hints, tricks, and measurements to help you when there might be something wrong. When we get the microphone and Solo happy, we’ll tackle the computer. Bring strong coffee.


Your recording levels are too low… Digital levels aren’t too critical as long as you don’t “try” to go over 0dB but you should shoot for peaks around -6dB while recording,

But, turning up the gain won’t help the signal-to-noise ratio.

I’m only about three inches from the microphone when I record.

I assume you are speaking into the front side of the mic… Not the end or the back side… Maybe you need to speak with a “stronger” voice. You don’t want to shout (your voice should be natural) but you should speak with a strong confident voice like you are speaking to a group of people. A louder signal into the mic does improve the S/N ratio.

gain knob set to 5 out of 10 and Audacity recording levels set to .7

The knob position doesn’t tell you much. It’s the signal level that’s important. Usually the Audacity level doesn’t work with a USB input but since the audio is already digitized, it should be at 100%.

Did you run the filter curve per [u]this procedure[/u]? That should help with the noise (without affecting the sound of your voice) but you’ll still a stronger signal and/or lower noise, or you’ll have to use some noise reduction. Almost everybody with a “home studio” needs noise reduction, Foam on the walls doesn’t make a soundproof studio.

After RMS Normalize and Limiter:
Peak: -5.68
RMS: -20.00 (Pass)
Noise Floor: -48.45 (Fail)

A peak of -5.68dB means that limiting to -3.5dB isn’t doing anything. That’s OK but it’s’ unusual not to need limiting after RMS Normalizing.


A peak of -5.68dB means that limiting to -3.5dB isn’t doing anything.

Right. That’s why it might be good to see what the Solo is thinking before involving the computer settings. If either one is broken we’ll never get there.


Thanks so much for the quick replies!!

I did have to make sure I was speaking into the front of the mic (that was a bit embarrassing, sorry for that!) and I went ahead and took off the windscreen just in case for this but I did leave the pop filter up. I’ve attached a quick little blurb saying test a few times with both Gain and audacity turned all the way up. Gain 2 on my Scarlett is always all the way down, same as 48V is always on.

I didn’t see much of a difference with Air off versus Air on, but if you say off, it’ll stay off from now on!

I’ve included both edited and unedited of simply saying test a few times (please excuse the mouth noise, didn’t get that far in editing for simply testing levels!). The edited version is the same settings as I listed above for RMS and Limiter.

For unedited, I got peak -12.34, rms -31.5, nf -62.39 . Edited received peak -3.57, rms -21.47 , nf -50.89 .

While my fan isn’t loud now, it does tend to get quite loud and I know I’ll have to cross that bridge (and figure out noise reduction) when I get to it, but for now, my main concern is hitting the appropriate levels, since I now know my idiot self was talking into the wrong section of the mic. I thought it could record from any angle.