How to avoid crackly sound when recording singing?

Hi there,

I’m trying to record a short singing demo and for some reason I just cannot get the sound settings right! I’m using Audacity 3.5.1 on a Macbook with MacOS Monterey and a Blue Yeti mic to record.

I’ve done some recording on here for voice acting and its turned out fine, but when I go to sing I get a really awful, crunchy, scratchy sound as I hit peak volume, which sounds like I’m ‘maxing out’ the input (sorry I don’t know the proper term). But if I try to turn down gain, turn down recording levels, stand further away etc the sound becomes quiet and muddy while still hitting that awful tinny sound as I hit either volume or frequency peaks.

I’ve checked that the input is definitely my Blue Yeti mic, tried to close background programmes, and changed my battery settings so it shouldn’t be affecting things, but it’s not made much of any improvement. My mic is plugged into the Mac using a USB-A to USB-C adapter if that would change anything?

I’m new at this so I might well be missing something important, I just want to be able to sing loud and clear without sounding like it’s one of those volume boosted ear-defening memes!

Clipping. It’s the most common kind of distortion.

I assume you’re turning-down the knob on the mic? That’s the proper way to do it because it’s the analog-to-digital converter inside the mic that clips. Low digital levels don’t hurt sound quality and you can use the Audacity Amplify effect after recording.

Weak analog or acoustic levels can sometimes be a problem because you get a worse signal-to-noise ratio, but turning down the knob reduces the signal and noise together and everything is OK.

For “normal” recording of one person, the mic should be set to the cardioid pattern, and you should be singing into the front side of the mic (not the back or the end).

If it’s too quiet (after the Amplify effect) you can use the Limiter with make-up gain to bring-up the overall loudness without clipping.

Virtually all commercial recordings have dynamic compression and limiting (which is a fast kind of compression) to bring up the loudness and your recordings won’t be as loud as these Loudness War recordings.

NOTE - If you will be mixing (with guitar or another voice, etc.), mixing is done by summation so that can also cause clipping if you don’t lower the tracks before mixing.