Low displayed level but recording clipped

Am using an elderly MacBook with OS 10.6.8 and have just installed Audacity version 2.0.4 My problem is that although the input “sound” level was within the +/- 0.5 region, the quality of the recording is horrible and sounds as though it has been very clipped. To give some background on this, I am taking my recordings from an Allen & Heath mixer and usually have to limit the input levels at my laptop to avoid clipping BUT this is visually obvious as the recording “meter” clearly shows that I am entering the clip region. This last time, I couldn’t get the meter to show anything above +/- 0.5 despite increasing the mixer output levels to maximum and my input record level to max, yet the playback is abysmal :frowning:
Any suggestions very welcome, as otherwise I have found this product to be excellent…

Old MacBooks had a Microphone In connection and not Stereo Line-In like the later ones. I bet your connections don’t look like this:


Microphone connections have a super sensitive microphone preamplifier as a first thing after the connection and it’s fixed. You can’t change it and it overloads very easily. It’s also probably mono rather than stereo. You may find that the instruments on the right side of the stereo show are missing.

Some machines allowed you to switch one connection between different services.

Apple (upper left) > System Preferences > Hardware > Sound > Input.


If your settings say Microphone and nothing else, then you may need to add a Stereo input to your Mac with a UCA202 or equivalent.



Sorry, should have added that I am using a Griffin iMic connector via USB and this was set to Mic

I’m not a fan of the iMic products. In my experience they don’t do any of their switchable jobs particularly well. Koz

That’s all very well, but we are straying off the topic. Up until now I have had no problem where the level meter shows a low signal but listening to playback it is horribly distorted due to what sounds like clipping. It is almost as though there is a clip limit set at well below normal - any ideas??


Yes. Put the iMic in a dusty box in the garage like I did.

Audacity has no provision to affect the show as it is recorded. It’s a Frequently Requested Feature, but nothing so far. Overloading like that almost always happens in Analog Land and you have the classic damage cause by an analog mixer and digital converter mismatch. Doesn’t your iMic have a Line In switch?


I’m willing to get rid of the iMic but I will then need a replacement as the MacBook Audio in port is jammed with a broken off tip from a 3.5mm jack. Yes it does have a Line setting, but that reduced the perceived signal gain even further. As I said, I had everything on the input side maxed out yet could only “see” levels of +/-0.5 on the recording meter - previous recordings had Line setting AND the Audacity input level at around 0.7 and I still had to tweak the mixer output so I didn’t stray into the “normal” clipping region of +/1.0

I hear you say that Audacity cannot affect the recording as such, but what I have does suggest some form of internal clipping so I am left totally bemused as to what may have gone on. Thanks for listening anyway.

Don’t give up yet.
Time for particulars.

Allen & Heath makes a number of mixers. Which one have you got and how do you have it connected? My iMic had a mini stereo plug and I would have used a cable like this for my mixer connection.



I generally use the mixer “Tape Out” because it’s designed to do jobs like this.


Its an Allen & Heath Mix Wiz (series 3) 16-2 used in a small church setting. I have set it up in two “groups” - one for music and one for speech - and have these feed left and right channels respectively, which then go to the Mono out to send to amplifiers. Because I want to be able to record either of these groups and get a “mock stereo” recording, I am taking my output from one of the Aux channels, which then allows me to create my own recording “mix”. I have done it this way rather than come out of the more traditional AB Out, because Audacity didn’t seem to cope very well with converting “different” Mono signals (Left or Right channel out of the mixer) into stereo.

The perceived advantage of using an AUX out is that I have two levels of “gain control” - each channel feed and then the master level for the Aux. As I said, previous recordings had the AUX master at around 75% and the Audacity recording level at around 0.7, feeding the iMic at Line setting which then gave me a visual signal level up to +/-1.0 before clipping. With nothing else changed i.e. signal levels at the AUX Out pretty much as before, this last time I had to push the AUX master to 100%, iMic to Mic setting and Audacity to 1.0 and still only get a displayed signal level of +/-0.5 with playback sounding very clipped and distorted. It was almost as if I should have left everything as before and ignored the Audacity “level meter” displays… very frustrating!

You keep dragging us back to the idea your iMic failed.


That’s a Behringer UCA-202 USB/Stereo audio adapter. We personally have many of these things in operation under many different circumstances and they all work.

It has one feature you might find handy in your application. It has the ability to listen to your sound feeds both directions without involving the computer.

I think they’re something like $30 USD.



Once you get that running, post a different topic about your mix-down problems. That’s not normal.