high recording peak level

I have a question. In de the past year I made a lot of recordings from tape and vinyl. In the beginning of my journey I made a mistake, recording levels peaks sometimes little over -2 db. Happily for me there is no clipping and the recordings sound excelent. So I didnt hit 0db, but I got close to it. Even when I normalize these recordings there is still a little gain. So I asume everything is alright with these recordings. Or am I wrong and is this a bad thing?

The only danger is pushing volume higher and higher so that peaks go over 0dB, either up or down.

You can tell Audacity to show you the overload points. View > Show Clipping. Audacity will post thin red lines at the points in danger.

You can get into a religious war with this measurement. Technically, any wave that goes up to the zero point (100%) but doesn’t go over is correct. There is enough digital information to put the music back together.

The instant it goes over, the system will distort. But how would you know? There is nothing over zero in the real world. You can go over zero inside Audacity because Audacity uses a special sound format that doesn’t overload.

I believe what Audacity does is actually detect sound damage to trigger the red lines. If you’re using -2dB for a maximum loudness, then that’s perfect. The recommendation for ACX AudioBooks is -3dB.

You should know if you travel in and out of MP3, you could get distortion in addition to the compression distortion because sometimes MP3 changes the volume slightly. It’s usually fractional dB errors, though, so again -2dB should be perfect.


One more. If you’re transferring vinyl records, the pops and clicks are very likely to overload. The red lines should go away when you fix them.


Thanks for the feedback. I always use clean vinyl or tape. Its a relief to know that I dont have to rerecord everything.

If it doesn’t hit about 0dbfs then it’s ok. The rule about keeping it low is it’s just easy to manage. (e.g you have one track at -2 dbfs but then you add a couple more and you’re over so you have to pull it all down. Just easier to start off low)

Another thing to consider is the input to your plugins in the signal chain. Make sure you aren’t clipping them if you are running things hot.

How does that apply to Audacity? Have you ever used Audacity?