Low Record Volume from external Mic

Latest trial download from .exe version 2.0.3
Windows XP SP3.

Cheap headset/mic combo that I have used without problems with Dragon voice recognition software.
Connected to front panel input (not the ear-phone one).
Only the Mic was connected for these tests.
My speakers are external Boston in the $50 range. The perform well for casual music listening
I am only interested in voice recordings at this time.
I have increased the recording and playback level to 95% with no improvement.

When I do a test (monitored) recording the record level goes up to -12dB.
The mic is sensitive, because if I’m moving around, it picks up all the noise.
I have recorded my voice and me tapping the mic.

When I play it back, the record level seem to be hitting -12dB - momentarily, but the playback profile shows very little movement off the horizontal line.

I can hardly hear the speaker output with the settings I use for listening to music and audio books.

I also went to the Microsoft record function in the Operating System with no improvement, so it seems that it’s not an Audacity issue. I’m hoping that you guys that swim in this water more than I do (which is very little) might have a suggestion what other rocks I might look under.

If it is the poor mic I’m using, why does the voice recognition system work fine? And why does the system show -12dB recording, and then play back at a very low volume?

Many thanks,

It would be nice to start with a higher volume, but you can use the Amplify effect in Audacity to boost the level in “post production”.

Windows has separate recording & playback “mixers”. There should be a microphone level control and possibly a master volume control depending on your operating system & drivers. Sometimes there is a “microphone boost” control.

I’m on a WinXP system at the moment, and here’s how I access the recording mixer on my system-

  • Double-click the speaker icon (that brings-up the playback mixer).
  • Options > Properties
  • Mixer Device = Realtek Input
  • Recording
  • Make sure the microphone is checked and click OK (Now I can see the recording mixer).
  • Adjust-up the master & microphone sliders.

If it is the poor mic I’m using, why does the voice recognition system work fine? And why does the system show -12dB recording, and then play back at a very low volume?

-12dB is a bit low, but it’s not terrible. For high quality recording you usually shoot-for peaks between -3 and -6 dB, because the last thing you want is to try to go over 0dB and get clipping (distortion). With spoken-voice recording, a little clipping might be OK if you ar not looking for “broadcast quality”. Pros (using high-quality low-noise equipment) often shoot for around -18dB to leave plenty of headroom for unexpected peaks and mixing & effects. Of course their final mix is a lot “hotter”, usually with peaks normalized to 0dB and at least some dynamic compression to bring-up the average volume.

P.S.

The mic is sensitive, because if I’m moving around, it picks up all the noise.
I have recorded my voice and me tapping the mic.

So, you are sure you re recording the headset mic and not the mic built-into your laptop, right?

So, you are sure you re recording the headset mic and not the mic built-into your laptop, right?

No, I got a better one. If the mic seems to be very sensitive but doesn’t pick up your voice, slide the little fuzzy doobie off the mic and make sure the microphone is pointed to your mouth. Many headsets allow you to put the set on either left-ear or right-ear and you need to change the direction of the mic when you switch. These puppies can be highly directional and it’s possible it’s trying to pick up your left knee instead of your mouth.

I cured one of those about a month ago.

You might also want to turn off Windows Enhanced Services just to make sure that’s not causing problems. You can turn it back on again if you decide you like it.

http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/faq_recording_troubleshooting.html#enhancements

Koz

Well, the problem is solved.

Sorry I didn’t get back earlier with the news.

Someone loaded me another inexpensive headset and it worked like a charm. So it was the “old” headset.
Dragon must have a wide range of tolerance, because it works well with the new “better” mic.

I appreciate your general comments, because every tidbit of information is a big help for this newcomer to the audiio recording world.

Thanks again.