Low levels Rode Condenser/Focusrite

I’m using
Audacity 2.3.2
Windows 10
Rode Condenser mic plugged into Focusrite 2x2 USB Audio Interface.
The 48V button is pressed to give the mic power.

When I record, the levels are very low, I can barely hear it. I have to pump it up either by normalizing or compressing.

Audacity says my recording device is Focusrite USB, (as well as my playback device (listening through headphones)
I have the recording volume at .9
The host is MME.
Sample rate is 44100

When I plug my USB blue Yeti into the laptop I get a beautiful file easy to hear.

Some additional information:
Windows sound device settings show the focusrite USB properties as 2 channel 24 bit 48000 hz
I am recording in Mono. When I record in Stereo only one side records and its also quiet.
when I click “Monitor” on the recording level and say ‘test’ it shows around -30 and -24

When I record the file is really tiny and very quiet. I don’t know how to read the plot spectrum to tell you what it says.

Rode NT1-A? Rode makes many microphones.

The NT1-A is a side-fire, directional microphone and you should be speaking into the grill just above the gold dot.

Which 2i2? Apparently there are three of them. Generation 3 has adjustments new to me. I need to find a manual.


OK, this may take some time. Scarlett 2i2 Gen-3 has “modes,” and you have to understand what they are and how to use them. Apparently, it “marries” itself to the computer and the Scarlett software and registration system. I have no idea what the “AIR” setting does and need to look it up.

Did you go through the extended 48v button press setup?

Did you read the manual?

Remember when we used to just turn something on and record?

As we go.


There is a desperation method of boosting microphone volume with the application of a Cloud Lifter between the microphone and the interface or mixer. You won’t be doing that because the Lifter “uses up” the 48 volt phantom power leaving nothing for NT1-A. So this has to work with no tricks.


Double checked the manual. Redid installation. Did the extended 48v press.
Moved the mic to make sure I was in front of the dot.

I do see a difference between recording stereo vs mono. But in stereo I only have one side. I did check that windows was set to stereo as well.
stereo vs mono.png

That 6dB drop (half) between stereo and mono waves may be normal in your system. That’s the system “making room” for the addition of left and right to make mono.

The bottom trace in your illustration is almost normal. Push the volume control all the way up on the 2i2, record in stereo and make a test clip according to this:


Post it. Use real conversational words, not, “Testing one two three.” Read a cereal box or milk carton.


Go down the blue links in that post. They’re very short.


Here you go. Recorded stereo, split to mono. Gain on the 2i2 to almost max.

I’m working in the field right his second, so I can’t listen, but I didn’t have any trouble mastering your work to ACX Audiobook Technical Compliance. I pushed modest noise reduction in there just to be sure.

Again, I can’t tell what you or your background sounds like. I’ll do that a bit later.

But on a first pass, you should be able to announce a book or other voice-over work exacty like you did this. The fuzzy rule of thumb is if you can reach ACX Technical Compliance, you should be good to go for everybody else.

I need to play Real Life for a while.


Listening with my ears now (the best way, I found).

You have a pronounced sibilance and are hitting your S sounds hard. I applied DeEsser at these settings and it tamed the crispness. The tool is sensitive to volume, so do it after mastering.



Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 16.03.57.png
I used the two seconds before your presentation as a profile for Noise Reduction, and then applied Noise Reduction of the Beast (6, 6, 6).

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 16.06.23.png

Is that noise in the background air conditioning? Computer fan? Can you tell if your computer is on just by listening? If you can get rid of that, you may not need the Noise Reduction step. You pass Noise now, but it’s not by much.

I intentionally boosted the noise in this clip so you can hear it. Not only is there fan or motor sounds, but a tiny tinkling sound?


So, in my opinion, if somebody fails your submission it will be because of theatrical problems, (lip smacks, gasping, tonal problems) and not mechanical or technical problems.


Thank you so much for the help and insightful feedback.
I’m just beginning an attempt at VO, so your thoughts are helpful.
I’ll experiment with moving the computer outside the recording room and work on my sibilance issues.
Was not aware of the ACX check and DeEsser tools.
Very much appreciate your time.

1 question. is it such a big deal to use the noise reduction tool to remove that fan sound?

is it such a big deal to use the noise reduction tool to remove that fan sound

Not if you remove the fan, no. From memory, your mastered and DeEssed clip comes in at around -62dB and the spec is -60dB. So, yes, it passes… but if you change anything or do anything wrong, it’s going to fall outside of the specifications. ACX uses an automated testing process similar to ACX Check. So it’s going to go ripping down your whole book looking for that one chapter that didn’t make it.

There’s a process problem, too. New Users check a box and chapters that just make it over the line check another one. They’re gunning for you.

Home recordists never pass noise. We live in insanely noisy environments and nobody has any good idea what quiet is. The specification of -60dB means your background noise has to be 1000 times quieter than your voice. Nobody’s living room can do that and even my super quiet bedroom fails when the Metro Bus goes by. They didn’t just pull that out of nowhere. That’s the broadcast specification.

If that noise is your computer, you have one advantage the USB Microphones don’t. You can make the cable between the NT1-A and the interface can be as long as you want. 50 feet? No problem. You can link them and extend them, too. It’s the USB cables that should not be longer than about 6 feet (2M).

You should also note that ACX will only flag the first problem they find. The first rejection. You could have more problems. It’s not their job to troubleshoot your studio. There’s another fuzzy rule, too. If they start complaining about your voice, then chances are good they didn’t find any mechanical problems—and they will usually say so. For example: “The recording quality is good, but we didn’t like your lip smacks.”

Noise Reduction of the Beast (6, 6, 6) gently reduces the background shshshshsh sound and can’t be detected in normal operation. It doesn’t affect your voice. Stiffer reduction than that, say 9, 6, 6 makes us ask what you can do to improve your voice without the reduction. By the time you get to 12, 6, 6, you can hear the reduction working in your voice and the correction is to be avoided. You need to fix your studio.


work on my sibilance issues.

Harsh SS sounds are usually microphone or microphone system issues. It’s not like getting rid of lip smacks by drinking apple juice and getting a good night’s sleep.


You can stop anywhere in here and go with what you have. It’s just if you can pass ACX, you can pass broadcast and just about any other quality judgement. Lot to be said for that when you submit for a job.