Low Sound Levels

Hello, I downloaded Audacity version 2.3.0 a couple of days ago to make voiceover recordings. I’m on Windows 10. I have an MXL 440 condenser mic connected to a Tonor phantom power unit (XLR’s), then coming out of the phantom unit and into the laptop via an XLR to mini, powered via the USB port. My problem is that although the sound is of good quality, it’s only about half volume and I can’t discover how to raise it. My first recordings were in mono, but when I tried the help section’s advice to record in stereo then output to mono, it made no difference. Are you able to help please? Many thanks - Peter Walters

it’s only about half volume

By that do you mean the blue waves only go up to about 50%? That’s normal for live recording. That’s the recommended volume.

Are you reading for Audiobooks?

Stay in mono. It’s a snap to make “stereo” in Audacity in you need it. By “Stereo,” I mean two sound channels. You won’t get actual stereo with you on the left and the violins on the right. It will just be two identical copies of you.


Thanks for the reply. The recorded levels are much lower than your illustration and the monitor doesn’t reach anywhere near the yellow bit. I do have the record level set at maximum. Thanks - Peter Walters.

Are you reading for audiobooks?

You may still be OK. There is a range of acceptable volumes depending on how well your microphone and interface performs.

Record a 20 second test and post it on the forum. We can do a lot from there.


Don’t do anything to it. Just record it, stop, export it WAV and post it. We can’t take effects and corrections out of a sound clip and it just muddies the inspection.


Hi Kos(?),
Thanks for help so far. I’ve attached a short WAV as requested. Cheers - Peter

Hi Kos(?),

“Koz” is Kozikowski with the compression all the way up.

Right then.

I pushed the clip through our mastering suite…

…and it passes ACX Conformance.

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 5.22.37.png
Being obsessive, I applied very gentle noise reduction (6, 6, 6) and that’s the attached clip.

That clip should pass both ACX technical compliance, and their theatrical Human Quality Control. I didn’t need the extra Noise Reduction step, but the presentation sounds a bit better with it.

The clip is slightly low volume, but it’s not dreadful if you can’t cure it.

coming out of the phantom unit and into the laptop via an XLR to mini

So you’re using the laptop internal microphone amplifier to do the heavy lifting of boosting the microphone volume. While I wouldn’t do that, it seems to work for you. Buried in the Windows sound setups is sometimes a “Microphone Boost” setting over and above normal settings. I’m not on Windows, so this is up to you to locate. It may make the microphone louder at the expense of higher background noise level.

Also, while you’re in there, turn off all Windows sound processing even if you don’t have these distortion problems.



Quick note. There is a minor error in Mastering. You select the whole chapter or clip by clicking just right of the up arrow…

…not up from the MUTE button. The Mute button direction is from an older version of Audacity.

Ignore this if it’s been fixed.


Yup I fixed that page in the Wiki yesterday


Yup I fixed that page in the Wiki yesterday

Aaaand. We’re done.

Anything else you need?

You should spend some quality time in the ACX published instructions. They have very specific directions past sound quality. Set MP3 here. Put Room Tone there.


You can send them a test.

We have a couple of local hints, too. Export all original voice work as perfect quality WAVs and keep them in a safe place. Only then start mastering and correcting fluffs, etc. There is no “My machine crashed and wrecked my only copy of the live performance.”

When you get a good, perfect, final Master, Export another WAV. Only then create the 192 quality MP3 for submission.

Do not use punctuation marks in filenames. Upper Case, Lower Case, Numbers, -dash- and underscore. That’s it. That’s the whole list. IDontUseFilenameSpacesEither, but that’s just me.

Yes, it is obsessive. “Say Koz, do you still have the voice shoot you did for the animation about two years ago?”

“Of course. Do you want me to FTP it over, or do you want a hard copy.”