How can I adjust the sound levels for recording or playback? Nothing seems to work, for new recordings and for imported recordings. I have a Presonus AudioBox USB 96, and I’m using Audacity and the AudioBox for the first time.
Are you recording with a microphone? What microphone?
And what are you recording? …It makes a difference if you’re trying to record birds in the trees or with the microphone directly in front of a guitar amplifier.
Is the Audacity meter showing a good signal?
If you turn-up the gain and shout directly into the mic can you make the clip light come on?
If you have headphones that plug-into the interface, the “mixer” knob allows you to monitor the inputs without going-through the computer.
With a USB interface you normally have to adjust the recording level with the analog knob (the digital recording level is usually stuck at 100%).
For imported files (or after you’re finished recording) you can use the Amplify effect.
Thank you so much for your very thoughtful reply! To answer:
- I’m recording with an Audio-Technica P48 recording mic (see attached jpeg).
- I’m attempting two acoustic guitar tracks and one vocal track, more tracks later.
- Audacity meter? I’m not sure where that is. I can’t find a label for that.
- If I turn up the Gain I can hear the sound go up but to get to the sound level I want, it gets very distorted! No good for recording.
- I have headphones that plug into the interface but none of the AudioBox dials do anything. I’ve tried all kinds of combinations.
6a. Analog knob? Only two knobs on the AudioBox have names: “Mixer” and “Main.” Or is the analog knob on Audacity, and if so, where?
6b. I realize the digital recording level is stuck at 100%, which is the whole problem. I need to turn the volume UP, but it’s already at the max. THAT right there is the key problem. I have no way to turn the volume up because it’s already as high as it goes.
One part that is really a pain is not understanding the string of numbers that say “Click to start monitoring.” First, those numbers are all negative! What the hell do they mean? Second, where should I click? It doesn’t seem to matter. Third, what is clicking supposed to do? Nothing happens either way.
I’m seriously thinking about taking the AudioBox unit back to the store because that unit seems to be the problem, but the fact that Audacity won’t let the user turn up the volume sure doesn’t help! So, I guess there’s problems with both. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated!
When you can’t hear the microphone, sometimes it is worthwhile to determine if this is a recording issue or a playback issue. If you Generate > DTMF tones, can you hear them OK ?
With some computers you may need to turn up the volume control in Windows as well. To do this, click on the speaker icon in your Windows taskbar. The Audacity volume controls are in the Mixer Toolbar
I’m recording with an Audio-Technica P48 recording mic (see attached jpeg).
I couldn’t find that online (AT2020-P48?) but I’m pretty sure “P48” means phantom power, so make sure the 48V is turned-on on the interface.
Phantom powered condenser mics are more sensitive than dynamic mics so you should be able to get plenty of volume.
That is a directional side-address mic and it looks like it’s set-up correctly in the picture but make sure you are recording from the front-side, not the back. (It won’t pick-up properly from the end either.)
- I have headphones that plug into the interface but none of the AudioBox dials do anything. I’ve tried all kinds of combinations.
6a. Analog knob? Only two knobs on the AudioBox have names: “Mixer” and “Main.” Or is the analog knob on Audacity,
The analog knobs are on the interface (hardware).
The mixer knob blends the sound from the microphones/inputs and from the computer. If you turn it all the way to “input” you’ll hear the direct sound without going-through the computer. You’ll probably only have sound in one-ear with one microphone but if you’re getting a weak or distorted signal you’ll have to solve that before worrying about Audacity. You could have a bad microphone, cable, or the interface could be bad. Or, it could be your headphones.
But you can do another check by selecting the Presonus as your playback device in Windows and playing some audio. In this case, you’ll need to set the mixer knob to “playback” (or in the middle). You can use Windows Media Player or whatever, but if you use Audacity you’ll also have to check your Audacity playback device settings.
First, those numbers are all negative! What the hell do they mean?
The “maximum” digital dB level is 0dBFS (zero-decibels full-scale) so digital dB levels are usually negative. Acoustic loudness is measured in dB SPL (sound pressure level) and in this case 0dB SPL is approximately the quietest sound you can hear and a loud rock band might be 100dB SPL, and that’s **+**100dB.
So once your problem is solved…
We usually recommend shooting-for peaks around -6dB (50%). You can boost the volume later after recording. Your analog-go-digital converter (inside the Presonus) is hard-limited to 0dB and it will clip (distort) if you try to go over. (That’s why there are clipping indicators on the interface.) Nothing bad happens when you get close to 0db. This is just headroom (safety margin). Vocals and acoustic guitar can be rather unpredictable so you may want to record lower for more headroom… Pros usually record much lower, at around -12 or -18dB.
And later, we may need to talk about levels & loudness. The peaks limit how “loud” you can go digitally but perceived loudness is more-related to the short-term average.
Thanks for the replies, both of you! While I’m trying out those ideas, I wanted to post three pictures which I hope will help someone spot the problem. The music is coming through for record and playback, but very weak. Notice the weak wavelength on the one pic of the Audacity screen.
So those pictures are very helpful. It demonstrate that you do indeed have a recording issue. But it kind of also shows what the recording issue is. If you do a scratch test on your microphone, I think you will find that the microphone doesn’t pickup anything, but that if you do the scratch test on the laptop microphone - it will pick it up loud and clear.
The solution? Do Transport > Rescan Audio Devices, then set your Recording Device in the Device Toolbar to your Presonus AudioBox USB 96.
A quick note about the photo of the Audacity screen. For that pic I had the mic and playback set on Internal laptop sound controls. I am aware that I needed to have them set on AudioBox USB 96 (which does pop up as an option when it is connected) but I happened to take the pic when it was set on internal controls. I have been trying everything!
Also, in your picture of your interface you have the volume set mid-way.
…and the scratch test?
Volume set midway in the photo? Where? Where is this volume setting? The only volume control I know of on the Audacity is set on max in the photo. Where is this other control?
Now, if you’re talking about the volume control on the Audiobox, I’m not sure if it has a volume control or where it is! The word “Volume” is not anywhere. And I’m setting things in a way that works for mono, left side. That could mean that turning a knob clockwise would DECREASE the volume (on the left mono channel) rather than INCREASE it, right?
The scratch test sounds like a VG idea, but I don’t know where the mic is on my laptop! I’ll try tapping the top part of the laptop all over the place.
I just now did the scratch test, tapping the Audio-Technica mic and then the top of the laptop. The green sound bar at the top of the Audacity screen showed a bigger jump forward with the Audio-Technica mic than the laptop surface. So it looks like the mic does indeed work.
I recorded a brief guitar piece and it took, but like I said, the signal is very weak and the playback is too weak for me to even hear it with headphones when I’m playing the guitar to add a new track. What the heck is wrong here?
The button marked “1” is your Input Gain/Trim (Input Volume) Control for input #1. This knobs provide 60 dB of variable gain (0 to +60 dB) for an XLR microphone.
You can download the Presonus manual from here: https://www.presonus.com/products/AudioBox-USB-96/downloads
Also, you seem to have a condenser microphone, so make sure that 48V light is on.
Thank you so much for all your help!
The 48v light set to ON was a good tip, as was the referral to the owner’s manual. My unit, bought new, came with a Quick Start Guide but it was only a few pages and was little help. The actual manual, which I didn’t think to look for, looks very comprehensive.
I have attached a pic of the AudioBox with revised settings, which took care of much of the problem. I wasn’t expecting to have to set so many knobs so high, but if it works, then I’m good. I think I can now get there with some trial-and-error adsjustments, and, reading the manual.
The only problem remaining is, with the increased sound, there is now a fluttering sound in the background, which may get drowned out by the music, but I was wondering if you know of any fix for reducing that background noise?
I would suggest posting this fluttering sound. Someone more versed in sounds might be able to figure it out.
In the meantime, run Windows-R, then type in “mmsys.cpl”. Then select the Recording Tab, then your Presonus. Select “Properties”, then “Enhancements” and make sure these are turned off.
I did try the steps you outlined, and got all the way to the Presonus Properties, but there was no “Enhancements” option (on any of the four tabs). Perhaps that means that I don’t have to worry about Enhancements.
I meant to mention earlier that I did import a song I composed on my “Voice Recorder” app that came with my Samsung S21 5G, and that came through with much healthier-looking sound waves and of course better volume than what I’ve gotten so far with fresh recordings.
I do see a potential problem in recording a second track that maybe you can help me with: what I’m playing on a new track drowns out what I’m trying to hear from the original track, which I need to hear to know where I’m at in the song. Do you know of a way to turn up the volume for the playback track while turning down the sound on the new track being recorded, without losing volume on the final product for either track?
Thanks again for the lesson in what dB to shoot for: pros use -12 to -18 but I can maybe get by with -6 and avoid clipping.
I think that is what the mixer control on your presonus is for.
If you do a scratch test on your microphone, I think you will find that the microphone doesn’t pickup anything, but that if you do the scratch test on the laptop microphone - it will pick it up loud and clear.
That’s where I was going to go.
I know this is probably the last place you want a review, but I’m not all that excited about the Audiobox Interface. As near as I can tell, it has no way to indicate that the sound is OK. Other interface boxes have two lights at each knob, Green SIG (or signal is OK) and red CLIP (or overload distortion). For one manufacturer, the knob itself is black for quiet sound, it flashes green for OK sound and flashes red for overload.
The Audiobox doesn’t do anything to indicate OK sound. That gives Jademan’s comment that you may not be using your new microphone at all.
I suspect the software that comes with the Audiobox is supposed to help with this, but I found that too complicated and certainly nothing a new user would be able to figure out.
Then there’s the microphone. I’m having the world’s worst time finding information on the P48. The on-line instructions keep skooshing me over to the AT2020 instructions. As near as I can tell, the P48 has no instruction manual.
So in my opinion this is not a good system for a casual, new user who just wants to lay down a few tracks. It’s not your fault that this is turning into a nightmare.
There’s no question we can get you going, but you’ll need to learn some of the buzz words and it’s not going to be fast.
Thanks for the message about the mixer. Have not tried that yet because it’s too early for my neighbors to hear instruments, but I think that probably answers my question.
Thank you for your helpful comments. There is one, though, that I don’t understand. Why would I need to know the signal is okay on the AudioBox interface if I can see whether there is any clipping on the Audacity soundwave screen, and accordingly, take steps to turn down the volume? I understand that having that option on the interface would save a little time by letting me know before I start to record, but not spending a fortune on hardware is also important. Nevertheless, I do appreciate that comment!
It appears that I haven’t resolved the volume problem yet. As the Audacity screenshot (attached) shows, I’m finally getting good wavelengths for the recording of Track 1 (left mono). But in trying to record Track 2 (right mono), the playback sound from Track 1 comes through extremely faint. The second pic attached shows the settings I chose for the AudioBox. Can anyone look at the two attached pics and offer any ideas on what I’m doing wrong to cause this volume problem? I don’t know of any other settings to adjust or buttons to push.