I have my micro Rode (NT1A), plugged in Behringer U-Phoria UMC22, connected to my computer using a USB-cable. I’m using Audacity 2.3.3. The objective is to record covers : i use an instrumental and then I put my voice on top of it. And the thing is I’m stuck with the settings of Audacity.
What happens is that I’m downloading an instrumental in .mp3 and I put it on Audacity. Then shift+r so that it can record my voice. But the instrumental is too loud when compared to the level it records my voice. Without adaptation, we simply can’t hear my voice. So I need to adjust it manually (reduce the amplification of the instrumental, and compress the voice record). I believe there must be an easier way, maybe I need to calibrate the micro.
Is it coming from Audacity or my micro ? Do you have any recommandation ?
Have a nice day!
You can turn down the volume of the instrumental track by moving its track gain-slider further to the left …
That’s what I am doing currently. But is this the only way ?
Is the second track your vocal? If so, you probably need to improve your microphone technique so that you can achieve a more consistent level.
(The usual things: Back off from the mic when singing loud notes, get closer on quiet notes, train your voice to improve projection on the weaker ranges, avoid blowing into the mic …)
Thanks Steve for your answer ! Actually it was a test, not a real recording, but I believe most of what you wrote will be very useful to me for my future records. To not get saturated, i need to decrease the recording volume to be around 40-50 (if not, i get saturation). Do you think there is something I can do to record more volume without getting saturated ?
If the recording has peaks that are much higher than the average level, the overall volume will be low, and the amount that it can be amplified (without creating nasty distortion) is limited by the fact that the peaks must not exceed 0 dB (peaks can’t go higher than full track height without causing distortion).
Singers will typically “work the mic” and control their voice so that the recording level is fairly constant. This allows the average level to be amplified more, because there are not exceptionally high peaks to get in the way. In “popular music” genres, compression and peak limiting effects are also used to even out the level even more, and so allow the vocal to be even louder. (This is one facet of what is known as the “loudness war”)
To not get saturated, i need to decrease the recording volume to be around 40-50 (if not, i get saturation). Do you think there is something I can do to record more volume without getting saturated ?
Mixing is done by summation* so if you keep both tracks below -6dB (50%) they won’t sum to more than 0dB (100%).
Of course the mix doesn’t have to be 50/50 and it should be adjusted by-ear. Your vocals will probably peak higher than the backing track because the backing track is probably compressed/limited/adjusted for more constant-volume. (Some compression & limiting on your voice may help, but overall, the mix probably won’t be as “loud” as a commercial mix.)
If you are doing multi-track recording, of course the levels have to be proportionally lower. (DAW software designed for multitrack mixing adds a master level control and there is often a separate-additional “mastering” step to adjust the levels after mixing is done.)
Audacity itself won’t clip (“saturate”) but regular (integer) WAV files and your digital-to-analog converter are hard-limited to 0dB. You can export to 32-bit floating-point WAV which can also go over 0dB without clipping. So, after you get a “good mix” you can export as floating-point, then re-open the mix, Normalize or Amplify to adjust the volume up or down to get “maximized” 0dB peaks. You can also apply more limiting and compression to the mix to bring-up the overall loudness.