Low Level When Recording Vinyl

When recording vinyl using audacity 3.1.3 and Windows 10, with a Clearaudio Concept MM turntable connected to a Maya 44USB interface, the signal level only reaches around -24dB even with the level setting at max. This results in very ‘quiet’ files when outputted to FLAC.

A USB phone preamp will likely give you a higher recording level. However, you should be able to get acceptable levels simply by running Effect > Amplify. I typically set the New Peak Amplitude to between 0 and -3, depending on the evenness of the recording: 0 for very uneven or a big crescendo at the end.

There needs to be a phono preamp between the cartridge and the Maya. As far as I can see from the Clearaudio website, the Clearaudio Concept does not have one built in, so you would need to provide one.

A phono preamp amplifies the tiny signal from the cartridge and applies RIAA equalization (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization). Without a phono preamp the signal level is too small and very tinny (very little bass).

Note (1): There are also USB audio interfaces available that have a phono preamp built in. (The Maya 44 USB doesn’t).

Note (2): If you have a hi-fi amp, it may have a phono input stage (phono preamp) that you can connect between the turntable and the Maya. A typical setup would be:

Turntable → hi-fi amp “phono” input → hi-fi amp “Rec out” / “Tape out” → Maya.

As jademan wrote, a workaround for not having a phono preamp is to amplify and apply equalization after recording. The downside is that the recording is likely to have more hiss / hum due to the signal going into the Maya being too small / quiet.