How to lower USB input levels

Hello! New to the forum, and new to recording. I’m using Win10, Audacity 3.1.0, with two e-drum modules and a mic’d hihat into a mixer, with the USB output to my laptop USB input. Phone with the .mp3’s is also run into the mixer.

I am trying to record myself playing drum covers, and am having trouble with the input level being to high, clipping and just being over-saturated. (If that’s a real term.)

My question, and I have done a search, is how to lower the input level within Audacity so that it records properly? I can do it with just the general output from the mixer, but then the volume in my headphones is so low, it’s difficult to play along to. (And not very fun either when you can’t hear yourself.)
I’m hoping there’s a simple answer, and I just can’t find it. Any help is appreciated.


NO… You can’t fix it “digitally”. :frowning:

Your solution might be a headphone amplifier.

The mixer has a USB output, right?

When you clip (during recording) it’s the analog-to-digital converter that’s clipping so you have to reduce the analog level into the ADC. Low levels into the ADC aren’t a problem (pros record at low levels) but the ADC is hard-limited to 0dB.


Just being over-saturated. (If that’s a real term.)

Yeah, it’s generally the same thing although saturation generally refers to “soft clipping” where the waveform is more rounded-down rather than being [u]squared-off[/u]. Guitar amplifiers and analog tape tends to soft-clip when overdriven. People tend to say “saturation” when the distortion is intentional or desirable.

You’re monitoring the mixer, right? Does it have a headphone volume control? You didn’t use the words, “The headphone volume control is all the way up.”

That can mean you’re monitoring the mixer line out and yes, that can be quiet and permanently linked to the USB signal.

within Audacity so that it records properly?

Once a digital signal overloads, that’s the end of the world. If you make it quiet later, you’ll just get quiet clipping distortion. You need to solve this one at the mixer.



Sorry, yes my headphones are turned all the way up on the mixer. :slight_smile:

By the time I can hear it at a decent volume, it’s just way too much for the program.

Thank you. Sounds like I need to look into a headphone amplifier. Looks like they’re inexpensive enough to give it a try, :slight_smile:

What is the mixer? (make and model)

On most USB mixers, 0 dB on the main mix meters = 0 dB (full scale) USB output. If you go over 0 dB on the main mix meter, the USB will clip.

The mixer is a “Behringer Xenyx QX1202USB Mixer with USB and Effect”. I believe the only USB port is the output.


The mix level must remain in the green to avoid clipping the USB output.


What are the headphones? Most mixers I ever met have more than enough volume in the headphone system. That’s important for sound production.

“I think there’s noise in the background of my Very Important Recording and I need to boost the headphone volume to hear it before I roll for record.”

Even my little portable recorder did pretty well in the department.

Something is wrong.


That’s exactly what I’m seeing. :smiley:

Was this for me? I don’t see where I commented the quote of “background noise”.

I agree something seems weird, though. The headphones I am currently using are “Cowin’s” and have a separate volume control on the side. Even with that all the way up it’s very quiet in order to keep it from clipping badly in Audacity.
They are the same headphones I used with a smaller Behringer mixer I had, and was able to find a good volume to play along to. I haven’t unplugged everything to try the old one, but it sounds like I definitely should. I really hope it isn’t the mixer. That would be a pain.


I’ve just had a quick look at their website and they appear to only do bluetooth headphones :confused:

Was this for me? I don’t see where I commented the quote of “background noise”.

You didn’t. That was the example of how mixer headphones are supposed to work. You should be able to get a live performance uncomfortably loud so you can, if needed, amplify very quiet parts of the show in order to do good quality control.

You couldn’t do that with your current headphones.

a separate volume control on the side.

So you don’t have ordinary, passive headphones.

I have a bag of different headphones, but I settled on Sennheiser EH-150 (no longer available except on eBay). They’re pleasant sounding and I use them for everything (except running on the beach).

Sennheiser models have good reviews on the forum.

Note for fancy tricks like sound-on-sound, layering, and overdubbing, you can’t use wireless headphones. You have to be able to plug into your mixer, microphone, or microphone interface.


Post back when you decide which headphones to get. Or, post with the possibilities and we can tell you about them if we know.

Some headphones have odd talents. The Standard Hollywood Headphone is the Sony MDR-7506. They appear on every sound shoot, sometimes more than once, but their talent is not to sound good. Their talent is to show the sound person errors before anybody else hears them. Pretty much the exact opposite of something you would want to snuggle up with on a music gig.

The Koss Pro-4aa, Koss Pro-3aa, and Behringer HPS3000 are surgically correct but I can’t listen to them for a long time and the Koss’s weigh as much as a Land Rover.

Good luck.


Bottom Feeding isn’t good. The headphones in this shot are Sony MDR-V150s.

Their claim to fame in this case is that they’re pretty, not that they sound good.

I bought them at a record store in Kahului, Maui. I remember they were “affordable.” I did several music mixes with them before I got them back home on the mainland and realized how bad they were compared to my sound system and better quality headphones.

During the vacation, they sounded a lot better than my laptop speakers.

It’s all relative.